Wednesday, November 26, 2014


ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES          by Sally Bair

Lord, change me

Weather changes can happen in minutes. Dead leaves can be blowing across the road and an hour later, they’re covered by snow. We northerners often talk about the weather. “Wow, some weather we’re having, huh?” “Think it’ll clear up in time for the ballgame?” “Looks like all of us here (at the grocery store) are stocking up before the big storm hits.” 

Other events bring change into our lives, too. Like stormy weather, some of them happen quickly: a family crisis, a wedding, a move from one locale to another. Others tend to take their time, yet still foster change in a life situation, such as learning a new skill, trying a new diet, or reading a book.

Spiritual changes come, too, usually as the result of a life-altering circumstance. After the death of a loved one, some people experience a stronger faith in God while others become angry and turn away from Him. Reading or hearing God’s Word alone can draw people to a new faith, as can the witnessing of a miracle.

God uses many ways to draw us to faith. And once believing, we are told to grow in our faith. A pastor once said, “Every day as He changes the scenery, He changes us.”

Do we want to change? Or do we avoid change of any kind? Change can be difficult when we’re most comfortable in our situation, whether it’s pleasant or not. Change means acquiring a new mind-set. The apostle Paul says in Romans 12:2 that we are to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

When we stubbornly refuse to change our ways and our thinking, we will never learn what God’s perfect will is for us. He wants to change us into His image, which is the image of Christ. Imagine Jesus being so comfortable in the company of His disciples that He refused to sacrifice Himself for our sins so we might live with Him now and forever. As pure love was His motivation to change, so love must be ours, too.

Once again, words from Paul to those of us who have turned to the Lord: “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Lord, thank You for Your Spirit who transforms us into the likeness of Jesus. Give us the desire and will and strength to be changed into His image. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Will the Snow Ever End?

We Lake Superior dwellers wonder sometimes if it will end. After last year’s long, snowy, cold winter, some people are complaining already about this early winter. We can’t deny its beauty and value, however. Snow is a blessing … isn’t it?

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES               by Sally Bair

The character of snow

Snow. We either love it or hate it. Whether snow is a beauty to behold or a nightmare to drive in, it has character.

Snow is a protective covering for plants and water pipes. It insulates the ground, the underground, and our northern lakes against the freezing temperatures of winter. All sorts of critters make their homes under the snow where they stay warm and dry.

Snow brings energizing, enriching nourishment to all water systems. Snow runoff feeds the rivers and lakes just as rain does, with its high content of nitrogen. Garden hoses and irrigation lines are beneficial at times, but nothing beats heaven-sent moisture that super-nourishes plants, flowers, and crops faster and more healthfully.

Snow is a silencer. During a snowfall, the flakes absorb sound, giving a hushed quality.

Snow reveals what exposed earth does not—the imprints of life—because of its dazzling, light-enhancing quality. It's easier to view the tracks of animals and birds after a fresh snowfall than at any other time.

Snow has its own personality, be it heavy and wet, soft and fluffy, or granular like pellets. We can tell the difference when we drive in it, walk in it, work in it, or shovel it out of our way.

Like snow, God's personality has many facets. The Bible is full of illustrations about God's character, things our finite minds learn through the use of similes and metaphors. We can more easily understand about God when He is compared to something visible.  Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, for instance. The Bible also describes Him as the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the True Vine, the Rock of Ages, the Lamb of God, the Bright Morning Star, and the Gate.

God’s Holy Spirit is our protective Comforter against the cold blasts of adversity. He is also called the Spirit of Fire, the Voice of the Almighty, and the Breath of God. He nourishes and energizes us through God’s Word. He silences us so we can hear Him more clearly. He reveals our sins and shortcomings and turns our dark thoughts, words, and deeds into light.

We may not all enjoy the snows of winter, but we can all rejoice in the many wonderful facets of God's personality. "As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is flawless."  (Psalm 18:30)

Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself in so many ways. Bring us to an even larger understanding of Your character so we can grow in faith and serve You better. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, November 10, 2014


We may not be able to avoid imprisonment due to the coming snowstorm, but we can remain free from the bonds of emotional pain and anxiety we needlessly carry. God offers many methods to bring us His gifts of joy and peace: His Word, His Spirit, friendships, counseling, and prayer. If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed!

