LEAD ME NOT? ~ 2/21/08

In Matthew chapter 6, 9-13, we have what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  In it is a line that has confused and troubled Christians throughout time: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

This line is especially confusing after you know what the Greek word for temptation, peirasmos, can mean – it has 3 main understandings:

1)     Enticement to sin

2)     Trials & troubles in life

3)     Suffering under persecution

“So what’s the big problem,” you’re asking – “Why would it be hard to ask God for help avoiding these things!?”

Problem#1 – God never entices us to sin, He’s never the source of our temptation (James 1:13,14) – so why would we need ask Him not to?

Problem#2 – The Bible tells us to be joyful when we have hard times–they produce “endurance” (James 1:2,3)! – Why should we avoid something that can make us stronger?

Problem#3 – God uses suffering to test our faith and build our character (1 Pet. 4:12) (“The character of God in us is built mostly with tears”)– So again, why pray for God to keep us from maturity?  If temptation is a key ingredient in the formation of our character and the maturing of our faith, why ask God to keep us from it? 

First off, know that in this verse, the correct understanding of ‘peirasmos’  can be either of the last two options.  And why ask God to keep us from these?  The answer is actually a lot simpler than you might think:  Because God is giving you permission to ask for a reprieve from hard times.  It’s exactly what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemene – “Lord, if it be your will, take this cup from me.”  God gives us permission to request not to suffer.  Why?  Because He's wonderful, because He's kind, because He understands what it is to go through suffering.  Will God always answer this request in exactly the way we hope?  No – but looking at the example of Jesus in the garden, it’s nice to know we don’t have to pretend to be tough in order to please Him.
Surrounded By Grace,


We have in America all the ingredients for a sort of “Perfect Storm” when it comes to a Christian trying to choose a church.  Individually, the ingredients (symptoms) are harmless and even noble -- It’s the combination that can be crippling:  A lifetime saturation of the “never give up” ideal, our military history of “leave no soldier behind,” coupled with the social/ cultural stigma of opposing traditional religious leaders or institutions (leaving a church can be skewed as opposition to the mission of that church, to the people in that church, or even as opposition to God) which can lead to a spiritual paralysis of sorts – It’s the “other” RLS -- Religious Loyalty Syndrome. 

But if guilt-based loyalty is the symptom, and spiritual paralysis is the end result, then the antidote, or cure, is simple: enter Dr. Speaking the truth in love, the spiritual spinal surgeon that can breathe life and movement back into the most spineless of us Christians! 

What I’m about to say may shock you: The Outpost is not the only  church in Weaverville where God is alive and well, and working  through His people.  Now why, you ask, would I let that kind of information get out among our congregation?  Because I believe God uses different churches at different times to impact different people who are at different stages in their walk with Him, using pastors and styles that emphasize different attributes of a Sovereign God.

That being said, let’s all step back for a moment and enjoy a collective breath of freedom.  There is freedom in that statement.  Not only is God free to use whatever church or pastor or harlot or murderer or donkey He wants in order to communicate His Truth, but you also are free – to attend whichever church you choose – and religious guilt has no rights in regards to that freedom.

In Jn. 21:17 Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Feed my sheep.”  That is Christ’s charge to every church throughout all time.  If you are in that place of indecision about what church to attend, if you feel plagued with RLS, than ask yourself this question – “Am I being fed at this church?  As a result am I growing in my relationship with Christ?”  If the answer is “yes,” stay where you are!  If it is “no,” and you think there is something you can contribute that will solve the deficiency, stay. But If not, leave where you are, and find another church, and leave guilt free – Well-fed sheep cannot be stolen.

Surrounded By Grace,


The fun thing about glow in the dark toys is that you always know where they are in a dark room.  This was especially important for my brother and I when we were small kids in Africa; we would barricade our door so no one could get in, build two opposing walls on either side of the room, turn off the lights, and spend the next 2 hours hurling a glow in the dark toy “orb”  at each other, thanks to the kind generosity of the cereal prize folks at General Mills.

The world around us is dark (Eph.6:12) – but we who know Jesus are different – we are called “Sons of The light,’ & ‘Sons of the day  (1 Thess. 5:5, 1 Peter 2:9).’  But what is it we’re to do in order to stand out, to live “worthy of the gospel of Christ?”  How do we  “glow”  so that Christ is seen in the darkness of our world?

