Playing with Pythons

July 4, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

My parents were missionaries in Tanzania. When I was about four years old, I was playing with a bunch of older kids on a row of oil drums that stood beside a garage. In the shade between the drums and the wall stretched an animal I’d never seen before. It was long and curvy, coming toward me.

I pointed and told the other kids, but they all screamed and ran away. I scoffed at them. I was fascinated at how the animal was so big and long. I reached down to pet it. It raised and cocked back its head. I thought it wanted to be petted the way my dogs did.

The screen door slammed, my mother screamed and dashed toward me. She yanked me off those drums so frantically I thought my shoulder would separate. Some men trapped the python, and I can still see my father crushing it with a weathered 4×4.

Recently I got to hold a python like the one I’d tried to pet when I was four (except this one was tame and had a full stomach—thank you, Paula!). Paula told me that when a python rears its head like the one I tried to pet, it’s ready to strike. It would have seized me, pulled me down, and coiled around me. No human being could have pulled it off or saved me in time. Until now I never realized I had been seconds from death.

How many times in life have you naively played with danger? It can come in any form. I wonder if we often fear things we shouldn’t and don’t fear things we should. Think about that and how many ways it applies.

To take the idea further, spiritual dangers surround us as well, most of them disguised. Have you experienced your heavenly Father crushing evil that may have harmed you?

PRAYER: Father, in my foolishness I have sometimes played with danger—and with evil. Thank you for Your protection. May I always carry in me the mind of Christ so that I will act faithfully in the face of danger and of evil.

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV).

Mountain on Fire

June 23, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Peter Lundell –

Colorado mountain on fire. High winds blow it into conflagration. Firefighters come from across the country. Thirty-two thousand residents evacuate. Panicked people drive on the wrong side of the road. Cell phone networks jam. People in safety still feel panicked. Others repeat the word “nightmare.”

The raging power of the flames roars through the forested slopes, eating animals, homes, ranches, anything in the way of its jaws. The sky bloats with white smoke, black smoke, brown smoke, a mile high and as far as one can see. It then descends across the entire city of Colorado Springs and beyond. Like an alien invasion. It is the worst fire in the state’s history.

Life goes on with us in the rest of the city, but unease lines people’s thoughts. The feelings of collective loss and the taunting sense of helplessness lie heavy.

Perhaps at some time your life has been brutally interrupted as well. Natural disasters hit cities. But more often cancer, debilitating illness, divorce, or losing a job hit individuals. These afflictions come like raging flames roaring through our lives, eating bodies, relationships, or the worlds we’ve so carefully built for ourselves.

Despite insurance, diligence, and all the cautions we may take, we are still fragile, still vulnerable. When we’re hit, life still goes on. And we may feel very alone. But we’re not.
And we’re never without hope. We mainly need to see right. My friend Cec lost his home and son-in-law in a fire several years ago. And what he said will forever stay with me: “I’m in God’s hands. I was in God’s hands before the fire. And I’m in God’s hands after the fire.” Think about what that means.

Be ready for anything that may happen to you: Are you in God’s hands?

PRAYER: Lord, no matter what I go through, I am in Your hands. My family is in Your hands. My job is in Your hands. All I have is in Your hands. All my failures and successes, fears and hopes are in your hands. . . .

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3 NIV).

Too Intense

June 8, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Humorous

By Peter Lundell –

Minneapolis Airport. In front of restrooms. A man walked by talking intensely on his cell phone. Some kind of processor reacted differently at higher temperatures. Really important stuff. The man was intense.

So intense that he marched right into the women’s restroom.

My jaw dropped, along with the jaw of another guy who was watching. “Did he just . . . ?”

“Yeah, he did.”

A lady walked out. No guy. Another lady, straight-faced as the first. Were they as obliviously focused on themselves as he was on his conversation?

Finally the guy came out. Still on the phone! My jaw dropped again.

He skulked around the corner of a service entry and appeared to hide, probably embarrassed. At least I hadn’t heard any screams. We continued to gawk as I imagined it wouldn’t have gone very well for him to admit during such a serious business call that he’d just walked into the Ladies’ room. I briefly meditated on that thought.

