Did you make any goals for 2023? Statistically, the answer to that question is probably no. According to statista.com, less than 25% of Americans made resolutions in 2022.1And even if you did make a goal for 2023, statistics (and experience) tell us about 9 out of 10 people will fail anyway2. No wonder so many … Continue reading Don’t Settle for Change That’s Only Skin-Deep
Heaven Rules by Nancy DeMoss WolgemuthWhat I appreciated about this book is how much heart was behind it. Wolgemuth did not write this book because a publisher asked her to or because it was time to pump out another one. She wrote it out of the overflow what God did in her own heart. We … Continue reading Favorite Books of the Second Half of 2022
April 29, 2019. Tell me you remember that day. I will never forget it as long as I live. It’s tattooed on my memory. After all, it was the day the world turned upside-down. Or, to be more specific, it was the day my world turned upside-down: the day I gave birth to my first … Continue reading The Baby Who Turned the World Upside-Down
They had to be helped up to the platform to speak, could not stand for long periods of time, suffered from debilitating illness and injury; from all outward appearances, these women are unsteady on their feet, generally infirmed, and near the end of their lives. However, as I listened to Joni Eareckson Tada, Kay Arthur, … Continue reading Feet That Don’t Slip
James Bond, Jack Bauer, and Jason Bourne have got nothing on him. He had a license to kill, and he most certainly knew how to use it. He connived to assassinate two kings, the queen mum, the royal family, and an entire religion. And he managed rule as king himself for nearly three decades. His … Continue reading Zeal Doomed to Fail
Feelings of ingratitude are bound to trap us at some point during this holiday season. An unpleasant memory, another snow storm, the stress of holiday shopping, the pressure of preparing the perfect holiday meal, tensions between family members, bickering between siblings, an undercooked or overcooked turkey, pies eaten by a mischievous puppy, or any other … Continue reading How Am I Supposed to Pray When I Don’t Feel Grateful?
You are my hiding placeYou always fill my heartWith songs of deliveranceWhenever I am afraid I will trust in YouI will trust in YouLet the weak sayI am strongIn the strength of the Lord1 These lyrics, made famous by the group Selah, are based on Psalm 32:7: You are my hiding place; You preserve me … Continue reading The Refuge of Repentance
Dear Friend, I wish that we could have this conversation over a cup of coffee at Starbucks. I firmly believe that all the best counseling sessions involve caffeine. But, alas, the written word will have to do. So, you’re thinking about quitting church. On one hand, I understand that. I assume that you have been … Continue reading To the One Thinking of Quitting Church
“Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”1 As Screwtape, the veteran tempter, counsels his young apprentice and nephew Wormwood, Christians are most easily led astray when they don’t notice it happening—when they walk blissfully along a smooth path with no warning … Continue reading Watching Out for Unmarked Paths
What do you like to do on long journeys? Listen to music? Play games? Watch movies? Listen to an audiobook? I enjoy all of those things. I wonder if the children of Israel played I Spy as they traversed to Jerusalem twice a year: “I spy with my little eye something…brown.” “Sand?” I doubt they … Continue reading Where Does My Help Come From?
My first interaction with mica came when I was about twelve years old. My parents had recently purchased some land on which they planned to build a cabin. Just a few miles from that mountain property lies an abandoned mica mine, so we’d often take the ATVs and check it out. The cabins that once … Continue reading From Dust to Diamonds
Every so often a church experiences a wave of suffering among its members. The prayer requests hurt even and leave us stammering in prayer. Such has been the case recently in the church I attend. An undiagnosed, debilitating blood disease, a brain bleed, an eating disorder, and the unforeseen death of a loved one have … Continue reading Praying Psalm 27 in Suffering
Were you ever afraid of the dark? I was, though as a child I would have denied it. I slept with my door open so that I could see the light from the kitchen. And when we’d visit my grandparents’ house, I'd vociferously object to sleeping in complete darkness, much to my sister’s chagrin. Now … Continue reading When Darkness Overwhelms
Were you a Book-It kid? I was. I fondly remember taking my completed sticker chart into the dimly lit Pizza Hut and waiting for what seemed like forever on an uncomfortable wooden bench looking at Golden books as my very own personal-size pizza baked in the oven. I’m not sure whether I loved pizza or … Continue reading I Know I Should Read More Books. But How?
