Archives: May 2009

staying together

Last year, a woman named Joan opened a letter from a local law firm and immediately burst into tears as she read its contents. The letter stated that her divorce from husband John "had been completed." She was in disbelief—the couple from Sheffield, England, had been happily married for 36 years!

It was later discovered that the law firm had…

unseen

I never thought of myself as having control issues—until I got married. Somehow blending two lives into one exposes how much we want things our way. From the way I like the covers tucked (or not tucked) at night to how we made decisions, I wanted things done in a way that made me feel comfortable. Exposing my need for…

May 29, 2009

The former president of South Korea committed suicide last week amid allegations of improper financial dealings. What words would you use to lift the spirits of someone who wanted to take his or her own life? What verses from the Bible could encourage them?

God is doing something

A silent heaven," it has been said, "is the greatest mystery of our existence."

Have you ever prayed and felt as if heaven were silent? Have you seen injustice and wondered, Where is God? Have you ever asked the question, Does it pay to live a righteous life? If so, you're not alone.

When Habakkuk looked at his broken and unjust world,…

real food

Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink (Isaiah 55:1).

In the May 13 ODJ article, I wrote about an African boy named Saddam who had spent 4 years of his young life on the streets of Kampala, Uganda. A few weeks ago, I took Saddam and four of his housemates to the only movie theater in Uganda so they could see The Chronicles…

May 27, 2009

A recent Gallup poll found that nearly 90% of people around the globe believe that the next five years will be as good or better as life today. What gives you hope as you look to the future?

running

I have a confession to make. I hate to run.

Some people enjoy jogging to stay in shape. Others put themselves through rigorous months of training to run long-distance races. While I admire their discipline, it's definitely not for me.

A friend who is an amateur marathoner told me that during the last 6 miles of a race everything below…

who is my neighbor?

Who is my neighbor?" is an important question for a Jew. Surrounded by enemies—Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans—for centuries, the Jews of Jesus' day sneered at the Samaritan half-breeds who threw caution to the wind and married foreigners.

"Who is my neighbor?" is an important question for us. Surrounded by nations of needy people—eating mud pies in Haiti, drinking contaminated water…

life words

Words have power. A wounding word can pierce deeper than physical pain. I still remember moments in junior high when my undesirable physical traits became objects of ridicule. Too many of us carry the harsh, violent, or demeaning words of a parent or coach or friend—spoken long ago. Whoever said "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will…

God's visit

If you take a trip to Israel, will you plan to visit Nain? Probably not. This ancient village (now known as Nein) isn't located on any major roads running through the Jezreel Plain. It's not likely that many tourists visited this off-the-beaten-path destination during the time of Jesus either. But it was in this small, obscure village that the Savior…

eight feet

1182769_loadingRacing through the Atlanta airport, I could feel my feet pounding the floor as my husband and I ran to catch our flight.  Up the gangway, through the terminal, and down the escalator.  As we neared the gate, two young guys joined us in their own sprint to the check-in.

Silence greeted us all.  The clocks reading a full eleven…

rated R for violence

The youth group was shocked at their leader's claim: "The Bible is full of R-rated stories." "Really? Where?" they asked. "I'm not telling you," he said.

It's true. The Bible is rife with sordid stuff. In fact, God told Israel to "completely destroy" the inhabitants of the Promised Land and take their place in Canaan (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Why? Because of…

moving stones

Are some seemingly impassible stones looming in your life today?

In a recent sermon, Jeff Manion, Senior Teaching Pastor at Ada Bible Church, used the stone that was rolled away at Jesus’ tomb as an interesting illustration. He noted that the women who went to anoint Jesus’ body prepared their spices and went to the tomb without knowing who would move…

May 22, 2009

Kris Allen, a believer in Jesus, recently won the American Idol competition in the US. As the competition between him and another contestant was coming down to the final vote, he said, "For me, I hope that having the Christian vote doesn’t help with anything. I hope it has to do with your talent and the performance that you give…

the good news

"I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins. . . . He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day" (vv.3-4).

