In their city stood a temple dedicated to the Roman Emperor Tiberius, a constant reminder to the believers in Smyrna of the spiritual battleground on which they lived. Likely because of this temple, the Romans made Smyrna the seat of their “Caesar-cult” and did everything possible to squelch the testimony of Christ in the city. … Continue reading Be Faithful
Running, biking, swimming, skiing—the sports that require the most physical endurance are individual. Though they may include a team element, the actual competitions require one person to undergo a grueling test of their own personal stamina. When it’s race time, the athlete must find the grit within himself to persevere. He may be able to … Continue reading Endurance Is a Team Sport
“Saul has slain his thousands and David his tens of thousands.” This mantra, which rose to fame after David’s victorious encounter with Goliath, drove King Saul so mad that he devoted his energy and resources to killing David, God’s newly anointed king. Though David clung to God’s promise to make him ruler of Israel, he … Continue reading Awaken the Dawn
We hear a lot about glory in church, particularly God’s glory. We sing about it, preach about it, pray for it. But what does it actually mean? John Piper defines it this way: “God’s glory is the radiance of his holiness, the radiance of his manifold, infinitely worthy, and valuable perfections.” Or to use a … Continue reading Is Your Praise Glorious?
Each year I like to give recommendations for books not only in December, but also in June as we close out the first half of the year. Maybe one or more of these will strike your fancy as something to dive into this summer. If you want a more in-depth look, I’m sure you can … Continue reading Halfway-Point Favorite Books
Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand, and the rulers conspire together against the LORD and his Anointed One: "Let's tear off their chains and throw their ropes off of us." These opening lines of Psalm 2 seem particularly apropos right now. The … Continue reading How to Respond to a World Gone Bananas
I recently finished re-watching Downton Abbey, experiencing again the ups and downs of the Crawley family as they learn to adapt to the post-war world. For six seasons (or series, if you’re British like the Crawleys), Downton helped ratings on PBS soar. An Emmy magnet, the show garnered fifteen awards and many more nominations for … Continue reading Be a Noble-Minded Student of the Word
Maybe I could call her the first helicopter parent, but I’ll just call her Mama Zebedee. I don’t know if she tagged along with Jesus’ band of disciples everywhere, or if she just showed up one day to make her bold request. She knew her boys, James and John, were part of Jesus’ inner circle … Continue reading Are You Able?
I sing the mighty power of God that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies. We sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day; the moon shines full at his command, and all the stars obey.1 Mountains, stars, and seas certainly proclaim the omnipotence of our Creator. Who among us hasn’t … Continue reading The Gospel Is the Power of God
He was hardly the welcoming party any mayor would want a famous visitor to encounter first. In fact, he was the scourge of the entire town. But, of course, in typical Jesus-fashion, he was the first one the Son of God met when He came to the country of the Gerasenes. Scripture doesn’t record his … Continue reading Be Faithful When Jesus Tells You to Stay
They stormed the walls of Jerusalem as if they were made of straw, and then proceeded to have their way with her, ransacking the temple and taking captive the strongest, most attractive, and most promising young men who would never again see the faces of those they loved most. The judgment of God upon His … Continue reading Speaking Truth in Love in a Culture of Outrage
“If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” If, like me, you watched The New Red Green Show in the ‘90s and 2000’s, you recognize these words as the catchphrase with which host Red Green ended each segment of “Handyman Corner” during the show’s fifteen seasons. While Red may … Continue reading God Always Uses the Right Tool
I’ve long been a fan of C.S. Lewis’s classic work The Screwtape Letters1. Lewis was uniquely gifted by God with a view of the world and theology distinct from the masses and an ability to communicate complex truths in simple ways. Such is the case with Screwtape, in which Lewis writes as Uncle Screwtape, a … Continue reading Screwtape’s Four Types of Humor
“And God saw all that He had made; and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:24). With those hopeful words, the story of the Bible—our story—begins. Moses, the author of Genesis, doesn’t tell us how long Adam and Eve lived in the Garden before falling into sin, but just two chapters later, he gives us … Continue reading God’s Grace After a Fall
A healthy couple dead within three hours of one another. No foul play. No health problems. No trauma of any kind. They simply fell down and stopped breathing, their life cut short as judgment from God. This type of death is rare but not unheard of throughout Scripture. Judah’s sons, Er, Onan, and Shelah, were … Continue reading A Divided Heart Brings Disaster
Dystopian novels, while not a certainly not a new genre, hit their stride several years ago with the advent of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, in which an oppressive government drafts young people to fight in the deadly annual “Hunger Games” just to prove its power. Then along came the Divergent trilogy from Veronica Roth, … Continue reading Comfort One Another
Let’s face it. Life is hard, and it seems to be getting harder all the time. Whether you’re a work-from-home parent faced with homeschooling kids weary of virtual learning or you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or facing a medical battle of your own or just burdened by the events unfolding in the … Continue reading Find Hope in the God of All
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine Jesus. What do you see? Maybe you see Him as He’s often represented in flannelgraphs and Sunday school papers; or maybe you picture Jim Caviezel as he portrayed the Man of Sorrows on the big screen. While our images may not be entirely accurate, they generally do … Continue reading Behold the Resurrected Christ
In casting our cares upon the Lord, we often ask that He give grace or comfort or strength to a person in need. Or we might ask those things for ourselves. These are good, biblical requests. However, I wonder if we stop and think about where the answer might come from. God may use the … Continue reading A Conduit of God’s Blessings
Let me say from the beginning, I am a proud American citizen. I believe this country to be the greatest on earth, and for as long as I can remember, I have been in awe that God would allow me to be born here, in the land of the free and the home of the … Continue reading The Right Fight
Why am I such a coward when it comes to sharing my faith? That question has been rolling around in my head for the past several days. A convergence of three events—my own time in the Word, a missionary biography, and a missions conference at my church—have all got me pondering this idea of boldly … Continue reading A Quest for Confidence
Typecasting—the fear and bane of every actor’s existence. I’ve never seen Margaret Hamilton in anything besides The Wizard of Oz, but if I did, she would still be the Wicked Witch of the West in my mind. Anthony Perkins as a leading man in a rom-com? Forget it. It would be like watching the psycho, … Continue reading How Do I Know You?
Pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth,Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow:Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Great is Thy faithfulness! Twentieth century poet, Thomas Chisolm, who penned these beloved words, reminds us of just a handful of the blessings believers enjoy because … Continue reading Afflicted in Faithfulness
Jude is easy to miss in paging from John’s epistles over to Revelation. A mere twenty-five verses long, this brief letter may seem trivial, but it contains vital truths for the church as the earthly brother of Christ compels his readers to contend for the faith. He tells us that “some people, who were designated … Continue reading Are You Willing to Reach into the Fire?
It’s one of those verses. Everyone quotes it, but few people know the reference, and even fewer people know the context. “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.” This line gets trotted out when things happen that we don’t understand. Don’t know why you can’t get a job? Well, … Continue reading What Exactly Are God’s “Higher Thoughts”?
Every flag hangs at half-staff as a constant reminder of the fractured state of our nation. For the first time in our nation's history, a President has been impeached twice. Tomorrow the world will watch as we inaugurate a new President who will face a set of challenges unlike anything since Reconstruction. In the past … Continue reading Are You Living as a Citizen of Heaven?
The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines contempt as “the act of despising”; “the state of being despised”; or “a lack of reverence for something.” This definition seems tailor-made for many of our interactions today. Whether on social media, mainstream media, or city streets, our society has fallen in love with contempt. That should hardly come as … Continue reading Filled with Contempt
Frank Abagnale, Jr. posed as a pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer as he traipsed across the country for free because of his brilliant—yet totally fraudulent—abuse of the American financial institution. And he did it before he turned 18. His story is told in print and on film, both works titled Catch Me If You … Continue reading What Are You Pursuing in 2021?
I wrote my halfway-point list of favorite books back at the end of June. (You can check it out here.) Therefore, what follows is my list of favorites that I have read since then, not necessarily the best of the entire year. I enjoy tracking my reading and looking back at what my 5-star reads … Continue reading Favorite Books of 2020: Part 2
As a native of Wyoming, I have stood on my share of mountain peaks. I’ve hiked to some and driven to more, but I have never been at the top of a mountain and had a member of my group suddenly rise into the sky in the midst of the clouds and vanish from sight. … Continue reading Seated in the Heavenly Places
Perhaps more than at any other time of year, in December we consider gifts. You’ve already spent time racking your brain for what to get that difficult person to shop for, and you probably can’t wait to see the look on the face of that person for whom you found the perfect gift. Of course, … Continue reading Every Spiritual Blessing
Canaan. The Promised Land. The land flowing with milk and honey. For any agrarian society, having fertile and fruitful land means wealth and security. A threat to the land is a threat to a nation’s livelihood. Therefore, land was a fitting reward for God’s obedient people, and the removal from the land a fitting punishment … Continue reading The 400-Year Famine
With Christmas now in full view, car radios, iPods, and grocery stores will be reminding us of silent nights, peace on earth, and joy to the world. But is it possible that joy seems a little more distant this year? A little more like a pipedream than a reality? Perhaps for you, the doldrums that … Continue reading Looking for Joy? Abide.