In chapter 1,2 of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, one key seems to be unity in the church – “that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Unity.  Then he adds what seem to be descriptions,  or some of the “how to’s” of church unity, using Christ as the ultimate example:

1)     Esteem others better than yourself,v.3     

2)     Take spiritual growth seriously, v.12

3)     Look out for the interests of others, v.4     

4)     Do all things without complaining and disputing, v.14

Undergirding all this, of course, is the ultimate truth – “for it is God who works in you both to will (to want to do good) and to do (the power to carry out) His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  If we are willing to stand together, God promises to make us “shine as lights in the world” (2:15)!  Go glow.

Surrounded By Grace,

WHEN AFRAID... ~ 1/24/08

In 2 Chronicles chapter 20, there is a story that captures, in 26 verses, the perfect response to fear.  In this story, Jehoshaphat king of Israel discovers a plot by a multitude of rival peoples to overthrow his kingdom.  His response?   “And Jehoshaphat feared…”

We all have to deal with fear, on a daily basis.  Until the day we die, fear will stalk us, trying to cripple us and all we do by coaxing us to focus on it.  Some people fear death.  Some fear the prospect of living without something or someone that feels necessary.  Some people fear failure, and others, oddly enough, fear success.  Many Christians fear sharing Christ, and others fear letting God have complete control of their lives.  Fear is real.  The real issue is – what do you do with the fears in your life?

This is what King Jehoshaphat did.  “And Jehoshaphat feared -- and set himself to seek the LORD” (2 Chron. 20:3)…  He prayed.  Verses 6—11 chronicle this prayer, which ends in verse 12 – “O our God, will You not judge them?  For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” Read what happens after he prays – verses 13- 26 go on to prove one thing – When you are afraid, when you don’t know what to do – set your eyes, your hope, your thoughts, your focus on God, and you will witness His faithfulness.  FAITH = TRUSTING THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.

Surrounded By Grace,


“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  Let him sing songs of praise.  Is any one of you sick?  He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord” (James 5:13,14).

If you’re happy, & God has chosen to bless you at this time, be grateful and thank Him!— But in times of trouble, PRAY.

* God assumes we will pray (Matt. 6:9)!

~ Prayer is our lifeline (Rom. 8:26)

~ Prayer influences God to act (Jer. 33:3)

~ Prayer releases unimaginable power (Eph. 3:20)

~ Our prayers move God (2 Chron.33:13)

~ Our prayers are like gifts to God (Acts 10:5)

~ Prayer glorifies God (Ps. 50:15)

~ Prayer is for any kind of person (Matt. 6)

~ Prayer is learned (Matt. 6)

*We’re never too far gone in sin or too far along in our spiritual walk to pray. 

As The Outpost continues to move forward amidst the enemy’s attacks, with plans to “re-launch” our Sunday service at the Elementary School and begin more wide-spread advertising about our existence, it’s more important than ever that we pray-- not just for our success, but for the families that make up our congregation and that we’re a part of.   In light of this, I want to personally invite you to come to Redding this weekend for The Lord’s Prayer seminar.

I (Josh) will be teaching this seminar, developed by Bill, from 6:30 – 8:30pm on Friday, and from 9am – 3pm on Saturday at Neighborhood Church in Redding.  As the name suggests, this class will expand and explain the amazing prayer that Jesus taught his disciples in Matt. Chapter 6.  This class is simple enough for the newest believer to understand, but I guarantee that even the most seasoned Christian will find it valuable as well.

Please know one thing – this is not a plug in order to fill my class.  I’m specifically making this appeal to you because I sense that the Lord is calling us, in Weaverville, to a deeper and more intense season of prayer, and we need to be prepared and equipped for that task.  The “ball” is in your court now –I really hope to see you there (This is a guilt-free invitation!).

The tree of mercy will not drop its fruit unless shaken by the hand of prayer

-- Thomas Watson

Surrounded By Grace,


Sometimes, when great pain and the confusion it brings fill us and surround all we do,  it can be difficult to pin-point the location of hope.   And then come the questions – why?  How?  For what purpose must I go through this?

