Thursday, November 26, 2015



Born to run

In 2005 my daughter, husband, three of their children and I drove to Alaska. Her one teenaged son wanted a Malamute puppy so on our way home we stopped at a farm to buy one. They were so cute, we ended up buying four. Imagine the challenge we had traveling in our pickup camper, six of us plus four pups!

Every time we stopped—as we did frequently, with three kids and lots of great scenery—my two grandsons opened the back door of the camper to let the pups out. It seemed all they did was run. Malamutes are born to run. Our pups followed in single-file as one grandson or the other led them along the trails and among the trees or tundra bushes. We could almost see smiles on the faces of those pups as they ran, as if in a race.

 Christian life is like a race, too. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, wrote about running the race for Christ. The city of Corinth was the site of athletic games similar to the Olympics. Their competitions always ended with an endurance race, for which there would be only one winner. Paul uses that as a comparison as he writes: “Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:16)

 Hebrews 12:1 also says: “… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith ….”

In order to be a champion of a sport, it takes dedication to succeed at all costs. Dedication means being exclusively given over to a particular purpose. Single-minded in our desire to win.

Athletes also need a clearly defined goal and must be continually discipline. They set goals such as running so many miles each day or working out so many hours a week.

Paul is an ideal model for Christians who strive to become champions for Christ. With the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, we too can dedicate ourselves to succeed in our faith. With His help, we too can set goals and use the needed discipline to use the gifts He has given us for His glory.

Lord, thank You for Your power and presence that helps us run our race of faith toward the imperishable crown of eternal life with You. Like those Malamute pups, help us run with joy and single-mindedness. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Heart, soul, mind, strength

When I watch a deer or bear interact with its young, I know it’s putting everything possible into the situation. It may be showing affection or teaching them how to get food or how to obey.

When we interact with our loved ones, we too put everything into the encounter. We want to show them how much we care, how much we want the best for them. As the popular saying goes, we “put our whole heart and soul” into them.

God wants that type of relationship with us. When one of the religious leaders asked Jesus which commandment was the first, Jesus replied, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

What does it mean to love God with all our heart, the core of our very being? It means we love Him from the depths of our being, more than our life. This is a tall order. But when we are upright and true-hearted rather than divided in our affections, our relationship with God will not suffer.

Our soul is our emotional nature. We love God with our whole soul when we love with warmth and feelings of closeness. We cry with those who hurt, we laugh with those who are happy.

How can we love God with our mind—our intellectual nature? By interacting with Him in prayer, study and meditation, we show Him how much we love Him.

Is it possible to love God with all our strength? Not muscle strength but strength of character, the willingness to do what He asks and be who He wants us to be.

When we love Him intensely, to the utmost degree with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength, we prove our love for Him. Then He makes it possible for us to love others—the second greatest command—in the same way.

Lord, thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Son, Jesus to die for us. Cause us to put everything possible into our love for You so we can love others in the same way, as You have commanded. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Monday, November 9, 2015


Success differs in meaning for people. In fact, it may vary from day to day and experience to experience. When I finished sewing my first quilt, I felt great success. Satisfaction in a work well done spells success. But our earthly successes are nothing compared to our spiritual ones. Knowing we’re walking in God’s will, for instance, rates high in the success category. Leading a non-believer to Christ is another. So is sharing a prayer for healing at someone’s bedside. May God bless you with success today.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

Great success

Like many pioneers, my grandparents worked hard to make their North Dakota ranch a success. Grandpa broke centuries-old sod day after hot day before he could plant, cultivate and harvest his new crops. Grandma carried water year-round for drinking, laundering by hand, bathing and cooking. They raised four girls in a tiny log house, taught them the basics for their future housekeeping and, by example, showed them how to be God-fearing citizens.

Back then, their successes came slowly. But they did come. Some years they enjoyed good harvests. They survived diseases that took the lives of many others. They expanded their land holdings. Eventually they were able to build a two-story, frame house.

Success and prosperity mean different things for different people. Some find it in the accumulation of money. Others seek it in popularity, position or education. Regardless what we strive for, we all set goals and then work hard to achieve success. As a pioneer planned to plant twenty more acres of oats the next year, we may plan to save twenty dollars a month for a child’s music lessons.

Success always comes at a price. Sod-busting back aches, poverty-causing stress and initial failures either tempt us to give up or to work even harder. God would have us look to Him for the strength and courage to succeed. When Joshua took over the herculean task of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land after Moses died, imagine the fear and sense of helplessness he must have felt. But God made him a promise.

“This Book of the Law [the first five books of the Old Testament] shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9) 

These verses might compare to the Gospel. Obey and be blessed. Persevere and prosper. The biblical meaning of prosper means much more than mere financial success. It means spiritual well-being. Many who are poor in earthly possessions find their rich success in God’s joy and peace.

Lord, thank You for Your promise of prosperity and success of spirit. Guide us as we follow Your will to meditate in Your Word daily and to observe what it teaches. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Let’s face it; we can’t get along without each other. Community is necessary for us to thrive in our Christian lives. We need each other! More so, we need God. He wants us to be His friend. In fact, He calls us His friend. Check it out in John 15.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

A two-way experience

Have you ever watched a mama animal with her baby? She stays as close as possible for the sake of safety, warmth, food and training. The parents also spend time playing with their young. We humans do the same.

My husband wrestled with the grandsons. Valuable lessons came from those fun times together. They learned social skills, became physically stronger and bonded with their grandpa. The fact that he took time to listen and play with them brought great respect and love on their part. They sought him out to ask questions, share their thoughts and problems and be near enough to touch him.

God our Father wants us to spend time with Him, too. Ever since He created Adam and Eve, He has desired companionship with His created people. He takes joy in meeting with us. Being a loving Father, He doesn’t strong-arm us into spending time with Him. We can choose to seek Him out through His Word and prayer. Why wouldn’t we? To experience His presence, His comfort and His guidance is to bring blessing upon blessing on our lives. For one thing, when we ask, He will renew our physical, mental and emotional energy. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)

God never fails to meet us when we seek Him. The trouble is, we often allow distractions to get in our way of spending time with Him. Anything worth learning requires discipline. And discipline must work together with love. God loves us so much He took our sins upon Himself and died that we might live right lives with Him, as Adam and Eve did originally. When we love Him in return by spending time each day with Him, it brings great joy to Him—just as it does with the parent of any child.

The challenge is to make time for Him, which may take some planning. Paul uses the analogy of a marathon runner training for a race. “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.” (1 Corinthians 9:25) The word temperate refers to strict training, the power of self-control. Ouch! We don’t like to hear that word, do we? But like marathon runners who train to win, we too can win the prize of eternal life with God—now and forever—as we face life’s challenges.

Lord, thank You for being available at all times, in all circumstances. Through Your powerful Spirit, give us the self-control to plan for and use daily time to spend with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.