On Wings Of Eagles

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Barbed Wire, Ladder and Wisdom

Proverbs 8:11 (New International Version)

for wisdom is more precious than rubies,

   and nothing you desire can compare with her.

So often we encounter people who covet wisdom! With their heads bowed down into their hands, they wonder if there will ever be a solution to the impasse they are facing.

We all go through tough times like these, but more often than not, the decisions we make are far from prudent.

Job, too, the one who faced a myriad of calamities, wondered the same thing: "But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living." (Job 28:12-13 NIV)

Is there even such a thing as wisdom?

As you travel in Iceland you will see long barbed-wired fences with ladders built over them. Why build a barbed-wire fence and then stick a ladder over it? It seems to make no sense at all.

The more you travel through Iceland though, the more such ladders over fences you will observe. With some research we discover that the purpose of these fences was to keep grazing animals corralled, while the ladders were for tourists who wanted to experience something special within the containment of the fence, like a natural rocky spiral protruding from the ocean or a natural waterfall. Quite neat, don't you think?

Truly, "Wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her." (Prov 8:11 NIV)

Without these ladders, the tourists of the MacGyver type would find a way around these fences, and probably damage them. It's amazing what tourists would do to have a closer look!

One thing about wisdom is for certain: "A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom." (Prov 10:23 NIV)

Wisdom is not for the wicked. In fact Job was not far off when he concluded that, "It cannot be found in the land of the living."

"For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight." (1 Cor 3:19 NIV)

But is wisdom even possible in this world?

There are ladders over prickly fences in Iceland, aren't there? So wisdom is indeed available. The first step to wisdom is fear of the Lord. "The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom…"

In one of the episodes of Combat Hospital, a doctor who was in charge of a medical facility in Afghanistan was talking on the phone to his wife in Canada. Just as she was mentioning that there were some things they needed to talk about, his beeper went off. An emergency was on its way, and he didn't get to learn what those "things' were. As a result, he started to imagine the worst scenarios and his heart was not into his work. He was scared to death of losing his wife.

The next day when he finally was able to reconnect with his wife, he discovered that these "things" was to obtain permission for his 17-year old son to go to a certain concert. Needless to say, his heart was flooded with relief.

The fear of the Lord is quite similar to what that doctor went through. The fear of the Lord is all about being scared to death of wandering away from God and estranging ourselves from the One who is the most important in our lives.

If we have such a fear of hurting the One who made a difference in our lives, wisdom is within our reach. Wisdom is, after all, only obtainable to the ones who hunger for God, as He is the source of all wisdom! "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." Prov 2:6 NIV

If He is the source to all wisdom, the next step for us is to simply ask Him to give us wisdom. And guess what? It will be given to us! "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5 NIV

God's wisdom will not only guide us through life, it will also help us "know Him better

Wisdom is like that ladder over barbed-wired fences. It leads us beyond the prickly situations of our life. Why not reach for it?

Dear Lord we seek You for wisdom today. We want to be and to do what You want for us this very day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

Proverbs 1:5 (New International Version)
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
   and let the discerning get guidance—

Little decisions can have some far reaching consequences.

That's what happened years ago when there was an epidemic of Malaria in Borneo. Health officers sprayed the area with DDT to kill the mosquitoes. The mosquitoes did die, but the insecticide partially paralyzed flies who became easy pray for insect-eating lizards.

When the lizards ate the insecticide-laden flies, they too became sick and slowed down. Because the lizards were moving slower, they were eaten by the cats, which soon died.

With no cats, the rat population flourished and a plague threatened the people. Things eventually got so bad they actually had to parachute cats into Borneo.

The little decision to spray for mosquitoes had some far reaching consequences.

Each day, each of us makes a multitude of little decisions. Like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples of our choices can extend far further than we might think possible.

Naturally, as Christians, we want to minimize the bad and maximize the good. To that end, let us it our goal to spend some time thinking through our decisions, even the small ones, before we make them. As we do, let’s make sure to spend some time with the Lord in prayer. Ask Him for His guidance, and search the Scriptures for His direction.

If we do that, we will see our lives and those around us filled with a little more gladness and a lot less regret.

Dear Lord we pray today that as we make our decisions we would look to You through prayer and through Your word, the Bible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Not Our Thoughts

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New International Version)
 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
            declares the LORD.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

James Hector was a surveyor. In 1858, his job was to seek safe passage through the Canadian Rockies for the upcoming Canadian Pacific Railroad.

