Tuesday, April 26, 2016


We know how easy it is to want comfort in all of our everyday situations. Rather, may we desire the comfort of His Word and presence in even the worst of situations, those considered uncomfortable by worldly standards.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             by Sally Bair

Our comfort zone

Wild animals are not couch potatoes. They may look comfortable when lying still in their chosen nest, but they know it’s only for a time. After a needed rest, they must get up and search for their next meal.

We humans usually know enough to get up after a night’s sleep or nap so we can go back to work, school, or whatever task calls to us. At least we should know enough. Sometimes we don’t. A couch potato life can be tempting. No worries, no discomfort, no hardships. However, no progress in bettering our lives, either.

Living an existence of ease threatens our progress much more than does hardship. But leaving our comfort zone may not be easy. Not knowing what lies ahead can cause anxiety and fear at the thought of losing our sense of security. We may ask: Am I really qualified for that job? Will I be able to find my way? Will someone hurt me … reject me … ignore me?

The trouble with staying in our comfort zone is that we rob ourselves of wonderful, unexpected blessings and memories. We rob ourselves of meeting new people, learning new skills and finding new ways to enjoy life.

Abraham must have been comfortable living with his family in Ur of the Chaldeans. The city was believed to be located beside the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, an area of lush abundance. Who wouldn’t like to live forever in a place of natural beauty, a place where nature provided everything one might desire?

Abraham could have stayed in Ur. But being a God-fearing man, he listened when God spoke. “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-2)

Abraham was seventy-five years old and comfortable within his extended family unit. He could have refused God’s command because of possible hardships that might appear on his long journey. His uncharted trip could have been hot, miserable, long and fraught with dangers on all sides. The threat of wild animals, desolation and lack of food or water would stop many of us in our tracks.

But Abraham, believing God’s promise, felt compelled to obey God despite probable discomfort ahead and despite lack of a plan. His risk was great; his rewards greater. Ours can be, too.

Lord, thank You for promising blessings from obedience. Reveal to us any comfort zones that keep us from following You, even through unknown territory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


For His sake we can choose to be like the laborers Paul mentions in his letter to Timothy, his fellow worker in bringing the Gospel to others.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES         by Sally Bair

Called to be …

With the snow gone, farmers and gardeners are working their fields for planting. Their days are long as they strain toward a fruitful harvest.

Farmers aren’t the only ones consistent in meeting their goals. The apostle Paul used several metaphors—imaginative phrases that stand for something else—in his letters to Timothy on how Christians should live. After Paul left for other mission fields and was ultimately imprisoned, he wrote two letters to Timothy, a helper in Paul’s work, to encourage him in his faith and his ministry to the new believers.

His metaphor about a farmer shows how conscientious, hard labor is necessary before a farmer can enjoy a bountiful harvest. Laziness must not be a trait of faithful Christians. “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:6)

Another metaphor Paul used is that of a soldier. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4) The Christian walk is often presented as spiritual warfare. Effective service calls for singleness of purpose as we respond to orders from our commanding officer.

Paul also spoke of athletes, who must endure strict training to win a prize. He wrote that a Christian must be like an athlete, “… not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5) In Paul’s day, the Greek games were important. A competitor had to follow the rules to win a victor’s wreath. Like athletes, Christians will receive a victor’s crown, too, when their spiritual race is conducted within the directives of biblical faith and doctrine.

Laborers, too, must work hard toward their goal of providing for themselves and their families. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Finally, Paul reminds Timothy that Christians must take care to keep themselves pure, like valuable vessels. “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay … if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2: 20-21)

These metaphors are as worthy of our meditation as they were for Timothy. Whether we fit into one category or another, we can learn and be inspired by them.

Lord, thank You for showing us in imaginative ways how to better serve You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


We don’t want to have a build-up of smudges on our Christian witness and our relationship with Christ. He wants us spotless so His light can shine through us, just like on lighthouse glass, which must shine so ships can find their way.


Free of smudges

After my great-grandfather and his wife were married during the Civil War, they were lighthouse keepers for a year on one of the Raspberry Islands off the coast of Maine. Every keeper's most important duty was to make sure the windows remained clear so ships could see the light shining through them. During their tenure, my great-grandparents also had to watch for enemy ships.

Back then, the light was fueled by whale oil or other kinds of oil. The burning oil caused a build-up of soot and smudge on the glass prisms and on the windows surrounding the lantern room. Later, kerosene was used—a much cleaner fuel, but not so clean as to eliminate the daily chore of cleaning the glass.

The prism/window-cleaning task was ultra-important. In fact, all keepers' manuals demanded that absolutely nothing should hinder the diligent cleaning of the glass. The light had to shine through—regardless. In case of illness, accident, or even death, a keeper's wife or assistant must take over that duty.

Followers of Christ are like lighthouse keepers. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:14-16: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."

As lights of the world, we need to keep our lives free from the dirty smudges of sin that hinder us from shining brightly for Christ. That's not an easy task. It takes daily confession and repentance to remove the smudges. And as with lighthouse keepers, it requires diligence and perseverance. Nothing should keep us from being the bright light God requires of us, a light that will draw others to Him. He wants us to show His love constantly, doing good while praising and thanking Him even in the midst of adversity. When we take our lighthouse keeping job seriously, we will be blessed with God's peace and joy.

Lord, forgive us when we forget to clean up the smudges of our spiritual light. We want to shine brightly for You so others will see You reflected in us. Cause us to take our lighthouse keeping task seriously each morning as we seek Your specific will. In Jesus' name, amen.

Monday, April 4, 2016


Our world is filled with distracting noises, so much so that we often miss hearing God’s voice. Isaiah 30:15 says: “In quietness and confidence is your strength.” We do well to find quiet places.

Eternal Perspective      by Sally Bair


One night while camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), the air was so warm, we slept outside our tents. The skies treated us to a special sight of stars—big and small—from one end to the other. Dozens of stars burst through the darkness, shooting across the sky like bullets.

The experience reminded me of a Bible verse. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)

God declares—makes known—His glory through His creation. He spoke to Moses in a burning bush. He got Saul’s attention through a blinding light while he walked the Damascus road. He spoke to Bethlehem shepherds through angels. The Bible is filled with other unexplainable, visual ways God spoke to His people.

Even today He speaks to many of us in such supernatural ways as visions and dreams. Reports say that nonbelievers who have never heard the name of Jesus, have seen and heard God in a dream. How many have experienced strange “coincidences” that likely were God’s way of speaking to them? And wherever we turn, we hear of people who have been supernaturally healed.

When God wants our attention, He even uses our circumstances or the words of authority figures such as pastors, parents, or bosses to tell us what we don’t, but know we should, want to do. Such “unspiritual” ways may seem that God isn’t speaking. But God uses whomever He needs to turn us toward Him.

The most common way God speaks to us is through His Word. A person told me once that since she had read the Bible through one time, she quit reading. However, life changes and so do the messages we receive when we reread the Word of God. Daily we need to learn fresh words from His Word that will inspire, encourage, and strengthen us for a new task. “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 3:16-17)

Has God spoken to you lately? In what way? How have you responded?

Lord, thank You for speaking to us in ways that draw our attention to You. Open our ears to hear what You want us to hear. Use whatever means You want, whether through creation’s wonders, dreams or visions, the advice of others, or everyday circumstances. We want to hear Your voice. In Jesus’ name, amen.