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.”
Reconciliation. It’s God’s heart for people to be restored in relationship with one another across differences in culture, race, and class. This is vital, but sometimes it feels so big that we don’t know where to start.
The Grant Study has followed the lives of more than 250 Harvard graduates for 70 years to learn what makes people happy. It revealed that positive emotions make us more vulnerable than negative ones—in part because they expose us to rejection and heartbreak. One man had received a box of 100 loving letters from his patients when he retired from practicing medicine. Eight years later he proudly showed the box to a researcher and began to cry, “I don’t know what you’re going to make of this, but I’ve never read [them].”
Do not judge others” may be the most popular verse in the world. It’s the one phrase from the Bible that everyone seems to know—and often misapply. A former politician continued to text inappropriate photos of himself to strangers even after he apologized and resigned in disgrace. He angrily told a disgusted voter that he had no right to judge him. Pope Francis, when asked about gay priests, replied, “Who am I to judge?” I believe he meant that it’s not his job to judge people’s sins, but many mistook it as an endorsement of a homosexual lifestyle.
A young man wavered between two worlds. Would he roll with the gangs in his neighborhood, or walk with Christ? Although his father struggled with addiction and his mother suffered from schizophrenia, his grandmother prayed for and encouraged him to follow Jesus. Christian hip-hop artist FLAME admits that there was a time in his life that he tried to fit into both worlds. But today he has a degree in biblical counseling and is attending seminary. And his top-selling albums contain street-savvy beats and inspiring Christian messages.
A pastor wanted to break his church out of their formal traditions and nudge them in a fresh direction. He sensed that the congregation’s formality was discouraging the local community from walking through the church’s doors. So he began to take small steps to help them change.
A question I often hear (and also ask myself) regarding diversity is this: “God calls us to reach out to those who are different from us, but how far are we supposed to go?” Is it enough to serve and minister to people who are different, or are we called to do more?
Many battles in life stem from false assumptions that are made due to lack of communication. For instance, we share a wall with our neighbors and—since moving in 6 months ago—they’ve been redecorating. The garden, the garage, the bathrooms, the bedrooms; nothing has escaped a hammer, an electric power tool, or a paintbrush.
Michael Dettlaff’s visit to Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park in 2013 turned out to be one gem of a trip! The 12-year-old ended up leaving its confines with a truly precious stone. The park, where visitors can dig up and keep jewels, has given up more than 75,000 diamonds since it was discovered in 1906. Michael’s glittering find was a whopping 5.16 carats, much to the delight of his whole family. He named the diamond, valued at nearly $15,000, “God’s Glory.”
I recently stumbled across an online thread titled “I Am So Freaking Tired of Being Hurt.” It’s part of a website that invites people to share difficult life experiences such as battling cancer or facing a marriage crisis.
Standing near the body of his older brother, his pain was visible. Adding to the weight of death was the knowledge that their relationship had been the closest thing he’d ever known to that of a father and son. His brother had always said, “I love you,” whenever they parted. But the differences in their lives, the jagged edges of their arguments, and the absence of true intimacy left this grieving man wondering if his love was real.