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    Shining Stars

    I can close my eyes and go back in time to the house where I grew up. I remember stargazing with my father. We took turns squinting through his telescope, trying to focus on glowing dots that shimmered and winked with eye-catching brilliance. These pinpricks of light, born of heat and fire, stood out in sharp contrast to the smooth, ink-black sky.

    Do you consider yourself to be a shining star? I’m not talking about reaching the heights of human achievement, but standing out as a light against a dark background of brokenness and evil. The apostle Paul told the Philippian…

    Breaking the Cycle

    David’s first beating came at the hands of his father on his seventh birthday, after he accidentally broke a window. “He kicked me and punched me,” David said. “Afterward, he apologized. He was an abusive alcoholic, and it’s a cycle I’m doing my best to end now.” 

    But it took a long time for David to get to this point. Most of his teen years and twenties were spent in jail or on probation, and in and out of addiction treatment centers. When it felt like his dreams were entirely dashed, he found hope in a Christ-centered treatment center through a relationship…

    Breaking the Cycle

    David’s first beating came at the hands of his father on his seventh birthday, after he accidentally broke a window. “He kicked me and punched me,” David said. “Afterward, he apologized. He was an abusive alcoholic, and it’s a cycle I’m doing my best to end now.” 

    But it took a long time for David to get to this point. Most of his teen years and twenties were spent in jail or on probation, and in and out of addiction treatment centers. When it felt like his dreams were entirely dashed, he found hope in a Christ-centered treatment center through a relationship…

    LK What Can We Do On This Pandemic

    Sri Lanka has been on lockdown for more than a month now. For some, it is so much time of their lives wasted. But for us who are God’s people, we know that under God’s rule, nothing is wasted. Not even our mistakes! Now as we face another round of the lockdown, let me remind you of the many things we…

    Cultivating God’s World

    “Dad, why do you have to go to work?” The question from my young daughter was motivated by her desire to play with me. I would have preferred to skip work and spend time with her, but there was a growing list of things at work that required my attention. The question, nevertheless, is a good one. Why do we work? Is it simply to provide for ourselves and for the people we love? What about labor that’s unpaid—why do we do that?

    Genesis 2 tells us that God placed the first human in the garden to “work it and take…

    Betrayed

    In 2019, art exhibitions worldwide commemorated the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci. While many of his drawings and scientific discoveries were showcased, there are only five finished paintings universally credited to da Vinci, including The Last Supper.

    This intricate mural depicts the final meal Jesus ate with his disciples, as described in the gospel of John. The painting captures the disciples’ confusion at Jesus’s statement, “One of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21). Perplexed, the disciples discussed who the betrayer might be—while Judas quietly slipped out into the night to alert the authorities of…

    Plod On!

    God loves to use people the world might overlook. William Carey was raised in a tiny village in the 1700s and had little formal education. He had limited success in his chosen trade and lived in poverty. But God gave him a passion for sharing the good news and called him to be a missionary. Carey learned Greek, Hebrew, and Latin and eventually translated the first New Testament into the Bengali language. Today he is regarded as a “father of modern missions,” but in a letter to his nephew he offered this humble assessment of his abilities: “I can plod.…

    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…

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