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Archive for August, 2014

The church, more than any other place, ought to be where you find people who are always “cheering on” others! Work to make sure you are one of those types of people.

 

Pastor Bill

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“Hey! Look at this!” my partner exclaimed. He was walking several feet in front of me. I raised my eyes from the path and looked up to see what had caught his attention. The trail we had been following, which was hemmed in tightly on each side by trees and thick brush, and which followed along the crooked and noisy stream, had led us out into a small clearing.

As we looked around us we saw signs that someone had put a lot of work into this little spot. The brush had been cleared away opening up a large area beneath the tall trees. Nearby was a small primitive looking table made from small poles, which had been wired together tightly. Close by the table was a circle of rocks, no doubt carried from the stream flowing by only a few feet away, in which a fire had obviously burned. There was still a small, neatly stacked pile of unused firewood next to the fire pit. A small pole, probably seven to eight feet above the ground, had been hung between two trees. We had stumbled onto someone’s old hunting camp!

It soon became obvious that no one had used the camp for quite some time. In fact, we were not sure, as we took off our packs and began to look around, whether or not the camp had even been used during the last hunting season. But, it appeared as if those who had chosen this location for a campsite had picked a good location. It was one of the few level areas we had come across in our walk along the creek as it flowed through the narrow, crooked canyon. It was out of the wind and there was plenty of firewood all around. And the ridges and mountainsides surrounding the area must certainly contain an abundance of wild game.

Who was it that may have sat around this circle of rocks, containing a brightly burning campfire, holding their hands out towards its warmth on a cold, late fall evening? What kind of people were those who might have crawled into a cold sleeping bag inside a tent, listening to the sound of the stream close by which, combined with the warming of their beds, began to lull them to sleep? What kind of “luck,” might they have had as they hunted in the surrounding mountains?

Well, it was time for us to be moving on. As we left the tiny clearing in the thick woods, continuing along the trail we had been following, we quickly realized that the walking had become much easier! Someone had obviously done some real “trail work” in this area. The brush and low limbs of the trees had been cut back so we did not have to continually be bending over to pass by. Fallen trees had been removed from the trail so that we did not have to step over these obstacles or make our way around the larger ones as we had been required to do earlier up the trail. Hey, this was alright! Now we were beginning to make some time—to exactly where, we were not sure, but we were getting there faster!

Then, we began to hear it again. That airplane! The noise of its engine and the flash of the sun against its bright, aluminum shape were becoming familiar to us. Once again, we wondered just what this pilot was doing. A curious thought began to nag at the back of my mind as I heard the plane’s engine throttle back for an instant, three times in quick succession. It seemed clear he was searching for, or signaling to someone. Was there any chance—any chance at all—that he might be searching for two missing smokejumpers? Aw, surely not! No! Oh, no! They could not be looking for us! Right?

The Christian walks through life on trails that often seem narrow, crooked, and filled with many obstacles. But, the further we travel the more conscious we become that someone has walked this way before us! The trail has been cleaned out and the path has grown wider and easier to walk. Sure, we occasionally find we have to walk around or over something we might be faced with, but the trail beneath our feet is sure. Our Savior has walked it before us and has prepared it for us to follow.

In Jeremiah 31:19 we see the words, “. . . . I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, . .” Moments later, in verse 17, we read these words of encouragement, “So there is hope for your future.” We serve a loving Heavenly Father, don’t we? There is hope for the future! He has prepared our pathway!

Prayer: Ah, Lord, thank you for your direction and guidance throughout all of life. Thank you for those paths you lead me on as I travel through this life. Thank you. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen

Pastor Bill

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Some people, even within the church, seem to think they have a responsibility to level a continuous stream of criticism towards the pastor and the leaders of the church. Make sure you are never caught up in such a trap. Don’t become a person like that. Your relationship with God is put at risk if you do! Instead, focus on being an encourager and a person who lifts others up! That will pay big dividends!

 

Pastor Bill

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I have too much to work on in my own life, that I don’t have time to be worrying about someone else when it comes to the matter of criticism.

Pastor Bill

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Never forget that non-verbal language is every bit as powerful as spoken words. Your attitude is always plain for all to see. Don’t forget that.

Pastor Bill

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It is often out of the chaos, hard times and turmoil of life that we ultimately see God work in our lives. We may not see how He could ever do that at the time—but He does!

