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

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

He Will Handle It

When I take my kids to a playground, they tumble out of the car and race to the swings or slides. I usually sit on a bench with my purse, containing important medicine, close by. The meds aren’t for me; they’re for my daughter. She has a health condition that can go from bad to worse in seconds. I carry her meds because I don’t want her to have to think about them while she’s playing. How could she dangle from the monkey bars while holding her EpiPen auto-injectors? How could she grasp the metal ropes of a swing while juggling a medication bag?

Always Loved

In spite of my many fatherly mess-ups (and lately I feel as if I’ve had more than a few), my deepest hope for my two sons is that they will know I love them, and that my love comes from God. If you want to prod me to tears, get me to talk about my hopes for my sons. There are few places where I could feel more anxiety than when I consider the uncertain future: Will they grow up to be good men? Will they follow truth and life? But what I do know, without doubt, is that I love my boys fiercely—that I have always done so and will always love them.

Run with It!

Siobhan Dowd, a British author of young adult novels, died of cancer at age 47. After her death another author, Patrick Ness, was commissioned to finish one of her unpublished stories. A Monster Calls was published in 2011. It was a stunning success, winning both the Kate Greenaway and the Carnegie Medals, prestigious book awards in the UK. In the introduction, Ness says, “I felt—and feel—as if I’ve been handed a baton, like a particularly fine writer has given me her story and said, ‘Go. Run with it.’ ”

> 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

Distance

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.”