Month: August 2018

A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 3 – Smorgasbord

A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 3 – Smorgasbord

One of the things I found a little unnerving on my recent hike to the Red Moshannon Viaduct, was the dense terrain that I had to walk through. The area was new to me, as I had never been there before. On my way back to my car, I got somewhat turned around, or uh, you might say, I was taking the scenic route . . . Oh, I’ll just tell the truth, I WAS LOST! There . . . I said it!

As I was walking through this dense, sopping wet forest, I noticed many blackberries, huckleberries, and then I began to see large rotten trees and tree stumps torn apart, then it dawned on me, there were bears rummaging through this area, and I was walking through their kitchen!

Black Bear

I started to feel uneasy. The rain was pouring down; the ground was silent to my steps, and I anticipated coming face to face with a black bear at any moment; possibly surprising the bear, and hoping it was not with a set of cubs, making the encounter even more dangerous.

So I proceeded with an increased level of scrutiny as I took each step, looking this way and that, being very careful as I picked my through.

It reminded me of an old passage in the Bible; the passage in Genesis, shortly before Cain killed his brother Abel. Both had brought offerings to God, Abel’s offering was acceptable to the Lord, but God was not pleased with the offering Cain brought.

Cain got angry and jealous of his brother and began to think ugly thoughts; God spoke to Cain and said; “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

We live in a world where “sin is crouching” at every turn, looking to ensnare anyone who falls into the temptation trap! Satan cannot make you sin, but he is very good at setting a tempting table; a smorgasbord for you; and as you pass by, he whispers in your ear . . . “Oh there must be something on this table for you, try a little something, so tasty!”

The Apostle Peter described the devil as a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  We need to be careful as we negotiate the crazy world we find ourselves immersed in, the dangers out there are far worse than encountering an angry bear!

To coin a phrase used by an old friend, Phil Burkhouse, author of a weekly outdoor column, Wandering Aimlessly; “You be careful out there.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments
A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 2 – Stuck in Mid-Air

A Stroll in the Woods – Lesson 2 – Stuck in Mid-Air

As I was walking through the woods on my way to the Red Moshannon Viaduct, I came across a rather odd-looking site; a leaf stuck in mid-air! I took a picture of the leaf, as it dangled in the air, four feet off the ground.

As I studied the optical anomaly, looking for the solution to the magical dangling leaf, I saw it, a single silky strand, barely visible to the naked eye!

The leaf, released from its lofty perch, sent on a mission to add to the beautiful tapestry of the forest floor. While en-route to the desired destination, a single thread captured it in mid-air, effectively ending the desired journey and the hopeful outcome.

A single spider thread is only about 10 microns thick, that is four ten thousandths of an inch! Yet, as small as that single thread is, it has great strength; a single spider strand is 5 times as strong as a strand of steel the same diameter!

As I stood there pondering this amazing sight, I realized that it only takes a little “sin” to stop a person’s spiritual journey with Jesus. Just as the little leaf stopped in mid-air, so too does the Christian’s journey suspend in time, until the minute thread, cut loose.

Only when we call out to Jesus, declaring we have made an error in judgment, does He stop and cut us loose. It is the confession of the deed, which sets us free. If we choose to ignore the issue at hand, we will remain stranded and more silky thread will be applied, and the bonds grow tighter and tighter, choking the very life out of us!

When walking through dangerous places with Jesus; it is best to keep your eyes on Him; you will be less likely to be enticed off the trail. The Good News; if you do fail, call out quickly to Him, even if you feel embarrassed, or ashamed, tell Him what you did, and how sorry you are. He will come quickly and free you from the snare.

1 John 1:9

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments
A Stroll in The Woods – Lesson 1

A Stroll in The Woods – Lesson 1

Annually I like to take a weekend and spend it in solitude, deep in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I do this to reflect on God’s Word, to clear my mind and heart, seeking God’s direction for the year ahead.

