As I was overseeing several small groups in my local church, I experienced a painful conflict with another leader, who ultimately left my team. While I needed to face my own failings, I later heard an incomplete version of what had gone wrong between the leader and myself from one of her group members. Truth had been lost in a shadow of accusations.
Bribery. We typically associate it with a financial exchange or the awarding of position—be it political or otherwise. Human brokenness, however, also lends itself to bribery of the heart. Whether it’s relational manipulation or the promise of belonging, each of us has probably encountered emotional extortion somewhere along life’s path.
When I reflect on the times in my life when I’ve been most devoted to digging deeply into Scripture, I’m struck by the joy, courage, contentment, and confidence in God that resulted. For example, when I was in high school, I seldom went anywhere without a pack of index cards on which I’d handwritten Bible verses. I was a competitive distance runner at the time, and as I logged many long miles I carried the verses with me and committed passage after passage to memory. As I meditated on Scripture the miles flew by and my life, faith, and attitude were renewed, shaping a heart and mind bent toward God.
Ever wanted to live like a monk? Thirty-four young adults did, accepting an offer from the Archbishop of Canterbury to embrace a countercultural, monastic way of life for ten months. From varied nations and denominations, the group formed a community that studied the Scriptures, prayed, and served together. At the end of their time, one participant stated, “We’ve spent time growing in intimacy with God, learning from Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit.”
Often, when I search for something on the Internet, I’m not sure I can trust the information I find. If I type a topic into a well-known search engine, I may end up on a website that features unverified information. Disclaimers warn that experts haven’t reviewed the content and so there’s no way to guarantee that it’s accurate, complete, or unbiased. No matter how authentic the material might seem, I know it’s unwise to trust it.
Joanne Milne experienced the world as a soundless place. Deaf for the first 39 years of her life, everything changed after she had cochlear implant surgery. The procedure enabled sound vibrations to rouse her auditory nerves. A nurse’s voice was the first noise she heard, and the experience brought her to tears. She said, “Hearing things for the first time is so, so emotional, from the ping of a light switch to running water. . . . I can already foresee how it’s going to be life-changing.”
In the Shakespearean play Othello, the main bad guy is named Iago. He pretends to be Othello’s closest friend, offering counsel and advice, but all the while he’s plotting his friend’s downfall behind the scenes. The play is carefully constructed so that it’s impossible for even the audience to grasp the underhanded deceit of Iago until the very last scene. He’s plausible right up until the end, and if his part is acted well, the audience will often gasp when his true nature is finally revealed, for the character’s deception is convincingly hidden by his words and actions.
Thanks to journalist Swagat Thorat, India has a newspaper for its blind citizens. An estimated 24,000 visually impaired people read the biweekly braille publication. Thorat believes that the ability to read articles about current events is important. He named the newspaper Sparshdnyan, which means: knowledge by touch.
After scaling a 350-foot rock wall, my climbing partner and I came face-to-face with a massive ice formation—thick, solid, and vertical. Too good an adventure to pass up, we began crunching into the solid wall of blue-green ice with our ice axes and the spikes of our climbing boots.
Recently a store that’s part of a huge retail chain labeled its Bibles as “fiction.” A pastor shopping for a gift came across the Bibles and saw “Fiction” written on the price tag. So he took a pic and posted it on social media with the comment: “[Name withheld] has Bibles for sale under the genre of FICTION. Hmm.” The retailer has since apologized, saying the Bibles were mislabeled and the mistake had been corrected.
Have you ever been asked to do something you didn’t feel qualified to do—something you felt that God was asking you to do? I usually feel this way in the midst of a hard conversation. The moment truth-telling becomes necessary or when I feel compelled to speak to someone who has hurt me, I especially sense the nudging of God. I feel unqualified to do what He wants—to speak the truth in love in the hopes of winning the other person back (Matthew 18:15; Ephesians 4:15).
A Japanese composer was hailed for a time as a “modern Beethoven.” He was credited with creating hits such as “Symphony No. 1, Hiroshima.” Despite being deaf, the man once said, “If you trust your inner sense of sound, you create something that is truer. It is like communicating from the heart.” After his hearing-impaired status came into question, however, he confessed that another musician wrote his most famous music.
Albert Einstein challenged long-held views of science with his theory of general relativity— a complicated idea that defied comprehension. Virtually no one could understand it. For instance, in 1919, mathematician Sir Arthur Eddington was asked if it was true that only three people on earth understood relativity. He replied, “Who’s the third?” Good question!
I recently read an article that lists 12 common half-truths many of us have accepted as facts. Here are a few: peanuts aren’t really nuts (they’re legumes), a palm tree isn’t a tree (it’s a plant), a koala bear isn’t really a bear (it’s a marsupial), and a penny is actually worth more than one cent—costing about two cents to make. Whether they are of consequence or not, we find ourselves swimming in half-truths.