• Topic > Christian Beliefs

    Flexing Faith Muscles

    During a trip to the zoo, I stopped to rest near the sloth exhibit. The creature hung upside down. He seemed content being completely still. I sighed. Because of my health issues, I struggled with stillness and desperately wanted to move forward, to do something—anything. Resenting my limitations, I longed to stop feeling so weak. But while staring at the sloth, I observed how he stretched one arm, gripped a nearby branch, and stopped again. Being still required strength. If I wanted to be content with moving slow or being as still as the sloth, I needed more than incredible…

    Food That Says I Love You

    I attended a family birthday gathering where the hostess wove the theme of “favorite things” into the decor, the gifts, and best of all, the food. Because the birthday girl loved steak and salad—and white chocolate raspberry Bundt cake—the hostess grilled steak, spun spinach, and ordered that favorite cake. Favorite foods say, “I love you.”

    The Bible contains many references to banquets, feasts, and festivals, pairing the physical act of eating with celebrations of God’s faithfulness. Feasting was a part of the sacrificial system of worship practiced by the Israelites (see Numbers 28:11–31), with Passover, the festival of weeks, and new…

    He Knows My Heart

    After a customer at a grocery store self-checkout station had completed her transaction, I made my way to the station and proceeded to scan my goods. Unexpectedly, a visibly angry person confronted me. I’d failed to notice that she was actually next in line for checkout. Recognizing my mistake, I sincerely said, “I’m sorry.” She replied (though not limited to these words), “No, you’re not!”

    Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were wrong, acknowledged it, and tried to make things right—only to be rebuffed? It doesn’t feel good to be misunderstood or misjudged, and the closer we…

    Celestial Communion

    When Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar module landed on the moon’s Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969, the space travelers took time to recover from their flight before stepping onto the moon’s surface. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin had received permission to bring bread and wine so he could take communion. After reading Scripture, he tasted the first foods ever consumed on the moon. Later, he wrote: “I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup.” As Aldrin enjoyed this celestial…

    Giving God My Work

    The magazine I was writing for felt “important,” so I struggled to present the best possible article I could for the high-ranking editor. Feeling pressure to meet her standards, I kept rewriting my thoughts and ideas. But what was my problem? Was it my controversial topic? Or was my real worry personal: Would the editor approve of me and not just my words?

    For answers to our job worries, Paul gives trustworthy instruction. In a letter to the Colossian church, Paul urged believers to work not for approval of people, but for God. As the apostle said, “Whatever you do, work…

    Run From Sin

    Twice this summer I suffered the scourge of poison ivy. Both times it happened, I was working on clearing away unwanted plant growth from our yard. And both times, I saw the nasty, three-leafed enemy lurking nearby. I figured I could get close to it without it affecting me. Soon enough, I realized I’d been wrong. Instead of getting nearer to my little green nemesis, I should have run the other way!

    In the Old Testament story of Joseph, we see modeled the principle of running from something worse than poison ivy: sin. When he was living in the home of…

    The Message of the Cross

    Zhang was raised with, in his words, “no God, no religion, nothing.” In 1989, seeking democracy and freedom for his people, he helped lead students in peaceful protests. But the protests tragically led to the government’s intervention and hundreds of lives lost. For his part in the event, Zhang was placed on his country’s most-wanted list. After a short imprisonment, he fled to an outlying village where he met an elderly farmer who introduced him to Christianity. She had only a handwritten copy of the gospel of John but couldn’t read, so she asked Zhang to read it to her.…

    God Fights for Us

    A Colorado mother proved she would stop at nothing to protect her child. Her five-year-old son was playing outside when she heard him screaming. She rushed outside and, to her horror, saw that her son had an unexpected “playmate”—a mountain lion. The large cat was on top of her son, with his head in its mouth. The mother summoned her inner mamma grizzly to fight off the lion and pry open its jaws to rescue her son. This mother’s heroic actions remind us of how motherhood is used in Scripture to illustrate God’s tenacious love and protection for His children.…

    Trustworthy Love

    Why can’t I stop thinking about it? My emotions were a tangled mess of sadness, guilt, anger, and confusion.

    Years ago, I’d made the painful decision to cut ties with someone close to me, after attempts to address deeply hurtful behavior were merely met with dismissal and denial. Today, after hearing she was in town visiting, my thoughts had spiraled into hashing and rehashing the past.

    As I struggled to calm my thoughts, I heard a song playing on the radio. The song expressed not just the anguish of betrayal, but also a profound longing for change and healing in the person who’d…

    Fatherless No More

    Guy Bryant, single and with no children of his own, worked in New York City’s child welfare department. Daily, he encountered the intense need for foster parents and decided to do something about it. For more than a decade, Bryant fostered more than fifty children, once caring for nine at the same time. “Every time I turned around there was a kid who needed a place to stay,” Bryant explained. “If you have the space in your home and heart, you just do it. You don’t really think about it.” The foster children who have grown and established their own…

    Divine Tenderness

    I once heard a businessman describe his years in college as a time when he often felt “helpless and hopeless” from bouts of depression. Sadly, he never talked to a doctor about these feelings, but instead started making more drastic plans—ordering a book on suicide from his local library, and setting a date to take his life.

    God cares for the helpless and hopeless. We see this in His treatment of biblical characters during their own dark times. When Jonah wanted to die, God engaged him in tender conversation (Jonah 4:3–10). When Elijah asked God to take his life (1 Kings…

    God’s Moves

    I love a good game of Scrabble. After one particular game, my friends named a move after me—calling it a “Katara.” I’d been trailing the entire game, but at the end of it—with no tiles left in the bag—I made a seven-letter word. This meant the game was over, and I received fifty bonus points as well as all the points from all of my opponents’ leftover tiles, moving me from last place to first. Now whenever we play and someone is trailing, they remember what happened and hold out hope for a “Katara.”

    Remembering what has happened in the past…

    Jesus Is Here

    My elderly great aunt lay on her sickbed with a smile on her face. Her gray hair was pushed back from her face and wrinkles covered her cheeks. She didn’t speak much but I still recall the few words she said when my father, mother, and I visited her. She whispered, “I don’t get lonely. Jesus is here with me.”

    As a single woman at the time, I marveled at my aunt’s proclamation. Her husband had died several years earlier and her children lived far away. Nearing her ninetieth year of life, she was alone, in her bed, barely able to…

    Set Apart

    In November 1742, a riot broke out in Staffordshire, England, to protest against the gospel message Charles Wesley was preaching. It seems Charles and his brother John were changing some longstanding church traditions, and that was too much for many of the townsfolk.

    When John Wesley heard about the riot, he hurried to Staffordshire to help his brother. Soon an unruly crowd surrounded the place where John was staying. Courageously, he met face to face with their leaders, speaking with them so serenely that one by one their anger was assuaged.

    John Wesley’s gentle and quiet spirit calmed a potentially savage mob.…

    The Forecaster’s Mistake

    In 1854, a young Russian artillery officer viewed the battlefield carnage occurring far below his cannon’s hilltop placement. “It’s a funny sort of pleasure,” Leo Tolstoy wrote, “to see people killing each other. And yet, every morning and every evening, I would . . . spend hours at a time watching.”

    Tolstoy’s outlook soon changed. After seeing firsthand the devastation and suffering in the city of Sevastopol, he wrote, “You understand all at once, and quite differently from what you have before, the significance of those sounds of shots which you heard in the city.”

    The prophet Jonah once climbed a hill…