This year, I chose to hang my hammock and pitch my tent, on a secluded spot on Sandy Ridge, Pa. It was a gorgeous spot overlooking the scenic valley below, surrounded by forest.

My humble home on Sandy Ridge

I decided to take a day to hike into an area I had always wanted to see, the Red Moshannon Viaduct. My grandfather used to pick cranberries there.

Red Moshannon Viaduct

Reuben & Helen Pifer with 119 quarts of Cranberries

My devotional for the morning, prior to my hike, was one of my favorite passages in the Bible, Matthew chapter 5, 6 and 7; we often refer to this section as the “Sermon on the Mount.”

This part of the Bible contains the “Nuts & Bolts” of Christianity. Jesus really laid it out here; I recommend that you read it . . . all three chapters, and then read it again, a little slower, savoring all the nuggets along way; then read it one more time for good measure. I guarantee you will want to go back to this passage, repeatedly, I know I do!

In chapter 7, verses 13 and 14, Jesus says this: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

As I headed down over the side of the mountain to reach the Moshannon Viaduct, I found myself paralleling Interstate 80. As I headed down over the bank, I was about 100 yards from that massive highway; the cars and truck roaring by; careening to destinations unknown to me.


I was picking my way through the soggy, dense forest, now on a deer path traversing a 50-degree slope, pushing through thick, wet mountain laurel, stinging twigs slapping my face, brushing off mosquitoes, slipping from time to time! Only 100 yards away was a smooth, flat, easy highway; people whizzing effortlessly past me.

I sat down to rest, and then I realized that this must be what Jesus was talking to me about earlier. Getting on the interstate is easy, and once you get on it, it’s pedal to the metal and off you go!

So many today are flying through life, roaring to new jobs, bigger homes, adding relentlessly to a retirement fund, breathlessly chasing dreams, running fast and hard; all the while unaware at the end of this broad highway, according to Jesus, there is nothing but eternal destruction.

The other option is not so much a road, but a path; this road has a Gatekeeper, and His Name is Jesus; there is no other entrance-way; you MUST go through Him. Once you meet Him, He takes you on a journey. Jesus leads the way, looking back and with a grin stretching from ear to ear, He says; “Come, Follow Me.”

The way is often precarious, the twists and turns can be both frightening and exhilarating. There is danger, mysterious intrigue, and profound wonder, as you follow the Son of God. The narrow road is full of sights and sounds that those, only 100 yards away, never see.

The destination of this road less traveled is life . . . life never ending; it does not end in destruction, but continues; on and on, it is eternal, forever and ever!

If I have wet your whistle and you want to enter this narrow way, then consider Jesus. If drawn to the gatekeeper, and by ANY means, run to Him, and get in on this journey.

I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend . . . Hey Jesus, wait up . . . I’m coming!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Humility, Thankfulness, Trust, 0 comments

Hornets’ Nest

Hornets’ Nest

I recall one hot summer afternoon when I was about 8 years old my dad, mom and me, went looking for some chokecherries so mom could make some chokecherry jam!

There were a few chokecherry trees not far from our property, so we took a couple of small buckets and off we went. We found a tree loaded with them, but the first few branches were high of the ground, so dad hoisted me up, then handed me the bucket, and I scurried up into the tree.

Wild Chokecherries

I was carefully plucking chokecherries, when suddenly; I felt a sting on the back of my neck, then another, and another! In a matter of seconds, I felt stung repeatedly!

I dropped the bucket and started yelling to dad as I made my descent as quickly as possible. When I got to the last branch, I jumped into dads arms and we ran away as fast as we could!

When we got home, mom attended to my stinging wounds; stung about a dozen times or more.

A hornets’ nest, tucked in the tree; unnoticed by us, and disturbed by my presence, the hornets attacked me!

White Faced Hornet

Watch out for Hornets in the wild

I am so glad that my parents rushed me home and took care of my stinging wounds, applying pain-relieving ointments and cold cloths to the afflicted areas. I am sure the temptation was for my dad to knock down that hornet nest and make them “pay” for what they did to me.

