• Topic > Christian Beliefs

    Feeling Small

    Many movie critics consider David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia one of the greatest films of all time. With its seemingly endless vistas of the Arabian deserts, it has influenced a generation of filmmakers—including Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg. “I was inspired the first time I saw Lawrence,” said Spielberg. “It made me feel puny. It still makes me feel puny. And that’s one measure of its greatness.”

    What makes me feel small is creation’s vastness—when I gaze at an ocean, fly over the polar ice cap, or survey a night sky sparkling with a billion stars. If the created universe is so…

    Turn and Run

    Ali was a beautiful, smart, and talented teenager with loving parents. But after high school something prompted her to try heroin. Her parents noticed changes in her and sent her to a rehabilitation facility after Ali eventually admitted the impact it was having on her. After treatment, they asked what she would tell her friends about trying drugs. Her advice: “Just turn and run.” She urged that “just saying no” wasn’t enough.

    Tragically, Ali relapsed and died at age twenty-two of an overdose. In an attempt to keep others from the same fate, her heartbroken parents appeared on a local news…

    More than Water

    One of my earliest childhood memories of church was a pastor walking down the aisle, exhorting us to “remember the waters of our baptism.” “Remember the waters?” I asked myself quizzically. “How can you remember water?” He then proceeded to splash everyone with water, which as a young child simultaneously delighted and confused me.

    Why should we think about baptism? When  a person is baptized, there’s so much more to it than the water. Baptism symbolizes how through faith in Christ, we‘ve become “clothed” with Him (Galatians 3:27). Or in other words, it’s celebrating that we belong to Jesus and that…

    I Will Fear No Evil

    In 1957, Melba Pattillo Beals was selected to be one of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of nine African American students who first integrated the previously all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. In her 2018 memoir, I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith under Fire, Beals gives a heartbreaking account of the injustices and harassment she struggled to face courageously every day as a fifteen-year-old student.

    But she also wrote about her deep faith in God. In her darkest moments, when fear almost overwhelmed her, Beals repeated the familiar Bible verses she had learned at…

    When We Know Who Wins

    My supervisor is huge fan of a certain college basketball team. This year, they won the national championship, so another coworker texted him congratulations. The only problem was my boss hadn’t yet had a chance to watch the final game! He was frustrated, he said, knowing the outcome beforehand. But, he acknowledged, at least when he watched the game he wasn’t nervous when the score stayed close to the end. He knew who won!

    We never really know what tomorrow will hold. Some days can feel mundane and tedious, while other days are filled with joy. Still other times, life can…

    Blue Lines

    Downhill skiing racecourses are often marked by swaths of blue paint sprayed across the white, snowy surface. The crude arcs might be a visual distraction for spectators but prove to be vital to both the success and safety of the competitors. The paint serves as a guide for the racers to visualize the fastest line to the bottom of the hill. Additionally, the contrast of the paint against the snow offers racers depth perception, which is critical to their safety when traveling at such high rates of speed.

    Solomon begs his sons to seek wisdom in hopes of keeping them safe…

    The Last Word

    Her name was Saralyn, and I sorta had a crush on her back in our public school days. She had the most wonderful laugh. I’m not sure whether she knew about my crush, but I suspect she did. After graduation I lost track of her, as they say. Our lives went in different directions as lives often do. 

    I keep up with my graduating class in some online forums, and I was intensely sad when I heard that Saralyn died. I found myself wondering about the direction her life had taken over the years. This is happening more and more the…

    Guiding Light

    The restaurant was lovely but dark. Only one small candle flickered on every table. To create light, diners used their smartphones to read their menus, look to their tablemates, and even to see what they were eating.

    Finally, a patron quietly pushed back his chair, walked over to a waiter, and asked a simple question. “Could you turn on the lights?” Before long, a warm ceiling light flashed on and the room erupted with applause. But also with laughter. And happy chatter. And thank-yous. My friend’s husband turned off his phone, picked up his utensils, and spoke for us all. “Let…

    It’s Slippery Out Here!

    Years ago, when I was learning to ski, I followed my son Josh down what appeared to be a gentle slope. With my eyes on him I failed to notice he turned down the steepest hill on the mountain, and I found myself careening down the slope, completely out of control. I cratered, of course.

    Psalm 141 addresses a similar deceit by which we find ourselves slipping down sin’s slope. Prayer is one of the ways we stay alert to those slopes: “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil” (141:4) is a plea that echoes the Lord’s…

    Unchanging

    My wife Cari and I recently traveled to Santa Barbara, California—the city where we met and fell in love thirty-five years ago—to attend our college reunion. We planned to visit several places where we had spent some of the best hours of our youth together. But when we arrived at the location of our favorite Mexican restaurant, we found a building supply store there. A wrought iron plaque hung on the wall commemorating the restaurant and its four decades of service to the community.

    I gazed on the barren but still familiar sidewalk, once dotted cheerfully with colorful tables and bright…

    Tight Circles

    A classmate gave my family a registered collie that had become too old to breed puppies. We soon learned this beautiful dog had, sadly, spent much of her life inside a small pen. She would only walk in tight circles. She couldn’t fetch or run in a straight line. And even with a large yard in which to play, she thought she was fenced in.

    The first Christians, many who were Jews, were used to being fenced in by the Mosaic law. Though the law was good and had been given by God to convict them of sin and lead them…

    Use Your Voice

    I was invited to meet a world-renowned pianist. Since I grew up immersed in music, playing the violin, piano, and especially in singing solos for church and other events, I was thrilled at the opportunity.

    When I arrived to meet the pianist, I realized he spoke little English and to my surprise provided a cello for me to play—an instrument I’d never touched. He insisted that I play and he would accompany me. I screeched out a few notes, trying to mimic my violin training. Finally admitting that I was lost, we parted ways.

    I awoke, realizing the scenario had been a…

    A Reason to Sing

    For a man who lives by a code, so to speak, it felt like a major failure. What’d I do? Well, I fell asleep. Our kids have a curfew to meet when they’re out for the evening. They’re good kids, but my practice is to wait up until I hear their hands turn the front doorknob. I want to know they’re home safe. I don’t have to do this: I choose to. But one night I awoke to my daughter saying through a smile, “Dad, I’m safe. You should go to bed.” Despite our best intentions, sometimes fathers fall asleep…

    Another Chance

    At the Second Chance Bike Shop near our neighborhood, volunteers rebuild cast-off bicycles and donate them to needy kids. Shop founder Ernie Clark also donates bikes to needy adults, including the homeless, the disabled, and military veterans struggling to make it in civilian life. Not only do the bicycles get a second chance but sometimes the recipients get a new start too. One veteran used his new bike to get to a job interview.

    Second chances can transform a person’s destiny, especially when the second chance comes from God. The prophet Micah extoled such grace during a time the nation of…

    More Than Hacks

    I recently found a “hack” (a clever solution to a tricky problem) when one of my grandchildren warmed her stuffed rabbit on our fireplace glass. The resulting globs of bunny fur weren’t pretty, but a fireplace expert provided a great hack—a tip for how to make the glass look like new. It worked, and now we no longer allow stuffed animals near the fireplace!

    I bring up hacks because sometimes we can view Scripture as a collection of hacks—tips to make life easier. While it’s true that the Bible has much to say about how to live a Christ-honoring new life,…

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