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    My Father’s Child

    They looked down at the faded photograph, then up at me, then over at my father, then back at me, then back at my father. Their eyes were wide as the proverbial saucers. “Dad, you look just like Papa when he was young!” My father and I grinned because this was something we’ve known for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently that my children came to the same realization. While my father and I are different people, in a very real sense to see me is to see my father as a younger man: tall lanky frame, full…

    Sacred Gathering

    Our group of friends reunited for a long weekend together on the shores of a lake in Washington state. The days were spent playing in the water and sharing meals, but it was the evening conversations I treasured the most. As darkness fell, our hearts opened to one another with uncommon depth and vulnerability, sharing the pains of faltering marriages and the aftermath of trauma some of our children were enduring. Without glossing over the brokenness of our realities, we pointed one another to God and His faithfulness throughout such extreme difficulties. Those evenings are among the most sacred in…

    Chosen to Forgive

    As a middle-schooler, Patrick Ireland first sensed God had chosen him for something. But what? Later as a survivor of the horrific Columbine High School massacre where thirteen were killed and twenty-four wounded, including Patrick, he began to understand an answer.

    Through his long recovery, Patrick learned that clinging to bitterness causes further wounding. God showed Patrick that the key to forgiveness is to stop focusing on what others have done to us and to focus on what Jesus has done for us. Christ’s words on the cross toward His tormenters, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they…

    Needing His Leading

    Uncle Zaki was more than a friend to scholar Kenneth Bailey; he was his trusted guide on challenging excursions into the vast Sahara. By following Uncle Zaki, Bailey says that he and his team were demonstrating their complete trust in him. In essence, they were affirming, “We don’t know the way to where we are going, and if you get us lost we will all die. We have placed our total trust in your leadership.” 

    In a time of great weariness and heartache, David looked beyond any human guide, seeking direction from the God he served. In Psalm 61:2 we read,…

    Easy Does It

    My father and I used to fell trees and cut them to size with a two-man crosscut saw. Being young and energetic, I tried to force the saw into the cut. “Easy does it,” my father would say. “Let the saw do the work.”

    I think of Paul’s words in Philippians: “It is God who works in you” (2:13). Easy does it. Let Him do the work of changing us.

    C. S. Lewis said that growth is much more than reading what Christ said and carrying it out. He explained, “A real Person, Christ, . . . is doing things to you…

    Do Whatever

    In a recent film, a self-proclaimed “genius” rants to the camera about the world’s “horror, corruption, ignorance, and poverty,” declaring life to be godless and absurd. While such thinking isn’t unusual in many modern film scripts, what’s interesting is where it leads. In the end, the lead character turns to the audience and implores us to do whatever it takes to find a little happiness. For him, this includes leaving traditional morality behind.

    But will “do whatever” work? Facing his own despair at life’s horrors, the Old Testament writer of Ecclesiastes gave it a try long ago, searching for happiness through…

    The Maker of the Moon

    After astronauts set the Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, more than half a billion people heard Neil Armstrong’s voice transmitted from 240,000 miles away from Earth. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he said as he became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. Other space travelers followed, including the commander of the last Apollo mission, Gene Cernan. “There I was, and there you are, the Earth—dynamic, overwhelming, and I felt . . . it was just too beautiful to happen by accident,” Cernan said, “There has to be somebody…

    Good Measure

    At a gas station one day, Staci encountered a woman who had left home without her bank card. Stranded with her baby, she was asking passersby for help. Although unemployed at the time, Staci spent $15 to put gas in the stranger’s tank. Days later, Staci came home to find a gift basket of children’s toys and other presents waiting on her porch. Friends of the stranger had reciprocated Staci’s kindness and converted her $15 blessing into a memorable Christmas for her family.

    This heartwarming story illustrates the point Jesus made when he said, “Give, and it will be given to…

    Why Me?

    The Book of Odds says that one in a million people are struck by lightning. One in 25,000 experience a medical condition called “broken heart syndrome” in the face of overwhelming shock or loss. In page after page the odds of experiencing specific problems pile up without answering: What if we’re the one?

    Job defied all odds. God said of him, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). Yet Job was chosen to suffer a series of losses that defied all odds. Of all people on…

    Sweeter Than Honey

    His topic was racial tension. Yet the speaker remained calm and collected. Standing on stage before a large audience, he spoke boldly—but with grace, humility, kindness, and even humor. Soon the tense audience visibly relaxed, laughing along with the speaker about the dilemma they all faced: how to resolve their hot issue, but cool down their feelings and words. Yes, how to tackle a sour topic with sweet grace.

    King Solomon advised this same approach for all of us: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). In this way, “The hearts of…

    Remembering

    On Memorial Day, I think of many former servicemen but especially my dad and uncles, who served in the military during World War II. They made it home, but in that war hundreds of thousands of families tragically lost loved ones in service to their country. Yet, when asked, my dad and most soldiers from that era would say they were willing to give up their lives to protect their loved ones and stand for what they believed to be right.

    When someone dies in defense of their country, John 15:13—“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down…

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