Usually – God won’t answer these questions the way we want Him to.  Instead, as He did with Job, He re-directs our attention to the source of hope – Himself, the source of peace, Himself, the source of true security -- Himself.

This great security is based on 3 foundational, Biblical facts:

1)    The Father has loved us with an everlasting love – a love that never changes.

2)    Christ, who died for our sins, is now at God’s right hand in resurrection glory and ever lives to make intercession for us, pleading His work finished and accepted.

3)    The Holy Spirit lives in us.

~  “Will God lose those He has loved with an everlasting love?”

~  “Will Christ forget those for whom He ever lives to intercede?”

~  “Will God cast off those to whom He has sent the Holy Spirit, to dwell in them,

     forever be in them” (Marcus Rainsford,  Our Lord Prays for His Own)?  

The answer, of course, is “No” – God will never lose us, or forget us, or cast us off.  He directs us to Himself because we are His, knowing that if we are reminded of that, we will find hope.

And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.  To Him be glory forever and ever.  Amen” (2 Tim.4:18)! 

We Are Surrounded By Grace,

I DARE YOU ~ 1/11/08

The best cure for a melancholy spiritual life is sharing Christ with someone who doesn’t have one because they don’t know HIM.  In a startling turn of events, this also happens to be one of the best ways to grow a church!

“But where do I start?  I’m not good at this sort of thing, and anyway, I don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism.  And besides,I don’t want to scare away my friends or weird out my family, or…” 

This could go on for a while.  So let me interrupt and suggest a  better place to start – with prayer.

Now BEWARE (I always wanted to put up a sign on the church lawn that read  “BEWARE OF GOD”) – These are dangerous prayers… because God tends to answer “yes” to them every time, and quickly… and it’s not always comfortable when it happens.  But then, ‘God’s more concerned about your character than your comfort,’ and for Christ’s sake, it’s a good thing – God will ensure that the work He started in you matures and is completed (Phil. 1:6), so that the sacrifice of His son was not in vain.

So how does one pray such a prayer?  Here are some ideas:

1. Ask God for the opportunity  to inject the hope found in Christ into someone’s life today – ask for openings in conversations with old friends, or for chance meetings with a complete stranger, someone who is specifically looking for hope and purpose.  Ask for “divine appointments” that will mature you, challenge you, and encourage your faith.

2.  Then pray for “eyes to see” the opportunities when they come and “ears to hear” from God what to say when He brings those people across your path.  Ask Him to not let you miss those appointments, to make you ultra aware and sensitive of those opportunities so you’ll have no regrets later.  Sometimes God waits to do these things in us until we ask.

3.  Finally, ask Him for wisdom, and the words to say.  Ask God to fill you with the Holy
Spirit in a fresh way today, and each day, and for a peace that comes out of knowing the Holy Spirit will speak through you what God intends for that person or persons to hear.  But also be prepared, as Scripture teaches, “to give an answer…for the hope within you” (1Pet. 3:15).

Then – sit back and wait to see what God will do!  I guarantee you will experience a spiritual alertness and a degree of watchful expectation that you have rarely felt before.  Say a prayer and wave goodbye to spiritual melancholy.  Go ahead – I dare you.

Surrounded By Grace,


I read this wonderful devotional this week and wanted to share it with you.  Be blessed.

“Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him!  He does not humiliate us. He does not criticize us.  He does not ask us to make a resolution to try harder.  Rather, He takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him.

As you begin your new year, you may be painfully aware that you have failed your Lord in many ways.  Perhaps you were not faithful.  Perhaps you disobeyed His word to you.  Perhaps you denied Him by the way you lived.  Jesus will not berate you.  He will not humiliate you.  He will ask you to examine your love for Him.  He asked Peter, who miserably failed his Lord, “Do you love Me?”  If your answer, like Peter’s, is “Yes, Lord.” He will reaffirm His will for you.  If you truly love Him, you will obey Him (John 14:15).

Jesus does not need your resolutions, your recommitments, your promises to try harder this year.  If your resolve to obey God last year did not help you to be faithful, it will not make you successful this year.  Jesus asks for your love.  If you truly love Him, your service for Him in the new year will be of the quality that He desires”

 -- Richard & Henry T. Blackaby

This Sunday we’ll be watching one of Bill’s sermons from the Summer, about Obedience (Bill was sick last Sunday).  And here is the key to obedience that should be added on to the end of this devotional:  Obedience is God fulfilling a promise to God.  The wonderful thing is, that applies to your life as well – all that is required of you is a willing heart, and that is born supernaturally out of a reaffirmed love for God.  Happy Hope-filled New Year!

