Monday, July 28, 2014


The times are becoming more dangerous for Christians everywhere. Yet, rather than seeking safety from persecution, we are told to be a light so that others, including enemies of the Gospel, will draw near to Christ. The more we know Him, the closer we remain to Him, the stronger our light of faith and love will be.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

Defending our faith

After Christ’s death and resurrection, Rome proclaimed it a crime punishable by death to be a Christian. New Christians met in secret and their forms of worship caused such false rumors as cannibalism. Consequently, educated Christians wrote letters in defense of their faith.

Mark Minucius Felix, a Roman lawyer and orthodox Christian, wrote an inspiring account of a debate between Octavius (a Christian) and a pagan. The pagan’s challenges are the same ones the Christian church faces today.

Regarding the worship of gods such as the sun, moon, and stars, Octavius debated: “Man is different from the wild beasts … who are always looking down at the earth … for their food. But man stands erect. His face is turned toward heaven. For this reason, we recognize, feel, and imitate God. No person has the right to be ignorant of the celestial glory that’s imprinted on our eyes and senses. It’s wrong to seek on earth what can only be found on high.” 

In defense of God as Creator, Octavius quoted Romans 1:20: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Octavius also cited God’s perfect order of creation—the sun’s circuit, the moon’s phases, the seasons, the differences in animals, and “the very beauty of our own bodies”—demonstrating that God is our designer.

Octavius continued the debate by defending Christians. They didn’t kill humans, nor did they abort babies, a common practice among Romans in their god-sacrifices. Octavius urged the pagan to take an honest look at his religious rituals as “pitiful and laughable.” He challenged the pagan to use common sense, rather than blindly following the traditions of his ancestors, so he could see that man-made gods had no power, no life, no real beauty.

“You must KNOW God before you can WORSHIP him,” Octavius said, quoting Jesus in John 17:3. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Because of Octavius’ articulate and passionate defense, the pagan ended up embracing the Christian faith.

Lord, prepare us to defend our faith whenever we are challenged by unbelievers. Help us know you better—through dedicated and intentional meditation, study, and prayer—so we will “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks (us) to give the reason for the hope that (we) have.” (1 Peter 3:15) In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Considering the past two short summers, it behooves us to take advantage of every day. Blessings from God, the long days allow us ample chance to enjoy all of His wonderful creation. Even in towns such as mine, deer and bears roam freely—great sights to behold! Enjoy it while it lasts.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

Bane or blessing

I decided to pull the plug, with a nudge from the Holy Spirit. After weeks of thought and prayer, I called my cable company to disconnect my TV service. On occasion, I had “fasted” from TV watching for a month at a time, but knowing it was still available made it difficult to complete my fasts.

This time it is for keeps. Meanwhile, I’m saving substantially on my monthly cable bill. I posted my decision on Facebook, half-expecting comments about how I was living in the dark ages. Imagine my surprise at reading about others who haven’t watched TV in years!

Already, I see the difference in my writing productivity, in my prayer life, and in the surrounding quietness. I’m no longer tempted to watch favorite shows which I call fluff, that is, without substance.

Why did I wait so long? One woman wrote that she pulled the plug seven years ago and hasn’t regretted it one day. But … I’m a slow learner.

TV watching isn’t necessarily bad. Many good shows are educational, inspirational, and entertaining. But how easily it can take over our lives! I knew a woman who refused to turn off her favorite show even when company came calling. Indeed, I’ve been known to plan parts of my days around the TV schedule. For me, TV watching was my biggest time-robbing habit. Now, when I need some R&R, I take a walk, read, or visit with a friend. Such activities are more valuable to me than sitting  in front of the TV screen.

We all get hung up on senseless or growth-inhibiting habits, don’t we? Part of the Holy Spirit’s fruit is temperance. We call it self-control. Now, there’s a word most of us would rather not hear. The lack of self-control is something most of us struggle with every day. Yet accepting God’s strength and power to overcome whatever habit ensnares us will bring victory, especially when we decide, without hesitation, to pull the plug.

