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Archive for December, 2014

Affliction has a tendency to pull the rug of self-sufficiency out from under us. Affliction can teach us the value of obedience—and dependency on God.

 

Pastor Bill

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THE REMEDY

I had a great grandpa who lived on a homestead on the side of a mountain called Gold Hill, which was north of the small town of Princeton, ID, where I grew up. In 1879, Grandpa P. was suffering from what most people referred to as rheumatism. Most folks today call it arthritis. In any case, Grandpa was having a miserable time with this infirmity; he could barely get around. In the fall of that year his boys, three grown young men, were down in the woods below the house cutting wood for the winter. They needed a good supply to get them through the winter. The wood would be used in the kitchen range and for heating the family home.

It was a sunny day, and Grandpa sat in the shade of the porch, looking out over the tops of the trees towards the valley below, all the while listening to the sound of the boys at work in the woods below the house. Finally, he could no longer stand staying at the house. With his cane in one hand, and a crutch under the other arm, he hobbled down the hill, across the pasture, and along a trail into the trees to see how the wood cutting was getting along.

Moments before Grandpa arrived, the big yellow pine tree the boys were cutting down finally fell to the ground with a thunderous roar. Grandpa stopped for a moment and watched the dust settle. He had come pretty close to the tree. It was a good thing he hadn’t arrived sooner. What Grandpa didn’t know, and neither did the boys, was that a large yellow jacket nest had been knocked out of a neighboring tree when the big yellow pine fell. The nest had broken apart near the top of the tree that now lay on the ground, and the bees were mad. There was a cloud of them swirling around, just looking for something, or someone, to take their anger out on. And then the cloud of bees spotted Grandpa approaching, and they flew in to attack.

Grandpa was scared to death of bees. He didn’t realize any were close until the first few bees began swirling around his head, and he began getting stung! Suddenly, Grandpa threw his cane one way, and his crutch another, and he took off; back up the trail towards the cabin, as fast as he could run. The boys heard him yelling and watched in amazement as he ran up the hill, waving his arms and yelling all the way.

Grandpa got back to the cabin, breathless from his mad dash back to the house, his face and hands already swelling up from the bee stings—but his rheumatism was gone! His family shared that he was never troubled with it again during the remainder of his life. The folks who knew Grandpa P. couldn’t explain it—they just knew it as fact. Maybe a new remedy had been discovered!

There are a lot of things in life that I don’t understand, including instantaneous healing of a person’s rheumatism. But I take comfort in the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 which states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

I like that promise!

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the multitude of promises you have provided us in the Bible. Thank You, that you remind us often that we can trust You. We don’t need to understand everything. We can simply trust You! In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

 

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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It takes faith, during the difficult times in life, to say that “I am in God’s hands and I trust Him to bring good out of this!”

A person with a strong faith in God will cling to the promises, found in His Word, such as Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

 

Pastor Bill

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You don’t have to follow procedures and plans, contrived by men, to come to Christ and have His touch upon your life!

 

Pastor Bill

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God often surprises us by doing things differently than what we might expect. He did that 2000 years ago when the Christ child was born. He may do that for you in the coming year. Merry Christmas!

 

Pastor Bill

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The Christmas season can be a joyful time—and it should be! It can also be a difficult time for people to go through who may have experienced the loss of a loved one during the past year, a person dealing with a terminal illness, for one who has been unemployed for a lengthy period of time and is struggling financially, and for people who, for a multitude of reasons, just want to get beyond the holiday.

It is a reality that, in the midst of living, there will be unpleasantness, sickness, hurt and even death. Yes, we may experience the deepest of hurts. God does not tell us He will pluck us out of these experiences, but He will travel through such times with us! Isaiah 43:2 reminds us:  When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

Remember that. Your Heavenly Father is with you!

Pastor Bill

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By Rev. Howard C. Schade

(The following story is said to have been written by Rev. Howard C. Schade, pastor of the First Reformed Church in Nyack, New York, and published in Reader’s Digest in December of 1954. I published it on The Shelter Tree blog in December of 2010, but it seems worth sharing again. I hope you enjoy it. ~ Pastor Bill)

It was mid-November, 1948, when a young, enthusiastic minister received his first pastorate. His new church at one time had been a resplendent edifice in one of the best neighborhoods of a well-known city in the eastern United States. Time, however, had taken its toll on the church and the surrounding area. Things weren’t as grand as they had once been.

The minister and his wife realized there wasn’t a lot they could do about the community, but the church was another matter. They knew that soap and water, paint and polish, and a generous supply of elbow grease could help the building regain some of its elegance in time for Christmas.

With only a month to accomplish so much, they poured out their energies. They scrubbed and waxed floors, washed accumulated grime from the pews and painted the walls. The church seemed to take on a glow of pride as Christmas crept closer. The couple couldn’t help feeling a measure of satisfaction in what they had accomplished.