After forty sweltering years in the wilderness, Moses is about to die, and the people of Israel stand ready to enter the long-awaited Promised Land without him. Since a new generation has grown up in the wilderness after Sinai, Moses reiterates the Law in his farewell address, the book we know as Deuteronomy (literally, “second … Continue reading Learning to Cling
Paul loved the churches he addresses in his epistle to the Galatians. Unlike his other letters, written to one specific church or person, Galatians’ audience was the churches of a given area—the area Paul and Barnabas covered on their first missionary journey (Acts 13-14). A lot of blood, sweat, and tears were shed on that … Continue reading Without the Gospel…
Did you attend Bible camp as a kid? I did, and it was probably my favorite place in the whole world. I loved the games, the cabin competitions, and the friends I’d see up there once a year. I even loved the food. (There was one very long, very steep hike that I didn’t care … Continue reading The Lie of Easy Obey-ism
The most important day in the history of Israel had finally arrived. It had been 480 years since God had parted the Red Sea and freed His chosen people from slavery. And now, nearly five centuries later, Yahweh had a temple. Of course, King Solomon built this wonder of the ancient world, replete with splendor … Continue reading Enough Really Is Enough
I love to read, and I love to share what I’ve read with others. So it makes sense to periodically post an update of the best things I’ve read lately. Below you'll find four Christian living-type books and one novel. I’m not on the cutting edge of brand-new releases, and I know that. You likely … Continue reading Favorite Books of 2022 at the Halfway Point
The question was simple: “How old are you?” With gusto, my then two-year-old responded, “Five!” That same person asked my son’s buddy (who’s just a month older) the same question. The answer again came loud and proud: “Sixteen!” While these two little guys have a ways to go in their grasp of numbers and age, … Continue reading Teach Us to Number Our Days
We can thank one man for a number of common words. Hostile, auspicious, dwindle, and watchdog were all first written down by the Bard of Stratford, William Shakespeare. He coined a number of phrases still in use five centuries later as well. If you’ve told your teenager that he’s going to “eat you out of … Continue reading Prayers to Kill the Green-Eyed Monster
King Asa wasn’t an idolater like his father. In fact, he did much to rid the southern kingdom of Judah of its pagan idols. Still, he was an idolater all the same. And he had the diseased feet to prove it. You can read the account for yourself in 1 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles … Continue reading Are You a Control Freak?
Do you ever whine about “first-world problems”? My guess is that, like me, you probably do. Anger with a cell phone battery that dies too quickly or a weak WiFi signal, a pizza delivery that arrived ten minutes late or the library not having the new release that I can’t wait to read (but don’t … Continue reading Do You Crave Comfort?
Whether or not you have a golden calf hanging out in your backyard, you are an idolater. So am I. Pastor Brad Bigney defines an idol this way: “An idol is anything or anyone that begins to capture our hearts and minds and affections more than God.” This means that a pagan deity, a number … Continue reading For My Fellow Approval Junkies
Which Disney princess are you? Which Hogwarts house would you be sorted into? What’s your Enneagram number? What’s your love language? Questions like these suck us in because we love personality tests. Or, more accurately, we love finding out about ourselves. We find it endlessly fascinating to delve into our own psyches and try to … Continue reading Are You Satisfied?