While mapping the Kicking Horse Pass, he ran out of food, was kicked by his horse (thus the name, "Kicking Horse Pass") and nearly died of exhaustion while struggling to climb the final steep pitch of that "Big Hill" as the locals called it. Needless to say, he recommended that this particular pass was far too dangerous for a railroad. Instead, he suggested the Yellowhead Pass, two hundred kilometers to the north, which had a much gentler slope.

Despite his warnings, the railway decided in favor of the Kicking Horse Pass. Their reasons were simple:

- The Kicking Horse Pass was more adequately located in the South, enough to block any American competition (we had to be careful of those Yankees!)

- The Kicking Horse Pass was shorter than the Yellow head Pass and would require 122 km less rail line.

Once build, it was discovered that in order for a fifteen-car train to climb the "Big Hill" (which was FAR from being a hill, believe me!), four extra pusher engines were needed. Even with those four extra engines, the ascent was slow and tedious. Once at the summit, the worst was not yet behind them. The train then had to descend a very steep slope. The first train to try this derailed, plunged into a nearby river, and killed three men.

Being aware that tourism would plunge (literally!) When they heard the news, the railway authorities quickly convened. They decided to build three spur lines to catch any runaway trains. The spur switches were left open, and the switchmen were instructed to not close them unless they were certain the train was not a "runaway".

This system was used for the next twenty-five years. I'm sure that if I had lived in that day and age, my kids would have seen this particular ride as a roller coaster and would have begged to take the train to British Columbia. I, on the other hand, would have avoided it at all costs! I can only hope that most of the people of that time were wise enough to ignore their kids and choose safety! But even when there weren't passengers on the trains, the train conductors hauling cargo to British Columbia were still putting their lives at risk.

Desiring to keep their passengers and train machinery safe, the Canadian Pacific Railway addressed this problem in 1909 by building the "Spiral Tunnels". Trains would now pass through a series of tunnels, with each tunnel making a complete spiraling turn under the original pass as the railway gradually ascended and descended the "Big Hill" of Kicking Horse Pass. As the tunnels spiraled upward, trains actually crossed over and under themselves!

Though the addition of the tunnels doubled the length of the pass, the grade was cut in half. Now only two engines were needed to haul the cargo of 15 wagons, and they were able to make the ascent at five times the speed. Traveling from the Canadian east coast to the west was finally safe.

So often we make foolish decisions that negatively affect ourselves and those around us. Only by depending completely on God for all of our decisions can we be assured of wisdom beyond our abilities.

Dear Lord we pray that we would completely rely upon You. We pray that when it’s time to make decisions, we would look to You in all that we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brother Andrew and The Narrow Road

John 5:30 (New International Version)
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

(This story is taken from a fantastic biography about Brother Andrew, called The Narrow Road)

Did I really intend to be a missionary-or was it only a romantic dream with which I indulged myself? I had often heard Sid­ney Wilson speak of "praying through." He meant by this, stick­ing with a prayer until he got an answer. Well, I was going to try it. One Sunday afternoon in September, 1952, I went out on to the polders where I could pray aloud without being embarrassed. I sat on the edge of a canal and began talking to God casually, as I might have talked with Thile. I prayed right through coffee-and ­cigar hour, right through Sunday afternoon, and on into the evening. And still I had not reached a point where I knew I had found God's plan for my life.

"What is it, Lord? What am I holding back? What am I using as an excuse for not serving You in whatever You want me to do?" And then, there by the canal, I finally had my answer. My "yes" to God had always been a "yes, but." Yes, but I'm not educated. Yes, but I'm lame.

With the next breath, I did say "Yes." I said it in a brand-new way, without qualification. "I'll go, Lord," I said, "no matter whether it's through the route of ordination, or through the WEC program, or through working on at Ringers'. Whenever, wher­ever, however You want me, I'll go. And I'll begin this very minute. Lord, as I stand up from this place, and as I take my first step for­ward, will You consider that this is a step toward complete obe­dience to You? I'll call it the Step of Yes."

I stood up. I took a stride forward. And in that moment there was a sharp wrench in the lame leg. I thought with horror that I had turned my crippled ankle. Gingerly I put the foot on the ground. I could stand on it all right. What on earth had happened? Slowly and very cautiously I began walking home, and as I walked, one verse of Scripture kept popping into my mind: "Going, they were healed."

