Today would have been my father-in-law’s 98th birthday. I only got to know Elmo for a few years and then we lost him to ALS. I am thankful for the way he loved my wife as she grew up. I am thankful for the blessing he was to us in our early years of marriage and ministry. I am thankful for the godly heritage he instilled in his family and for his sense of humor. Elmo reminds me to be thankful for all the people who have blessed my life and to be a blessing to someone else today.

As I look at the rain and snow, I think of our farmers who are watching multiple thousands of dollars of crop being ruined. Moisture has prevented planting in season and harvesting in season. I am reminded of Habakkuk 3:17-19 where a decision is made to rejoice in God despite crop failure. Many times, David was downcast in his soul. He had reason to be. Our farmers have good reason to be. Then David would instruct himself, “Put your hope in God.” (Psalms 42, etc.) Hope is not natural; it is chosen in difficult circumstances.

I am not naturally positive. Reading from Zig Ziglar and John Maxwell has been helpful. Zig Ziglar says, “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” John Maxwell illustrates: “Planes have an attitude indicator at the center instrument panel. The attitude is the position of the aircraft in relation to the horizon. A nose high attitude has the nose of the plane pointed above the horizon. The attitude determines a plane’s performance. Speed increases in a nose-high position. People need nose-high attitudes rather nose-down attitudes.” (The Winning Attitude, pp. 3-4) Get your nose in the air!

I value learning, but I have not always learned wisely. Learn for the purpose of using it in practical experience for some practical good. John Maxwell says we should learn every day and learn to earn—learn to gain something. Learn from taking big risks and jumping into new experiences instead of just from reading. Timing is also important in learning. We often take breaks from learning at the wrong times. Mark Cole warns that learning often decreases as winning increases. T. H. White wrote, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something.” Learn wisely.

When Abraham was about 110 years old, God gave him the greatest test of his life in Genesis 22. Don’t we ever get to retire from spiritual tests? Answer: Not until death. Some of the greatest spiritual tests will come in old age—sometimes associated with old age! God tells Israel in Isaiah 48:10 that He has refined and tested them in the furnace of affliction—for God’s glory. We may get to retire from a career, but we don’t get to retire from spiritual tests. Recognizing this is the first step to glorifying God in spiritual tests.

When Abraham was about 110 years old, God gave him the greatest test of his life in Genesis 22. Don’t we ever get to retire from spiritual tests? Answer: Not until death. Some of the greatest spiritual tests will come in old age—sometimes associated with old age! God tells Israel in Isaiah 48:10 that He has refined and tested them in the furnace of affliction—for God’s glory. We may get to retire from a career, but we don’t get to retire from spiritual tests. Recognizing this is the first step to glorifying God in spiritual tests.

We can get along without prayer, says Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest, August 28), because prayer doesn’t nourish our lives so much as it nourishes the life of Jesus inside us. This is probably why for so much of my life I have really struggled with praying. I have been interested in nourishing my life—doing anything that makes my life better. Prayer doesn’t always do that. I am learning to be more interested in nourishing God’s life within me. The best thing in my life is God. That is what I should nourish!