Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Only God can turn our losses into gain—at least, the kind of losses that matter. When we’re confronted with sudden loss such as from fire, finances, or death of a loved one, we take stock of what is truly of value. Nothing we have will last except our relationship with Jesus Christ, in whom we have hope and assurance of eternal life with Him. He is our true gain, our true value.


Gain and loss

The contrasts of gain and loss are unlimited. Many times, the things we gain end up as loss somewhere else in our lives. For instance, gaining a new job that requires more responsibility might mean losing time with family. Winning the lottery has been known to bring loss of friendships and fear of theft, among other life changes.

Sometimes losing means gaining. Success in weight loss, for example, often becomes a gain in health and self-esteem. We don’t usually stop to consider alternatives when we gain something. Perhaps we should. Maybe we should ask, what must I give up to gain this? Will I lose out in the long run if I do such-and-such? Is this an either-or situation?

Choices can be difficult. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could know the end results of our decisions? Too often we pretend to know. We think: my baby is going to grow up being a doctor just like his grandpa. Or, my new house will fulfill all my dreams of happiness. The woman of my dreams will always be pretty and slim, putty in my hands, and a good cook.

Before Saul became Paul the Apostle, he may have thought his life would bring more and more gains. He seemed to have it all—respect, intelligence, schooling, important heredity. Saul followed the Law to a T and defended it zealously to the point of persecuting Christ’s followers. Everything he invested his life-blood into fell to nothing when he was confronted by Jesus. Suddenly he saw that all he had gained was worse than the manure in a barnyard.

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Paul said in Philippians 1:21. Do we also support such a belief in the way we live? Paul explains it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Spiritual gain over loss means life over death. We cannot gain spiritual life without first dying to self, but it brings immeasurable gain. It promises peace and joy, love and righteousness, freedom from the bonds of sin, and life everlasting.

Lord, thank You for Your incomparable, immeasurable blessings that can be ours when we choose to die to self and gain life with You. Giving up all that we are and have for Your sake may not be easy. We ask for Your strength and power in making such a radical change. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, October 20, 2014


The round poplar leaves remind me of gold coins as they fall from their branches and cover the sidewalks and roadways and yards. Imagine if each was a real coin. How rich we’d be! Yet, how rich we are to be able to enjoy them with our senses. A true blessing from God.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

Streets of gold

I believe God gives us glimpses of heaven here on earth so we’ll be excited about seeing its promised streets of gold. I also think that He allows us to enjoy autumn’s beauty so we’ll be in a good mood before the onslaught of winter.

The colors this year have been glorious. Once the reds and oranges faded, yellows of every shade took over. Returning from Hayward recently, I enjoyed the Boreal tamaracks whose feathery, bright yellow, needle-like leaves shimmered in sunlight. And fallen poplar leaves  turned the road into a street of gold.

Unfortunately, the beautiful leaves of autumn don’t last. Their colors fade, they become thin and transparent, and they blow away, are burned up, or are trampled underfoot. We might compare them to the proverbial gold pieces we collect or cling to in life. Eventually, they lose their luster and attraction. We may enjoy them while they last, but we must know that eventually they too will disappear—unlike the eternal streets of gold in heaven.

The Bible says we’re here only for a time. Hebrews 11 tells about men and women who remained faithful to God without having received the promise of their heavenly reward. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth … truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God … has prepared a city for them.” (verses13, 15, 16)

Perhaps they enjoyed the beauty of nature, the comfort of home, as we do—but only for a time. Knowing they were mere pilgrims, however, traveling from earthly home to heaven, they kept their focus on their eternal, God-promised home.

 The apostle Paul viewed his earthly citizenship similarly. “I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me … forgetting those things which are behind and 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 3:12-14 in part)

Lord, thank You for the beauty of Your creation and especially for the hope of living eternally with You in heaven, the most beautiful and fulfilling home of all. Place in our hearts the humble desire to focus on You alone rather than on the temporary, gold-like things of this earth. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Monday, October 13, 2014


As Jesus loosed the bonds of sin and affliction from many in need, He promises to do the same for us. He is in the business of freeing us from whatever we allow to keep us from worshiping and obeying Him through His Word and Spirit. In Jesus name, be loosed from your bonds of sin.


