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Archive for the ‘Hope’ Category

Here in the Pacific Northwest we know about huckleberries, don’t we? They are those little, scrumptious, dark blue tongue-tantalizers which some people have a seemingly insatiable appetite for. If we happen to be out in the mountains when the huckleberries are “on,“ we may find ourselves stopping to pick them straight off the bush and popping them into our mouths. Oh, my but they taste fantastic! It is kind of like trout cooked over an open fire next to a mountain stream only minutes after they have been caught.

 

Yet, there are folks who don’t have huckleberries growing anywhere nearby and the only way they are able to experience anything close to that delicate taste is to purchase a small jar of huckleberry preserves in a gift shop (with a price so high they have to use a credit card to make the purchase!), or if they happen to dine at an elegant restaurant they might find the dessert menu including genuine huckleberry pie. Hey! You simply can’t beat a warm piece of huckleberry pie with a scoop of ice cream on top!

 

But there is something else associated with huckleberries—hard work. It can take a long time to fill a gallon bucket with those taste-teasers, let me tell you! Yet, when all is said and done and that piece of pie is setting in front of you, the hard work is forgotten. All you know is that your mouth is watering and the sharp scent of hot huckleberry pie is just about to overcome you. It is time to enjoy!

 

Ah, but what is all this talk of huckleberries? I am reminded of the goodness of God, demonstrated in the manner in which He takes care of us. In fact, we who have the privilege of living in this area of our nation are blessed with an abundance of the Creator’s beauty surrounding us—and that includes good things like huckleberries! In one of the Psalms the writer stated, “Better is one day in your courts that a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked . . . No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:10-11)

 

Hmmm. “No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” How is your walk with God? I hope you are enjoying the good things He has for you.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for exquisite beauty of your creation that is all about us. Thank you for the reality of the “good things” you have prepared for each of us. Help me never to take for granted all that you have made for us, and all that you do for us. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

Scriptures 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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WE RESERVE THE RIGHT……

Matthew 11:28

 

Some years back, and several hundred miles from home, I left the greater part of civilization behind me and traveled to the mountains for a time of rest and respite. In the early morning hours, long before any sign of light was showing in the sky to the east, I awakened to the realization that it would have been to my advantage to have taken a warmer sleeping bag. Wow! It was cold! As much as the sleeping bag would allow, I tried to curl up and wrap my arms around my legs in an effort to find some hint of warmth.

 

I finally drifted off to sleep again awakening once more shortly before sunrise. I made a hasty exit from the slight warmth of the sleeping bag and, with much shivering, shaking, moans and groans, got my clothes on and crawled through the small doorway of the tent and stood up. The realization that I could see my breath each time I exhaled did nothing to warm me up. I quickly went to work and soon had a roaring fire blazing away in an effort to chase the cold from bones.

 

As I turned back and forth in front of the cheery blaze, luxuriating in the heat my cold body was soaking up, I soon realized the sun was beginning to peek around the tall pine trees across the meadow from my campsite. I began to think how good it would be to sit down to a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and hash browns—but I had failed to bring any such treats like that with me. As I sat by the fire, the sun finally beginning to caress my back with its warmth, my stomach began to rumble. It was then the idea struck me I was not that many miles from a tiny logging community. They surely had a little café or restarurat that would be open at an early hour like this, right?

 

A shortly while later I parked in front of a tiny building with a small sign declaring thi this was a place with “great food.” The door was standing open, so I did not get to hear the clang of the cowbell hanging above it, which obviously announced the entrance of guests whenever the door was opend or shut. One elderly man and a young boy were sitting quietely, looking as if they had rolled out of bed only moents earlier. As I took my seat at a table I began to look around me. It wass soon apparentl that there was a single employee at work who had the responsibilities of waitress, cook and cashier—and any other taks that might come up in running this little café. She placed a menu and a cup of coffee in front of me, and declared that today’s special was two hotcakes, two eggs, two pieces of bacan and coffee for only $2.75. Say, now, that sounded like a bargain too good to pass up, and I told the young lady that would be a good enough breakfast for me.

 

I began to look around me after she left the table. Interesting place, it was. There was a large bulletin board with notes and posters related to activbities for the local school. There was a salad bar, measuring approximately 2 feet by 3 feet that was obviously used in the evenings. A sign above stated “All you can eat, $4.95.” To my right was the “non-smoking” section of the little restaurant—a single table.