Surrounded By Grace,


Sometimes after all the hustle and bustle and build-up to Christmas, after the family leaves and the presents are opened and the radio stations stop playing Christmas music – I can feel a sense of loss.   So I wrote this to cheer myself up.  In case I’m not alone in my post-Christmas melancholy -- I hope it cheers you up too.  There is life after Christmas!


Snow still falls past Christmas day,

The lights on trees still sparkle;

Still joy in the ring of a bell at play,

And the dance of a flame from charcoal.

Children still laugh past Christmas day,

Their smiles still trick faces to wrinkle;

Still sweet on the lips is the candy cane,

And the sound of the wrapper’s crinkle.

Music still plays past Christmas day,

The wreath still hangs in a circle;

Still hot is the drink served in fire-tempered clay,

And the glow from a window-side candle.

Families still gather past Christmas day,

Reunions and meals still are juggled;

Siblings still wrestle and board games play,

And puppies since born still can snuggle.

God still is good past Christmas day,

Though our glimpse of His birth now is slowing;

Still rules He the world with His truth and His grace,

And in us, to Mankind, still keeps coming.

Surrounded By Grace,

HOME AT LAST ~ 12/18/07

At long last, the nightmare of dismantling 4 years worth of junk and fitting it into reused cardboard is over – only now we’ve got to handle all the same stuff, just in reverse, leaving me to repeat the sacred mantra I have said time and time again over the course of my short lifetime: “I never want to move again.”

My parents have moved once every 4 years since they were pre-teens.  As the child of these missionary parents, that same fate was mine as well, but each time I secretly prayed it was the last time.  The point is, moving can be hard (We’re happy we moved).

When God the Son agreed to be the solution to humankind’s problem, He was agreeing to move.  God moved from a perfectly comfortable location, prime real estate you might say, house with a view, fully loaded, and relocated to the worst part of town – Earth.  As Bill explained last Sunday, instead of forever communicating with us through middle-men (priests) and long distance phone calls, God “pitched his tent” among us – He moved to be where we are.  But a single location in a single time on earth was never His final destination -- His final destination was within us.  So while the countdown to Christmas began in the “Dateless Past,” and the victory shout was sounded on Easter, the whisperings of this final homecoming began on Christmas day.  If Christ is in you, Merry Christmas! – the property value of the lives around you can’t help but improve.

Surrounded By Grace,


Lists – whether the Christmas wish list or the grocery list, Craig’s List or a “to do” list, lists are everywhere.  They help us, they organize us, and they keep us sane – or perhaps the opposite.  We’re stubborn about our lists, despite the fact that they’re only useful to us before we’ve accomplished what’s on them, relevant only as long as we remain negligent…and even then they’re annoying at best.

Conflict occurs when our lists do not = “God’s list” – whether that’s one day’s “to do” list or the list of things that need to change about us before God can use us.  But if we choose to accept God’s list in both of these extreme examples, we will begin reclaiming another lost secret of contentment.

A list of 2 extremes:

1) “To Do’s” ~ There’s nothing that stresses me out on the average day like a list of things I know must get done – and yet doesn’t get done.  Jesus knew all about the human tendency to plan the oblivion out of a day, so He addressed it two ways in what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”  A. “…Your will be done “ = Recognize and acknowledge who’s in charge.  You can do this simply by committing “today” to His will and kingdom.  Tell God you are willing to do what He wants you to do “today.”  B.Give us this day our daily bread” = Tell God your “to do” list – all that you feel is important to have or get done “today.”  He wants you to share your day with Him, and it will effect what you are able to get done!  Here is the key: If you can sincerely do both these things at the start of your day (= Accepting ‘God’s List’), you will be able to relax when your plans change, and get done more of what was really important.

2) I mentioned before that lists are unfulfilling and a bit “paradoxical” in that they’re only useful to us before we’ve accomplished what’s on them. In that way they function like the Old Testament Law, designed to point out our sin rather than solve the sin problem. Your grocery list doesn’t produce salt when you’re cupboard is empty – it just tells you that you need it.

