Flying by the Instruments by Larry Refsland
I’m not a pilot, but I have done my share of “flying by the seat of my pants!” I read somewhere that when pilots are going through training a simple exercise proves to them the necessity of learning to fly by the instruments. They put the pilot-in-training on a swivel chair, blindfold him, and spin him around. The one in the chair has to try to tell which way he is moving, when he has stopped, and which direction he is facing. The new pilot never gets it right. The reason is, the fluid in the ear canal causes a distortion of balance and perception.
The lesson is clear: there are times when your senses tell you one thing, and your instruments another. Believe the instruments! In our daily lives, we can find ourselves off-balance, or unsure of our direction. I’ve found the best instrument panel to use in order to get my proper bearings is the Bible. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The word of God is a lamp that lights our path and shows us the way to go. It always points the way to God through Jesus.
When we look to Him for help, the world stops spinning, and things come into focus. His word gives life and protects us from going off-course. Our feelings can’t always be trusted, but the word of God is 100% reliable. May I encourage you to get familiar with this instrument panel? It will keep you from danger and lead you to abundant life!
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An Unlimited Supply by Larry Refsland
How would you like to have a bank account you could never exhaust? Wouldn’t it be great to have an account where no matter how much you spend one day, the account is replenished by the next day?
There is an account like that available to each of us. It’ not offered at any of the lending institutions in your town. It’s an account in Heaven! The depositor is Jesus Christ, and we make withdrawals everyday. The account is not a cash account; it’s a mercy account. We all need God’s mercy. Without it, we have no hope of forgiveness or love.
God is rich in mercy, writes Paul in Ephesians 2:4. He has vast amounts of mercy that is obtainable by a verbal request. It comes to us as we confess our wrongdoings to God and ask for forgiveness. God extends to us forgiveness, not based on anything of value we have, but out of his great supply of mercy. Mercy is not earned or deserved; it is a gift from God.
In case you feel you’ve exhausted God’s supply of mercy, consider this, Lamentations 3:22-23 says that His mercies are made new every morning! He has a fresh supply for us today, even if you have used up all that He had yesterday, which by the way, would be impossible. Make sure you make the necessary withdrawal from the mercy account of God today. Go to Him in prayer and make your request. His supply far exceeds your need!
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God is a People Watcher by Larry Refsland
Are you a people watcher like I am? I enjoy going to places where there are lots of people. It’s fascinating to watch and listen to the words and actions of children, parents, friends and lovers. Some will be having the time of their life and others are having a bad day. You can tell who’s in a hurry and who has time on their hands. Some people seem like they are on a mission and others look like they missed the boat. You know, God is also a people-watcher. “The eyes of the Lord are searching to and fro over all the earth, looking for someone He can help” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
When I’m people watching, I don’t pay attention to the person who looks like they have it all together. Frankly, they’re boring. I’m more likely to notice the frustrated dad waiting for the kids to catch up to him or the mom that’s digging in her bags for something to keep the baby occupied. God’s eyes are drawn to those that need help as well.
You can rest assured that God has taken notice of your situation. Whether you need help with a relationship, finances or a life-controlling problem, he is ready to assist you. The Bible says when we are in distress we should “seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).
As I’m people watching, often I see situations where I can lend a hand, open a door or point out the missing person they’re looking for. God is able to come alongside of us and help us as well. Just call upon Him. He’s as close as the mention of His name. Look up to the Lord who is tenderly watching you.
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How to Get to Heaven by Larry Refsland
"Don’t leave home without it!” I’m not talking about your American Express card; I’m talking about your map! If you’re going on a trip to a place you’ve never gone before, it’s a good idea to bring along a map. Or you’ll be stopping every so often to ask directions, and you know how embarrassing that can be!