 

On the couinter next to the cash resgister was a pan, a very black pan—a pan obviously blacked as a result of many trips to the oven.  Inside the pan was the days offering of homemade cinnamon rolls. A Christmas wreath still hung on one wall, even though this was midsummer. On the opposite wall, behnd the cash register, was a large sign in red letters that stated, “WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE TO ANYONE”.

 

Hmmm. That seemed as if it were a bit of a contradiction. A sign loudly proclaiming the possibility that you may not be welcome opposite a wreath commemorating the birth of that One who stated:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest . . . For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

 

Jesus Christ welcomes all who will accept His invitation to find rest for their souls. Have you experienced that rest? Why not worship in the church of your choice this next Sunday?

 

Oh, and by the way, that breakfast special was fantastic!

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the offer you have given to each and every human being to “Come,” and for the rest that you promise to provide us when we do. Yes, thank you, Father. In the Name of your Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

Scriptures 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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SOUNDING SAD

Psalm 105:43

“But they sound so sad! Don’t they sound that way to you, Dad?”


My daughter and her husband had recently moved to a new city and the noise of Air Force jet fighter aircraft taking off on a regular basis, only a few hundred yards from the doorway of the military housing unit in which they lived, had been replaced by the much quieter sounds of small city life. But there was a new sound present which they had not experienced before—the sound of train whistles. To my daughter, it was a “sad” sound.

 

During one of our discussions over the telephone she began to notice the sound of the train whistles late at night.  The community in which they lived had a large railroad yard and was busy around the clock with trains coming and going. It was early summer and the days and nights were already becoming warm to the point that my daughter and her husband would have a window open in their bedroom to allow cool air to circulate through the small apartment in which they lived. Though the railroad yards may have been clear across town, the sound of those whistles seemed to carry across the distance with an amazing clarity and, to my daughter, a mournful sadness.

 

A short time ago I found myself spending several days in that same city in which my daughter had lived. I had been in bed only a short time that first night when I heard, from far across town, the sound of a train whistle. I turned my head to listen more closely as the whistle sounded again. Did it sound sad?

 

Several times before I drifted off to sleep I heard the whistle on the train locomotives. Awakened during the night I heard, once more, the same sound being carried across the miles to where I lay. Maybe it did sound just a little bit on the “sad” side of things!

 

The word “sad” brings up numerous images in our minds. When I was a young boy we had a dog that could walk around with such a sad look on his face that it would tug at your heart! In fact, he usually did this as you sat down at the dinner table in the evening and, if you did not become skilled at ignoring him, you were bound to give him something to chew on just to get him to have a more cheerful look on his face.

 

Have you ever been around a person you considered to be “sad”? There are some individuals who wear a sad and mournful expression on their faces that seems to go along with a slow, shuffling walk, stooped shoulders and eyes that are most frequently staring towards the ground.

 

For the individual who has accepted the promises of God, sorrow and sadness are replaced with a refreshing joy! A joy which is accompanied by a zest for living which can be found only by that one who knows what it means to walk through life with the presence of Jesus Christ living within their hearts.

 

In Psalm 105:43 are the words, “He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy.” The death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross, followed by His resurrection, provided us with the promise and the hope of everlasting joy! Do you have that joy in your heart and life? If not, why not locate a good, Bible-believing church and go there this Sunday. It can turn out to be the very best choice you have ever made!

 

Prayer: Father, help me to be ever mindful that I do have reason for joy—everlasting joy! Thank you for such a wonderful gift. Thank you, Jesus. In your Name we pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

Scriptures 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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Judges 20:11

I was acquainted with a nice couple who lived in an older home which had a modern gas furnace used to heat the house during the cold months of the year. In those months of summer when the heat in the deep valley in which they lived became almost unbearable, they would retreat to their large living room which was cooled by a very large window air conditioner. The couple had found this adequate for keeping them comfortable on the hottest of days, even though there were some rooms in the house which never seemed to cool down as a person might desire, simply because they were too far from that single, window air conditioning unit.

 

The couple awakened on one late summer morning and found the house uncomfortably cool. This was that time of year when the days are becoming shorter, the nights longer, and the hottest part of the day is usually in the late afternoon. It is not unusual to find the air just a bit nippy in the mornings. Anyway, as the husband left the bedroom to go into the kitchen and turn the coffee pot on he paused next to the thermostat, moved the “heat” switch to the “on” position, knowing how much his wife was going to appreciate having a little bit of warmth to begin the morning with. After he adjusted the dial to the desired temperature setting, he went into the kitchen to get the coffee started. Within a few short minutes warm air was coming out of the heat registers and chasing the chill out of the air.