                Letting go

                Poplar leaves of golden hue
               Cling, tenacious, a stubborn few,
               Till frost assaults, then life-stems die.
               Like rain, they fall with wind-swept sigh.
In spite of knowing what will follow, I welcome fall: vivid colors of turning leaves, the pungent scent of decaying foliage, the crunch of leaves underfoot. Maple, aspen, and others shower to earth in the slightest breeze, sometimes leaving a few to cling to their branches even during hard winds. They spin round and round on their stems, pummeled by late fall gales. During the calm they hang limply. But for many weeks they remain steadfastly fastened to their host branch—like clinging vines.

Usually a clinging vine refers to adults who cling too closely to their mates, or children to their parents. They bombard their “host” with questions: Where are you going?  Where have you been?  Take me with you. I can’t bear to be without you. Clinging vines tend to smother the affections of those they cling to, robbing them of the need for their own emotional and physical space.

If not to someone, we might be tempted to cling stubbornly to alcohol, drugs, shopping, TV, hobbies, even church. Clinging to someone or something is not emotionally healthy. At worst, it causes us to be self-centered instead of Christ-centered.

The healthy type of clinging is about which Jesus speaks in John, chapter 15. “I am the vine, you area the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (verse 5) Like the leaf clinging tenaciously to its branch, we can cling to Him, assured that He will give us the necessary strength and nourishment to grow physically, emotionally, and especially spiritually/ As well, He promises us abundant joy and peace. Abiding in Christ—clinging to Him—will keep us happily connected to him, whether we’re being pummeled by life’s winds or enjoying its calm.

Lord, with one cleansing breath like the frost of winter, Your Spirit can loosen our hold on every sin we foolishly cling to. We recognize You as the only one who can give us what we truly need and what will bring us lasting and abundant love, joy, and peace. Help us to abide in You just as a tenacious leaf clings to its branch. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, October 6, 2014


The only shaking we should be doing is for Jesus—shaking the unstable faith of others with His Word and the power of His Spirit. He causes our lives to m-o-v-e in His direction when we allow it.


Life’s earthquakes

Living in the Midwest as I do, I don’t often think about earthquakes. If not for those in Alaska, in fact, I would have moved to the city of Homer at one time, because my son lives there. When my family and I visited there once and experienced an earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, it clinched my decision not to move there.

Alaska has had its share of big ones, like the devastating earthquake of 1964, which measured over nine points on the Richter scale. It dropped the level of the Homer Spit by seven feet. The famous Homer Spit is a narrow strip of land nearly five miles long that extends out into Katchemak Bay. It's a natural harbor for hundreds of small and large boats, including my son’s commercial fishing vessel.

But the Spit has changed drastically since that 1964 Good Friday earthquake. Previously, the Spit held many trees and houses and beautiful greenery along its length. (The local museum exhibits pictures of its former lush scenery.)  In a matter of minutes, all the trees and brush disappeared, as well as some houses and much of the land itself. Mountains and hills in the Homer area literally moved.

How scary that event must have been for the local residents! But we all face other kinds of scary events—if not natural, then physical or emotional. Perhaps many of us feel as if we're living on an unstable foundation. Most any kind of adversity can bring heart-dropping sensations and can even test our faith in God. However, He can give us the stability we need when such things happen. No other god on earth or below or above can promise us the rock-solid, unmovable foundation that God the Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ can give. His holy Word professes that. A simple act of faith can give that assurance.

Isaiah 54:10 quotes God thus: "Though the mountains be shaken and the hills removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken." What a promise! It is truly one we can cling to whenever we find ourselves dropping seven feet down the slippery slope of reality as did the land on the Homer Spit.

Lord, help us always to remember that there is nothing or no-one who can give us the sure, steady, immovable foundation of love and security that You can give. We thank You for Your unfailing love that will never be shaken. In Jesus' name, amen.