I saw a sharp contrast: On one hand, we can get so serious about ourselves and what we think is important. On the other hand, we can do mindlessly dumb things in the process.

Have you ever done something dumb, or made a bad decision, or hurt someone because you took yourself and what you were doing too seriously?

I’m all for striving and achieving, but not at the expense of family, or faith, or fully living. Try this: If you’re in danger of getting so focused on yourself or your own interests that you lose sight of things and people around you, ask yourself this question:

“What is God’s perspective on what I’m doing?”

PRAYER: Lord, work in me a heart of wisdom that I would live each day with Your perspective. May I see as You see, and may I think and act as You would have me.

“The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. . . .Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:10, 12 NIV).

The Father’s Heart

May 7, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Peter Lundell –

Our dog recently ran away. My daughter and I love Angel, our little Yorkie, as if she were our baby. So we were grief-stricken when we could not find her.

I prayed and prayed she would be found and returned. Then the call came!

When we went to the house and the person brought Angel to us, I felt overwhelmed with joy.
But Angel was more interested in the owner’s dogs. When I held her, she seemed to think nothing of it, as if simply going home after a day’s adventure. She was oblivious to what she had done, how troubled we were, and how happy we were to get her back.

She couldn’t understand; she’s a dog.

Then it struck me. So many of us are like her. Even I have been like her.

Countless people, including you and me, have been separated from God—and thought nothing of it. We couldn’t understand. We’re human, not God. We’re as oblivious as Angel the dog.

And all the while God aches for his lost ones to come to him.

I could feel the Father’s heart as Jesus expressed in Luke 15 with the parables of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. The Father searches for the one lost, longing for return. And when the lost one is found, God, the angels, and those in heaven rejoice over every person who comes to faith.

When we get right with God, we might say a prayer and feel good. But like the dog, we have little idea of the immensity of what’s happened or how heaven rejoices over us.

If I could feel strongly about a four-legged animal, imagine how the Creator and Lover of our Souls feels about us. It overwhelms me.

May you also be overwhelmed at feeling God’s heart.

PRAYER: “My heavenly Father, I have caused You both grieving and rejoicing. May I feel Your heart, how You’ve grieved over me when I’ve gone astray and how You’ve rejoiced over me when I’ve come into Your arms.”

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20–23 NIV).

Seeing Beyond Sight

April 26, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Personal Growth

By Peter Lundell –

How can you see better after going blind?

Janet Perez Eckles has. She’s one of the most cheerful and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met. I got to know her at a writer’s conference, and afterward I waited with her at the airport until her husband came. Were they ever in love! She’s a constant inspiration.

At age 31 Janet lost her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa, a hereditary disease that deteriorates the retina.

“I used to be a run-of-the-mill chica,” she says. “After going blind, I’ve gained insight about life, depth as a person, and I’m living with purpose.”

She’s obviously not glad she went blind, but through her faith in Christ, she has learned to see life better now than she did when she had physical sight. She naturally went through a period of despair and struggle. But she didn’t stay there. She knew she had to make a decision about how she would live. This is her key: “I’m able to find joy in the darkness.”

Where Janet lacks physical sight, she’s learned to discern unseen things more than most of us who see. She puts it this way, “I’ve learned to see beyond eyesight. God showed me that my blindness is a tool in his hands to show me how to help others see the best in life.”

She writes books and travels nationally and internationally as an inspirational speaker—alone with her cane. And she doesn’t seem to have time or interest to think about her handicap, because she’s so concerned about other people.

We all make choices about what we see and believe. Those choices determine everything else in our lives. What choices have you made—or could you make—to take a bad thing and grow something good?

PRAYER: Lord, take me beyond complaining about the bad things in my life. Whatever my personality may be, and I may not be like Janet, but I can turn to you and rise up and choose to see troubles differently. Open my eyes to do that. Lead me to take what is bad and from it grow something good, something wonderful.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).

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