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    Deep-Rooted Faith

    The Holy Oak stood next to Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church in New Jersey for more than 600 years until it had to be removed. At its prime, the twisting branches spanned high and wide. Cool breezes rustled its green leaves and acorns. The sun peeked through wind-blown gaps, creating dancing glimmers of light in the shade below its canopy. But beneath the ground’s surface lay its true magnificence—its root system. An oak’s main root grows vertically, securing a reliable supply of nourishment. From that taproot, a mass of roots spreads horizontally to supply the tree with a lifetime of moisture…

    Easy Does It

    My father and I used to fell trees and cut them to size with a two-man crosscut saw. Being young and energetic, I tried to force the saw into the cut. “Easy does it,” my father would say. “Let the saw do the work.”

    I think of Paul’s words in Philippians: “It is God who works in you” (2:13). Easy does it. Let Him do the work of changing us.

    C. S. Lewis said that growth is much more than reading what Christ said and carrying it out. He explained, “A real Person, Christ, . . . is doing things to you…

    In Tune with the Spirit

    As I listened to the piano tuner work on the elegant grand piano, I thought about the times when I’d heard that very same piano pour out the incredible sound of the “Warsaw Concerto” and the rich melody of “How Great Thou Art.” But now the instrument desperately needed to be tuned. While some notes were right on pitch, others were sharp or flat, creating an unpleasant sound. The piano tuner’s responsibility wasn’t to make each of the keys play the same sound but to assure that each note’s unique sound combined with others to create a pleasing harmonious whole.

    Even…

    Seeking God

    It can be inspiring to watch people’s passion and dedication in pursuing their dreams. A young woman I know recently graduated from college in just three years—a task that took total commitment. A friend wanted a particular car, so he worked diligently baking and selling cakes until he reached his goal. Another person who’s in sales seeks to meet one hundred new people every week.

    While it can be good to earnestly seek something of earthly value, there’s a more important kind of seeking that we must consider.

    In desperation, struggling in a desert, King David wrote, “You, God, are my God,…

    How to Stay on Track

    As the world’s fastest blind runner, David Brown of the U.S. Paralympic Team credits his wins to God, his mother’s early advice (“no sitting around”), and his running guide, veteran sprinter Jerome Avery. Tethered to Brown by a string tied to their fingers, Avery guides Brown’s winning races with words and touches.

    “It’s all about listening to his cues,” says Brown, who says he could “swing out wide” on 200-meter races where the track curves. “Day in and day out, we’re going over race strategies,” Brown says, “communicating with each other—not only verbal cues, but physical cues.”

    In our own life’s race, we’re…

    Walking with the Spirit

    Ten thousand hours. That’s how long author Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes to become skillful at any craft. Even for the greatest artists and musicians of all time, their tremendous inborn talent wasn’t enough to achieve the level of expertise that they would eventually attain. They needed to immerse themselves in their craft every single day.

    As strange as it might seem, we need a similar mentality when it comes to learning to live out the power of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians, Paul encourages the church to be set apart for God. But Paul explained that this couldn’t be achieved through…

    Water into Hope

    Tom and Mark’s ministry refreshes lives. This is clear in the video they share of a group of fully clad children laughing and dancing in the refreshing water of an open shower—their first ever. The men work with indigenous churches to install water filtration systems on wells in Haiti, easing and lengthening lives as diseases connected to contaminated water are prevented. Access to clean, fresh water gives the people hope for their future.

    Jesus referred to “Living Water” in John 4 to capture a similar idea of a continual source of refreshment. Tired and thirsty, Jesus had asked a Samaritan woman…

    Do the Next Thing

    When was the last time you felt compelled to help someone, only to let the moment pass without a response? In The 10 Second Rule, Clare De Graaf suggests that daily impressions can be one of the ways God calls us to a deeper spiritual walk, a life of obedience prompted by love for Him. The 10 Second Rule encourages you to simply “do the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do,” and to do it right away “before you change your mind.”

    Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). We might think, I do…

    “Just the Office”?

    I gazed out at the rolling green hills in Lancashire in northern England, noticing the stone fences enclosing some sheep dotted around the hills. Puffy clouds moved across the bright sky, and I inhaled deeply, drinking in the sight. When I remarked about the beautiful scene to the woman working at the retreat center I was visiting, she said, “You know, I never used to notice it before our guests would point it out. We’ve lived here for years, and when we were farmers, this was just the office!”

    We can easily miss the gift of what’s right in front of…

    From Trash to Treasure

    The trash man’s house sits atop a steep street in a poor Bogota neighborhood. Not one thing about it looks special. Yet the unassuming abode in Colombia’s capital is home to a free library of 25,000 books—discarded literature that Jose Alberto Gutierrez collected to share with poor children in his community.

    Local kids crowd into the house during weekend “library hours.” Prowling through every room, each packed with books, the children recognize the humble home is more than Señor Jose’s house—it’s a priceless treasury.

    The same is true for every follower of Christ. We are made of humble clay—marred by cracks and…

    In Our Weakness

    Although Anne Sheafe Miller died in 1999 at the age of 90, she nearly passed away in 1942 after developing septicaemia following a miscarriage and all treatments proved to be unsuccessful. When a patient at the same hospital mentioned his connection to a scientist who’d been working on a new wonder drug. Anne’s doctor pressed the government to release a tiny amount for Anne. Within a day, her temperature was back to normal! Penicillin had saved Anne’s life.

    Since the fall, all human beings have experienced a devastating spiritual condition brought about by sin (Romans 5:12). Only the death and resurrection…

    Clear Communication

    While traveling in Asia, my iPad (containing my reading material and many work documents) suddenly died, a condition described as “the black screen of death.” Seeking help, I found a computer shop and encountered another problem—I don’t speak Chinese and the shop’s technician didn’t speak English. The solution? He pulled up a software program in which he typed in Chinese, but I could read it in English. The process reversed as I responded in English and he read in Chinese. The software allowed us to communicate clearly, even in different languages.

    Sometimes, I feel like I’m unable to communicate and express…

    Never Alone

    While writing a Bible guide for pastors in Indonesia, a writer friend grew fascinated with that nation’s culture of togetherness. Called gotong royong—meaning “mutual assistance”—the concept is practiced in villages, where neighbors may work together to repair someone’s roof or rebuild a bridge or path. In cities too my friend said, “People always go places with someone else—to a doctor’s appointment, for example. It’s the cultural norm. So you’re never alone.”

    Worldwide, believers in Jesus rejoice in knowing we also are never alone. Our constant and forever companion is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Far more than…

    Always a Child of God

    During a church service I attended with my parents, according to the usual practice we held hands while saying the Lord’s Prayer together. As I stood with one hand clasped to my mother’s and the other to my father’s, I was struck by the thought that I will always be their daughter. Although I’m firmly in my middle age, I can still be called “the child of Leo and Phyllis.” I reflected that not only am I their daughter but I will also always be a child of God.

    The apostle Paul wanted the people in the church at Rome to…

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