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Chess Master

In high school I took pride in my ability to play chess. I joined the chess club, and during lunch hour I could be found sitting at a table with other nerds, poring over books with titles like Classic King Pawn Openings. I studied techniques, won most of my matches, and put the game aside for 20 years. Then I met a truly fine chess player who had been perfecting his skills long since high school, and I learned what it is like to play against a master. Although I had complete freedom to make any move I wished, none of…

Web Wisdom

Scroll to the bottom of many online news sites and you’ll find the “Comments” section where readers can leave their observations. Even the most reputable sites have no shortage of rude rants, uninformed insults, and name-calling.

            The book of Proverbs was collected about 3,000 years ago, but its timeless wisdom is as up-to-date as today’s breaking news. Two proverbs in chapter 26 seem at first glance to contradict each other, yet they apply perfectly to social media. “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (v. 4). And then, “Answer a fool according…

On the Edge

There’s an underground lava tube south of Kuna, Idaho, that has gained a certain amount of local notoriety. The only entrance, as far as I know, is a yawning shaft that plunges straight down into darkness.

            Some years ago I stood at the edge of that shaft and looked down. I was drawn to venture closer and almost lost my balance. I felt a moment of heart-pounding terror and stepped away from the opening. 

            Sin is like that: Curiosity can draw us toward the darkness. How often have men and women gotten too close to the edge, lost their balance,…

God’s Good Heart

Roger had been through a lot. He had open-heart surgery to repair a leaky valve. Then, within just a couple of weeks, doctors had to perform the surgery again because of complications. He had just begun to heal with physical therapy when he had a biking accident and broke his collarbone. Added to this, Roger also experienced the heartbreak of losing his mother during this time. He became very discouraged. When a friend asked him if he had seen God at work in any small ways, he confessed that he really didn’t feel he had.

            I appreciate Roger’s honesty. Feelings…

How To Have Peace

The Kamppi Chapel of Silence in Helsinki, Finland, stands out in its urban setting. The curved structure, covered with wood, buffers the noise from the busy city outside. Designers created the chapel as a quiet space and a “calm environment for visitors to compose themselves.” It’s a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

            Many people long for peace, and a few minutes of silence may soothe our minds. But the Bible teaches that real peace—peace with God—comes from His Son. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through…

How To Have Peace

The Kamppi Chapel of Silence in Helsinki, Finland, stands out in its urban setting. The curved structure, covered with wood, buffers the noise from the busy city outside. Designers created the chapel as a quiet space and a “calm environment for visitors to compose themselves.” It’s a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

            Many people long for peace, and a few minutes of silence may soothe our minds. But the Bible teaches that real peace—peace with God—comes from His Son. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through…

He Found Me

The film Amazing Grace was set in the late 1700s. It tells the story of William Wilberforce, a politician who was driven by his faith in Christ to commit his money and energy to abolishing the slave trade in England. In one scene, Wilberforce’s butler finds him praying. The butler asks, “You found God, Sir?” Wilberforce responds, “I think He found me.”

The Bible pictures humanity as wayward and wandering sheep. It says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isa. 53:6). In fact, this wayward condition is so deeply rooted in us…

Grey Power

Dutch artist Yoni Lefevre created a project called “Grey Power” to show the vitality of the aging generation in the Netherlands. She asked local schoolchildren to sketch their grandparents. Lefevre wanted to show an “honest and pure view” of older people, and she believed children could help supply this. The youngsters’ drawings reflected a fresh and lively perspective of their elders—grandmas and grandpas were shown playing tennis, gardening, painting, and more!

Caleb, of ancient Israel, was vital into his senior years. As a young man, he infiltrated the Promised Land before the Israelites conquered it. Caleb believed God would help his…

Whose Mess?

“Could they not carry their own garbage this far?” I grumbled to Jay as I picked up empty bottles from the beach and tossed them into the trash bin less than 20 feet away. “Did leaving the beach a mess for others make them feel better about themselves? I sure hope these people are tourists. I don’t want to think that any locals would treat our beach with such disrespect.”

The very next day I came across a prayer I had written years earlier about judging others. My own words reminded me of how wrong I was to take pride in…

Pencil Battle

As I learned to write my letters, my first-grade teacher insisted that I hold my pencil in a specific way. As she watched me, I held it the way she wanted me to. But when she turned away, I obstinately reverted the pencil to the way I found more comfortable.

I thought I was the secret winner in that battle of the wills, and I still hold my pencil in my own peculiar way. Decades later, however, I realize that my wise teacher knew that my stubborn habit would grow into a bad writing practice that would result in my hand…

The Checkup

It’s that time of year when I go to the doctor for my annual physical. Even though I feel well and I’m not experiencing any health problems, I know that routine checkups are important because they can uncover hidden problems that if left undiscovered can grow to be serious health issues. I know that giving permission to my doctor to find and remedy the hidden problems can lead to long-term health.

Clearly the psalmist felt that way spiritually. Pleading for God to search for hidden sin, he prayed, “Search me, O God, . . . and see if there is any…

A Devoted Heart

A successful Christian businessman shared his story with us at church. He was candid about his struggles with faith and abundant wealth. He declared, “Wealth scares me!”

He quoted Jesus’ statement, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25 niv). He cited Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus and how in this story it was the rich man who went to hell. The parable of the “rich fool” (Luke 12:16-21) disturbed him. 

“But,” the businessman stated, “I’ve learned a lesson…

Walking with the Lord

A small pamphlet I received from a friend was titled “An Attempt to Share the Story of 86 Years of Relationship with the Lord.” In it, Al Ackenheil noted key people and events in his journey of faith over nearly nine decades. What seemed to be ordinary choices at the time—memorizing Bible verses, meeting for prayer with others, telling his neighbors about Jesus—became turning points that changed the direction of his life. It was fascinating to read how God’s hand guided and encouraged Al.

The psalmist wrote, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights…

Speak Up

When I hear stories about young people who have been bullied, I notice there are always at least two levels of hurt. The first and most obvious comes from the mean-spirited nature of those actually doing the bullying. That’s terrible on its own. But there’s another, deeper hurt that may end up being even more damaging than the first: The silence of everyone else.

It hurts the one being bullied because they’re stunned that no one will help. That often makes bullies more brazen, leading them to intensify their meanness. Worse, it heightens the embarrassment, false shame, and loneliness of the…

Miracle Material

CNN calls a derivative of graphite a “miracle material” that could revolutionize our future. Only one atom thick, graphene is being hailed as a truly two-dimensional material in a 3-D world. One hundred times stronger than steel, it is harder than diamond, conducts electricity 1,000 times better than copper, and is more flexible than rubber. 

In and of themselves, such technological advances are neither moral nor evil. But we are wise to remember the limitations of anything we make for ourselves.

Isaiah spoke to a generation who found themselves carrying into captivity gods they had made with their own hands. The prophet…