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    The Bell

    Jackson dreamed of becoming a US Navy Seal from early childhood—an ambition that led to years of physical discipline and self-sacrifice. He eventually faced grueling tests of strength and endurance including what’s referred to by trainees as “hell week.”

    Jackson was physically unable to complete the exhaustive training, and reluctantly rang a bell to inform the commander and other trainees of his choice to leave the program. For most, this would feel like failure. But in spite of the extreme disappointment, Jackson was later able to see his military failure as preparation for his life’s work.
    The apostle Peter experienced his…

    Every Opportunity

    Ever caught a dragon? I hadn’t until my son convinced me to download a trending game on my phone. Producing a digital map mirroring the real world, the game allows you to catch colorful creatures near you.

    Unlike most mobile games, this one requires movement. Anywhere you go is part of the game’s playing field. The result? I’m doing a lot more walking! Anytime my son and I play, we strive to maximize every opportunity to nab the critters that pop up around us.

    It’s easy to focus on, even obsess over, a game that’s crafted to captivate users. But as I was…

    A Goal and a Purpose

    In 2018, endurance athlete Colin O’Brady took a walk that had never been taken before. Pulling a supply sled behind him, O’Brady trekked across Antarctica entirely alone—a total of 932 miles in 54 days. It was a momentous journey of dedication and courage.

    Commenting on his time alone with the ice, the cold, and the daunting distance, O’Brady said, “I was locked in a deep flow state (fully immersed in the endeavor) the entire time, equally focused on the end goal, while allowing my mind to recount the profound lessons of this journey.”

    For those of us who have put our faith…

    Life to the Full

    The year was 1918, near the end of World War I, and photographer Eric Enstrom was putting together a portfolio of his work. He wanted to include one that communicated a sense of fullness in a time that felt quite empty to so many people. In his now much-loved photo, a bearded old man sits at a table with his head bowed and his hands clasped in prayer. On the surface before him there is only a book, spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Nothing more, but also nothing less.

    Some might say the photograph…

    Aiming for the Prize

    In the 1994 fictional movie Forrest Gump, Forrest becomes famous for running. What began as a jog “to the end of the road” continued for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. Each time he arrived at his destination, he set another one and continued to run, zig-zagging across the United States, until one day when he no longer felt like it. “Feeling like it” was the way his running began. Forrest says, “That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.”

    In contrast to Forrest’s seemingly whimsical running, the apostle Paul asks his readers…

    Vanity on Fire

    In February 1497, a Monk named Girolama Savonarola started a fire. Leading up to this, he and his followers spent several months collecting items that they thought might entice people to sin or neglect their religious duties—including artwork, cosmetics, instruments, and dresses. On the appointed day, thousands of vanity items were gathered at a public square in Florence, Italy, and set on fire. The event has come to be known as the Bonfire of the Vanities.

    Savonarola might have found inspiration for his extreme actions in some shocking statements from the Sermon on the Mount. “If your right eye causes you…

    Return on Investment

    In 1995 US stock market investors received record-high returns-on average, a whopping 37.6 percent return on their dollars. Then in 2008 investors lost almost exactly as much: a negative 37.0 percent. The years between had varying returns, causing those with money in the market to wonder-sometimes with fear-what would become of their investment.

    Jesus assured His followers they would have an incredible return on investing their lives in Him. They “left everything to follow [Him]”-leaving their homes, jobs, status, and families to put their lives on deposit (v. 28). But they grew concerned their investment might not pay off after watching…

    An Ordinary Man

    William Carey was a sickly boy, born to a humble family nearby Northampton, England. His future did not look too bright. But God had plans for him. Against all odds, he moved to India, where he brought incredible social reforms and translated the Bible in several Indian languages. He loved God and people, and accomplished many things for God.

    David, son of Jesse, was an ordinary young man, the youngest in his family. He was seemingly an insignificant shepherd on the hills of Bethlehem (1 Samuel 16:11–12). Yet God saw David’s heart and had a plan for him. King Saul had…

    Imitate Jesus in 2019

    Read: 1 Peter 2:21   To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

    God wants us to become like Jesus—“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). And Jesus himself tells us to follow His example.

    We may…

    “Not by Might nor by Power”

    My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power . . . —1 Corinthians 2:4

    If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people …

    The Key to the Missionary’s Devotion

    …they went forth for His name’s sake… —3 John 7

    Our Lord told us how our love for Him is to exhibit itself when He asked, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). And then He said, “Feed My sheep.” In effect, He said, “Identify yourself with My interests in other people,” not, “Identify Me with your interests in other people.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 shows us the…

    The “Go” of Unconditional Identification

    Jesus . . . said to him, ’One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor . . . and come, take up the cross, and follow Me’ —Mark 10:21 

    The rich young ruler had the controlling passion to be perfect. When he saw Jesus Christ, he wanted to be like Him. Our Lord never …

    A Life of Pure and Holy Sacrifice

    Jesus did not say, “He who believes in Me will realize all the blessings of the fullness of God,” but, in essence, “He who believes in Me will have everything he receives escape out of him.” Our Lord’s teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person— His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure.

    Treasure in Heaven

    When I was growing up, my two sisters and I liked to sit side-by-side on top of my mother’s large cedar-lined chest. My mom kept our wool sweaters in it and handiwork that was embroidered or crocheted by my grandmother. She valued the contents of the chest and relied on the pungent odor of the cedar wood to discourage moths from destroying what was inside.

    Most earthly possessions can easily be destroyed by insects, rust, or can even be stolen. Matthew 6 encourages us to place a special focus—not on things that have a limited lifespan—but those that have eternal value. When…

    The Land of Far Distances

    Amy Carmichael (1867–1951) is known for her work of rescuing orphaned girls in India and giving them a new life. In the midst of this exhausting work there were times she called “moments of vision.” In her book Gold by Moonlight, she wrote, “In the midst of a crowded day we are given almost a glimpse of ‘the land of far distances,’ and we stand still, arrested on the road.” 

    The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when God’s rebellious people would turn back to Him. “Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches…

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