I couldn't remember at first where it came from. Then I recalled the story of the ten lepers, and how on their way to see the priest as Christ had commanded, the miracle happened. "Going, they were healed."

Could it be? Could it possibly be that I too had been healed?

I was due at a Sunday evening service in a village six kilometers away. Normally, I would have ridden my bicycle, but tonight was different. Tonight I was going to walk all the way to the meeting.

I did too. When it came time to go home, a friend offered me a ride on his motorbike.

"Not tonight, thank you. I think I'll walk."

He couldn't believe it. Nor, later, could my family believe that I had actually been to the service; they had seen my bicycle leaning against the wall and assumed that I had changed my mind.

The next day at the chocolate factory I walked each employee back to his post at the end of our interview instead of sitting rooted to my chair as I had done in the past. Halfway through the morning my ankle began to itch, and as I was rubbing the old scar, two stitches came through the skin. By the end of the week the incision, which had never healed properly, at last closed.

The following week I made formal application for admission to the WEC Missionary Training College in Glasgow. A month later the reply came. Dependent on space opening up in the men's dor­mitory, I could start my studies in May, 1953.

Dear Lord we pray that as we make decisions that we would put our trust in You. We know that You have the best planned for each of us, we pray that we would seek after what You have for each of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lessons learned from a Butterfly

1 Kings 19:12 (New International Version)
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

As she ran errands with her children one spring day, Kaylyn Dunne was thinking about this. She had just returned from a weekend retreat that used the butterfly as its theme. The retreat had aroused her desire for a deeper spiritual life, yet worried her too, because she had been asked to be chairperson of the next retreat. Kaylyn had never been chairperson of anything, and she felt quite inadequate. With her already crowded schedule and a chronically ill son to care for, was God really calling her to do this? She needed a sign.

"Mom, look!" her son suddenly exclaimed from the back seat. Kaylyn almost hit the brakes. Fluttering in front of her, inside the car, was a huge monarch butterfly. It was a vivid yellow, her favorite color. With the car moving at 45 miles per hour and the windows open barely a crack, how had it gotten in?

The winged visitor quivered around delicately, then landed like a little puff on the dashboard. Awed, the children stared at it. "It must be frightened," Kaylyn told them. "Open the windows, and let it fly out." They did, but despite the breeze, the butterfly stayed. Kaylyn pulled into the library parking lot. "Let's leave the windows down while we're gone," she suggested. But when they returned to the car, the monarch was still sitting on the dashboard, as if awaiting them.

Bemused, Kaylyn finished the errands, drove home, opened the car doors, went into the house with her enthralled children, and waited. Eventually the butterfly leisurely emerged, circled the house in a kind of embrace, and flew off. "I got to thinking of the timeliness of its arrival, right after I had prayed," Kaylyn says. Did God intend it as a sign that He was near? That He had plans for her to move more fully into life, to shed her cocoon and spread her wings? Kaylyn accepted the chairperson job, and it became her path to a richer spiritual life. Since that day, butterflies seem to visit Kaylyn often, especially when she needs encouragement. One of the best encounters came when a friend held a prayer service in her living room for Kaylyn's son. One of the group pointed to the front window and exclaimed, "Look outside!" Everyone did. Tapping gently against the glass was a brown butterfly. Just a coincidence? Perhaps. But it came in the middle of a snowstorm.

Flowers, rainbows, butterflies.nature's tender treasures. Perhaps God uses them to bridge the barriers between heaven and earth, to let us know that as He watches the sparrow He surely watches us.

Dear Lord we thank You for always being there and communicating with us. We pray that our eyes and ears would be open to the things You bring into our life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Good Deal or a Bad Deal?

Proverbs 11:3 (New American Standard Bible)
The integrity of the upright will guide them,
But the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them.

Many years ago, a Frenchman named Andre-Francois Raffray made what he considered a "great deal" that could only benefit him. He agreed to pay a 90-year-old woman $500 a month until she died. In return, he would own her sought-after grand apartment in the south of France when she died.

There was nothing illegal about Raffray's contract with Jeanne Calment. Buying an apartment en viager (i.e., for life) is not uncommon in France. The elderly owner receives a predictable monthly income from the buyer; the buyer gets a bargain in real estate ... in most cases. Even if he pays the owner for only a few months, the buyer inherits the property upon the owner's death.