 

Later that day the couple left the house to take care of several errands. By that time the warmth of the sun was beginning to make itself felt and so, before leaving home, the man walked over to the window air conditioner and turned it on. This way they could insure they would return to a cool home and be able to escape the coming afternoon heat. They also closed doors to a portion of the house off the living room area, which included the kitchen and a dining area, so that the air conditioner would only have to work to cool the smaller living room area.

 

Later, their errands completed, the couple returned to their home, looking forward to escaping the rising temperatures that accompanied the late afternoon hour. They were more than ready to enter the pleasant coolness of their living room.

 

“Aha! That feels nice,” they thought as the two of them walked through the front door and escaped the oppressive heat of the late afternoon though, oddly, it did not actually seem as cool as they might have expected. And it almost seemed as if the air conditioner was “laboring” to keep it cool in that living room. They had been in the room only a brief time when they became aware of a sound other than the air conditioner coming from somewhere. What was it?

 

The man walked towards the kitchen and opened the door. He was met with a blast of heat that would have made the sands of the Mohave Desert envious! After several startled glances at each other the couple suddenly realized that their efficient gas furnace downstairs was running! That was the strange noise they had heard. A quick look at the thermostat, inside the room with the air conditioner, confirmed their suspicions. Upon leaving several hours earlier they had forgotten to turn the “heat” switch on the thermostat off! As a result the window air conditioner and the furnace were both working hard—against each other!

 

Have you ever witnessed that happening between two individuals or two groups of people? They may both have the same general goals for which they are striving but each is going about it in a different way, separate from the other, splitting valuable resources which, if put together, could be more efficient, effective, and have a far greater and more positive impact as far as the end result.

 

In the Old Testament book of Judges, we find these words, “So all the men of Israel got together and united as one man against the city” (Judges 20:11). As a result of uniting together the ultimate victory over the enemy became theirs. Separately they surely would have failed.

 

Hmm. Together or apart . . . success versus failure. Which will we choose?

 

Prayer: O Lord, help me to be very careful to work together with those around me who may be working towards the same goal that I am. May your Kingdom be enlarged and lifted up through our unity. In Jesus Name  I pray. Amen.

 

Pastor Bill

 


Scriptures 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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This morning I slept in. Hey! I will agree that this is not something that happens often but, you have got to remember, I am retired now–whatever that means. Anyway, rather than awakening at the usual time of 5 AM, I did not stumble out of bed till a bit after 6 AM. I was still trying to rub the sleep out of my eyes when I began feeling for the switch on the coffee maker to fire that wonderful piece of machinery up.

Several minutes later I had splashed water on my face and grimaced back at the old guy looking at me in the mirror and I headed for the living room chair. This is always a special time of day for me. I enjoy the quietness as I sit and gaze into the darkness of the early morning, knowing it will still be some time before daylight even begins to hint that it might be on the way into this new day. As I sat in the silence with only the sound of the coffee maker interrupting the morning with its noise, I suddenly realized that the first cup must be ready. Moments later I seated myself once more in the comfort of the large recliner, this time with a hot cup of “Joe” in my hand. Ah, me! I have to tell you that, if you aren’t a coffee drinker, you just don’t know what you are missing. That first cup in the early morning hours is something to truly look forward to.

As I viewed the sparkling lights of the cities spread out through the panorama of darkness before me I began to think back over the past hours. It had been a rotten night for my wife and me. She deals with chronic pain in her legs and it seems that far too often, in recent days, the medication her doctor has prescribed simply does not do what one would expect, and hope, it would do–erase the pain. On nights such as the one we had just struggled through my wife deals with efforts at trying to become comfortable since it is so difficult for her to find any position where the pain and burning sensation she goes through can be alleviated to any degree that allows her to go to sleep.

We began the night with my wife in a living room recliner, covered with blankets, and my old retired body stretched out on the couch. After about an hour she had to get up and move around and we decided it was time to try the bed. We were up several times throughout the night–my wife more often than me, certainly. But her pain robbed both of us of a really good night’s rest. So what’s a person to do at time like this–especially when you are retired?

As the coffee began to awaken the sleepy cells in my body I began to spend some time with the Lord. As part of that I am reading through the New Century Version of the Bible and I am presently in the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles. Here are words that caught my attention on this “tired” morning:

Be glad that your are his; let those who seek the Lord be happy. Depend on the Lord and his strength; always go to him for help. Remember the miracles he has done, his wonders and his decisions.”

