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“The Story of Two Lumberjacks!”

The story is told of two lumberjacks – an older and a younger – both known for their expertise and speed.  Both were fearless lumberjacks and could clear big trees swiftly out of a forest. One the younger man challenged the older to a contest to see who could cut down the most trees in a day. The next day the contest began and both men went with their axes and went to work.  The younger man, with his vim, vigor and vitality, began in earnest chopping down one tree after another without stopping.  One tree after the other fell, both men using their skill with an axe to cut down many trees.  About mid-day, the younger man noticed that the older lumberjack chopped trees for about an hour and then took a fifteen-minute break.  He laughed that the older man could not keep up with him, needing that break to rest. At the end of the day when the felled trees were counted, the older lumberjack had chopped down one-third more trees than the younger lumberjack.  Puzzled, the younger lumberjack asked the older, “How could you, taking a break ... Read More »

“Grateful for Fleas!”

“In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Max Lucado in his book and study, Anxious for Nothing, shares the following reflection: Really? In every situation pray with thanksgiving?  Even when that punk takes your parking spot? Even when there is no more creamer in the fridge, your toddler is screaming bloody murder, and all you want is a cup of coffee? Even when she says, “I have cancer,” or he leaves after decades of marriage? Surely not! Surely the original Greek translation of this verse means “in most situations pray with thanksgiving.” In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom tells a remarkable story about gratitude.  During World War II, she and her sister Betsie lived in three different concentration camps.  The entire ten Boom family had been arrested for providing a safe haven to Jews and Nazi rebels.  It’s estimated they saved eight hundred lives before being caught and sent away. Corrie describes how the barracks of the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany was infested with flees.  The sisters were forced to sleep on wooden platforms with straw on ... Read More »

“C.A.L.M.”

    It was a gorgeous North Carolina morning, an awesome morning for turkey hunting.  It was a little cool as I walked into the woods, about an hour before sunrise.  I walked a short way and hit the owl call but nothing.  Walked a little farther, called and again, nothing.  Walked on, called, and heard a gobble in the distance.  Walked a little further, called and a gobble again.   There was a large oak tree off to my right side and headed for it, sat down with my back leaning against the tree.  I pulled out a slate call and a box call and did a few yelps on the slate and the gobbling got closer.  The tom was coming my way and I started getting anxious. How big was it? How long a beard?  Awesome spurs?  Another hearty gobble and it was getting close, maybe a hundred yards but coming from behind. Should I move?  Would it see me?  The adrenalin was pumping!  I hit the box call: “gobble, gobble, gobble” the tom said back to me.  It was close…      Then I heard a disheartening sound.  A hen ... Read More »

“May the Lord of the Force Be With You!”

With the release of Star Wars VIII:  The Last Jedi in December, it brought back to mind the Star Wars saga and the storyline behind the movies:  light vs. darkness and the Force.  What is the Force?  Dick Staub in Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters writes:  One of Star Wars’ great contributions is the reinforcement of the centuries-old teaching that something spiritual is at work in the universe.  Star Wars creator George Lucas named this phenomenon “the Force.” The Jedi seeks to master the use of the Force, to be suffused with and fueled by this potent energy that “surrounds us and penetrates us… and binds the galaxy together,” according to Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Yoda expands on this, describing the Force as a strong ally and source of power for the Jedi, but warning Luke Skywalker that this power exists in a delicate balance.  Under pressure or in dire circumstances, strong emotions can surge: “Anger… fear… aggression.  The dark side of the Force are they. The light-versus-dark dualism of Jedi lore parallels teachings found in the Bible.  As early as the first century A.D. the Apostle John talked ... Read More »

“DEATH NO MORE!”

I have learned many things as a pastor and am sure I will learn much more.  One of the main things I have learned is that people do not like talking about… death and dying.  People would rather talk about anything else; just not that topic.  However, death is part of life and it is something that we all must face. We do not need modern technology or scientific breakthrough to achieve immortality. Although there have been many searches and attempts, nothing has been achieved.  The answer has been right in front of us, but many choose not to accept that answer.  It becomes a matter of not believing or believing, and it is a matter of faith. Our journey of faith is impacted now as we begin the Advent season which leads to the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  (The word Advent is a version of a Latin term which means “coming.”)  Without the birth of Jesus and his life upon this earth, and his crucifixion and resurrection, we would not be even able to discuss eternal life.  The birth of Jesus gives humanity hope. Earlier this year ... Read More »