Speaking of asking for directions, do you know how to get to Heaven from your town? I’m serious! Some people think the road to heaven is found by doing good deeds. Others would say you take the highway of “trusting your church” to get you there. But, according to the Bible, there is only one road to heaven and that is the person of Jesus Christ. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is death.” Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). The Bible makes clear the point that the way to Heaven is by accepting the free gift of God’s grace by faith. In Romans 10:9 it says if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
In order to say truthfully that Jesus is Lord, you must turn over to Him your life and ask him to lead you the rest of your life. He will lead you to Heaven. You’ll never make it there on your own ability or merit. You must become a follower of Jesus Christ. So go ahead, get out your roadmap to eternity, the Bible, and check the directions. You can get on the right road today by asking him to lead you. Have a safe and joyful journey.
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I’ve lived in the Twin Cities are for about fourteen years, but even so, I’ve always had a hard time finding my way out of downtown and back onto highway 35W or 94 which led out of the city. For me, Minneapolis is an easy town to drive into, but a hard one to drive out of. The signs are clearly marked on the interstate on how to get downtown, but you’ve got to look carefully and quickly to see a sign pointing to the way out!
It’s the same with some of the choices we are offered in life. For example, it’s pretty easy to get into trouble, but it’s another story altogether trying to get out of trouble. All the signs to a wrong decision look inviting. Sometimes it’s a friend that’s showing the way—other times it’s the promise of a feeling you really want to experience, just once. Whatever the temptation, the decision to yield to those signs can leave you stranded in a neighborhood you never wanted to be in.
Fortunately, there is a way out. It’s called, the “Narrow Road”. Jesus describes it in Matthew 7:13-14 like this: “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that lead to life and only a few find it.” Jesus later explained that he was describing himself as that “Narrow Road”. He is the road to true freedom. He is the road to life. He is not just a guide to the road—he’s the road itself! Stay on that road, and you’ll never have to worry about how to get out of the wrong neighborhood.
One of the first things children are taught when they reach pre-school age is how to call home. It’s important for every child old who may venture out to know his parents’ phone number and home address. Knowing how to reach home can be a valuable safety measure as well as a convenience to parents.
Of course, as kids get older, they often forget to call home and sometimes cause all kinds of anxiety for their parents. It isn’t that they don’t know how to call, it’s just not that important in their minds. That’s similar to the way we often are with our Heavenly Father. We learn to “call home” as children by saying bedtime prayers and meal-time grace, but later, we often go on our merry way forgetting to check in with the father.
Just as parents want to hear from their children, so God, our Heavenly Father, wants to hear from us. Not just when we’re in trouble, either. He’s interested in every aspect of our lives and longs to get a call from us. The Bible says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call onto me and I will answer you.” God is saying, “Why don’t you initiate a call to me? I am sitting here by the phone waiting for your call. Tell me how your life is going. I am available if you need help or need a friend to talk to.”
Take a moment to call home! You do remember the number, don’t you?
“You’ve been adopted!” Every orphan wants to hear those three words. Families that have opened their hearts and homes to a child know what it’s like to go through the agonizing waiting and hoping period while the legal process is completed to officially recognize a child as their own son or daughter. The child has a new name, a new home, and a new heritage. He or she becomes entitled to all the benefits of this new family: the food, the shelter, the clothing, and most of all, the love of a father and mother. For whatever reason, the birth parents were not able or willing to give the child the care it deserved and needed. The adoptive parents assumed all of those responsibilities.
What if the child refused the adoption? What if they chose to continue to live as orphans, or remain in a neglected home, even though the adoption had all been arranged and paid for? That wouldn’t seem probable, much less very wise.
The Bible says that God’s gift to us is his offer to adopt us into his family. It says that Jesus Christ paid for the adoption with his own death on the cross. Whoever trusts in him has the right to become one of God’s children. This offer is to everyone, everywhere. Many people, however, reject God’s gift. They choose to try to make it on their own. That’s sad, because they cannot enjoy all the benefits that come with the adoption.
Only by accepting God’s offer can we hope to live forever in his kingdom. Only by trusting Christ can we have access to the help and power and advice of the Heavenly Father. Will you take God up on his offer? You can be a child of the King! Your Heavenly Father is waiting to hear from you!
In the late 1980s, my wife and I spent a few days in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach. While we were enjoying the surf and the sand, a man with a camera and a large parrot came up and said, “Let me take a picture of you that will make all your friends back home jealous.” He showed us some samples of other photos he had taken that he had turned into postcards. One of the samples was a photo of actor Tom Selleck with that same parrot on his shoulder. We took him up on his offer and bought a few postcards to send back home.
