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Vol 12 â€˘ Issue 5
THE KINGFISHER EFFECT Good news for nerves
Wings from Weights How to rise above problems
Peace Plan 10 keys to inner calm
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Vol 12, Issue 5
Activated Ministries P.O. Box 462805 Escondido, CA 92046–2805, USA Toll-free: 1–877–862–3228 Email: email@example.com www.activatedonline.com
PE R S ONA L LY SPE A K IN G The woman’s life turned on four words, spoken by a stranger. “If you only knew.” She was a mess by anyone’s standards—married five times and now living with another man—but in one respect she was like anyone else. Maybe that’s what had driven her to go from man to man like some people change jobs or locations or cars. She wanted more. Love, security, acceptance, fulfillment, peace of mind. She wanted to be happy. She wanted to be whole. If she only knew what? If you recognize that as a rough retelling of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well,1 you already know what the woman was about to find out. She was talking to the Son of God, and He was about to put her in direct contact with the source of everything she longed for, God Himself. The woman liked what she heard, and it changed her. Others noticed. Once again she was the talk of the town, but this time it wasn’t because of what she had done; it was because of what Jesus had done for her. Don’t we all want the same things that woman wanted? If we only knew. If we knew—really knew—how much God loves us, we would never feel unloved. If we knew how unconditional His love is, we would never feel insecure. If we knew how accepting He is of us—blemishes, blow-its, and all—we wouldn’t worry so much about what anyone else might think. If we knew how much He appreciates our love for Him and others, we would find fulfillment in that, first and foremost. If we knew what He has planned for us, we wouldn’t fear the future. If we only knew how much He loves us for who we are, we wouldn’t want to be anyone else. Keith Phillips For Activated
1. John, chapter 4 2
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www.auroraproduction.com © 2011 Aurora Production AG. All Rights Reserved. Printed in Taiwan by Ji Yi Co., Ltd. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Other Bible references are from the following sources: King James Version (KJV). The Contemporary English Version (CEV). Copyright © 1995 by the American Bible Society. Used by permission. The New Century Version (NCV). Copyright © 1991 by Word Publishing. Used by permission.
perfection I remember, as a very little girl, looking out across the field behind our home at what appeared to be the perfect tree. I could
hardly contain my excitement as I ran to inspect it up close. But as I reached out to gather some perfect leaves from the perfect tree, I had one of my first big disappointments. On closer inspection, each leaf was marred somehow—a scrape, a brown splotch, an insect bite. There wasn’t one that I could take home and hang in my room as a symbol of perfection. Images may appear perfect from a distance, but as we look closer we see the imperfections. We watch strangers drive by in their shiny new cars and assume that they have perfect lives, not realizing that they may have problems worse than our own. We watch television and movies and see images of perfection, 1. Matthew 22:37–39
By Joyce Suttin
illusions that fade as the final credits roll. A scenic view may look perfect from a distance, but up close we see the mud and the litter. The world looks better without binoculars or microscopes. We look for perfection—perfect people, perfect situations, perfect relationships, perfect happiness—but because none of us are perfect, we wind up discouraged or disillusioned. But God isn’t looking for perfection—at least not our idea of perfection. Sure, we can all do better, but often what we perceive as flaws and foibles are actually His doing, part of our unique makeup, blessings in disguise. And are all problems all bad? Aren’t they sometimes God’s way of steering us to better things? God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. All He asks is that we try our best to love Him and others.1 When we do that, we can feel secure in His love, and that changes our whole outlook. We feel better about ourselves, and that helps us to see the best in others and to make the most of our circumstances. Life isn’t perfect, but that’s okay. God knew better. Joyce Suttin is a member of the Family International in the U.S.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
“Because [God] delights in me, he saved me.”—Psalm 18:19 NCV If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you.—Max Lucado 3
There is a beautiful stained glass window in the historic Wesley’s Chapel in London, inscribed with these words: “If I take the wings of the
morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”1 People have always wanted wings—a way to be lifted above their earthbound lives and troubles. It seems to be human nature to feel confined and discontented with “here.” Things surely must be easier, brighter, better, freer “there,” just over the next hill. There’s another verse where the Psalmist echoes the get-meaway-from-it-all sentiment. He says, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”2 But he also knew the secret to finding that wonderful place away from it all, and he shared that secret with us: “The Lord sustained me.”3 God sustained David through all his difficulties and tests, and He transformed his weights into wings. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”4 When we turn to God’s Word and wait in
WINGS from WEIGHTS
prayer until God touches our soul, we mount up to realms of peace and rest and are truly “sustained by the Lord.” This old world daily strives to pull us down, but there is an upward pull that will lift us to the very heart of God. If you read God’s Word, share your heart with Him, and wait for Him to speak to you, you will find all the strength you need. But many people try to run on their own strength, hoping that they will somehow surmount their difficulties that way. They put the feet before the wings. But read that verse again. The running and walking come after the renewing. What chance does your soul have if you never take those moments to connect with God and draw strength from Him? “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.”5 Evangelist and pastor Virginia Brandt Berg (1886–1968) was the mother of David Brandt Berg, founder of the Family International.
