The Most Unique, Most Powerful Book Ever Written

Without a doubt the most unique book ever written is actually a compilation of 66 books written by some 40 authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet has one major theme and all ties together beautifully to develop that theme. I’m referring, of course, to God’s Word, the Bible.  None of the writers changed the message to put themselves or their friends in a better light. The sins of small and great alike are openly admitted and life is presented as it actually is. The writings of this amazing book, in contrast to any other book ever written, were inspired by God. God worked in the hearts and minds of each of the writers to govern that every word was exactly what He wanted recorded. The Apostle Peter wrote: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (II Pet. 1:20,21). The Apostle Paul, also commenting on how we got our Bible, wrote this to Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16,17). The word translated “inspired” literally means “God-breathed.”  God superintended the human writers so that, using their individual personalities and interests, they composed and recorded—without error—God’s Word to man.
     Obviously the Bible was unique in its origin, but it was also unique in the fact that though written over hundreds of years by many authors from a variety of walks of life, it has one basic message throughout—Jesus Christ!  When Jesus, after His resurrection, stopped to visit in the home of the two disciples from Emmaus, Luke records for us: “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:27).  Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, the preacher and teacher of God’s Word should always exalt Christ and the message of salvation through faith in His work at the cross. When Philip helped the Ethiopian eunuch to understand the writings of the prophet Isaiah, it says, “and beginning from this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35).
     Jack Graham said, “There is a scarlet thread of redemption running throughout the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.” Charles Spurgeon once said, “Cut the Bible anywhere and it will bleed!” The story of Jesus and His sacrifice for sin can be traced through the Bible. The Apostle Paul, who was a very intelligent, educated, eloquent person, wrote this about his visit to Corinth: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified…And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Cor. 2:2-5).
     The Bible stands apart from all other books ever written, not only in its unique origin and message, but in the ability of that message to transform lives. In Paul’s letter to his understudy, Timothy, he wrote: “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim . 3:16). The entire Bible is about the gospel—the “Good News” that Jesus Christ died to pay the penalty of our sin so that we could enjoy eternal life with Him in heaven. Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Ro. 1:16).
     Since it is God’s enemy Satan’s purpose that people worship him and not God, he does all he can to stop them from hearing the “Good News” and coming to have eternal life through Christ, so he has done all in his power to destroy the Bible which tells people how to be reconciled to God and to have new life in Christ. Satan has been—and is—behind all the efforts to destroy and discredit the Bible, to remove it from our public schools and keep it out of countries that have not been exposed to its wonderful message of redemption. But God has promised that though “The grass withers, and the flower fades, the Word of God stands forever” (Isa. 40: 8). Satan’s efforts have been—and will continue to be—futile. God will have the “last word,” and it will be His Word, the Bible!  The Bible has been the anvil upon which the critics have worn out their hammers!  God has preserved, and will continue to preserve His Word, His “Love Letter” to mankind.  The Bible changes hearts and changed hearts change history. “There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them through the sacrifice of His Son in place of those sinners…It is the story of Jesus” (Josh Harris in Dug Down Deep).
     What does God’s Word, the Bible, mean to you?  This amazing collection of books is our only infallible guide for faith and life. “You need to love the Bible, but that’s not enough; you need to learn the Bible, but that’s not enough; you need to live the Bible” (Warren Wiersbe).
     Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
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Just Ordinary Folks

Ever notice how God—for the most part—uses ordinary folks and then does extraordinary things through them. The Apostle Paul wrote the following in his letter to the Corinthian church: “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us the wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (I Cor. 1:26-31 cf Jer. 9:23).  Even Paul, himself,  who on his second missionary journey established the church at Corinth, said, “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Cor. 2:3-5). God primarily chooses ordinary folks and then does extraordinary things through them so that all the glory goes to Him.
     I was reminded of that this past Saturday as I officiated at a celebration of life service for Nora May Auge, who, at age 95, went home to be with her Savior.  She and her husband, Lou, had moved to the Libby area in 1942. Lou first worked as a ranch hand and then was employed by J. Neils Lumber Company as a sawyer for the rest of his career. Nora May, once their youngest of five children was in high school, worked in the laundry at St. John’s Lutheran Hospital and then the Libby Care Center.  Neither of them had any education past high school, and Lou hadn’t even finished high school.
