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    God’s Special Treasure

    Imagine a vast throne room. Seated confidently on the throne is a great and powerful king. He is surrounded by all manner of attendants, each on their best behavior. Now imagine a box that sits at the king’s feet. From time to time the king reaches down and runs his hands through the contents. And what’s in the box? Jewels, gold, and gemstones particular to the king’s tastes. This box holds the king’s private treasures, a collection that brings him great joy. Can you see that image in your mind’s eye?

    The Hebrew word for this treasure is segulah, and it…

    The Older Brother

    Author Henri Nouwen recalls his visit to a museum in St Petersburg, Russia, where he spent hours reflecting on Rembrandt’s portrayal of the prodigal son. As the day wore on, changes in the natural lighting from a nearby window left Nouwen with the impression that he was seeing as many different paintings as there were changes of light. Each seemed to reveal something else about a father’s love for his broken son.

    Nouwen describes how, at about four o’clock, three figures in the painting appeared to “step forward.” One was the older son who resented his father’s willingness to roll out…

    True, Deep Desire

    A mouse with a shrill voice, Reepicheep is perhaps The Chronicles of Narnia’s most valiant character. He charged into battle swinging his tiny sword. He rejected fear as he prodded on the Dawn Treader toward the Island of Darkness. The secret to Reepicheep’s courage? He was deeply connected to his insatiable longing to get to Aslan’s country. “That is my heart’s desire,” he said. Reepicheep knew what he truly wanted, and this desire led him toward his king.

    Bartimaeus, a blind man from Jericho, sat in his normal spot jingling his cup for coins when he heard Jesus and the crowd…

    Dad, Where Are You?

    “Dad! Where are you?”

    I was pulling into our driveway when my daughter, panicking, called me on my cell. I’d needed to be home by 6:00 to get her to play practice; I was on time. My daughter’s voice, however, betrayed her lack of trust. Reflexively, I responded: “I’m here. Why don’t you trust me?”

    But as I spoke those words, I wondered, How often could my heavenly Father ask that of me? In stressful moments, I too am impatient. I too struggle to trust, to believe God will keep His promises. So I cry out: “Father, where are you?”

    Amid stress and…

    “Love You—Whole World”

    My three-year old niece, Jenna, has an expression that never fails to melt my heart. When she loves something (really loves it), be it banana cream pie, jumping on the trampoline, or playing Frisbee, she’ll proclaim, “I love it—whole world!” (“whole world” accompanied with a dramatic sweep of her arms).

    A Light in the Darkness

    In These Are the Generations, Mr. Bae describes God’s faithfulness and the power of the gospel to penetrate the darkness. His grandfather, parents, and his own family were all persecuted for sharing their faith in Christ. But an interesting thing happened when Mr. Bae was imprisoned for telling a friend about God: his faith grew. The same was true for his parents when they were sentenced to a concentration camp—they continued to share Christ’s love even there. Mr. Bae found the promise of John 1:5 to be true: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

    Before His arrest…

    A Road Not Traveled

    Folks ask me if I have a five-year plan. How can I plan five years “down the road” on a road I’ve never traveled?

    I think back to the 1960s when I was a minister to students at Stanford University. I had been a physical education major in college and had a lot of fun, but I left no record of being a scholar. I felt wholly inadequate in my new position. What was I to do? Most days I wandered around the campus, a blind man groping in the darkness, asking God to show me what to do. One day…

    Just a Touch

    It was just a touch, but it made all the difference to Colin. As his small team was preparing to do charitable work in a region known for hostility to Christians, his stress level began to rise dangerously. When he shared his worries with a teammate, his friend stopped, placed his hand on his shoulder, and shared a few encouraging words with him. Colin now looks back on that brief touch as a turning point, a powerful reminder of the simple truth that God was with him.

    John, the close friend and disciple of Jesus, had been banished to the desolate…

    Truth: Bitter or Sweet?

    I’d had the spot on my nose for the better part of a year when I went to the doctor about it. The biopsy results came back days later with words I didn’t want to hear: skin cancer. Though the cancer was operable and not life-threatening, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

    God commanded Ezekiel to swallow a bitter pill—a scroll containing words of lament and woe (Ezekiel 2:10; 3:1–2). He was “to fill [his] stomach with it” and share the words with the people of Israel, whom God considered “obstinate and stubborn” (2:4). One would expect a scroll filled—front…

    Fill in Your Name

    In God’s Love Letters, Glenys Nellist invites children to interact with the Lord in a deeply personal way. These children’s books include a note from God with a space for the child’s name to be inserted after each Bible story. Personalizing scriptural truth helps her young readers understand that the Bible isn’t just a storybook. They are being taught that the Lord wants a relationship with them and that He speaks to His beloved children through the Scriptures.

    I bought the book for my nephew and filled in the blanks in the beginning of every note from God. Delighted when he recognized…

    Don’t Forget!

    After not seeing one another for a few months, my niece, her four-year-old daughter Kailyn, and I had a wonderful Saturday afternoon together. We enjoyed blowing bubbles outside, coloring in a princess coloring book, and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together. When they got in the car to leave, Kailyn sweetly called out the opened window, “Don’t forget me, Auntie Anne.” I quickly walked toward the car and whispered, “I could never forget you. I promise I will see you soon.”

    In Acts 1, the disciples watched as Jesus was “taken up before their very eyes” into the sky (v.…

    Love’s Long Reach

    Mary Lee is a sixteen-foot, 3,500-pound great white shark tagged by oceanographers off the coast of Cape Cod in 2012. The transmitter attached to her dorsal fin could be tracked by satellite when she surfaced. For the next five years Mary Lee’s movements were observed online with great interest by everyone from researchers to surfers, up and down the east coast of the United States from Maine to Florida. She was tracked for nearly 40,000 miles until one day, somewhere off the coast of New Jersey, her signal stopped—probably because the battery on her transmitter expired.           

    Human knowledge and technology reach…

    False Places of Safety

    When our dog Rupert was a puppy, he was so afraid of going outside I’d have to drag him to the park. After getting him there one day, I foolishly let him off his leash. He sprinted home, back to his place of safety.

    That experience reminded me of a man I met on a plane, who began apologizing to me as we taxied down the runway. “I’m going to get drunk on this flight,” he said. “It sounds like you don’t want to,” I replied. “I don’t,” he said, “but I always run back to the wine.” He got drunk, and…

    In the Vine

    One spring after a particularly dreary winter during which she helped a family member through a long illness, Emma found encouragement each time she walked past a cherry tree near her home in Cambridge, England. Bursting out at the top of the pink blossoms grew blossoms of white. A clever gardener had grafted into the tree a branch of white flowers. When Emma passed the unusual tree, she thought of Jesus’s words about being the Vine and His followers the branches (John 15:1–8).

    By calling Himself the Vine, Jesus was speaking of an image familiar to the Israelites in the Old…

    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…

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