• Topic > Relationships

    A Living Memorial of Kindness

    I grew up in a church full of traditions. One came into play when a beloved family member or friend died. Often a church pew or possibly a painting in a hallway showed up not longer after with a brass plate affixed: “In Memory of . . .” The deceased’s name would be etched there, a shining reminder of a life passed on. I always appreciated those memorials. And I still do. Yet at the same time they’ve always given me pause because they are static, an inanimate object, in a very literal sense something “not alive.” Is there a way…

    Throwing Stones

    Lisa felt no sympathy for those who cheated on their husband or wife . . . until after she found herself deeply unsatisfied with her marriage and struggling to resist a dangerous attraction. That painful experience helped develop in her a new compassion for others and greater understanding of Jesus’s words: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7).

    Jesus was teaching in the temple courts when He made that powerful statement. A group of teachers of the law and Pharisees had just dragged a woman caught in adultery before Him…

    The Best Strategy for Life

    As we watched my daughter’s basketball game from the bleachers, I heard the coach utter a single word to the girls on the court: Doubles. Immediately, their defensive strategy shifted from one-on-one to two of their players teaming against their tallest ball-holding opponent. They were successful in thwarting her efforts to shoot and score, eventually taking the ball down the court to their own basket.

    When Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, grapples with the toils and frustrations of the world, he too acknowledges that having a companion in our labors yields “a good return” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). While a person battling alone…

    When You’re Not Chosen

    My friend’s Facebook post announced he had finished a project. Others congratulated him, but his post knifed my heart. That project was supposed to be mine. I had been passed over, and I wasn’t sure why.

    Poor Joseph. He was passed over by God, and he knew why. Joseph was one of two men in the running to replace Judas. The disciples prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen” (Acts 1:24). God chose the other guy. Then He announced His decision to the group, when “the lot fell to Matthias” (v. 26).

    As the…

    A Purpose in Pain?

    When Siu Fen discovered she had kidney failure and would need dialysis for the rest of her life, she wanted to give up. Retired and single, the longtime Christian saw no point in prolonging her life. But friends convinced her to persevere and go for dialysis and trust in God to help her.

    Two years later, she found her experience coming into play when she visited a friend from church with a debilitating disease. The woman felt alone, as few could truly understand what she was going through. But Siu Fen was able to identify with her physical and emotional pain…

    Send It in a Letter

    Her name is Ruby. She is four years old. Like most children that age, Ruby loved to run, sing, dance, and play. But she started complaining about pain in her knees. Ruby’s parents took her in for tests. The results were shocking—a diagnosis of cancer, stage 4 neuroblastoma. Ruby was in trouble. She was quickly admitted to the hospital.

    Ruby’s hospital stay lingered on, spilling over into the Christmas season, a hard time to be away from home. One of Ruby’s nurses came up with the idea to place a mailbox outside her room so family could send letters full of…

    Atmosphere of Encouragement

    I’m encouraged every time I visit the fitness center near our house. In that busy place, I’m surrounded by others who are striving to improve their physical health and strength. Posted signs remind us not to judge each other, but words and actions that reveal support for others’ conditioning efforts are always welcomed.

    What a great picture of how things should look in the spiritual realm of life! Those of us who are striving to “get in shape” spiritually, to grow in our faith, can sometimes feel as if we don’t belong because we’re not as spiritually fit—as mature in our…

    Good Works Prepared

    When a burly stranger approached my wife and me on a street abroad, we shrunk back in fear. Our holiday had been going badly; we had been yelled at, cheated, and extorted from several times. Were we going to be shaken down again? To our surprise, the man just wanted to show us where to get the best view of his city. Then he gave us a chocolate bar, smiled, and left. That little gesture made our day—and saved the whole trip. It made us grateful—both to the man and to God for cheering us up.

    What had made the man…

    A Hand Up

    My children have enjoyed the thrill of a backyard ice-skating rink during our cold Idaho winters. When they were young, learning to skate was challenging: persuading them to deliberately set foot on the hard, icy surface proved difficult because they knew the pain of falling. Each time their feet slid out from under them, my husband or I would reach out to pull them again to their feet, setting them upright and steadying their frames.

    Having someone there to help us up when we fall is the gift of a helping hand depicted in Ecclesiastes. Working with another makes our work…

    The Law of Opposition

    Life without war is impossible in the natural or the supernatural realm. It is a fact that there is a continuing struggle in the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual areas of life.

    The Distraction of Contempt

    Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us! For we are exceedingly filled with contempt —Psalm 123:3

    What we must beware of is not damage to our belief in God but damage to our Christian disposition or state of mind. “Take heed …

    Shallow and Profound

    Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound. We sometimes refuse to be shallow, not out of our deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress other people with the fact that we are not shallow. This is a sure sign of spiritual pride. We must be careful, for this is how contempt for others is produced in our lives. And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people because they are more shallow than we are. Beware of posing as a profound person— God became a baby.

    Fathers and Sons

    My father was a good father, and, in most respects, I was a dutiful son. But I allowed my father to starve for the one thing I could have given him: myself.

    He was a quiet man; I was equally silent. We often worked for hours side-by-side with scarcely a word passing between us. He never asked; I never told him my deepest desires and dreams, my hopes and fears. 

    In time I woke up to my reticence. Perhaps the perception came when my first son was born, or when, one by one, my sons went out into the world. Now I…

    Agreeing to Disagree

    I remember hearing my dad talk about how difficult it was to walk away from unending arguments over differing interpretations of the Bible. By contrast he recalled how good it was when both sides agreed to disagree.

    But is it really possible to set aside irreconcilable differences when so much seems to be at stake? That’s one of the questions the apostle Paul answers in his New Testament letter to the Romans. Writing to readers caught in social, political, and religious conflict, he suggests ways of finding common ground even under the most polarized conditions (14:5–6).

    According to Paul the way to…

    Listening to Your Brother

    “You need to listen to me, I’m your brother!” The plea came from a concerned older brother in my neighborhood and was directed to a younger sibling who was moving farther away and faster than the older child was comfortable with. Clearly the older child was better able to judge what was best in the situation.

    How many of us have resisted the wise counsel of a brother or sister? If you have had to face the consequences of resisting the good advice of someone more mature, you are not alone.

    One of the greatest resources we can have as believers in…

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