A Biblical Worldview of Work

   One of the things my parents taught me which I appreciate greatly was how to work and how to have a biblical view of work.  Since I grew up for the first few years of my life on a little farm, my folks had plenty of opportunity to give me jobs to help out, from weeding the garden or feeding the chickens to household chores or helping pick the fruit trees.  There seemed to be no end of “opportunities” for work!  But I’m so glad I had those opportunities. They have served me well all my life. 
     It is very disturbing today to see how few young people are growing up learning how to work, and to witness many adults as well who seemingly never learned a proper work ethic and are susceptible to this “entitlement” society in which we live today. Since through coaching tennis for the past 30 years, I have had a close-up view of what our homes are producing and it saddens me to see how few teenagers know how to work. We often had work days to clean up the courts and grounds and I would guess that only about one out of ten students really knew how to work without being shown how to do everything and constantly encouraged to stick to it until the job was done. 
     Some people may have the feeling that having to work for a living is an imposition of a corrupt society, and part of the curse on the earth because of sin. Since they were brought into this world through no choice of their own, therefore they think that the world owes them a living.  The many jokes told about work reflect the distorted view that many have: “I love work. I could sit and watch it for hours!”  or “Hard work never hurt anyone, but why take a chance?” It seems that some people are like blisters. They don’t show up until the work is done!
     Is work a punishment because of sin?  Well, God did “curse” the ground because of sin, making work more difficult (Gen. 3:19), but work itself was not punishment for sin, for even before Adam sinned, God had given him the responsibility in his Edenic garden “to cultivate and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Furthermore, we shall have work to do in the new earth in the ages to come when the curse is removed, for we are told that “His bond-servants shall serve Him” (Rev. 22:3). Even in this life, work is a blessing when we see it as “the gift of God.”  Solomon, the wisest man of his time (and probably in all history—apart from Christ) wrote: “I know that there is nothing better for them to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD” (Eccl. 3:12,13).
     God created us in His image, and He is a “worker” and made us to work. It was not part of the Fall. That just made work much more difficult. But if we see work as a drudgery, if we despise work as something horrid from the Fall of man and someday we won’t ever have to work again, then we definitely do not have a biblical worldview of work. We have allowed “the world to squeeze us into its mold” (Ro. 12:2 LB). Work gives us something to get up for in the morning. Work enables us to be productive and feel good about what we have accomplished, just as “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good…” (Gen. 1:31). Work gives you the opportunity to serve someone else. One of the great traps of our culture is the false idea that life is about serving me. When we have that view, then, yes, our work is often repulsive and only a means to the end of getting a paycheck, and our life is hollow, lonely and full of a lot of misery. One of the great qualities of work, as God intended it, is that whether you are putting a bolt into a car chassis on the assembly line, making toasters, or fixing someone’s plumbing problem, you are doing something good that is going to benefit somebody else. Work should give us a sense of meaning and a sense of purpose.  It is so much more than a paycheck!  If we are going to think biblically about work, we need to know that God designed work to be a a part of all that we are and all that we do. There is no separation in Scripture between work that is secular and work that is spiritual. What it does say is “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father…Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:17,23,24).
     Some jobs are much more difficult than others and some bosses are much harder to work for than others, but as believers, we need to remember that we are really working for our Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to do our work as unto Him, no matter how challenging our job or our earthly boss. When we do that, we not only find our work more bearable and rewarding, but we are bringing glory to God as well. On this Labor Day, when many are taking opportunity for a break from their regular work, we should pause to thank God for making us workers which enables us not only to provide for our families, but to have a sense of satisfaction as we serve others and bring glory to God.
     Oh, and since many of you are today taking advantage of leisure and recreation, it is important to remember that God designed us such that we need to take those breaks from our routine work in order to be refreshed and renewed, which in turn makes us better workers!  It is still true that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In fact, it probably means Jack is a work-aholic—addicted to his job to find satisfaction—and also probably means an early death for Jack!  Balance is the key word.  On this Labor Day, I stick up for the value and importance of work, but it must be balanced with times of rest and refreshing. Even Jesus, while on earth, took times to get away from the crowds and His constant ministry of teaching and healing.