     Lou and Nora May believed in God but didn’t have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. But then in 1954 Youth For Christ held a two-week rally in Libby. Gene and Ronnie, the two oldest Auge children, wanted to go, so Nora May took them. That night both Gene and Ronnie trusted Christ as Savior after they heard that all have sinned and that the wages of that sin is death—separation from God—but that God had demonstrated His love for us while we were yet sinners by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and to be raised again (Ro. 3:23; 6:23; 5:8).  The next night Nora May also trusted Jesus for eternal life, and the next week, Lou, who had stayed home with the younger three girls, attended and also gave his life to Christ. A number of other parents who had accompanied their young people to the rally had also received Christ. Apparently a couple local pastors who had religion without a relationship also got saved!
     In their desire to grow spiritually, Lou and Nora May started a Saturday-evening Bible study in their home in Libby. They  soon added a prayer meeting and Sunday school for the children and then felt that God was leading them to organize as a church. They formed a board made up of Al Oursland (who taught the Bible study), Lou Auge and Ernie Hamilton (also saved at the YFC rally).  They began a search for a pastor and, through Montana Bible Fellowship, located Clarence Kutz who was pastoring in Wilsall, Montana near Livingston, Montana.  Pastor Kutz, had moved his family from Vineland, New Jersey to Wilsall in April, 1946, to pastor the Wilsall Community Church. His youngest, of five children, Kathy, was just a year old when they moved.
     Pastor Kutz accepted the invitation to come to Libby and became the first pastor for “Faith Bible Church” in June of 1955. In the spring of 1956, the group had outgrown the Auge home and rented the Grange Hall. Then in March of 1957 they purchased property and began construction on a basement where they held their first service on Easter Sunday, 1960.  It was quite a sight watching 75-80  people file through the oversized outhouse-looking entry on top of the basement and disappear!  The first service in the sanctuary was held on Sunday, June 18, 1967. 
     My family moved to Libby from Polson, Montana in 1958. My mother got a fourth-grade teaching job at Old Central School. One of her students was Sherry Auge who’d had a bad experience in third grade so wasn’t looking forward to school. But she got excited to have a nice teacher for fourth grade, and one who was a Christian. She told her folks that they needed to go visit the Nelsons. Lou and Nora May did and became my folks first friends in Libby. They also invited us to visit Faith Bible Church (we were attending the Assembly of God Church) to hear their excellent Bible teacher, Pastor Kutz. We did and got hooked—and I met the pastor’s daughter, Kathy!  We had the first wedding in Faith Bible Church superstructure on Friday, June 16, 1967!
     Lou and Nora May, just ordinary folks who made themselves available to God, were not only instrumental in starting Faith Bible Church, but they also drove up to the Pipe Creek area on Sunday afternoons and held Sunday school in the home of Dave and Beverly James and their 12 children, one of whom, Brenda, became a missionary with Rocky Mountain Bible Mission. She has been serving the Lord for some 40 years! Lou also helped start and build the Pipe Creek Bible Church, helped out at RMBM Camp Utmost near Sealey Lake and helped us at Three Lakes Community Bible Church to build Elohim Bible Camp on the Bull Lake Road.
     Then I think about the many hundreds of people who have passed through Faith Bible Church in its 65 years of ministry and of all the missionaries that have been supported in countries all over the world, and the children reached through Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and  the AWANA program and the teens who are being impacted in the Youth House Ministry.  And it all began with some ordinary folks getting saved at a YFC rally and dedicating their lives to be used by God. The “ripple effect” has been amazing to observe.
     So, do you consider yourself just an ordinary person? Well, then you qualify to allow God to do some extraordinary things through you. Just be faithful and available. You may just be amazed at what God will do. And people’s “faith will not rest in the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (I Cor. 2:5).
    Forever His,
            Pastor Dave
    
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It’s Spring!