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair


I recently began ministering to women in jail. Not an easy task, considering I’ve never been in prison and can’t quite relate to the angst that comes with loss of freedom. I don’t know what it feels like to be forced into isolation day and night, unable to enjoy nature’s beauty, or to lose my freedom of privacy and personal decision-making.

May we never take for granted the freedoms we have in America, due in large part to the sacrifices of our servicemen and women. In our freedom, we can talk to whomever we wish by email, telephone, or personally. We can freely go where we want, vote for whom we want, and worship where we want.

Prisoners do not share those freedoms. Law-breakers are jailed to protect society or themselves. Other people, however, are imprisoned  because of their political or religious beliefs. For whatever reason, all prisoners deserve our compassion and our prayers.

Some of us may be imprisoned emotionally and spiritually because of our bad habits, or perhaps because we cling to negative emotions such as anger, hatred, and unforgiveness. Such “slavery” keeps us from the freedom of joy and peace. So do the unresolved issues and emotional hurts from our past, especially involving family members.

Whether we’re imprisoned behind steel bars or emotional walls, we don’t have to remain so. God’s Word offers us freedom through Jesus’ death and resurrection. “If you abide in My Word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free … Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31-32, 36)

The apostle Paul, although imprisoned for defending his faith in Christ, remained steadfast—even joyful—throughout. Though God delivered him from prison, Paul never doubted that He’d been freed from sin. His assurance compelled him to draw others to that same freedom. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage,” he wrote in Galatians 5:1.

Paul’s compelling message is meant for us, too. Whether we enjoy the freedom to see and taste and smell nature’s beauty or whether we must sit in a jail cell for breaking the law or for our belief in Christ, we can remain free within our hearts.

Lord, thank You for Your life-giving, life-changing gift of salvation which frees us from our sins. Thank You for the gifts of joy and peace and hope. Cause us to remain in Your Word and presence so we never again have to experience spiritual imprisonment. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Perhaps your spiritual fishing net hasn’t been used in awhile. Perhaps it’s cluttered with meaningless stuff and nonsense that’s making it hard to draw people toward the Lord. Perhaps it’s so full of the holes of unforgiveness or other negative emotions that people are falling through—uncaught and free to spend their lives in darkness. Is your net ready to use in fishing for men?



Ocean fishing for salmon is hard enough when dealing with rapid and varied changes in weather. Fishermen must also face the challenge of what lies under the water. Wave action and tide movement push unwanted kelp, smaller seaweed, and other debris into the fishing nets. The weight of such debris causes extra drag on the nets, which makes the nets visible to the fish, which causes them to avoid the nets, which means less fish caught. Cleaning nets with a pressure washer is a necessary, time-consuming chore for every fisherman.

When I share this information during my talks about Alaska and my son’s salmon fishing business, I’m always reminded of the spiritual application that can be drawn about nets. “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:18-20)

Peter and Andrew knew the importance of keeping their nets clean and in good repair. Their livelihood required such work. And as they communed with Jesus thereafter, they learned how to keep their spiritual nets clean—to the extent they helped spread Christianity throughout the world.

Following Christ demands that we, too, must use our nets to draw others to Him. Using His example, we should be using the net of love—not only loving the easy-to-love but the unloving and unlovely. One of Jesus’ strongest examples of love took place as He hung on the cross, dying, and said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

True love from God includes unselfish action. “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) By ourselves, we cannot love others as God loves. Our net of love requires daily cleaning with the power washer of His Word and Spirit. When our spiritual nets are not clean, others—like fish—too easily turn away.

Net cleaning requires time and effort. Who of us wants to drag along all the debris of our past sins or our present bad habits? The effects of unconfessed sin or unmet needs can cause a huge weight on our soul—such as resentment, anger, and hopelessness.

Lord, thank You for Your healing love and righteousness—the power washers we need for cleaning. We want to be fishers of men, drawing others to Your saving grace as Your love shines through us. In Jesus’ name, amen.