Monday, July 29, 2013


Focusing with a camera’s lens takes skill, practice, and determination. Without that, we sometimes end up with blurry, crooked, or misrepresented images. Focusing on Jesus also takes skill, practice, and determination. Only through daily Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship, can we prevent our images of Him from being blurry, crooked, or misrepresented. A clear image of Him will draw other viewers.



My son, a commercial fisherman, spends his winters trapping in the northern interior of his adopted state of Alaska. He occasionally traps an elusive wolverine, valued highly for its thick, warm fur. Far northern natives line their parkas with it because it inhibits the formation of frost, thereby keeping their heads dry.

Wolverines have voracious appetites and are so cunning, they can steal bait from traps without setting them off. They’re even known to hide or destroy traps. Every northern trapper’s dream is to successfully trap one of these animals.

Weighing only thirty-five pounds, this largest member of the weasel family can kill a deer, moose, or bear. One is reported to have killed a grizzly while suffering nearly-fatal wounds from the bear. A wolverine has the reputation for being the fiercest mammal in North America.

Can believers in Christ be as determined and single-minded in their love and obedience to Him as the wolverine’s fierce desire to survive? The Old Testament tells a story about an unnamed prophet who bravely stood up for God’s principles against an entire nation. Because God had told him not to accept food or water from anyone, he turned down the king’s invitation for a meal, hungry as he was from fasting. Leaving the city, he met a man who claimed to be a prophet and invited him to share a meal. The unnamed prophet at first turned down this invitation also, but his hunger, thirst, and loneliness distracted him to disobey God’s command, resulting in his death.

Distractions face us every day. As followers of Christ, we need to be aware of the single-minded mission facing us—that of loving God above all else and our neighbor as ourselves. Such a commandment requires a wolverine’s kind of strong determination.

Like most predators that are single-minded in their effort to survive, mature Christians can be determined in their efforts to serve God. By the strength of His Word and Spirit, we can avoid distractions. Without His Word, we cannot complete the tasks He gives us. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Lord, help us to be as determined as the wolverine in our desire to follow You. Keep us free from distractions as we continually pray and study Your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Hurry up and wait. Sometimes we’re forced to wait—in a mall for a friend, at a doctor’s office, in a checkout line. When we have too many items on our to-do list, waiting can be frustrating. Perhaps we should view those times as God-given opportunities to pray, to praise Him, to start a conversation with a stranger. We often forget, when we’re in a hurry, that God’s timing is best. Why else did He create a Sabbath rest, and sleep, and seasons of growth?


Instant gratification

You’ve seen it before. “Learn how to speed read.” “For instant relief, take our medicine.” Save time with our quick-and-easy microwaveable meals.”

Indeed, today’s instant answers do have one up on the old solutions. Imagine having to read by candlelight. Imagine farmers of old who plowed their fields with horse and hand plow, sowed their seeds by hand, and harvested their hay with a hand scythe. Imagine a housewife having to scrub her laundry on a washboard or feeding a cook stove with just enough wood to get perfect results.

In some parts of the world, people still use slower methods of living. Perhaps many of them don’t have any knowledge or experience about our speedy way of life. Would they like such a life? A quick-paced lifestyle can be both good and bad. Who wouldn’t want to reach medical help faster than our forefathers?

Yet, speedy living can bring anxiety. Stress is the number one cause of most diseases today.

The instant gratification syndrome reaches its tentacles into every area of our life, including the church. We hear about healings and instant answers to prayer. Not that such wonders don’t occur. God is all-powerful, after all. But when instant answers don’t occur, those on the non-receiving end can become disillusioned about God, doubting His promises or doubting their own faith.

Instant healing is not beyond God’s capability. But He mainly uses slower methods to bring healing or change. We may need to go through suffering—or perhaps a long period of waiting—to produce spiritual growth. That is why God says patience is a fruit of His Spirit. What we see as an instant answer may need to be brought about through a lengthy process—like the farmer who plows his field with horse and hand plow rather than with a fast, noisy, yet efficient machine.

