Tuesday, September 27, 2011
During a writer’s conference, we heard a beautifully-crafted poem about grief and how it lessens in power over time. For a reason I can’t fathom, it reminded me of hot flashes. For another reason I can’t fathom, I shared my thoughts about it with the 120 attendees. They laughed, of course, but I felt as if I had jumped into deep water. I should have stayed there, to relieve the heat from my obviously-red face. “Don’t go near the edge,” my mom used to tell me. I should have remembered her advice.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
The goldenrod causes me to sneeze and rub my eyes and squirm in bed from overall itching frenzies. I had a sneezing fit on the way to church one Sunday. As usual, I coughed for two hours afterwards. Disrupting the service, I wanted to shout, “No, I don’t have bronchitis. It’s allergies.”
Perhaps you suffer more discomfort than I. Allergies are a bane of the living. The symptoms are sometimes so uncomfortable they keep people from accomplishing what’s important in their lives. Let’s face it. How can we drive a long distance after taking a sleep-enhancing allergy pill? Or feel like going to work when our bodies ache? Food allergies can be worse than uncomfortable. They can be life-threatening. Of course, the best remedy is to avoid the food causing the symptoms.
I believe some people are allergic to God. In fact, evidence of their symptoms is everywhere. For instance, there’s the guy who squirms when you mention the name Jesus in the holy sense. His mind and soul itch to avoid the subject altogether.
There’s the woman who avoids facing the perceived discomfort of God’s truth about her life by filling her days and hours with activities. And there’s the person who constantly runs from one place to another trying to avoid God—just like someone who moves to another climate to avoid uncomfortable allergens. The same applies to people who seek harmful pleasures such as excessive alcohol, drugs, or pornography.
Remember Jonah’s story? He tried running away from God and got into deep water. Pardon the pun. Peter denied Christ by lying and running away. Paul fought back with self-righteous persecution of the new Jesus-followers.
The remedy for spiritual allergic symptoms is as simple as accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and salvation. His gift brings not only the promise of eternal life, it brings healing of our body, soul, and spirit as well as indescribable peace and joy. We no longer have to run away from Him or fill our hours with meaningless pursuits.
Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
There’s no need to suffer from allergic reactions to God and His Son, Jesus. He wants you to be whole, symptom-free of all the discomforts you suffer in body, soul, and spirit.
Lord, thank You for Your perfect remedy against the allergens we face, perceive, or suffer. Help us to go to You for perfect health, thereby drawing others to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Isn’t it amazing how the things of nature teach us about ourselves and others—and especially about God? Whether it’s a chickadee, a puppy, a Coho salmon, a tiny bee, the last rose of summer, or the wind and waves of Lake Superior, we can see God’s wondrous beauty and power. What a blessing!
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Lessons From a Frog
I ran over a frog with my lawn mower. I nearly cried. The poor thing didn’t have a chance, for I was on a frenzied mission to finish the task so I could cross another important item off my To Do list.
I nearly cried not only for the sake of the unsuspecting creature but for the sake of my hurried, thoughtless act. Nature being what it is, animals will die. In fact, I’m not against the killing of them for food. My son fishes and runs a trapline. My husband, while still alive, hunted big game every year. And the fact is, I enjoy a meal of frog legs now and then.
It’s the deliberate destruction of wildlife and the uncaring or unthinking attitude of people—like myself—that bothers me. As stewards of the earth, we should be more cognizant of the natural world. That’s a hot topic for some people. Extremists are against killing mosquitoes and flies. Conversely, many Christians are against environmentalism because “the world will end soon anyway, and our only job is to save souls,” as a woman once told me.
I disagree. I believe God made animals, plants, and minerals not only for His and our enjoyment, but to show us His attributes. What better way is there to learn about true, unconditional love and devotion than through a puppy’s responses? How better can we learn lessons about God’s patience than by planting a garden seed and watching it grow? Where better can we view a glimpse of God’s heavenly realm than through viewing an uncut gemstone?
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead …” (Romans 1:20-23)
Part of honoring God and expressing our thanks to Him for all things is being a good steward of His creation. Imagine His pleasure when we respect the life of a simple yet beautiful, beneficial frog. And when we care for nature, we can care for others—which is God’s desire for all of us. Jesus said, “Follow me.” What better example of caring for others can we emulate than His?
