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Archive for March, 2012

If you are an authentic Christian, you can’t sit off by yourself in the corner watching the world go by.

Pastor Bill

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Late in the afternoon our group of Boy Scouts came straggling back into camp. Really straggling! Instead of a group of boys all in a line and following each other closely, we were now spread out over a distance that was probably a couple hundred yards long. There was plenty of hard breathing going on as well as an appropriate amount of complaining an d downright whining.

I was part way back in the line, doing my best to keep up and not allow any more scouts to pass me by. But my legs were killing me! Walking on snowshoes is not a natural exercise for most of us. You have to walk with your legs spread apart a good distance to keep the shoes from hitting each other. It had been uncomfortable at first but now, after three miles, I thought I was about ready to die!

I finally reached the area in front of our cabin, finding that those boys who had arrived earlier had their snowshoes removed and were standing around laughing it up with the scoutmaster. I didn’t feel as if I could even bend over to undo the buckles and straps of my snowshoes. I fell over to one side into a pile of snow and just lay there for a few minutes. I finally gathered enough strength to get to a sitting position and go to work on removing the shoes. The straps and buckles, coated with snow and ice, did not cooperate. One of the other scouts who had arrived earlier came to my aid and undid the buckles so I could remove the snowshoes. I don’t know when it felt so good to stand up and walk around without those contraptions on my feet. It seemed like another world! What a relief! It seemed as if I had been set free as I walked around stretching my sore muscles.

Psalm 118:5 contains a comforting message of freedom. It is a message for the person willing to trust in God. Just think about these words: “In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free.”

Up in the mountains along the Palouse River that winter I was distressed and felt as if I had been freed up when I got those snowshoes off my feet. But God will free us from the distresses of this life if we will but pray to Him, ask Him to remove any burden we might be carrying, and then simply trust Him to do it. He will set us free!

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your willingness, and your readiness, to set me free from the distresses I may find I am facing in this life. Lord, help me to have the humility to quietly ask you to help me. Then allow me to simply trust you—trust you to set me free. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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Remember that all those who call themselves Christians, aren’t.

Pastor Bill

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FACTION

I have a sister and two brothers. The two brothers each do a little writing, and at times have done quite a bit of it. A few weeks ago I was looking at some posts my older brother had written on his blog and he had a brief note that caught my attention. It dealt with something that I had been thinking about, and which I felt a need to comment on to the readers of The Shelter Tree. Here, in part, is what my brother wrote:

Just a note about my kind of prose. I do three kinds of writing. Some fact, some fiction, and some faction. Most of what I write falls into the faction category. A little fact, a little fiction, seasoned with a few downright lies.

I really like that, because it is a good explanation of much of the writing I do—faction! I hope you understand that. I am guessing that most of you already suspected that.

Thank you for reading The Shelter Tree. If you would like to take a look at some of my brother’s writings, check out The Tamarack Adams Journal, at http://www.tamarackadams.com/index.html and remember, he writes faction!

Blessings to you.

Pastor Bill

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SNOWSHOES

“Scouts! …….. Scouts! …….. SCOUTS!!!!”

The young scoutmaster finally caught our attention as one last snowball went whistling through the air, striking a tree alongside the cabin. Several arms were in mid-swing but stopped in response to the scoutmaster’s yells.

“Okay, scouts! We’ll have a snowball fight this afternoon. Right now we need to get ready for our snowshoe hike. We leave in 30 minutes. The cabins have to be clean and everyone’s bunk made up. Let’s get with it!”

After tidying the cabin up a bit we filed back outside and gathered around our scoutmaster. This ought to be a blast! I had only tried out snowshoes a few times. Once in the yard next to our house, and another time on a little longer trek across a field back of our house. But this was going to be a three-mile hike. Yipee! I was ready!

The scoutmaster and two of the patrol leaders gave each of us a pair of rustic looking snowshoes and we began trying to figure out how to get the tight leather straps to work properly. After an appropriate amount of complaining and fussing we were all ready to go. The scoutmaster told us to get in a line behind him and he would lead us as we headed across the meadow and into the woods. We had barely begun before one of the scouts tripped over his own feet and ended up in a heap in a snowdrift. He became the brunt of several smart-alec remarks until a second boy, and then a third were laying flat in the snow. The hoots and hollers from those still on their feet was little comfort to the boys trying to get back on their feet. Most of the guys were finding that snowshoes could be a little difficult to travel in.

“C’mon, you guys,” someone yelled out, “didn’t your parents teach you how to walk? Get up and start acting like real men!”

Too often in life, or so it seems, there are those quick to remind you of some mistake you have made; who will simply try to humiliate you for some supposed failing. In Psalm 44:15-16, we are told: “We can’t escape the constant humiliation; shame is written across our faces. All we hear are the taunts of our mockers. All we see are our vengeful enemies.”

The writer of Psalms didn’t say he had just fallen into a snowdrift in a heap after his snowshoes became tangled up, but apparently someone was harassing him pretty badly. Later on, though, in Psalm 119:41-42, the writer states: “Lord, give me your unfailing love, the salvation that you promised me. Then I can answer those who taunt me, for I trust in your word.”

This writer understood what mattered; he trusted in God, over and above the taunts or criticism of others. That’s pretty good thinking. It is a good lesson for all of us.