When you continue this line of thinking you realize that once the things on your list have all been accomplished, there’s no longer a need for the list.  The “to do” list has become a “done” list.  Similarly, each item on the list of what you and I have to “do” to please God has been completed and crossed off by Christ.  The “to do’s” of the Law are done, Christ said it Himself – “It is finished!” 

Paul put it this way in his letter to the Galatians –“Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you?  …Abraham believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God” (Gal. 3:5-7, The Message).

Here’s the key:  Your life is the biggest blessing to God once you accept that the "to do" list of demands He had for your soul is now a “Done List” – through Christ.

Surrounded By Grace,


I was driving home from work the other day and began taking in deep breaths of seawater.  In case you haven’t heard, this is not a recommended method for remaining “long-lived.”  Let me explain. 

I was obsessing.  Or as Esther and I like to call it, “spiraling” – as in, out of control – of my thoughts and emotions, and worst of all, my Faith.  One after another, like rows of waves (or advancing troop brigades), the things not accomplished in my work day paraded before my eyes.  Then, with a degree of subtlety that has long since been perfected in Hell, they morphed into a list of things that would probably never get done, followed by accusation after accusation of why this was specifically my fault.  And I almost bought it.  I mean, I stared at each wave like a deer in the headlights and practically stuck my head into the water with my mouth open.  But then, just before I went under for the third time, I caught a glimpse of a boat only a few feet away – and frantically climbed in.

We probably all know the Bible story about Peter, walking on the water at the invitation of Jesus, accomplishing the impossible until he took his eyes off of the power-source behind his performance. “Bad Peter,” we think secretly, but really, we do it ever day, every single time we fixate on ordinary problems in the presence of an extra-ordinary God.  Instead, I encourage you to give those things over to God, and rather than staring at the waves, stare at Christ, get in the boat – and praise Him.  Do I know the outcomes of all that lies ahead?  No – but that’s not my responsibility. My job is to bring those worries to the Lord and leave them there with Him.  I personally like to sing praise songs as a “next step” because it’s a concrete way for me to ‘”act out” my faith – that I believe God will take care of it.  “Faith is the victory” –  and I want Satan to hear a victory chant!  I sang praise songs at the top of my lungs all the way home.  We’re more than conquerors – sing your victory!

Surrounded By Grace,


How do you see God?  You know, in your “minds-eye” -- when you fail at the same sin for the hundredth time, or when you realize you’ve forgotten your devotions again -- what’s the default perception you have of Him? The most common view of God, regardless of whether or not a person is a Christian, seems to be that of an angry, club-carrying dictator who lives only to squelch fun and point out errors with the help of lightning bolts… This God is a disappointed God.  He’s frustrated and is probably constantly ashamed of us and we wouldn’t doubt that He might use sickness or hard times to punish us for our many, many mistakes. Those who carry around this view of God, even subconsciously, tend to do one of two things:

1)     They eventually become bitter and angry at God for being so unfair and unreasonable in His many expectations – and they end up giving up on Christianity and the Church --

2)     Or -- they continue to blame themselves for being such screw-ups and determine to just “try harder” to please God and “do the right thing” the next time around.

Unfortunately, neither outcome leads to a powerful Christian life -- but only to misery. The truth is, how we perceive God can’t help but affect how we approach God in prayer and in relationship. Who wants to regularly spend time alone with a powerful, angry, club-bearing “boss” with impossible standards?  Until you see God as being so invested in our world and in YOU that He risked everything to help us – until that is your foundational view of God, that He first loved us (our love for Him isn’t the measure of our worth!) -- you will miss out on all the transparency, depth, richness and power of a relationship that He wants, and you need.  He can’t wait to hear from you today! 

Surrounded By Grace,



He is a BIG God.  We hear that a lot, and it’s true ~ He’s a big God and big enough to handle all of the giants, all of the curve-balls and all of the obstacles that stand in the way of our goals and growth – because He’s BIGGER (1 Jn.4:4).  

 But the danger of thinking big is always this – the little things can get overlooked.  And when it comes to our BIG GOD, the natural tendency is for us to assume we shouldn’t bother Him with the “little” things in our lives, the personal needs that don’t necessarily have any bearing on God’s master plan for the world.  As we head into November emphasizing PRAYER, here’s proof that He cares.