Lord, thank You for Your creation which teaches us about Your love and Your continual care of us. Help us to be thoughtful and caring in return—not only for our loved ones and friends, but for our enemies and for Your creation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, September 12, 2011
As a mother accepts her baby regardless of how red or wrinkled, how long or short, how beautiful or not, so God accepts us in spite of all our imperfections. He is the one who makes the imperfect perfect, through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
You Are Chosen
As a youngster, I had trouble keeping up in Phys. Ed. I couldn’t climb a rope, touch my toes, or do a passing broad jump. In softball, my pitching and batting were pathetic and as an outfielder, every time the ball came towards me I ducked. When the team leaders chose me last, I felt unimportant and unwanted.
Sadly, this is true with many others. Listening to some kids today makes us realize the deep, unfulfilled longings in their lives. Their parents perhaps expect too much from them. They feel the sting of unpopularity. They’re called embarrassing names. So they grow up discouraged, which can lead to depression, anxiety, fear, rebellion, anger, substance abuse, and a host of other symptoms. Marriages in particular can suffer because of childhood trauma experienced by one or both spouses.
We all need to feel accepted. When we don’t, it’s easy to enter the pity-party mode. I’ve been there, and learned that if I continue in such a mind-set, nothing will change. So I make a conscious choice to get over it. How do I do this? Sometimes I start praising God for the good things in my life, whether I feel they’re good or not. Other times I yank my thoughts away from someone’s supposedly-uncaring words and think about their strengths.
Still other times I pray. Like king David prayed in some of the Psalms, I let God have it with both guns—my complaints and my miseries of the moment. And, like David, I end our one-sided conversation with words of thanksgiving.
Without fail, my attitude changes immediately. I remember how much God loves me and His mercies are new every morning. I remember that He has accepted me and chosen me to be His child. I remember, like David said in Psalm 27:10, that “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.”
Prayer, praise, Bible reading, journal writing—these are all good ways to “get over it.” Paul writes that, through Christ who loves us, we are more than conquerors. His prayer is that we “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge ….” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
Lord, let the love of Christ dwell so richly in us that we will not be adversely affected by feelings of unacceptance. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
While vending at a craft show earlier, I parked my car in the wrong spot. Thanks to the mercy of people in charge, they did not tow my car away. They could have. They should have. I’m thankful they didn’t. If we stop and think about it, we could find many instances of merciful acts delivered for our benefit, couldn’t we? Thanks to Jesus, He delivers His mercy to us every day.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Blessed Are the Merciful
When Jesus walked the earth, people learned quickly about His merciful acts. Dozens came running to Him, crying “Have mercy on me, Lord!” And He always did. He healed ten lepers. He raised a sick girl and Lazarus from the dead. He cast out demons that tormented people. He showed mercy to those who asked and to those who did not.
What does it mean to be merciful? The Oxford Dictionary says mercy is “kindness or forgiveness shown towards someone who is in your power.” Kindness, a part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and forgiveness are important characteristics of God that He wants us to pass on to others.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) Does that imply we should be merciful so we will receive mercy in return? Yes, but only in the sense that showing mercy gives us feelings of joy and satisfaction knowing we’ve helped someone and knowing it’s the right thing to do as a follower of Christ.
Being merciful isn’t always easy, though. When someone is impatient with us, it’s sometimes easier to shout back than to be patient with them. When we see someone hurting, we may tend to turn away because we have something “more important” to do. When we have been slandered or misrepresented, we sometimes take offense and even retaliate.
Neither does mercy always come easy for us when it applies to the mistakes people make. I think back to when I felt impatient with my young kids as they charged headlong into a mistake after I had told them the “right way” to do something. When they messed up, I felt like yelling, “I told you so!” And if I didn’t say it aloud, I pasted a smirk on my face so they got the idea. Can you relate? As a more mature adult, I still find it isn’t always easy to deal with boneheadedness—even though I act like a bonehead at times.
Fortunately, mercy is evident all around us. We see and hear about acts of kindness from and to strangers. We marvel at the mercy some people show to those who don’t deserve it. Yet, should we marvel? As Christians we’re supposed to always show mercy as Jesus did. He’s our perfect example.
Lord, thank You for Your unending mercy toward us. Open our eyes to those who need mercy and teach us how to be merciful as Christ is to us. In His name we pray, amen.