• Biblical Studies

    Lonely Christmas

    The loneliest Christmas I ever spent was in my grandfathers’ cottage near Sakogu, northern Ghana. I was just 15, and my parents and siblings were a thousand kilometers away. In previous years, when I had been with them and my village friends, Christmas was always big and memorable. But this Christmas was quiet and lonely. As I lay on my floor mat early Christmas morning, I remembered a local song: The year has ended; Christmas has come; the Son of God is born; peace and joy to everybody. Mournfully, I sang it over and over.

    My grandmother came and asked, “What song…

    Questions at Christmas

    Well before the calendar flips to December, Christmas cheer begins to bubble up in our northern town. A medical office drapes its trees and shrubs in close-fitting strings of lights, each a different color, illuminating a breathtaking nighttime landscape. Another business decorates its building to look like an enormous, extravagantly wrapped Christmas present. It’s difficult to turn anywhere without seeing evidence of Christmas spirit—or at least seasonal marketing.

    Some people love these lavish displays. Others take a more cynical view. But the crucial question isn’t how others observe Christmas. Rather, we each need to consider what the celebration means to us.

    A…

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    Christian Beliefs

    Views of Creation

    One of my favorite views is from atop the arch of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia. Since the BridgeClimb officially opened in 1998, more than three million people have ascended to the apex of the iconic structure to view the stunning city.

    “The Lord’s”

    It doesn’t take much to notice that getting “inked” is very popular these days. Some tattoos are so small that one barely notices them. Others—from athletes to actors to everyday people—have opted to cover much of their bodies with multi-colored inks, words and designs. The trend seems like it’s here to stay, a trend that netted $3 billion in revenue in 2014—and an additional $66 million for tattoo removal. 

    Regardless of how you may feel about tattoos, Isaiah 44 speaks metaphorically about people writing something on their hands: “The Lord’s” (v. 5). This “self-tattoo” is the climax of an entire paragraph…

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    Christian Living

    Divine Connection

    After recently changing cable TV service providers, my family struggled to figure out how to view our favorite content. We tried following the same steps we’d utilized with our previous company, but to no avail. Eventually it became clear that a certain connection had to be made in order to gain access to the new provider’s programming archives. The service wasn’t functional without this connection, but once it was in place we were able to unlock its full potential.

    A Hand Up

    My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

    Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work…

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    Christian Ministry & the Church

    Views of Creation

    One of my favorite views is from atop the arch of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia. Since the BridgeClimb officially opened in 1998, more than three million people have ascended to the apex of the iconic structure to view the stunning city.

    Learning Another’s Song

    During my master’s degree studies, I attended a church with people from many different nations and ethnic backgrounds, where we often worshiped by singing songs in various languages. One year for Christmas the choir director asked me to teach the other choir members a carol in my native Romanian language. Tears streamed down my face when we sang it on Christmas Eve. I was away from my home country, yet at home with brothers and sisters in Jesus who loved me enough to learn a song in my heart language.

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    Christianity & Culture

    Views of Creation

    One of my favorite views is from atop the arch of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, Australia. Since the BridgeClimb officially opened in 1998, more than three million people have ascended to the apex of the iconic structure to view the stunning city.

    Springs of Life

    I once visited an urban farm organized by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The IRC relocates refugees from ravaged countries and helps them establish a new life. Since many refugees grew up in an agrarian lifestyle, farming can be a natural way for them to rebuild their lives. Portions of the farmland simply grow wild each year, allowing the soil to rest. Then, in the year to follow, they till the grass back into the dirt, using it to enrich the soil that will help nourish the crops they’ll eventually harvest.

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    Ethical Issues

    Praying for Justice

    It seems a year doesn’t pass without airports receiving complaints about air traffic noise. In 2016, Washington’s Reagan National Airport received 8,670 complaints—with 6,500 of them coming from one person. That’s the equivalent of one person making 18 calls per day for a year! Though this might seem absurd, the airport authorities have responded. They are now working with residents near the airport to “address the air traffic noise.” Though the airport authorities were likely annoyed by the caller’s tenacity, I guess you could say that it eventually proved to be effective.

