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    Sight Unseen

    After Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, he parachuted into the Russian countryside. A farmwoman spotted the orange-clad cosmonaut, still wearing his helmet and dragging two parachutes. “Can it be that you have come from outer space?” she asked in surprise. “As a matter of fact, I have,” he said.

    Soviet leaders sadly turned the historic flight into anti-religious propaganda. “Gagarin went into space, but he didn’t see any god there,” their premier declared. (Gagarin himself never said such a thing.) As C. S. Lewis observed, “Those who do not find [God] on earth are unlikely to find…

    What Can’t Be Seen

    Historians say the Atomic Age began on July 16, 1945, when the first nuclear weapon was detonated in a remote desert of New Mexico. But long before the invention of anything that could even see these tiny building blocks of the universe, the Greek philosopher Democritus (c. 460 bc–370 bc) was exploring the existence and power of the atom. Democritus comprehended more than he could see, and atomic theory was the result.

    The Scriptures tell us that the essence of faith is embracing what can’t be seen. Hebrews 11:1 affirms, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance…

    Extending Mercy

    Reflecting on how she forgave Manasseh, the man who killed her husband and some of her children in the Rwandan genocide, Beata said, “My forgiving is based on what Jesus did. He took the punishment for every evil act throughout all time. His cross is the place we find victory—the only place!” Manasseh had written to Beata from prison more than once, begging her—and God—for forgiveness as he detailed the regular nightmares that plagued him. At first she could extend no mercy, saying she hated him for killing her family. But then “Jesus intruded into her thoughts,” and with God’s help, some…

    Who Are You Wearing?

    Argentina’s women’s basketball team came to their tournament game wearing the wrong uniforms. Their navy blue jerseys were too similar to Columbia’s dark blue jerseys, and as the visiting team they should have worn white. With no time to find replacement uniforms and change, they had to forfeit the game. In the future, Argentina will surely double-check, What are we wearing?

    In the time of the prophet Zechariah, God showed him a vision in which the high priest Joshua came before God wearing smelly, filthy clothes. Satan sneered and pointed. He’s disqualified! Game over! But there was time to change. God…

    The Foolish Way of New Life

    Some things just don’t make sense until you experience them. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read multiple books about childbirth and listened to dozens of women tell their stories of labor and delivery. But I still couldn’t really imagine what the experience would be like. What my body was going to do seemed impossible! 

    Birth into God’s kingdom, the salvation that God offers us through Christ, seems equally incomprehensible to those who haven’t experienced it, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians. It sounds like “foolishness” to say that salvation could come through a cross — a death marked…

    Keepers of the Light

    They call them “Keepers of the Light.”

    At the lighthouse on the cape of Hatteras Island just off the North Carolina coast of the United States, there’s a memorial to those who’ve tended the light stations there since 1803. Shortly after the existing structure was moved inland because of shoreline erosion, the names of the keepers were etched on the old foundation stones and arranged into an amphitheater shape facing the new site. That way—as a placard explains—today’s visitors can follow in the historical keepers’ footsteps and “watch over” the lighthouse as well.

    Jesus is the ultimate light-giver. He said, “I am…

    Learning from Little Ones

    When a friend and I rode into one of the slums in Nairobi, Kenya, our hearts were deeply humbled by the poverty we witnessed. In that same setting, however, different emotions—like fresh waters—were stirred in us as we witnessed young children running and shouting, “Mchungaji, Mchungaji!” (Swahili for “pastor”). Such was their joy-filled response upon seeing their spiritual leader in the vehicle with us. With these tender shouts the little ones welcomed the one known for his care and concern for them.

    As Jesus arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey, joyful children were among those who celebrated Him. “Blessed is…

    A Christmas Visitor

    On Christmas Eve, 1944, a man known as “Old Brinker” lay dying in a prison hospital, waiting for the makeshift Christmas service led by fellow prisoners. “When does the music start?” he asked William McDougall, who was imprisoned with him in Muntok Prison in Sumatra. “Soon,” replied McDougall. “Good,” replied the dying man. “Then I’ll be able to compare them with the angels.” 

    Although decades earlier Brinker had moved away from his faith in God, in his dying days he confessed his sins and found peace with Him. Instead of greeting others with a sour look, he would smile, which “was…

    Out of Context

    As I queued up to board my flight, someone tapped my shoulder. I turned and received a warm greeting. “Elisa! Do you remember me? It’s Joan!” My mind flipped through various “Joans” I’d known, but I couldn’t place her. Was she a previous neighbor? A past coworker? Oh dear . . . I didn’t know.

    Sensing my struggle, Joan responded, “Elisa, we knew each other in high school.” A memory rose: Friday night football games, cheering from the stands. Once the context was clarified, I recognized Joan.

    After Jesus’s death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found…

    His Birth and Our New Birth

    His Birth in History. “. . . that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.

    The Drawing of the Father

    When God begins to draw me to Himself, the problem of my will comes in immediately. Will I react positively to the truth that God has revealed? Will I come to Him? To discuss or deliberate over spiritual matters when God calls is inappropriate and disrespectful to Him. When God speaks, never discuss it with anyone as if to decide what your response may be (see Galatians 1:15-16). Belief is not the result of an intellectual act, but the result of an act of my will whereby I deliberately commit myself.

    Experience or God’s Revealed Truth?

    We have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. —1 Corinthians 2:12

    My experience is not what makes redemption real— redemption is reality. Redemption has no real meaning for me until it is worked out through my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me beyond myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I…

    Redemption— Creating the Need it Satisfies

    The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him… —1 Corinthians 2:14

    The gospel of God creates the sense of need for the gospel. Is the gospel hidden to those who are servants already? No, Paul said, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who…

    “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 Law and the Gospel

    The moral law does not consider our weaknesses as human beings; in fact, it does not take into account our heredity or infirmities. It simply demands that we be absolutely moral. The moral law never changes, either for the highest of society or for the weakest in the world. It is enduring and eternally the same. The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy.

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