The fact is, we have hornets in the wild, and when we get too close to their nests, they react. It is best to be a little more careful when investigating the great wilderness surrounding us, and when we locate a hornets’ nest, give it a wide berth.

It is an entirely different situation when the hornets decide to build near our home; we simply cannot permit it, so we take measures to ensure that does not happen. When we spy those aerial stinging insects, attempting to build a nest on our house, we knock it down and destroy it swiftly.

Furthermore, we remain diligent, keeping close watch, inspecting our homes and properties often, making sure they are safe from these stinging critters.

We are born with a fatal sting

While remembering this almost forgotten event from my childhood, it dawned on me, that we could make an important spiritual application from this story.

We know that, spiritually speaking, we are all born with a sting in our soul, a spiritually fatal sting; we know only one cure for this lethal condition, and that would be Jesus.

Jesus went to the Cross embracing every sting of every person; you could say on the Cross-, He was swarmed. The fierce stings of sin penetrated His flesh, burning deep.

Even after He had given up His Spirit to the Father, one last “sting” for good measure given, as they pierced His side! It was finished!

Of course, we know that the Father raised Jesus up; Praise God for that! The Bible now declares . . .

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For those who have come to Christ Jesus, the “sting” of death, now erased, and all our “stings” forgiven; this is great news!

On a mission to remove the sting of death

Now, as followers of Jesus, we are on a mission to show people everywhere, how to get that “sting” of death out, and replaced with the River of Life!

Early in my Christian journey, as I wandered through our community, I noticed all these “hornet” nests established throughout our town; cults, bars, secret societies, and the like.  I recall standing in front of these establishments praying against them, invoking the power of God to come and destroy these places of iniquity.

Almost every time I did this, I would feel swarmed by “demonic hornets” throughout the following week; some spiritual attacks were quite vicious and painful; I got the feeling the devil was out for blood!

I began to wonder what I was doing wrong, so I began to examine Jesus’ life and His tactics; and my eyes opened.

During the time of Jesus’ ministry, certainly one HUGE hornet nest, was the Roman Empire. The folks following Jesus, wanted Him to eradicate that nest; to tear it down and bring freedom, political freedom from the oppression everyone felt from that ungodly regime!

Jesus did not go to Rome, standing there praying against it; rather He went to people, offering to remove the “sting” of death from their heart. He knew advancing His Kingdom would happen, one heart at a time!

He focused on His mission; Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

His mission has become our mission; we would do well to follow it!

Do not permit hornets to build in your house

Jesus did not go to the “hornet nests” in the wild; rather He left them alone. However, He would NOT tolerate the building of “hornet nests” in His household; He tore them down quickly, and so should we!

It is one thing to encounter a hornets’ nest in the wild, and another thing to discover one in your house. The ones we find in the wild, we avoid, and give wide berth to; the ones we find in our home, we quickly exterminate, so it is in the Kingdom of Christ!

When Jesus encountered the money-changers, Pharisees, and false teachers of the Law, doing business in His Father’s house, He let them have it, and called them out; even driving them out with a whip!

Jesus driving out the money-changers

In light of these truths, I have decided to change my tactics a bit; rather than looking for spiritual hornet nests in the wild, and standing there shouting at them. I have decided to concentrate on identifying hornet nests inside the church (His Body) exposing and knocking them down!

I intend to be intentionally helping persons remove the sting of death in their soul; then warning them to stay away from known hornets nests in the wild.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, if the Holy Spirit directs me to stand in front of a hornet nest and shout at it; I will do so without hesitation, fully expecting that the nest will fall, just like the walls of Jericho fell when the Israelite army shouted at it!

Meanwhile . . . there are stings to remove, soothing salve to apply, a Kingdom to advance . . . one soul at a time!

Get your gear, let’s get at it!

Posted by onthesolidrock in Discipline, Faith, Holiness, Humility, Trust, 0 comments