Friday, October 30, 2015

Judgment

Judging others is as common as the sunrise in our culture, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In fact, I judged a brother-in-law just yesterday. It was wrong. My dear wife convicted me, advising never to say anything condemning about anyone’s son. This is very good wisdom.  We have enough condemnation and criticism in this world. We can create much more peace by loving one another. Jesus has a lot to say about judgment.

In the Sermon On The Mount Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”  (Matthew 7:1).  He says to take the plank out of our own eye first, then we will see much more clearly. Perhaps doing this first will humble us to be more gentle and caring.

Paul teaches us in Romans 12:18, “As much as it depends upon you, be at peace with everyone.”  Being at peace with God and man it not easy in our flesh. However, the Holy Spirit will allow and guide us to be full of the fruit of the Spirit that will bring the patience, gentleness, goodness and self-control to walk in peace with everyone.

The only time the Bible teaches to judge is if a Christian brother is caught in sin. We are to correct or rebuke with great patience and encouragement.  Encouragement of good is much better than discussion of not so good, except when the sin is not recognized. Then the Matthew 18 process of progressive discussion and hoped repentance should take place.


It is by the grace of God go I.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Alaska Survival

Survival Alaska
Some of you have watched a TV series, “Survival Alaska.”  This scary competition places teams against the elements of the extreme wilderness of Alaska. I watched once and realized that I have stories from my first trip to Alaska in 1966 that easily trump TV’s.

After graduation from High School I headed to Alaska with a close friend. We took a small camper trailer and a Chevy II station wagon with a canoe strapped to the top. It was a 3,600-mile trip. However, in ’66 the Yukon was not paved as were many of Alaska’s roads. We drove with great excitement and confidence into the Yukon Territory. We have photos to show as we reached the Alaska State line that we had suffered 12 tire blow-outs, a suspension spring breaking, the windshield blown out twice and the front of the trailer ripped up. We tied a ½ inch plywood board to the front to keep the stones on the road from breaking through into the camper.

The fishing was a highlight of the trip, catching Artic Grayling and Rainbows in streams and rivers along the way. We tried for a summit lake on a 2000-foot climb up a mountain. The trail ran along “Dead Man’s Creek.” The snow began to fall on this blustery late June morning. The stream was in runoff and crossing was treacherous. I took a sturdy branch for help, but alas the mossy rocks caused me to go down and be swept toward a waterfall. My friend Owen’s quick thinking rescued me with a branch he was able to reach out before the fall.

We found a fly-in service to take us out into the wilderness of the Yukon. We were flow to lakes that were ice-covered looking for a fishing venue for the General Motors Board meeting later in the summer. Unbelievably good Lake Trout fishing on the surface, casting Daredevils from the pontoons of the plane while resting on a snow covered island we found in an open strip of water.  Then we were flown into a remote lake to hunt for a moose to outfit the guests. We were flown in and left for three days out of communication. On the second day, after unbelievably good Northern Pike fishing, where we caught a lunker in excess of 15 pounds on every cast, we tried for moose. Owen shot a cow, which we dragged to an island in the lake for dressing and to set a camp. In the night, the wolves on shore began to howl. They could smell the fresh blood and began to swim toward the island. We fired shots at them to turn them away, spending the night guarding our meat cache and watching the golden eyes of the intrepid intruders.

One of our goals was to get to Talkeetna and Mount McKinley. We wanted to fish in the lake at its base. We flew out of Lake Talkeetna with a supercub overloaded with gear. Over the tundra we were fine but only 100 feet above the ground. As we neared the lake, the ground dropped off 1000 feet down into the lake. As we circled a snowstorm and squall came up. The pilot could not descend easily, but we circled downward. The waves were now whitecaps and we could not land. We could not see either in the blizzard. Compass and altimeter took us back. Not knowing where or how to land the pilot cut the engine and we plunged, engine first into the lake from which we had taken off. The planes tail snapped off as we dove. The pilot was knocked unconscious as we swam toward the surface and returned to pull him ashore. We revived him in front of the fireplace in a nearby lodge feeling blessed to be alive. God had been watching over us again, even if I didn’t recognize Him by faith at the time.
Ps 34:4 “And He delivered me from my fears.”

