• Topic > Christianity & Culture

    Bring What You Have

    “Stone Soup,” an old tale with many versions, tells of a starving man who comes to a village, but no one there can spare a crumb of food for him. He puts a stone and water in a pot over a fire. Intrigued, the villagers watch him as he begins to stir his “soup.” Eventually, one brings a couple of potatoes to add to the mix; another has a few carrots. One person adds an onion, another a handful of barley. A farmer donates some milk. Eventually, the “stone soup” becomes a tasty chowder.

    That tale illustrates the value of sharing,…

    Secret Delivery

    A clear, glass vase with bell-shaped Lilies of the Valley, pink tulips, and yellow daffodils greeted Kim at her front door. For seven months, an anonymous Christ follower sent Kim beautiful bouquets from a local flower shop. Each monthly gift arrived with a note filled with scriptural encouragement and signed with these words: “Love, Jesus.”

    Kim shared photos of these secret deliveries on Facebook. The flowers gave her opportunity to celebrate a stranger’s kindness and to acknowledge the way God expressed His love to her through His people. Month after month, each secret delivery caused her friends to rejoice over the…

    Perfectly Placed

    Scientists know our planet is precisely the right distance from the sun to benefit from its heat. A little closer and all the water would evaporate, as on Venus. Only a bit farther and everything would freeze like it does on Mars. Earth is also just the right size to generate the right amount of gravity. Less would make everything weightlessly sterile (the Moon), while more gravity would trap poisonous gases that suffocate life (Jupiter).

    The intricate physical, chemical, and biological interactions that comprise our world bear the imprint of a sophisticated Designer. We catch a glimpse of this complex craftsmanship…

    Growing into Giving

    “I got you a present!” my two-year-old grandson shouted excitedly as he pressed a box into my hands. “He picked it out all by himself,” my wife smiled.

    I opened the box to find a Christmas ornament of his favorite cartoon character. “Can I see it?” he asked anxiously, as soon as I unwrapped it. He played with “my” present for the rest of the evening and as I watched him, I smiled.

    I smiled because I remembered gifts I had given loved ones in the past, like the album I gave my older brother one Christmas when I was in high…

    Gifts from Above

    According to an old story, a man born in 270 AD named Nicholas heard about a father who was so poor that he couldn’t feed his three daughters, much less provide for their future marriages. Wanting to assist the father, but hoping to keep his help a secret, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through an open window, which landed in a sock or shoe drying on the hearth. That man was known as St. Nicholas, who later became the inspiration for Santa Claus.

    When I heard that story of a gift coming down from above, I thought of God the…

    Loving the Stranger

    After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Christ. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man yelled at her from his truck, not knowing or apparently caring that she already is “home.”

    Moses taught a much kinder way to act toward people whose dress or beliefs feel different. Teaching laws of justice and mercy, Moses instructed the children of Israel, “Do not…

    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…

    For Love or Money

    Irish poet Oscar Wilde said, “When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know that it is.” His comment was made tongue-in-cheek; he lived only to age 46, so he never truly was “old.” Wilde fully understood that life is not about money.

    Money is temporary; it comes and it goes. So life must be about more than money and what it can buy. Jesus challenged the people of His generation—rich and poor alike—to a recalibrated value system. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your…

    Wise Aid

    As I stopped my car at a red light, I saw the same man standing beside the road again. He held a cardboard sign: Need money for food. Anything helps. I looked away and sighed. Was I the kind of person who ignored the needy?

    Some people pretend to have needs but are actually con artists. Others have legitimate needs but face difficulties overcoming destructive habits. Social workers tell us it’s better to give money to the many aid ministries in our city. I swallowed hard and drove past. I felt badly, but I may have acted wisely.

    God commands us to “warn…

    Out of the Trap

    The Venus flytrap was first discovered in a small area of sandy wetlands not far from our home in North Carolina. These plants are fascinating to watch because they are carnivorous.

    Venus flytraps release a sweet-smelling nectar into colorful traps that resemble open flowers. When an insect crawls inside, triggering sensors along the outer rim, the trap clamps shut in less than a second—capturing its victim. The trap then closes further and emits enzymes that consume its prey over time, giving the plant nutrients not provided by the sandy soil.

    God’s Word tells of another trap that can capture unexpectedly. The apostle…

    Through a New Lens

    “It’s amazing to look at a tree and see the individual leaves instead of just a blur of green!” my dad said. I couldn’t have said it better. I was eighteen at the time and not a fan of my new need to wear glasses, but they changed the way I saw everything, making the blurry beautiful!

    When reading Scripture, I view certain books like I do when I look at trees without my glasses. There doesn’t seem to be much to see. But noticing details can reveal the beauty in a boring passage.

    This happened to me when I was reading…

    Sharing Slices

    As a sixty-two-year-old homeless military veteran, Steve made his way to a warm climate where sleeping outdoors was tolerable year-round. One evening, as he displayed his hand-drawn art—his attempt to earn some money—a young woman approached and offered him several slices of pizza. Steve gratefully accepted. Moments later, Steve shared his bounty with another hungry, homeless person. Almost immediately, the same young woman resurfaced with another plate of food, acknowledging that he had been generous with what he’d been given.

    Steve’s story illustrates the principle found in Proverbs 11:25 that when we’re generous with others, we’re likely to experience generosity as…

    Don’t Miss the Chance

    “Don’t ever miss the chance to show your babies the moon!” she said. Before our mid-week prayer service began, a group of us talked about the previous night’s Harvest Moon. The full moon was especially striking, as it seemed to sit on the horizon. Mrs. Webb was the elder voice in our conversation, a gray-haired lover of God’s grand creation. She knew my wife and I had two children in our house at the time, and she wanted to help me train up them in a way worth going. Don’t ever miss the chance to show your babies the moon!

    Mrs.…

    In God’s Image

    When her beautiful brown skin started losing its color, a young woman felt frightened, as if she were disappearing, losing her “self.” With heavy makeup, she covered up “my spots,” as she called them—patches of lighter skin caused by a condition called vitiligo. It’s a loss of skin pigment, melanin, which gives skin its tone.

    Then one day, she asked herself: Why hide? Relying on God’s strength to accept herself, she stopped wearing heavy makeup, gaining attention for her self-confidence. Eventually she became the first spokesmodel with vitiligo for a global cosmetics brand.

    “It’s such a blessing,” she told a TV news…

    Here for You

    On the outskirts of Paris, as in other cities around the globe, people are coming to the aid of the homeless in their communities. Clothing, covered in waterproof bags, is hung on designated fences for those living on the streets to take according to their needs. The bags are labeled, “I’m not lost; I’m for you if you’re cold.” The effort not only warms those without shelter, but also teaches those in the community the importance of assisting the needy among them.

    The Bible highlights the importance of caring for those who are poor too, instructing us to be “openhanded” toward…

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