Monday, May 26, 2014


Yes, it’s bear season again. And I pray you’re able, through God’s power and wisdom, to keep all the bugaboo bears out of your life.


Big black bears

This Bair has met black bears on three separate occasions during my hikes. One of them, I’m sure, was as long as the wide trail I walked. One stood by a tree on the side of the same trail, and the third lay resting in a roadside ditch, undetected until I found myself looking straight into its eyes. I have a healthy fear of larger-than-me mammals, so in each case I slowly retreated until I was out of their sight, then high-tailed it for home.

I sometimes see tree stumps that look like bears, too. They look safe but probably are not. Conversely, stumps that I believe are bears really are harmless, but I fear them anyway.

The noun “bear” means more than the animal. It also means “something difficult to deal with.” We all face those kinds of bears. Some of them we could call baby bears—like when we discover we’re out of eggs and must change our dinner plans. Other bears may be mama-sized, like having a flat tire on a busy highway. And, of course, there are the big black bears—learning a loved one has cancer, for instance.

Regardless of size, any bear, any problem, offers us three choices: confront, go around, or turn away. We don’t always have the time or opportunity to carefully consider our choices, either. Sometimes we have to flee from sudden danger.

God offers us helpful wisdom in our choices when it comes to temptations or just plain living. Many verses in the Psalms and Proverbs, for instance, speak of the value of gaining God’s wisdom, said to be worth more than gold, silver, or rubies. Wisdom brings knowledge of God. It also offers victory, protection, and safety, among other valuables. It is supreme and the Bible says we should seek it at all times.

The most wonderful thing about using God’s wisdom—as opposed to the wisdom of man—is that it can help us make the right choices in any situation, no matter what kind of bears we face. All we need is trust that He will give us the wisdom we need, when we ask.

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Lord, give us the wisdom to determine not only the size and seriousness of what we face today, but also the wisdom to know when to confront, when to go around, and when to turn away. We thank You for Your infinite wisdom and Your willingness to impart it to us. Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


‘Tis a beautiful day in Wisconsin’s North Country, a day to inhale the sweet fragrance of newly-mowed grass and burgeoning buds on the lilac bushes. Let’s not get so busy with life’s To Do’s that we miss these precious gifts from our Creator God. 


Slow down

My former garden had slugs. Ugh! I tried several methods to eradicate the gastropods, but none worked. They seemed to multiply like mice. The yucky pests ate me out of lettuce and carrots. And to think that people actually eat the things! Of course, many species of snails have shells, which are not as offensive to the touch or sight.

Snails are among the slowest critters on earth—traveling about 150 feet an hour. They don’t hop or jump, but propel themselves forward by vibrating their foot. The mucus they produce, probably their most offensive trait, helps them slide forward smoothly, both horizontally and vertically. It also helps protect their soft bodies.

Snails don’t fit well in our fast-paced society. These days, we’re in such a hurry that we like to receive our information in bites or bytes. Many of us tend to skim our newspapers rather than read them word for word. Some of us even finish sentences for people who speak “as slow as a snail.” Our culture has lost the art of listening with both ears rather than with just one. We’ve decided that if we hurry, we can accomplish more. But do we? And at what cost?

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to … keep silence and a time to speak …” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7) Perhaps we need to learn when to keep our mouths shut. I encounter people who habitually interrupt others in speech. God forbid, I’m just as guilty. 

Slowing down to a snail’s pace means giving up our bragging rights and our negative emotions. Slowing down means choosing to abandon our selfish thoughts for the sake of listening to people. It means keeping our feet on the ground, like the snails, to avoid flying off the anger handle or mentally multitasking. It means to consciously gear down to a slower speed. 
The Bible gives us good advice. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19) Such advice takes practice. With God’s help, we can succeed. With God’s help, we can renew our minds to slow down, like the snail, and still accomplish what we must. 

Lord, thank You for offering to show us when to slow down. Teach us what is most important in our lives so we can be Your worthy representatives as we share the Good News of Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Some people seem to thrive on bad news about health, politics, world problems, and the Church. God would have us thrive, instead, on His Good News! I ask you, what is better than knowing that you are saved from eternal death through the grace of Jesus’ death and resurrection? He turns bad into good for those who love Him. And … good news—spring is finally here! 


Nix to bad news        

We can’t get away from bad news these days. Turn on any news channel or read any newspaper and it will be filled with the stuff. Most of us dislike it. We avoid it when possible, cringe when we have to face it, and complain about it.

We’ve gotten so used to bad news that when we receive a Christmas letter expounding on all the good things that have happened during the year, we’re tempted to ask the writer if anything bad happened to them. Perhaps they have the right idea, to pass on only the good news to their relatives and friends.

Every day we hear about disease and starvation facing thousands throughout the world. War casualties mount. Loved ones die. Animals are abused. The economy is depressing. Political leaders are exposed for scandalous wrongdoing. You name it, bad news is everywhere. In fact, the world is so filled with it that some people are afraid of when the next shoe will drop. Some people claim that bad things come in threes so they expect even more bad news. Following the September 11 tragedy, for instance, fear overcame many people.

But we don’t have to fear bad news. Psalm 112:6-7 says that “… a righteous man … will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” The Psalm speaks about the righteous man—the person who regards God with holy awe and reverence and trusts in Him alone for salvation.

We who fear God and find delight in His Word, according to Psalm 112, are not moved by fear and anxiety in times of trouble because our trust is in the Lord and not in ourselves or our circumstances. We will be blessed with riches and, even in the darkness when bad news comes, light will dawn for us and goodness will be upon us. Through daily meditation of God’s Word, we can be strengthened against all the bad news, and its resulting fear, that we face.

Lord, thank You for keeping us from fear when we face bad news. Help us remember that we need not be afraid of what is ahead. Keep our focus away from negative circumstances and toward You, our trustworthy God. We honor and praise You for Your holiness and justice, Your love and mercy. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Remember that old refrain from playing Hide and Seek? Some people may try to play the game with God, but there is no hiding from Him. That fact need not be scary, but will bring joy if our relationship with Him is right. Is yours?


Ready for that day

A tabloid headline screamed, “Christ will return on December 25!” For some people that announcement might have seemed scarier than the picture of a Halloween vampire. For others it may have brought smiles. A reader’s reaction would have depended on his or her spiritual standing with Christ.

There have been many other predictions in the past about a date and time of Christ’s return. None have been accurate, obviously, because no one knows when He’ll return. Jesus said, “You … must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:40)

The question, “Are you ready for his return?” should cause all of us to stop and consider. On that day, will we fall before Him with fear and trembling, knowing we never heeded an evangelist or pastor’s call—or a grandmother’s prayer—to repent and turn our life over to Christ? Or will we welcome Him, assured we will be taken to heaven to live with Him in eternal joy?

We all will face our eternal destiny some day, whether by accident, illness, or Christ’s return. Luke 9:59-62 says: “(Jesus) said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But the man replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” 

Why wait? To see the kids graduate … pay off the mortgage … finish college … give up drinking or drugs … get revenge for someone’s wrong … take the family on a dream vacation … sow wild oats while there’s still time? 

No excuse will hold back Jesus’ return. “I tell you, now is … the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)  For the sake of your eternal destiny, please don’t delay your decision. God can change your life with this simple, heartfelt prayer:

Lord, I choose to believe You’ll forgive me and I admit that I’m a sinner. I confess my sins to You and turn from them. Thank You for the joy and peace that comes from accepting You and for the promise of spending eternity with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.