Monday, November 25, 2013


They’re endless. Good food, jobs, clothing, warm homes, family and friends …. To say nothing of God’s eternal blessings. His peace and joy, freedom from sin and fear and eternal death, and His everlasting love for us trump every other thing, don’t they? We cannot possibly count the ways to give Him thanks.


Let us give thanks

As citizens of this nation, we have countless reasons to give thanks. We have the freedom to live where we want, work where we want, and befriend whom we want. We’re allowed to have as many children as we want. We have the freedom to express our opinions verbally and in writing. We may worship where we want. All these freedoms, and more, are ours as long as we stay within the limits of the law and respect others’ rights.

Our laws are not perfect. But they’re far better than those of countries that inflict harsh punishment to the guilty and innocent alike.

We can thank God for all our freedoms, whether they relate to our physical, emotional, or spiritual needs. God is, after all, the giver of everything we have. And His attributes are endless. He loves us like no other and is faithful in carrying out His many promises, as expressed in His Word.

The Psalms have much to say about being thankful. “It is good to give thanks to the Lord … to declare (His) lovingkindness in the morning, and (His) faithfulness every night.” (Psalm 92:1-2) “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy …” (Psalm 107:1-2) “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4)

Paul’s New Testament letters also express the value of thanking God for everything we have. “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18) “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:57) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Lord, we thank You for this year’s special day of Thanksgiving. As we celebrate it, help us remember to give You thanks every day. You show us Your great love even when we don’t deserve it. Thank You for your great grace and mercy, in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


The vision of bright yellow maples and poplars is a sight to enjoy every fall. But nothing can compare to the brilliancy of a swamp filled with Tamaracks-turned-golden this time of year. God has a special way with color. May we all see His beauty and mercy in His creation.


Tamarack Gold         

The colorful leaves of the maples, aspen, and birch have fallen and died, but those of the tamarack tree still cling to their branches. Unlike its conifer cousins, the tamarack sheds its leaves. The bright golden needle-leaves are stunningly beautiful before they fall, especially where the trees stand amidst dark green pines. During these late autumn days, the tamaracks stand out like beacons.

That’s how followers of Christ should be—beacons of light that stand out amidst the darkness of the world. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)   

How bright is our Christian light? Some past believers shone so bright, they deeply affected others. Paul the Apostle, for instance, “did extraordinary miracles … so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” (Acts 19:11-12) Records state that the famous Dr. Dwight L. Moody was filled with so much light from God’s glory that when he walked by, men across the street fell down in repentance. Others, too, have exhibited such light, causing people to repent, be healed, and be delivered from demons.

Have you ever y seen someone with a certain glow to their face. Why don’t all believers in Christ would possess such a light? Perhaps we haven’t received all the light He makes available to us. Perhaps we hold onto too much of the world so our light is like that of a single candle rather than a huge bonfire.

When we’re out in the sun long enough, our physical appearance changes. When we look to the Son of God, His light will change us, too, as it did Paul and Moody and others. As it can for all of us. We can all shine like beacons, standing apart just as the beautiful tamaracks do.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)

Lord, thank You for being the Light of the world. Work in our hearts, cleansing us from unholy thoughts and acts, so there will be more room for Your light to shine through, so others can see You through us. Teach us how to be holy as You are holy. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Monday, November 11, 2013


Remember what a cold spring we had to endure? Remember when you learned how to read? Rode a bike by yourself? Met your best friend? Married your husband? We tend to remember the good things from the past, and reconstruct the bad things into tolerable memories. Good or bad, memories can carry us away from the present. What we say and do today will have great impact on our future. May God guide us in our words and deeds as we follow His will—that of drawing others to Him.



Whenever I take a long trip, my mind remains stuck at home for several days while my body travels along in the car. I think about the things I didn’t finish before leaving, the phone calls I forgot to make, the bills I might have forgotten to pay.

