Archives: May 2009

staying together

Last year, a woman named Joan opened a letter from a local law firm and immediately burst into tears as she read its contents. The letter stated that her divorce from husband John "had been completed." She was in disbelief—the couple from Sheffield, England, had been happily married for 36 years!

It was later discovered that the law firm had…


I never thought of myself as having control issues—until I got married. Somehow blending two lives into one exposes how much we want things our way. From the way I like the covers tucked (or not tucked) at night to how we made decisions, I wanted things done in a way that made me feel comfortable. Exposing my need for…

May 29, 2009

The former president of South Korea committed suicide last week amid allegations of improper financial dealings. What words would you use to lift the spirits of someone who wanted to take his or her own life? What verses from the Bible could encourage them?

God is doing something

A silent heaven," it has been said, "is the greatest mystery of our existence."

Have you ever prayed and felt as if heaven were silent? Have you seen injustice and wondered, Where is God? Have you ever asked the question, Does it pay to live a righteous life? If so, you're not alone.

When Habakkuk looked at his broken and unjust world,…

real food

Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink (Isaiah 55:1).

In the May 13 ODJ article, I wrote about an African boy named Saddam who had spent 4 years of his young life on the streets of Kampala, Uganda. A few weeks ago, I took Saddam and four of his housemates to the only movie theater in Uganda so they could see The Chronicles…

May 27, 2009

A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 90% of people around the globe believe that the next five years will be as good or better as life today. What gives you hope as you look to the future?


I have a confession to make. I hate to run.

Some people enjoy jogging to stay in shape. Others put themselves through rigorous months of training to run long-distance races. While I admire their discipline, it's definitely not for me.

A friend who is an amateur marathoner told me that during the last 6 miles of a race everything below…

who is my neighbor?

Who is my neighbor?" is an important question for a Jew. Surrounded by enemies—Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans—for centuries, the Jews of Jesus' day sneered at the Samaritan half-breeds who threw caution to the wind and married foreigners.

"Who is my neighbor?" is an important question for us. Surrounded by nations of needy people—eating mud pies in Haiti, drinking contaminated water…

life words

Words have power. A wounding word can pierce deeper than physical pain. I still remember moments in junior high when my undesirable physical traits became objects of ridicule. Too many of us carry the harsh, violent, or demeaning words of a parent or coach or friend—spoken long ago. Whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will…

God's visit

If you take a trip to Israel, will you plan to visit Nain? Probably not. This ancient village (now known as Nein) isn't located on any major roads running through the Jezreel Plain. It's not likely that many tourists visited this off-the-beaten-path destination during the time of Jesus either. But it was in this small, obscure village that the Savior…

eight feet

1182769_loadingRacing through the Atlanta airport, I could feel my feet pounding the floor as my husband and I ran to catch our flight.  Up the gangway, through the terminal, and down the escalator.  As we neared the gate, two young guys joined us in their own sprint to the check-in.

Silence greeted us all.  The clocks reading a full eleven…

rated R for violence

The youth group was shocked at their leader's claim: "The Bible is full of R-rated stories." "Really? Where?" they asked. "I'm not telling you," he said.

It's true. The Bible is rife with sordid stuff. In fact, God told Israel to "completely destroy" the inhabitants of the Promised Land and take their place in Canaan (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Why? Because of…

moving stones

Are some seemingly impassible stones looming in your life today?

In a recent sermon, Jeff Manion, Senior Teaching Pastor at Ada Bible Church, used the stone that was rolled away at Jesus’ tomb as an interesting illustration. He noted that the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body prepared their spices and went to the tomb without knowing who would move…

May 22, 2009

Kris Allen, a believer in Jesus, recently won the American Idol competition in the US. As the competition between him and another contestant was coming down to the final vote, he said, "For me, I hope that having the Christian vote doesn’t help with anything. I hope it has to do with your talent and the performance that you give…

the good news

"I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins. . . . He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day" (vv.3-4).

A close friend of yours is seriously ill. One day you receive a call from her doctor—an urgent message…

Related Topics

> christian living

Well, That’s Just Perfect!

The seminar speaker emphasized a positive mental approach to everything. And I’m okay with that, for the most part.

No Expert

My daughter’s preschool teacher asked me to speak to the children about being a writer. Visiting parents were being presented to the class as “experts” in their professions. I agreed to talk to the children, although being an “expert” unnerved me a bit. I didn’t feel like an expert. That week, I’d been frustrated by a lack of good ideas and wondered if I would ever write anything of value again! I thought, You’re no expert. You’re not qualified to speak.

The Cookie Jar

A little boy’s mother baked a batch of cookies and placed them in a cookie jar, instructing her son not to touch them until after dinner. Soon she heard the lid of the jar move, and she called out, “Son, what are you doing?” A meek voice called back, “My hand is in the cookie jar resisting temptation.” It’s funny to think of a person trying to resist temptation with their “hand in the cookie jar.” This is as much a challenge in our culture today, as it was for the Ephesians.