By Virginia Brandt Berg
1. Psalm 139:9–10 KJV
4. Isaiah 40:31
2. Psalm 55:6
5. Psalm 27:14
3. Psalm 3:5
6. See Isaiah 26:3.
God can solve your problems in one little glimpse. He can refresh your spirit with one deep breath. He can clarify your thoughts with just one sweet strain of heavenly music. He can wipe away your fears and tears with just one little restful moment in that perfect peace He gives when your mind is fixed on Him and Him alone.6 —David Brandt Berg
KINGFISHER EFFECT By David Bolick
When Japan’s Sanyo Shinkansen “bullet train” was first put in service, residents along the train line complained about the noise level. About half the line
was made up of tunnel sections, and the train would produce a tunnel boom on exiting due to the sudden change in air resistance. The engineers pondered the problem until one of them remembered having read about a bird with a unique design feature, the kingfisher. To catch its prey, the kingfisher dives from the air, which has low resistance, into high-resistance water—and it only creates the smallest splash upon entry. The engineer surmised that this was due to the shape of the kingfisher’s beak being perfectly suited to deal with such changes in resistance. He and his colleagues conducted simulations by shooting various shapes into a pipe and measuring the pressure waves on exit. The data showed that the ideal shape for the nose of the bullet train was almost identical to a kingfisher’s beak—problem solved! The engineers probably would have had a much more difficult time finding the solution if they had relied solely on their training and experience as mechanical engineers. The solution was found only when one of them looked elsewhere. One of the problems with problems is that we tend to rely too much on our own abilities and experience to solve them, when God
often has a better idea. It takes faith to stop trying so hard on our own and turn to God for help, but that’s usually what it takes for Him to get through to us. Faith is to problems what the kingfisher’s beak is to water. When obstacles present themselves, the sudden added resistance to our plans or routine can give us quite a jolt, but faith helps us find solutions quicker and with less wear and tear on our nerves. Faith doesn’t eliminate all our problems, but it lessens their impact. David Bolick is a member of the Family International in Mexico.
H OW TO H A N D L E ANYTHING
There are well-meaning people who believe that life is too harsh. They would like to plan and arrange the world so that no one need suffer. But without struggle, how could the end result of personality be developed? How could a person become rounded and mature and strong? As tough and unpleasant as difficulty may be, it is the source of potential development. Surround every difficulty with prayer, with faith, and with straight thinking. Then let enthusiasm build power under it. On this basis, you can handle any situation that can ever develop.—Norman Vincent Peale 5
THE FAITH FACTOR Adapted from David Brandt Berg
One of the greatest healing factors is faith, knowing that God loves us and is going to take care of us no matter what happens. Faith eliminates fear and tension, which are
We can never be completely happy or whole until we establish a loving relationship with God through His Son, Jesus. You can do that right now by praying this simple prayer: Jesus, I believe in You and want to get to know You better. Please be with me always. Amen. 6
two of the greatest causes of disease and ill health. Those and other negative mental states such as worry, hatred, and bitterness can contribute to various psychological and nervous disorders, as well as physiological conditions such as heart trouble, arthritis, and stomach ulcers. A negative state of mind can have a negative effect on the body, but if we can counter that negativity, we will find peace of mind, which will reduce stress on vital organs and promote health. This is why peaceful meditation, positive attitudes, and concentrating on good thoughts have a good effect on both mind and body. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”1 The Bible also tells us repeatedly not to worry or be fearful, but rather to ask God to work things out and to trust that He will. “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”2 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”3 “In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid.”4 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”5 “Do not be afraid; only believe.”6 Faith in God gives you peace of mind, contentment of heart, and a sense of spiritual well-being—all of which tend to greatly improve your physical well-being. David Brandt Berg (1919–1994) was the founder of the Family International. 1. Philippians 4:8
3. Psalm 46:1–2
5. John 14:27
2. Joshua 1:9
4. Psalm 56:11
6. Mark 5:36
By Janet Barnes
By Mother Teresa
One morning when I was at wits’ end, I checked my email and saw that a friend had sent me a video clip. It turned out to be a collection of relaxing beach scenes,
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is costly, care for it. Life is wealth, keep it. Life is love, enjoy it. Life is mystery, know it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it!
