A well-known fashion retailer announced the opening of a new store that contains a spa, bar, hair salon, and stylists who guide shoppers in selecting personalised wardrobes that can be ordered online. The store has everything—except merchandise. The retailer has removed its racks of clothes “to keep shoppers from feeling overwhelmed by too much choice”.
My faith was once rattled by a telephone pole. I noticed its rough timber and shuddered, recalling that Jesus was nailed to a cross of wood. Suddenly I wondered, What if He wasn’t? How do I know the Bible is true? A wave of nausea washed over me until I snapped out of it, reminding myself of the many reasons I believe in Jesus.
I ran into a former professor at a conference. I had only taken one class with him nearly thirty years before, so I was stunned when he told me he prays for me and two others who live near me. He prays for his former students by region, because he loves us and wants us to flourish in our faith.
What’s the goal of forgiveness? When we’ve been wounded by another, why should we forgive? It’s often said that we forgive for ourselves, to break out of our prison of bitterness. It’s pointed out that not forgiving is like swallowing poison and hoping the other person dies, that our rage continues to give the offender power over us.
Families of kidnap victims often refuse to pay ransom without “proof of life”, evidence such as a phone call or video that shows their loved one is well. True believers in Jesus reveal a different kind of ‘proof of life’—evidence of lives transformed by their new life in Christ.
Jesus’ life was full of surprises that defied everyone’s expectations. From an obscure village, He emerged as a miracle-working teacher who built His kingdom with sinners and the sick. Then, when His purposes seemed defeated by His shocking crucifixion, this apparent defeat was reversed with His resurrection only three days later!
I hate goodbyes. Especially if I’m close to the one with whom I’m parting ways. I can only imagine the disciples’ pain when Jesus said goodbye, although He assured them He’d see them again soon (John 16:16).
The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” A student misquoted this as, “Our purpose is to glorify God and endure Him forever.” The mistake is funny, but isn’t that sometimes how we secretly feel about eternity? What will we do there except sing praise songs? How wonderful for the first million years. But . . . forever?
I know a leader who learned sympathy when he lost his job. He admitted it’s easier to humbly love when life has knocked you down. When, as he would say, “You’ve got blood in your mouth.” I also know a pastor whose heart was softened by the death of his son. This pastor wouldn’t say it was worth it—and he’d be right—but his grief has made him a more compassionate shepherd.
I felt like quitting. I’d given all I had, and it wasn’t enough. I’d failed, and I didn’t feel like trying again. I wanted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and sleep until forever. How could I possibly keep going?
What makes you angry? A traffic jam, stubbed toe, disrespectful slight, someone who didn’t keep an appointment with you, or a surprise assignment that will take all night? Anger is emotional frustration. It often arises when our path is blocked, when someone or something is standing in our way.
The day’s news was discouraging. There was another terrorist attack. Two countries squabbled about a rogue nation’s nuclear weapons. A large Christian denomination divided over differences on marriage, while another split over how best to counter poverty and racism. Conflicts like these aren’t just discouraging, they’re exhausting. They persist—showing no signs of resolution.
Much of human knowledge rests on realities we cannot see. Most people understand this when it comes to faith in God, who “no one has ever seen” (John 1:18). But did you know this is just as true in the realm of science?
Jamie, a professional artist, sometimes feels guilty for the long hours she spends in her studio. She wants to “take up” her “cross” to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24), but she enjoys painting. Does that count? She wonders if she loves her art too much, in an idolatrous way. Sometimes she feels she must “pay” for her enjoyment through struggling in other areas of her life. She’s never understood how her painting could count as following Jesus.
Think of any monarchy in the history of the world. The royal family may have had a few princes and princesses. It may have even had more than one queen, as did the kingdoms of David and Solomon. But there was only one king.