During two different semesters, I taught a “Discipleship Ministries” course to pastors and lay leaders at our local seminary. As we were reading through the Sermon on the Mount, memorizing Romans 12, and reading through Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, one of my students said he’d been convicted. For the first time, he truly understood how Jesus wanted him to live out his faith in his workplace—a place where he’d often been tempted to harbor contempt toward moody and rude customers.
Every Sunday at our church, before we receive communion, we bow our heads and our hearts as we confess our sin. Sometimes we may only repeat these simple words: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. We always include silence so that each of us can offer our particular failures and hopes to God. What I always find most powerful, however, is the confession we do aloud together, in unison, acknowledging how desperate all of us are for grace.
One of my favorite views is from atop the arch of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia. Since the BridgeClimb officially opened in 1998, more than three million people have ascended to the apex of the iconic structure to view the stunning city.
During my master’s degree studies, I attended a church with people from many different nations and ethnic backgrounds, where we often worshiped by singing songs in various languages. One year for Christmas the choir director asked me to teach the other choir members a carol in my native Romanian language. Tears streamed down my face when we sang it on Christmas Eve. I was away from my home country, yet at home with brothers and sisters in Jesus who loved me enough to learn a song in my heart language.
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.
After recently changing cable TV service providers, my family struggled to figure out how to view our favorite content. We tried following the same steps we’d utilized with our previous company, but to no avail. Eventually it became clear that a certain connection had to be made in order to gain access to the new provider’s programming archives. The service wasn’t functional without this connection, but once it was in place we were able to unlock its full potential.
Sometimes our plans are interrupted by unexpected delays. Nearly a hundred runners experienced that reality when they were trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2016. As they ran the race, a train crossed the marathon course—moving very slowly—at the seven-mile marker. Prior to race day, race officials had been given complete assurance that no train would get in the runners’ way. Yet the participants’ plans were interrupted.
As I walked into my house, my teeth began chattering as soon as the door closed behind me. Because it was warm outdoors, the frigid air inside was shocking. However, the cool temperature set on the thermostat indicated something more to me than the temperature in our home. For more than twenty years my husband and I have debated how cool the thermostat should be set. The coolness of our house reminded me how the atmosphere of a room can be determined by the choices of those who enter it.
I once visited an urban farm organized by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC relocates refugees from ravaged countries and helps them establish a new life. Since many refugees grew up in an agrarian lifestyle, farming can be a natural way for them to rebuild their lives. Portions of the farmland simply grow wild each year, allowing the soil to rest. Then, in the year to follow, they till the grass back into the dirt, using it to enrich the soil that will help nourish the crops they’ll eventually harvest.
I can resist anything except temptation.” We might smile at this quip by Oscar Wilde, but it also may invite us to challenge ourselves: Has our pursuit of holiness—reflecting God and conforming to His will—been weakened through the corrosive influence of modern culture’s love of pleasure? How can we, as we seek to honor God, resist temptation?
The term “visible light” might seem redundant. After all, what kind of light is there besides “visible” light? But the light we see is only a small part of the greater electromagnetic spectrum. There are actually many frequencies of light our eyes cannot naturally perceive: infrared, ultraviolet, and many more. This is an important reminder that just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there!
As turmoil permeated my thoughts, every creak in my empty house intensified my anxiety. Extreme fear had settled into my life in my early twenties, and at times it was debilitating. My imagination became my enemy. Desperately desiring to be at peace, I would pace in my living room, repeating to myself, “God will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him” (see Isaiah 26:3). But the stranglehold of fear broke only when my relationship with God grew to the place where my heart could grasp what it meant to truly trust Him.
It seems a year doesn’t pass without airports receiving complaints about air traffic noise. In 2016, Washington’s Reagan National Airport received 8,670 complaints—with 6,500 of them coming from one person. That’s the equivalent of one person making 18 calls per day for a year! Though this might seem absurd, the airport authorities have responded. They are now working with residents near the airport to “address the air traffic noise.” Though the airport authorities were likely annoyed by the caller’s tenacity, I guess you could say that it eventually proved to be effective.
Pastor and teacher Tommy Nelson experienced clinical depression related to a nonstop schedule. Reflecting on that time in his life, he said, “I didn’t know that you could get totally, completely burned out doing what you loved.” Despite the fulfillment his multiple ministries brought him, a lack of rest led him to become incapacitated. Over time, however, his situation improved as God renewed him through means such as counseling, encouragement, and relaxation.