Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely , whatever is of good report, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, ponder on these things. - Philippians 4:8

Saturday, June 28, 2014


     After spending nearly 20 minutes trying to real in the big fish, Bill and Randy finally netted their catch. “Wow!” Tim exclaimed, That's got to be the biggest fish I've ever seen.” “It's bigger than anything I've ever caught.” John added. “Well, I had one bigger.” Robert Grey said as he joined the group fishing on the dock. “He was so big I had to shoot him.”

      As Robert said those words the sound of a gun shot echoed through the park. “You didn't have to shoot him again.” Robert called out. “No-one here has a gun.” Tim said “I wonder who shot then? Bill asked and then was run over buy a bald headed, dark skinned guy with a sinister laugh.” “Who was that?” Randy asked has he helped Bill back on his feet.

      Before anyone could answer Randy, Stella went running by “HE SHOT HIM, HE SHOT HIM.” At the top of her lungs. The next thing the guys new the air was filled with the sound of sirens. “I'm going to go and see if I can find out what's going.” John Said and took off in the direction they had heard the shot come from.

      While the guys were waiting for John to return, Tim's pager went off “I'm needed at the hospital right away.” He said after looking at his pager, “Someone HAS been shot.” and off he ran. Five minutes later, John came back huffing and puffing. “Bill,” He said, 'It's Harold. Harold's been shot. You better get to the hospital.”

      “Let's go!” Robert said to Bill. I”ll drive. He may be your son, but he's my grandson or something like that.” As they took off, John looked at Randy, “And I thought Harold was going to be the hero and stop all the rebelling going on. I guess he won’t be stopping anything now.” he said. “I should head up to the hospital too.” Randy said and then changed his mind, “No, I need to get to the church and call a prayer meeting.”

      Wondering what to do now that he was alone, John started to clean up the fishing tackle the guys left on the dock when Sergeant Halfway showed up. “John.” he called out, “I need to talk to you about the shooting. I need to know if you saw or heard anything unusual around here.”

      “Yeah I did.” John said, “I was sitting down there on the dock when here she come, running through the park screaming 'He Shot Him.' at the top of her lungs.” “Who did you see?” Halfway asked, “It was Stella.” John answered, Harold's sister. “Hmm.” Sergeant Halfway said, “I wonder who 'he' is?”

      “I don't know if this will help you or not.” John said, “But earlier today we saw Stella running through the park looking for someone she called 'Bud.'” “Did she say anything else about this Bud guy?” Sergeant Halfway asked. “No but from what we did get her to say, it sounded like he was behind this rebellion thing going on.”

      “That might be a clue.” Halfway said, “Anything else?” “Yeah,” John said, “Just after the shot a bald headed, dark skinned, guy ran through here with a sinister laugh. I think he was headed towards the boat house down by the landing.” “Thanks John,” Halfway said, “I'll get my men searching right away.”

      Conflict between good and evil is a part of life. While they may often operate side by side, eventually a show down, a confrontation will occur.
Now Korah, Dathan and Abiram took men and they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?" When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, and he said to Korah and all his company, "In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. … And let every one of you take his censer and put incense on it, and every one of you bring before the LORD his censer, 250 censers; you also, and Aaron, each his censer." So every man took his censer and put fire in them and laid incense on them and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting with Moses and Aaron. Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. … And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram." Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins." … And Moses said, "Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD." And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. … And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.
Numbers 16: (ESV)

     Many such conflicts can be found throughout the Bible and time. When such times arise we need to remember the words found in Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (ESV)
      Here are some more encouraging words for such times.
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (ESV)
  • Joshua 23:8 but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. (ESV)
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)

      Here's Something To Ponder
  • When conflict comes your way, what do you hold to?
  • In what ways do you tackle conflict?

Saturday, June 21, 2014


     Bill Peterson, John McDonald and Randy Smith were having a “meeting of the minds” as they called it while sitting on the local fishing peer. Wanting to try and piece together a few more ideas and pieces to the rebellion yet not wanting to waste a beautiful day they decided this was going to be a win win situation even if they didn't catch a fish.

     “You did tell Robert and Tim where we were meeting, Bill?” John asked. “Yeah” Bill replied, “But I think I told them the wrong time. They should be here soon though.” “Does anybody know if Harold ever found anybody to listen to him?” Randy asked. “Why? Do you need some pointers for your sermons?” John said with a laugh.

     “Any other time I would have thought that to be funny.” Randy said “But, wait, who's that over their behind that tree?” “I don't see anybody.” Bill said as he turned to look. “Me neither.” John said. “Well, I'm sure I saw someone over there.” Randy said, “And it looked almost like it could have been Stella.”

     “STELLA! We know you're over there.” Bill called out wondering if someone was really there and to his surprise, someone answered back “I’m not here.” Everyone immediately recognized Stella's voice and Bill called out “Alright, Stella. What is going on here? Why are you spying on us from behind that tree?”

