Archives: October 2012

the walking dead

The Walking Dead, a critically acclaimed, award-winning postapocalyptic horror TV series, is set in the aftermath of a virus infection that turned humans into zombies—the walking dead. The series focuses on a small group of uninfected human beings, led by a deputy sheriff, seeking a safe haven from the dangerous hordes of the “walkers,” and a cure to the disease. At the end of Season 1, viewers were told that the French doctors might have found a cure. But, alas, a cure was not found that soon, for having the antidote would have signaled the premature ending of a lucrative TV series.

the little people

They had gathered on the lush, rolling slopes to hear Him. And He stood there on the hill, looking into the eyes of as many of them as He could.

appreciating your pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. How do we show our appreciation to our pastors? Yes, I know, it’s the end of the month. I should have published this piece earlier. Having said that, appreciating your pastor need not be limited to October, right?

In several places, if you do a search on Google, offers can be found about gifts and special…

October 29, 2012

What words would you share to encourage someone affected by a natural disaster?

not fair?

Today was a bit surreal as I sat with a friend in the doctor’s office, awaiting the results of her biopsy. You can talk about family plans, discuss the weather, and ask how the day went. But when it’s all said and done, all you really want to know is the truth.

sacred flames

In November 2011, Mike and Nancy Rogers were married as the lodge in which they were supposed to be wed burned to the ground behind them. The blaze destroyed the beautiful building—including a kitchen, conference center, pool, and guesthouses—as the wedding party retreated to another building for the ceremony. The wedding gifts and flowers were destroyed, but Nancy said, “We lost all that stuff, but that’s not important to us. We got the most important things.”

treasuring god

Rumors have swirled and intrigue abounded over the life and bank accounts of Huguette Clark, the reclusive heiress of a vast copper mine fortune. Though she owned mansions, exclusive estates, and posh New York high-rise apartments, Clark lived in a hospital room. She was in good health, but for mysterious reasons chose to live in the hospital—registered under a false name. The last known photograph of Clark was taken in the 1930s. She died in 2011, but continues to be the subject of public fascination. Curious minds want to know: How did Clark use her vast treasure?

thanks, but no thanks

A Christian school for autistic children received a donation from a corporation. After making sure that there were no strings attached, the school accepted the money. Later, the corporation requested to have representation on the school’s board of directors. The head of the school returned the money. She refused to mix school governance with secular values. She said, “It’s more important to do God’s work in God’s way.”

felt presence

Hearing an infant cry at bedtime can be one of the most unnerving situations for young parents to handle. When my wife and I first encountered this phenomenon, we struggled to resist the urge to go into our baby’s room and console her little heart. We would peek through the door from time to time—making sure she wasn’t actually hurt or in danger—but we refrained from going in.

who are you?

Who are you?” boomed front man Roger Daltrey of The Who, channeling guitarist Pete Townshend’s angry lyrics. The 1978 song has attained iconic status, perhaps because it resonates with so many of us. Deep down, we really don’t care what we are. The real question is who we are.

mother robin

Thousands of Indonesian women refer to Robin Lim as “Mother Robin” because she helped them through pregnancy and childbirth. Without her care and access to the clinics she established, the women wouldn’t have been able to afford the care they needed. Lim says, “Every baby’s first breath on Earth could be one of peace and love. Every mother should be healthy and strong. Every birth could be safe and loving. But our world isn’t there yet.”

you choose Q: how do i get a close family member to forgive me?

Q: I am baffled by a close family member who is unwilling to forgive me for past hurts. How can I work through this with him?  —Carol

A: Carol, I can see why you would be baffled as to what is going on. My guess is that the role you played in negative experiences in the past seems to have triggered…

October 22, 2012

How are you using Twitter to share your faith?

pluralism and Jesus

My friend was telling me about her tour of historic churches in New England. These buildings housed congregations that once proclaimed the gospel but had long ago turned to unorthodox views. In one church, the tour guide explained that wooden shutters concealed a beautiful stained-glass window of Jesus. “We only open these shutters on Easter,” she explained, “because we don’t want to privilege any one religion over another.”

the counts

It’s likely you didn’t wake up this morning and think Hope my white blood cell counts are climbing! I did. Why? Due to a recent bone marrow transplant, my blood cells have been doing their own version of the “limbo” (“How low can you go?”). Low counts aren’t good. They mean you’ll have a tough time fighting off disease and that you might be dealing with some serious medical maladies. Those tiny little red-and-white blood cells can’t be seen, so most of us simply take them for granted.

