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

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.