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    Playing the Fool

    My most humiliating experience ever was the day I addressed the faculty, students, and friends of a seminary on its fifty-year anniversary. I approached the lectern with my manuscript in hand and looked out on a vast crowd, but my eye fell on the distinguished professors seated in the front row, garbed in academic gowns and looking very serious. I immediately took leave of my senses. My mouth dried up and detached itself from my brain. I fumbled the first few sentences and then for some reason, I began to improvise. Then, since, I had no idea where I was…

    Curtained Off

    As my flight reached cruising speed, the flight attendant pulled back the curtain that cordoned off business class, and I was given a startling reminder of the stark differences between areas on airplanes. Some travelers get to board first, enjoying premium seating with extra legroom and personalized service. The curtain was a humbling reminder of my separation from those perks.

     

    Exclusionary distinctions between groups of people can be found throughout history, including, in a way, even God’s temple in Jerusalem, though not due to one’s ability to pay more. Non-Jewish people were only allowed to worship in the outer court. Next…

    Stay on the Way

    Dusk fell as I followed Li Bao along the tops of terraced walls cut into the mountains of central China. I had never been this way before, and I couldn’t see more than one step ahead or how steep the ground dropped off to our left. I gulped and stuck close to Li. I didn’t know where we were going or how long it would take, but I trusted my friend.

            I was in the same position as Thomas, the disciple who always seemed to need reassurance. Jesus told His disciples that He must leave to prepare a place for…

    God Is Worth More

    Having been hurt by Christians in the past, my mom responded in anger when I dedicated my life to Jesus. “So, now you’re going to judge me? I don’t think so.” She hung up the phone and refused to talk to me for a whole year. I grieved, but eventually realized a relationship with God was even more important than one of my most valued relationships. I prayed for her every time she refused my calls and asked the Lord to help me love her well.

    Finally, we reconciled. A few months later, she said, “You’ve changed. I think I’m ready…

    The Full Reveal

    Moviegoers heard the beautiful voice of Emily Blunt as the starring role in Mary Poppins Returns. Amazingly, it was four years into their marriage that her husband discovered her vocal talent. In an interview he revealed his surprise the first time he heard her sing, thinking, “When were you going to tell me this?”

    In relationships we often learn new, sometimes unexpected, details that surprise us. In Mark’s gospel, Christ’s disciples initially started with an incomplete picture of Jesus and struggled to grasp all of who He is. However, in an encounter on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus revealed more of Himself,…

    Strength in Suffering

    In 1948, Harlan Popov, the pastor of an underground church, was taken from his home for a “little questioning.” Two weeks later, he received around-the-clock interrogation and no food for ten days. Each time he denied being a spy, he was beaten. Popov not only survived his harsh treatment but also led fellow prisoners to Christ. Finally, eleven years later, he was released and continued to share his faith until, two years later, he was able to leave the country and be reunited with his family. He spent the following years preaching and raising money to distribute Bibles in closed…

    Chirpy

    For twelve years, Chirpy, a seagull, has made daily visits to a man who had helped him heal from a broken leg. John wooed Chirpy to himself with dog biscuits and was then able to nurse him back to health. Though Chirpy only resides in Instow Beach in Devon, England, between September and March, he and John Sumner find each other easily—Chirpy flies straight to him when he arrives at the beach each day, though he doesn’t approach any other human. It’s an uncommon relationship, to be sure.

    John and Chirpy’s bond reminds me of another uncommon relationship between man and…

    Delight in the Book

    Tsundoku. It’s the word I’ve always needed! A Japanese term, it refers to the stack of books on a bedside table waiting to be read. Books offer the potential for learning or a delightful escape to a different time or place, and I long for the delights and insights found within their pages. So, the stack remains.

    The idea that we can find enjoyment and help in a book is even more true for the book of books—the Bible. I see the encouragement to immerse oneself in Scripture in God’s instructions to Joshua, the newly appointed leader of Israel, commissioned to…

    Examples of Christlike Compassion

    During his years here on earth, Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38). Whenever he encountered a need in individuals or multitudes, his concern motivated immediate action. He fed, healed, taught, calmed turbulent seas, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. In all he did and said, he set an example for his disciples to follow through the ages…

    Compassion in the Life of Jesus

    Jesus came with his revolutionary message of God’s kingdom—a kingdom accessible only by faith. It required loving obedience to the King and Father, as well as loving service to brothers and sisters in God’s family and to every member of the human family. Love was its one all-inclusive law, a love that Jesus spelled out in his Sermon on the…

    Compassion in the Bible

    Most humans believe in a power greater than themselves. If they don’t know the true God, they are apt to create a god or gods to help them explain the mysteries of life. The god of human speculation is a god without a heart, who has no emotions, since emotion involves a change from one state of feeling to another.…

    The Meaning of Compassion

    I watched from the corner and squeaked a smile through the vise that had been squeezing my head all day. Wrapping paper and new toys cluttered the living room floor. “Do you like my train book, Grandma?” My son was busy making sure everyone saw and adequately appreciated his birthday presents. Having turned the last page of his new train…

    Being Late Rather Than Never

    Saying I’m sorry is better late than never saying it at all. Saying I love you is better said on a deathbed than to die without ever having said it. Finding ways to encourage your children late in life is better than letting them come to their own end wondering, “Did Mom or Dad ever really care about me?” One…

    Preparing For An Empty Nest

    Empty-nest syndrome has established itself as a real dimension of mid-life crisis. Life after children is now recognized as another threat to marriages that have survived earlier tests. Parents who have lived all their lives for their children suddenly find themselves rattling around in an empty house. They become restless, unsatisfied, and irritable. Anxiety, anger, and depression can come in…

    Dying A Thousand Deaths

    The most effective parents die a thousand deaths. Sometimes it is the result of being embarrassed by the actions of their children. Sometimes it is the result of utter frustration and fatigue. Sometimes it is over the deep concern of a son or daughter’s shortsighted and self-destructive choices. But often these parents voluntarily die to their own desires just because…

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