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    Blessing in the Mess

    I got myself into this mess, so I’d better get myself out, I sometimes find myself thinking.  Although I believe in a God of grace, I’m still prone to act as if His help is available only when I deserve it.

    God’s first encounter with Jacob is a beautiful illustration of how untrue this is.

    Jacob had spent a lifetime trying to alter his destiny. He’d been born second at a time when firstborn sons typically received their father’s blessing—believed to guarantee future prosperity.

    So Jacob decided to do whatever it would take to get his father’s blessing anyway. Eventually, he succeeded—through deceit—obtaining the…

    Our Safe Place

    My very first job was at a fast-food restaurant. One Saturday evening, a guy kept hanging around, asking when I got out of work. It made me feel uneasy. As the hour grew later, he ordered fries, then a drink, so the manager wouldn’t kick him out. Though I didn’t live far, I was scared to walk home alone through a couple of dark parking lots and a stretch through a sandy field. Finally, at midnight, I went in the office to make a phone call.

    And the person who answered—my dad—without a second thought got out of a warm bed…

    As Advertised

    During a vacation, my husband and I signed up for a leisurely tour down Georgia’s Chattahoochee River. Dressed in sandals, a sundress, and a wide brimmed hat, I groaned when we discovered—contrary to the advertisement—that the trip included light rapids. Thankfully, we rode with a couple experienced in whitewater rafting. They taught my husband the basics of paddling and promised to navigate us safely to our destination. Grateful for my life jacket, I screamed and gripped the plastic handle on the raft until we reached the muddy bank downriver. I stepped onto the shore and dumped water from my purse…

    “Lovable!”

    That exclamation came from my daughter as she got ready one morning. I didn’t know what she meant. Then she tapped her shirt, a hand-me-down from a cousin. Across the front was that word: “Lovable.” I gave her a big hug, and she smiled with pure joy. “You are lovable!” I echoed. Her smile grew even bigger, if that was possible, as she skipped away, repeating the word over and over again.

    I’m hardly a perfect father. But that moment was perfect. In that spontaneous, beautiful interaction, I glimpsed in my girl’s radiant face what receiving unconditional love looked like: It…

    Called by Name

    Advertisers have concluded that the most attention-grabbing word that viewers react to is their own name. Thus a television channel in the UK has introduced personalized advertisements with their online streaming services.

    We might enjoy hearing our name on television, but it doesn’t mean much without the intimacy that comes when someone who loves us says our name.

    Mary Magdalene’s attention was arrested when, at the tomb where Jesus’s body had been laid after He was crucified on the cross, He spoke her name (John 20:16). With that single word, she turned in recognition to the Teacher whom she loved and followed,…

    Advice from My Father

    After being laid off from an editorial job, I prayed, asking for God to help me find a new one. But when weeks went by and nothing came of my attempts at networking and filling out applications, I began to pout. “Don’t You know how important it is that I have a job?” I asked God, my arms folded in protest at my seemingly unanswered prayer.

    When I talked to my father, who had often reminded me about believing God’s promises, about my job situation, he said, “I want you to get to the point where you trust what God says.”

    My…

    God’s Delivering Ways

    A missionary pilot from an African nation visited our church to talk about how God was using the aeroplane our congregation had helped purchase for his ministry. He’d studied aviation in our city and, upon graduation, returned to Africa to use the plane as an air ambulance. The roads in his country are in bad condition, and there’s a distressing lack of medical care in the rural villages from which he transports patients. Without air transport, people would die because they have no access to basic medical care or medicine.

    The Perfect Father

    Standing in the crowded store aisle, I struggled to find the perfect Father’s Day card. Although we had reconciled after years of a strained connection, I had never felt close to my dad.

    The woman next to me groaned and shoved the card she’d been reading back into the display. “Why can’t they make cards for people who don’t have good relationships with their fathers, but are trying to do the right thing?”

    She stormed off before I could respond, so I prayed for her. Thanking God for affirming only He could be a perfect Father, I asked Him to strengthen my…

    The Greatest Source of Power

    Am I fulfilling this ministry of intercession deep within the hidden recesses of my life? There is no trap nor any danger at all of being deceived or of showing pride in true intercession. It is a hidden ministry that brings forth fruit through which the Father is glorified. Am I allowing my spiritual life to waste away, or am I focused, bringing everything to one central point— the atonement of my Lord? Is Jesus Christ more and more dominating every interest of my life? If the central point, or the most powerful influence, of my life is the atonement of the Lord, then every aspect of my life will bear fruit for Him.

    It Hides a Well

    In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s splendid story The Little Prince, a lone pilot crashed in the Sahara. He had no water—only a curious boy from another planet to keep him company. As the man tried desperately to repair his plane, the little prince pestered him with random questions and seemingly idle chatter. The pilot’s exasperation grew until he cried out, “I’m very busy with matters of consequence!”

    God’s Assurance

    He Himself has said . . . . So we may boldly say . . . —Hebrews 13:5-6

    My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, …

    The Never-forsaking God

    He Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you’ —Hebrews 13:5

    What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what …

    "The Secret of the Lord"

    What is the sign of a friend? Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows? No, it is that he tells you his secret joys. Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you. Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys? Or are we continually telling God our secrets, leaving Him no time to talk to us? At the beginning of our Christian life we are full of requests to God. But then we find that God wants to get us into an intimate relationship with Himself— to get us in touch with His purposes.

    Clocks and Calendars

    My father died at 58 years of age. Ever since then, I pause on the date he died to remember Dad and reflect on his influence in my life. When I realized I had lived more of life without my dad than with him, I began pondering the brevity of my own life.

    On reflection, we may wrestle with both an event in time and the feelings it stirs within us. Though we measure time with clocks and calendars, we remember times because of events. In the moments of life that trigger our deepest emotions, we can experience joy, loss, blessing, pain, success, failure.

    The Scriptures…

    Are You Obsessed by Something?

    Are you obsessed by something? You will probably say, “No, by nothing,” but all of us are obsessed by something— usually by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our own experience of the Christian life. But the psalmist says that we are to be obsessed by God. The abiding awareness of the Christian life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be absolutely obsessed by the presence of God. A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother.

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