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…

unseen

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?

running

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

Genuine Love

I doubt that any word gets tossed around in our world with such frequency and flippancy as love. It’s common for us to justify selfish behavior or whitewash actions harmful to others all in the name of some weak notion of “love.” Too often our actions performed under the guise of love have nothing whatsoever to do with the reality of it.

Straight Up

Carefully lifting each piece of paper, I sorted the stacks on my desk—again. I searched through file drawers, bookcases, computer folders, and email messages while praying fervently that the missing item would be found. Disappointed and frustrated, I took a deep breath and informed my supervisor before emailing the originator of the document for another copy. My prayers were answered in an unexpected fashion when I received a message in reply letting me know that the item hadn’t yet been sent to me!

Little Things

Reality TV and me? Not a good fit. No one is going to make a reality TV show about my life anytime soon. My life consists simply of loving and caring for my husband and daughters, working at my church part-time, doing some writing, and trying my best to love others in my spheres of influence. From the world’s perspective, I’m not worthy of the bright lights.

> daily devotional

Seasons of Grief

Last year I received two pieces of extremely sad news within a few hours. First came the news that a dear friend died of a sudden heart attack. Steve, who was only 60 years old, was a good man who loved Jesus and his family. A few hours later brought the tragic news of a dearly loved couple whose marriage collapsed under the weight of an adulterous affair.

John’s Question

I had plans for how my life was supposed to work out,” my friend David said. “And when things didn’t go as planned, I became bitter and resentful.” Who can relate to David? I definitely can! Often I find myself imposing my expectations on God as rights, and then sulking when they aren’t realized.

Victory

King Pyrrhus had tasted victory against the Romans in the Battle of Asculum (279 BC). But the victory was bittersweet. Pyrrhus lamented, “If we are victorious in one more battle with the Romans, we shall be utterly ruined.” Why? Even though the Romans had sustained more losses in the battle, the depth of their army was far greater. So Pyrrhus knew that ultimate victory in war with Rome was impossible.

> 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

John’s Question

I had plans for how my life was supposed to work out,” my friend David said. “And when things didn’t go as planned, I became bitter and resentful.” Who can relate to David? I definitely can! Often I find myself imposing my expectations on God as rights, and then sulking when they aren’t realized.

He Saw Something

It was with gut-wrenching horror that I watched the video of 21 Coptic Christians being forced to kneel on a Libyan beach before being beheaded by terrorists. Later, I learned that a relative of some of the men who were killed said that many of them cried out the name of Jesus with their dying breath—a testimony to their faith in Him. Though the terrorists had hoped for the opposite effect, they had actually strengthened the faith of the Coptic Church by proving that even imminent death couldn’t snatch away their brothers’ love for Christ!

Stay or Run Away?

Waiting in a long line to ride a roller coaster, I considered turning back several times. When it was finally my turn to board, the safety bar in the seat I was to occupy wouldn’t release properly. I was afraid of getting stuck, but I hopped in anyway. When the safety bar came down too tightly on my lap, I felt trapped and scared! I considered waving my hand and asking to be excused from the ride. But an attendant announced over the loudspeaker, “You can scream and you can shout, but there’s no way we’ll let you out.”

> 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

Mixed Bag

My pastor sat down in my church office and told me about a parishioner he had encountered years ago at another church. The woman, known for her criticism, felt that he did nothing right, and she shared those sentiments with others. His sermons weren’t the kind of preaching she liked. At best, she said, they were “mediocre.” She even asked him why he didn’t preach like some of the ministers on TV. When he met to talk with her about her criticisms, she didn’t back down. But even with all of the venom he received from the woman, my pastor could say to me, “There were many wonderful things she did for the church. We’re all mixed bags, Marlena, all mixed bags. Just remember that.”

Don’t Hesitate

Scientists conducted a social experiment with two groups of commuters at a train station. They asked one group to start conversations with their seatmates. They instructed the other group to remain silent. The commuters who talked while traveling said they had a “more positive experience” than those who did not. Initially, commuters believed starting a conversation would be hard, but they found that most people were happily willing to talk.

The Last Stop

My friend says our lives are like trains. We make various “stops” for school, college, job, marriage, and family. At each stop we spend time with others who have stepped off. When we graduate or change jobs, we say goodbye to the people at that junction and step back onto the train. Only a handful of people stay with us all the way to the end. These are the most important people in our lives, the people who receive most of our time and attention.