with soft instrumental music playing in the background. The waves washing on the shore reminded me of the peaceful beauty of God’s creation, and the gentle, repetitive sight and sound of the surf rolling onto the sand soothed my spirit. When I had calmed down enough to think more clearly, it dawned on me that most waves are the result of winds out at sea, turbulence. There is continual movement as each wave builds over time and distance. It picks up speed and breaks when it reaches the shallows. It stretches along the warm sand until it is just a thin sheet. Then, slowly and silently, it retreats back into the sea. On and on it goes—building, breaking, spreading, and returning in an endless cycle.
The winds of adversity can create some pretty big waves, like the ones that had engulfed me that morning. I felt buffeted and agitated, but it helped to remember that they were only for a time. Each trouble would run its course, retreat, and fade away. Peace and order would return. And they did. Janet Barnes is a member of the Family International in Romania.
It’s today that you have to have faith for. It’s today that God has provided the strength for. “As your days, so shall your strength be.”1 God gives you power for the hour, grace for the trial, at the hour and when it comes, not before. You don’t have to have faith for tomorrow today. Trust your heavenly Father. He loves you and is going to take care of you tomorrow, just like He’s taking care of you today. —David Brandt Berg 1. Deuteronomy 33:25 7
By Keith Phillips
PEACE PLAN keys to inner calm
Peace is a “fruit of the Spirit,”1 one of the special bless-
ings the Bible promises to those who strive to live close to God. The Hebrew word translated “peace” in most English versions of the Old Testament denoted completeness, soundness, and overall well-being. The New Testament connotation is inner tranquility—a combination of hope, trust, and quiet of mind and soul.2 In this day and age, such peace can be elusive. There’s no magic formula for attaining inner peace, but there are certain things we can do to nurture it.
Trust God Trust doesn’t just happen. As children 8
we learn to trust our parents because we feel their love and benefit from their care and mature understanding of life. We trust friends who have stuck with us through thick and thin. We trust businesspeople whom we find to be honest and reliable. We trust people, in short, because of our experience with them. It’s the same with God. The more we open our hearts to Him, the more we feel His love and concern. The more we study the Bible and Bible-based materials, the better we understand life and the more we appreciate God’s wisdom and goodness. The more we put God’s promises to the test, the more faith we have in them. The more we take
our problems to Him, the more we learn to depend on Him to work them out. The better we get to know Him, the more we trust Him; and the more we trust Him, the more inner peace we have. Go God’s way When we think in terms of what will please God and do our best to act accordingly, we can expect His blessing. “You [God] treat us with kindness and with honor, never denying any good thing to those who live right.”3 That doesn’t mean everything will come easily or go smoothly, because hard work and troubles are part of life. It does mean, though, that we can have peace of mind even in difficult times, because God has promised us good things in the end. Inner turmoil is often the result of stubbornly or selfishly pushing our own plans when deep down we know that God wants something else for us or others. That never works.
