What did you do?” That question typically escapes the mouth of us dog owners whose furry friends have tested our patience. “Chester, did you chew up my shoe?” “Did you eat the kitty’s food . . . again?”
Sheep have a bad reputation, often seen as one of the dumbest animals on the planet. But a recent University of Cambridge study reveals they’re actually quite clever. The research proves that sheep can be trained to recognize human faces from photographs, and they can identify a picture of their handler without prior training. Given their relatively large brains and longevity, researchers are hoping the humble sheep can help in the study of neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington’s disease.
In what’s considered one of the greatest Christian classics, Mere Christianity, British novelist, poet, academic, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis wrote: “There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus, if you have really handed yourself over to Him (Jesus), it must follow that you are trying to obey Him.”
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.
I’ve recently become familiar with the growing popularity of the concept of “self-compassion”—accepting ourselves as we are and giving ourselves the compassion and grace to heal and grow, no matter how long that takes.
After coming to faith in Jesus, John Newton, author of “Amazing Grace”, made the dramatic change from being a slave trader to influencing the eighteenth-century movement to abolish slavery in England. But he didn’t fully turn to Jesus in the moments when he first famously cried out to God when he thought his ship was sinking. In fact, Newton admitted that he probably wasn’t a true believer until much later.
When people disobey the law, they make an effort to be inconspicuous. This wasn’t the case with a man accused of a hit-and-run accident while driving under the influence of alcohol. When an off-duty police officer stopped and approached the man’s car, he was met with an unusual surprise. “The man was covered . . . in gold spray paint.” Though the reason for the man’s glittery getup remains a mystery, I can’t help but wonder, Did he really think he could get away without anyone noticing him?
I once heard Ken Wytsma, founder of the Justice Conference, comment on the surprising skepticism many have about whether justice is central to the gospel. He reflected ironically, “The gospel is that unjust people are reconciled to a just God to be a just people . . . but justice isn’t related to the gospel?”
When my family and I moved to a new town, I was hired as the Director of Discipleship at our new church. For me, that means that Sundays and Wednesdays are full and that on these days I have to come up with a quick dinner or leave my husband and young daughters to fend for themselves. That’s why I’m grateful we have a microwave. When I’m pressed for time, I sometimes prepare a simple meal of baked potatoes. Instead of the hour it would take to bake them in a traditional oven, we have them ready in seven to eight minutes. That’s fast—near instant gratification!
Since my children have been able to speak, I’ve recorded things they’ve said in a red notebook which now features a bent cover and curled page corners. A few times each year we read through the entries and reminisce about the (mostly) funny and (occasionally) insightful things the kids said as toddlers and young children. Some of the entries mark moments I still recall, but others would be lost forever if it weren’t for the “red notebook.”
I once heard about a first-time author who came to Jesus due to the stunning success of his book. The way he saw it, God escalated the book’s accomplishment beyond the merits of his talent in order to get his attention. Humbled, the author responded by seeking God and ultimately believing in Christ. What makes this story so unusual is that success more often has the opposite effect; after initial demonstrations of gratitude, we tend to forget God in the midst of plenty.
“The cable isn’t working!” exclaimed the event organizer with a panicked look on her face. I was speaking at a women’s conference and had arrived early to set up my laptop. The organizer tried to connect my laptop to the projector and found the cable connection didn’t fit. I told her, “Don’t worry. I have the right cable with me.” Thankfully, in my preparations for the event I had packed the needed component. I was grateful to have the right connection!
Baby Jeremy was born with a condition in which his bile ducts were absent, causing bile to build up inside his body and damage his liver. The only option to prevent his death was a liver transplant. Thankfully for Jeremy, his father underwent a lengthy medical procedure to provide healing for him. Jeremy was given a new liver and a new lease on life.
I don’t always like to do what I’m told; an internal resistance wells up inside me. Perhaps my natural stubbornness and my dependence on prayer to soften my heart makes me notice Elijah’s pliability and obedience in 1 Kings 17. When God tells him to do something, he obeys. And God uses him in His redemption story.