“I never thought a fence in Finchley could be a place where I encountered God as much as at the Western Wall,” said a man at a retreat I was leading. He was referring to a prayer exercise we did based on the book of Lamentations and some of the Psalms. Using the Western Wall in Jerusalem—the surviving remnant of God’s temple, where pilgrims often slip prayer notes in the cracks—as inspiration, we wrote prayers of lament on slips of paper that we slipped into the cracks and crevices of the church fence as a symbol of releasing them to God. The gentleman who spoke up had recently been to Jerusalem and prayed at the Western Wall, but he also sensed God’s presence at a humble fence in north London.
I love the powerful song “We Shall Not Be Moved”. The song captures a unique vision of true peace. Like a firmly planted tree, being deeply rooted in God gives us the courage to stand firm for His justice—even when we’re surrounded by powerful forces of corruption.
The rows of school desks would soon be filled with energetic teens. Although I was only filling in for their teacher, I took my role seriously. As the first lesson was about to start, the door was flung open and in walked a woman who announced herself as my teaching assistant. Fantastic! I thought. I need the help.
I’ve heard it said that “the church is the only institution that shoots its wounded.” Sadly, the idea possesses a real grain of truth. It’s not unusual for local churches to botch a crisis situation, causing members to leave deeply hurt.
Piloting an aircraft can be challenging, but for bush pilots who are trained to take off and land in remote areas, it’s especially hard. Those who fly in colder climates can face whiteout conditions in which it’s impossible to navigate by sight. In these situations, the pilots are trained to rely on their instruments, not their senses. They know that their instruments are more reliable than their personal judgment.
I once supervised a woman who constantly demonstrated that her greatest strength was also her greatest weakness. She had passion and drive to do a great job but often got carried away in her zeal and had to be reined in.
In recent years, researchers have begun exploring what leads to human resilience. What helps someone bounce back after physical, emotional, or spiritual trauma? Psychologist Martin Seligman suggests four main factors:
A couple found themselves in a no-win situation. During an intense drought, they faced a $500 fine if they watered their lawn more than twice a week. So in time it turned brown. Local officials noticed and informed them that—in spite of the drought—they were required to keep their grass “looking healthy and green” or face (you guessed it) a $500 fine.
Heart attacks are the No. 1 cause of death in many parts of the world. In the US, a heart attack occurs every 20 seconds, with someone dying from heart disease every 34 seconds. In Singapore, one in three deaths is due to heart disease or stroke. We need to pay careful attention to what medical professionals are saying about heart attack prevention: reduce stress, don’t smoke, exercise regularly, and watch your diet. “Guard your heart above all else” is instruction that we ignore to our own peril (Proverbs 4:23).
US President Abraham Lincoln’s secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism. Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a letter. Later, Stanton told the President he was ready to send the strongly worded letter. Lincoln said, “You don’t want to send that letter. . . . Put it in the stove. That’s what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It’s a good letter, and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, and write another.”
Redwood trees can grow to incredible heights—some reaching more than 375 feet! Yet most redwoods have a shallow root system that typically burrows less than 10 feet into the ground.
The French philosopher Voltaire suspected that he would win the lottery in 1729. With a statistician friend he calculated that the jackpot would be much greater than the cost of all the tickets. They pooled their money with other friends, bought as many tickets as possible, won, and split the prize money. Outwitting the Parisian government paid big—Voltaire received over a million francs. But some people might think he didn’t play totally fair.
Scene 1: Elijah is on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:16-39). The prophet has declared a test. He and the prophets of Baal will each erect an altar and call to their respective gods. The one who sets the altar on fire will be revealed as the one true God (1 Kings 18:24).
After some knee surgery, I was unprepared for the level of physical therapy required to restore my range of motion. According to my physical therapist, the surgical procedure had caused trauma to my leg, and my muscles had shut down. Years of physical movement had been undone in 20 minutes. But I had to commit to the process of healing. Some days were tedious, some were downright painful. But the choice was clear: I would either have to push through the hurt to find healing, or I could avoid it and remain disabled.