    Keep Running

    It takes great perseverance to run a half-marathon. It takes even more perseverance to accidentally run one, like 12-year-old LeeAdianez Rodriguez-Espada did. LeeAdianez, running late for a family 5K run, accidentally joined a group of people running the half marathon race (just over 21K!). Lee quickly fell in pace with other runners and focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Realizing at mile four that the finish line was nowhere in sight, she turned to another runner and asked how much further. That’s when she realized she’d joined a much more difficult race! Instead of dropping out, Lee…

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    Evangelism & Missions

    Home

    Recently a friend who sold homes for a living died of cancer. As my wife and I reminisced about Patsy, Sue recalled that many years ago Patsy had led a man to faith in Jesus and he became a good friend of ours.

    How encouraging to recall that Patsy not only helped families find homes to live in here in our community, but she also helped others make sure they had an eternal home.

    As Jesus prepared to go to the cross for us, He showed a keen interest in our eternal accommodations. He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a…

    It Depends on Him

    Pastor and teacher Tommy Nelson experienced clinical depression related to a nonstop schedule. Reflecting on that time in his life, he said, “I didn’t know that you could get totally, completely burned out doing what you loved.” Despite the fulfillment his multiple ministries brought him, a lack of rest led him to become incapacitated. Over time, however, his situation improved as God renewed him through means such as counseling, encouragement, and relaxation.

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    Kids and Youth Resources

    Power Up Kids!

    Sample (Power UP! Kids Image)

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    Life Struggles

    What Trust Delivers

    As turmoil permeated my thoughts, every creak in my empty house intensified my anxiety. Extreme fear had settled into my life in my early twenties, and at times it was debilitating. My imagination became my enemy. Desperately desiring to be at peace, I would pace in my living room, repeating to myself, “God will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him” (see Isaiah 26:3). But the stranglehold of fear broke only when my relationship with God grew to the place where my heart could grasp what it meant to truly trust Him.

    Shallow and Profound

    Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.

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    Marriage & Family

    Patience, Prayer, and Love

    Elizabeth Stone wrote that having a child is “to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Indeed. My biggest fear is that my children might walk away from God.

    A Legacy of Prayer

    Susanna Wesley strived to spend as much time in prayer as in her many other activities. She led Sunday afternoon church during her husband’s travels, homeschooled her ten children, and kept written records of her time with God. She did this despite facing grief, poverty, health issues, and the challenge of often being apart from her spouse due to his travels. Hard-pressed to find privacy in a full house of ten children, she often prayed with an apron over her head. Her example, however, laid the foundation for the prolific ministries of her sons John and Charles.

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    mission

    Relationships

    Divine Connection

    After recently changing cable TV service providers, my family struggled to figure out how to view our favorite content. We tried following the same steps we’d utilized with our previous company, but to no avail. Eventually it became clear that a certain connection had to be made in order to gain access to the new provider’s programming archives. The service wasn’t functional without this connection, but once it was in place we were able to unlock its full potential.

    A Hand Up

    My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

    Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work…

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    Spiritual Growth

    God Has Plans Too

    Sometimes our plans are interrupted by unexpected delays. Nearly a hundred runners experienced that reality when they were trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2016. As they ran the race, a train crossed the marathon course—moving very slowly—at the seven-mile marker. Prior to race day, race officials had been given complete assurance that no train would get in the runners’ way. Yet the participants’ plans were interrupted.

    Pursuing Holiness

    I can resist anything except temptation.” We might smile at this quip by Oscar Wilde, but it also may invite us to challenge ourselves: Has our pursuit of holiness—reflecting God and conforming to His will—been weakened through the corrosive influence of modern culture’s love of pleasure? How can we, as we seek to honor God, resist temptation?

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    When Life Hurts

    Lonely Christmas

    The loneliest Christmas I ever spent was in my grandfathers’ cottage near Sakogu, northern Ghana. I was just 15, and my parents and siblings were a thousand kilometers away. In previous years, when I had been with them and my village friends, Christmas was always big and memorable. But this Christmas was quiet and lonely. As I lay on my floor mat early Christmas morning, I remembered a local song: The year has ended; Christmas has come; the Son of God is born; peace and joy to everybody. Mournfully, I sang it over and over.

    My grandmother came and asked, “What song…

    It Depends on Him

    Pastor and teacher Tommy Nelson experienced clinical depression related to a nonstop schedule. Reflecting on that time in his life, he said, “I didn’t know that you could get totally, completely burned out doing what you loved.” Despite the fulfillment his multiple ministries brought him, a lack of rest led him to become incapacitated. Over time, however, his situation improved as God renewed him through means such as counseling, encouragement, and relaxation.

    View All
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