     We live in a fallen world; we work among fallen fellow employees; we work for fallen bosses. But as believers, we can have a great impact for God if we continue to do our work as unto the Lord. We can truly make a difference in the place we work. So, Go MAD! (Go Make A Difference). Work becomes worship when done for the Lord.
            Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
   
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You Can Know For Sure

One day when I was 12 or 13 years old, I came home from school, expecting my folks to be there, but they weren’t and didn’t arrive for some time.  I recalled the preacher teaching about a thing called the “rapture” when believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air and are taken to heaven (taken from I Thes. 4:17 and the phrase “caught up”).  I was quite sure that event must have happened and I was left behind. What a terrible, frightening feeling. Well, obviously, my folks did return and the rapture had not happened yet, but I struggled for a number of years wondering when it did, would I go to heaven.
     When I was 11 years of age, I attended a Bible camp where I prayed with my counselor to ask Jesus to be my Savior, but for some time thought that when I sinned that Jesus left and I would need to invite Him in again. At the church we were attending at the time, the Sunday evening service was usually an evangelistic one where an invitation was given to receive Christ. I must have raised my hand at least a dozen times but continued to wonder from day to day whether I was really saved. 
     It was then that my folks, who had moved from Polson, Montana to Libby, heard about a really good Bible teacher at Faith Bible Church, so we went to visit and got hooked. Not only did we get some sound Bible teaching, but it was there I met my wife-to-be, the pastor’s daughter!  I discovered that God’s Word teaches clearly that you can “know for sure” that you are saved and going to heaven, and that you don’t have to keep inviting Him into your life. To do that is like continuing to go to the door to invite someone in who is already sitting in your home!  When we sin as a believer, we need to confess our sin to restore our fellowship with God, as we read in I Jn. 1:9, but Jesus doesn’t leave us. He promised to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). 
     Being a hard-headed, stubborn Norwegian, it still took me several years for the truth of God’s Word to really resonate in my life. I remember distinctly when I finally gained the assurance of my salvation. It was November of 1970. I had attended a series of meetings called “Basic Youth Conflict.” (It wasn’t just for young people, but for youth and adults alike).  The speaker, Bill Gothard, spoke one evening on the assurance of salvation, and emphasized for us a  passage in the epistle of First John:  “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son. And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may KNOW that you have eternal life” ( I Jn. 5:10-13).  John tells us that we can “know” we have eternal life, not just hope so (in the sense of wishful thinking).  Ours is a “know-so faith” and that is what John’s first epistle is all about. And then the passage goes on to tell us how and why we can “know.”  John writes: “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (vs. 14,15).  We know that it is God’s will for us to repent and to trust Him for eternal life, for we read in II Pet. 3:9, “The Lord …is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”  So, we know that if we ask Jesus to come into our life as our Savior and Lord, He comes in—and we don’t have to keep inviting Him.  Well, to remove all doubt and confusion, that night in November of 1970, in Portland, Oregon, I prayed for a final time:
             “Father, thank you for the free gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of your Son. I know that I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I am sorry for my past sins, and I ask You to forgive me.
            Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and arose from the dead. If I never fully understood that before, I do now, and if I never genuinely invited You to be my Savior, I do that right now.
            I open the door of my heart and invite You to come into my life. I acknowledge that there is nothing I can do to earn my salvation, and I place my complete trust in You alone for eternal life.
            I choose to follow You as my Lord. Please make me the person You want me to be.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
    Was I saved at the Bible camp when I was 11? I don’t know—probably, but it doesn’t really matter because I KNOW that in November of 1970, at age 24, I gained assurance of my salvation, and from that time on have known that I have “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for me, and that I am “protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Pet. 1:4,5). “In this ( I ) greatly rejoice” (v. 6).  With the new assurance I had gained, I really began to grow spiritually and had the great privilege of introducing my boss and his brother and our secretary at Hyster in Portland to my Savior. I ended up starting a Bible study at work which eventually led to our coming back to Montana in 1974 to work with Rocky Mountain Bible Mission, which in turn led to becoming the pastor of Three Lakes Community Bible Church for 37 years!  And God continues to grow me and provide opportunities of ministry. But it first took knowing for sure I was saved. You can’t grow until you know that you have been truly “born again” (Jn. 3:3).
