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    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…

    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…

    Old Yet New

    In 2014, a sinkhole opened up under the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, swallowing eight vintage, irreplaceable Chevrolet Corvette sports cars. The automobiles were severely damaged—some beyond repair.

    One car in particular received a lot of attention. The one-millionth Corvette, which rolled off the assembly line in 1992, was the most valuable in the collection. What happened to that gem after it was pulled from the sinkhole is fascinating. Experts restored the car to mint condition, mainly by using and repairing its original parts. Although this little beauty was in horrible shape, it now looks as good as it did the…

    One Short Sleep

    Henry Durbanville, a Scottish pastor from another era, tells the story of an elderly woman in his parish who lived in a remote part of Scotland. She longed to see the city of Edinburgh, but she was afraid to take the journey because of the long, dark tunnel through which the train had to pass to get there.

    One day, however, circumstances compelled her to go to Edinburgh, and as the train sped toward the city, her agitation increased. But before the train reached the tunnel, the woman, worn out with worry, fell fast asleep. When she awoke she had already…

    Longing for Home

    My wife walked into the room and found me poking my head inside the cabinet of our grandfather clock. “What are you doing?” she asked. “This clock smells just like my parents’ house,” I answered sheepishly, closing the door. “I guess you could say I was going home for a moment.”

    The sense of smell can evoke powerful memories. We had moved the clock across the country from my parents’ house nearly 20 years ago, but the aroma of the wood inside it still takes me back to my childhood.

    The writer of Hebrews tells of others who were longing for home…

    Making Preparations

    As we viewed my father-in-law’s body in his casket at the funeral home, one of his sons took his dad’s hammer and tucked it alongside his folded hands. Years later, when my mother-in-law died, one of the children slipped a set of knitting needles under her fingers. Those sweet gestures brought comfort to us as we remembered how often they had used those tools during their lives.

    Of course, we knew that they wouldn’t actually need those items in eternity. We had no illusions, as the ancient Egyptians did, that tools or money or weapons buried with someone would better prepare…

    Better By Far

    A siren wailed outside a little boy’s house. Unfamiliar with the sound, he asked his mother what it was. She explained that it was meant to alert people of a dangerous storm. She said that if people did not take cover, they might die as a result of the tornado. The boy replied, “Mommy, why is that a bad thing? If we die, don’t we meet Jesus?”

                Little children don’t always understand what it means to die. But Paul, who had a lifetime of experience, wrote something similar: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by…

    God’s Dwelling Place

    James Oglethorpe (1696–1785) was a British general and member of Parliament who had a vision for a great city. Charged with settling the state of Georgia in North America, he planned the city of Savannah according to that vision. He designed a series of squares, each having a green space and designated areas for churches and shops, with the rest reserved for housing. The visionary thinking of Oglethorpe is seen today in a beautiful, well-organized city that is considered a jewel of the American South.

                In Revelation 21, John received a vision of a different city—the New Jerusalem. What he…

    Jesus Wept

    I was engrossed in a book when a friend bent over to see what I was reading. Almost immediately, she recoiled and looked at me aghast. “What a gloomy title!” she said.

    I was reading “The Glass Coffin” in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the word coffin disturbed her. Most of us don’t like to be reminded of our mortality. But the reality is that out of 1,000 people, 1,000 people will die.

    Death always elicits a deep emotional response. It was at the funeral of one of His dear friends that Jesus displayed strong emotions. When He saw Mary, whose brother had recently died,…

    5 Myths about Heaven

    All of us want to go to heaven don’t we? But let’s be honest: not everything about heaven seems that enticing, does it? For example, if all we do in heaven is sing to the Lord—sure, it’s a good thing—won’t it get a bit boring, especially for those of us who aren’t that great at singing?

    Easter Start

    One detail in the Easter story has always intrigued me. Why did Jesus keep the scars from His crucifixion? Presumably He could have had any resurrected body He wanted, and yet He chose one identifiable mainly by scars that could be seen and touched. Why?

    I believe the story of Easter would be incomplete without those scars on the hands, the feet, and the side of Jesus (John 20:27). Human beings dream of pearly straight teeth and wrinkle-free skin and ideal body shapes. We dream of an unnatural state: the perfect body. But for Jesus, being confined in a skeleton and…

    The Best Is Yet to Come

    In our family, March means more than the end of winter. It means that the college basketball extravaganza called “March Madness” has arrived. As avid fans, we watch the tournament and enthusiastically root for our favorite teams. If we tune in early we get a chance to listen to the broadcasters talk about the upcoming game and to enjoy some of the pre-game drills where players shoot practice shots and warm up with teammates.

    Our life on earth is like the pre-game in basketball. Life is interesting and full of promise, but it doesn’t compare to what lies ahead. Just think…

    Why I Look Forward to Heaven

    Stories have been a part of my life since I was a kid. Before I could read, my grandpa and my mum used to read them to me. When I was old enough to read on my own, I would be found in the company of books for hours.

    Is Christianity just a “Get Out Of Hell Free” Card?

    Christianity is simple, isn’t it? After all, don’t Bible bits like John 3:16 show that all you need to do to be a Christian is to believe in God now and then you’ll go to heaven (good place) rather than hell (bad place) when you die?