We still have some pretty big snow banks that are melting slowly, but we also have a variety of signs of spring and new life. The robins have been back for a couple weeks and are actually able to find earthworms as the frost has come out of the ground to let the worms show up. We have brightly colored crocuses blooming and our tulips and daffodils (we have hundreds) are up and there are buds on the lilac trees and “our” pair of Canada geese that has been coming to visit us each spring for several years was back this week.  The wild tom turkeys have started strutting their stuff and the noisy crows are back in great numbers, as are the starlings. The cedar waxwings came through to strip our Mountain Ash tree of its berries.
     After a prolonged winter with some heavy late snow in February and sub-zero temperatures in March, spring is finally here. Spring may come early or it may come late, but it always comes!  That’s how God set it all up back in Genesis by the way He created the earth and tilted it on its axis, oriented the orbiting moon at just the right distance and placed us in an orbit around the sun at just the right distance. The Genesis account of the fourth day of creation reads: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good” (Gen. 1:14-18).
     Because we live in Northwest Montana, we experience four very distinct seasons. For several months from late fall to this time of spring, much around us is in a state of dormancy and appears dead, but once again we see God’s earth coming back to life. New life is part of the “magic” of spring season, and it is visible all around us. The life and brightness of spring which replaces the bleak “death” of winter is a reminder to us of another reality of life coming out of death, one with eternal implications. Because of sin taking place in the Garden of Eden, death entered God’s creation (Ro. 5:12), and each of us was born with a sinful nature and lived in death (separation from God) and darkness, having declared our independence from God. We now have many centuries of human history to show that this broken world is too big for us to fix. With all our inventions, education, technical advancements and human effort to improve life on earth, how are we doing?  What a mess of death and darkness we see all around us.
   But, “God so loved the world (of humanity), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).  “The Word (God the Son) became flesh, and dwelt among us…” (Jn. 1:14). And He, Jesus, said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12).  The Creator Himself (Jn. 1:3) took on human flesh (Jn. 1:14) in  order to die for us and pay the penalty of sin so that we could escape spiritual death and darkness and have new life that lasts forever. The life He offers is not only one that lasts forever, it’s a hope-filled promise for today. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly (full and overflowing)” (Jn. 10:10).
     We are soon to celebrate the very basis of our new life in Christ, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as proof that our sins were paid for and God was propitiated (satisfied…Ro. 3:25) with Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. “He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Ro. 4:25).  Paul goes on in his letter to the Romans to discuss how we have been crucified with Christ and buried with Him and raised with Him “so we too might walk in newness of life” (Ro. 6:4).  That’s what springtime and the Easter season is truly about—being restored from death to new life. As we trust in what Jesus has done for us, we find that death is overcome and life reigns again. We become “new creatures” in Christ (II Cor. 5:17). We have “passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).  God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13).
     This season is about new life—new life that goes beyond the annual refreshing of the earth with its beauty. It’s about the new, eternal, abundant life that’s available to us because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Have you experienced that new life?  It is available to all. “For whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Ro. 10:13). If you have never done that, I encourage you to do so—today—for “whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Ro. 10:11 cf Isa. 28:16).
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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Be A Barnabas

  There is something we need to do for each other that becomes more and more important the closer we come to the Lord’s return. What is it?  In fact, many of you reading this are badly in need of it. Some of you have looked for it desperately and found it in short supply. Yet it is something we all can and should do for each other—offer encouragement. “We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord is getting closer” (Heb. 10:24,25 CEV).
    We need to encourage one another because life in this sin-cursed, sin-tainted world tends toward discouragement. Negative people can pollute our outlooks. Negative circumstances can squelch our enthusiasm and hope. These can easily strangle our spiritual lives. We live in a world of hurt, of stress, of disappointment, of tragedies and turmoil and adversity. When the circumstances of life come down on you like a flyswatter on a housefly, you need someone to come alongside, someone to encourage you. You need a “Barnabas.”  Luke tells us that “Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth was also called (nicknamed) Barnabas by the Apostles, (which translated means ‘Son of Encouragement’)” (Acts 4:36). 
