Tuesday, July 28, 2015


No wonder some people go to therapists, because most therapists listen without interrupting. When we experience people interrupting our words, we might look within ourselves for the same habit. God is a good listener and we need to be, also. Listening shows love, humility, and grace.


Me and my big mouth

I’m not proud. At least I tell myself that. Trouble is, as soon as I do, I find myself saying something prideful. I can’t seem to win. My egotism is as hard to shake off as a cat clinging to my back.

The sense of self-importance exhibits itself in many forms. I recently related a weather incident to several of my friends. All but one interrupted my story, eager to share their own. By the time they finished, I had forgotten where I had left off. Trouble is, I’m also guilty of interrupting.

One of the biggest symptoms of pride is talking too much about ourselves. Let’s face it, it’s in our nature to want others to know us better, empathize or sympathize with us, hear us out.
And if we fit the “normal” mode, we tell others we’re proud of our kids. Proud of our accomplishments. Proud of the way we look. I’ve noticed that some children who have no siblings develop an inflated ego, often without realizing it. And with today’s selfie culture, egocentrism has magnified. Self is in, humility is out.

False humility exists, too. The desire to appear humble—when we say, “Oh, it was nothing,” rather than “thank you for the compliment”—is as much a symptom of pride as bragging.

We can exhibit pride in other ways, too. Caring too much about what people think about us, avoiding apology for what we’ve said or done, and the related symptom of refusing to forgive. Even fighting against change and unwilling to learn new information is a sign of pride.

Another typical sign of egotism is the desire to correct others. I’m guilty as charged, by the standard of God’s Word. Who am I that I should judge another? God tells us to love ourselves, yes. He also says we must love our neighbor as ourselves. Doing so is a sign of true humility.

Jesus taught that we should not judge others. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

Lord, thank You for giving us a sense of self-value. Help us to be God-centered instead of self-centered so we will glorify You rather than ourselves. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Summertime means lots of vehicles clogging the highways. With baby animals out and about, the danger of hitting something or someone multiplies. Alert awareness is key to avoiding accidents. The same applies spiritually. Lord, keep our focus on You only as we travel Your path through life.


On the road

Traveling the highways and byways can be dangerous. My sister met a moose while walking on a wood-lined path on Isle Royale. She hid behind a tree until it became safe to go on. Recently my car brakes squealed as I stopped to avoid a doe and her twin fawns crossing the road. On the same day, I also had to let a wild turkey cross. Once in Minneapolis, I watched traffic halt in both directions while a Canada goose led her large family of goslings, tiny yellow fluff balls, across the four-lane highway.

We face obstacles while traveling life’s road as Christians, too. If we’re speeding, trying to accomplish too many tasks at one time, we may find ourselves crashing against a solid wall of anxiety, disappointment, or frustration. Sauntering down God’s path with our minds in the clouds of the past can bring us up short with feelings of sadness, guilt, hopelessness, or anger. Sometimes events not of our doing, such as a family death, a natural disaster, or a criminal act, can rock our world like an earthquake.

No matter what road we travel, at times it seems prudent to hide from the obstacles we face, as my sister did. Yet we know we can’t stay hidden forever. And we need to choose our hiding place. God provides shelter from any problem we face. “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge.” (Psalm 91:4) And Psalm 32:7 says: “You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble …”

We also need to have our spiritual brakes in good working order. Preparation and planning are necessary for facing sudden obstacles and temptations. What Christian can deal with temptations without awareness? The Bible offers a way to overcome them. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)

Lord, thank You for providing us with a way of escape. As we travel Your eternal road, give us strength to overcome all obstacles that hinder us from following Your path. In Jesus’ name, amen.          

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


My neighbor’s garden, of which I am “caretaker,” is offering an abundant crop of raspberries, one of my favorite fruits. Red, juicy, succulent—they make my mouth happy as a pup with a bone.