“DEA…”

I have learned many things as a pastor and am sure I will learn much more. One of the main things I have learned is that people do not like talking about… death and dying. People would rather talk about anything else, just not that topic. However, death is part of life and it is something that we all must face. Losing someone is hard and one would rather it not happen. Throughout history, people have sought to find a way to cheat death and live forever. Of course, the one that has been recently made famous again is Captain Jack Sparrow and the Fountain of Youth. The Fountain of Youth is a spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks or bathes in its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus (5th century BC), the Alexander romance (3rd century AD), and the stories of Prester John (early Crusades, 11th/12th centuries AD). Stories of similar waters were also evidently prominent among the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean during the early 16th century, who spoke ... Read More »

“DE…”

     I have learned many things as a pastor and am sure I will learn much more.  One of the main things I have learned is that people do not like talking about… death and dying.  People would rather talk about anything else, just not that topic.  However, death is part of life and it is something that we all must face.     Are we prepared for death?  Death impacts us all.  As I think back on deaths in my life, two come to mind immediately.  The first is that of my Aunt Betty.  I had worked for my aunt on the farm (my first paying job) and other various jobs and she and I had a close relationship.  My grandma, cousin and aunt were going over to Owen-Withee to get a ham in December of 1982. They were making a left-hand turn and a truck driver did not see them turning and hit the car.  My grandma and cousin survived but my Aunt Betty did not.  It was my first experience with death that I can remember.  It was made worse by an event that happened at the funeral home the ... Read More »

Are You Willing to Put Off Your Old Self?”

     One of my favorite books is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  It was first published in 1937 (yes, the movie came much, much later) and since then has become one of the most popular books ever written.  It has never been out of print and it has won numerous awards.     The Hobbit was written with a strong theological basis.  It is very much a Christian book because Tolkien was very much a Christian author.  As you read it, one of the best places to see this foundation at work is within the theme of moral and spiritual growth.      James Stuart Bell in The Spiritual World of the Hobbit writes: “One core concept of Christian doctrine is that human beings are born with a fatal flaw – something that’s broken in the core of our beings must be fixed before we can become the people God created us to be.  This defect is often defined as ‘sin’ or our ‘sinful nature.’”      God is the one who ultimately fixes us, of course, and God does so in a dramatic way.  Because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we ... Read More »

“Am I Like A Monkey?”

     There are numerous television shows about hoarding and the number is predicted to increase.  Why do people hoard?  Another growing business is storage facilities.  People do not have enough room so they pay for storage to store their excess belongings.  Sometimes it is necessary but most of the time it is just because we have accumulated too many possessions.  Is it greed?  Why do we do it?  Do we not want to let go?  We do the same thing with our finances, afraid to let go and give back to God.       You may have heard the famous anecdote about how people catch monkeys in India.       “Long ago, an insightful hunter figured out that monkeys are selfish creatures, so he created a method of capture that takes advantage of that nature.      First, the monkey hunter cuts a small hole in one end of a coconut – a hole just big enough for the monkey to fit his hand in – and ties a long cord to the other end.  Then he puts peanuts, banana chunks, or some other enticing treat into the hole, places the coconut in the ... Read More »

“We Don’t Need to Fight Critics” BY RICK WARREN 

So I replied by sending this message to them: ‘I am doing a great work! I cannot stop to come and meet with you.’ Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply” (Nehemiah 6:3-4 NLT). Negative people will distract you. You know God has given you an important assignment. But these naysayers tell you that you’re the wrong person. You’ve got the wrong idea. You’re doing it the wrong way. Take Nehemiah, for example. Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a priest. He was a businessman. Israel had been taken captive by the Babylonians. The Israelites had been in exile for 70 years — and then the Babylonians let them go home. Jerusalem had been destroyed and was defenseless. Nehemiah got a big idea. “I’ll rebuild my city. And I’ll start by rebuilding the wall to protect it.” He encountered instant opposition. Israel’s enemies didn’t want to see Jerusalem defended. Leaders realize that every opportunity comes with opposition. I’ve never done anything in my life that wasn’t opposed by somebody. Opportunity plus opposition equals God’s will. Nehemiah’s enemies tried all sorts of things to ... Read More »

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