Archives: October 2012

the walking dead

The Walking Dead, a critically acclaimed, award-winning postapocalyptic horror TV series, is set in the aftermath of a virus infection that turned humans into zombies—the walking dead. The series focuses on a small group of uninfected human beings, led by a deputy sheriff, seeking a safe haven from the dangerous hordes of the “walkers,” and a cure to the disease. At the end of Season 1, viewers were told that the French doctors might have found a cure. But, alas, a cure was not found that soon, for having the antidote would have signaled the premature ending of a lucrative TV series.

the little people

They had gathered on the lush, rolling slopes to hear Him. And He stood there on the hill, looking into the eyes of as many of them as He could.

appreciating your pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. How do we show our appreciation to our pastors? Yes, I know, it’s the end of the month. I should have published this piece earlier. Having said that, appreciating your pastor need not be limited to October, right?

In several places, if you do a search on Google, offers can be found about gifts and special…

October 29, 2012

What words would you share to encourage someone affected by a natural disaster?

not fair?

Today was a bit surreal as I sat with a friend in the doctor’s office, awaiting the results of her biopsy. You can talk about family plans, discuss the weather, and ask how the day went. But when it’s all said and done, all you really want to know is the truth.

sacred flames

In November 2011, Mike and Nancy Rogers were married as the lodge in which they were supposed to be wed burned to the ground behind them. The blaze destroyed the beautiful building—including a kitchen, conference center, pool, and guesthouses—as the wedding party retreated to another building for the ceremony. The wedding gifts and flowers were destroyed, but Nancy said, “We lost all that stuff, but that’s not important to us. We got the most important things.”

treasuring god

Rumors have swirled and intrigue abounded over the life and bank accounts of Huguette Clark, the reclusive heiress of a vast copper mine fortune. Though she owned mansions, exclusive estates, and posh New York high-rise apartments, Clark lived in a hospital room. She was in good health, but for mysterious reasons chose to live in the hospital—registered under a false name. The last known photograph of Clark was taken in the 1930s. She died in 2011, but continues to be the subject of public fascination. Curious minds want to know: How did Clark use her vast treasure?

thanks, but no thanks

A Christian school for autistic children received a donation from a corporation. After making sure that there were no strings attached, the school accepted the money. Later, the corporation requested to have representation on the school’s board of directors. The head of the school returned the money. She refused to mix school governance with secular values. She said, “It’s more important to do God’s work in God’s way.”

felt presence

Hearing an infant cry at bedtime can be one of the most unnerving situations for young parents to handle. When my wife and I first encountered this phenomenon, we struggled to resist the urge to go into our baby’s room and console her little heart. We would peek through the door from time to time—making sure she wasn’t actually hurt or in danger—but we refrained from going in.

who are you?

Who are you?” boomed front man Roger Daltrey of The Who, channeling guitarist Pete Townshend’s angry lyrics. The 1978 song has attained iconic status, perhaps because it resonates with so many of us. Deep down, we really don’t care what we are. The real question is who we are.

mother robin

Thousands of Indonesian women refer to Robin Lim as “Mother Robin” because she helped them through pregnancy and childbirth. Without her care and access to the clinics she established, the women wouldn’t have been able to afford the care they needed. Lim says, “Every baby’s first breath on Earth could be one of peace and love. Every mother should be healthy and strong. Every birth could be safe and loving. But our world isn’t there yet.”

you choose Q: how do i get a close family member to forgive me?

Q: I am baffled by a close family member who is unwilling to forgive me for past hurts. How can I work through this with him?  —Carol

A: Carol, I can see why you would be baffled as to what is going on. My guess is that the role you played in negative experiences in the past seems to have triggered…

October 22, 2012

How are you using Twitter to share your faith?

pluralism and Jesus

My friend was telling me about her tour of historic churches in New England. These buildings housed congregations that once proclaimed the gospel but had long ago turned to unorthodox views. In one church, the tour guide explained that wooden shutters concealed a beautiful stained-glass window of Jesus. “We only open these shutters on Easter,” she explained, “because we don’t want to privilege any one religion over another.”

the counts

It’s likely you didn’t wake up this morning and think Hope my white blood cell counts are climbing! I did. Why? Due to a recent bone marrow transplant, my blood cells have been doing their own version of the “limbo” (“How low can you go?”). Low counts aren’t good. They mean you’ll have a tough time fighting off disease and that you might be dealing with some serious medical maladies. Those tiny little red-and-white blood cells can’t be seen, so most of us simply take them for granted.

Related Topics

> christian living

Blending In

While on vacation, my daughter and I strolled on the beach in the cool of the evening. Interrupting her mid-sentence, I tapped her arm and pointed. “Look over there!” What appeared to be sand moving back and forth proved—upon closer inspection—to be a tiny crab scuttling across the beach. Its beige color, tiny size, and quick reflexes provided protection against being seen, much less caught. The small creature wanted to survive, not stand out.

Banished Words

Each year Lake Superior State University in the US publishes a list of words they believe should be banished because they’re so annoying. Topping their list in 2013 was selfie, a term that received more nominations than any other. Other contenders included twerking, hashtag, and twittersphere. This list of words is a reminder that language is always changing and can persuade, impress, or annoy us.

Where’s Your Garden?

My friend enjoys painting, but this sensitive soul often feels guilty when she’s working in her studio. She wonders whether she should be doing something more “Christ-like” with her time. How can I be taking up my cross if I’m doing something I enjoy? Have I become too focused on the stuff of this world?

> daily devotional

Thirsty?

It seems to me that there are three primary things in life that make people feel good about themselves: wealth, good looks, and knowledge. With this trio a person can feel significant (because people will flock to you for good and bad reasons) and secure (because you think you have some semblance of control).

Freedom from Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress, stress- related illnesses cost the US economy $300 billion in medical bills and lost productivity every year. Forty-four percent of Americans feel more stress than they did 5 years ago. Family relationships, job-related challenges, and even academic studies are a few stressors that weigh citizens down.

Portrait of Jesus

So what did Jesus look like? Did he resemble actor James Caviezel who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? Probably not. Something like Warner Sallman’s famous portrait Head of Christ? Uh, no—don’t think so.

> 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

Freedom from Stress

According to the American Institute of Stress, stress- related illnesses cost the US economy $300 billion in medical bills and lost productivity every year. Forty-four percent of Americans feel more stress than they did 5 years ago. Family relationships, job-related challenges, and even academic studies are a few stressors that weigh citizens down.

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.

Demonstrated Faith

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arch communities, has spent his life loving those often ostracized by society. L’Arch creates living communities for those with disabilities or those who, because of their need for intense care, would be institutionalized if they didn’t have such a home. Vanier talks about how the communities are centered around the most basic acts of caring for the physical body—bathing, dressing, and feeding residents who can’t do those things on their own.

> 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

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.

What We Talk About

In Britain we love to talk about the weather. We talk about it with people we know and with those we’ve just met. The subject is raised at the start of business meetings and over the dinner table. Sometimes touching on the weather is merely an icebreaker, a way to start or develop a conversation. Often, however, it’s merely a way of being somewhat friendly, but at the same time avoiding any real intimacy, depth of relationship, or feeling of commitment. So discussing whether it’s sunny or rainy keeps us at a distance but extends a form of friendliness.

> Topic of the Day

> touch-your-world