The word for "millipede" in Gabon (country in Africa where I grew up)  is "Ngongolo" (it's okay - go ahead and say it out loud; I know you want to - "ing-gong-golo").  A few days ago, while uprooting every rock in the yard in search of the elusive yet friendly Sow Bug, Nathan squealed with delight at a new discovery - he had found an Ngongolo!  But an hour later his delight turned into horror when he accidentally drove over and squished his new bug with his birthday tricycle.  Many tears followed.

That night as I tucked Nathan into bed I asked him (as is our routine) what he wanted to tell God about his day.  Almost instantly he looked and sounded like he would cry again, and he prayed – “God, I’m sorry the Ngongolo died.”  Touched by his obvious sorrow, I encouraged him to ask God to help him find another one tomorrow (they are hard to find in our yard – I was asking faith of a 3 yr. old!).  He did so, sweetly, and the next day while at the office in Weaverville I got a call from Esther that Nathan had indeed found another Ngongolo under only the second rock he moved.  The first words out of his mouth were – “Mommy, God found me another Ngongolo!”

“He is God of the Ngongolo” – the small things – because  He wants to be your God in ways that you can measure.  He cares about the small things because He cares about you.  Don’t be afraid to bring your personal desires and the cares of your heart before God – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1Pe. 5:7).  May the Lord richly bless you, the ministers of His grace, on these days between Sundays.  

Surrounded By Grace,

HALLOWED OUT ~ 11/1/07

Wow! I have never been so impressed by such a big crowd in such a small place.  Halloween night in downtown Weaverville is officially crazy. And really fun!

Last night Esther, Nathan, Aaron and I ate a frantic and fantastic nacho dinner at the Rupp's house before heading out into what had been, only an hour before, a sleepy main Street.  but suddenly there were people coming out of the woodwork! Superman was casually strolling down the sidewalk with Spiderman, comparing notes, no doubt, on crime deterrent strategies.  I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of Catwoman holding hands with a very small transformer.  And just ahead of me in a dense crowd stood none other than Captain Jack Sparrow, casting a covetous eye on the pumpkin candy pail of what appeared to be a large, walking eyeball.  I felt very underdressed.

If you were out braving the craziness last night, I hope you stopped by and got some candy at the office – we were open and  passing out candy with the best-dressed of them, our new office sign leaning against the window and our Outpost pumpkin cheerily lighting the entrance.   My thanks, again, to those who volunteered to staff it so that Weaverville could again be made aware of our presence here in town!

Surrounded By Grace,


BEAR WITH ME ~ 10/25/07

Q.) What's black and tan and tries to get run over?
A.) A bear chasing a chicken across the road.

Okay, so there wasn't really a chicken being chased by a bear - but there was a bear being chased by a car - my own!  Sunday morning, on the way to our service in Weaverville, I caught a flash of  black in my peripheral vision, just to the right of the road.  Now keep in mind we're on our way to church, we're still within Redding's city limits, we're dressed up, and we're drinking coffee while listening to worship music - our minds are somewhere else entirely.  Then a sudden flash on the right, and before I even know what I'm saying, I yell - "BEAR!"

Esther goes, "Huh?," Nathan repeats what I've just said, but at a much higher frequency, and I hit the breaks, still unsure of what I thought I saw - and boy, I'm glad I did.  Just as I'm getting the car to a manageable speed, an explosion of galloping fur crosses Hwy. 299, 300 lbs. of breakfast burrito with teeth, not 5 feet from my front bumper.  By this time I'm laughing hysterically for some reason, Esther's gasping and clutching her door handle with white knuckled ferocity, and Nathan has gone into machine-gun speech mode, chattering for the next 5 minutes about his newfound appreciation for bears.  "And it was a nice bear, and he looked at me, and he liked me and wanted me to pet him, and..." You get the idea.

The last I saw, that bear was pounding its way up a manzanita-covered hill in the general direction of Bill's house.  I offered up a quick prayer of thanks (for the miss and because it was now headed for Bill) and enjoyed an uneventful rest of the journey over Buckhorn and into Weaverville.  Now that's how a Sunday morning drive to church should be!

Surrounded By Grace,
*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~