Seeing through Trees

June 20, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Paralleling my mother’s apartment is a thick stand of trees. Summer grows an impenetrable green. Autumn drops the leaves to uncover winter skeletons of branches through which I see all houses on the other side. Spring buds restart the cycle.

The cycle helps me overcome temptation. Through the sameness of daily life and annual events, I’m tempted to feel a sense of permanence, as if the people I know will always be there and the things I do, I will continue to do. But behind the appearance of sameness lurks an ending. Always.

Children feel as if their parents will always be there to watch over them. Adults feel as if they’ll go to work at the same place for eternity. Meeting relatives or old friends feels as if they’ll always be there next season, and that I will too. For thousands of years people have probably felt the same way. But there always lurks an ending.

Most of us prefer permanence and sameness to change. We like familiar, predictable, and comfortable. But permanence and sameness are temporary, even illusory. So I’ve started to resist that sense of permanence, the feeling of sameness. To do so, I must willfully embrace change and accept that no one and nothing will be around forever.

And when I do that, I live better.

A sense of permanence and sameness lulls a person into a daze that can cloud life for decades. Change and the cycles of life are often challenging or agonizing. But embracing change—as Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything”—prepares us for the difficulties.

And that wakes us up to live more fully here and now. Our hearts embrace and our minds understand God’s hand in life.

And our eyes just might discover our path into eternity.

PRAYER: “Father, open my eyes to see through the things in my life that seem so permanent, so the same. Enable me to see beyond them, where You will take me. I trust You to enable me to face whatever I must.”

BIBLE VERSE: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NIV).

Do You Have a Growth Commitment?

June 15, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

I often ask people how long their New Year’s resolutions last. Typically they seem to crash and burn sometime by the end of January. So life goes on as it did before.

Positive change must be addressed every day. It happens not by achievement but by habit.

I encourage people to chuck resolutions in favor of what I call “growth commitments” that I establish for each year. I’ve done annual growth commitments since 1986 that have led to major growth and changes in my life, which also makes my wife happy.

Think primarily in terms of personal character growth, not just paying off a credit card or losing weight. Those are fine, but if you relate them to deeper issues of character growth, you’ll go much deeper with the whole commitment and attain more overall results than you would otherwise. Go ahead and have other goals. But if you keep the growth commitment to one main thing, simply expressed, you will do well.

Two keys make it work: 1—Keep it simple and short, then write it on a on a small piece of paper (or PDA), and put it where you’ll see it daily, like on a mirror, in a wallet, as a bookmark, or whatever works for you. 2—Pray it, incorporate it into time you (hopefully) spend with God each day. And do it all year long. When you write it down and keep it where you’ll always see it, you enable yourself to consistently pray it.

Doing this accomplishes two other things: You bring God’s response into it, and you reorient your own thinking around the commitment. Change your thinking and you’ll change your behavior—especially if you seek God’s blessing each day.

What would your 2013 growth commitment be?

“Lord, my life is in Your hands. In this coming year mold me into your image and grow me beyond who I am now….”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).

A Giant has Died

May 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

Steve Jobs revolutionized computer use so totally and pervasively that he changed the world. And all before his mid fifties. I lose my breath just thinking about the man’s prowess and accomplishments. And I write this on an iMac. I feel almost a personal loss.

He clawed his way up, was knocked down, and came back stronger. People with this combination of genius, creative innovation, and relentless pursuit come along once in a generation.

Given all that, I’m deeply thoughtful at his early death and what it means. He was the creative computing titan. He had all the money one could imagine; he had all the technology one could imagine. But neither could save him.

This leader and changer of the world was felled by cancer in his pancreas that couldn’t be fixed or upgraded. Before his diagnosis he didn’t even know what a pancreas did. I didn’t either.

I think of how little I’ve accomplished by comparison. I know I’ve done a lot that has eternal value—and that’s what God looks at, so I rejoice. Still it’s hard not to feel small, but that’s okay. Yet I have one thing that Jobs didn’t. One thing that all the money and technology in the world couldn’t buy for him or me: good health.