Pastor Bill

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ON THE TRAIL

Ah, yes! This was absolutely grand! The warm sun shining through the tall trees, the thick, soft carpet of pine needles beneath us, and the relaxing murmur of the stream as the water tumbled and flowed around and over the rocks. Even though it was only midmorning, the combination of these elements soon began to make us feel drowsy as we lay against our heavy packs. A person would not find it too difficult to take a morning “snooze,” in a setting like this! The chatter of a squirrel, the cry of a blue jay as he darted through the trees and the occasional whisper of a soft breeze making the leaves on the small trees along the creek rustle, all added to the pleasant setting we were enjoying.

Suddenly, we noticed the sound of a small airplane which seemed to be traveling in our direction. The noise of its engine got louder, and moments later we glimpsed it through the trees as it raced by overhead, traveling from north to south and much closer to the treetops than one might expect. We could not help but wonder what the reason would be for anyone flying that low, down in this canyon surrounded by all these mountains. But, our interest in this interruption to our tranquil setting disappeared along with the decreasing volume of the airplane’s engine.

Moments later, though, we began to hear the sound of the plane again. It seemed to be returning over the same path it had followed minutes earlier, but traveling north this time. My partner and I looked questioningly at each other as we caught a brief glimpse of the shiny, aluminum airplane as it flashed past overhead a second time. “What is that guy doing?” we wondered aloud. You would certainly not consider this to be a route for recreational flying—at least not at the altitude this pilot was traveling!

Well, the distraction had been enough that the drowsiness we had been feeling was gone. It was time to see if we could find our way out of these mountains we had been having such an “enjoyable” time in over these past twenty-four hours or so. We stood and stretched our tired muscles and hoisted our packs to our backs once again.

The trail we had found was not heavily travelled by any means, but it was a trail. Old “blaze” marks on some of the trees, cut into the bark with an axe, and rotting logs along the trail, cut with a saw many years ago, testified to man having been in this particular place at one time. As we began walking north, the trail remaining adjacent to the creek, we noted that the only tracks in any of the soft, damp spots along the trail were those of deer or elk, or smaller wild animals. No human footprints were visible.

It soon became apparent that this was a little-used trail for several other reasons. In some areas the brush overhung the trail so heavily we were forced to bend low with our heads down, hold our hands over our faces to protect them, and literally force our way through the mass of thick branches. Still, it did not rival the brush we had found ourselves in the previous night, far up on the side of the mountain which now was above us. We could handle this! We also became painfully aware of the numerous fallen trees lying across the trail. Some of them were so large it was difficult, especially with our heavy packs, to climb over. This trail had not been cleaned out in a very long time!

Suddenly, we heard the now-familiar sound of that airplane engine again. And sure enough, it was coming our way. But, there was a major difference this time. As we listened to the increasing sound as the plane drew closer, we heard the revolutions of the engine suddenly increase sharply for a split second. In rapid succession it happened a second time, and then a third as the pilot was apparently opening the throttle quickly, three times in a row. By now we had stopped walking and were looking at each other as we listened. We caught a brief glimpse of the plane through the tree limbs as it flashed overhead and, moments before the sound of the plane was out of our hearing, we heard the engine throttled up again—three times in quick succession.

What in the world was that pilot doing? Was he having engine trouble? If so, he should be headed away from the mountains, not towards them!

We continued walking along the trail only to be stopped several minutes later by the return of the airplane, following the same pattern of flying as it had before with the pilot opening and closing the throttle rapidly several times. We began to discuss what the pilot was doing, and why he might be doing it. It seemed obvious that the manner in which he was operating the aircraft was not by accident. Then my partner raised the same question that had been going through my mind. “I wonder if someone is lost and they are out looking for them?” he asked.

I replied that I had begun to wonder that very same thing. Someone must be lost. That pilot was surely not out on a joy ride this morning, flying the way he was. Well, we would keep our eyes open, and listen. If someone were lost in this area maybe we would stumble onto them! We could help them out . . . . .

Life is certainly interesting! How many of us, if we were to take the time to look back over the years, would be able to remember the times when we felt like we were “on the trail.” We believed we were on the trail God wanted us to be on, but it seemed awfully “brushy” on occasion and there were “fallen trees,” in our path much more frequently than we would have liked! And some of those trees were large ones which were extremely difficult to get beyond.

In Psalm 16:11, we are reminded that God has “made known to me the path of life.” The Psalmist does not say that this path will be one on which the believer will never face what might appear to be occasional barriers, or “fallen trees,” seeming to block the way. But, he did go on to add, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand!”

Pause a moment, if you will, and consider the meaning of this promise God has given us. He is so very good to us!

Prayer: Father, thank you for providing directions for me throughout life. Thank you for the reality that you fill me with joy, and your presence. Yes, thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Pastor Bill

 

 

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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