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    A Critical Reaction

    Tough words hurt. So my friend—an award-winning author—struggled with how to respond to the criticism. His new book had earned 5-star reviews plus a major award. Then a respected magazine reviewer gave him a backhanded compliment, describing his book as well-written yet still criticizing it harshly. Turning to friends, he asked, “How should I reply?”

    One friend advised, “Let it go.” I shared advice from writing magazines, including tips to ignore such criticism, or learn from it even while continuing to work and write.

    Finally, however, I decided to seek the best advice of all. What does Scripture say about how to…

    You’ll See Her Again

    The room was dim and silent as I pulled a chair close to Jacquie’s bed. Before a three-year battle with cancer, my friend had been a vibrant person. I could still picture her laughing—eyes full of life, her face lit with a smile. Now she was quiet and still, and I was visiting her in a special care facility.

    Not knowing what to say, I decided to read some Scripture. I pulled my Bible out of my purse and turned to a reference in 1 Corinthians and began to read.

    After the visit and an emotional time in the seclusion of my…

    Letting Go

    “Your father is actively dying,” said the hospice nurse. “Actively dying” refers to the final phase of the dying process and was a new term to me, one that felt strangely like traveling down a lonely one-way street. On my dad’s last day, not knowing if he could still hear us, my sister and I sat by his bed. We kissed the top of his beautiful bald head. We whispered God’s promises to him. We sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and quoted the 23rd Psalm. We told him we loved him and thanked him for being our dad. We knew his…

    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…

    The Knife Angel

    When knife crime rose across the United Kingdom, the British Ironwork Centre came up with an idea. Working with local police forces, the Centre built and placed 200 deposit boxes around the country and ran an amnesty campaign. One hundred thousand knives were anonymously surrendered, some still with blood on their blades. These were then shipped to artist Alfie Bradley, who blunted them, inscribed some with the names of young knife-crime victims, plus messages of regret from ex-offenders. All 100,000 weapons were then welded together to create the Knife Angel—a 27-foot-high angelic sculpture with shimmering steel wings.

    When I stood before…

    Standing Firm

    In the Middle Eastern country where they live, Adrian and his family suffer persecution for their Christian faith. Yet, through it all, they demonstrate Christ’s love. Standing in his church courtyard, which was pummeled by bullets when terrorists used it as training ground, he said, “Today is Good Friday. We remember that Jesus suffered for us on the cross.” And suffering, he continued, is something that Christians there understand. But his family chooses to remain in their homeland: “We’re still here, still standing.”

    These Christians follow the example of the women who stood watching as Jesus died on the cross (Mark…

    The One Who Saves

    He was called “one of the bravest persons alive,” but he wasn’t what others expected. Desmond was a soldier who declined to carry a gun. Serving as a medic, in one battle he single-handedly rescued seventy-five injured soldiers from harm, including some who once called him a coward and ridiculed him for his faith. Running into heavy gunfire, Desmond prayed continually, “Lord, please help me get one more.” He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.

                God’s Word tells us that Jesus was even more misunderstood. On a day foretold by the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), Jesus entered…

    What Comes Next?

    On the night of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In it, he hints that he might not live a long life. He said, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. . . . [But] I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The…

    Precious Departure

    Sculptor Liz Shepherd’s 2018 exhibition The Wait, was described by a Boston Globe correspondent as “evok[ing] the precious, exposed, and transcendent in life.” Inspired by the time Shepherd spent at her dying father’s bedside, the exhibition attempts to convey yearning, the emptiness of loss, and the fragile sense that loved ones are just out of reach.

    The idea that death is precious might seem counterintuitive; however, the psalmist declares, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (Psalm 116:15). God treasures the death of his saints, for in their passing he welcomes them home.

    Who are these faithful…

    Reunion

    The little boy excitedly ripped open a big box from his serviceman daddy, whom he believed wouldn’t be home to celebrate his birthday. Inside that box was yet another giftwrapped box, and inside that box was another that simply held a piece of paper saying, “Surprise!” Confused, the boy looked up—just as his dad entered the room. Tearfully the son leapt into his father’s arms, exclaiming, “Daddy, I missed you” and “I love you!”

    That tearful yet joyful reunion captures for me the heart of Revelation 21’s description of the glorious moment when God’s children see their loving Father face to…

    A Goal and a Purpose

    In 2018, endurance athlete Colin O’Brady took a walk that had never been taken before. Pulling a supply sled behind him, O’Brady trekked across Antarctica entirely alone—a total of 932 miles in 54 days. It was a momentous journey of dedication and courage.

    Commenting on his time alone with the ice, the cold, and the daunting distance, O’Brady said, “I was locked in a deep flow state (fully immersed in the endeavor) the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey.”

    For those of us who have put our faith…

    The Only King

    As five-year-old Eldon listened to the pastor talk about Jesus leaving His heavenly kingdom and coming to earth, he gasped when the pastor thanked Him in prayer for dying for our sins. “Oh, no! He died?” the boy said in surprise.

    From the start of Jesus’s life on earth, there were people who wanted Him dead. Wise men came to Jerusalem during the reign of King Herod inquiring, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2). When the king heard this, he…

    Scar Stories

    The butterfly flitted in and out of my mother’s panda-faced pansies. As I child, I longed to catch it. I raced from our backyard into our kitchen and grabbed a glass jar, but on my hasty return, I tripped and hit the concrete patio hard. The jar smashed under my wrist and left an ugly slash of flesh that would require eighteen stitches to close. Today the scar crawls like a caterpillar across my wrist, telling the story of both wounding and healing.

    When Jesus appeared to the disciples after His death, He brought His scars. John reports Thomas wanting to…

    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…

    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…

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