Dear 2020, Here we are at Thanksgiving, and you’re now on the way out the door. It seems like I have much more to complain about this year than to be thankful for, but maybe that’s because I’m not looking in the right places. Like Mr. Davis, my 9th grade biology teacher, you’ve been difficult … Continue reading A Thank-You Note to 2020
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,And sorrows like sea billows roll.Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,‘It is well, it is well with my soul!’” You’ve probably heard the tragic story that brought about some of the most famous words of hymnody. Two years after losing nearly everything in the Chicago … Continue reading When Sorrows Like Sea Billows Roll
“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,Weak and wounded, sick and sore.Jesus, ready, stands to save you,Full of pity, love, and power.” I know this hymn is an invitation to salvation, but it describes me pretty well right now. How about you? This year, one that will live in infamy, has asked each of us to … Continue reading For the One Who Is Weary
Here we are. November 3, 2020. Whether you’ve already sent in your absentee ballot, or you’re about to grab your mask and black pen and head to your polling place, I’m sure you can’t wait for this election cycle to end. And yet, perhaps you also approach this day with a bit of trepidation. We’ve … Continue reading My Prayer on Election Day
You’ve probably been there. Lying in bed, unable to fall asleep, thinking, thinking, thinking about a situation, which has grown substantially (in your brain) since you crawled into bed. You try to pray about it, but your mind makes its way back to worrying or fretting or fuming. Something about the darkness can make the … Continue reading The Lord Counseled Me
Satan's fiery darts fly at us from every direction these days. As if a worldwide pandemic weren’t enough, he’s launched the grenade of racial tension, a busy hurricane season, raging forest fires, and, oh yeah, a little election thrown in just for fun. The battle is on, and we know we need to fight; and … Continue reading The Warrior King
“Home at last,” he thought as he pushed open the door, his stomach growling. The ache inside reminded him that he hadn’t eaten anything all day. He’d skipped breakfast so that he could get in a little hunting before heading out to the field to help his father. Neither of them had gotten any lunch; … Continue reading The Gift of Repentance
We each walk individually with God who will hold each one of us responsible for what we do with truth, how we respond to temptations, and how we steward the gifts He has given us. However, we also walk with God corporately. We cannot—we must not—walk alone. Our God, Himself three in one, created us … Continue reading We Must Endure Together
Did you know that you cannot hear and understand a question and not at least think of an answer? Let’s try it. I’ll ask you a simple question, and you try not to think of an answer. Ready? (I bet you just answered “yes” in your head.) Here we go. When is your birthday? Without … Continue reading Do You Ask Good Questions? 3 Reasons You Need To
Immaculate. Astonishing. Pristine. Breathtaking. Probably no adjective could capture the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple, particularly to the people of ancient Israel. It was a masterpiece, the apple of the nation’s eye. No wonder the prophet Jeremiah wrote an entire book lamenting its destruction (what we know as Lamentations). Not only was the Temple a work … Continue reading The Sacrifice of Praise
Let’s Make a Deal has been running intermittently for more than fifty years. On this game show, contestants try to trade up their prizes by “making a deal” with the host. If they choose well, they may start with a shoelace and end up with a new car—or, if they choose poorly, they may go … Continue reading Door #1? or Door #2? A Surprising Deal
It was the easiest basket she ever scored. Her teammate passed her the ball, and off she went down the court. She confounded the defense with her mad handles, and before they knew what had hit them, she was at the basket, scoring an easy two points. Everyone in the gym was shouting her name. … Continue reading Shooting at the Wrong Basket: Three Ways Your Heart May Be Deceiving You About Your Spiritual Growth
We’re quite the sight. A baby happily taking in the outdoors, grinning impishly at any passersby. A large, rambunctious black dog lashed to the stroller, leaping for attention from any passersby. And me, trying to navigate the neighborhood without meeting other dogs in order to avoid kerfuffle and brouhaha. Normally I walk with headphones in, … Continue reading I Need Endurance.
The grizzled, weather-worn football coach rose from his desk in the Driver’s Ed. classroom. He was about to impart knowledge. Maybe he was going give us the secret to passing our exam on the first try. Maybe he was going to let us go early. Maybe he was going to share his game plan for … Continue reading Pray Attention
“Imagine there’s no countries;It isn’t hard to do,Nothing to kill or die forAnd no religion too.Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say that I’m a dreamer,But I’m not the only one.I hope some day you’ll join usAnd all the world will be as one.” Those familiar words, penned by John Lennon … Continue reading Peace You Don’t Have to Imagine
On January 24, 2020, the youngest member of professional football’s royal family retired. Eli Manning, with as many Super Bowl rings as Peyton, never quite got out of his big brother’s shadow. Though he didn’t fill up the stat sheet like Peyton or set as many records, he had a knack for taking down Tom … Continue reading Counter-Cultural Grace
The Andy Griffith Show received a lot of air-time in my house growing up. To this day, I can quote lines and remember episodes that I haven’t seen for twenty years. One episode involved an elderly security guard at the ironically named Mayberry Security Bank. Fans of the show will probably recall Asa, snoozing in … Continue reading Waiting Like a Watchman
I live with a toddler who is currently obsessed with one particular song from one particular movie. I’m convinced that he would listen to this song on repeat for days at a time if his father and I would let him. Requests for “Mack Song” (aka "Life Is a Highway" from Cars) come in the … Continue reading A Song for All My Days
My husband and I were helping to sponsor a youth group trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior where we enjoyed cliff jumping, a boat ride on the Lake, a few hikes, and breathtaking scenery. During the trip I engaged in what I thought would be a casual conversation with a woman from my … Continue reading A New and Quiet Type of Suffering
When it comes to topics discussed in church and lyrics sung in worship, forgiveness in Christ tops the charts—and for good reason. The forgiveness found in the Gospel is knock-your-socks-off good news, and we shouldn’t be able to get enough of it. However, is it possible that we’ve skewed the emphasis of this glorious truth? … Continue reading Forgiveness Is Not About Me