The author of Hebrews writes about spiritual growth as being milk or solid food. “Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” (Hebrews 5:13-14. The Message version)

Lord, reveal to us the time-robbing habits that hinder our mental and spiritual growth. Thank You for Your Spirit’s power and strength that help us overcome these habits. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The main player in the Blame Game is none other than—me. You. Most, if not all of us. If we, as a society in general, could sue God for our problems, we would. We already blame the doctors, the teachers, politicians, inventors, even the churches—whomever is handiest—rather than ourselves. The Blame Game has been popular since the world began and won’t end until it does. Meanwhile we’re told to follow the example of Jesus, who “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8) In humility there is no blame.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES                    by Sally Bair

Who’s to blame?

Whenever the clouds forecast rain, my joints ache like a bad tooth. If the barometric pressure drops suddenly, my body feels ill at ease, full of the heebie-jeebies. I blame the weather for such symptoms.

Speaking of blame, as a kid I typically blamed my parents for keeping me from having fun. Later, during my first marriage, I faulted my husband for our problems.

We tend to blame the devil for many of our failures, too. Usually when someone says, “The devil made me do it,” we laugh. The habit of blaming others, however, is no joking matter—whether of the devil or anyone else. Transferring blame means taking the easy way out of dealing with our faults in order to look better and soothe our guilty conscience.

Fault-finding began in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit and Eve blamed the snake, representing the devil, for deceiving her.

Who’s to blame when life goes awry? Is it fair to blame Adam and Eve for our sin? Our human side tells us to believe we must work hard to justify our innocence. By nature, we tend to focus on people, circumstances, and even on other-worldly forces, instead of on ourselves, where blame usually lies.

Speaking of the devil, sin arises when we allow him opportunity for cause. We try to avoid the word sin, preferring to call it moral weakness, fault, or shortcoming. Rather, we need to avoid sin itself. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:7).

None of us likes to confront our sin. Apologies make us feel less than what we consider ourselves to be. We’d rather feel better about ourselves than we do about others. Jesus told a parable about a Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men … I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” A humble tax collector, rather, begged God to be merciful to him, a sinner. Jesus concluded His parable thus: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14)

Through God’s Word and the conviction of His Spirit, we can humble ourselves and accept the blame when it is needed, and where it belongs—on ourselves.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit who shows us when we wrongly transfer our blame to others. Keep us humble as Jesus was humble—accepting the blame for our own sin. In His name, amen.

Monday, July 7, 2014


The things we do with our hands are so automatic, we hardly think about them. We use them for countless, everyday tasks until … we stop to consider whether we should touch that new thing or that undesirable person. A pause to pray for God’s guidance will always get our hands moving again in the direction He wants them to move. Happy handling His way!

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES                 by Sally Bair

Our hands

We had a cat that lost its front paw when it got too close to the hay mower. Over time, it learned to compensate and thrived as well as other farm cats.

God has given animals amazing abilities, both mentally and physically, to use their paws or claws. Sea otters actually use tools such as rocks, glass bottles, and driftwood to open clam shells. They place the tool of choice on their upturned belly and pound the clamshell against it until the shell opens, releasing its clam. They eat their weight in food every day, which means lots of hard pounding with their strong and flexible hand-like paws.

I look at my hands with its misshapen fingers, swollen joints, and blue veins and am awed at how I’ve used them over the years. Like many of you, I’ve rocked babies, offered hugs, and cleaned up messes. I’ve cooked and served thousands of meals, pulled weeds, picked wild berries, milked cows, pitched hay, and cleaned up messes. I’ve turned pages of countless books, typed stories, and cleaned up messes. Perhaps like yours, my hands have performed endless tasks—some even stained with wrong deeds and with love withheld.

The Bible has much to say about our hands. James 4:8 says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners.” In other words, we are admonished to wash our hands, so to speak, before approaching God in prayer and conversation. The Lord’s Prayer includes the command to forgive others, probably the most difficult way to wash our hands than any.

Moses wrote a prayer, Psalm 90, in which he asks the Lord to “establish the work of our hands.” (Verse 17) So important was his prayer that he repeated the phrase.

Timothy, writing to Christian men, asked that they “pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.” (1 Timothy 2:8) The operative word here, I believe is holy. When we maintain a life that is morally and spiritually clean—that is, in tune with God’s will and desire—we can claim to have holy hands, hands set apart for His use.

“He teaches my hands to make war.” (2 Samuel 22:35) As Christ-followers, we face battles every day, battles with our fleshly desires, worldly enticements, and the devil. Like the sea otter, we too can use a rock, the Rock of Ages.

Lord, thank You for being our Rock. Show us through Your wisdom, strength, and power how to establish the work of our hands in service and love to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.