One of my jobs, being a rock-climbing instructor, includes helping people overcome their fear of heights. I explain to them that the real issue isn’t falling, but hitting the ground. Then I remind my clients that they have the proper safety equipment and good anchor points—making it impossible for them to drop. One thing they need to grasp is that their mind is actually lying to them, and that they can override their panicky thoughts. Being up high is not dangerous in itself; it’s only dangerous without the right safety equipment. Talking this through with them can take a long time, but they usually end up pressing on.
The New Year can be a great time for a fresh start. That’s why 45 percent of people in North America make New Year’s resolutions. The problem is that by June—six months down the road—only 54 percent will have kept their resolutions, and the percentage drops to a dismal 8 percent by December!
In 2014, a man opened fire with a handgun during a meeting with his caseworker and psychiatrist at a hospital. Sadly, the caseworker was mortally wounded, while the psychiatrist—who returned fire with his own handgun—received minor injuries. The gunman, who was subdued at the scene, indicated that he opened fire because he’d been offended by the hospital’s “no guns” policy.
I love collecting old books. There’s something exciting about holding in my hands a work that’s been thumbed through over the years by others. In my mind, each tome has a story to tell far beyond the words on its pages—if only it could talk!
If the book of Judges were turned into a miniseries, we wouldn’t permit young children to view it. The book shows life in early Israel as violent, ugly, and self-serving. Villains abounded. One such bad guy was Abimelech, the son of the heroic Gideon (see Judges 9:1-5,50-56). Spoiler alert: He killed all his brothers except one and usurped power for himself. He also met an interesting demise.
As a missionary served in Estonia, many deaf people received salvation in Jesus. The new believers began praying fervently for the ability to hear, and, miraculously, two were healed! But then, as the missionary recalls, “Immediately these two brothers were on the outside of the deaf community.” That’s when the remaining deaf believers in Jesus recognized their deafness was a gift—something that allowed them to reach a segment of society in a personal way.
The 2010 French film Of Gods and Men recounts the inspiring and tragic story of nine Trappist monks who lived in the small Algerian monastery of Tibhirine. For years, the various religious communities lived in friendship. As the political climate deteriorated, however, radical elements took advantage and gained power. The Brothers debated whether they should escape Algeria, but eventually they determined that God would not have them abandon their village. Then, after midnight on March 27, 1996, militants overwhelmed the monastery and captured seven of the Brothers, all of whom lost their lives.
Students at the University College in Dublin watched as a mother duck waddled over a cement wall and landed one meter below. For her, it was nothing special. But for the yellow-feathered babies following her, it was an inconceivable feat. The ducklings peeped and milled around on the ledge above their mother. Finally one little duck jumped, landed on his side, and rolled to his feet. He chose to follow his mother, and his leap led to his siblings doing the same thing. Soon they all bounded from the ledge and trailed behind their mother as they continued their journey.
Years ago, God put it on the hearts of my wife and me that I should attend Bible college. We didn’t fully know why or how, but we trusted that He had a plan. Our problem was that we were in a tough financial condition. We were literally praying for food to feed our family week by week. Then the due date for the payment of the tuition fees arrived, and we didn’t have a penny to put toward the cost.
Rather than use the closing “Faithfully yours,” many Ugandans end their correspondence with “Faith full,” followed by their name. Each time I’m the recipient of a letter with that closing (which is often in a country where many people still communicate with pen and paper), I ponder what it truly looks like to be “faith full”—to have a heart that brims with confidence in the Lord.
In the 1800s, British missionary Hudson Taylor sensed God’s call to reach the people of China with the good news. During decades of ministry, more than 800 missionaries were established and 125,000 Chinese became believers in Jesus. Taylor once said, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.”
Marcus Mumford wouldn’t call himself a Christian. At least he declined to do so during a Rolling Stone magazine interview. In that conversation, the award-winning songwriter and musician said that the word Christian is linked with religious images he doesn’t like. He compared himself to people who claim to love Christ and say that Jesus is awesome, but who are not Christians.
My cousin Tracy has the ability to make any destination feel like home. As a young single woman, I had moved to an apartment in England. I was there for a few months when Tracy arrived from Australia. Although I’d been given furniture to fill my small rental, I was still sleeping on top of one of the beds in a sleeping bag. Tracy had been with me just a few days when I returned from work to find the house redecorated with proper bedding, a tablecloth for the dining room table, and a new vase filled with fresh cut flowers. She had transformed my sparse living space into a cozy home away from home.
Being a Chinese woman raised in a polytheistic environment, I used to think that Christianity was a Western religion or the “white-man’s religion.” My thought was, We Asians have our own gods. Later, as a young believer in Jesus, I still wondered from time to time if I had forsaken my own roots and believed in a foreign god.