Related Topics

> christian living

No Floating

I was power-trimming weeds beneath a large tree in our backyard when I felt a painful, burning jab to the back of my skull. Turning, I noticed several hornets buzzing around me. Having been already stung by one, I fled the scene. Later that night I discovered I had bumped the hornets’ watermelon-sized nest with my head! A sting had snapped me out of my clueless state, one that could have resulted in me being swarmed and stung repeatedly.

Limited View

The spot began as a small discoloration on the baseboard adjacent to one of our bedroom doors. Unsure of what caused it, we dismissed it as an unidentified spill. After a lengthy stretch of rainy days, however, the three-inch spot had not only grown, but the baseboard on the opposite side of the door began to yellow as well. The bowing wood and the musty smell of damp carpet hastened our investigation, and we discovered that our original assessment had neglected to capture the full picture. Overflow from the rain had seeped into the doorframe of our back porch, resulting in damage that had now become plain to see.

Upending

A backyard bash was underway when a man carrying a gun approached and demanded money from the partygoers. The partiers would have handed their money to the bandit, but no one had any cash! So they offered what they did have—a drink. Surprisingly, the crook accepted and joined their party. An unexpected response changed everything.

> daily devotional

Not a Sprint

In 1983, a sixty-one-year-old potato farmer named Cliff Young showed up for a grueling, weeklong ultramarathon from Sydney to Melbourne—in overalls and work boots. He shuffled off the starting line as the much younger and athletic runners sprinted ahead. Soon he was miles behind. Spectators feared for his health. But that night, as the other runners slept, Cliff took a quick nap and kept going. Five days and five nights later he came in first—ten hours ahead of his closest competitor!

Streams of Mercy

The council in Cassandra Boyson’s Seeker’s Trilogy was responsible for maintaining law and order in the name of the “Great One.” Instead, they were corrupt, singling out people they deemed different for cruel treatment. Slowly the surrounding society began to decay—reflecting the council’s immoral ways. Yet in a surprising twist, the Great One righted the wrongs of that world by providing a river that transformed all who came into contact with it.

No Floating

I was power-trimming weeds beneath a large tree in our backyard when I felt a painful, burning jab to the back of my skull. Turning, I noticed several hornets buzzing around me. Having been already stung by one, I fled the scene. Later that night I discovered I had bumped the hornets’ watermelon-sized nest with my head! A sting had snapped me out of my clueless state, one that could have resulted in me being swarmed and stung repeatedly.

> ethics

Imitate My Father

The idea of immigrants competing with locals for jobs is a political hot potato in many countries. Some citizens resent the newcomers because they perceive them as stealing jobs, competing for scarce services, and causing overcrowding. With unfamiliar customs and languages, the immigrants are sometimes accused of disturbing and even threatening the social fabric of the native born. So how should believers in Jesus respond to the aliens living in their midst?

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.”

> faith

Not a Sprint

In 1983, a sixty-one-year-old potato farmer named Cliff Young showed up for a grueling, weeklong ultramarathon from Sydney to Melbourne—in overalls and work boots. He shuffled off the starting line as the much younger and athletic runners sprinted ahead. Soon he was miles behind. Spectators feared for his health. But that night, as the other runners slept, Cliff took a quick nap and kept going. Five days and five nights later he came in first—ten hours ahead of his closest competitor!

Author Intent

Sam thought his teacher was a bit over the top with her interpretations of poetry. She could launch into a detailed explanation of why there are “five sibilant sounds in this phrase.” This would cause Sam to think, Don’t be ridiculous! The poet just used words with the letter S! Try writing a poem without that sound.

A Laughing Faith

I remember where I was sitting in the cramped living room of our apartment when Miska told me she was pregnant with our first son, Wyatt. I must have sat mute for several moments because Miska asked, “Are you okay? What are you thinking?” In theory, I wanted to be a dad someday, but it had seemed like a distant possibility. But here it was . . . I was going to be a dad, and I was dumbstruck.

> health

Gaps

A battle rages where I live—a rivalry between two universities. The rivalry manifests itself primarily in athletic competition. My alma mater proudly displays the letter “S” as its logo. The S stands for State, as in Michigan State University. The other school brandishes a distinctive “M,” which represents the University of Michigan.

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.

> 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.