What do you do if you’re held hostage in the stomping grounds of a big-time war hero whom you defeated against the longest of odds? No SWAT team is on its way; and, in fact, the leader of your home country would like nothing more than to see these enemies do you in. How will … Continue reading A One-Flavor Fountain
Nothing makes a jury’s job easier than eyewitness testimony that corroborates circumstantial evidence. An overwhelming majority of the time, an eye witness will sway the jury to their side of a given case. However, while many eyewitness testimonies rightfully identify the guilty party, other times the “star witness” turns out to be mistaken. The human … Continue reading The True and Faithful Witness
If you grew up in the church, you probably remember Sunday school or children’s church lessons about the armor of God. Perhaps you built a shield of faith out of a cardboard box or a sword of the Spirit from an old wrapping paper tube. Regardless of the base, foil was surely involved. Ephesians 6:10-17 … Continue reading Clothed in the Armor of Christ
"LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that you are God in Israel and I am your servant, and that at your word I have done all these things. Answer me, LORD! Answer me so that this people will know that you, the LORD, are God and that you … Continue reading God’s Ministry to a Discouraged Servant
Dear Death, I’m writing to you today with a simple message: Stop boasting. I realize that you have some reason for pride. You have had your way with nearly every human to ever live. (Do Enoch and Elijah keep you up at night?) You have done some of your finest work through wars throughout history. … Continue reading An Open Letter to Death
As we move toward Resurrection Sunday, our hearts are drawn to the events of Passion Week: the Triumphal Entry, Jesus’ purification of the Temple, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the last Passover meal, Jesus’ prayer in the Garden, and of course His arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. Though we look forward to the … Continue reading He Was Crushed for Us
Six days a week, every week for forty years God fed His people manna while they dwelt in the wilderness. However, this testament to God’s consistent faithfulness came with an expiration date, ending soon after Israel crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land of Canaan (Josh 5:10). God’s faithfulness would continue, of course; … Continue reading Feed on His Faithfulness
I promise I’m not critical. I just happen to know how to do things the right way, and I want to use my gift of correct-ness to help others. Is that so bad? Actually, it is. And, actually, I am critical. From grammatical errors in the book I’m reading to what songs we should sing … Continue reading Prayer Requests for a Critical Heart
Have you ever heard of the musical No, No, Nanette? Probably not. How about Babe Ruth? Even non-baseball fans recognize that name. Surely any team would do whatever they could to keep arguably the greatest player in the history of baseball on their team, even if it meant trading away everyone else. Apparently, the Boston … Continue reading Worse Than Trading Away Babe Ruth…
Read through Paul’s letter to Titus, and you’ll notice that one word pops up several times (1:8, 2:2, 2:5, 2:6). The English word varies with translations: discreet (KJV, NKJV), sensible (NASB), or self-controlled (ESV, CSB, NIV). Usually when a word in Scripture has several English renderings, the word in the original language has a breadth … Continue reading Self-Controlled to the Glory of God
My name is Cindy, and I’m a cynic. I assume every holistic health product is a scam; if a deal sounds too good to be true, it most certainly is; and though I hope it doesn’t happen, I assume my favorite sports team will blow it on the big stage (if they even make it … Continue reading A Word to My Fellow Cynics
You probably remember the craze from the mid-90s. Chicken Soup for the Soul books were suddenly everywhere, showing up on shelves in bookstores, grocery stores, gas stations, and libraries. These collections of feel-good stories quickly gained popularity and began to target specific audiences with titles like Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul, Chicken Soup for … Continue reading Be a Soul Strengthener
And in despair I bowed my head:“There is no peace on earth,” I said,“For hate is strong and mocks the songOf peace on earth, good will to men.” Though the bells of Christmas have long since ceased their ringing for the year, perhaps you can relate to this stanza written by American poet Henry Wadsworth … Continue reading Discouraged? Think About Harps and Bowls
The name Ebenezer Scrooge has become synonymous with the concept of stinginess. The protagonist in the Dickens novella A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge, though a wealthy man, refuses to share his wealth or to enjoy it. He scoffs at the notion of donating to charity and rations his coal so that his employee Bob Cratchit … Continue reading You Might Be a Stingy Forgiver If…
Though I enjoy legal fiction in all its forms—books, movies, television—I have only set foot in an actual courtroom on one occasion: jury duty. Not surprisingly, the courtroom bore little resemblance to the Hollywood depictions. I sat in the gallery, observing the voir dire proceedings with waning interest, wondering if pregnancy would be an acceptable … Continue reading Court Is Adjourned
Tribalism1—(n): 1) a tribal consciousness or loyalty, especially: exaltation of the tribe above other groups. 2) strong in-group loyalty This word, which rocketed to popularity in the 1960s, is currently experiencing another renaissance. Likely the factionalizing of our society has caused this resurgence. We form groups with people who think, act, and believe like we … Continue reading Our Trouble with Tribalism
A quick Twitter search of #blessed will yield literally hundreds, if not thousands, of results. Scrolling through these will give you an idea of how popular culture thinks of being blessed. In the brief time I looked at these Tweets, I found shout-outs for homemade beef barley soup, Christian country music, a life that is … Continue reading The Good Life in 2022 (Part 2)
Every six months I like to share my top reads in both Christian-living/theology and fiction. Hopefully one of these will strike your fancy. If you’ve got any recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them. I’m always on the prowl for my next great read! Flourish by Lydia Brownback—Brownback tackles a universal problem in her … Continue reading Favorite Books of 2021 (Part II)
I taught English for over a decade, so indulge me a simple grammar lesson. English sentences can be classified into four different categories, based on their purpose. (They can also be classified according to their structure, but we’ll save that lesson for another day.) Most sentences are declarative. Like this one, they state a fact. … Continue reading Come. Behold. Adore.
