Two government agents were assigned the case of “Dread Pirate Roberts.” This “pirate” was the anonymous operator of “the Silk Road,” a website that sold illegal drugs by using the virtual currency Bitcoin. The agents caught their man, but not before becoming criminals themselves. They allegedly sold the information about their investigation and blackmailed the “pirate,” transferring big bucks to their own bank accounts. Their story demonstrates how thin the line is between good and evil.
In 1993, Bill and Susie Mosca founded an essay contest. The winner received the couple’s bed and breakfast facility. Janice Sage’s entry took first place and she acquired the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant. After 22 years of hosting guests, maintaining buildings, and managing finances, Janice wanted to retire. Because, as she said, “There are a lot of talented people that . . . . just can’t go out and buy an inn like this,” she also decided to give it away to a worthy person through an essay contest.
Ming lived for more than 500 years before her demise in 2006. The quahog (large clam) had been nestled near Iceland when researchers plucked her from the ocean floor. After prying the creature open—ending her existence—they initially thought she was a record-breaking 402 years old. But further research revealed that she began life in 1499 and made it to the ripe old age of 507! Fortunately, scientists learned much from Ming, including data on changing sea temperatures over the last half-millennium.
One of our favorite family vacation sites is a beautiful beach community located in an adjoining state. We like to go there during the “off season” when few tourists are around. Though the ocean water is a little chilly, we enjoy swimming in an indoor pool. Also, there’s a lazy river that surrounds the pool and holds a special appeal for our kids. They’ve tried to swim against its current over the years, only to be carried in the opposite direction.
Charles complained to his friend about some lower back pain. He was seeking a sympathetic ear, but his friend gave him an honest assessment. “Your back isn’t your problem,” he pointed out. “It’s your stomach. Your stomach is so big it’s pulling on your back.”
"If another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself" (Galatians 6:1). What are some practical ways for us to live out this verse?
For the past 2 years, I’ve served in a church in the urban heart of a large city. It’s a difficult ministry that calls one to have deep compassion and an open heart for others—things that don’t come naturally to me. I often feel woefully unqualified and wonder how I can be the person of grace and compassion that I need to be.
Many years ago, sin-eating was practiced in parts of the UK and the US. A sin-eater was normally a poor, hungry person who was brought to the home of a dead person, where he was given some bread to eat and a drink to consume. After having his fill, he would then ritually pray over the deceased. This curious custom supposedly absolved the dead person—and sometimes a whole family—of sin. The sin-eater would then be shunned by the local community until he was needed again. Why was he shunned? He had “eaten” (taken on) the sins of the dead.
Our young daughter Katelyn enjoys playing solitaire, but she lacks the patience to persist through the difficult points in the game. Instead of trying to solve being “stuck,” she’ll simply start a new game. I’ve challenged her not to give up but to seek the next available move.
During a difficult season of life when I questioned God’s kindness and care, many believers in Jesus came alongside me. They allowed me to be real with my struggles, but refused to let me dwell on them. They pointed me to Scripture, prayed for me, and helped meet my needs. Their compassion helped me experience Christ’s gentle love (Deuteronomy 32:2). Rather than judge me for my weak faith, my confidants proved that “a friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need” (Proverbs 17:17).