    
     So, I challenge all who may read this with this question: If the rapture were to take place today, or you should die today, do you know without a doubt that you will go to heaven?  If you have any doubt, I encourage you to do what I did, and pray for a final time to admit your need of a Savior and to trust Jesus for eternal life.  Let me know if you do that. I’d love to hear from you.
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
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Putting in the Time

   Even though I handed over the coaching responsibilities of the high school tennis team several years ago, I have continued to help out as a volunteer and enjoy working with the teens and pray that I can have a positive impact on their lives. For the past couple years we have had some players who were pretty serious about improving their game and put in quite a bit of extra court time to see that happen. As a result, this past spring, our boys’ team took first at state and our girls finished in a tie for second, so their hard work was rewarded.  I recently stopped off at the courts to hit some serves while Kathy had an appointment in town.  It was on one of our hot (95 degree) afternoons so I didn’t plan to stay long. I was just leaving when one of our high school boys stopped by, just getting off from his summer job, and asked if I could hit with him. I found out he has been working out on the courts twice a day and tries to serve at least 200 balls each day. He finished sixth at state in boys’ singles and has set as his goal winning state this coming year. I thought, wow, good for you! May your tribe increase!  Most players never pick up their rackets during the off-season and then expect to be successful come next March when practice starts up. It’s just too much work and they want the summer to just relax and have fun.  But here’s a boy who is working full time during the summer yet puts in a couple hours a day practicing.  That’s dedication, and that’s what it takes to be one of the top players. 
     I also think of all the time and effort that our Olympic athletes have put in for years to make it to these prestigious contests. But, each had set goals and then developed a strategy of discipline and practice to achieve their goal. (Of course they need some natural ability to build on in their area of expertise!). It is always interesting when they give the backgrounds of some of the competitors and what they went through to get to become one of the world’s best in their field.  It has often involved some real struggles and sacrifice.
     Then I am reminded of Paul’s oft comparison of the Christian life to athletics, especially to running a race or boxing.   For example, he wrote in I Cor. 9:24-27: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Paul draws on his readers’ knowledge of the Isthmian games, which were held every two years near Corinth (Greece).  Paul’s challenge to the Corinthian believers—and to us—was to consider how, if these competitors worked that hard for a temporary reward ( a wreath of greenery), how much more should we, as “ambassadors for Christ” (II Cor. 5:20) have self-discipline and “put in the time” as we carry out our service for Christ, knowing that ours will be an eternal reward.  Paul left us a great example of one who was willing to “put in the time and effort” to fulfill his ministry. He made his body his slave lest he should be “disqualified” (Greek = adikomos) which refers to a cracked pot, not one thrown away, but put on the shelf. Paul did not want God to put him on the shelf. He wanted to “run with endurance the race that was set before him” (Heb. 12:1).  And that took great discipline and dependence upon the Lord, as Paul faced great adversity, including several imprisonments, beatings, whippings, shipwrecks, and even stoning. He faced dangers on every hand and had many a sleepless night and felt the burden of caring for the churches he helped found.  But as he shared in his testimony to the elders of the Ephesus church, he said: ”But none of these things move me, neither do I count my life as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). 
     When it came to the end of his life, as Paul faced execution at the hands of Nero, Emperor of Rome, he wrote in his final letter to his understudy and friend, Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come. I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Tim. 4:6-8).
     Unfortunately, I believe the same is true among Christians as is true in the sports world (and life in general)—many are content to just give token commitment and few are willing to “put in the time” and be totally committed and set goals. We only get involved in our local assembly of believers when it is convenient and works into our schedule. We neglect the reading and study of Scripture because of our hectic lifestyle. We don’t share Christ with others because we just don’t feel qualified, or we are afraid of what they may think or say or do, or we don’t want them to judge Christianity by the way we have been living. We will put in the time and effort to achieve some temporal rewards, while we neglect what will last for eternity.
      So, what was the Apostle Paul’s secret? What motivated him to give his all?  He tells us in II Cor. 5:14,15, where he writes: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”  Jesus died not only to save us from our sins, but also that we might live for him. After all He’s done for me, how can I do less than give Him my best (put in the time)  and live for Him completely.
