Archives: February 2013

origin of the species

A previously unknown monkey species, the Caqueta titi monkey, was discovered deep in the Amazon jungle in August 2009. A month earlier, two newly identified species of fish were found in the area affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Taxonomists today are discovering new species of animals, birds, and fish all the time—some 18,516 new species were discovered in 2007 alone. On average, 50 new species are discovered each day. Quentin Wheeler, of the International Institute of Species Exploration at Arizona State University, said, “Most people do not realize just how incomplete our knowledge of Earth’s species is.”

"play ball!"

My philosophy for playing sports well is simple, “Know the basics of the particular game we are playing, and excel at those same basics!” How many times have we seen our favorite team lose because of errors (baseball), penalties (football) and fouls (basketball)? We often say that “they beat themselves” and “they were their own worst enemies.” The game was…

blind eyes & burning hearts

If you want to humble me, all you need to do is hand me one of those Where’s Waldo? images—the ones where you attempt to locate the numerous places where the character Waldo blends into the scenery. I can stare at them for hours with little result. When someone finally points out Waldo’s location to me, it’s embarrassing to see him—right there in plain view! As theologian Stanley Hauerwas has said, “We do not see reality by just opening our eyes.”

a long way

In trying to sell our house by owner (not using a real- estate agent), my husband made sure to ask each of our neighbors for permission to place a directional sign at an intersection near our home. One particular homeowner seemed surprised that Scott had bothered to ask. As he gave his assent, he admitted that his usual response was to pull up any signs left by others who had not asked his permission. So we weren’t surprised, when driving by his house a few weeks later, that our sign remained in its place while another real estate sign had been removed and tossed to the side. The lesson for us was clear: A little respect goes a long way.

February 25, 2013

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote, "We live by believing and not by seeing" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

experiencing community

Respondents to a recent Barna Group survey listed the following as key elements of their church life: connecting with God, experiencing transformation, gaining new insights, and feeling cared for. All of those things happen as individual believers come together and use their gifts to bless and edify one another.

the world and I

I didn’t realize how far I was removed from reality until I read The Hunger Games. It jolted me into doing some research. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates for 2010, there are about 925-million hungry people in the world. That means 13.6 percent of the world population, or almost 1 in 7 people regularly experience hunger.

suffering with God

Pain. We take pills to ease it, hold prayer meetings to heal it, develop strategies to avoid it, and think up philosophies to explain it. We rarely, however, consider suffering as part of God’s plan for our lives.

counting the cost

Jesus’ good friend Lazarus had died (John 11:14,17). And so He performed an amazing miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44)—leading many who came to the funeral to believe in Him (John 11:45). But the Pharisees and priests responded differently. From that time on, they began to plot Jesus’ death (John 11:53).

lawn libraries

Nancy Johnson went for a walk and discovered a little library in a neighbor’s yard. It’s estimated that there are now between 300 to 400 small libraries lodged in people’s lawns around the world. Each has a take-a-book/leave-a-book policy. Nancy commented, “I like the sense of community.”

the God who suffered

People tell me that you can turn any smoothie or shake into a snack loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. The idea is to sneak vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, kale, beets, or other healthy veggies) into the beverages of unsuspecting drinkers. They think they’re only imbibing their mango and honey treat, but they’re also downing green veggies. The beverage may be in the form of a smoothie, but the substance is something far different.

i love you

—copy and design submitted by Terry and Pat Lampel, US

pray for them

In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer states: “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”

February 18, 2013

What does it mean for you to truly surrender to Jesus?

justice and faith

As a friend and I watched our children play in the pool, I had no idea that I would soon be swimming in my capris. But when I saw our kids struggling to stay above the water, I jumped in. My instinct to separate the boys and help my friend’s child may have seemed strange at first, and even a cold response to my own son. I knew, however, that Micah had been underwater only because he had tried to keep his friend—a nonswimmer—afloat. Sure enough, once separated, Micah swam safely to the side of the pool.

Related Topics

> christian living

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?

Well, That’s Just Perfect!

The seminar speaker emphasized a positive mental approach to everything. And I’m okay with that, for the most part.

No Expert

My daughter’s preschool teacher asked me to speak to the children about being a writer. Visiting parents were being presented to the class as “experts” in their professions. I agreed to talk to the children, although being an “expert” unnerved me a bit. I didn’t feel like an expert. That week, I’d been frustrated by a lack of good ideas and wondered if I would ever write anything of value again! I thought, You’re no expert. You’re not qualified to speak.