     “I'm not spying on you.” Stella called out, “I'm looking for Bud.” “Bud?” John asked, “Who in the world is Bud?” “Bud?” Stella repeated, “Did I say Bud? I meant MUD. Yeah, That's what I meant, mud.” “But I was sure you said Bud.” John said “Yeah, I heard you say Bud too.” Randy added. “No.” Stella replied, “You couldn’t have. Nobody is suppose to know He’s here.”

     “Know who is here?” Bill asked. “Bud!” Stella replied to which all three guys said “BUD!?” in unison. “Where? Where?” Stella said coming out of here hiding spot and looking all around. “So you did say Bud.” John said. “What's going on Stella?” Randy piped in. “You better come clean” Bill added, “you're already in a heap of trouble.”

     “Harold’s messing up our plans.” Stella said, “He’s become a mister nice guy, and he’s being obedient. And that’s going to mess up our plans.” Plans for what?” John asked, “Plans to take over the city?” “'Yes” Stella replied, And that's not all, but now we have to stop Harold or he’s going to ruin everything. And I’ve already said to much.”

     “Well you better keep talking.” Came another voice. It was Tim. But Stella didn't keep talking, she took off on the run. Bill was about to chase after her but Randy yelled out that he got a bite and he got sidetracked helping keep Randy from falling in the water.

     Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, cause it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money." But Naboth said to Ahab, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers."
1 Kings 21:1-3 (ESV)

     Have you ever seen something you wanted? Ahab saw something he wanted and he offered to buy it or trade for it which was the right thing to do for we shouldn't steal but as the story goes, he was told no deal, he pouts about it, his wife - the wicked queen - finds out and trouble starts brewing.

     Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, "Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?" And he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.' And he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.' " And Jezebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite." So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. And she wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, 'You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out and stone him to death." And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead." As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead." And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
1 Kings 21:4-16 (ESV)

     When you read through the Bible it seems like trouble is always brewing. So God warns us.
  • Proverbs 6:12-14 - Some people are wicked and no good. They go around telling lies, winking with their eyes, tapping with their feet, and making signs with their fingers. They make evil plans in their hearts and are always starting arguments. (NCV)
  • Proverbs 1:10-16 - My child, if sinners try to lead you into sin, do not follow them. They will say, “Come with us. Let’s ambush and kill someone; let’s attack some innocent people just for fun. Let’s swallow them alive, as death does; let’s swallow them whole, as the grave does. We will take all kinds of valuable things and fill our houses with stolen goods. Come join us, and we will share with you stolen goods.“ My child, do not go along with them; do not do what they do. They are eager to do evil and are quick to kill. (NCV)
  • Proverbs 14:22 - Those who make evil plans will be ruined, but those who plan to do good will be loved and trusted. (NCV)
  • Proverbs 19:22 - What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar. (NASB)
  • Proverbs 12:2 - The LORD approves of those who are good, but he condemns those who plan wickedness. (NLT)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • In what way might you brew trouble?
  • In what ways do you avoid trouble?

Saturday, June 14, 2014


     John McDonald raises a lot of his own food on his farm but sometimes he still needs to go to town to do some grocery shopping. That's where he was when he turned his cart to head down the breakfast aisle and ran smack dab into someone almost knocking them over. “Sorry sir.” John said, “Are you okay?” “I think I'll be alright, John.” he said as he stood back up.

     “You know who I am?” John asked a bit puzzled. “Do I know you?” “Five months in a monastery and nobody knows who you are.” came the reply. “What's happened around here?” “Monastery?” John said thinking out loud, “Wait a minute. Is that you Harold? I thought you looked sort of familiar.”

     “Yeah.... It's me.” Harold replied. “WOW!” John said, “Welcome back.” “Thank you.” Harold said sounding a little depressed, “That’s the first welcome I’ve received all week.” “WOW!” John said again, “You’ve been back for a whole week already....” “What’s happened to this town?” Harold said not wanting to talk about the monastery again. “It’s like its falling apart.”

     “You mean you don’t know!” John said, “Haven’t you heard of the great conspiracy and rebellion going on? Oh wait, you've been gone for the past five months.” “Oh that.” Harold said, “Yeah, I know about it.” “You’re suppose to be the answer to the problem.” John said. “WHAT!” Harold exclaimed when he heard that, “Says who?”

     “Well,” John decided to explain, “The church was praying for God to send them a hero and He sent you.” “So,” Harold said after a long pause, “That's why God sent me back.” “Yeah,” John said, “You could say God surprised all of us.” “Well,” Harold said shaking his head, “There could be a problem with me being the hero.”

     “What’s that?” John asked. “No one will listen to me.” Harold said, “ It’s as if I have become to good for them.” “I suppose that could make it a little difficult.” John said, But then again, I’m sure God knows what He is doing.” “I'm sure He does.” Harold said in agreement, “But I'm not sure I do. Besides, I've got a bigger problem at hand.”