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
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Signs of His Second Coming

We had a special treat when our son and family were here to visit recently. We got to spend a couple days at the cabin on Crystal Lake (half-way between Libby and Kalispell) where Kathy and I spent our wedding night nearly 50 years ago! My best friend in high school, David Olson, invited me on several occasions to come out to join their family at Crystal, where I learned to water ski on that beautiful, clear lake. David’s mom was my accompanist for my French horn solos during music festivals. So I also spent many hours at their home in town practicing. Since they too were believers in Christ, we developed a very special bond, and David (“Ole”) was best man at our wedding and remains a very good friend. We found out their cabin was available while our son and family were here so were privileged to take them there for a couple days to relax and recreate on the lake.
     That was special enough, but we were also blessed with a late afternoon severe thunderstorm that involved lots of lightning, thunder and an hour or more of hard rain. We had a great time playing table games while watching the storm and listening to the rain pounding on the metal roof.  Just about the time the storm began to subside, the sun was setting and we got to witness the most unique sunset we have ever seen. The clouds rolled back to expose a strip of blue sky that stretched from one horizon to the other as the sun was shining through the clouds and onto the blue strip. It was exquisite with beauty and a reminder that Christ is coming one day—likely soon—when the “the sky will split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up” (Rev. 6:14).  The passage, in context, speaks of the time just before Jesus returns to earth to reign, and of the period of judgment called “The Great Tribulation” which precedes His return.  The passage in Revelation goes on to speak of how those living on the earth during that time who have rejected Christ as Savior, will apparently be able to see Christ sitting on the throne in heaven and will try to hide from His presence and the wrath being poured out upon the earth (vv. 15-17).  These same heavenly disturbances are also predicted in Isa. 34:4; Joel 2:30,31 and Matt. 24:29. 
     When Jesus ascended back to heaven, 40 days after His resurrection, He had gathered his disciples together and told them not to leave Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came to indwell and empower them (Acts 1:3-5,8). “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts. 1:9-11). 
     Just before Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion, as He celebrated that final Passover meal with His disciples, He had told them He would be leaving but encouraged them, saying, “I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:3).  Then, the angels told the disciples at the ascension that Jesus would return “in the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven,” indicating He would return  (physically) in the clouds.  But, according to many Scriptures there will be two parts to His return: one in the clouds to catch away His Bride, the Church to heaven, and later (seven years) to return with His Bride to the earth in judgment and to set up His earthly kingdom promised to Israel. The passage in Rev. 6:14 speaks of the disturbance of the heavens that takes place just before He returns in glory to the earth. But, in Paul’s letter to the believers at Thessalonica, to comfort those who had lost loved ones in death, we read: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep (believers who died), that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those (their spirits) who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ (their bodies) shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thes. 4:13-18).
     Prior to the judgments of the Tribulation that are detailed in Revelation (also in Mt. 24,25 and Lk. 21), Jesus will return in the clouds (just as He left), will remove all believers still alive on the earth and will raise the bodies of believers who have died. We will have a great “reunion in the sky” as we meet our Lord and Savior who takes us then to be with Him in heaven during those seven years of judgment on earth before He returns with us to the earth to set up His earthly reign.
     All of that came to mind—my mind, that is!—when we witnessed the very special, beautiful and unique sunset at the end of the storm on Crystal Lake.
     So, are you ready for His return for His Bride?  You don’t want to be left behind to face the terrible judgments prophesied  in Revelation.  If you have never trusted Christ for your salvation, do so now, while you have time. You don’t know how much longer you have.
                Forever His,
                    Pastor Dave
P.S. Thanks, so much Olsons for the use of your cabin!
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Living Water

  A daily ritual at our place during the summer months is watering flowers and setting sprinklers for the lawn and vegetable garden. We enjoy having flowers and fresh garden produce, but that also means we are committed to providing the much-needed water to keep everything alive and flourishing. It reminds me of our own human thirst for water. Our bodies need lots of water to survive, and to be healthy it is a daily requirement. We can’t just drink a lot of water one day and it is good for a week or a month.
