By Cheri Cowell –
Have you ever participated in a three-legged race? A rope or bandanna ties the left ankle of one person to the right ankle of his or her partner. The two are to then run as one person from the starting line, usually crossing over a finish line or around an obstacle and back again. Running a three-legged race is difficult unless you know the secret.
Our peace making efforts will be in vain if we try to obtain peace through our own efforts (following all the rules), through group affiliation (church membership), or national identity (American, Canadian, or Western). For when we give our lives to Christ, we become one not only with Him, but also with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are in this three-legged race together and will only cross the finish line to win the peace if we pull in the same direction. That is the secret. You, the Holy Spirit, and others are in this race together. Are you pulling as one?
“You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way” (Ephesians 4:3 NCV).
Prayer: I admit that sometimes I pull in my own direction. Help me to pull together with You, Lord, along with my brothers and sisters so we can cross the finish line together.
By Anne C. Johnson –
I sat in the lobby of our motel in Estes Park Colorado. The view of the mountains was glorious. I couldn’t believe this was the last day of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference I had been attending. For three days, I led a group of conferees in an early morning devotional. However, this morning I had a strange butterfly feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t nervous, rather, unsure. I didn’t think the topic I had prepared to share about was correct. I asked my thirteen-year-old daughter, Moriah, and my nine-year-old son, Christopher, to pray for me.
Twelve conferees found their seats in the lobby and after a moment of greetings, we prayed. One of my cherished friends, adopted Grandma Louise, began praying. I offered my own silent prayer.
“Amen.” As my mouth repeated the words, my mind went blank. Help me Father, I don’t know what you want me to share.
During the week I explained how J.O.Y. ought to be a Christian’s perspective in life. “J” stands for the journey we all take; the good and the bad. “O” stands for an optimistic outlook, because as a Christian, we are Heaven Bound. So no matter what happens in life we should look ahead eagerly. “Y” stands simply for “Yes.” We are to say, “Yes, God. Your way and not mine.”
I stared at those gathered around me. My tongue felt weighted down as if stuck in a pair of cement galoshes. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my son’s hand raise into the air. Oh boy. I don’t needs this. I can’t even focus on what to say, and now this.
The butterfly feeling returned, and a wave of reassurance washed over me. “Yes, Christopher,” I said.
“Well,” he began, “I was just thinking how our Christian life is like rock climbing on a steep mountain cliff.”
“How so?” I asked. All eyes turned toward him as I watched in awe as God used my son to convey the morning’s message.
“When you start climbing, you have a harness and rope on that give you a sense of security. But in fact, these things are the sins in our lives that we hold to instead of trusting fully in Jesus. To say, “Yes to Jesus,” we need to be willing to take the rope and harness off. When we do, we fall down to the bottom of the mountain and land in a pool of Jesus’ blood. We are washed clean by His blood, forgiven and strengthened by His grace to take the next step and climb on.”
Christopher paused and looked around. All eyes were on him. Some people nodded, others smiled. Grandma Louise encouraged him, “Go on.”
“As we begin our climb with Jesus as our harness, the rocks that we are stepping and grabbing onto become little Bibles. When we falter or feel lost or weary, we can pull out God’s word and get His advice or strategy or strength for continuing.”
More nods of understanding. Christopher shared how reading scripture daily was needed to strengthen our spiritual climbing muscles. He also said during the tough, scary, unsure times, we need to grab hold of God’s word and submerge ourselves in His presence. The Bible becomes a spiritual energy bar.
Christopher received hugs and encouragement from those gathered in the lobby. Wrapping the week up, I prayed that everyone would walk optimistically through their lives’ journey and never give up but continue to “Climb On.”
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV).
By Cindy Martin –
I find myself wrestling with a new twist on an old issue. I posed a couple of questions to God a while back, “What do You really want me to be doing with my life? How should I actually be spending my time here on earth?”
After seeking His heart on a day I’d set aside to ponder these questions with Him, His answer was clear … well, sort of. His inaudible, but unmistakable response to my query was, “Be available.”
What does “be available” actually look like? That day, I was at a crossroads, asking God which of the many possibilities before me He wanted me to pursue and He asked me to BE available. Notice that He didn’t ask me to “do available”, but rather to “be available.”