     “What could be bigger than the town falling apart?” John asked. “I can’t find any oatmeal.” Harold said, “And I'm starving.” “I tell you what.” John said, “Since your saving us, I'll save you. Come out to the farm, I have an entire silo filled with oats. You can eat oatmeal till it's running out your ears.” “Sounds good to me.” Harold said, “I'll head right over.”

     And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Exodus 16:2-3 (ESV)

     Israel constantly suffered from a short memory, a memory of who they were suppose to be following and what He could do for them. God had a plan to take care of His people in the wilderness as we will see, but along with Israel's short memory, it appears some couldn't hear so well either.

     And the LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.' " In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.' " And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, "Let no one leave any of it over till the morning." But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.' " So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none." On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none.
Exodus 16:11-27 (ESV)

     Do you do a better job of listening than the Israelites did? The Bible talks of listening in several places and while the Bible reminds us that God listens as in - Psalm 116:1-2 I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because He inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live. (ESV) it also reminds us that we need to be listeners.
  • James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (ESV)
  • Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (ESV)
  • Proverbs 8:34 Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. (ESV)
  • Deuteronomy 6:3 Listen closely, Israel, to everything I say. Be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (NLT)
     There is an old saying that goes something like this – God gave us two ears and only one mouth, therefore we should listen twice as much as we talk. Are you taking the time to listen? Here's Something To Ponder
  • In what way do you take the time to listen to God and others?
  • How do you appreciate others when they listen to you?

Saturday, June 7, 2014


     Randy Smith sat at his desk in his office with his head buried in his hands. The night before he had held a lengthy prayer meeting and although people were somewhat hopeful that God would answer their prayers and send some help, he just couldn't imagine how God could do it. Randy's doubt didn't stop him though from praying some more or going to see who was calling his name.

      “You won't believe how weird things turned out last night.” Bill said when Randy tacked him down. “Were you the one calling my name?” Randy asked, “And why do you think prayer meetings prayer are weird?” “No, no, no.” Bill responded, “Prayer meetings aren't weird but what happened after the prayer meeting could be the weirdest thing that's happened yet.”

      “Haven’t I heard you say something like that before?” Randy said wondering what now? “Well,” Bill said, “With all the weird things that happened around here you probably have.” “I think it all started with you didn't it?” Randy said, “If I remember it was when Harold’s room mysteriously messed itself up.”

      “Yeah,” Bill said, “That was weird, and I find it a bit weird you brought that up.” “Why?” Randy asked. “Well,” Bill went on, “It’s the weirdest thing, but Harold came home last night.”
“What!” Randy exclaimed, “Harold came home from the monastery?” “Yeah!” Bill said, “And that's not all. There's more to the story.”

      “What!” Randy exclaimed, “There’s more to the story.” “You won't believe this,” Bill said, “But Harold claims that God sent him home.” “Now that IS weird.” Randy said. “That's what I said.” Bill responded, “After all, how could Harold be an answer to our prayers.” “Well,” Randy said with a smile, “maybe God knows something we don’t know.”

      “But, Harold?” Bill protested, “He was the biggest trouble maker around. How could he help? All I see him doing is causing more trouble.” “We need to remember.” Randy interrupted, “God does answer prayer in strange ways sometimes.” “But Harold?” Bill continued, “I just don’t know.”

      “Just imagine” Randy said looking up towards the ceiling, “Harold a hero.” “Now that's not just weird,” Bil said shaking his head, “That’s out right scary. Well, I better get going. Harold’s starving and we don’t have any oatmeal in the house. Bye”

      Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from dread of the enemy. - Psalm 64:1 (ESV)

      Has God ever answered one or more of your prayer requests? Does God even hear your requests? Does God always answer in the way we expect? Sometimes God answers prayers in unusual ways. Think about these stories.

      Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, - Exodus 15:22-25 (ESV)

      Then Gideon said to God, "If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said, behold, I am laying a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on all the ground, then I shall know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said." And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, "Let not your anger burn against me; let me speak just once more. Please let me test just once more with the fleece. Please let it be dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground let there be dew." And God did so that night; and it was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew. - Judges 6:36-40 (ESV)

      And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. - 1 Kings 18:36-38 (ESV)

      So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (ESV)

      When we have troubles, we can take them to God and look for His answers in normal and unusual ways.
  • Luke 11:9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (ESV)
  • Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)
  • Isaiah 58:9 Then you will call out, and the LORD will answer. You will cry out, and He will say, ’Here I am.’ “If you stop making trouble for others, if you stop using cruel words and pointing your finger at others, (NCV)
  • John 14:14 If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it. (NCV)
  • 1 John 3:22 And God gives us what we ask for because we obey God’s commands and do what pleases Him. (NCV)
     Here's Something To Ponder
  • In what weird ways has God answered prayers for you?
  • In what ways has God used you to answer prayer?