Mentoring has become a popular subject, both within and outside of the church. We love characters like Yoda, Obi-wan Kenobi, Albus Dumbledore, Gandalf, and Mr. Miyagi who shape their protegés into heroes. In real life, young up-and-comers rightly look for a seasoned veteran to teach them the tricks of their trade and traps to avoid … Continue reading What Does Your Life Teach?
Prodigal. The dictionary knows that word as an adjective, meaning “lavish” or “wastefully extravagant”; however, the church has appropriated it as a noun, a person who has left the faith of their youth. The more modern terminology knows this person as one who has “de-converted” or “deconstructed” their faith. If you’re anything like me, many … Continue reading Prayer Requests for a Heart on Life Support
The Greek word nikao, meaning “to conquer,” appears twenty-eight times in the New Testament. Luke uses the word once, Paul twice; John accounts for the other twenty-five. The first and only use in his Gospel comes near the end of Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse, His final words of instruction and comfort to the disciples before … Continue reading Victory in Jesus
Alex Trebek hosted Jeopardy! for 37 years. His successor did it for one week. After Trebek passed away nearly a year ago, the Jeopardy! world waited eagerly for the show to reveal their choice for a new host. That announcement finally came on August 11, 2021. To many people’s surprise, a relative unknown (at least … Continue reading God’s Great Love—Not Just for Spiritual Giants
“I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” With these words, Paul begins his long journey toward Rome to make a defense before Caesar, the epilogue to the book of Acts not preserved for us in Scripture. Luke keeps the story moving through … Continue reading 3 Dangerous Responses to God’s Word
Knickknacks, bric-a-brac, gewgaw—whatever name you want to give it, it all serves the same purpose: nothing. Well, except for dust-collecting, I suppose. Okay, maybe that’s a bit harsh. If you’re a collector of knickknacks, I apologize. I’m sure they’re lovely. But you must admit, they don’t do anything but sit there looking pretty, taking up … Continue reading Faith That Works, Love That Labors, and Hope That Endures
I know you probably think that I’m bananas for claiming to like memorizing Scripture. And yes, I am more than a little bit nerdy. I admit that. But hiding God’s Words in my heart isn’t about having an outlet for my nerdy tendencies. Like exercise, Scripture memory is always work. And most of the time … Continue reading Four Reasons Scripture Memory Might Just Be My Favorite Spiritual Discipline
Do you feel hopeless today? The Respect for Marriage Act. Mid-term election results. Orwellian rhetoric from politicians. Animated movies openly advocating for what God calls abominable. Everywhere we turn, our culture is headed in the wrong direction. Perhaps you’re still praying for our nation, praying for revival, but maybe it feels hopeless. I must admit … Continue reading God’s Mercy Means There Are No Hopeless Cases
“Why do we need to wash the dishes? They’re just going to get dirty again anyway.” Perhaps your kids have asked you this. I remember making the query to my mom in my younger days (probably on a night I was supposed to wash dishes). Of course, we understand that what feels pointless to a … Continue reading When Faithful Obedience Feels Futile