We didn’t make it to McKinley, so we tried again through Outfitter “Frenchy” Larimore.  We flew to one of his hunting outfitter’s cabins some 25 miles from McKinley, but in clear view of the mountain. Here we were hired to build a dock, a meat cache and cut firewood in preparation for a bear and caribou hunt.  On the first day, while splitting logs, I put a double bladed axe deep into my calf bone. We stopped the bleeding, but there was no way out. We wrapped up the wound and covered it with bear grease.

I thought perhaps I would try something safer, like fishing. In the small tundra trout stream I struck it rich. Incredible and hungry graying on every cast to a Royal Coachman fly. Blueberries grew everywhere. Denali was clearly looming in front of me. Behind me the wilderness and moving upstream, outside of my view, a giant Grizzly Bear. Only a strange feeling caused me to turn around. There 20 feet away was a grizzly that would have stood better than 12 feet. He was foraging on blueberries and could care less about me as I began to slowly move backward with trembling in every muscle. A grizzly can run over 30 miles an hour, the same speed as a deer over short distances. I was dead in my tracks, except for the berries, praise God!

The Doll Sheep and caribou were delicious, but it was the rocky mountain oysters from mountain goat that was most intriguing. More so was the trip back to home base in Anchorage and safety until our next adventure.

It didn’t take long for us to find trouble on our way back down the highway after our northern adventures of hunting, fishing and contracting out our unskilled labor. On the Alaska Highway in the Yukon’s Trutch Mountains outside Whitehorse we ran into construction. Bulldozers were pushing giant boulders off the gravel-strewn path. Mountain to the left and cliff to the right we waited. A 20-ton trailer with construction shovel load lumbered down the mountain road behind us. Little did we know, the driver was drunk, unlicensed and the truck had no brakes. It was a runaway with nowhere to go except death. We heard the horn blast as it made the last turn a few hundred yards above us. Through the side view mirrors we could see it coming, but had no idea the story unfolding. The truck hit us at 60 miles per hour. The trailer and car leapt in the air, the camper receiving the blow and collapsing in accordion-like folds absorbing the blow.  We stopped up against the boulders with the truck cab in our back seat.  We were alive. The Rocky Mountain Canadian Policeman with red jacket and “Smokey” hat said he couldn’t believe that we had lived.  The camper was a total wreck so we pushed down the embankment to make room to get out. We used crowbars to bend out the side of the car so we could drive after changing the blown tires. We crammed the car full of what was salvageable and drove toward Wisconsin.   We kissed the ground when we saw the State sign.
God had saved us for another day. It would be many years until I could tell the story knowing who had saved us and protected us.

Psalm 107:6 “And He delivered them from their distress.”

Friday, October 16, 2015

Abundance


Our cup overflows the Psalmist David says in Psalm 23.  He penned a psalm near the end of his life regarding the need for God to make us and lead us because we often are not very good at doing it.  In fact, we should always be asking God to guide us through this world of  “valleys of the shadow of death.”  It is clear in the psalm that God is with us always guiding, protecting, anointing, refreshing and restoring us.  Why? because of His goodness and mercy our cup overflows.

God brings overflowing blessings as we trust in Him. These blessings may be in or as we go through, or after we look back up the mountain we climbed. Paul said, “So then just as you received Christ as Lord, continue to love Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7). God brings us overflowing blessings, but we need to be thankful always in the strength for the journey that He gives us.

The Psalmist again in Ps 119:171 says, “May my lips overflow with praise for you teach me according to your promise” (Ps 119:171 NIV).  The theme of thanksgiving and praise is present throughout all Scripture, because God is in the praises of his people.  In 2 Corinthians 4:15 Paul says of the benefit of Jesus Christ as our treasure, “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” The result of this is written in 1 Thessalonians 3:12, "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”

Perhaps my favorite NT verse is Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  This verse of hope reminds us that we as Christians must hold onto our hope as our anchor, as God is our anchor. The concept of “overflowing hope” is unique to us. Many will say of some wish, that, “I hope so.” This is a hope built not on God’s promises of His faithfulness, but on an earthly wish or dream that someone or thing will bring our “wishing well” coin to bring good luck.  Our Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus love and righteousness as the Hymnist wrote.

Our hope is in an ever present and loving God who comes to us in our troubles. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”  We do have a personal and loving God who is always with us and will never forsake us.

We are to live a life in this increasingly corrupted world as people not of this world. God will abundantly supply for all of our needs in his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.