Certain situations we can’t change. For instance, losing a loved one through death or perhaps being injured by accident. At such times, we wish that God would change our situation, giving us immediate relief. What we probably need, however, is to grow steadfast in our faith by trusting that He will graciously strengthen us one day at a time. “Be … fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer ….” (Romans 12:10-11)

Lord, help us to keep from looking for easy, quick answers. Help us, rather, to wait in faith for Your answers to our prayers. May we patiently and joyfully accept them in Your perfect time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, July 15, 2013


We cross many chasms during our lives, traversing from one problem to the next. Some are higher, deeper, longer, more difficult than others. But with God’s help we reach the other side. Crossing over to eternity, the ultimate chasm, requires a choice on our part. We can ask ourselves: whose side am I on? God’s side? Or the side of the devil, the world, and our flesh? You decide.


The other side

Did you watch the live TV show of Nik Wallenda skywalk across part of the Grand Canyon? Did you hold your breath, as I did? The famous high wire artist spent nearly 23 minutes walking the 1,400-foot journey across the Little Colorado River gorge. He trained for weeks, both physically and mentally, as he has done for all his high wire acts. During this walk, however, he faced brutal winds from all directions, including from the 1,500-foot-deep gorge. He also encountered instability in the two-inch cable, and the jagged edges of the canyon wall distracted his vision.

Many people wonder why Wallenda would be so foolish, would take such a chance. But he had trained since the age of two and drew from the experience of eight generations of other wire-walking Wallendas before him. He also believed God called him to do this. Wallenda repeatedly glorified his Lord during his walk. Outfitted with a microphone, he could be heard by some thirteen million people via TV and the Internet.  

He kept his focus on God, who guided him along that thin wire, by praising Him with words that you and I could use in our own lives during situations far less stressful. “Thank You, Jesus,” he said over and over. “Blessed be Your Name, Lord … You are my strength … I love You, Lord … Hallelujah, Jesus. I glorify Your name, Lord. You are holy.” 

We all face situations that require us to reach the other side of a negative situation such as grief, illness, or financial needs. How we prepare for those times determines whether or not we succeed. Wallenda could have fallen to his death if not for his preparation.

How about our preparation? Are we willing to spend our lives training for victory over sin and temptation—until we reach the side of peace, of satisfaction, of victory? Or do we allow our focus to shift away from God?

The ultimate goal for us believers in Christ is to spend eternity with Him—to reach the other side of life. Lackadaisical preparation could draw us down as surely as it could have brought death to Wallenda. The Bible repeatedly commands us to follow Jesus by clinging to His Word and Spirit. “…reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:13-14)

Lord, help us to remember to train and prepare for eternity by remaining in You through the Word and Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sunday, July 7, 2013



   Most of us could do better in striving to eat right and exercise. The same applies
   to our spiritual lives. What are we doing to become more spiritually healthy? I
   welcome your comments about how you stay spiritually fit.

   ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES  By Sally Bair                                   

      Setting goals

Statistics prove that Americans are out of shape. And no wonder. We’re surrounded by fast-food restaurants, coffee shops offering rich lattes, and grocery stores filled with hundreds of poor choices. We’re bombarded by food ads on television. Consequently, we rate high on the charts for diabetes, heart disease, and other life-threatening diseases.

Paradoxically, our book stores offer dozens of diet books and our drug stores are lined with diet helps and medications for ailments brought on by our poor lifestyles. It’s enough to drive a person to the nearest chocolate bar!

We must blame ourselves for our bad habits. Instead of sitting before the television, computer, or video game for hours, we could—heaven forbid—exercise! We could make more healthful choices of food and drink. I’m as guilty of making poor food choices as anyone. I struggle with temptation every day.

Times have changed. Most of us don’t have to hunt for our meat, pump our drinking and bathing water, spin yarn for our warm clothes, grow and harvest wheat for our bread, or cut trees for building our houses and heating them. As a nation, we’ve exchanged our muscle with fat. We need to make some changes.

Changing our physical habits takes discipline, time, hard work—and setting goals. So does changing our spiritual habits. Are we eating a proper diet of God’s Word? Are we exercising our mind and spirit by walking with Him, listening to Him, obeying Him? Is our ultimate goal to be spiritually healthy enough to win the prize of eternal life with Him?

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly…” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

The best way to start our journey toward setting goals for spiritual good health is to search the Bible regularly and diligently. Once we know what God asks of us, we can begin to apply it to our lives every day. 

Lord, forgive us for all the times we’ve not done right by our bodies and by our souls. Help us today to set worthy goals to get back into physical and spiritual fitness. Give us the strength and discipline to practice good health habits. In Jesus’ name, Amen.