     You are probably familiar with the story recorded in John’s gospel where Jesus told His disciples that they needed to go through Samaria on their way from Judea to Galilee. Normally the Jews would go across the Jordan and bypass Samaria because it was populated by folks who were half Jew and half Gentile dating back to the Assyrian’s conquering of Israel and their practice of forcing inter-marriage. But on this occasion, Jesus wanted to visit with a Samaritan woman that was out in heat of the day to draw water from a community well near Sychar. It was actually a well that Jacob had dug many years before on a parcel of ground he gave to his son Joseph (Jn. 4:4-6). The disciples had gone into the city to buy food and Jesus remained by the well. Along came the Samaritan woman to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink since He had nothing with which to draw. Whether or not Jesus ever got His drink it doesn’t say, but He offered her “living water,” saying, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:13,14). Jesus was speaking of new life through the regenerating power of  the Holy Spirit (Jn. 7:37-39). 
     Just as everyone has a natural thirst for water, we also have a thirst for God, since He made us with a God-shaped vacuum within, which only Jesus Christ can fill. When we try to quench our thirst with anything other than the “living water” Jesus offers, we continue to thirst. Nothing else on this earth, whether fame or fortune or anything else can ultimately satisfy. We are always thirsty again and are never fulfilled. Only God can meet that need and He did so by sending His Son to pay for our sins and to offer eternal life. When we trust Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit creates in us a new nature that provides the fulfillment for which we have been longing.
     It is important to note that, although Jesus pointed out the woman’s sinful lifestyle, He asked the woman to receive Him and His gift without any prerequisite change in her life. After she believed, and because she believed, her way of living would be changing. We don’t have to get our life together to come to Christ, we come to Christ to get our life together. This woman left her water pot and hurried back to the city to tell others about Christ and what He had done for her. Many believed because of her testimony (how she had changed) and others went out to talk to Jesus also.
     Have you received the “living water” Jesus offers or are you still trying to quench your thirst from what this world has to offer? If you have received God’s gift of eternal life, are you telling others about the Source of “living water” so they too can come and drink?
            Forever His,
                Pastor Dave
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The Aroma of Life and Death

While our son and family were here this past week, we hiked up into the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness area where we had a major forest fire last summer that caused a number of families to have to evacuate their homes. Fortunately the fire stopped short of destroying any private property, but really took its toll in the forest. All along the trail were the charred remains of trees, including some giant cedars, many of which crashed to the forest floor, leaving a tangled mess of remains. Others are still standing, but very precariously, and will undoubtedly soon come down with wind or snow.  The carnage left by the fire caused the trail to have to be detoured in several locations. But, there are still  sections of live trees and vegetation that escaped the fire, so, as we hiked there was an interesting aroma of both life and death. On a nice warm summer day, you can smell the aroma given off by trees and plants as they grow. It is an aroma of life and fruitfulness. But along with that pleasing aroma in the forest was the smell of charred trees and burned bushes. It was an interesting combination of the aroma of both life and death.
     The Apostle Paul speaks of such a strange combination in his second letter to the Corinthians, where he writes: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one and aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life…” (II Cor. 2:14-16).  Paul was drawing from the Roman practice of a conquering army parading its captured prisoners as they return home, while incense is being burned, an aroma of life to the conquerors, but of death to those prisoners who were about to be executed.  In this case the aroma was the same, but it meant something entirely different to two groups of people. Paul says that the “aroma” of our lives as believers will be a fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved, but to those who are living in rejection of Christ, it will be a fragrance of death. 
      In our case, as we walked through the forest that was devastated by a wildfire last summer, there were two aromas, one the result of death and destruction, the other a product of vibrant life and growth. We as believers, as we walk about on this earth, should be emitting an “aroma of life,” the abundant life that we have in Christ (Jn. 10:10).  That fragrance contrasts with the aroma of death and destruction all about us that is caused by the consequences of sin and by those who are living in rejection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “You shall also say to this people, ‘behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’” (Jer. 21: 8).  It is possible for those under the condemnation of sin to move from their condition of death and destruction to that of life and beauty through faith in Christ. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn. 5:24).  Paul wrote: “Who (God) has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity; but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (I Tim. 1:9,10). 
     Our hike in the wilderness that has been scarred by a forest fire was much like what we see in the world as a whole. We see the affects of sin and the death and destruction it brings, but we also see the beauty of God’s creation that still shines through and we have the beautiful aroma of those who are true followers of Jesus who, as Christ’s ambassadors, are being salt and light.  So, in which category do you fit? Are you still living under the curse of sin and death, under the condemnation of the Law, or have you experienced new life in Christ and are demonstrating His love and forgiveness in a world of hatred and bitterness? What kind of aroma does your life emit?   If you have never done so, I encourage you to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive not only eternal life and an assurance of heaven, but a whole new life here as a “new creation in Christ” (II Cor. 5:17).