A feast of goodness

I’m hungry!” I shouted after a long day at school. What’s a mother to do but feed her “starving” teenager? As soon as she heard the school bus, she cringed, knowing I would practically inhale one of her freshly-baked loaves of bread. Mom’s supply of oranges in the fridge also dwindled about as fast as our barn cats’ bowl of fresh milk. No matter that supper came in just two hours, Mom knew I would deplete that meal as fast as my after-school snack.

Food is taken not only to fill our stomachs, but as a way to interact and relax with others. We enjoy a good meal or snack while visiting, while watching a movie, even while holding a formal meeting. Certain foods become part of our traditions. Think Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas Eve buffet, or an after-church Easter meal of ham or lamb. The best meals, of course, include all the essentials needed for healthy physical growth—protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and some fat.

We know that good food, and its presentation, also contributes to our emotional and mental health. Wise parents insist their children be present at dinner when possible, allow no arguing during a meal, and forbid the use of cell phones and other techno devices at the table. This results in relaxation, emotional closeness, respect, and enjoyment.

We can compare God’s Word with food. Full of needed spiritual nourishment, it has many benefits. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16) The Bible also tells us that it is “living and powerful.” (Hebrews 4:12) It penetrates as with a double-edged sword to the innermost parts of us and is able to discern our thoughts and intentions. Many skeptics and atheists have read the Word in an effort to prove its errors and have been drawn to Christ’s salvation during their study.

 David wrote that God’s Word is “sweeter than honey.” (Psalm 119:103) It provides moral and spiritual light, convicts us when we sin, encourages us when we falter, promises peace when we’re anxious, and inspires faith. Whether we’re spiritual babes, teenagers, or mature believers, His Word offers a veritable feast of goodness.

Lord, thank You for Your life-giving, life-sustaining Word. May we always hunger for it, knowing we will be filled. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Monday, July 6, 2015


The list is endless. Temptations  can be big and evil, such as murder, adultery, or lying. They also can be small and inconsequential—at least in society’s view—such as doubt, gossip, and overeating. Regardless, our best defense is the Word of God. His Word is holy, powerful, and dependable. Let’s use it with boldness.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

Our best defense

When people are desperate enough, they’ll do almost anything to survive. The pioneering Donner and Reed families, for instance, resorted to cannibalism in order to survive starvation while they were stranded without food for weeks in the snow-choked California Sierras.

Sadly, we often think we’re desperate, so we resort to actions we shouldn’t. The Old Testament tells of Jacob’s brother, Esau, who came home hungry enough to trade his valuable birthright—the right to claim his father’s inheritance—for a bowl of soup.

How easily we yield to temptation because we take our eyes off a more worthy prize. Think about Jesus when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness prior to His ministry. After eating no food for 40 days, He naturally grew hungry. He could have commanded the stones under His feet to become bread, as the devil tried to persuade Him to do. Instead, He used God’s words to counter the temptation. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

When tempted to lay claim to and prove His authority by jumping off a cliff so angels would rescue Him, Jesus refused, again by using His Father’s Words. The devil’s third temptation appealed to man’s perceived need for things. Imagine Jesus, creator and owner of everything with His Father, aware of having been stripped of life’s comforts and possessions. Yet again, He fought the temptation. Rather than giving into the devil’s request to worship him, for the sake of regaining all He’d lost, Jesus quoted Scripture.

“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:10)

We can be mindful each day of Jesus’ example of using God’s powerful Word against any temptation we face. Whether we’re hungry, lonely, disappointed, in distress or bondage, we don’t have to give into or resort to the devil’s temptations. His answers will always, always leave us short-changed and wanting something better. And God promises us something better in the form of righteousness—right standing with Him—and the undisputed peace and joy that come from it. Nothing can top that.

What is your defense against any temptations you face? Let’s follow Jesus’ example and use the powerful Word of God, with which we can overcome every one of them.

Lord, thank You for Your Word which strengthens us against temptation. Give us the wisdom, will, and perseverance to use it in every situation. In Jesus’ name, amen.