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Only One Option Works

DSC00596e“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”John 14:6

I’ll confess. We’re a family of tortilla chip snobs. There is one brand we love. Eating any other kind equals reluctant settling.

Sadly, I’ve only been able to find one store in our area that carries this brand, and that store only keeps the chips in stock for holidays and sporting events that demand great amounts of tortilla chip consumage.

The last time that this store had our chips in stock, I grabbed four extra-large bags of them. (I would have purchased more, but they would have gone stale before we could have eaten them. There are limits to how much you can stock up on tortilla chips.) When I got to the check-out stand, the cashier said, “You must be throwing a big party.”

I said, “Oh, no. Your store doesn’t have these chips in stock very often, so I get a bunch whenever you do.”

“Are they that good?” she asked.

I assured her they were. On the way out the door, I thought, “Wouldn’t it have been great if she’d asked me about Jesus instead of tortilla chips?”

Jesus is the One I love. No other religion, person, or substance can satisfy my soul. Not only is He my Savior, the One Who gave His life to open the door to Heaven for me, but He’s also my best Friend. Jesus offers peace, joy (even in the midst of heartache), wisdom, patience, and compassion. He loves me like no one else can.

He wants to do and be all of this for you as well—and He’s the only One Who can. Anything else is settling and will never satisfy. Jesus is the way to Heaven, the Truth that sets you free of the pain that comes from believing this world’s lies, and the One Who gives us life: abundant life, eternal life, a life that’s worth living.

If you haven’t met Him yet, I recommend Him to you! Click here to read more about the life Jesus offers. There’s no sufficient way to put this relationship into words; Jesus is Someone you must experience. But I promise that if you reach out to Him by seeking to know Him through His Word, the Bible, by talking to Him like you would talk to a friend, and by telling Him you really want to experience Him like others do, He will be there for you. And You will be thankful—eternally.

Jesus, I love You! Please draw others to love You, too. You are the way, the truth, and the life, the One Who leads us to the Father and into the best relationship of all. I’m so thankful for all You’ve given to me, what You make available to all! I don’t want anyone to miss out. Please reach them, Lord. Amen.

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Many Languages

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.”Acts 2:5-6

DSC02012eSince the time of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) people all over the globe have spoken different languages. Living in the Netherlands, our family experienced the confusion God promised first hand. People where we lived spoke Dutch. Ten minutes away in one direction, they spoke German. Twenty minutes in the other, they spoke French. And when we travelled, we encountered other languages as well. By the time we left Europe, I could order French fries from McDonald’s in six languages. But I’m only fluent in one, English–and the British people I’ve met sometimes question even that.

Dutch people, however, take great pride in their ability to speak several languages. Many can speak English, French, German, and others–even American! Since I knew very little Dutch, I usually depended on them to help me communicate. And they seemed to like it that way. “We understand your English better than your Dutch,” they’d proudly say. They were happy to use their knowledge to help out wherever mine lacked.

Beyond Europe is a whole big world full of many languages–some yet to be discovered. Friends of ours once completed a year of language training in Brazil, learning Portuguese in order to minister to the people of Mozambique. You’ve probably heard missionaries from exotic countries share bits of language from the places they’ve been. And even in America, I sometimes have to listen closely to understand the dialects of friends from Maine, Alabama, or New Jersey! When God promised confusion, He delivered.

But God is never confused. He understands every language, every dialect, every bit of slang, and even words that don’t transcend the generation gap. (I’m pretty sure He even speaks text.) And just as He helped the disciples communicate with the crowd “from every nation under heaven,” He can help us communicate His love wherever we go. We may have to study, use sign language, or ask a lot of questions, but Christian love goes a long way toward building understanding.

Will you have fritessaus with your fries?

All-Knowing Lord, help me to communicate with people around me today. Whether they speak another language or simply need to know I understand how they are feeling and what’s going on in their lives, remove the confusion. Replace it with love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Following Jesus’ Example in Confrontation or Conflict

DSC01451e“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”1 Peter 2:21, 23

Jesus set a perfect example for us in everything He did. By studying the Gospels and letters from those who knew him when He walked on this earth, we learn how to live. First Peter 2:23 gives us a clear, yet challenging, example to follow when people give us a hard time.

I’m not talking about when people who care about us approach to lovingly offer constructive criticism. I’m talking about when people come to us in anger with no goal other than to vent their frustrations. These people are not seeking peace or understanding. They don’t care about our point of view, our feelings, or our friendship. They feel offended; they demand to be heard. They want to inflict their pain on us with their words.

Though our first impulse may be to fight back or defend ourselves, Jesus shows us a better way. If the person is being abusive, hurling insults or making threats, our best course of action is to remove ourselves from the situation as quickly as possible. Jesus didn’t have this option when He was on trial, but He used it on other occasions. If the situation warrants it, we must feel free to do so, too. Don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings if that person is threatening you. Protect yourself and walk away.

If the person is not abusive, we can:

1. Listen politely, patiently seeking to understand their point of view.
2. Thank them for sharing their thoughts.
3. Assure them we will consider what they’ve said . . . at home . . . privately.
4. Follow through, taking the matter to Jesus in prayer, entrusting ourselves to the One Who judges justly.

In Jesus’ case, He knew He was right. Jesus is always right. We might not always be, however. When someone confronts us, rather than rush to defend ourselves or our position, we should listen with an open mind then seek God’s opinion on the matter and His wisdom concerning how to proceed. Upon prayerful reflection, we may find we owe someone an apology or a thank you for setting us straight. It’s better to learn this early on, in God’s Presence, rather than after a lengthy, frustrating, and heated debate, the kind that leaves both parties feeling hurt.

Then again, once we’re alone with Him, God may assure us that we’ve done nothing wrong. If so, we can move forward in confidence and peace whether or not the other person ever accepts us or our point of view. Jesus didn’t retaliate or make threats. He doesn’t force His way on others either. He has presented the Truth through His life, death, resurrection, Word, and the testimony of His witnesses throughout history. He has fulfilled His mission; now we’re following in His steps to the best of our ability in everything we do.

Thank You for Your example, Lord. Help us to remember it when people give us a hard time. Teach us to respond with love, patience, dignity, and grace, entrusting ourselves to You. Amen.

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Celebrating Christmas Love

“God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.” –1 John 4:16

Words Aptly SpokenAndrew Murray said that love “is the deep desire to give itself for the beloved. Love finds its joy in imparting all that it has to make the loved one happy.”

As we prepare for Christmas this year, that seems especially profound to me. Truly, God, Who is love, gave Himself—His whole self—for us. And it wasn’t because He wanted us to do something for Him, but because He loves us. He offers us eternal happiness in Him—in the only place where we can find such joy. God desired to give Himself for us. God finds joy in giving all He has to make us happy, not happy in the ways of the world, but happy forever, for real. That’s why John says, “God is love.” God’s very Being defines the word.

So as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth by opening our own carefully chosen gifts of love to one another, let’s remember our greatest gift: God Himself in the form of true love. Let’s find time to bask in that love–to let God fill our hearts and dwell within that His love will spill out to everyone around. God will help us desire to give of ourselves for our loved ones—to impart all we have to make each other happy in Him. We live in love; we live in God. And God, Who is love, lives in us.

Merry Christmas everyone!