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    A Good Ending

    As the lights dimmed and we prepared to watch Apollo 13, my friend said under his breath, “Shame they all died.” I watched the movie about the 1970 spaceflight with apprehension, waiting for tragedy to strike, and only near the closing credits did I realize I’d been duped. I hadn’t known or remembered the end of the true story—that although the astronauts faced many hardships, they made it home alive. 

    In Christ, we can know the end of the story—that we too will make it home alive. By that I mean we will live forever with our heavenly Father, as we…

    Joy and Justice

    At a conference in Asia, I had two eye-opening conversations in the span of a few hours. First, a pastor told of spending 11 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction before he was cleared. Then, a group of families shared how they had spent a fortune to escape religious persecution in their homeland, only to be betrayed by the very people they had paid to bring about their rescue. Now, after years in a refugee camp, they wonder if they will ever find a home.

    In both cases, victimization was compounded by an absence of justice—just one evidence of…

    When Beauty Never Ends

    1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

    2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
    though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

    4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to…

    Living in Tents

    Growing up in Minnesota, a place known for its many beautiful lakes, I loved to go camping to enjoy the wonders of God’s creation. But sleeping in a flimsy tent wasn’t my favorite part of the experience—especially when a rainy night and a leaky tent resulted in a soggy sleeping bag.

    I marvel to think that one of the heroes of our faith spent a hundred years in tents. When he was 75 years old, Abraham heard God’s call to leave his country so the Lord could make him into a new nation (Gen. 12:1–2). Abraham obeyed, trusting that God would follow…

    Future Victory

    In 2016, the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series (North America’s pro baseball championship) for the first time since 1908. After their win, people everywhere declared that “the Curse” had been lifted. The curse supposedly originated in 1945, when William Sianis tried to bring his pet goat into Wrigley Field during a game. Guards denied them access and Sianis reportedly said, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”

    A Little Bit of Paradise

    Gazing out my open study window, I hear birds chirping and see and hear the wind gently blowing in the trees. Bales of hay dot my neighbor’s newly tilled field, and large, white cumulus clouds stand out in contrast to the brilliant blue sky.

    I’m enjoying a little bit of paradise—except for the almost incessant noise of the traffic that runs past our property and the slight ache in my back. I use the word paradise lightly because though our world was once completely good, it no longer is. When humanity sinned, we were expelled from the garden of Eden and…

    Promise of a Peaceful Home

    Sixty-five million. That’s the number of refugees in our world today—people who have had to leave their homes due to conflict and persecution—and it’s higher than it’s ever been. The UN has petitioned leaders to work together in receiving refugees so that every child will get an education, every adult will find meaningful work, and every family will have a home.

    The dream of making homes for refugees in crisis reminds me of a promise God made to the nation of Judah when ruthless Assyrian armies threatened their homes. The Lord commissioned the prophet Micah to warn the people that they…

    Eternal Perspective

    Tricia Mingerink’s young adult Christian fantasy series The Blades of Acktar contains a scene where the protagonist is forced to watch friends and family martyred for their faith. A fearful person, she was struck by the peace with which each martyr faced death. In a moment of clarity, she realized that these believers were not bound by their immediate circumstances. The fear borne out of her exclusive focus on the present melted away as she embraced a perspective of eternity in God’s presence.

    Not One Sparrow

    My mother, so dignified and proper her entire life, now lay in a hospice bed, held captive by debilitating age. Struggling for breath, her declining condition contradicted the gorgeous spring day that danced invitingly on the other side of the windowpane.

    All the emotional preparation in the world cannot sufficiently brace us for the stark reality of goodbye. Death is such an indignity! I thought.

    I diverted my gaze to the birdfeeder outside the window. A grosbeak flitted close to help itself to some seed. Instantly a familiar phrase popped into my mind: “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground…

    Singing with Violet

    An elderly woman named Violet sat on her bed in a Jamaican infirmary and smiled as some teenagers stopped to visit with her. The hot, sticky, midday air came into her little group home unabated, but she didn’t complain. Instead, she began wracking her mind for a song to sing. Then a huge smile appeared and she sang, “I am running, skipping, jumping, praising the Lord!” As she sang, she swung her arms back and forth as if she were running. Tears came to those around her, for Violet had no legs. She was singing because, she said, “Jesus loves…

    Foreigners and Nomads

    Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, I maintained Nigerian citizenship because of my parents’ diplomatic status. I once met a lady from Indonesia who excitedly launched into her native tongue after learning my birthplace. Embarrassed, I informed her that I was only there briefly and had no knowledge of the language. I was born in the country—but am not of it.

    Building For Eternity

    Our Lord was not referring here to a cost which we have to count, but to a cost which He has already counted. The cost was those thirty years in Nazareth, those three years of popularity, scandal, and hatred, the unfathomable agony He experienced in Gethsemane, and the assault upon Him at Calvary— the central point upon which all of time and eternity turn. Jesus Christ has counted the cost. In the final analysis, people are not going to laugh at Him and say, “This man began to build and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:30).

    At Home With Jesus

    “There’s no place like home.” The phrase from popular culture reflects a deeply rooted yearning within us to have a place to rest, be, and belong. Jesus addressed this desire for rootedness when, after He and His friends had their last supper together, He spoke about His impending death and resurrection. He promised that although He would go away, He would come back for them. And He would prepare a room for them—a dwelling-place. A home.

    He made this place for them—and us—through fulfilling the requirements of God’s law when He died on the cross as the sinless man. He assured…

    Life and Death

    I’ll never forget sitting at the bedside of my friend’s brother when he died; the scene was one of the ordinary visited by the extraordinary. Three of us were talking quietly when we realized that Richard’s breathing was becoming more labored. We gathered around him, watching, waiting, and praying. When he took his last breath, it felt like a holy moment; the presence of God enveloped us in the midst of our tears over a wonderful man dying in his forties.

    Many of the heroes of our faith experienced God’s faithfulness when they died. For instance, Jacob announced he would soon…

    Far Better

    For two and a half years, a visit to my wife’s oncologist was part of our weekly routine. But one visit was different. In a discernably subdued tone, he told us that he was going to stop her treatment. The chemo was no longer effective. My wife had come to the final stage of her fight against a fast-growing, aggressive cancer.