Entries by YMI

Are You There, Dad? It’s Me, Your Little Girl

When “father” means broken promises, unmet expectations, or complicated misunderstandings that we can’t help but carry with us as we forge our own way, what can give us hope?

This Father’s Day, three writers reflect on the relationship they have, or wish they could’ve had, with their dads.

ODB: Life to the Full

June 19, 2020 

READ: John 10:7–11 

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. John 10:10–11

 

Seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously wrote that human life in its natural state is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Hobbes argued that our instincts tend toward war in a bid to attain dominance over others; thus the establishment of government would be necessary to maintain law and order.

The bleak view of humanity sounds like the state of affairs that Jesus described when He said, “All who have come before me are thieves and robbers” (John 10:8). But Jesus offers hope in the midst of despair. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” but then the good news: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (v. 10).

Psalm 23 paints a refreshing portrait of the life our Shepherd gives us. In Him, we “lack nothing” (v. 1) and are refreshed (v. 3). He leads us down the right paths of His perfect will, so that even when we face dark times, we need not be afraid; for He is present to comfort us (vv. 3–4). He causes us to triumph in the face of adversity and overwhelms us with blessings (v. 5). His goodness and love follow us every day, and we have the privilege of His presence forever (v. 6).

May we answer the Shepherd’s call and experience the full, abundant life He came to give us.

— Remi Oyedele

How would you describe the life that Jesus came to give? How can you share this life with others?

Jesus, You’re the source of true life, abundant and full. Help me seek my fulfillment only in You.  

ODB: Straight Ahead

June 18, 2020 

READ: 2 Kings 22:1–2, 8–13 

He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord . . . , not turning aside to the right or to the left. 2 Kings 22:2

 

It used to take the steady eye and the firm hand of a farmer to drive a tractor or combine down straight rows. But even the best eyes would overlap rows, and by end of day even the strongest hands would be fatigued. But now there’s autosteer—a GPS-based technology that allows for accuracy to within one inch when planting, cultivating, and spraying. It’s incredibly efficient and hands-free. Just imagine sitting in a mammoth combine and instead of gripping the wheel, you’re gripping a roast beef sandwich. An amazing tool to keep you moving straight ahead.

You may recall the name Josiah. He was crowned king when he was only “eight years old” (2 Kings 22:1). Years later, in his mid-twenties, Hilkiah the high priest found “the Book of the Law” in the temple (v. 8). It was then read to the young king, who tore his robes in sorrow due to his ancestors’ disobedience to God. Josiah set about to do what was “right in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 2). The book became a tool to steer the people so there would be no turning to the right or left. God’s instructions were there to set things straight.

Allowing the Scriptures to guide us day by day keeps our lives in line with knowing God and His will. The Bible is an amazing tool that, if followed, keeps us moving straight ahead.

— John Blase

How is Bible reading a part of your daily routine? What Scriptures has God been using to keep your life on track?

God, the Scriptures are a gift that brings truth and freedom to our lives. Help me to hunger and thirst for Your words.
To gain a high-level perspective of what the Bible is about, visit bit.ly/2ksifC 

ODB: Dancing Before the Lord

June 17, 2020 

READ: Mark 14:1–9 

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?” Mark 14:4

 

A number of years ago, my wife and I visited a small church where during the worship service a woman began to dance in the aisle. She was soon joined by others. Carolyn and I looked at each other and an unspoken agreement passed between us: “Not me!” We come from church traditions that favor a serious liturgy, and this other form of worship was well beyond our comfort zone.

But if Mark’s story of Mary’s “waste” means anything at all, it suggests that our love for Jesus may express itself in ways that others find uncomfortable (Mark 14:1–9). A year’s wages were involved in Mary’s anointing. It was an “unwise” act that invited the disciples’ scorn. The word Mark uses to describe their reaction means “to snort” and suggests disdain and mockery. Mary may have cringed, fearing Jesus’ response. But He commended her for her act of devotion and defended her against His own disciples, for Jesus saw the love that prompted her action despite what some would consider the impractical nature of it. He said, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (v. 6).

Different forms of worship—informal, formal, quiet, exuberant—represent a sincere outpouring of love for Jesus. He’s worthy of all worship that comes from a heart of love.

— David H. Roper

Why do you think we’re critical of unfamiliar forms of worship? How can we change our thoughts about a form of worship that’s outside our comfort zone?

I bow before You, Almighty God, and worship You now. You’re worthy of the highest praise and adoration.  

ODB: Just-in-Case Idols

June 16, 2020 

READ: Jeremiah 11:9–13 

They have followed other gods to serve them. Jeremiah 11:10

 

Sam checks his retirement account twice each day. He saved for thirty years, and with the boost of a rising stock market, finally has enough to retire. As long as stocks don’t plunge. This fear keeps Sam worrying about his balance.

Jeremiah warned about this: “You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem” (11:13).

Judah’s idolatry is remarkable. They knew the Lord was God. How could they worship anyone else? They were hedging their bets. They needed the Lord for the afterlife, because only the true God could raise them from the dead. But what about now? Pagan gods promised health, wealth, and fertility, so why not pray to them too, just in case?

