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

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.

The Cookie Jar

A little boy’s mother baked a batch of cookies and placed them in a cookie jar, instructing her son not to touch them until after dinner. Soon she heard the lid of the jar move, and she called out, “Son, what are you doing?” A meek voice called back, “My hand is in the cookie jar resisting temptation.” It’s funny to think of a person trying to resist temptation with their “hand in the cookie jar.” This is as much a challenge in our culture today, as it was for the Ephesians.

> daily devotional

finding our identity

If you imagine that enemies captured you and forced you to change your diet, your college major, and your name, which one would hurt the most? Daniel accepted his new name, Belteshazzar, even though it invoked a pagan god. He accepted his new education “in the language and literature of Babylon,” even though it meant he had to study pagan creation myths (Daniel 1:4).

no worries

How often do you find yourself worrying about something? We worry about tomorrow, the economy, our jobs, and friendships. We worry about our kids, our parents, and our health.

rules and grace

Firefighters recently chose not to take action as a man was drowning in the San Francisco Bay. According to the interim fire chief overseeing the responding team, one of the things that prevented them from taking action was a regulation that prevents firefighters from entering into the water. The rescue workers were frustrated because they desperately wanted to take action, but they were prevented from doing so by policy. This preoccupation with rules is a form of legalism, something we find far too often in the church today.

> 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

rules and grace

Firefighters recently chose not to take action as a man was drowning in the San Francisco Bay. According to the interim fire chief overseeing the responding team, one of the things that prevented them from taking action was a regulation that prevents firefighters from entering into the water. The rescue workers were frustrated because they desperately wanted to take action, but they were prevented from doing so by policy. This preoccupation with rules is a form of legalism, something we find far too often in the church today.

taste and see

A friend posted a crockpot recipe on her Facebook page. The meal looked good, so I downloaded the recipe—intending to use it one day. The following week, another friend said she was looking for some good slow-cooker meals to prepare, so I emailed her the crockpot recipe I had seen on Facebook. She, in turn, forwarded it to several friends who passed it on as well.

Whose Opinion Matters?

I carefully crafted a Scripture lesson for my church youth group. After I presented it, a young man in the group said, “I believe you could have done a better job.” I was hurt. But then I recalled a phrase once spoken by a longtime worker in the church: “We call ourselves servants of God, but when we’re treated like one we get upset.”

> health

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.”

hope deferred

As any couple trying to have a child knows, every 28 days you’re looking for signs of success. For many couples, this expectation is met with disappointment for a few months until conception occurs. But for others, this monthly cycle of raised and dashed hopes can last for years. Proverbs 13:12 describes such an experience well: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”

> relationships

alone in the dark

Gravity tells the story of Dr. Ryan Stone—a brilliant biomedical engineer on her first space shuttle mission. Her partner for the journey is veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski. During a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone, tethered to nothing but each other, and ominously spiraling out into blackness.

small spark

In 2004, a man went over a dry, brown patch of grass while mowing his lawn. A blade on the mower struck a rock and created a spark, which resulted in a fire that soon raged out of control. The resulting catastrophe, known as the Bear Fire, blackened 10,484 acres of land and destroyed more than 80 homes. To put out the blaze required the efforts of 33 fire crews and 42 fire engines.

True Success

What’s your definition of success? People have said, “It’s being happy,” “Reaching my goals,” “Seeing people receive salvation.” One friend said, “Success is God’s prosperity in all areas of my life: spiritual, physical, financial, and relational.”

> Topic of the Day

> touch-your-world