Saturday, October 29, 2011
These rocks came into existence when God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit fashioned the world. We are blessed in being able to learn about His creation and salvation through the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and through His written Word. May we never take advantage of such a blessing.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
The Book of Books
After hundreds of years, the Bible is still the best-selling book in the world, having survived banning, burning, and booing. That’s miraculous. Dwight L. Moody, the famous Chicago preacher, wrote these words on the flyleaf of his Bible:
“This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of life, the doom of sinners, the happiness of believers. Read it to be wise. Believe it to be safe. Practice it to be holy. It gives light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the soldier’s sword, the Christian’s chart. Here Paradise is restored: heaven is opened and the gates of hell described. Christ is its theme, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.
“It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, a river of pleasure. It is given us in life, will be open in judgment, and remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and condemns all who trifle with it. The Bible sets forth two things—the cross and the throne.
“The Old Testament points toward the cross. The Gospel tells the story of the cross. The Epistles point toward the throne. The Revelation tells the story of the throne.
“The Old Testament tells us what sin leads to and ends with the words: ‘Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.’ (Malachi 4:6)
“The New Testament shows the way out of sin and ends thus: ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.’” (Revelation 22:31)
In sales, the Bible has beat out the Koran, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Da Vinci Code. Even the Harry Potter books can’t compete. Nor can Mao’s Little Red Book, second in sales of between eight- and nine-hundred million copies. By comparison, between 2.5 and 6 billion copies of the Bible have been sold.
The Bible is popular because its words are God-breathed. “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Jesus is called the Word of God.
Lord, thank You for Your Living Word that sustains, encourages, and teaches us. Let us never take it for granted or fail to avail ourselves of its power. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
The variety of sizes in God’s creation is astounding. Some moths, for instance, are smaller than our little fingernail. Others, like this Luna moth, dwarf many of the flowers on which they land. Bald eagles dwarf the chickadee. Oaks stretch way beyond a lowly blueberry plant. A tidal wave swallows the seaside ripple. No matter the size, each has a purpose in God’s world. We see His love in the big and the small alike.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
The Right Size
The bigger the antlers or pelt, the better a hunter’s buck or bear will look in his “bragging room.” The bigger a foodaholic’s dinner portion, the more enjoyment. The taller the alcoholic’s drink, the better. Stores now sell bigger cans of beer and bigger cups of cappuccino. Let’s face it; size matters for many of us.
Some parents encourage their children to acquire the biggest and most. On Halloween, for instance, they drop off their kids at the end of a well-populated, city block and pick them up after they have filled their pillow cases with candy.
Smaller size matters, too. Technologically, we can talk, text, hear music, watch the news and weather report, and find our way while traveling—all with a palm-sized device. Even pets are bred for a smaller size.
I enjoy reading in bed, but the older I become, the more uncomfortable it is for me to hold a book up for long. Perhaps it’s time to buy a small, lightweight e-reader.
Size matters. Are we ever satisfied with the size of our house, our body, our paycheck? Don’t we all, at some time or other, avoid getting the short end of the stick, so to speak? Is anything ever the perfect size for us?
Sometimes we may even think God is the wrong size for our situation. We may decide He’s too small to answer our difficult needs. We may believe He can’t find us when we get lost in the bog of life, or won’t find us when we purposely go where sin and evil reside. Or we may decide He’s much too big for us puny, insignificant creatures.
The truth is, God is big—much bigger than we can imagine, but not too big. He sees all and knows all. He is more powerful than the earthquake and volcano, the flood and the tornado. Yet He reaches down to us with His immeasurable love and mercy. We don’t have to rely on the size of anything to gain His peace. We don’t have to change His size to fit our needs. He’s the right size for everything.
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life … nor height nor depth … shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Lord, may we never view You in a size of our own perception. Help us grasp the truth of Your immeasurable love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, October 17, 2011
A friend told me leaves turn red, orange, and yellow, but never purple. I found several purple leaves this fall. Did you? By now, however, most fallen leaves are brown and disintegrating. Saturday I did see some trees still dressed in their brilliant hues as I traveled to Crivitz to give a talk at the public library. Crivitz is near the town of Peshtigo, which is situated on Lake Michigan and which lost 1,500 people to fire the same day of the Great Chicago Fire during the logging days. They certainly experienced vivid colors that day, but not the kind we like to see.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
The Colors of God
A riot of autumn colors brought out my camera. Everywhere I turned, I saw a snapshot of God’s character. All the colors of the rainbow are evident in Autumn, and they’re the same hues evident in the Bible.
The rainbow colors that paint our world with beauty come from God’s light, which He created at the beginning of time. During creation, God proclaimed the light as “good.” From His light come the rainbow colors that show His glory.
The colors we see in the natural world have spiritual meaning, too. The color red, for instance, represents the sacrificial blood of Christ. Isaiah 1:18 reads, “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’” Christ willingly took our sins upon Himself that we might be cleansed as white as snow. When we see the blood-red maple and sumac leaves, we are reminded of Jesus’ supreme sacrifice for our benefit.