Jesus didn’t promise to change the circumstances around us, but He did promise great peace and pure joy to those who would learn to believe that God actually controls all things. —Merlin Carothers
Take problems to God in prayer Turning our problems over to God in prayer benefits us in two ways. First, we get His help, which makes all the difference in the world. But it also has the extra benefit of taking the pressure off of us to work things out. “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then …God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.”4 Give troubles time Whatever may befall us and for whatever reason, we can rest assured that God can and wants to bring about some greater good through it. Eventually, “all things work together
for good to those who love God.”5 In the meantime, our faith is strengthened and we learn patience. Without either of those—faith and patience— it’s hard to be at peace. That’s why the Bible tells us to stay positive and hang in there. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”6 Let go of the past It’s impossible to feel at peace with ourselves or God as long as we’re still carrying the burden of past mistakes. We can repent a thousand times and do penance until hell freezes over, but we won’t experience genuine peace until we fully accept the fact that God forgave us for every wrong
1. Galatians 5:22–23
3. Psalm 84:11 CEV
7. Isaiah 43:25
2. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary,
4. Philippians 4:6–7 CEV
8. Romans 5:1
Copyright © 1986, Thomas
5. Romans 8:28
6. James 1:2–4
the instant we asked Him to. We say, “I’m too bad.” God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”7 “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”8 View adversity as opportunity In one of his rare hopeful moments, Friedrich Nietzsche hit on a happy truth: “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” In her book Gratitude: A Way of Life, Louise L. Hay was more specific. “No matter what is happening around us, we can choose to respond in a way that will help us learn and grow. When we look at our difficulties as opportunities for growth, then we can be grateful for the lessons we are learning from these difficult experiences. There is always a gift in every experience. Expressing gratitude allows us to find it.” When we adopt that mindset, we put problems in perspective, free 9
Anything wonderful can happen in that little margin of time when you don’t give up but keep on believing. —Virginia Brandt Berg
ourselves from the negativity they conjure up, and find peace. Cultivate contentment “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”9 Who doesn’t like the sound of “great gain”? It’s “godliness” and “contentment” that people tend to misinterpret and get hung up on. “Godliness” is not a matter of piety or perfection. It isn’t a sinless state, but a lifelong process; it’s recognizing that we’re not nearly as much like Him as we should be and asking Him to make us better. And “contentment” isn’t a matter of feigning happiness or resigning ourselves to the way things are when they aren’t as they should be; it’s a matter of loving God and 9. 1 Timothy 6:6
trusting Him to make things better. It’s “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”10 Take time for quiet reflection “Give God time to reveal Himself to you. Give yourself time to be silent and quiet before Him, waiting to receive, through the Spirit, the assurance of His presence with you, His power working in you. Let [Him] create within you a holy atmosphere, a holy, heavenly light‚ in which your soul will be refreshed and strengthened for the work of daily life.”11 In those quiet moments, God is able to renew your spirit and also make you more like Himself.12
10. Philippians 1:6 11. Andrew Murray, South African writer and pastor (1828–1917) 12. Ephesians 4:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18 13. Philippians 4:8 14. John 16:33 10
Be grateful Counting our blessings puts us on a positive channel. It doesn’t solve all our problems, but it takes our focus off of the things that upset
and unsettle us. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy— meditate on these things.”13 Deepen your personal relationship with Jesus In Jesus’ farewell to His disciples, knowing that He was about to be arrested and crucified, He told them, “These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”14 The better you get to know Jesus by reading His Word, especially the Gospels, and by interacting with Him through prayer and reflection, the more you will be convinced that He and His Father have everything under control, no matter how things may appear on the surface.
