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    God’s Gentle Grace

    “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” the poet Emily Dickinson wrote, suggesting that, because God’s truth and glory is far “too bright” for vulnerable human beings to understand or receive all at once, it’s best for us to receive and share God’s grace and truth in “slant”—gentle, indirect—ways. For “the Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind.”

    The apostle Paul made a similar argument in Ephesians 4 when he urged believers to be “completely humble and gentle” and to “be patient, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2). The foundation for believers’ gentleness and grace…

    Look at the Fruit

    “Will the real [person’s name] please stand up?” That’s the familiar line at the end of the game show To Tell the Truth. A panel of four celebrities ask questions of three individuals claiming to be the same person. Of course, two are impostors, but it’s up to the panel to discern the actual person. In one challenging episode, the celebrities tried to guess “the real Johnny Marks,” who wrote the lyrics to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The celebrities found out just how difficult it is, even with asking good questions, to figure out just who’s who. Impostors lie and…

    Where to Turn

    Everyone in high school admired Jack’s easygoing attitude and athletic skill. He was happiest in midair above a half-pipe ramp—one hand holding his skateboard, the other stretched out for balance.

    Jack decided to follow Jesus when he started attending a local church. Up to that point, he’d endured significant family struggles and had used drugs to medicate his pain. For a while after his conversion, things seemed to be going well for him. But years later he started using drugs again. Without the proper intervention and ongoing treatment, he eventually died of an overdose.

    It’s easy to turn back to what is…

    The Coffee-Bean Bowl

    I’m not a coffee drinker, but one sniff of coffee beans brings me a moment of both solace and wistfulness. When our teenage daughter Melissa was making her bedroom uniquely hers, she filled a bowl with coffee beans to permeate her room with a warm, pleasant scent.

    It’s been nearly two decades since Melissa’s earthly life ended in a car accident at age seventeen, but we still have that coffee-bean bowl. It gives us a continual, aromatic remembrance of Mell’s life with us.

    Scripture also uses fragrances as a reminder. Song of Songs refers to fragrances as a symbol of love between…

    Out of the Heart

    A rescue mission nicknamed “Operation Noah’s Ark” might sound fun for animal lovers, but it was a nightmare for the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After receiving complaints about the noise and the horrid stench coming from a certain house, workers entered the Long Island home and found and removed more than four hundred animals from the neglected conditions.

    We may not be holding hundreds of animals in filthy conditions, but Jesus said we might be harboring evil and sinful thoughts and actions in our hearts that need to be exposed and removed. 

    In teaching His disciples about…

    God’s Help for Our Future

    According to psychologist Meg Jay, our minds tend to think about our future selves similarly to how we think about complete strangers. Why? It’s probably due to what’s sometimes called the “empathy gap.” It can be hard to empathize and care for people we don’t know personally—even future versions of ourselves. So in her work, Jay tries to help young people imagine their future selves and take steps to care for them. This includes working out actionable plans for who they will one day be—paving the way for them to pursue their dreams and to continue to thrive.

    In Psalm 90,…

    The Miracle of Salvation

    Blogger Kevin Lynn’s life seemed to be falling apart. In a recent article he recounted, “I actually put a gun to my head . . . . It took for God to supernaturally step into my room and my life. And at that moment, I really found what I know is God now.” God intervened in Lynn’s life, preventing him from taking his life. He filled him with conviction and gave him an overwhelming reminder of His loving presence. Instead of hiding this powerful encounter, Lynn shared his experience with the world, creating a YouTube ministry where he shares his…

    Choose Wisely

    Astronaut Chris Ferguson made a difficult decision as the commander of the flight crew scheduled for a journey to the International Space Station. But that decision didn’t have anything to do with the mechanics of flight or the safety of his fellow astronauts. Instead, it pertained to what he considers his most important work: his family. Ferguson opted to keep his feet planted firmly on Earth in order to be present for his daughter’s wedding.

    We all face difficult decisions at times—decisions that cause us to evaluate what matters most to us in life, because one option comes at the expense…

    The Power of a Name

    Seeking to affirm some children who live on the streets in Mumbai, India, Ranjit created a song of their names. Coming up with a unique melody for each name, he taught them the tune, hoping to give them a positive memory related to what they’re called. For children who don’t regularly hear their name spoken in love, he bestowed on them a gift of respect.

    Names are important in the Bible, often reflecting a person’s character traits or new role. For instance, God changed the names of Abram and Sarai when He made a covenant of love with them, promising that…

    The Story Isn’t Over

    When British drama Line of Duty concluded, record numbers watched to see how its fight against organized crime would end. But many viewers were left disappointed when the finale implied that evil would ultimately win. “I wanted the bad guys brought to justice,” one fan said. “We needed that moral ending.”

    Sociologist Peter Berger once noted that we hunger for hope and justice—hope that evil will one day be overcome and that those who caused it will be made to face their crimes. A world where the bad guys win goes against how we know the world should work. Without probably realizing…

    People Who Need People

    In his hall-of-fame career as a sportswriter Dave Kindred covered hundreds of major sporting events and championships and wrote a biography of Muhammad Ali. Growing bored in retirement, he started attending girls’ basketball games at a local school. Soon he began writing stories about each game and posting them online. And when Dave’s mother and grandson died and his wife suffered a debilitating stroke, he realized the team he’d been covering provided him with a sense of community and purpose. He needed them as much as they needed him. Kindred said, “This team saved me. My life had turned dark…

    Living Water

    The cut flowers came from Ecuador. By the time they arrived at my house, they were droopy and road weary. Instructions said revive them with a cool drink of refreshing water. Before that, however, the flower stems had to be trimmed one-half inch so they could drink the water more easily. But would they survive?

    The next morning, I discovered my answer. The Ecuadorian bouquet was a glorious sight. Featuring flowers I’d never seen before, the floral display was stunning. Fresh water made all the difference—a reminder of what Jesus said about water and what it means to believers.

    When Jesus asked…

    Reckless Decisions

    As a teen, I was driving way too fast trying to follow my friend to his home after a high school basketball practice. It was raining hard, and I was having a hard time keeping up with his car. Suddenly, my wipers cleared the watery windshield only to reveal my friend’s sedan stopped in front of me! I slammed on the brakes, slid off the street, and struck a large tree. My car was destroyed. Later I awoke in the comatose ward of a local hospital. While by God’s grace I survived, my reckless ways had proved to be very…

    Imaginative Faith

    “Look, Papa! Those trees are waving at God!” As we watched young birches bending in the wind before an oncoming storm, my grandson’s excited observation made me smile. It also made me ask myself, Do I have that kind of imaginative faith?

    Reflecting on the story of Moses and the burning bush, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote that “Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God; / But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.” God’s handiwork is evident all around us in the wonders of what He has made, and one day, when the…

    Learning and Loving

    At a primary school in Greenock, Scotland, three teachers on maternity leave brought their babies to school every two weeks to interact with schoolchildren. Playtime with babies teaches children empathy, or care and feeling for others. Most receptive often are the children who are “a little challenging,” as one teacher put it. “It’s often [they] who interact more on a one-to-one level.” They learn “how much hard work it is to take care of a child,” and “more about each other’s feelings as well.”

    Learning from an infant to care about others isn’t a new idea to believers in Jesus. We…