     When Saul of Tarsus was converted on his way to Damascus to persecute believers, he went to Jerusalem and “was trying to associate with the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26). It was Barnabas that came alongside of Saul and convinced the disciples that he was genuinely changed (v.27).   When many became believers in the large city of Antioch, capital of the Roman province of Syria, word reached Jerusalem (300 miles to the south), and guess who they sent up to help out? Barnabas! (Acts 11:22). It was a highly explosive situation. The church was barely off the ground and it could be split down the middle between Jews and Gentiles. Barnabas, the “encourager,” had an uncanny ability for “untying knots.” Barnabas went to Tarsus to get his disciple Saul to come and help him (Acts 11:23-25).  The church at Antioch eventually sent Barnabas and Saul back to Jerusalem with a collection to help out the needy living in Judea (vv. 29,30).
     After returning to Antioch, Barnabas and Saul were commissioned by the church there (directed by the Holy Spirit) to go out as missionaries (Acts 13:1-3).  Accompanying them was Barnabas’ cousin, John Mark (Acts 12:25 cf Col. 4:10), who ended up bailing out on them and heading back to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). Later, when Paul suggested to Barnabas that they go back and revisit the churches established on their first missionary journey, Barnabas desired to take John Mark with them again and Paul said, “No way!”  They couldn’t settle their disagreement so Paul took Silas and Barnabas took John Mark and they headed out as two teams! (Acts 15:36-41).  Barnabas’ influence on his cousin through his ability to encourage helped build into John Mark’s life such that later when Paul was in prison in Rome, facing possible death, Paul wrote to Timothy and specifically asked for John Mark, saying, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful for service” (II Tim. 4:11).
     What a blessing Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement,” was to the early church and to its missionary outreach. What an encouragement he must have been to his cousin, John Mark, who ended up writing the Gospel of Mark.   What an important role for each of us to be a “Barnabas” to someone, to come alongside of them and help them to have courage to “keep on keeping on” in this crazy world of discouraging things and circumstances. We can give encouragement through our words.  Solomon wrote: “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Pr. 16:24).  When I was pastoring, I received a number of very timely written notes of encouragement. They meant a lot to me and often played a key role in my remaining steadfast and not giving up. We can also be of encouragement to those who are distressed just by offering our presence and our listening ear—someone to come alongside and just be there and listen. We can offer encouragement too just by physical touch to let someone know we care about them—the “hands on approach!” There are many ways we can offer encouragement. The important thing is that we do it. People need it, and as the time of Christ’s coming draws closer, it is more needed than ever.
     In His autobiography, L.O. Dawson told about a minister who died. At his memorial service, the church was filled to overflowing. Various speakers praised the virtues of their deceased pastor and friend. When it was Mr. Dawson’s turn to address the congregation, he affirmed the truthfulness of the gracious words that had already been spoken. But then he told the audience that if as many of them had been in attendance at the regular services of the church as were there at the memorial service, their pastor would still be alive. Dawson then made this shocking observation to the grieving parishioners: “Empty pews broke your pastor’s heart. He did not know of your love. He died for lack of the things you have today so beautifully said and done.”  The story in Dawson’s book concluded with this convicting remark: “More preachers die from broken hearts than from swelled heads!” 
     May it be said of us as it was of Job: “Your words have helped the tottering to stand, and you have strengthened feeble knees” (Job 4:4). Don’t wait until somebody dies to express your love and respect. Offer words of encouragement now. Be a Barnabas to someone today, and thank God for the Barnabases He has brought into your life.
     Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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Be Encouraged

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is encouragement.  Probably all of us at times become discouraged, especially given the crazy world we live in today that has lost its moorings and has become exceedingly corrupt, evil and anti-Christian. The Psalmist, David, had much reason often to be discouraged. King Saul made attempts on his life and he had to run and hide to avoid Saul’s murderous anger. Later, partly due to a lapse in his own godly standards, David’s family became very dysfunctional and his own son, Absalom, turned against him and then was killed.  David writes: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? (Psa. 42:5 cf 42:11; 43:5). 