Prayer: Lord, when I find myself facing the cynical comments or taunts of someone, help me to recall that you care for me, you love me and I can trust in you. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Prayer: Ah, Lord. Help me to be the kind of example, to the kids and young people I may be around, that you want me to be. Help me to stand "straight and tall” as it were, in the eyes of the young that I may have influence upon. Yes. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

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Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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Can we picture Christ saying the same things we are saying about some of the people in our church? It not, maybe we better be a bit more careful in how we speak about them.

Pastor Bill

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Sincere and authentic love does no wrong to its neighbor.

Pastor Bill

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SWISH AND SPLAT

“Man, was that ever good!” I had just finished the last bite of a fantastic breakfast that I had cooked all on my own. You understand, I had already earned the Cooking Merit Badge so this was not really all that big a deal. I will admit that cooking meals was not my most favorite thing to do but I could fix a mean breakfast when I was on any kind of a trip out in the woods like this. The fried potatoes, bacon and eggs that I had cooked up in the frying pan side of my official cook kit had really hit the spot—a little on the greasy side, sure, but it still tasted mighty good!

I didn’t want to waste time melting snow and heating water to wash my cooking and eating gear so I grabbed some old newspapers I had brought along and wiped everything down good. When I was done it all looked clean and ready to be used again. I had finished before any of the other boys, some who were still getting dressed. What slackers! Several others were just getting around to fixing their breakfasts. I decided that would give me time to stretch out on top of my sleeping bag and just rest a little—and let that breakfast settle a bit.

The old barrel stove had warmed the cabin to the point it had become uncomfortable, so one of the boys opened the single door located at one end. A pretty good blast of cold air was lowering the temperature down, but it felt pretty good at the moment. All of a sudden, as I lay on the bunk staring up at the rafters over my head, I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I heard a “swish” followed a split second later by a “splat” as a big snowball came through the door and plastered itself against the far wall.

“Hey!” someone yelled out, followed almost immediately by movement in our cabin as several of the boys started for the door, only to be pelted by snowballs coming from outside.

Someone else yelled out, “Hey, let’s get em’!” and there was a scurry of boys going out the door, all of them reaching into the snow as they made their way into the cold morning air and snow-covered ground. This was going to be war!

I don’t know that I have ever read about any snowball fights in the Bible. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any. Within the past several weeks I have read news items out of Israel that told of snowstorms in that country. It even snowed in Jerusalem, which is highly unusual. Some of the higher mountains received enough snow that skier were enjoying the slopes. And you can just bet that kids were throwing snowballs!

In both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles there is a very brief mention of a fellow named Benaiah, who was considered a hero by those who knew him. Look what it says about him: There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. (2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Chronicles 11:22)

Hmm. On a snowy day, mind you, he apparently outran a lion, chasing it down and into a pit, where he killed it! It would no doubt have been a heroic deed in mid-summer with dry ground—but in the winter?

By now you are probably wondering what a snowball fight on the first day of a winter campout in the mountains of Idaho has to do with this account out of the Old Testament. That fellow that chased the lion into the pit, on a snowy day, was one brave man. If you read on for a few more verses you learn more about him. He was so well thought of that he was head of King David’s security force—his secret police, if you will. I am guessing that his parents raised him to be a daring and bold young man who would not have shrank back from a good snowball fight with the neighborhood kids. He grew into a young man, who was not only considered courageous and fearless, but he apparently was well respected or King David would not have placed him in such an important position.

Courage and bravery can be good things, but sometimes even the seeming worst of people would appear to have such traits. But to be held in high esteem by your peers, to gain the respect of friends and neighbors, that is something young boys, and girls, everywhere need to learn. I hope that, in some small way, you and I can be examples that would influence the children and young people we are around to want to strive for such character traits.

Prayer: Ah, Lord. Help me to be the kind of example, to the kids and young people I may be around, that you want me to be. Help me to stand "straight and tall” as it were, in the eyes of the young that I may have influence upon. Yes. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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Some people have never discovered that the world is populated chiefly by others.

Pastor Bill

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LIGHT IS SWEET!

The long night of misery was finally behind me. I had given up a short while earlier, tired of suffering in the cold, and climbed out of my sleeping bag to put the rest of my clothes on. That whole process was accompanied by the appropriate shivers, shakes, moans and plenty of grumbling as I hurried to get dressed and get my boots on. I even put my gloves on to keep my hands warm as I used my flashlight to put the makings of a fire together. Once the paper, kindling and wood were laid out appropriately in the old stove, I pulled a wooden match from my waterproof match holder and lighted the paper. Within a matter of minutes I was listening to the cracks and pops as the fire burned with increasing energy. What a pleasant sound!

clip_image002(waterproof match box)  clip_image004(barrel stove)

The old stove had several cracks and gaps in the metal around the door that allowed the glow of the fire to shine into the early-morning darkness that still blanketed the cabin. I moved up within inches of the stove, hoping to feel even a little bit of warmth as the fire did its work. Several minutes passed but I was soon able to feel a little warmth radiating from the stove. I happened to glance towards the window at the end of the cabin and realized I could see the beginnings of daylight showing through the frosted pane. Hey! This just might be a good day after all!

In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 11, verse 7, under a heading titled “Advice for Young and Old,” there are these words: Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.

Hey! I can relate to that writer’s comment. Yes, how pleasant to see a new day dawning. I was in full agreement with that statement on that cold winter morning.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the seasons and for giving us the light of day as well as the dark of night. We usually rest during the night. It is a time of restoration you have planned for us. But what a wonder each new day is as the darkness is chased away by the light of day you provide us. It always seems to bring with it a new hope for the future. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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