But this particular deal went sour. The Guinness Book of Records listes Ms. Calment as the world's oldest person able to document her age. She is 120. Mr. Raffray died on Christmas Day of 1995 ... after paying more than $184,000 for an apartment he never lived in or owned. Under French law, his wife, children, and grandchildren will have to continue paying the elderly lady $500 per month until she dies.

The apartment in question is valued at less than half the amount already paid to Ms. Calment. What looked like a sure thing became a misfortune of major proportion for Mr. Raffray and his family.

It sounds like some of those deals Satan offers all of us. A flirtation, juggling figures, misrepresenting a product or service ... the possibilities are practically endless. And who will ever know? What will it matter? Others do things so much worse! Well, you know the rationalizations that come to mind.

Then you begin to pay and pay and PAY. First goes your self-respect. Then comes reputation. Next comes job or family. It seems so wrong that one could be asked to pay so much for what amounted to so little. But those are the breaks of this game called life.

Integrity is better kept than recovered. So watch out for those tawdry deals that offer you what you have no right to possess. They exact too high a price in the long run.

Dear Lord we pray that we would live a life of integrity. We pray that the decisions we make would be wise decisions and that they would bring glory to Your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Psalm 100:1-5 (New International Version)
1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings. 
William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony.

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving day let’s remember the words of the governor of Plymouth colony. Let us “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

Dear Lord we want to take today to thank You for all the many blessings that You have allowed for each of us to receive. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eat, Drink and be Merry

1 Corinthians 15:32-33 (New International Version)
32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
   “Let us eat and drink,
   for tomorrow we die.”
 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

The following story is reported to be true, but cannot be verified: After the "Cold War" was over, a squadron of Russian pilots was invited to participate in tactical war games at a U.S. Air Force base. A gala dinner was planned by the Base Commander. Thinking to relax the guests, he offered a WW II toast to open the meal. Smiling, he lifted his glass and said, in Russian, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die." The Russian pilots became very quiet and they hardly ate; most left quite early. Thinking they didn't care for the food, the Commander asked a Russian pilot what went wrong.

"Well, comrade commander," he said, "I thought it was going well until your toast. I don't know what you were meaning to say, but what came out was 'Feast, drink and make happy, for tomorrow we will kill you'." No matter how you translate it, it doesn't make for good advice to live by, though it certainly fits in with our culture's view of the purpose of life. "Live it up! We're all going to die soon, and you can't enjoy anything beyond the grave, so just focus on bringing yourself pleasure without regard to what is right or wrong."

It sounds very modern, but it's been around a long, long time. In fact, Paul said it was a philosophy that might make sense if there was no hope of a resurrection for us.

But knowing that there will be a resurrection and a judgment and an eternity to follow, we know that there has to be more to guide our lives than just the satisfaction of personal pleasure.

So go ahead and eat and drink (and even make merry), but be careful not to take God out of the picture, for tomorrow you may die.

Dear Lord we pray that all we do we will keep You in it. We thank You for the life You have given to us we pray that we will bring honor to You in all things that we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wolves and Sin

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (New International Version)
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

George Lane was ecstatic. He had just witnessed the birth of his first child in Calgary, Alberta, and in his excitement, he celebrated the event for several days. He even invited all of his friends over to meet his wonder child.

But all good things must come to an end, and George's job soon called him back to reality. He was responsible for the cattle at the Bar U Ranch, a job he took very seriously. Nonetheless, it was with regret that he mounted his faithful horse, and leaving behind his beloved wife and newborn baby in their Calgary home, he headed back for the ranch.

He had reached the foothills of the Rocky Mountains by sundown, just in time to disturb a pack of six hungry wolves feasting on the carcass of a cow they had obviously killed. This wasn't the first time he had ridden upon such a scene, and George knew it wouldn't be the last, but what infuriated him was the fact that the wolves seemed to view domestic cattle as their own, personal prey.

Of course, this all made perfect sense to the wolf. In past years they had fed off of buffalo herds and left the domestic cattle alone. But now buffalo herds were gone, and being living, carnivorous creatures requiring sustenance, beef was their only option. Surely they had the right to feed themselves. Why was this white man getting so upset at them for eating?

George watched them for a brief moment before drawing his six-shooter. Then he charged his horse into the middle of the dinner party. Before he could shoot however, a huge, shaggy beast turned on him and his horse, attacking them viciously.

