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    Watch and Pray

    From my window I can see a 1,700-meter hill called the Cerro del Borrego or “Hill of the Sheep.” In 1862, the French army invaded Mexico. While the enemy camped in the central park of Orizaba, the Mexican army established its position at the top of the hill. However, the Mexican general neglected to guard access to the top. While the Mexican troops were sleeping, the French attacked and killed 2,000 of them.

    This reminds me of another hill, the Mount of Olives, and the garden at its foot where a group of disciples fell asleep. Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Watch and…

    At Risk of Falling

    When my friend Elaine was recovering after a bad fall, a hospital worker placed a bright yellow bracelet on her wrist. It read: Fall Risk. That phrase meant: Watch this person carefully. She may be unsteady on her feet. Help her get from place to place. 

                First Corinthians 10 contains something like a “Fall Risk” warning for believers. With a glance back at his ancestors, Paul noted the human potential to fall into sin. The Israelites complained, worshiped idols, and had immoral relationships. God grew unhappy with them and allowed them to experience consequences for their wrongdoing. However, Paul said,…

    He Walked in Our Shoes

    To help his staff of young architects understand the needs of those for whom they design housing, David Dillard sends them on “sleepovers.” They put on pajamas and spend 24 hours in a senior living center in the same conditions as people in their 80s and 90s. They wear earplugs to simulate hearing loss, tape their fingers together to limit manual dexterity, and exchange eyeglasses to replicate vision problems. Dillard says, “The biggest benefit is [that] when I send 27-year-olds out, they come back with a heart 10 times as big. They meet people and understand their plights” (Rodney Brooks,…

    Resisting the Trap

    A Venus flytrap can digest an insect in about 10 days. The process begins when an unsuspecting bug smells nectar on the leaves that form the trap. When the insect investigates, it crawls into the jaws of the plant. The leaves clamp shut within half a second and digestive juices dissolve the bug.

    This meat-eating plant reminds me of the way sin can devour us if we are lured into it. Sin is hungry for us. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you.” God spoke these…

    Too Close

    I grew up in Oklahoma where severe weather is common from early spring through the end of summer. I recall one evening when the sky boiled with dark clouds, the TV weather forecaster warned of an approaching tornado, and the electricity went out. Very quickly, my parents, my sister, and I climbed down the wooden ladder into the storm cellar behind our house where we stayed until the storm passed by. 

    Today “storm chasing” has become a hobby for many people and a profitable business for others. The goal is to get as close as possible to a tornado without being…

    When to Walk Away

    When my father became a Christian in his old age, he fascinated me with his plan for overcoming temptation. Sometimes he just walked away! For example, whenever a disagreement between him and a neighbor began to degenerate into a quarrel, my father just walked away for a time rather than be tempted to advance the quarrel.

    One day he met with some friends who ordered pito (a locally brewed alcoholic beer). My father had formerly struggled with alcohol and had decided he was better off without it. So he simply stood up, said his goodbyes, and left the gathering of old friends…

    The Big Stink

    In August 2013, large crowds gathered at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to witness the blooming of the tropical plant known as the corpse flower. Since the flower is native to Indonesia, and may flower only once every several years, its blooming is a spectacle. Once open, the huge spiky, beautiful, red bloom smells like rotten meat. Because of its putrid fragrance, the flower attracts flies and beetles that are looking for rotting meat. But there is no nectar.

    Like the corpse flower, sin holds out promises but in the end offers no rewards. Adam and Eve found this out…

    A Fishing Lesson

    I was fishing quietly on the clear, still waters of Piatt Lake, casting next to a lush weedbed. I watched a large smallmouth bass sneak out of the thick vegetation to investigate. He approached the tempting night crawler on the end of my line, stared at it, and backed into the weeds. This happened several times until he spotted the hook. Then he whipped his tail and disappeared into his lair, never to come out again.

    Satan dangles temptation, like a fishhook, right in front of us. It looks tasty. It promises gratification. But Satan’s power ends there. He cannot force…

    On the Edge

    There’s an underground lava tube south of Kuna, Idaho, that has gained a certain amount of local notoriety. The only entrance, as far as I know, is a yawning shaft that plunges straight down into darkness.

                Some years ago I stood at the edge of that shaft and looked down. I was drawn to venture closer and almost lost my balance. I felt a moment of heart-pounding terror and stepped away from the opening. 

                Sin is like that: Curiosity can draw us toward the darkness. How often have men and women gotten too close to the edge, lost their balance,…

    My letter to “Sin”

    Dear Sin, You keep on knocking on the door, tempting me in every way you can. I have broken my bondage with you, I have chosen to let you go; yet you keep coming back.

    Dangerous Shortcuts

    During recent elections in my country, one struggling mom I know exchanged her vote for a bag of diapers. We had discussed the benefits of each candidate, so her choice disappointed me. “But what about your convictions?” I asked. She remained silent. Six months after her candidate won, taxes went even higher. Everything is now more expensive than before . . . even diapers!

    Let’s discover the purpose behind trials of faith, and conclude our series in James chapter 1

    God doesn’t allow us to go through trials and temptations just to see us squirm. There’s a reason and goal behind every challenge we face. It’s an inspiring message to help us hang on and stay the course.

    Discover answers for dealing with life’s challenges in James 1

    Is there a difference between a “trial” and a “temptation”? Let’s explore James 1 for answers on dealing with life’s challenges. We’ll find that our response to those challenges makes all the difference!

    Way Out

    While in London recently, I decided to take the underground train to my destination. So I paid my fare and descended into the depths of London to catch my train. But getting out of the station can be a scary experience for someone who is unfamiliar with the system. If you don’t find the exit, you can quickly get lost in the tunnels.

    Know the Enemy: Revealing Truths About Satan

    “When a person means to do you harm, understanding that person’s identity, appearance, whereabouts, modus operandi, intentions, and skills are things you must know,” writes Greg Dutcher.
    This excerpt from Dutcher’s book Living in Enemy Territory helps prepare us to battle the ultimate Enemy of all believers. We are reminded that Satan is not free to do as he pleases, that we are not battling alone, and most importantly, that Christ has already defeated him at the cross.

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