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    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…

    Nearby Neighbors

    Our neighborhood, like many others, uses a website to help neighbors connect immediately with those surrounding them. In my neighborhood, members warn one another of mountain lion sightings and wildfire evacuation orders, as well as supply one another with child care when the need arises. It has even proven to be a resource for locating runaway pets. By leveraging the power of the internet, those living near one another are connecting again in ways that are often lost in today’s fast-paced world.

    Being in relationship with those who live nearby was also important long ago, in the days of King Solomon.…

    Does What We Do Matter?

    I dropped my forehead to my hand with a sigh, “I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done.” My friend’s voice crackled through the phone: “You have to give yourself some credit. You’re doing a lot.” He then listed the things I was trying to do—maintain a healthy lifestyle, work, do well in graduate school, write, and attend a Bible study. I wanted to do all these things for God, but instead I was more focused on what I was doing than how I was doing it—or that perhaps I was trying to do too much.

    Paul reminded…

    God-Sized Love

    I once visited an impoverished neighborhood of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Homes were made of corrugated iron, with electricity wires dangling live above them. There I had the privilege of interviewing families and hearing how churches were helping to combat unemployment, drug use, and crime.

    In one alleyway I climbed a rickety ladder to a small room to interview a mother and her son. But just a moment later someone rushed up, saying, “We must leave now.” A machete-wielding gang leader was apparently gathering a mob to ambush us. We left quickly!

    We visited a second neighborhood, but there we…

    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,…

    Washed in Love

    A small church in southern California recognized an opportunity to express God’s love in a practical way. Christ followers gathered at a local laundry mat to give back to their community by washing clothes for those in financial need. They cleaned and folded clothes together, sometimes providing a hot meal or bags of groceries for recipients.

    One volunteer discovered the greatest reward was in the “actual contact with people . . . hearing their stories.” Because of their relationship with Jesus, these volunteers wanted to live out their faith through loving words and actions that helped them nurture genuine relationships with…

    The Big Shuffle

    In The Call of Service, author Robert Coles, exploring our reasons for serving, tells the moving story of an older woman’s service to others. As a bus driver, she showed great care toward the children she drove to school each day—quizzing them on homework and celebrating their successes. “I want to see these kids make it in life,” she said…

    Not Second Rate

    After the conclusion of the First World War, US President Woodrow Wilson was recognized as one of the most powerful leaders on earth. But few knew that after a devastating stroke in 1919, it was his wife who managed nearly all of his affairs, determining which issues should be brought to his attention. In fact, modern historians believe that for a short while, it was really Edith Wilson who served as the President of the United States.

    If asked to name the leaders of the early church, most of us would list Peter, Paul, and Timothy as a handful possessing well-documented…

    Who Am I?

    Dave enjoyed his job, but for a long time he had sensed a pull toward something else. Now he was about to fulfill his dream and step into mission work. But strangely, he began to have serious doubts.

    “I don’t deserve this,” he told a friend. “The mission board doesn’t know the real me. I’m not good enough.”

    Dave has some pretty good company. Mention the name of Moses and we think of leadership, strength, and the Ten Commandments. We tend to forget that Moses fled to the desert after murdering a man. We lose sight of his forty years as a…

    Live Like Jesus Is Coming

    I’m inspired by Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying.” In it he describes some of the exciting “bucket list” things a man did after receiving some bad news about his health. He also chose to love and forgive people more freely—speaking to them more tenderly. The song recommends that we live well, as if knowing our lives will end soon.

    This song reminds us that our time is limited. It’s important for us to not put off for tomorrow what we can do today, because one day we’ll run out of tomorrows. This is particularly urgent for believers in…

    Qualified in God’s Eyes

    A technology-consulting firm hired me after college although I couldn’t write a line of computer code and had very little business knowledge. During the interview process for my entry-level position, I learned that the company did not place high value on work experience. Instead, personal qualities such as the ability to solve problems creatively, exercise good judgment, and work well with a team were more important. The company assumed new workers could be taught the necessary skills as long as they were the kind of people the company was looking for.

    Noah didn’t have the right resume for the job of…

    Whatever We Do

    In Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis confessed he came to Christianity at the age of thirty-three, “kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape.” Despite Lewis’s own personal resistance, his shortcomings, and the obstacles he faced, the Lord transformed him into a courageous and creative apologist. Lewis proclaimed God’s truth and love through writing powerful essays and novels that are still being read, studied, and shared more than fifty-five years after his death. His life reflected his belief that a person is “never too old to set another goal or dream a new…

    I Will

    Shirley settled into her recliner after a long day. She looked out the window and noticed an older couple struggling to move a section of old fence left in a yard and labeled “free.” Shirley grabbed her husband, and they headed out the door to help. The four of them wrestled the fence onto a dolly and pushed it up the city street and around the corner to the couple’s home—laughing all the way at the spectacle they must be. As they returned to get a second section of fence, the woman asked Shirley, “You be my friend?” “Yes, I…

    Use Your Voice

    I was invited to meet a world-renowned pianist. Since I grew up immersed in music, playing the violin, piano, and especially in singing solos for church and other events, I was thrilled at the opportunity.

    When I arrived to meet the pianist, I realized he spoke little English and to my surprise provided a cello for me to play—an instrument I’d never touched. He insisted that I play and he would accompany me. I screeched out a few notes, trying to mimic my violin training. Finally admitting that I was lost, we parted ways.

    I awoke, realizing the scenario had been a…

    Servant’s Heart

    Cook. Event Planner. Nutritionist. Nurse. These are just some of the responsibilities regularly performed by modern moms. In 2016, research estimated that moms likely worked between fifty-nine and ninety-six hours per week doing child-related tasks.

    No wonder moms are always exhausted! Being a mom means giving a lot of time and energy to care for children, who need so much help as they learn to navigate the world.

    When my days feel long and I need a reminder that caring for others is a worthy pursuit, I find great hope when I see Jesus affirming those who serve.

    In the gospel of Mark,…

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