It was the first time such an encounter between white man and wolf had been recorded in history, and if it hadn't been for his six-shooter, George would have become the banquet's dessert. It's true that human flesh supposedly tastes like sweet pork, but who would like to be compared to a pig, no matter how sweet they may be?

Once reported, the attack was of significant concern to the people of Alberta, and especially to its legislature. With the wolves regularly raiding cattle ranches, they already had a monumental problem on their hands, one that didn't seem to have any simple solution. What if wolves were to now begin attacking humans as well? There were no ways to bring these nasty creatures to justice, no way to make a public warning out of them to other wolves, and if things didn't change, the public would start to turn their backs on the current body of elected politicians!

This imbalance of nature had been created by the government itself. In an attempt to subdue the Indians, the decision had been made during the 1870s to exterminate buffalo herds (See Look Out, Buffalo! White Man is Coming). But since the buffalo was also the primary food source of the wolf, the white man was now faced with the terrifying consequences. There seemed to only be one solution: To exterminate the wolf population as well!

This episode illustrates vividly how sin ravages our reasoning skills. The more we let sin entice us, the more selfish we become. And the more selfish we become, the more we make others miserable. James 1:14-15 tells us: "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." (NIV)

The only way to really make a difference in this world is by letting ourselves be set free from the traps and deceptions of sin. This can only be done by the one who willingly died for our sins. Paul says that Jesus willingly became sin in order for us to be set free.

Freedom and eternity can be ours, if we accept Jesus' offer and welcome Him into our lives.

Dear Lord we pray that we would not get tied up with the sins of our life. We thank You for the sacrifice that You gave for each of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Curiosity: Good or Evil?

Deuteronomy 12:29-31 (The Message)
 29-31 When God, your God, cuts off the nations whose land you are invading, shoves them out of your way so that you displace them and settle in their land, be careful that you don't get curious about them after they've been destroyed before you. Don't get fascinated with their gods, thinking, "I wonder what it was like for them, worshiping their gods. I'd like to try that myself." Don't do this to God, your God. They commit every imaginable abomination with their gods. God hates it all with a passion. Why, they even set their children on fire as offerings to their gods!

Have you ever been curious? Even a tiny bit?

What about that locked drawer that your parents said you should stay away from? Or that letter addressed to your dad that caused the frightened looks to appear in your parents' eyes?

The sad part about curiosity is that it takes only a little bit of it to entice someone into drugs, smoking, alcohol, or even that three letter word said in hushed tones. And once curiosity is given into, that someone may find themselves addicted for life! Just one tiny bit of curiosity is all it takes, but no tiny bit of anything else can free us from the bonds that imprison us.

But isn't it human to be curious? Put a "do not enter" sign on any door, and you can be sure that someone will try to open it! The "I wonder what's inside" attitude often leads to unsuspected troubles and the evil one knows it!

Look at our great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Eve. She walked in a world that our senses cannot even fathom. She was surrounded by beauty, she had nothing to be afraid of, she could enjoy everything and anything-Oh. Except for that one tree…

And where did she go? Not towards paradise, but straight to the "do not touch" !

Then there was King David, the conqueror who established firm and safe borders around Israel. He was so loved by his people that he went down in history as being the best king Israel ever had. He really had it all. But one day his curiosity got the better of him. While admiring Jerusalem from the rooftop of his palace, his attention strayed to forbidden ground: The beautiful woman on the next rooftop. As his attention remained focused on what was not his, his curiosity began to rise. What would it be like … ?  

What was David thinking? Weren't his hundreds of wives and concubines enough? But in the end, his curiosity birthed the murder of an innocent man!

Curiosity, often leads to a lot of problems!

Curiosity can also be a good thing, as it can lead people to God. Take Moses for example. One day as he was herding his sheep in the desert he noticed something very unusual: A bush that was burning without being consumed! I think this would have stopped us in our tracks as well! Led by his curiosity, Moses discovered that God was indeed his friend and that this message had to be shared with the world.

Too often curiosity becomes an illicit mistress that entangles us in unshakable addictions, rendering us helpless and ineffective. Only by becoming curious about the source of the imperishable burning bush can we discover that our bonds can be broken not through our own efforts, but through the One who paid the price for our total freedom.

Dear Lord we pray that our curiosity would be for only you. We pray that we would be able to conquer the curiosities that would lead us astray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shooting the Saints or the Enemy?

