An Encounter With the Ark

By Linda Tancs

Noah’s ark is the storied vessel discussed in the Bible’s Book of Genesis, built by Noah to save his family and a menagerie from a world-engulfing flood. While scientists debate the existence of the real McCoy at Mount Ararat in Turkey, you can witness your own real-life model of the life-saving ship at the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. The museum features a full-size ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible, spanning 510 feet in length, 85 feet in width and 51 feet in height. Built from standing dead timber by skilled Amish craftsmen, the ark contains three decks of exhibits, including life-like animal sculptures. The site also includes exotic live animals from around the world in Ararat Ridge Zoo.

Excuses, Excuses

By Linda Tancs

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else—Benjamin Franklin.

When you feel called to something, how do you react? Are you reluctant, like Moses (Exodus 3:11)? Are you willing, like Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4)? Or do you feel unworthy, like Isaiah (Isaiah 6)? When you’re called according to God’s will for your life, an opportunity is a wonderful thing to pursue (Ephesians 5:15-17). So why is it so hard sometimes?

Among other things, a fear of failure often leads to procrastination or choosing the path of least resistance (or so it seems). Don’t be afraid to take risks (Proverbs 22:13). Set reasonable goals (Proverbs 20:4) and have an attitude of expectancy, a return on investment (Proverbs 23:7). In other words, cast down your wrong thinking for the kind of thinking that Scripture advocates and you’ll overcome mindsets that undermine your efforts (Romans 12:2).

Be Inspired, Not Tired

By Linda Tancs

How energized are you? Do you feel like the tortoise—or the hare? If your answer is the tortoise, know that you’re in good company. Recent studies show that, among other factors, stress and social media are taking a toll on energy levels. It’s disheartening, especially considering that Scripture exhorts us to begin each day with zeal and enthusiasm (Romans 12:11).

So how do you put some zest back into life? For starters, it doesn’t hurt to get inspired. As the literary figure Goethe allegedly said, “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.” What are you dreaming about? What did you dream about as a kid? What do other people think you’re good at? Do you have a hobby? Another tactic for zeal is gratitude, something encouraged in the Bible (Colossians 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 12:2-3). Jesus likewise encourages you to give your tired mind, body or soul to Him for refreshment (Matthew 11:28-30). Don’t be tired; get inspired.

 

Oh, No You Don’t

By Linda Tancs

Writer and poet Khalil Gibran once wrote that we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty and obey only love. That’s pretty much the foundation for the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Those rules illustrate our ideal relationship with God (verses 3 through 11) as well as our relationship with others (verses 12 through 17).

Have you ever wondered why so many are written as negative injunctions (thou shalt not) rather than positive ones (thou shalt)? The discipline of social psychology did not yet exist, but the basis for the commandments’ efficacy may lie there. According to some scientists, we judge the violation of a “shalt not” more harshly than the failure to observe a “shalt.” So for the sake of an ordered society, we probably need more “shalt nots” in the form of proscriptions against theft, murder and deception as dictated in the commandments. And for the sake of our relationship with God, we need proscriptions against idolatry and defamation to define, develop and enhance our relationship with Him. Regardless of the form of the injunction, though, we learn through the Ten Commandments to love God and love His children, something Jesus would later say sums up all of the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:35-40).

The Light Within

By Linda Tancs

Author Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true meaning is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

That’s a good reminder to find the light within you. All the time. And everywhere—on the grocery line, at the doctor’s office, in the chemo room. Strive to be full of light—and life—in all circumstances. Why? Because we are like light for the whole world (Matthew 5:14-16). No one ever said life would be easy, fun or painless—all the more reason not to be immune to the wonders of the life all around you. Be vibrant.

Who, Me?

By Linda Tancs

“I’m not up to the task.” How often have you felt unworthy or unfit for a task? At least once, no doubt. We often shrink with fear when faced with an assignment that we perceive will test our limits—physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. During those times it’s good to remember how ordinary folks in the Bible were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. Consider the prophet Jeremiah, called by God at a young age to minister to a nation; he thought he was way too young and inexperienced to be effective (Jeremiah 1:4-8). Mary pondered how she, a virgin, could become mother to our Savior (Luke 1:34). Moses felt inadequate to the task of demanding Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 3:11). Jonah was so intimated by God’s call for him to witness at Nineveh that he fled on a ship (Jonah 1:2-3). Gideon thought himself too lowly of a man to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:11-16).

