We have to store older things somewhere.  This looks like a good place!

I remember a time when I was about 8 years old and was having a lot of problems with my teeth. It was at that time in my life that I developed my first great fear, the fear of sitting in a dentists chair and watching him approach me with a needle as big as a matadors? sword. There was one time when I had to make my way to the dentists? office all on my own, to sit in the waiting room and then present myself as a willing participant in the removal of decayed enamel.

Have you ever had to choose to move towards something that you knew was going to be painful and yet you also knew it would ultimately lead to that which was very good? How do you resolve the problem of pain while trying to hold onto that which is essential to right relationship? Do I hate the dentist, do I distrust and pull away from my parents who sent me there, or do I resolve to see purpose beyond pain. It's a simple question to answer when we think of cavities cleaned and filled to rot no more, but it's more difficult to answer when we consider the pages of the Old Testament.

In Deuteronomy 7:1 all the people of Israel were told that they would take over the land of Caanan from seven nations that were greater and stronger than themselves. Verse 2 says, ? ?you shall defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with . . .

How often has someone convinced you to say yes to something when you really did not want to?  There are some very clever ploys at large, which can persuade even the toughest individuals to change their minds, but how do the persuaders do it?

The scientific study of social influence began about the time of WW II, when public information, propaganda and persuasion programs began in earnest.  One scientist who has studied the phenomena for about 30 years is Robert Cialdini.  He discovered that there are six basic tendencies that help govern our response to a request ? reciprocation, consistency, social validation, liking, authority and scarcity.

Reciprocation plays on a human desire to give back to someone who first gives to us.  For example, when the Disabled American Veterans mail out requests for money, they usually get an 18% response, but this doubles if they include some free, personalized address labels.  Receiving a gift seems to obligate us to give something in return.  This is why we frequently receive free samples, of gifts, tokens, vouchers and so on with product promotions.

Consistency has to do with an expectation of a person's integrity.  If a person says they will give money, they usually do.  If a person says they will use the table they have reserved in a restaurant, they usually . . .

It's December 24, 1914. The day has dawned bright and sunny, if cold, instead of the miserable rain which made life more miserable in the stinking mud of the Western Front of WW1. Along a 27 mile front from Ypres to the La Basse canal, British troops and the German troops, at times less than 100 yards apart heard something amazing. The guns fell silent and here and there at first, they heard the sound of carolling. The songs would be picked up from men in the opposite trenches and before long, men who hours earlier would have killed each other were celebrating Christmas Eve, and in one case, engaged in a friendly game of soccer. The famous "Christmas Truce" of the First World War was hardly more than a momentary blip in one of the world's most bloody conflicts. But it happened.

And the world still waits for evidence that the Prince of Peace is upon the throne of God.
But we wait in hope, because Jesus has come and has offered us the hope which comes from feeling His love.

When I worked at counselling, a young woman came to see me. She had the usual litany that comes from a life of abuse: alcohol addiction, a series of broken relationships, lack of confidence and a deep lingering pain from the center of her being. She came to talk to me over about three years. Not weekly, but . . .

I sat at the table for five hours watching people walk by. Every now and then someone would stop and pick up one of my books. I'd chat with them, telling them the book was a collection of devotionals. Sometimes I'd share how the Lord had used it to make a change in someone's life. Usually they'd smile and move on. They'd move on to buy trinkets at other tables loaded with kitsch ? painted plastic santas, crocheted snowflakes, angels made of dishtowels, and snowmen made of styrofoam.

As the day wore on I got a little discouraged. And, as discouragement often does, it started to move into bitterness tinged with anger. Why were these people so eager to grab things that had so little value and would last for such a short time? Why weren't they more interested in buying something that could nourish their souls? It made me want to scream, but I kept quiet and tried to keep smiling when someone glanced my way.

As I drove home later that day I ruminated. I love that word ? it means to turn over and over, as in a cow chewing her cud. And that's what it felt like as I drove along ? my stomach was churning; I was stewing over what had happened, and I wasn't being very complimentary to those people who had not bought my books.

Then that still small voice whispered from somewhere beyond ? ?And what about you?? Me, Lord? Um ?

It was Donald Grey Barnhouse who once said, ?Love that reaches up is adoration, love that reaches across is affection, but love that reaches down is grace.? God has given each of us numerous opportunities to reach down, and there are many more times when it has been us who have been taken hold of by grace. You know what has guided your heart to be gracious, the apparent need, the remembrance of your past, the hope for good to occur?all these thoughts and many more go through our minds as we consider whether to be a gracious person in any given circumstance. These considerations do not take away from the fact that it really is grace that occurs.

My point is that grace is certainly the expression of love moving downwards, it is undeserved favor but it is guided or directed by a series of considerations in every case. Like the feathers on the shaft of an arrow or the grooves or the inside of a gun barrel, these considerations guide the expressions of grace every time. Humanly we can see how this is so, we get that, but what guides God's mind when it comes to Him being the bestower of grace? It still is an absolutely free act of His will towards us, Ephesians 2:8,9 demonstrates that, but what directs His will to be gracious to whom He will be gracious? Does God just show grace to everyone and under every circumstance, like a great grace dispensing machine where all you do is pull the lever and you get . . .


Marcia Laycock is a pastor's wife and freelance writer living in Alberta Canada.  Her devotional book The Spur of the Moment has been endorsed by Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and others.  To order, and to view more of Marcia's writing, see her web site - www.vinemarc.com
Written By Richard Gunther.
Harris Dvores is a corporate lawyer in Orlando, Florida. But only from 9 to 5. For more than 20 years, he has pursued his passion to create: everything from Christian music and church skits, to Star Trek scripts and board games. His new website, www.harrisdvores.com, is a playground for the mind and spirit. A Jewish believer, Harris has been given truly amazing stories to share about the power of God.

Rev. Spence Laycock pastors at Church of the Open Bible, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.

Pastor Bert Nieuwenhuis is the interim pastor at Somerset Bible Chapel, Manitoba, Canada.
Diane Davis, a former policewoman in Toronto, recently retired from a lengthy career as a civilian member of the Ontario Provincial Police.  Amongst many things, she is now turning her attention to writing, music, and her 5 grandchildren.  She is also Pastor Tim's mom.

Blog Writings by Melva Cooper.

Melva Cooper is a wife, mother and grandmother from Jonesboro, Arkansas. God has given her, in her retirement years, the ministry of writing for HIM. "Even in old age, you will still produce fruit" is a verse He has given her (Psalm 92:14). And it is her desire to serve Him all the days of her life.

Barbara, a Christian homemaker, began her Web Site through encouragement from her son, and a dream. It quickly became a ministry for the Lord. She began writing devotionals to encourage, inspire, and build up spiritually those coming to her site.  Barbara is a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother.

Writing poetry that brings glory to God is Sandra's passion.  No matter where she has lived, or what she has gone through, she has found that God is always there before her to lead her in His paths and to catch her when she falls.  Married, with two sons two granddaughters on the way, Sandra's future goals include writing more poetry trying her hand at writing short devotionals for children.

Dr. Harold McNabb pastors at Westshore Presbyterian Church in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

"Ever feel as though life is a lions' den and like Daniel, you're right in the middle of it all? Enjoy these "Devotions from the Den" (Lions 'n Life at Peggie's Place) and delight in God's promises of love, joy and peace for whatever is happening in YOUR den today!"

Miscellaneous archived items.

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