What a gift to have a healthy body. And I see so many people not taking care of the only one they have. Jobs would have given anything to be healed, yet he didn’t seem to have faith or anyone to pray with him.

So I’m left with the gravity of it all. And I think:

Be thankful for the gift others are to us—they could soon be
taken.

We are fragile, frighteningly fragile.

Whatever we accomplish or don’t accomplish, make sure to be in God’s hands.

PRAYER: “Lord, I sometimes feel so small, and at times I wonder what my life is, or has been, worth. In truth I am more fragile than I am aware; others have been taken from me, and someday I will be taken. Lead me to live each day in Your hands. . . .”

BIBLE VERSE: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’S love is with those who fear him.”(Psalm 103:15–17 NIV).

A Different Kind of Christmas

By Peter Lundell –

On my first Christmas back in the U.S.A. after years of being a missionary in Japan, I got so absorbed into the warm, fuzzy feelings of carols, activities, and atmosphere that even after the new year, I was lost in a daze of holiday bliss, and I had become almost useless for anything else. After I snapped out of it, I toned myself down to simply enjoy Christmas.

As years passed, I grew increasingly tired of activities and expectations: buy gifts, practice for the Christmas pageant, write the annual family info letter/card/whatever was less work, buy more gifts, prepare for guests, clean up after guests, drop dead. By December 26th, I was just glad to be done with the Christmas hassle.

In that Grinch-minded time, I realized that tragedies at home and around the world never took a day off. They cruelly invaded life anywhere, anytime, even on the holidays.

So why did Jesus come in the first place? I doubt it was for parties, presents, and programs. One of my favorite verses for Christmas is 1 John 3:8: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Spiritual warfare! Not very warm and fuzzy. And while Jesus walked around on earth, His mission was to “preach good news to the poor,” and to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:8).

In God’s eyes, Jesus’ coming—and thus Christmas—is less about holiday cheer and more about relieving oppression and overcoming spiritual darkness. We see that good work happening through believers, especially the church, when we rise to be what we’re meant to be.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, this year, and in the years to come, I will celebrate Your incarnation by doing more of what You did and called me to do—and less of what the hyperactive, self-centered, money-and entertainment-obsessed world around me does. As I do,
I will have joy and purpose in the season in ways I never have before.

BIBLE VERSE: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8, NIV).

A Giant has Died

April 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

Steve Jobs revolutionized computer use so totally and pervasively that he changed the world. And all before his mid fifties. I lose my breath just thinking about the man’s prowess and accomplishments. And I write this on an iMac. I feel almost a personal loss.

He clawed his way up, was knocked down, and came back stronger. People with this combination of genius, creative innovation, and
relentless pursuit come along once in a generation.

Given all that, I’m deeply thoughtful at his early death and what it means. He was the creative computing titan. He had all the money one could imagine; he had all the technology one could imagine. But neither could
save him.

This leader and changer of the world was felled by cancer in his pancreas that couldn’t be fixed or upgraded. Before his diagnosis he didn’t even know what a pancreas did. I didn’t either.

I think of how little I’ve accomplished by comparison. I know I’ve done a lot that has eternal value—and that’s what God looks at, so I rejoice. Still it’s hard not to feel small, but that’s okay. Yet I have one thing that Jobs didn’t. One thing that all the money and technology in the world couldn’t buy for him or me: good health.

What a gift to have a healthy body. And I see so many people not taking care of the only one they have. Jobs would have given anything to be healed, yet he didn’t seem to have faith or anyone to pray with him.

So I’m left with the gravity of it all. And I think:

Be thankful for the gift others are to us—they could soon be
taken.

We are fragile, frighteningly fragile.

Whatever we accomplish or don’t accomplish, make sure to be in
God’s hands.

PRAYER: “Lord, I sometimes feel so small, and at times I wonder what my life is, or has been, worth. In truth I am more fragile than I am aware; others have been taken from me, and someday I will be taken. Lead me
to live each day in Your hands. . . .”

BIBLE VERSE: “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’S love is with those who fear him.”(Psalm 103:15–17 NIV).

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