Friday, October 9, 2015

Aunt Agnes

I remember Aunt Agnes Peterson on Hilltop a small cottage in Upper Michigan where she lived for nearly 100 years, much of it alone after her beloved husband Alfred died.  We would visit Agnes in the summers when staying at a family cottage on the Hamilton Lake chain near Norway, Michigan. This was where my wife’s family heritage began. There in the Northwoods were Petersons and Sandersons who made a living through a lumber mill in Cunard. 

Back in the prewar days Agnes cooked for the lumbermen. She made hearty meals and always had fresh baked rolls and cookies for us when we visited. Somehow it was as if they just came out of the oven. As we made our way to the cottage, we would walk past the one-car garage where Albert’s burgundy 1938 Chevy was still parked; Agnes never learned how to drive.

Upon entering through the summer kitchen we could smell the sweet aroma of bread baking. Agnes always greeted us as if she had been waiting for us with glee. Now that is a wonderful attitude.  We would sit at her kitchen table and enjoy the rolls fresh from the oven, with pickled beets and other things pickled that survived the hungry deer in the garden.  Always hot coffee made from the Northwood’s recipe that included breaking a raw egg into the pot to take away the bitterness of the free dregs. 

After our repast we would head to the living room, filled with boxes and her upright piano, where she would play old hymns and sing.  As the story goes, her love of the hymnody had influenced my wife Pam’s mother Mirabelle (Sandy) Sanderson to take piano lessons.  Agnes’ faith was important to her. Recently the hymn “Road Home”, played at a memorial service, caused my Mother-in-law to recall her childhood days there, learning piano.


After our visit, we would walk up to the top of the hill at Hilltop to the little cabin where Uncle Harlan lived. We would need to prime the pump with the can of water that sat beside the pump. The leather gasket was covered with aluminum foil to keep it moist. There was a little sign reminding us to fill the can so the next person could prime the pump.  There is a strong message of stewardship and caring for one another in this and all the experiences of Hilltop.  Remembering family and heritage is vital to leave and live a legacy of caring.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Peace

You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).  He Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).  Peace is not something we can find apart from God.  Oh, I can hear many saying, I am at peace. Really? 

Job was a man who had everything and who was assaulted by Satan. He lost everything. He cried out to God in despair. "I have no peace no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:26). Have you felt or do you feel this way today? I think we all have at least been there. Yet, in the midst of turmoil, God can be our peace. Job struggled mightily, and his so-called friend Eliphaz said, "Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you” (Job 22:21). He spoke truth even if he himself did not bring it.  In the end, the Lord brought great riches and peace with God to Job.

Many of you will recall the teachings of Jesus Christ shortly before He went to the cross to die for our sins. He said to the disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). This Gospel particularly tells of God in Christ and His Holy Spirit who gives us peace, counsel and guidance as we trust in Him.  Proverbs tell us that there is joy for those who promote peace and that a heart at peace gives life to the body.  The Psalmists tell us to seek peace and pursue it (Ps 34:14), and that there is a future for the man of peace (Ps 37:37).

Paul in his letter to the Philippians says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7). He goes on to say, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever thing are of good  report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things. The things which are learned and received and heard and seen in me, these things do, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:8-9). It is incredibly reassuring for me to know that the "God of Peace and the Peace of God" will guard and be with me. This peace comes as we pray, and praise Him. 

So even in this world where there is war and rumors of war, and there are ravaged peoples everywhere, there is opportunity for peace. The One who brings it is not of this world, but is in it with us. Yes the “Prince of Peace” as Isaiah prophesied has come and is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting Father. "Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:7). He is coming to rule and reign. He is coming soon. He told the disciples He was coming soon and told of the times that would bring His second coming. There is no question that the wars and earthquakes and storms of tumult are increasing rapidly.  I like to think of that 2000 years since Jesus said this are like a marathon race. Recall how the runners in the Olympic Marathon enter the stadium on the last lap. I believe we are there and the runner is in the stadium. The End Times are near. For me, and many this is great news, Hallelujah!  However, for those who do not know God personally, this is not good news. Why, because His coming will bring tribulation and death before peace. For those who know the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, no problem, for God will take us up to be with Him before His coming to “rapture” us.  For those who do not know Him, it will be too late. They will be headed into the tribulation and trial beyond our understanding.


Why do I bring this doomsday message?  I bring it as warning.  I pray that those who read these words will hear, confess and turnaround, see and receive Christ as Lord and Savior and find PEACE with GOD.