     Maybe you can relate with David right now in the circumstances of your life. Maybe you have been “lonely, hibernating in the den of discouragement, licking your wounds under dark clouds that won’t blow away. You wish the world would stop so you could get off. You’re probably praying hard for the rapture. You’re probably beginning to wonder when and if relief is coming. You’re probably questioning the truth of I Cor. 10:13” (from Encourage Me by Charles Swindoll).
     If negativism and cynicism have crept in—if the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be the headlamp of an oncoming train!—if life has become terribly unfunny—take heart, the Lord can and will lift you up! No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still. No valley so dark that the light of His truth cannot penetrate.  Going back to David’s honest expression of his deep discouragement in Psalm 42 and 43, note Psalm 42:5b: “Hope in God for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.”
     One of the reasons many are discouraged is that they don’t know they have a refuge to which to go.  Shelters are hard to come by these days—people who care enough to listen, who can keep a confidence. We need harbors to pull into when we feel weather-worn and blasted by the storm.  That’s why the local bars are crowded. The bar is probably the best counterfeit there is for the fellowship of believers in a local assembly. It’s an imitation dispensing alcohol in place of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting fellowship where you can bare your soul. The problem is, that’s where it ends. There is no real help offered to resolve your depression.
     Where do you turn when the bottom drops out of your life?  Maybe you discover that your son is on drugs or your high school daughter is pregnant, or your parents are going to get a divorce, or you lose your job, or a close loved one dies, or…. When the circumstances of life come down on you like a ton of bricks, you need a shelter, a listener, someone who understands, someone to encourage you. David, when suffering adversity and struggling with depression, wrote in his “journal”: “In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; Let me never be put to shame; deliver me in Your righteousness.  Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since You are my rock and my fortress…”(Psa. 31:1,2).  David found in God a protective place, a place of safety, security and secrecy. Hurting people don’t need critics. They don’t need guilt piled on distress. They need encouragement, they need a refuge—a place to hide and heal. They need a willing, available, confidant. David calls God his “strength, mighty rock, fortress, stronghold, shelter, refuge, high tower.” And, David’s refuge never failed.
     Note David’s testimony in Psa. 61:1-3: “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth, I call to You, when my heart is faint; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.” I think it is important to note that David was willing to cry out to God for help.  A poster reads: “A prayer to be said when the world has gotten you down, and you feel rotten, and you’re too doggone tired to pray, and you’re in a big hurry, and besides, you’re mad at everybody… ‘My Son, slow down, ease back, admit your need. Cry out ‘HELP!’ ’ Our entire life, most of us have been told to ‘buck it up!’ to ‘grin and bear it!’ It has been bred into us by parents, competition in school, in business, in sports, etc. That inner voice says ‘prove it to ‘em! Show them you can do it without anyone’s help!’ We have been molded by our society to have a sense of self-sufficiency and it is hard for us to admit we are discouraged and need help. Hey, none of us is the Messiah!  We are human—made of dust, remember. So, stop trying to run all the bases and sell hot dogs in the stands at the same time!” (Encourage Me).
     In 1968 an airliner bound for New York couldn’t get the landing gear to come down. The pilot announced over the intercom: “We are beginning our final descent. In accordance with International Aviation Codes established at Geneva, it is my obligation to inform you that if you believe in God, you should commence in prayer!” There’s nothing like a crisis to reveal the otherwise hidden truth of the soul. We may mask it, ignore it, cover it with activity, but take away the cushion of comfort, interject the threat of death and most cry out to God.  if you are in need of encouragement today, head for cover!  “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” (Psa. 61:2b). 
        Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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All That Glitters is Not Gold

   This is March 11th and we still have 16 inches of snow on the ground (and today is the first day of the high school spring sports season for tennis (with which I help), and track and softball!).  Our winter came a bit late this year and over the past couple weeks we have received 24-36” of snow in the area with temperatures down to –15 to –20 degrees several nights.  Pretty unusual for March!  But, since we are dependent on having a good “storehouse of snow” in the mountains to provide spring and summer runoff for our streams, lakes and underground water table, we are very grateful. Thank you, Lord.
        It is all part of God’s plan for sustaining the earth He created. God, speaking through Isaiah the prophet, said: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to me empty without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10,11).  Just as moisture sent to earth from the heavens accomplishes God’s intended purpose in helping meet human needs, so the Word of God likewise produces its intended results in accomplishing God’s spiritual purposes.
