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About Patricia Raybon

Patricia Raybon, a former Sunday Magazine editor at The Denver Post and former associate professor of journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder, now writes bridge-building books “to inspire people to love God and each other.” Passionate for God’s Word, she also supports Bible-translation projects worldwide. Her award-winning books include My First White Friend and I Told the Mountain to Move. A mother of two and grandmother of five, she and husband Dan live in Colorado where they enjoy movies, popcorn, cozy mysteries, and soapy PBS dramas. Find her at patriciaraybon.com or on Facebook or Twitter @patriciaraybon.

Planted in God

By |2022-06-17T09:06:04-04:00June 17th, 2022|

“The wind is tossing the lilacs.” With that opening line of her springtime poem “May,” poet Sara Teasdale captured a vision of lilac bushes waving in gusty breezes. But Teasdale was lamenting a lost love, and her poem soon turned sorrowful.

Our backyard lilacs also encountered a challenge. After having their most lush and beautiful season, they faced the axe of a hard-working lawn man who “trimmed” every bush, chopping them to stubs. I cried. Then, three years later—after barren branches, a bout of powdery mildew, and my faithless plan to dig them up—our long-suffering lilacs rebounded. They just needed time, and I simply needed to wait for what I couldn’t see.

The Bible tells of us many people who waited by faith despite adversity. Noah waited for delayed rain. Caleb waited forty years to live in the Promised Land. Rebekah waited twenty years to conceive a child. Jacob waited seven years to marry Rachel. Simeon waited and waited to see the baby Jesus. Their patience was rewarded.

In contrast, those who look to humans “will be like a bush in the wastelands” (Jeremiah 17:6). Poet Teasdale ended her verse in such gloom. “I go a wintry way,” she concluded. But for believers, “blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,” rejoiced Jeremiah.  “They will be like a tree planted by the water” (vv. 7–8).

The trusting stay planted in God—the One who will walk with us through the joys and adversities of life.

Turn Up the Heat

By |2022-05-26T09:06:04-04:00May 26th, 2022|

Temperatures where we live in Colorado can change quickly—sometimes within a few minutes. So my husband, Dan, was curious about the temperature differences in and around our home. As a fan of gadgets, he was excited to unpack his latest “toy”—a thermometer showing temperature readings from four “zones” around our house. Joking that it was a “silly” gadget, I was surprised to find myself frequently checking the temperatures, too. The differences inside and out fascinated me.

Jesus used temperature to describe the “lukewarm” church in Laodicea, one of the richest of the seven cities cited in the book of Revelation. A bustling banking, clothing, and medical hub, the city was hampered by a poor water supply, so it needed an aqueduct to carry water from a hot springs. By the time the water arrived in Laodicea, however, it was neither hot nor cold.

The church was tepid too. Jesus said, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15–16). As Christ explained, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (v. 19).

Our Savior’s plea remains urgent for us too. Are you spiritually neither hot nor cold? Accept His correction and ask Him to help you live an earnest, fired-up faith.

Servants of the Night

By |2022-04-30T09:06:02-04:00April 30th, 2022|

It’s 3 a.m. at an acute-care hospital. A worried patient presses the call button for the fourth time in an hour. The night-shift nurse answers without complaint. Soon another patient is screaming, crying for attention. The nurse isn’t surprised. She requested the night shift five years ago to avoid her hospital’s daytime frenzy. Then the reality hit. Night work often means taking on extra tasks, such as lifting and turning patients by herself. It also means closely monitoring patients’ conditions so physicians can be notified in emergencies.

Buoyed by close friendships with her nighttime co-workers, this nurse still struggles to get adequate sleep. Often, she asks her church for prayer, seeing her work as vital. “Praise God, their prayers make a difference.”

Her praise is good and right for a night worker—as well as for all of us. The psalmists wrote, “Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who minister by night in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord” (Psalm 134:1–2).

This psalm, written for the Levites who served as temple watchmen, acknowledged their vital work—protecting the temple by day and night. In our nonstop world, it feels proper to share this psalm especially for nighttime workers, yet every one of us can praise God in the night. As the psalm adds, “May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 3).

