Category  |  christian living

In His Presence

There I was, shaking hands with the president of the Republic of Iceland! As my boss introduced me to him at a private dinner I had the privilege to attend, my mind went blank as I tried to remember the few words I’d memorized in Icelandic. It made me incredibly nervous to be in the presence of the leader of a country.

The Waiting Game

A man from the Netherlands fell for a Chinese woman he met online. Impatient to meet her, he booked a flight and flew 5,000 miles for a visit. He’d sent her his itinerary, but when he arrived at the airport, she wasn’t there. The man, however, was so determined that he waited for her at the airport in China for ten days! Definitely a patient guy, though his faith in his love interest may have been misplaced.

Reverence Rules

If you have the opportunity to meet the Queen of England, don’t start the encounter with a bear hug or a hearty slap on the back. Keeping one’s distance is a sign of respect for this special lady. Although a courteous handshake might be allowed, people are generally advised not to touch the queen.

Angry like Jesus

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.

Branded by Shame

When our pastor was a young man, he accidentally defaced a much-loved dining room table. Beautifully crafted, it had been in the family for generations, but it was left with an ugly mark when he accidentally placed a piping-hot dish directly on it. Although his parents forgave him, he was overcome with shame. Years later when he saw an ad for a furniture repair specialist, he got the table fixed. Although he’d been forgiven, the sting of shame only faded once the mark on the table had been removed by the skillful hand of a master.

Perfectly Desperate

“The Sermon on the Mount produces despair,” Oswald Chambers said. But he saw that as something good, because at “the point of despair we are willing to come to [Jesus] as paupers to receive from Him.”

A Rewarding Investment

“Though mentoring is not a biblical word, it is a way of life,” wrote author Andi Ashworth. “In essence, mentoring is showing and telling, a lifestyle of receiving God’s gifts, learning to know, love, and live what is good, and passing on that knowledge to others.”

Love that Acts

An early church leader named Tertullian wrote that unbelievers in Rome would say of Christians, “See how they love one another.” Particularly in the first three centuries AD, individuals or families who moved from rural areas to cities in search of a better life were very vulnerable if they became ill or faced hard times. In urban areas, they had no familial or communal support network to help them as they might have had in rural villages. As a result, the streets of the Roman Empire were full of weak, sick, elderly, and other vulnerable people who were left to fend for themselves.

Salt and Life

People have fought over salt for thousands of years. A highly valued staple, governments have even tried to control the sale of it. In the fifteenth century, Venice and Genoa actually went to war over the seasoning agent. And in the early nineteenth century, thousands of Napoleon’s troops died during his retreat from Moscow because their wounds wouldn’t heal due to the lack of it. Gandhi led more than 60,000 people in the 240-mile Salt March to protest the British’s monopoly on the sale of the substance.

Living in Tune

Though I haven’t spent much time playing it over the past twenty years, I still take out my violin every so often. I keep it stored in a temperature-consistent closet, safely enclosed in a velvet case. Even so, the small tuning fork I keep in the case has been needed on more than one occasion. The vibrations from the tuning fork create the tone I need to set my A-string pitch. I can then tune the other three strings and hear a true and resonant sound as I pull the bow across the strings.

Everything Else

I once heard a speaker describe God’s unique nature in a memorable way. The word “God” was placed at the top of a PowerPoint slide, the words “Everything Else” at the bottom, and a solid line in-between. The speaker then stated that—as His creatures—we’re more like a worm or a cow than God. In His holiness, He’s separate, “above the line.”

Sin that Strangles

National Geographic has detailed the unimaginable killing force of pythons. These snakes have been known to kill large creatures: crocodiles, hyenas, and sometimes—even humans. According to experts, pythons kill their prey by cutting off the blood flow, a quick though agonizing death. “The heart . . . doesn’t have enough strength to push against the pressure,” one vertebrate ecologist said. The deadly snake literally squeezes the life out of its victims.

Cultural Correction

A people group from Papua New Guinea observed a cultural ritual for centuries. They would chant, dance, and work themselves into a frenzy that culminated with what they called the “murder songs.” Before their god, they would shout the names of people they wanted to kill.

Dwelling with Us

Those who’ve read through the Bible in a year know how challenging it can be to make it through certain stretches of Scripture. The second half of Exodus is one of them. After a compelling account of Israel’s dramatic rescue from Egypt, Moses devotes nearly a third of the book to describing in great detail the plans for building the tabernacle. Within all the details, however, lies a great story that’s just as true for us today as it was then.

Stronger by the Spirit’s Power

I know a mom of two young children who has an interesting hobby—weightlifting. She can hoist 245 lbs. from the floor to a standing position! To set that personal record, she had to build strength in her lower back, quadriceps, and hamstrings through exercises such as squats, straight-legged sit-ups, and step-ups.