     While the snow creates a lot of work for us in removal (we have a long driveway!), it also meets a very real need. We would be in big trouble if we did not get an appreciable amount of snow each winter. On average, each 10” of snow provides 1” of water.  It also provides lots of opportunity for recreation for those who enjoy winter sports of skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, etc.  We enjoy cross-country skiing and will still have plenty of snow for several more weeks of skiing. (Unfortunately, Kathy had back surgery this winter so is unable to get out and ski). We especially enjoy skiing at our local golf course, which is one of the locations they groom for cross country skiers. It is right at the base of the beautiful Cabinet Mountain Wilderness, so the view is spectacular on a clear day and it is so quiet and peaceful. And at times—when it is fairly cold out—the snow is like acres of diamonds reflecting the rays of the sun—so beautiful!  We do try to walk each day from our place and several times—on cold, crisp days— the snow in the fields by our driveway has been like glittering diamonds.
     We also enjoy watching it snow, knowing how God, in His wisdom, created the heavens and the earth such that under the right conditions, snowflakes form in the atmosphere where cold water droplets freeze onto dust particles. And depending on the temperature and humidity of the air where the snowflakes form, the ice crystals can grow into a myriad of different shapes. Wilson Bentley (1865-1931) from Jericho, Vermont, was the first person to capture photographs of snowflakes through the use of a microscope attached to a camera. His collection of 5,000 snowflake images introduced us to the astounding diversity of snowflakes. The colder the air temperature, the simpler the shape, and the warmer the temperature, the more complex, with extensive branching patterns. The most intricate snowflake patterns are formed during warm and wet conditions.
     Kenneth G. Libbrecht, chairman of the Physics Department at the California Institute of Technology, says snowflakes form by two different crystallization processes—faceting and branching. Faceting produces six-sided prisms giving snowflakes their famed six-sided symmetry. Branching produces random, complex features that extend away from the growing hexagonal prisms. As it tumbles through the clouds and changing temperatures and humidities, the final size and shape of each flake is determined. You may find two that appear identical under a microscope, but if you look at the molecular level, they are far from identical. “At the molecular level, the probability that two flakes formed identically is mathematically impossible given the effectively infinite number of ways to create a snowflake. The number of possible ways to array the branches and side branches is far, far, far greater than even the total number of snowflakes that have ever fallen on earth!” 
     The diamond-like appearance of the snow when it is cold is called “snow sparkle,” and is due to the sun reflecting off the individual ice crystals in the snow. When sunlight hits the crystals, they have a mirror effect. Rays of light hit the individual ice crystals lying on the uppermost layer of snow and reflect light back up. The best type of winter precipitation for “snowflake sparkle” is cold, dry snow because the individual ice crystals within the dry snow usually remain separated, whereas with wet snow, the crystals are larger and attach themselves to other snowflakes (making it easier to make snowballs or a snowman!).
     Another glittering weather phenomenon similar to “snowflake sparkle” is what meteorologists call “diamond dust,” which is tiny ice crystals that seem to float in the air, often under bright blue sky. (We were privileged to see that several times recently as well.) Again, the glittering appearance is caused by sunlight hitting the ice crystals. And all of this beauty was created by our amazing Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (I Tim. 6:17),  even snowflakes!  Snow is something much needed for our earth to produce but God doesn’t stop with just providing the necessary, He loves to show His glory through it. “All that glitters is not gold;” it may be ice crystals falling from heaven!
           Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
    
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A God of Order

I still have a number of my college textbooks from the 1960’s.  I knew that some like my physics, chemistry, thermodynamics and math books and math tables would continue to be good reference books because the laws of math and science are unchanging. You see they are observations of a universe created by our “God of order.”  When God created, He set into motion laws which would be fixed and predictable so that we could have math and science courses which count on things remaining the same. The speed of light is still 186,000 miles/sec and the speed of sound (in dry air)  is still 1090 ft/sec. Acceleration of gravity is still 32.2 ft/sec. The mean earth-to-sun distance is still 92.9 million miles and the mean earth-to-moon distance is still 239,000 miles.  The mass-energy relation is still E=m (mass) x c (speed of light) squared.  My Standard Math Tables book by Chemical Rubber Company is still current, although printed in 1959.  In includes conversion tables for U.S. to Metric, areas, logarithms, etc., all of which are still accurate. They are unchanging. God established them. He created the laws that govern His universe.  And He sustains them. “For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible…all things have been created by Him and for Him and He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15,16).
