• Ministry > Our Daily Bread

    Every Moment Matters

    When I met Ada, she had outlived her entire group of friends and family and was living in a nursing home. “It’s the hardest part of getting old,” she told me “watching everyone else move on and leave you behind.” One day I asked Ada what kept her interest and how she spent her time. She answered me with a Scripture passage from the apostle Paul (Philippians 1:21): “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Then she said, “While I’m still around, I have work to do. On my good days, I get to talk to…

    Impaired Judgment

    I’ve been quick to judge anyone I saw walking in the street while staring at a phone. How could they be so oblivious to the cars about to hit them? I’ve told myself. Don’t they care about their own safety? But one day, while crossing the entrance to an alleyway, I was so engrossed in a text message, that I missed seeing a car at my left. Thankfully, the driver saw me and came to an abrupt stop. But I felt ashamed. All of my self-righteous finger-pointing came back to haunt me. I had judged others, only to do the same thing…

    Blessing in the Mess

    I got myself into this mess, so I’d better get myself out, I sometimes find myself thinking.  Although I believe in a God of grace, I’m still prone to act as if His help is available only when I deserve it.

    God’s first encounter with Jacob is a beautiful illustration of how untrue this is.

    Jacob had spent a lifetime trying to alter his destiny. He’d been born second at a time when firstborn sons typically received their father’s blessing—believed to guarantee future prosperity.

    So Jacob decided to do whatever it would take to get his father’s blessing anyway. Eventually, he succeeded—through deceit—obtaining the…

    Our Safe Place

    My very first job was at a fast-food restaurant. One Saturday evening, a guy kept hanging around, asking when I got out of work. It made me feel uneasy. As the hour grew later, he ordered fries, then a drink, so the manager wouldn’t kick him out. Though I didn’t live far, I was scared to walk home alone through a couple of dark parking lots and a stretch through a sandy field. Finally, at midnight, I went in the office to make a phone call.

    And the person who answered—my dad—without a second thought got out of a warm bed…

    As Advertised

    During a vacation, my husband and I signed up for a leisurely tour down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River. Dressed in sandals, a sundress, and a wide brimmed hat, I groaned when we discovered—contrary to the advertisement—that the trip included light rapids. Thankfully, we rode with a couple experienced in whitewater rafting. They taught my husband the basics of paddling and promised to navigate us safely to our destination. Grateful for my life jacket, I screamed and gripped the plastic handle on the raft until we reached the muddy bank downriver. I stepped onto the shore and dumped water from my purse…

    “Lovable!”

    That exclamation came from my daughter as she got ready one morning. I didn’t know what she meant. Then she tapped her shirt, a hand-me-down from a cousin. Across the front was that word: “Lovable.” I gave her a big hug, and she smiled with pure joy. “You are lovable!” I echoed. Her smile grew even bigger, if that was possible, as she skipped away, repeating the word over and over again.

    I’m hardly a perfect father. But that moment was perfect. In that spontaneous, beautiful interaction, I glimpsed in my girl’s radiant face what receiving unconditional love looked like: It…

    Quieting the Critic

    I work with a team to put on an annual community event. We spend eleven months plotting many details to ensure the event’s success. We choose the date and venue. We set ticket prices. We select everything from food vendors to sound technicians. As the event approaches, we answer public questions and provide directions. Afterward we collect feedback. Some good. Some that is hard to hearand more details are available to the public, our team hears excitement from attendees and also fields complaints. The negative feedback complaints can be is discouraging and sometimes tempts us to give up.

    Nehemiah had critics…

    Humble Love

    When Benjamin Franklin was a young man he made a list of twelve virtues he desired to grow in over the course of his life. He showed it to a friend, who suggested he add “humility” to it. Franklin liked the idea. He then added some guidelines to help him with each item on the list. Among Franklin’s thoughts about humility, he held up Jesus as an example to emulate.

    Jesus shows us the ultimate example of humility. God’s Word tells us, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,…

    Called by Name

    Advertisers have concluded that the most attention-grabbing word that viewers react to is their own name. Thus a television channel in the UK has introduced personalized advertisements with their online streaming services.

    We might enjoy hearing our name on television, but it doesn’t mean much without the intimacy that comes when someone who loves us says our name.

    Mary Magdalene’s attention was arrested when, at the tomb where Jesus’s body had been laid after He was crucified on the cross, He spoke her name (John 20:16). With that single word, she turned in recognition to the Teacher whom she loved and followed,…

    Advice from My Father

    After being laid off from an editorial job, I prayed, asking for God to help me find a new one. But when weeks went by and nothing came of my attempts at networking and filling out applications, I began to pout. “Don’t You know how important it is that I have a job?” I asked God, my arms folded in protest at my seemingly unanswered prayer.

    When I talked to my father, who had often reminded me about believing God’s promises, about my job situation, he said, “I want you to get to the point where you trust what God says.”

    My…

    A Warm Welcome

    “Who will hug everybody?”

    That was one of the questions our friend Steve asked after he got the news that he had cancer and realized he would be away from our church for a while. Steve is the kind of man who makes everyone feel welcome—with a friendly greeting, a warm handshake, and even a “holy hug” for some—to adapt an application from Romans 16:16, which says, “greet one another with a holy kiss.”

    And now, as we pray for Steve that God will heal him, he is concerned that as he goes through surgery and treatment—and is away from our church…

    The Perfect Father

    Standing in the crowded store aisle, I struggled to find the perfect Father’s Day card. Although we had reconciled after years of a strained connection, I had never felt close to my dad.

    The woman next to me groaned and shoved the card she’d been reading back into the display. “Why can’t they make cards for people who don’t have good relationships with their fathers, but are trying to do the right thing?”

    She stormed off before I could respond, so I prayed for her. Thanking God for affirming only He could be a perfect Father, I asked Him to strengthen my…

    Faces

    When our granddaughter Sarah was very young, she explained to me what happens when you die: “Only your face goes to heaven, not your body. You get a new body, but keep the same face.”

    Sarah’s concept of our eternal state was a child’s understanding, of course, but she did grasp an essential truth. In a sense, our faces are a visible reflection of the invisible soul.

    My mother used to say that an angry look might someday freeze on my face. She was wiser than she knew. A worried brow, an angry set to our mouths, a sly look in our…

    And in Truth

    Years ago, I attended a wedding where two people from different countries got married. Such a blending of cultures can be beautiful, but this ceremony included Christian traditions mixed with rituals from a faith that worshiped many gods.

    Zephaniah the prophet pointedly condemned the mixing of other religions with faith in the one true God (sometimes called syncretism). Judah had become a people who bowed in worship to the true God but who also relied on the god Molek (Zephaniah 1:5). Zephaniah described their adoption of pagan culture (v. 8) and warned that as a result God would drive the people of…

    Side by Side

    In ancient times, a city with broken walls revealed a defeated people, exposed to danger and shame. That is why the Jews rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. How? By working side by side, an expression that can well describe Nehemiah 3.

    At first glance, chapter 3 might appear to be a boring account of who did what in the reconstruction. However, a closer look highlights how people worked together. Priests were working alongside rulers. Perfume-makers were helping as well as goldsmiths. There were some who lived in nearby towns and came to give a hand. Others made repairs opposite their houses.…

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