                    Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
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Why Do Birds Sing?

   At this stage of summer, about 5 a.m. we awake to the crowing of a rooster at the neighbors, followed by the crows which begin a big ruckus around 5:30 a.m., at which point I usually have to get up and shut the window if we are going to sleep any longer.  While the rooster and the crows are rather annoying, many birds make music that is very soothing and relaxing and it is fun to listen to what birds sing what songs in order to identify them. Besides the crows which return here in the spring, we hear the calls from robins, Canada geese, blue and stellar jays, house finches, wild turkeys, mourning doves, black-capped chickadees, house finches, rufus-sided towhees, and many more.
     Like the fragrant perfume from flowers like sweet peas or roses or lilacs, bird songs have a profound effect on the human senses. Listening to the music of birds makes the world seem a little brighter and can bring a bit of cheer to the human heart. Certain bird calls can evoke memories from our outdoor experiences.  The quacking of mallards reminds me of my childhood when I would go with  my dad to hide and wait for the ducks to come out in the grain fields from the wild-life refuge to feed in the evening. Another memory is of our family camping by Hebgen (“Quake”) Lake near Yellowstone Park. We were awakened by a loud, strange, crying noise. We walked toward the lake to investigate and caught our first-ever glimpse of huge sand-hill cranes.  The sound of Canada geese flying over, honking words of encouragement, makes me think of crisp fall days as they begin their migration southward.  Another call that elicits memories is that of the common loon, whose voice is associated with the northern wilderness of the United States, often heard at a mountain lake.
     Ornithologists have done lots of research regarding birds calls and music and have learned that birds definitely have a means of communicating various messages to one another.   Take the common loon, for example. They have four basic calls: 1)  A powerful wail which is used to search for a mate; 2) A yodel—only made by the male—which is a sign of aggression used to stake out the boundaries of its territory; 3) the hoot or talking call used to keep in contact with family members; and 4) the tremelo or “laugh” that resembles the call of a wolf. It is a signal of alarm—the only call made in flight, and is often called, “the call of the wilderness.”
     The red poll uses “call notes “ to keep in touch with one another during flight enabling them to take off and land at the same time—like, “ready, set, go!’ 
     One of our favorite birds, and one we see pretty much throughout the year is the black-capped chickadee. They are hardy little birds that will remain through the cold, wintry months and continue their bright cheerful songs and joyful activities. They are known as the “bird of the merry heart.” As they scatter looking for food in the winter, they call to stay in contact, and when one of them finds a new source of food, it communicates a message to tell the others. The bird is named after the melody it most commonly sings in the winter—“chick-a-dee-dee-dee.”  When the days begin to warm and the first signs of spring appear, their song changes to “phee’-bee.” They also serenade their mate during courtship with that song. During summer and fall another call is heard which involves three notes and sounds like “cheese’-bur-ger!”
     So, while the majority of the bird calls and songs we hear and enjoy are pragmatic for them as communication calls, alarm calls, migration calls, mating calls (love songs) or territorial calls. their songs are often “music to our ears.” It would also surely seem that there are times when song birds are just making music for the joy of it—like after a rainstorm when the earth has been refreshed by God.  Our favorites (besides the chickadees), are the rufus-sided towhees and the house finches—all of which have very pleasing melodies.  Others are rather raucous and annoying—like the jays, the crows and the flicker woodpeckers.  But, just think of the varieties of languages they speak—something that surely didn’t evolve with time and chance but is the product of our all-wise, all-powerful Creator God, who on the fifth day of the creation week said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens…and God created…every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply…and let birds multiply on the earth’” (Gen. 1: 20-22).  God created a huge variety of beautiful birds, each with its own language of communication, and as another act of His grace, he made man in such a way that we could enjoy their music. Each bird species also has some unique features and abilities from which we can learn a lot that we can apply to our lives. In the Old Testament book of Job, we read in Job’s reply to his so-called comforter, Zophar, “But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you; and the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you” (Job. 12:7).
     There are many birds mentioned in the Bible. Check it out and see how many you can find.
                Forever His,
                        Pastor Dave
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