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

Is This Heaven?

In the fantasy-drama Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella heard a mysterious voice whispering from his cornfield: “If you build it, he will come.” In time, Ray realized the voice was calling him to build a baseball field among his rows of cornstalks. When he built the ball field, major-league baseball players from the past miraculously emerged from the remaining cornstalks to play ball.

Tongues Afire

Over the past month or so, my wife and I have had some hard conversations. Places of deep hurt have become visible again. As we’ve talked, amid much sadness, I’ve had to reckon with a lasting wound I left on her heart. Years ago, before we were married, Miska and I endured a significant conflict. In that turmoil, I spoke words to her that were foolish and immature, words that lodged into the most tender and vulnerable places of her heart. I didn’t speak in anger or malice, but rather with ignorance and stupidity. I’ve asked her forgiveness multiple times, and she has freely forgiven me. Still . . . the wound is there. My words can’t be taken back.

Sarcasm & Sincerity

Sarcasm can cause us to laugh. But it can also become a shield. Why open ourselves to rejection when we can make sure that no one ever knows the real us? Ironically, such insincerity actually leaves us more vulnerable.

> daily devotional

Why Pray?

Jesus knew His Father couldn’t grant His request, yet He prayed it anyway. He had to die on the cross to save us, yet He still pled with His Father to take away “this cup of suffering” (Luke 22:42). Why did Jesus pray when He knew the answer was No? He prayed because of the sheer terror that lay before Him (Luke 22:44). Jesus prayed because prayer isn’t primarily about getting what we want. It’s about our relationship with our heavenly Father.

Love and Adoption

A good friend recently returned to her native country, Argentina, following several years of living abroad.

Worship and Service

Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours alone in the woods. As I’ve sat motionless, robins have perched on my knees, mice have nibbled at my bootlaces, an owl once landed inches from my shoulder, and a roebuck advanced to within a couple yards of me—apparently thinking I was an adversary.

> 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

Climb On!

George Mallory was an English mountaineer who was last seen heading toward the summit of Mount Everest in June 1924. It’s possible he actually reached its peak but succumbed to the weather on the way down. We’ll never know what happened, for the details passed with the great explorer. Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Everest. His answer was simply, “Because it’s there!” This may make no sense to most people, but to a mountaineer it is perfectly logical. Climbing the mountain is something to strive toward that’s an end in itself. The impressive peak is all the fuel Mallory and countless other mountaineers have ever needed.

Real Faith

I attended a boarding school in Nigeria where the older students ruled over all of us younger students. Once, I misplaced a bowl that belonged to a rather cranky older student. Having been given the ultimatum to find and return the bowl by the next morning, I crawled into bed with a heart full of dread. I whispered a prayer asking God for help before dropping into a troubled sleep. Imagine my awe the next day when the bowl mysteriously showed up in the student’s drawer!

If It’s Really You . . .

A non-Christian organization has established a hotline for people who are struggling with spiritual doubts. While the exact goal of this call-in center seems a bit fuzzy, its founder made an interesting observation: “Many people feel isolated or rejected when they begin to ask questions. . . . If churches suddenly started welcoming doubters [for food and fellowship], the hotline project wouldn’t be necessary.”

> health

Real Rest

During the long, harsh Alaskan winter, Denali National Park rangers rely on teams of sled dogs to help them patrol the vast, snowy wilderness. Dogsled patrols can last up to 6 weeks, and the dogs are always raring to go.

sweet sleep

Recent research concluded that Americans are among the world’s worst when it comes to sleep deprivation. The published statistics reveal: The US (along with France and Taiwan) ranks among the top three most sleep-deprived nations in the world. Indians (54 percent), Americans (49 percent), and Singaporeans (43 percent) reported not getting enough rest due to being too worried or stressed out. Most sleep-deprived Americans (66 percent), however, can’t sleep because they’re anxious about finances and paying their bills.

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.

> relationships


Reasons? He has many. As he passes several churches during his drive to the park for his Sunday run, he enjoys his solitude. In fact, he reflects on how he can connect with God just as easily—if not more so—on his own. But deep layers of pain, a multitude of rehearsed excuses, and complicated explanations mask a simple reality: Church has not been a safe place for him.

Sarcasm & Sincerity

Sarcasm can cause us to laugh. But it can also become a shield. Why open ourselves to rejection when we can make sure that no one ever knows the real us? Ironically, such insincerity actually leaves us more vulnerable.

You’re Called

Martin Luther challenged the medieval idea that only priests, monks, and nuns possessed a divine call. He said that just as people are made right with God by salvation in Jesus, they’re also called to serve Him in whatever jobs they do. In this way “the entire world [will] be full of service to God, not only the churches but also the home, the kitchen, the cellar, the workshop, and the field of townsfolk and farmers.”