> daily devotional

A Chance

“How could anyone abandon their baby?” my friend asked. We had just heard another sad account of an infant being discovered in a public restroom. This story, at least, had a happy ending—the baby was okay.

A Revelation of Intimacy

In December 2014, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met LeBron James, the most famous basketball player in the US. Despite the fact that one of his nicknames is “King James,” he is in fact not royalty, and protocol demanded that he should not touch the Duke or Duchess. Not knowing this, LeBron put his arm around the couple and posed for a photograph. This was a shocking break in decorum for some, but the royal couple seemed comfortable and shared that they enjoyed meeting “King” James.

Hard Things

South Africa’s electrical grid has long been stretched, but when a coal silo at a power station collapsed, it led to months of widespread blackouts across the country. The power outages were initially frustrating, but citizens quickly adapted to the daily 2-hour blackouts and worked around those times. Generators were employed, people bought fewer perishable foods, and they were careful to make sure the washing-machine cycle would finish before the electricity went off for the day.

> ethics

rotten fruit

There’s a “quick sale” area in my local supermarket where fruit is offered at a huge discount. If not sold quickly, the fully ripened edibles will become soft, flabby, and infected with fungus.

judgment of justice

An acquaintance of mine, who is highly intelligent and has a philosophical bent, also carries antipathy toward God and religion. He enjoys being provocative, recently quoting the second-century philosopher Epicurus who said: “There is no such thing as justice in the abstract; it is merely a compact between men.”

if My people

I was speaking with three friends about the lamentable condition of our country. They mentioned the continued practice of abortion, the rise of homosexual marriage, and the debt crisis. One friend cited 2 Chronicles 7:14, and said that our nation’s problems will only be solved when our country turns to God. I said that would be difficult to pull off, as our nation believes in the separation of church and state. We cannot compel Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists to worship Yahweh. Nor would we want to. Life goes badly—both for those inside and outside the church—whenever Christianity becomes the religion of the state.

> faith

rules and grace

Firefighters recently chose not to take action as a man was drowning in the San Francisco Bay. According to the interim fire chief overseeing the responding team, one of the things that prevented them from taking action was a regulation that prevents firefighters from entering into the water. The rescue workers were frustrated because they desperately wanted to take action, but they were prevented from doing so by policy. This preoccupation with rules is a form of legalism, something we find far too often in the church today.

taste and see

A friend posted a crockpot recipe on her Facebook page. The meal looked good, so I downloaded the recipe—intending to use it one day. The following week, another friend said she was looking for some good slow-cooker meals to prepare, so I emailed her the crockpot recipe I had seen on Facebook. She, in turn, forwarded it to several friends who passed it on as well.

Whose Opinion Matters?

I carefully crafted a Scripture lesson for my church youth group. After I presented it, a young man in the group said, “I believe you could have done a better job.” I was hurt. But then I recalled a phrase once spoken by a longtime worker in the church: “We call ourselves servants of God, but when we’re treated like one we get upset.”

> health

Your Body

I like to write out my thoughts before I type them. But when I use an old pen that rolls roughly across the paper, my thoughts thump along in fits and starts. When I can’t squeeze the ink out, I can’t squeeze the words out, and I quickly toss the pen aside for a better one. A free-flowing pen opens my mind, and the words often come pouring out as fast as I can write them.

who sinned?

God has told me why your skin cancer hasn’t been healed,” the woman said to my friend. Really? he thought. Having suffered through two failed operations to remove the cancer from his face, my friend was desperate for a reason why. “God has told me it’s one of three things,” she continued. One of three? my friend thought. Even God doesn’t know for sure? “It’s either a generational curse passed down from your parents . . . ” It’s my parent’s fault? “Or it’s a secret sin in your life . . .” Which one? (My friend can be cheeky.) “Or you lack the faith to be healed.”

hope deferred

As any couple trying to have a child knows, every 28 days you’re looking for signs of success. For many couples, this expectation is met with disappointment for a few months until conception occurs. But for others, this monthly cycle of raised and dashed hopes can last for years. Proverbs 13:12 describes such an experience well: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

> relationships

Be Reconciled

They sit beside each other on a straw mat—he in beige trousers and a white-and-purple shirt, she in a blue-and-yellow dress. “I participated in the killing of the son of this woman,” says Francois, one of thousands of Hutu men that perpetrated crimes against Tutsis during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. “He killed my child,” says Epiphanie, “then he came to ask my pardon.”

alone in the dark

Gravity tells the story of Dr. Ryan Stone—a brilliant biomedical engineer on her first space shuttle mission. Her partner for the journey is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski. During a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone, tethered to nothing but each other, and ominously spiraling out into blackness.

small spark

In 2004, a man went over a dry, brown patch of grass while mowing his lawn. A blade on the mower struck a rock and created a spark, which resulted in a fire that soon raged out of control. The resulting catastrophe, known as the Bear Fire, blackened 10,484 acres of land and destroyed more than 80 homes. To put out the blaze required the efforts of 33 fire crews and 42 fire engines.

> Topic of the Day

> touch-your-world