> daily devotional

Loving God, Loving Others

While watching the orbit of Uranus, astronomers noticed that the planet didn’t seem to orbit as expected, almost as if there was another unknown planet nearby whose gravity was pulling Uranus toward it. Using mathematics, the scientists were able to compute both the position and the mass of this unknown object and then observed it for the first time in 1846: the previously unknown planet Neptune. Math allowed them to identify Neptune before they could even see it!

Singing Through Sadness

Our young daughter has developed the habit of singing whenever I cut her toenails. Her musical expression seems to shift her focus from the instinct to pull her foot away to the joy of happy melodies. Research has proven the physiological, neurological, and emotional benefits of singing. So belting out your favorite tune will help elevate your mood, boost your immune system, and benefit your brain.

Shine Brightly

Shane (name changed to protect his identity) took a big job at a well-known company. Within a few months of overseeing its operations, he discovered some dark financial secrets. Doing his job, he delved into a morass of monetary fraud. As he exposed the impropriety, an unexpected thing happened. He was brought before the board of the company and threatened. Shane, a believer in Jesus, stood his ground. His integrity shone brightly even though he was released by the company’s board under false pretenses.

> 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

Loving God, Loving Others

While watching the orbit of Uranus, astronomers noticed that the planet didn’t seem to orbit as expected, almost as if there was another unknown planet nearby whose gravity was pulling Uranus toward it. Using mathematics, the scientists were able to compute both the position and the mass of this unknown object and then observed it for the first time in 1846: the previously unknown planet Neptune. Math allowed them to identify Neptune before they could even see it!

Shine Brightly

Shane (name changed to protect his identity) took a big job at a well-known company. Within a few months of overseeing its operations, he discovered some dark financial secrets. Doing his job, he delved into a morass of monetary fraud. As he exposed the impropriety, an unexpected thing happened. He was brought before the board of the company and threatened. Shane, a believer in Jesus, stood his ground. His integrity shone brightly even though he was released by the company’s board under false pretenses.

Lottie’s Legacy

The legacy of Lottie Moon lives on more than a hundred years after her death. Originally from the US, she traveled to China as a missionary and later established the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which has raised more than $1.5 billion (US) for missions since 1888. Many received salvation in Jesus during her years of ministry, but she endured difficult circumstances in the process. She suffered discrimination as a single woman and also faced illness, famine, and war. Lottie remained resolute, however, as she continued to share the good news and urged others to do the same.

> health

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.

who sinned?

God has told me why your skin cancer hasn’t been healed,” the woman said to my friend. Really? he thought. Having suffered through two failed operations to remove the cancer from his face, my friend was desperate for a reason why. “God has told me it’s one of three things,” she continued. One of three? my friend thought. Even God doesn’t know for sure? “It’s either a generational curse passed down from your parents . . . ” It’s my parent’s fault? “Or it’s a secret sin in your life . . .” Which one? (My friend can be cheeky.) “Or you lack the faith to be healed.”

> relationships

Prejudice by Association

The sound of her name made me recoil. I knew the strong testimony of the well-known speaker and had no justifiable reason to avoid her podcasts. My disgust had nothing to do with her or the worthy cause she represented. I’d been hurt by someone who idolized her, so my prejudice came because of her association with that individual.

Discerning Truth

In the Shakespearean play Othello, the main bad guy is named Iago. He pretends to be Othello’s closest friend, offering counsel and advice, but all the while he’s plotting his friend’s downfall behind the scenes. The play is carefully constructed so that it’s impossible for even the audience to grasp the underhanded deceit of Iago until the very last scene. He’s plausible right up until the end, and if his part is acted well, the audience will often gasp when his true nature is finally revealed, for the character’s deception is convincingly hidden by his words and actions.

What’s Your Fragrance?

A colleague approached me in front of some coworkers and asked, “So what’s your attitude, as a Christian, to euthanasia?” Everyone stopped their conversation and all eyes were on me. I spent 20 minutes not in debate, but trying to share the aroma of Christ with those who didn’t know Him: His love, compassion, unchanging character, and absolute righteousness. As I shared about Jesus and His love, I prayed that my coworkers would get a whiff of the character of God—not the erudite arguments of a theologian.

> Topic of the Day

> touch-your-world