You get the picture. Yet in each case, God didn’t expect his draft picks to act alone. He promised to be with them. And so it is with us. He’s present in every task, duty, charge, assignment or obligation (Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20). Because of that, you can accomplish anything with the strength that He gives you (Philippians 4:13).

It’s Okay to Wobble

By Linda Tancs

If you’re of a certain vintage, you probably remember the Weebles toy—“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.” Think of that toy as a metaphor for life. Each of us needs to bounce back in the face of setbacks. Maybe you’ve fallen short in some area of your life—marriage, career, parenting. Just don’t settle for lack; get back on the horse, as the saying goes.

Discouragement scourges and oppresses progress. Consider the Israelites, whose grumbling and complaining kept them out of the Promised Land, ultimately for 40 years even though the journey was roughly only 11 days (Numbers 14:2-4; Deuteronomy 1:2). And then there’s Abraham’s father, Terah, who set out with his family in tow for Canaan but then settled for Haran (Genesis 11:31). In each case, the parties outright surrendered to discouragement and thwarted the progress God intended for them.

Wobble if you must, but don’t surrender (see Proverbs 24:16). Don’t settle for less than God’s best. Pray for the strength to hold on and not give up (Luke 18:1). You can’t reap a harvest without tending to the field (Galatians 6:9).

 

 

Who’s Your BFF?

By Linda Tancs

BFF (best friends forever) is a sweet sentiment, a cherished part of our digital culture. But friendships don’t last forever. After all, we all die. And, sometimes, relationships fail. That doesn’t mean we should neglect pursuing friendships in this life, but it’s comforting to remember that we do have an unfailing BFF—Jesus.

Paul recognized the value of the Lord’s fellowship when he remarked to the Philippians that he counted everything else as loss (Philippians 3:8). For each of us, Jesus is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). He is our refuge, fortress and shield (Psalm 91). He promised never to leave us nor forsake us, not to abandon us physically or emotionally (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). He gave His life for us.

What would you give for a friend like that?

 

When it Rains, it Pours

By Linda Tancs

You know what it’s like when you’re having “one of those days,” when everything that could possibly go wrong does exactly that. The prophet Habbakuk could relate. He lamented over fig trees that did not blossom, vines that bore no fruit, failing olive trees, fruitless fields, flock cut off from the fold and no cattle in the stalls (Habbakuk 3:17). I guess you could say he was having a bad day.

Do you often get overwhelmed when circumstances seem out of control? Habbakuk did, too, but God reminded him to trust Him in the midst of oppression and destruction. He instructed him, in essence, to create a vision board and stand by it (Habbakuk 2:3). After all, what’s the use in focusing on what is going wrong when you can visualize a better outcome? It’s easy to quit in hard times, the storms of life. Habbakuk resolved to trust God to make his feet like hinds’ feet—in other words, swift and nimble. How swiftly and nimbly do you act when life throws you a curveball?

We’re All Related

By Linda Tancs

There’s a beautiful Native American sculpture in Rapid City, South Dakota, entitled “We Are All Related.” It’s intended to represent hope for reconciliation, dignity and respect for the human race. I think it serves as a wonderful spiritual reminder that we are all part of God’s family, reconciled in Christ.

The Bible reminds us of our familial relationship in several places. For instance, John’s gospel states that believers in Christ earn the right to be called children of God (John 1:12). Although we may be separated geographically or culturally, we are not strangers or aliens but rather fellow citizens of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19-22). We were predestined for adoption (Ephesians 1:5), entitling us to call God our Father (Romans 8:15).

Outside familial bloodlines, are you able to see others as “relatives”? You may belong to a church where members regularly refer to each other as “brother” or “sister.” If so, how does it resonate with you? Do you leave the sentiment behind at the church door? Only through putting our spiritual inheritance into practice can we truly build a kingdom economy on earth (Matthew 6:10) that reconciles, dignifies and respects.