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

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.

Empty Spaces

I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit is attracted to empty spaces. Let me explain . . .

> daily devotional

Staying True

According to Christian tradition, Telemachus was a fourth-century monk who jumped into a Roman Coliseum to stop a gladiator fight, shouting, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” Telemachus was killed for his efforts, but his act of courage, compassion, and conviction triggered the end of the violent “games.” It’s said that Telemachus was divinely inspired to visit Rome, and he stayed true to his calling.

Write Your Epitaph

A famous epitaph that doubles as a pun can be found in the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona (US). It reads, “HERE LIES LESTER MOORE, FOUR SLUGS FROM A 44, NO LES NO MORE.” The Wells, Fargo & Co. station agent died in an Old-West gun battle with another man in the late 1800s.

In the End

The CEO quickly scanned the email from a company that makes and installs wooden doors. His community radio station needed new doors, but money was tight. Out of a sense of obligation, he hit the “reply” button and asked for a quote on a set of double doors. Moments later, he got a response. Turns out, Andrew hadn’t read the email all the way through to the end. The company had in fact offered the radio station a free set of doors!

> 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

Lessons from the Young

On the way home from soccer practice last week, my 12-year-old son busily jotted his thoughts onto a notepad he had brought with him. When he finished, he handed it to me and said, “This is what I [created].”

Shielded

Tiptoeing around construction projects, I joined my husband as he talked with church members working on renovations to our building. As I waited patiently for them to finish, I noticed a little hole in my husband’s glove just below the knuckle of his finger. He explained that the guard on the high-powered grinder had moved while he was using it. The diamonds on his wedding band took the force of the fast-spinning blade. His finger spared, the only signs of the accident were the reduced size of the diamonds and the small hole in his glove.

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.

> 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.”