The brilliant oranges of autumn signify several things: praise and passion, joy and power, fruitfulness and harvest. My mind automatically leaps to thoughts about the Holy Spirit when I see orange. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ followers as tongues of fire. The orange flame of a God’s Spirit-fire burns hot in our hearts when we allow it.
Our northern poplars and birch shimmer like gold coins on a sunny day. Gold is the color of God’s holiness which shines in our hearts as He releases His strength and energy to us so we can produce His good works. “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22)
The green of conifers contrasts richly with the changing colors of deciduous trees. Green is the color of plant life and speaks of growth. In spiritual terms, it’s called sanctification. God would have all of us “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)
The blue of the sky reminds us of heaven, from which Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and in which we will someday spend eternity with Him, if we have surrendered ourselves to His perfect will.
If we hunt for them, we can even find purple leaves in the fall. The color purple symbolizes Jesus’ royalty. He forever wears the crown and robe of righteousness and majesty and power.
Lord, we thank You for the rich variety of color in autumn which reminds us of Your love for us. Help us to learn more about You through Your marvelous gifts of nature. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Did you hear the story about the chickadee that ate from my niece’s hand? Such a simple act gives us a lesson in trust. We love to hear stories and we love to tell stories. The best stories told are those that lift up Jesus and point to His marvelous love. May your stories bring glory to Him.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Maturity and Fruit
I attended a writer’s workshop recently and was surprised and encouraged by the number of published authors in my age group. These writers, like me, had set out not only to tell their stories but to sell their stories. Telling and selling both require desire, determination, and dedication to succeed.
Seniors and younger people alike can be encouraged by those who have gone before us. Perhaps many of us subconsciously, or consciously, feel an inner pressure to share our wisdom before it’s too late. There are so many good stories to share—stories that will not only entertain, but will teach and encourage future generations.
I have felt that inner pressure to share my stories with others. Having been a writer for many years has given me an advantage. But there are people who are hesitant to preserve their stories because they “didn’t live an interesting life,” or “don’t know how to write well enough,” or “don’t want to be an embarrassment to the family.” That’s why I’m now offering memory-writing workshops for anyone, no prior writing skills necessary.
Stories are big in God’s view. Without the Old Testament stories about spiritual heroes such as Abraham, Noah, and Elijah, we wouldn’t know about faith. Without Jesus’ parables and Paul’s letters, we wouldn’t mature in our faith.
Our stories don’t have to be big and important. Big or small, or seemingly insignificant, our stories can have the same effect on our families and succeeding generations that Bible stories have on our faith. Memories often stir our hearts, causing us to want to share them with others. That’s how it was with David, who wrote in Psalm 45:1: “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”
We have only so many years left. So, why not write our stories now, while we can? There’s no telling how they can bless someone who’s hurting or stumbling or seeking meaning about life.
Lord, thank You for Your wisdom that’s meant to be shared through our stories. Grace us with the desire and ability to pass them on to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Freedom in Worship
Remember when you were a kid, running through the grass, hands lifted high in sheer exuberance? Remember clapping and bouncing up and down when your mom said she’d take you to the beach? Dancing in anticipation in front of the ice cream counter?
Ah, the joys of youth! Unfortunately, our expressions of joy fade with time. I heard someone say that second graders express boldness in their artwork, but by fourth grade, their art becomes stilted and stuffy and “within the lines.”
While maturing into adulthood, many of our visible signs of happiness and joy fade into mere smiles. We laugh, but only at the appropriate time and place. We clap, but only at a concert. We giggle and jump through rain-filled puddles only in our minds.
Why don’t we act like children any more? I don’t mean in a childish manner, but in a child-like manner. I believe we Americans, compared to many foreign countrymen, have lost our outward zest for life. For years I sat in a mainline church, so filled with the sense of God’s wonder that I nearly choked with emotion. But because everyone else sat, unmoving, in their pews, I did too. Many years later, I witnessed exuberant praise and worship from fellow believers. Spiritually thirsty desert-dweller that I was, I started clapping and moving my feet to the worship music’s rhythm and raising my hands along with others. No longer did I feel constrained, corked under the pressure of erupting.
King David was childlike in his worship of God. “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” (Psalm 63:3-4)
Other psalms speak of David telling us to sing to the Lord, make a joyful shout to Him—like children. Like the crowds did when Jesus passed through Jerusalem and they hailed Him as King with their palm branches. They shouted and sang and danced and lifted their hands in joyful praise.
It’s unfortunate when we allow society’s “rules” and the sedate, inhibiting influences of our upbringing to keep our hands to our sides and our feet still. The most disturbing thing is that such rules don’t seem to apply when it comes to rooting for our favorite football team or our son’s Little League ballgame. Perhaps such a fact tells us that our society as a whole has decided to express freedom in worshiping our favorite team but not in worshiping God, our Creator, Savior, and Helper.
Lord, help us to be a blessing to You through our childlike worship. In Jesus’ name, amen.