1 Peter 3:8-9 (New International Version)
 8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Dr. Leslie Flynn writes about the time when the English and French were at war in colonial Canada. "Admiral Phipps, in charge of the British Fleet, was ordered to anchor outside Quebec, a city on the St. Lawrence River. He was to await the coming of the British infantry and then join the land forces in attack.

"Arriving early, Admiral Phipps, an ardent nonconformist, was annoyed by the statues of the saints that adorned the roof and towers of the Catholic cathedral. So he spent his time shooting at them with the ships' guns. How many he hit we don't know, but history recorded that when the infantry arrived and the signal was given for attack, the admiral found himself out of ammunition. He had used it for shooting out the saints." I often wonder in the church how much of our efforts are poured into fighting among ourselves over insignificant trivialities instead of uniting our efforts to attack the real enemy.

Dear Lord we pray today that we would focus on the enemy to defeat him rather than fighting amongst ourselves. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Bad Haircut.

Ephesians 4:29 (New International Version)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

A man walked in to Joe's Barber Shop for his regular haircut. As he snips away, Joe asks What's up?"

The man proceeds to explain he's taking a vacation to Rome.

"ROME?!" Joe says, "Why would you want to go there? It's a crowded dirty city full of Italians! You'd be crazy to go to Rome! So how Ya getting there?"

"We're taking TWA," the man replies.

"TWA?!" yells Joe. "They're a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly and they're always late! So where you staying in Rome?"

The man says "We'll be at the downtown International Marriot."

"That DUMP?!" says Joe. "That's the worst hotel in the city! The rooms are small, the service is surly and slow and they're overpriced! So whatcha doing when you get there?"

The man says "We're going to go see the Vatican and hope to see the Pope."

"HA! That's rich!" laughs Joe. "You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on THIS trip. You're going to need it!"

A month later, the man comes in for his regular haircut.

Joe says, "Well, how did that trip to Rome turn out? Betcha TWA gave you the worst flight of your life!"

"No, quite the opposite" explained the man. "Not only were we on time in one of their brand new planes, but it was full and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a beautiful 28 year old flight attendant who waited on me hand and foot!"

"Well, I bet the hotel was just like I described."

"No, quite the opposite! They'd just finished a $25 million remodelling. It's the finest hotel in Rome, now. They were over booked, so they apologized and gave us the Presidential suite for no extra charge!"

"Well," Joe mumbles, "I KNOW you didn't get to see the Pope!"

"Actually, we were quite lucky. As we toured the Vatican, a Swiss guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained the Pope likes to personally meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into this private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, after 5 minutes the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand. I knelt down as he spoke a few words to me."

Impressed, Joe asks, "Tell me, please! What'd he say?"

"Oh, not much really. Just "Where'd you get that awful haircut?"

Dear Lord we pray that we would use positive words today. Help us to be negative but to be positive. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Words can Hurt.

Matthew 12:35 (New International Version)
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

There once was an insignificant piece of gravel in the middle of a busy highway in the province of Ontario, Canada. It was no wonder it didn’t think very highly of itself. People would zoom by it with their cars just like it was a piece of junk that nobody wanted, the force of the wind they created making it roll around the road. Compared to the smooth, black-asphalted highway that people highly regarded as their main travel way, it was completely ignored. If only he could be like…a windshield, yes, a windshield.

Windshields seem strong and beautiful. Motorists constantly stare at them with apparent admiration . . . THEY certainly don’t ever seem to go unnoticed!

“If only I could be a windshield!” the piece of gravel sighed out loudly.

“Why?” the asphalted highway underneath it ask.

“Then I would be admired instead of being ignored!” it answered. “Windshields can resist high winds. Nothing is stronger and more beautiful than a windshield!”

As soon as it said this, a vehicle ran over it, and it found itself propelled by the back tire of that car. “I am flying! I am flying!” he exclaimed excitedly. Then it slammed into the windshield of the next car.

To its amazement, the windshield that had seemed so strong shattered!

Suddenly the piece of gravel didn’t feel so insignificant. It could shatter the mighty!

The words that we speak can be just like that piece of gravel. We think their impact is insignificant. However, the words of criticism, negativity and discouragement that can be propelled from our mouth can make even the mighty crumble.

“Can’t you do anything right? Get out of here!”

These words are disastrous to the ears of kids and adults alike.