Keep It Simple

By |2022-03-22T09:06:05-04:00March 22nd, 2022|

The email was short but urgent. “Request salvation. I would like to know Jesus.” What an astonishing request. Unlike reluctant friends and family who hadn’t yet received Christ, this person didn’t need convincing. My task was to quiet my self-doubt about evangelizing and simply share key concepts, Scriptures, and trusted resources that addressed this man’s plea. From there, by faith, God would lead his journey.

Philip demonstrated such simple evangelism when on a desert road he met the treasurer of Ethiopia who was reading aloud from the book of Isaiah. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked (Acts 8:30). “How can I,” the man answered, “unless someone explains it to me” (v. 31). Invited to clarify, “Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (v. 35).  

Starting where people are and keeping evangelism simple, as Philip showed, can be an effective way to share Christ. In fact, as the two traveled along, the man said, “Look here is water” and asked to be baptized (v. 37). Philip complied, and the man “went on his way rejoicing” (v. 39). I rejoiced when the email writer replied that he had repented of sin, confessed Christ, found a church, and believed he was born again. What a beautiful start! Now, may God take him higher!

Managing Our Gifts

By |2022-03-02T08:06:05-05:00March 2nd, 2022|

In 2013, British actor David Suchet was filming the final TV episodes as Agatha Christie’s beloved Belgium detective Hercule Poirot—and also starring in a stage play—when he took on “the biggest role in my life.” Between those projects he recorded an audio version of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation—752,702 words over two hundred hours.

Suchet, who converted to Christianity after reading the book of Romans in a hotel Bible, called the project the fulfillment of “a 27-year-long ambition. I felt totally driven. I did so much research on every part of it that I couldn’t wait to get going.” Then he donated his wages.

His recording remains an inspiring example of how to glorify God by stewarding well a gift, then sharing it. Peter urged such stewardship in his letter to first-century Christians. Persecuted for worshiping Christ not Caesar, they were challenged to focus instead on living for God by nurturing their spiritual gifts. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11). The gift of helping? Likewise develop it “so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

Suchet’s talents as a dramatist are something he could offer to the Lord. We can do the same. Whatever God has given to you, manage it well for His glory.   

His Amazing Help

By |2022-02-10T08:06:03-05:00February 10th, 2022|

The sheriff marveled at the prayers, estimating “hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of prayers” were lifted to God for help as the East Troublesome Fire raged through the mountains of Colorado in the fall of 2020. Living up to its name, the blaze consumed 100,000 acres in twelve hours, roaring through tinder-dry forests, burning three hundred homes to the ground, and threatening entire towns in its path. Then came “the Godsend,” as one meteorologist called it. No, not rain. A timely snowfall. It fell across the fire zone, arriving early for that time of year—dropping up to a foot or more of wet snow—slowing the fire and, in some places, stopping it.

Such merciful help seemed too amazing to explain. Does God hear our prayers for snow? And rain, too?  The Bible records His many answers, including after Elijah’s hope for rain (1 Kings 18:41–46.) A servant of great faith, Elijah understood God’s sovereignty, including over the weather. As Psalm 147 says of God, “He supplies the earth with rain” (v. 8). “He spreads the snow like wool . . . Who can withstand his icy blast?” (vv. 16–17.)

Elijah could hear “the sound of a heavy rain” before clouds even formed (1 Kings 18:41). Is our faith in His power that strong? God invites our trust, no matter His answer. Thus, look to Him for His amazing help.

Brave Your Storm

By |2022-01-17T08:06:03-05:00January 17th, 2022|

A fierce thunderstorm lashed Memphis, Tennessee, on the evening of April 3, 1968. Weary and feeling ill, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided not to give his planned speech for striking sanitation workers at a church hall. He was surprised by an urgent phone call saying a large crowd had braved the weather to hear him. So he went to the hall and spoke for forty minutes, delivering what some say was his greatest speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

The next day, King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, but his speech still inspires oppressed people that they’ll “get to the Promised Land.” Likewise, early followers of Jesus were uplifted by a stirring message. The book of Hebrews, written to encourage Jewish believers facing threats for their faith in Christ, offers firm spiritual encouragement to not lose hope. As it urged, “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (v. 12). As Jews, they would recognize that appeal as originally coming from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 35:3).

