The story of Eric Liddell’s athletic prowess was immortalized in the highly acclaimed 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. Eric was expected to win gold in the 100 m race in the 1924 Olympics. Staying true to his convictions, however, Eric withdrew from the race because he would not compete on Sunday. Despite intense criticism, he entered the 400 m race instead and—with only five months preparation—won the gold in world-record time. Lucrative sponsorships and deals awaited him. But Eric chose to walk away from fame and wealth to be a missionary in China.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That is perhaps Shakespeare’s most famous quote from his tragic play Romeo and Juliet. Saying that it doesn’t matter that Romeo is from her rival’s house of Montague, Juliet implies that names don’t really matter. All that matters is what something is, not what it’s named. This may be so for a Shakespearean lyrical tale, but Bible names are significant and convey specific lessons and meanings to the events accompanying the naming of the individual.
Every Christian has a story to tell. Some conversion testimonies are more dramatic and spectacular than others. Some claim to have seen a vision of Jesus, or that He healed them of a terminal disease. My simple story is that 45 years ago, someone shared the gospel with me and I believed. There was no thunder and lightning, but my heart was changed forever.
The children in my church love to sing action songs. With joy and enthusiasm, they act out the lyrics. Seeing their exuberant childlike faith, I’m challenged to believe that because Jesus is with me, I can rejoice in the trials and pains of life.
While I was leading a Bible class for those who didn’t yet believe in Jesus, a participant asked, “How many gods are there in this world?” Hoping to give an answer, I Googled for help. I believe there’s only one true God, but one person gave this clever answer: Seven billion gods. There are seven billion people in this world. And everyone has a personal god.
In my view, besides our relationship with God, each of us typically desire three key treasures—health, possessions, and family. A loss to any can be heart wrenching. The Old Testament patriarch Job experienced a triple test—financial ruin, the deaths of his ten children, and painful ill health (Job 1:14-19, 2:7). We can’t imagine the intensity of pain Job had to bear.
In their book The Lessons of History, historians Will and Ariel Durant note, “War is one of the constants of history. . . . In the last 3,421 years of recorded history, only 268 have seen no war.” The United Nations was formed at the end of World War II “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” so the world could “live together in peace with one another”. But with more than 300 wars fought since 1945, we have yet to experience worldwide peace. Will it ever be realized?
In 2017, the morning after the mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert that resulted in nearly 60 fatalities and more than 500 wounded, the President of the United States quoted Scripture to comfort the grieving families and victims. This response to tragedy isn’t unusual; many people turn to the Bible for comfort following devastating events
I took a personality test to determine if my dominant trait is sanguine (enthusiastic, adventurous), choleric (goal-oriented, project-minded), melancholic (organized, cautious) or phlegmatic (people person, peacemaker). It became pretty clear that I’m a bit of a choleric-phlegmatic mix.
In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, Senator Cassius conspires to have Caesar killed and even gets his brother-in-law Brutus to join the assassination plot. As planned, on the Ides of March all the conspirators attack Caesar. Because he trusted Brutus, the Roman leader is most distressed by his participation. Caesar dies brokenhearted at the betrayal, crying, “Et tu, Brute?” (Even you, Brutus?)
Many countries have unique ways to welcome in a new year. Thai people splash water at one another as part of a ritual cleansing. Some Chileans go to cemeteries and sleep near the graves of deceased loved ones. And Estonians participate in feasting a total of seven times on New Year’s Day, symbolising hoped-for abundance in the months to come.
Sadly, in the five decades I’ve been a believer in Jesus, I’ve known of several local churches that have split due to infighting. Leaders fight, and congregation members rally behind their chosen side. Then the feuding leaders prompt their supporters to form splinter congregations.
A man had served as a leader within his local church for many years. But then he stopped his involvement altogether. He’d prayed for God to heal his cancer-stricken wife, but her condition had only gotten worse. In the mysterious absence of healing, this man concluded that God didn’t care. These painful circumstances caused him to doubt God’s love itself.
Samaria, the capital of Israel, was being besieged by the Aramean army. Food was soon depleted, and many died of hunger while some resorted to cannibalism (2 Kings 6:24-31). The prophet Elisha told the unbelieving king that God would rescue them and provide food for them (2 Kings 7:1). Soon, the divine army that Elisha’s servant had seen earlier scattered the enemy (2 Kings 6:14-17, 2 Kings 7:6-7).