• Ministry > Our Daily Bread

    The Ease of Ingratitude

    Thwip, thwap. Thwip, thwap.

    The windshield wipers slamming back and forth trying to keep up with the pelting rain only added to my irritation as I adjusted to driving the used car I had just purchased—an old station wagon with 80,000+ miles and no side-impact airbag protection for the kids.

    To get this station wagon, and some badly needed cash for groceries, I had sold the last “treasure” we owned: a 1992 Volvo station wagon with side-impact airbag protection for the kids. By then, everything else was gone. Our house and our savings had all disappeared under the weight of uncovered medical…

    Ice Flowers

    Fifteen-year-old Wilson Bentley was captivated by the intricate beauty of snowflakes. He looked with fascination through an old microscope his mother had given him and made hundreds of sketches of their remarkable designs, but they melted too quickly to adequately capture their detail. Several years later, in 1885, he had an idea. He attached a bellows camera to the microscope and, after much trial and error, took his first picture of a snowflake. During his lifetime Bentley would capture 5,000 snowflake images and each one was a unique design. He described them as “tiny miracles of beauty” and “ice flowers.”

    No…

    Undigested Knowledge

    In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant.

    Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.”

    At the temple one day, Jesus encountered people who thought they had all the right answers. They were proudly proclaiming their status as Abraham’s descendants yet…

    Turn Off the Scoreboard

    At his son’s wedding reception, my friend Bob offered advice and encouragement to the newlyweds. In his speech he told of a football coach in a nearby town who, when his team lost a game, kept the losing score on the scoreboard all week to remind the team of their failure. While that may be a good football strategy, Bob wisely advised, it’s a terrible strategy in marriage. When your spouse upsets you or fails you in some way, don’t keep drawing attention to the failure. Turn off the scoreboard.

    What great advice! Scripture is full of commands for us to…

    Jesus Over Everything

    My friend’s son decided to wear a sports jersey over his school clothing one day. He wanted to show support for his favorite team that would be playing an important game later that night. Before leaving home, he put something on over his sports jersey—it was a chain with a pendant that read, “Jesus.” His simple action illustrated a deeper truth: Jesus deserves first place over everything in our lives.

    Jesus is above and over all. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17). Jesus is supreme over all creation (vv. 15-16). He is “the…

    Secret Menu

    Meat Mountain is a super-sandwich layered with six kinds of meat. Stacked with chicken tenders, three strips of bacon, two cheeses, and much more, it looks like it should be a restaurant’s featured item. 

    But Meat Mountain isn’t on any restaurant’s published menu. The sandwich represents a trend in off-menu items known only by social media or word of mouth. It seems that competition is driving fast-food restaurants to offer a secret menu to in-the-know customers.

    When Jesus told His disciples that He had “food” they knew nothing about, it must have seemed like a secret menu to them (John 4:32). He…

    Can’t Take It Back

    I couldn’t take my actions back. A woman had parked her car and blocked my way of getting to the gas pump. She hopped out to drop off some recycling items, and I didn’t feel like waiting, so I honked my horn at her. Irritated, I put my car in reverse and drove around another way. I immediately felt bad about being impatient and unwilling to wait 30 seconds (at the most) for her to move. I apologized to God. Yes, she should have parked in the designated area, but I could have spread kindness and patience instead of harshness.…

    The Factory of Sadness

    As a lifelong Cleveland Browns football fan, I grew up knowing my share of disappointment. Despite being one of only four teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl championship game, the Browns have a loyal fan base that sticks with the team year in and year out. But because the fans usually end up disappointed, many of them now refer to the home stadium as the “Factory of Sadness.”

    The broken world we live in can be a “factory of sadness” too. There seems to be an endless supply of heartache and disappointment, whether from our own choices or…

    What Will Be

    You and I have something in common. We live in a mixed-up, tarnished world and we have never known anything different. Adam and Eve, however, could remember what life was like before the curse. They could recall the world as God intended it to be—free of death, hardship, and pain (Gen. 3:16-19). In pre-fall Eden, hunger, unemployment, and illness did not exist. No one questioned God’s creative power or His plan for human relationships.

           The world we have inherited resembles God’s perfect garden only slightly. To quote C. S. Lewis, “This is a good world gone wrong, but [it] still…

    A Serving Leader

    In traditional African societies, leadership succession is a serious decision. After a king’s demise, great care is taken selecting the next ruler. Besides being from a royal family, the successor must be strong, fearless, and sensible. Candidates are questioned to determine if they will serve the people or rule with a heavy hand. The king’s successor needs to be someone who leads but also serves.

    Even though Solomon made his own bad choices, he worried over his successor. “Who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into…

    Hidden Treasure

    My husband and I read in different ways. Since English is a second language for Tom, he has a tendency to read slowly, word-for-word. I often speed-read by skimming. But Tom retains more than I do. He can easily quote something he read a week ago, while my retention can evaporate seconds after I turn away from the screen or book.

    Skimming is also a problem when I’m reading the Bible—and not just the genealogies. I’m tempted to skim familiar passages, stories I’ve heard since I was a child, or a psalm that is part of a familiar chorus.

    Proverbs 2 encourages…

    Training for Life

    I recently met a woman who has pushed her body and mind to the limit. She climbed mountains, faced death, and even broke a Guinness world record. Now she’s engaged in a different challenge—that of raising her special-needs child. The courage and faith she employed while ascending the mountains she now pours into motherhood. 

    In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul speaks of a runner competing in a race. After urging a church enamored with their rights to give consideration to one another (ch. 8), he explains how he sees the challenges of love and self-sacrifice to be like a marathon of…

    Leave a Legacy

    When a road-construction foreman was killed in an accident, the love of this man for his family, co-workers, and community resulted in an overwhelming sense of loss. His country church couldn’t accommodate all the mourners, so planners moved the service to a much larger building. Friends and family packed the auditorium! The message was clear: Tim touched many lives in a way uniquely his. So many would miss his kindness, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for life.

    As I returned from the funeral, I thought about the life of King Jehoram. What a contrast! His brief reign of terror is traced…

    Always Pray and Don’t Give Up

    Are you going through one of those times when it seems every attempt to resolve a problem is met with a new difficulty? You thank the Lord at night that it’s taken care of but awake to find that something else has gone wrong and the problem remains.

    During an experience like that, I was reading the gospel of Luke and was astounded by the opening words of chapter 18:  “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (v. 1). I had read the story of the persistent widow many…

    He Came for You

    In his novels The Trial and The Castle, Franz Kafka (1883–1924) portrays life as a dehumanizing existence that turns people into a sea of empty faces without identity or worth. Kafka said, “The conveyer belt of life carries you on, no one knows where. One is more of an object, a thing, than a living creature.”

    Early in His ministry, Jesus went to a synagogue in Nazareth, stood up in front of the crowd, and read from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to…