SHATTERED! By Natalia Nazarova
When my husband went on an extended business trip for nearly three months, I found out what challenges single parents face. It was a big
adjustment to have to keep up with the house and care for the children on my own, in addition to my job. Other circumstances also took a toll on my emotions, and I found it increasingly difficult to cope. Each day’s outlook seemed bleaker than the last. The struggle exhausted me physically and mentally. Then came the last straw. Dinner was almost ready, and it would be ten minutes before the children finished their homework and came to eat. I had been using my laptop to listen to music while I cooked, and decided to use those ten minutes to check my email. I scooped the laptop from the kitchen counter and headed for the living room, but in my frazzled state I forgot to unplug the power cord. When I had gone only a few steps, sudden resistance tore the laptop from my grip. I can still see the scene unfolding, as though in slow motion—my computer falling, flipping, bouncing, the screen going blank. I was in shock the rest of the evening, and couldn’t fall asleep that night. When my mind finally stopped racing, I began to consider how stressed I had been and consequently how unhappy I was. I believed that
God wanted to help me get out of the mess I was in, and He did. In my desperate, “shattered” state, He was able to get through to me about areas where I had been falling short—my relationships with my older children and my attitude toward some of my coworkers, for example. In that time of quiet reflection, I sought and found God’s forgiveness, and faith and hope were restored. Then I remembered my shattered laptop. But instead of the despair I had felt all evening, I had the distinct feeling that all was not lost. If God could put me back together, I reasoned, surely there was hope for my laptop. The next morning I switched on the laptop, and it rebooted. Only a small portion of the screen lit up, but the computer was still functioning. Only the screen had been damaged, and that was relatively inexpensive to replace. Now each time I open my laptop and the screen lights up, I am reminded of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness, the peace He has to offer, and the inner change He brings when we take our problems to Him. Natalia Nazarova is a member of the Family International in Argentina. 11
POINTS TO PONDER
Beat stress A 113-year-old man, when asked the secret of his longevity, replied, “When it rains, I let it.”
Stress is not what happens to us. It’s our response to what happens. And response is something we can choose.—Maureen Killoran
Stress is the trash of modern life— we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life. —Terri Guillemets
Stress believes that everything is an emergency.—Natalie Goldberg
Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength. —Charles Haddon Spurgeon For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.—Lily Tomlin Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.—Ovid Believing that you must do something perfectly is a recipe for stress, and you’ll associate that stress with the task and thus condition yourself to avoid it.—Steve Pavlina
P R AYER FOR THE DAY
The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.—William James If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high stress levels. However, if you try and see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish.—Catherine Pulsifer Keep your sense of humor. There’s enough stress in the rest of your life to let bad shots ruin a game you’re supposed to enjoy.—Amy Alcott I will cast all my cares on God. They cannot burden Him. —Joseph Hall
Jesus, when I feel weak, tired, or out of sorts, You’re right there to put Your arms around me, to comfort me, and tell me that everything is going to be okay. You reach down and soothe my ruffled nerves, melt away my worries and fears, and lift the confusion that surrounds me. Thank You that I can find relief from the pressure of a busy schedule by turning to You. When I stop what I’m doing and take a few minutes to think about You and Your love, my spirit is refreshed and I find the strength to continue on with my busy day. Thank You for the peace You pour into me when I’m stressed or down. And thank You, too, that when I feel good, You make me feel even better. 12
rest assured By Samuel Keating
Stress is no fun. Whether as a student cramming before an important
exam, a parent juggling the demands of work and family, a relative or close friend of someone facing a serious health problem, a professional struggling to stay current, or one of millions trying to stay on their feet in a shaky economy, everyone has experienced the debilitating effects of stress. Some of the primary causes of stress may have changed since the Bible was written, but the Bible’s instruction and promises on the subject are as valid now as they were thousands of years ago.