     The National Bureau of Standards was founded in 1901. Its function was to establish and maintain standards for units of weights and measurements. It was originally known as The Office of Weights and Measures.  Again, if we didn’t have a universe of order there could be no standards of weights and measures. It all reflects back to our All-wise, All-powerful Creator God.  In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth where there was some confusion and division over the use of spiritual gifts, he wrote: “For God is not a God of confusion (disorder) but of peace…” ( Cor. 14:33).
     Can you imagine the chaos and confusion that our world would be in if we didn’t have laws of math and science and astronomy and biology that we could count on? What if there were no “constants” and “absolutes”?  What if we could decide that there should be 7 inches per foot instead of 12 and that we are tired of 2 + 2 equaling 4, so let’s make it 5!  Pretty ridiculous to even think about. Some things were never meant to change.
     God didn’t just create matter and then let it evolve over billions of years. In six literal days God created everything in the universe and on and in the earth. He created plants and animals that would reproduce after their kind. They would be adaptable to change with their environment, but would remain distinct species and not evolve into new ones. Our fossil records bear witness to that fact. There has been no evidence either from observation or from fossils that mega-evolution has occurred. Again, God is a “God of order.”  And, all true science supports a recent creation with no real evidence for the theory of evolution.
     The Bible also says that God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26,27) with the ability to communicate with and worship Him and to receive His love. The creation account, verified by Jesus when He was on earth, says, “…male and female He created them” (cf Mt. 19:4). God made them distinctly male and female so that they could complement one another in a marriage relationship and “they shall become one flesh” and through their union “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 2:24; 1:28). Marriage being one man and one woman was God’s idea. It was the standard established by the “God of order.”  His plan was for a society to be made up of families with a mom and dad where children could grow up learning about God the Creator and Redeemer. There was to be structure and order within the home and as a result in the communities and societies on earth. Life was to be valued from conception through old age. 
     Now look at us!  Man, having suppressed the truth about God and His plan has decided that there are no standards or absolutes and has changed the definition of marriage to fit the morally declining culture. Our court system decided it was okay to kill children before they were born if they were unwanted.  Now we have a state that says that can happen right up to the time of birth and if the attempt to kill the child fails and he or she is born the parents can still decide if they want the child or not!  Wow, how far we have plunged. 
     Just as we would be in chaos if we decided there were no mathematical and scientific standards and laws of the universe and we could just make them whatever we felt like, so we are now in a confused, chaotic state because man thought he could ignore God’s order for sex, marriage and the sanctify of life. And we are reaping the consequences in the craziness taking place in our world today—including in this great nation of the United States of America.  It is made out to be a political issue and has caused devastating polarization of our country. But, it is not a political issue; it is a moral issue. It is a SIN ISSUE!  Until we recognize it as that and repent, we will continue to fight and spiral downward. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that once men suppressed the truth They became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them over in the lust of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored  among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie…For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions, for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts…And God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Ro. 1:18-28). Notice that three times it says, “And God gave them over…”  That’s a frightening statement, but we are witnessing this very thing currently in our nation.
     As Christians and churches that preach and teach God’s Word, it is definitely time to stand up for God’s Standards. They haven’t changed!  Just as I have a number of textbooks which give facts and formulas based on God’s laws of the universe, we have a Book that gives God’s formulas and laws for our lives on His earth. It is the Bible—Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. God hasn’t changed and His standards haven’t changed. We are in trouble when we mess with them. And we have, and we are!  May we come to our senses and repent and return.
     I am so glad we have a God who “Is the same yesterday, today and forever” and Whom we can always trust and count on, and we will be blessed if we follow His plan and not our own.
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
    
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