Monday, April 29, 2013


While I do read fiction, most of my reading is of the nonfiction variety. There are too many new things to learn. And I find myself spending more and more time reading God’s Word. The Bible is filled with golden nuggets meant to be mined with care and persistence. One day a verse may speak to me in a special way, and another time the same verse will touch my heart differently. At each reading, God offers a new perspective. That, my friend, is reason to keep reading, reason to rejoice.


A new perspective

As a kid, I climbed the old Frederic water tower, along with a few of my friends. While waiting for the high school football game to begin, we decided we wanted a new perspective on the world. Though I wouldn't admit it, I was scared stiff and my mind whirled. Would I get dizzy up there? Would we get caught by the police and have to 'fess up to our parents? Would we end up in jail?      

When I reached the third rung, I wanted to quit. But I wouldn't chicken out. If my friends could do it, so could I. Once I reached the tenth rung, I began to talk to myself. "One step at a time … you can do it … don't look down … you can do it … move those rubbery legs … you can do it." And I did!

I'd never been so high before. Once I reached the circular, secure walkway, I felt so giddy I wanted to run. But a quick look down squashed that desire. I did walk around the circle, however, enjoying the vast panorama of colored leaves and evergreens. Wisps of smoke from bonfires lingered in the clear, fall air. We could see all the way to Grantsburg, some twenty miles away.

The experience left a mark on my memory. I had accomplished something risky (albeit illegal), had conquered fear, and had been afforded an awesome view of the world around me.

Sometimes it takes a new experience to change our perspective. That's what happened to Zacchaeus, a tax collector in Jesus’ time who likely cheated the tax-paying citizens. Being a short guy, Zacchaeus climbed a tree in order to see Jesus among a large crowd. As a result, unexpected changes happened. He welcomed Jesus into his home, and said, "Look Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." (Luke 19:8)

Any encounter with Jesus will bring change. When Zacchaeus encountered Jesus, his perspective changed. His view of Jesus was broadened, just like mine from the top of the water tower. He realized his wrongdoing. May we too realize our sins as we view Jesus from a new perspective.

Lord, we want to know You better, no matter what it takes. Help us be like Zacchaeus, inviting You into our heart's home, admitting and turning from our sinful ways. Change us from the inside out, as we encounter You in Your Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with Your family. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


The effort to climb or stay at the top of our game is worthwhile. In the process, we know that avoiding negativity from others is a good strategy. Encouragement, on the other hand, is always welcome and should be our goal. And … encouragement from someone often morphs into our encouragement to someone. Today I choose to seek God’s encouragement in His Word so I can be an encouragement to others. How about you?



Dungeness Crabs

British Columbia’s inland ocean is full of Dungeness crabs. Heavy-bodied and spineless, they're called Dungies by the locals. One summer my husband and I motored out to catch some Dungies for our noon meal. We lowered our baited, homemade crab traps into the water, returning after three or four hours to pull the traps and reap our harvest.

On shore we transferred the Dungies into a large bucket, saving only those of legal size and gender. I studied the crabs closely. Some of them crawled up the side of the pail trying to escape. Without exception, they were pulled down by those on the bottom of the pail. None of the creatures was able to succeed in reaching the top because of others that hindered them.

Unfortunately, that's a common picture of the world today. Whether by choice or not, many of us associate with Dungies who are intent on pulling us down to their low level of performance or who are eager to tell us that what we're doing—or believing—"just won't work.” Cheering someone on isn't the usual mindset of negative people.

When we desire to change things for the better, to try a new idea, to grow in our spiritual life, we need to avoid the attitudes of naysayers and whiners—the bottom-of-the-pail Dungies. We should surround ourselves by people who will encourage us and cheer us on. Facts prove that successful people hang around those who are already performing at a high level, the level at which they want to perform.       

God is the ultimate encourager. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Likewise, God is asking us to encourage others. "But encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:13) When we encourage others, we will be encouraged, and it will keep us from being pulled down like the Dungies.

Notice that we are to encourage each other every day. Encouragement can become a daily habit that can change peoples’ lives—just as God’s encouragement can change ours.

