• Topic > Christianity & Culture

    An Open, Generous Heart

    After Vicki’s old car broke down with no option for repair, she started scraping together money for another vehicle. Chris, a frequent customer of the restaurant where Vicki works at the drive-thru window, one day heard her mention she needed a car. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Chris said. “I [had] to do something.” So he bought his son’s used car (his son had just put it up for sale), shined it up, and handed Vicki the keys. Vicki was shocked. “Who . . . does that?” she said in amazement and gratitude.

    The Scriptures call us to live with…

    Give It All You’ve Got

    Scaling. It’s a term used in the world of fitness that allows room for anyone to participate. If the specific exercise is a push-up, for example, then maybe you can do ten in a row but I can only do four. The instructor’s encouragement to me would be to scale back the push-up according to my fitness level at the time. We’re not all at the same level but we can all move in the same direction. In other words, she would say, “Do your four push-ups with all the strength you have. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Scale the movement…

    Cultivating God’s World

    “Dad, why do you have to go to work?” The question from my young daughter was motivated by her desire to play with me. I would have preferred to skip work and spend time with her, but there was a growing list of things at work that required my attention. The question, nevertheless, is a good one. Why do we work? Is it simply to provide for ourselves and for the people we love? What about labor that’s unpaid—why do we do that?

    Genesis 2 tells us that God placed the first human in the garden to “work it and take…

    Look Up!

    When filmmaker Wylie Overstreet showed strangers a live picture of the moon as seen through his powerful telescope, they were stunned at the up-close view, reacting with whispers and awe. To see such a glorious sight, Overstreet explained, “fills us with a sense of wonder that there’s something much bigger than ourselves.”

    The psalmist David also marveled at God’s heavenly light. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (Psalm 8:3–4).

    David’s humbling…

    A Flourishing Tree

    I’ve always had a collector’s heart. As a kid, I collected stamps. Baseball cards. Comics. Now, as a parent, I see the same impulse in my kids. Sometimes I wonder, Do you really need another teddy bear? 

    Of course, it’s not about need. It’s about the allure of something new. Or sometimes the tantalizing draw of something old, something rare. Whatever captivates our imagination, we’re tempted to believe that if we only had “X,” our lives would be better. We’d be happy. Content. 

    Except, those things never deliver the goods. Why? Because God created us to be filled by Him, not by…

    The Favorite

    My husband’s brother lives about 1,200 miles away in the mountains of Colorado. Despite the distance, Gerrits has always been a beloved family member because of his great sense of humor and kind heart. However, as long as I can remember, his siblings have good-naturedly joked about his favored status in their mother’s eyes. Several years ago, they even presented him with a T-shirt sporting the words “I’m Mom’s Favorite.”

    While we all enjoyed the silliness of our siblings, true favoritism is no joking matter. In Genesis 37, we read about Jacob who gave his son Joseph an ornate coat—an indication…

    The Man in Seat 2D

    Kelsey navigated the narrow airplane aisle with her eleven-month-old daughter, Lucy, and Lucy’s oxygen machine. They were traveling to seek treatment for her baby’s chronic lung disease. Shortly after settling into their shared seat, a flight attendant approached Kelsey, saying a passenger in first class wanted to switch seats with her. With tears of gratitude streaming down her face, Kelsey made her way back up the aisle to the more spacious seat, while the benevolent stranger made his way toward hers.

    Kelsey’s benefactor embodied the kind of generosity Paul encourages in his letter to Timothy. Paul told Timothy to instruct those…

    Just-in-Case Idols

    Sam checks his retirement account twice each day. He saved for thirty years, and with the boost of a rising stock market, finally has enough to retire. As long as stocks don’t plunge. This fear keeps Sam fretting over his balance.

    Jeremiah warned about this: “You, Judah, have as many gods as you have towns; and the altars you have set up to burn incense to that shameful god Baal are as many as the streets of Jerusalem” (11:13).

    Judah’s idolatry is remarkable. They knew the Lord was God. How could they worship anyone else? They were hedging their bets. They needed…

    The Maker of the Moon

    After astronauts set the Eagle down in the Sea of Tranquility, more than half a billion people heard Neil Armstrong’s voice transmitted from 240,000 miles away from Earth. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he said as he became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. Other space travelers followed, including the commander of the last Apollo mission, Gene Cernan. “There I was, and there you are, the Earth—dynamic, overwhelming, and I felt . . . it was just too beautiful to happen by accident,” Cernan said, “There has to be somebody…

    Good Measure

    At a gas station one day, Staci encountered a woman who had left home without her bank card. Stranded with her baby, she was asking passersby for help. Although unemployed at the time, Staci spent $15 to put gas in the stranger’s tank. Days later, Staci came home to find a gift basket of children’s toys and other presents waiting on her porch. Friends of the stranger had reciprocated Staci’s kindness and converted her $15 blessing into a memorable Christmas for her family.

    This heartwarming story illustrates the point Jesus made when he said, “Give, and it will be given to…

    A World of Provision

    It’s 2 a.m. when Nadia, a farmer of sea cucumbers, walks into a roped-off pen in the ocean shallows near her Madagascar village to harvest her “crop.” The early hour doesn’t bother her. “Life was very hard before I started farming,” she says. “I didn’t have any source of income.” Now, as a member of a marine-protection program called Velondriake, meaning “to live with the sea,” Nadia’s income is growing and stabilizing. “We thank God that this project appeared,” she adds.
    It appeared in large part because God’s creation provided what their project needs—a natural supply of sea life. In praise…

    Cheerful Givers

    About six years ago, my wife received a small rebate from something she’d purchased. It wasn’t something she had expected, it just showed up in the mail. About the same time, a good friend shared with her the immense needs of women in another country, entrepreneurial-minded women trying to better themselves by way of education and business. However, as is often the case, their first barrier was financial.

    My wife took that rebate and made a micro-loan to a ministry devoted to helping these women. When the loan was repaid, she simply loaned again, and again, and so far has made…

    Amazing Skill

    The leader of our college singing group directed the group and accompanied us on the piano at the same time, skillfully balancing those responsibilities. At the close of one concert, he looked particularly weary, so I asked him if he was okay. He responded, “I’ve never had to do that before. Then he explained. “The piano was so out of tune I had to play the whole concert in two different keys—my left hand playing in one key and my right hand in another!” I was blown away by the startling skill he displayed, and I was amazed at the One…

    The Bill Is Paid

    “What happened to you?” asked Zeal, a Nigerian businessman, as he bent over a hospital bed in Lagos. “Someone shot me,” replied the young man, his thigh bandaged. Although the injured man was well enough to return home, he wouldn’t be released until he settled his bill—a policy that many government hospitals in the region follow. After consulting with a social worker, Zeal anonymously covered the bill through the charitable fund he’d earlier set up as a way to express his Christian faith. In return, he hopes that those receiving the gift of release will one day give to others…

    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,…

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