Even though it was a good picture of my wife, the parrot, and myself, the postcard didn’t give our friends a complete picture of what Hawaii was really like. We could point out Diamond Head in the background and explain where our hotel was in relation to the photo, but the photo didn’t capture the warmth, the beauty or the “hang loose” attitude that we found there.
When we read the Bible, it’s like looking at a postcard from God. We are given a glimpse of his power and majesty, but we cannot see the complete picture until we see him face to face. Likewise, we can only grasp a fraction of his love for us now. But one day we shall see him in all his glory and we will respond by joining the angels in their never-ending chorus of “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” That’s when we will realize fully that God is bigger and better than we have ever imagined. At that moment, every doubt or fear we ever experienced will disappear in the light of his glory and grace. For now we try to see as much as we can through our postcard-view in the confident hope that we will one day be in the very presence of God where nothing will be hidden.
I finally figured out how to deal with the “check engine” light on my car. For several months now, the “check engine” light has been coming on. It’s not on all the time, and the car seems to be running fine, so I haven’t repaired anything. But that “check engine” light can get annoying. Not anymore! Now, thanks to a handy business card over the light, it is not such a nuisance!
The philosophy, of course, is “out of sight, out of mind”. Now, I know I haven’t really fixed the problem—I’ve just covered up the warning signal. That’s the way a lot of us deal with the warning lights in our life. Not opening the mail won’t stop a bill from coming due. Undressing in the dark won’t stop the waistline from expanding. Ignoring God today won’t prevent us from facing him about eternity.
Throughout our life, God sends warning signals when we drift away from him. He loves us and wants us to stay in harmony with his plan for our lives. When we go our own way and avoid him, he cares enough about us to remind us of our need of him. These reminders could be a gentle nudge—though a sermon or a song. Or it could be a little more blaring, like going through financial or physical hardships. We could ignore or cover up these signals, like I’ve done with the business card over my “check engine” light. But that will only make matters worse. It’s better to respond quickly to the signal, find out what God is trying to say to us, and take action.
If you have a warning light flashing in your life right now, go to the Master mechanic for an early detection and correction. It’ll help you avoid a breakdown in your relationship with Him, and you will go further down the road of life.
Did anyone ever tell you how to catch a monkey? In some jungle tribes, the method used to catch a monkey was to put some bait in a container that had a hole in the top just big enough for a monkey to slip his hand inside. The catch was that as soon as the monkey grabbed a fistful of food, his hand couldn’t come back out of the hole. He could run away and avoid capture simply by letting go of the bait, but nearly every time, the monkey was unwilling to do it.
There’s a story in the Bible about a man who had a similar problem. This young man was rich. He came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus’ answer was, “Let go of the riches in your hand!”
Was Jesus opposed to wealth? No—hardly! But if wealth and the pursuit of it are more important to you than eternal life, he’s opposed to it. In fact, it’s not just money we hang on to—it can also be relationships, position or status amongst friends or in a community. Pride in who you are or what your abilities are can also take priority over a relationship with God.
The Bible says if we seek to save our life we will lose it, but if we give up our life for Him, we will gain it back. What do you have to lose? Jesus challenges us to let go of whatever has become more important than God in our lives. Jesus has promised to gives us all we need, but first we must let go of what we have. He is either Lord of all—all that we possess and aspire to become, or he is not lord at all. May God help us to release those things in our hands and lead us to life today!
Tune Up Your Life!
Our hope is that you will find encouragement from the brief but thoughtful (and sometimes humorous) musings of Pastor Larry.
Take East of Backus on Hwy 87 to Cass County 49. Take 49 to Shortcut Rd and then left on 8th St NE to church.
You can also type in 812 8th St NE in Pine River, MN into your GPS, but if your GPS steers you differently, we recommend following the directions above.
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Interactive Bible Course – 2:00 pm
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For immediate requests, please contact Pastor Larry or Patti Refsland at 218-348-2202.