But now, as Christ’s disciples, they were called to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (vv. 1–2). The writer encouraged them: “You will not grow weary and lose heart” (v. 3).

Certainly squalls and storms await us in this life. But in Jesus, we outlast life’s tempests by standing in Him.

Hearing Us from Heaven

By |2022-01-12T08:06:02-05:00January 12th, 2022|

At eighteen months old, little Maison had never heard his mother’s voice. Then doctors fitted him with his first hearing aids and his mom Lauryn asked Maison, “Can you hear me?” The child’s eyes lit up. “Hi Baby!” his mom added. A smiling Maison softly replied, “Hi!” In tears, the mother knew she’d witnessed a miracle. She’d given birth to Maison prematurely after gunmen shot her three times during a random home invasion. Weighing just one pound, Maison spent 158 days in intensive care and wasn’t expected to survive, let alone be able to hear.

That heart-warming story reminds me of the God who hears us. King Solomon prayed fervently for God’s attuned ear, especially during troubling times. When “there is no rain ” (1 Kings 8:35), during “famine or plague,” disaster or disease (v. 37), war (v. 44), and even sin, “hear from heaven their prayer and their plea,” Solomon prayed, “and uphold their cause” (v. 45).

In His goodness, God responded with a promise that still stirs our hearts. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Heaven may seem a long way off. Yet Christ is with those who believe in Him. God hears our prayers, and He answers them.

Better Than Gold

By |2021-12-30T08:06:03-05:00December 30th, 2021|

When gold seeker Edward Jackson set out for California during the Great Gold Rush in the US, his diary entry on May 20, 1849, lamented his grueling wagon journey, marked by disease and death. “O do not leave my bones here,” he wrote. “If possible let them lay at home.” Another gold-seeker named John Walker penned, “It is the most complete lottery that you can imagine . . . I cannot advise any person to come.”

Walker, in fact, returned home and succeeded at farming, ranching, and state politics. When a family member took Walker’s yellowing letters to the American TV program Antiques Roadshow, they were valued at several thousand dollars. Said the TV host, “So he did get something valuable out of the Gold Rush. The letters.”

Even more, both Walker and Jackson returned home after gaining wisdom that caused them to take hold of a more practical life. Consider these words about wisdom from King Solomon, “Blessed are those who find wisdom . . . she is a tree of life to those who take hold of her” (Proverbs 3:13, 18). A wise choice is  “more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold” (v. 14)—making wisdom more precious than any earthly desire (v. 15.)

“Long life is in her right hand . . . and all her paths are peace” (vv. 16–17). Our challenge, therefore, is to hold tight to wisdom not shiny wishes. It’s a path God will bless.

Remembered in Prayer

By |2021-12-19T08:06:03-05:00December 19th, 2021|

In the large African church, the pastor fell to his knees, praying to God. “Remember us!” As the pastor pleaded, the crowd responded, crying, “Remember us, Lord!” Watching this moment on YouTube, I was surprised that I shed tears, too. The prayer was recorded months earlier. Yet it recalled childhood times when I heard our family’s pastor make the same plea to God. “Remember us, Lord!”

Hearing that prayer as a child, I’d wrongly assumed that God sometimes forgets about us. But God is all-knowing (Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20), He always see us (Psalm 33:13–15), and He loves us beyond measure (Ephesians 3:17–19).

Even more, as we see in the Hebrew word zakar, meaning “remember,” when God “remembers” us, He acts for us. Zakar also means to act on a person’s behalf. Thus, when God “remembered” Noah and “all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark,” He then “sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (Genesis 8:1). When God “remembered” barren Rachel, He “listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son” (Genesis 30:22–23).

What a great plea of trust to ask God in prayer to remember us! He will decide how He answers. We can pray knowing, however, that our humble request asks God to move.

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