Herein lies the struggle – the age-old struggle – how do we do that? How do we live in the tension between being and doing? After all, the incessant doer in me knows that things still need to get done. Yet my heart knows there is more to it.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-11 articulates some of my frustration but also brings some clarity to the issue. It reads: “What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end” (NLT).
Work was God’s idea and His gift to us. ‘Doing’ and ‘being’ both originated with Him. The fact that God “planted eternity in the human heart” means that our spirits know that we were created for something more than mere physical labor and existence. But because we can never understand all that God is up to in our lives, we spend a lot time ‘doing’ in an effort to figure out ‘being’.
I’m learning that ‘being’ is not the cessation of activity so you can engage in monk-style meditation but rather making space in my mind and in my schedule for Him to have full access to my undivided attention.
Sometimes, this takes an intentional choice on our part to shorten the ‘to-do’ list and lengthen the ‘stop doing list’. Other times, it’s quieting our minds so that we can hear the answers He’s already providing.
Prayer: “Lord, show me how to make time in my mind and schedule so I can unpack and truly experience the life that You have designed just for me.”
Quote: The more time I spend “being” with God, the more He informs my “doing”.
By Judy Davis –
While sitting in the dental office I picked up a People magazine and started reading an article. What I read gripped my heart! It gave staggering statistics for powerful and highly addictive medications. According to the article more Americans will die this year of drug overdoses than in any other type of accident–including car crashes. In most cases those deaths are caused by pills that are in many peoples’ medicine cabinets.
Drugs are now the number one accidental killer in the U.S. with the vast majority of deaths caused by prescription medications. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a powerful and sinister evil in our society. Many of these drugs are given by the individual’s physicians. According to statistics there is one death every twenty-four minutes.
Wikipedia states avenues of obtaining prescription drugs for misuse are varied: sharing between family and friends, illegally buying medications at school or work, and often “doctor shopping” to find multiple physicians to prescribe the same medication, without knowledge of other prescribers. Increasingly, law enforcement is holding physicians responsible for prescribing controlled substances without fully establishing patient controls, such as a patient “drug contract.” Concerned physicians are educating themselves on how to identify medication-seeking behavior in their patients, and are becoming familiar with red flags that would alert them to potential prescription drug abuse.
What can parents do to help their loved ones overcome this problem that is destroying lives?
- Take them to a professional and/or a rehabilitative clinic. They need to get help to overcome the desire to take more than what is prescribed by their physician. Give them the medication when it is scheduled and lock up the rest.
- Pray and seek Godly wisdom for your loved one.
- Hope that those who are caught up in addiction to drugs will have a desire to change their life.
- Don’t ignore the Word of God.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8 NIV).
PRAYER: Dear Father, so much evil is destroying our families. Guide us daily to seek You with all of our hearts. Help us so we will have an answer to give to those caught up in the awful addiction to alcohol and drugs. Only You, Lord, can help them to overcome in Jesus’ name.
By Carin LeRoy –
It’s not often that a pilot aborts a landing. Last year my husband, son and I went on a mission trip back to where we used to serve as missionaries. The long flights overseas generally went without incident as we headed to our destination in Papua New Guinea.
As the crew prepared for the landing in Port Moresby, the pilot began his approach. Things seemed to be going as usual—until the wheels touched the tarmac. Suddenly, the pilot gunned it, and we were in the air again.
What. Was. That?
A man to the left said, “Jesus, help us.” He looked like he was praying.
Nervousness was evident on many faces as we wondered what just happened. In all my years of flying, I had never experienced anything like it. Did we have a flat tire? Was a dog on the airstrip? (That had happened before.) Did the pilot make an error? What was going on?
We circled around to make another landing. This time without incident. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as we touched down and came to a stop. I believe the pilot touched down without enough airstrip to land safely, so instead made a decision to abort and try again. Plane rides can have their scary moments—just like life.
When life gets scary, where do we turn? To friends? To church? To a bad habit? Do we run or walk away from it? The guy in the plane on my left had it right: Turn to Jesus and pray. In those moments when life seems out of control, God does have a purpose and a plan. He will walk with us through it. Pray, trust God and claim His promises. Soon, we enter another season of life and will look back and know that God, indeed, was with us.
PRAYER: Lord, when life is unsettling and scary, give me faith to trust You. Help me to turn to You in prayer and to claim Your promises for my life. Thank You that You hear me when I pray.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16 NIV).