What we say reveals who we really are. It reveals our true personality. It tells others our innermost memories and contemplations. Jesus knew the impact of words and clearly warned us:

What do YOUR words tell about you? Let’s Listen to ourselves today and learn! Are our words always constructive, uplifting, and encouraging? We can change the impact of our words by starting to rely on the One whose every word made a difference in other people lives; The one who forgave those who crucified him while he was dying; The one who reached out to others while he was hanging on a cross, even promising eternal life to the thief on the next cross.

Dear Lord we pray today that we would watch the words that we use. We want our words to build up those around us rather than tear them down. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Worth the Practice.

2 Timothy 2:15 (New International Version)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

How a person reacts to criticism often means the difference between success and failure. Take the case of Ole Bull, the famous Norwegian violinist of the past century.

His practical father, a chemist, sent him to the University of Christiania to study for the ministry and forbade him to play his beloved violin. He promptly flunked out and, defying his father, devoted all his time and energy to the violin.

Unfortunately, though he had great ability, his teachers were relatively unskilled, so that by the time he was ready to start his concert tour he wasn't prepared.

In Italy a Milan newspaper critic wrote: "He is an untrained musician. If he be a diamond, he is certainly in the rough and unpolished."

There were two ways Ole Bull could have reacted to that criticism. He could have let it make him angry, or he could learn from it.

Fortunately he chose the latter. He went to the newspaper office and asked to see the critic. The astounded editor introduced him. Ole spent the evening with the 70-year-old critic, asked about his faults, and sought the older man's advice on how to correct them.

Then he cancelled the rest of his tour, returned home, and spent the next six months studying under really able teachers.

He practiced hours upon hours to overcome his faults. Finally, he returned to his concerts and, when only 26, became the sensation of Europe.

Dear Lord we pray that we would not get discouraged with things that happen around us. We pray that we would work hard to make ourselves better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lightning or Thunder.

John 8:12 (New International Version)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

A great story from one of America's greatest story-tellers, Abraham Lincoln, was related by the president during those anxious days of the American Civil War. A delegation of well-meaning patriots tried to impress upon the president the gravity of the war. They implied that his administration was neither as wise nor good as it ought to be. He listened carefully, then responded with a memorable anecdote.

He told them that he once had a neighbor who found himself in a tight situation. He was traveling home one dark and rainy night. There were few bridges in the country and he came to a stream that he would have to ford. But because of the darkness and the rain, he couldn't see well enough to know just where to cross.

Lightning flashed and he saw his way for the briefest moment. But the man was perplexed because there seemed to be more thunder than lightning. He was convinced that every lightning flash was followed by several loud peals of thunder. The poor man just stood at the edge of the stream in his confusion about how to proceed. He finally prayed, "O Lord, if it is just the same to you, give me more light and less noise."

The delegation clearly got the point that the president needed more solutions and less complaining - more light and less noise.

Some people are more like light and others are more like noise.

Some people shed light on solutions. Others only make a din about the way things are.

Some people help us to see the situation more clearly. Others just sound off about who's to blame.

Some people show a better way. Others only clamor about the present course of action.

Some people offer to help. Others just wail about the problem.

The sun rises every morning and sheds light -- vanquishing the night's darkness. The rooster also rises every morning... and makes noise -- neither shedding light nor dispelling the darkness.

What could your work environment, your family or your life be like if everyone were like the sun rather than the rooster? What if we all decided to contribute to the light?

Dear Lord we pray that we would be part of the light rather than the noise. We want to show the light that you have given to us to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Making the Best in All Things.

Ephesians 5:16 (New International Version)
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

They say "make the best of a bad situation." But I believe the bad situation makes the best of you. Even the irritations of life can be useful. President Abraham Lincoln showed us how this is so.

One of his cabinet appointees, Edwin Stanton, frequently found flaws with the president and criticized him -- sometimes in public. Lincoln seemed to show excessive patience with him. The president was asked why he kept such a man in a high level position.

Lincoln characteristically responded with a story. He told about a time he was visiting with an old farmer. He noticed a big horsefly biting the flank of the farmer's horse. Lincoln said he reached over to brush the fly away. As he did so, the farmer stopped him and cautioned, "Don't do that, friend. That horsefly is the only thing keeping this old horse moving."

Even life's many irritations and problems have their place. They may cause us to change directions. Or prod us to greater achievement. Or keep us moving along when it's easier to go nowhere.

Are you simply making the best of a bad situation, or will it make the best of you?

Dear Lord we want to thank you for all that happens to us. We pray that we would let those circumstances make us better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.