A close friend of yours is seriously ill. One day you receive a call from her doctor—an urgent message…

Related Topics

> christian living

Running the Race

In 2005 Dean Karnazes ran 350 miles in eighty hours—setting the world record for distance running without sleep. Ten years later, Rob Young, nicknamed the “Marathon Man,” broke the record by covering nearly 374 miles in eighty-eight hours. Young, who had endured abuse by his father as a child, said he ran with two goals in mind: to test the limits of human endurance and to help the world become a better place for kids.

Is This Heaven?

In the fantasy-drama Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella heard a mysterious voice whispering from his cornfield: “If you build it, he will come.” In time, Ray realized the voice was calling him to build a baseball field among his rows of cornstalks. When he built the ball field, major-league baseball players from the past miraculously emerged from the remaining cornstalks to play ball.

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.

> daily devotional

Unappreciated?

Have you ever gone out of your way to do something kind for others, only to have them ignore your effort? You stayed up past midnight to finish a report for your boss or planned a special getaway for your family. You were excited to please them, but ended up disappointed when they didn’t even say thank you.

Covenant Relationship

Two different friends from different spheres of my life—one a man, one a woman—told me about their unfaithful spouses during the same week. Both felt betrayed and angry. They wondered if they would ever feel whole again.

Gifts from God

Police were sent to a home in response to a report of domestic child abuse. When they arrived at the house, they found a scared four-year-old girl with a black eye, swollen cheek, and bruises covering a majority of her tiny frame. The officers were devastated when they asked her to say her name and she meekly replied, “Idiot.”

> 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

Entering into God’s Rest

My son and I spent a few days with friends at their home in the beautiful northern region of New England in the US. Our visit followed my ninth consecutive year of fruitful but intense ministry in East Africa. Depleted and in need of recharging, I was grateful for the physical rest my friends’ hospitality provided.

You Have a Choice

You mean, I can choose to believe in Jesus?” my young Nepali friend asked in surprise as I was giving her a ride to the grocery store. She was an international student at the same university I was attending and had been coming for several months to a weekly Bible study. As we were discussing her thoughts regarding the study, she suddenly became shocked by the realization that she could choose what to believe. She had grown up in a culture where faith was something she was born into, with no choice given to her.

Philip Flunked

In college, I had the, ahem, joy of taking a class about the history of the English language. The professor would ramble on and on about his life and all kinds of odd facts during his lectures. We listened intently, however, because his tests were famously difficult. He didn’t simply ask us to recall facts, he required us to think differently. The questions were designed to ensure that we could apply our knowledge in unique ways.

> health

Hope for Today

Someone close to me recommitted his life to God, began taking his wife and young daughter to church, and was seeking to follow Jesus faithfully. Within weeks, however, his world began to fall apart. His daughter was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection, his business partner refused to pay him, and his wife asked for some time apart. He looked drained and weary when I offered to pray for him, saying he’d rather not have any help from God. From the moment he’d chosen to serve the Lord again, he said it felt as if a huge target had been placed on his back and the Enemy was having a field day.

Something More Powerful

When France’s ministry of health realized that 17.8 percent of French women smoked while pregnant, they came up with a plan. For a trial period of thirty-six months, seventeen French hospitals paid women up to 300 euros to stop smoking during their pregnancies. Of the 612 participants, 22.5 percent of the women gave up their cigarettes.

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.

> relationships

Covenant Relationship

Two different friends from different spheres of my life—one a man, one a woman—told me about their unfaithful spouses during the same week. Both felt betrayed and angry. They wondered if they would ever feel whole again.

Gifts from God

Police were sent to a home in response to a report of domestic child abuse. When they arrived at the house, they found a scared four-year-old girl with a black eye, swollen cheek, and bruises covering a majority of her tiny frame. The officers were devastated when they asked her to say her name and she meekly replied, “Idiot.”

The Grand Project of Salvation

The Swedish writer Fredrick Backman’s 2012 debut novel A Man Called Ove is the tale of a man who sees no reason to live. After the death of his wife (the one person who brought him laughter, intimacy, and joy) and after losing his job, Ove plots his suicide. But then he’s drawn into the larger story around him: There’s a pregnant woman who needs his support, a neighbor in conflict with authorities who are trying to force him into a nursing home, and a young man estranged from his father. Ove discovers reasons to live as he moves beyond himself and toward others.