Say, now, I have to tell you that this is really “good stuff!” As a child of God–as a Christian, we must remember to be glad that we are His. We belong to Him–the Heavenly Father, the Master of the universe. And He didn’t say we are to be “happy” just during the very best of time. No. We are to be happy–period. But then He reminds us that we are to depend on him and to always go to Him for our help. I wonder, do we do that often enough? It would probably help us all to take occasions to look back into our past and remember the miracles and wonders He has done in our lives and the lives of those we love and care about.

Sure, let’s be careful that we depend on Him today, and He will provide us with the rest–real rest–that we need.

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PRAYER ROCK

I recently came upon this little piece of verse in some old notes. I have no idea where it came from or who may have authored it.

PRAYER ROCK

I’m your little prayer rock and this is what I’ll do.

Just put me on your pillow until the day is through.

When you turn back the covers and climb into your bed,

WHACK–your little prayer rock will hit you in the head.

Then you’ll remember, as the day is through,

To kneel and say your prayers, as you had wanted to.

Then when you are finished just dump me on the floor,

I’ll stay there through the night to give you help once more.

When you get up next morning, CLUNK–I’ll stub your toe,

So that you will remember your prayers before you go.

Put me back upon your pillow when your bed is made.

And your clever little prayer rock will continue in your aid.

Because your Heavenly Father cares and loves you so,

He wants you to remember to talk to Him, you know.

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AWAY FROM THE STORM

Only a few hours earlier the two other men and I, each on a snow machine, had been making all kinds of designs in the deep, soft powder snow as we swept first one way and then another, back and forth over the small mountain meadow we had come upon. As I sped across the smooth, unbroken expanse of glistening snow I was filled with a feeling of exhilaration as the fine, icy crystals assaulted my face. It was one of those days when it is great to be outdoors in midwinter, the cares of the regular workday world left behind for a time, simply enjoying the fascinating scenes of winter in the depths of the mountain wilderness. The sun had been shining from a deep blue sky with occasional white, puffy clouds drifting overhead. But, that had been a few hours earlier. Things had changed.

Now we found ourselves far out on a harsh, winds-wept ridge top, attempting to reach a Forest Service fire lookout tower located high on a rocky bluff. The sun was gone now, blotted out by dark, gray foreboding clouds. The wind was blowing hard and showed no sign of letting up. The deep, soft powered snow we had been cavorting around in earlier was gone and we found this stormy ridge top blown completely bare of snow in many places, causing us to travel slowly and cautiously, watching the trail carefully to avoid the many rocks along the way. This was really cold and miserable! It was not what we would call in the category of “fun”!

The lookout tower finally came into sight ahead of us but it seemed as if it took much longer than it should have to reach it, the cold, biting wind ripping across our faces as we painstakingly made our way along the rocky trail. We finally pulled up next to the building, our heads tucked down trying to give our faces some protection from the force of the gale blowing across the rocky point. A door on one side of the building was unlocked and within moments the three of us had stepped inside, closed the door behind us, and were removing our gloves, blowing into our cold hands in an attempt to warm them.

We were tired and it was past lunch time. We each found a place to sit and brought out the cold sandwiches we had prepared early that morning before leaving the cabin and began gulp them down as the wind shrieked and moaned around the small building. Hot coffee poured from a thermos soon sent three twisting columns of steam upwards from the metal cups we held. It seemed as if this were the one comforting thing present in this harsh environment we were in. All too soon it was time for us to leave the meager shelter afforded by the fire lookout, stepping out into the biting winter wind to find our way off the mountain top.

Many times our lives can be compared to that day which the other two men and I experienced. We were having a great time in the morning when we were in that meadow in the deep powder snow with the sun shining brightly down upon us. Yet, only hours later, we were on a cold, wind-swept, uninviting mountain top which, if not treated with respect, could actually become a killer. The interior of the unheated lookout offered only a brief respite from the wind. It was still cold and uncomfortable. We could not have afforded to stay there long. We wanted to get away from the storm and into the peacefulness down off the mountain. We looked forward to the warmth of the cabin we had left early that morning.

In the Old Testament, in Psalm 107, the writer is speaking of men out on the seas in the midst of storms. But, the storm may be anywhere or at any point in our lives. Beginning in verse 27 we read, “. . . . . they were at their wits’ end. Then they cried out to the lord in their trouble and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper . . . . .”

God does that in our lives if we allow Him to.

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