On the return trip, it’s good memories that remain in my mind. Every time I’ve visited Alaska for a few weeks at a time, I’ve wanted to stay. 

Memories can be powerful. I’ll never forget traveling along the narrow, steep Alaska Highway, viewing the beautiful mountains and glaciers, driving through the tundra that displays a riot of wildflowers. I still picture the spectacular, sunny view of Denali, America’s famous mountain that is shrouded in thick clouds most of the time.

We watched grizzlies tumbling and playing on a patch of snow next to a gravel riverbed, grizzlies eating dandelions along the roadside, and a flock of Dall sheep on a mountainside. Babies jumped and skipped among their grazing parents.

I remember the cool, black rock where I sat watching my grandchildren dig for butter clams at low tide across Katchemak Bay from Homer. Clam and mussel shells covered the beach, crunching under our feet. We enjoyed the taste of tender, bear stew and bear potpie my daughter-in-law cooked, and Russian borsch and perozhki at a Russian-American restaurant. On the beach, we grilled flaky halibut and succulent salmon over a fire.

The pungent odor of Wisconsin cedar leaves reminds me of the rich scent of Sitka spruce. And every time I see a puppy, I’m reminded of the four Malamute pups we brought back on our trip in 2005.

Good memories bring us joy. God, Himself, puts great stock in remembering. The Bible states that He remembers us in our joys and in our afflictions. By the same token, we’re told to remember Him. “For He … appointed a law in Israel that they … may set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” (Psalm 78:5, 7) The New Testament states that we should remember Him in everything we do. “He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25) This law of love is meant for all of us. May we never forget God’s great love for us.

Lord, keep our minds from being stuck on the past while remembering the good times. Help us never to forget You and Your constant love and provision. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, November 4, 2013


Every day is a good day to be joyful in the Lord, whether in good times or bad. To be loving and kind to others, even our enemies. To bring His peace with us wherever we go. In other words, to be fishers of men, showing the love of Christ, as He commanded all of His followers.


Fish a-jumping

The smooth surface of southeastern Wisconsin’s Green Lake mirrored a pink and purple sunrise as fish began jumping. Lots of fish. Big fish. The kind we’d all love to be hauling in on a hook. The kind I hoped to reel in mentally as I attended the Christian writer’s workshop that met on the lakeshore.

What are they jumping after? I wondered, my writer-mind whirling with ideas. The answer appeared in the form of an undulating swarm of tiny insects that hovered a ways from shore. The insects probably were dropping their tiny eggs—just the right color and size to entice a fish to catch them in mid-air. The fish leaped upward in a frenzied dance as my gaze flitted back and forth, as I tried to guess where the next one would appear.

The intriguing sight contrasted sharply with the serenity of the quiet, colorful sunrise.

How long could they keep up their energetic feeding frenzy? How many insects would it take to fill a fish’s mouth? How much time and patience would it take for a person to catch one of those fish?

As I watched, I thought about Peter and the other fishermen on Jesus’ team. Commercial fishermen that they were, they must have spent many anxious nights, after a poor catch, wondering if they could meet their expenses. Health, weather, seasonal cycles, and a host of other factors always determines whether fishing is successful or a bust.

When Jesus met those fishermen, He had a different kind of fishing in mind. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” He told them. (Matthew 4:19) He knew the world was filled with people in despair, people who needed to be lured by His love, and He would need His followers to help draw them toward Him for healing.

As followers of Christ, we are sent out to be fishers of men. Not that we should pursue them with ulterior motives, but with His love. Sometimes merely dangling the bait of God’s Word is enough to draw them in. Other times, sharing our story of how His love changed our life is enough to draw people to Him. Love is gentle and kind. A smile or hug, a prayer for a specific need can spell volumes for a hurting soul. God can use us in a variety of ways as we touch one life at a time, adding to His kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy.

Lord, help us to become loving fishers of men. In Jesus’ name, amen.