God promises peace to those who turn to Him. The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.—Psalm 29:11 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.—Matthew 11:28 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.—John 14:27 Counter worry with prayer. Be anxious for nothing, but let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds. —Philippians 4:6–7 Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you.—Psalm 55:22 Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.—1 Peter 5:7
Stay close to God. Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace.—Job 22:21 My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.—Exodus 33:14 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. —Isaiah 26:3 I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.—Psalm 16:8
Trust in God’s unfailing love and care. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.—Matthew 10:29,31 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? —Romans 8:32 I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.—Romans 8:38–39 13
I love you, Mom. I love your aliveness, your joy in living, your understanding, your giving. And what I love best of all is that you love me. God of all Mothers, thank you for my mom! —Gaynell Bordes Cronin
His little arms crept ’round my neck, and then I heard him say Four simple words I can’t forget, four words that made me pray. They turned a mirror on my soul, on secrets no one knew, They startled me, I hear them yet, he said, “I’ll be like you!” —Herbert Parker
By Tina Kapp
Some of my earliest memories are of riding on the back of a motorcycle, behind my mom. And it wasn’t just for a spin around the block. We
were a missionary family and lived in countries where motorcycles were often the most practical or affordable means of transportation. (I grew up in Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Macau, and Singapore.) But that wasn’t the only unusual or outstanding thing about Mom. She always made a point to learn and fit into the local culture as much as she could, and she loved to communicate with people in their own language. She was also an expert at organizing fun, educational outings for us kids, and encouraged us to try local foods, sports, and ways of doing things. I moved to Uganda as a young adult, and after a while Mom joined me. It was wonderful to see how quickly and well she adapted to Africa after having lived in Japan for many years. As always, she was eager to learn new things, 14
studying various local dialects and learning all she could about the Ugandan culture. It wasn’t long before she was greeting sellers at the street market in their own vernaculars. She got to know all of our Ugandan neighbors, right down to details of their children’s education and interests, and she never hesitated to help a friend or stranger in need. She also hadn’t lost her fun-loving, slightly reckless side. On one of her days off, she could be found riding her dirt bike to Lake Victoria, renting motorbikes for others of us to learn to ride, or her favorite—kayaking down the Nile. The best moms, I’ve found, aren’t necessarily perfect cooks or housekeepers, but they love their children completely and in their own way. They also set an example by living what they teach, and aren’t afraid to let their children try new things and be themselves. And while they’re at it, they enjoy life to the full. Tina Kapp is a member of the Family International in South Africa.
O We know who to turn to in trying times—“God is a very present help in trouble”1—but often we can’t
find words to express what we’re going through or what we want Him to do about it. Some people are gifted at that, but those of us who aren’t have another option: we can use a prayer from the Bible or other source. Jesus gave us an example in what probably has become the most famous prayer of all time, the Lord’s Prayer.2 When His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He didn’t give them theory, mechanics, or generalities; He gave them a prayer they could memorize and repeat. Here are two prayers for trying times. Jot a list of the difficult situations you encountered today or anticipate, and then turn them over to God using one of these prayers. The first is great for starting the day; the second for when the difficulties of the day have taken a toll.
O Lord, grant me the blessing of greeting the coming day in peace. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that Thy will governs us all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by Thee. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray Thou Thyself in me. —Filaret Drozdov (1782–1867)
God of our life, there are days when the burdens we carry chafe our shoulders and weigh us down; when the road seems dreary and endless, the skies gray and threatening; when our lives have no music in them, and our hearts are lonely, and our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light; run our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; tune our hearts to brave music; give us the sense of comradeship with heroes and saints of every age; and so quicken our spirits that we may be able to encourage the souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, to Your honor and glory. —Attributed to Saint Augustine (354–430)
Your Prayer, Their Words A spiritual exercise
1. Psalm 46:1 2. Matthew 6:9–13 15
FR OM JESUS WITH LOVE
Let Me help Life wasnâ€™t designed to coast through without any troubles or hardships. There will always be setbacks, difficulties, and pressures, but if you learn to see those as challenges that I can help you overcome, I will do just that. I want to lift the weight of uncertainty from your shoulders. I want you to hold on to the knowledge that no matter how great the need, how dark the night, or how seemingly impossible the situation, I am in control and never fail those who turn to Me for help. No matter what you are up against, you and I can overcome it. Allow Me to work on your behalf. When you find yourself in a stressful situation and decide to trust Me to bring you through it, your faith releases My power, 1. Matthew 17:20
3. Matthew 11:28
2. 2 Corinthians 12:9
4. Philippians 4:7
which is vastly greater than your own. You may be able to sort things out eventually, but I can help you do it much quicker. You may be able to withstand a lot of pressure, but I can relieve the pressure. You may be able to do something well, but you and I can do it better. I will never leave your side. I will make good on My promises to move mountains,1 give you sustaining grace,2 rest of spirit,3 and peace that surpasses understanding.4 No matter what is going on around you, you can be at peace when you are anchored deeply in Me. Beneath the churning waves, your anchor will hold. Come to Me, lay your burdens on My shoulders, and find that I have all you need.