Lord, we want to succeed in this life, making a mark that will bring good to those around us. Give us wisdom to avoid the attitudes of naysayers and whiners that tempt us to flounder, like the spineless Dungies, in our spiritual growth. Help us remember to look to You for daily encouragement through Your Word so we can better encourage others. In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Will winter never end? This year, mid-April means more than sending in our tax returns. It means putting up with yet another white blanket of snow. Which means more shoveling, more rescheduling, more time spent donning our winter-wear and getting from here to there. Not much we can do about it, and we do know that this too shall end. God in His mercy provides us northerners with four seasons. They may come and go in ways we may not like, but knowing that He’s in charge and has a higher purpose than we do, makes it all worthwhile—doesn’t it?



Congress designated April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month for good reason. Thousands of accidents and many deaths occur because people drive while using cell phones for texting and calling. Driving distractions also include rummaging for things behind us, primping before the mirror, and eating. I’m guilty of snacking while I drive.

The key to avoiding distractions of any kind is to focus on one thing at a time. Tell that to a working mom and she’ll laugh. Tell that to teachers who must teach, maintain classroom order, act as diplomats, tend to physical and emotional owchies, keep their sanity, and grade endless papers after hours. Tell that to small-business owners who must juggle millions of tasks, keep their employees happy and working, and pay the bills.

Unfortunately, multi-tasking is often necessary in our fast-paced society. Bombarded with new things every day, our minds become overloaded—when we allow it—with too many details for mental and emotional comfort. Our quest to be the best often brings frustration and worry because of our distractions while exceeding the speed limit through life.

We can’t avoid all distractions, but we can try. One way is to stay focused with the use of day planners—our to-do lists. Another way is to turn off our phones and computers during crucial times and scheduling the times we open our email or read our Face Book posts. Yes, we can actually live without them at times!

A sure way to avoid distractions is by asking God to teach us His priorities. That is, setting aside time for Him every day and focusing on how we can best serve Him. One of the best lessons Jesus taught is to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:33-34)  

Back in Jesus’ day, ordinary citizens had much to worry about. With high taxes imposed by the cruel Roman government, they struggled to feed themselves and their families. They dared not disobey Roman rules or they might die from a Roman sword. Talk about distractions! Jesus knew they suffered and offered them the best solution—His love and peace and strength in the midst of trouble and distractions. He offers us the same.

Lord, we thank You for Your provisions, both physical and spiritual. Help us to pay attention to You so we can avoid worrisome distractions. We want to focus on Your purposes more than on ours. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, April 8, 2013


My prayer today is that God will open my eyes and yours to His powerful and amazing love, which is evident all around us. “Love never fails (never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end).” (1 Corinthians 13:8, Amplified Version)


The Power of Love

I read a story recently about two sisters who returned to their childhood home after many years, trying to recapture memories of their happy childhood. They asked the new owners if they might walk through the house for old-time’s sake.

They shared stories with the new owners about their mother, who had shown love to so many people, counseling them and feeding them and inviting those in dire need to stay. The owners were shaken by the sisters’ story. The wife explained that when they bought the house, she had been addicted to drugs. As her addiction took its toll on her marriage and family, she decided one day to kill herself and her little girl. Suddenly an unseen force filled the room with love so strong that it pulled her away from her thoughts of destruction. Love changed her life and that of her family.

Can love make itself known across the boundaries of time and place? When the Old Testament prophet Elisha died of natural causes, God caused a supernatural event to occur from it. A marauding band of men, facing another enemy, quickly buried a man in Elisha’s tomb. “When the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.” (2 Kings 13:21)

God demonstrated His power through Elijah’s bones to give life to the dead man, perhaps to offer him a second chance to learn about God’s love—just as He gave the despondent woman addicted to drugs  a second chance of life.

God is patient in His desire to restore us. His Word is filled with stories about imperfect, hopeless, undeserving people whom He redeemed from disaster and death to life victorious. The Israelites continually turned their backs on God, yet He kept luring them back with His love when they repented of their sin. King David committed adultery and plotted the murder of an innocent man, yet when he repented God relented. Jesus, on the cross, gave a thief the promise of eternal life as he hung beside Him, repentant of his sin.

The love of God is the most powerful force in the world, transcending space and time. Paul writes that though we might have the Holy Spirit’s gifts of prophecy, speaking in tongues, good works, even faith—they are of no profit without love. He continues in 1 Corinthians 13, called the Love Chapter, by listing all the characteristics of love. It’s worth reading every day.

Thank You, Lord, for Your supernatural love that offers us second chances. In Jesus’ name, amen.