Just two days before Christmas an incredible storm struck the area. The howling storm pounded the region, dumping nearly two inches of rain before moving on. The church’s old roof couldn’t take the storm’s ferocity. It sprung numerous leaks. Most were minor and hardly dampened the interior, but one massive leak was ruinous. Right behind the altar the old plaster wall became saturated, soaking up water like a dry sponge. An enormous chunk of plaster fell from the wall, leaving an ugly, gaping hole.

There was not time to repair the damage before the Christmas eve services. The pastor and his wife couldn’t help feeling all their back-breaking labor had been for naught. In their eyes the church looked worse than it had when they started.

What was the use, they thought, as the scraped up the sodden plaster.

The benefit auction they attended that evening didn’t do much to raise their spirits, until an old tablecloth was put up for bid. The instant the pastor saw it, he was ecstatic. Here, he reasoned, was the solution to his problem.

The tablecloth was gigantic, more than large enough to cover the hole in the sanctuary wall. And it was beautiful too. Obviously handmade from fine lace with gold thread running through it, it would look spectacular hanging on the church wall. He was determined to have it, and six dollars and fifty cents later it was his.

The day before Christmas was clear, but windy and cold. As he happily unlocked the church he spotted an older woman standing at the curb, apparently waiting for a bus. Knowing the next bus wouldn’t be along for at least a half-hour, he invited her to wait in the church where she would at least be warm.

In halting English she thanked him for his kindness, and casually mentioned she lived across town. She was only there that day because she was trying to get a job. A well known family in the area was looking for a housekeeper/baby-sitter. She didn’t get the job, she said, because of her poor English. She had only been in the United States a few years, she explained. She was a war refugee.

The minister said he had work to do, and headed for the sanctuary to cover the unsightly hole in the wall. She thanked him again and slipped into a pew near the back of the church. As he unfolded the tablecloth, stretched it to its full width and started fastening it to the wall, the woman suddenly shouted, “That’s mine. That’s my banquet cloth.” She rushed to the front of the church and showed the stunned minister her initials embroidered on the cloth. Breathlessly, she told him the story of the tablecloth.

“My husband and I lived in Vienna, before the war,” she said, forlornly. “We hated the Nazis, and we were going to flee to Switzerland.” In order to avoid suspicion, she went on, her husband sent her ahead. He promised to send their belongings, and then follow soon. Their worldly possessions never arrived in Switzerland, nor did her husband. “I later learned he had died in a Nazi concentration camp,” she said, fighting back the tears.

Nearly in tears himself, the minister insisted she take the cloth that obviously meant so much to her. She hesitated for a moment, and then said no. It looked beautiful on the church wall, and besides, living alone she didn’t give banquets anymore. Without another word she turned and slowly left the church to catch her bus.

At Christmas Eve services the church did look spectacular. The tablecloth seemed to glow. The gold threads sparkled in the candlelight like hundreds of tiny, golden stars. As the congregation left the church, the minister received nothing but praise about how majestic the church looked.

The minister noticed an old man, though, lingering in the church, enraptured by the altar. As he finally left he told the pastor how wonderful the church looked. Then almost as an after-thought, he said, “It is strange. Many years ago my wife had a banquet cloth like that one,” nodding toward the altar. “But that was so long ago when we lived in Vienna. My wife is dead now, killed in the war.”

It was a frigid night, but the goose bumps the minister suddenly felt all over his body and the chill running up and down his spine weren’t caused by the night air. Taking several deep breaths to steady himself, he told the man about the woman who had been in the church that morning.

“Can it be,” gasped the man, grabbing the minister’s hands, tears streaming down his cheeks, “that she is alive? Where is she? How can I find her?” For an instant the pastor felt panic. How, indeed, could he find her? He had no idea where she lived. For an instant his heart sank. Had he brought hope to an old man only to dash it out? Then he remembered the name of the family she had been interviewed by that day. Rushing to the phone he called the family residence. Hastily he explained why he had to have the woman’s name and address that instant. Minutes later, in the minister’s beat-up old car, the two men drove as quickly as possible to the woman’s apartment house.

With a mixture of apprehension and excitement, together the two men knocked on the door. The few minutes it took her to answer seemed like hours. When she finally did open the door, the minister saw the culmination of what was to him, a miracle. For an instant the husband and wife, separated for nearly a decade stared at one another, not daring to believe their eyes, and almost afraid to blink for fear the vision they were each looking at would vanish. In another instant they were in each other’s arms, tearfully, joyfully and excitedly clinging to each other. All the heartache and loneliness of ten years was wiped away. The moment each had dreamed about, but never really expected to see fulfilled had miraculously come true. They were together again, and nothing was ever going to be able to drive them apart.

Merry Christmas!

Pastor Bill

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