Can you see how Judah’s idolatry is also our temptation? It’s good to have talent, education, and money. But if we’re not careful, we might shift our confidence to them. We know we’ll need God when we die, and we’ll ask Him to bless us now. But we’ll also lean on these lesser gods, just in case.

Where is your trust? Back-up idols are still idols. Thank God for His many gifts, and tell Him you’re not relying on any of them. Your faith is riding entirely on Him.

— Mike Wittmer

What good thing are you tempted to turn into an idol? How might you use this gift while still depending fully on God?

Father, all my hope is in You. Help me trust in You alone, not in my abilities and assets.  

ASK YMI: How Do We Live in the Tension Between Rules and Grace?

A: What’s the difference between comfort and casual? Imagine you had the chance to meet one of your heroes—maybe your favorite actor, or an author you’ve read, or a musician you love. And instead of being an aloof celebrity-type who’s hard to talk to, this hero of yours is actually friendly, warm, and approachable. He goes out of his way to make you feel comfortable.

ODB: How to Rebuild

June 15, 2020 

READ: Nehemiah 2:11–18 

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. Nehemiah 2:18

 

It was nighttime when the leader set out by horseback to inspect the work that lay ahead. As he toured the destruction all around him, he saw city walls that had been destroyed and gates that had been burned. In some areas, the vast debris made it tough for his horse to get through. Saddened, the rider turned toward home.

When it came time to report the damage to the officials of the city, he began by saying, “You see the trouble we are in” (Nehemiah 2:17). He reported that the city was in ruins, and the protecting city wall had been rendered useless.

But then he made a statement that energized the troubled citizens: “I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me.” Immediately, the people replied, “Let us start rebuilding” (v. 18).

And they did.

With faith in God and all-out effort, despite enemy opposition and a seemingly impossible task, the people of Jerusalem—under Nehemiah’s leadership—rebuilt the wall in just fifty-two days (6:15).

As you consider your circumstances, is there something that looks difficult but that you know God wants you to do? A sin you can’t seem to get rid of? A relationship rift that’s not God-honoring? A task for Him that looks too hard?

Ask God for guidance (2:4–5), analyze the problem (vv. 11–15), and recognize His involvement (v. 18). Then start rebuilding.

— Dave Branon

What are a couple of “destroyed wall” situations that are troubling you? How will prayerfully asking for God’s help and guidance help you start the rebuilding process?

God, I need Your help. I can’t fix these problems alone. Help me to understand the situation, and then to seek Your help and guidance in resolving the challenges before me.  

ODB: Made for Each Other

June 14, 2020 

READ: Genesis 2:18–24 

It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Genesis 2:18

 

“I take care of him. When he’s happy, I’m happy,” says Stella. Merle replies, “I’m happy when she’s around.” Merle and Stella have been married for 79 years. When Merle was recently admitted to a nursing home, he was miserable—so Stella gladly brought him home. He’s 101, and she’s 95. Though she needs a walker to get around, she lovingly does what she can for her husband, such as preparing the food he likes. But she couldn’t do it on her own. Grandchildren and neighbors help with the things Stella can’t manage.

Stella and Merle’s life together is an example of Genesis 2, where God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (v. 18). None of the creatures God brought before Adam fit that description. Only in Eve, made from the rib of Adam, did Adam find a suitable helper and companion (vv. 19–24). 

Eve was the perfect companion for Adam, and through them God instituted marriage. This wasn’t only for the mutual aid of individuals but also to begin a family and to care for creation, which includes other people (1:28). From that first family came a community so that, whether married or single, old or young, none of us would be alone. As a community, God has given us the privilege of sharing “each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

— Alyson Kieda

How is it helpful to know that no matter our marital status, as believers in Jesus we’re never alone? How have you seen the body of Christ in action?

Dear God, thank You for creating man and woman for each other and for instituting community so that none of us are truly alone.  

ODB: He Changed Me

June 13, 2020 

READ: Ezekiel 18:25–32 

But if a wicked person . . . does what is just and right, they will save their life. Ezekiel 18:27

 

When John, who ran the biggest brothel in London, was sent to prison, he falsely believed, I’m a good guy. While there, he decided to attend the Bible study at the prison because there was cake and coffee, but he was struck by how happy the other inmates seemed to be. He started to cry during the first song and later received a Bible. Reading from the prophet Ezekiel changed him, hitting him “like a thunderbolt.” He read, “But if a wicked person turns away from [their] wickedness . . . and does what is just and right, . . . that person will surely live; they will not die” (18:27–28). God’s Word came alive to him and he realized, “I wasn’t a good guy . . . I was wicked and I needed to change.” While praying with the pastor, he said, “I found Jesus Christ and He changed me.”

These words from Ezekiel were spoken to God’s people when they were in exile. Although they had turned from God, He longed that they would rid themselves of their offenses and “get a new heart and a new spirit” (v. 31). Those words helped John to “Repent and live!” (v. 32) as he followed Jesus, the One who called sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32).

May we respond to the Spirit’s conviction of sin, that we too might enjoy forgiveness and freedom.

— Amy Boucher Pye

How do you react to the question of whether or not you’re a “good person”? In what areas of life could you “repent and live”?

Father God, thank You for making me aware of my sinful behavior through Your Holy Spirit. Soften my heart to repent and to receive Your forgiveness.