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)
With 2022 still in its infancy, perhaps you're thinking about goals and resolutions for how you want your life to change in the next twelve months. Undoubtedly all of them will, in one way or another, be tied to the concept of living a "good life" (or a better one than last year). Whether, physically, … Continue reading The Good Life in 2022 (Part 1)
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
Everywhere you turn today, people are split into to two groups: us vs. them. Good guys vs. bad guys. Conservatives vs. Liberals. Vaxxers vs. Anti-vaxxers. Tolerant vs. Intolerant. CNN vs. Fox News. You’re either with us or against us; there is no third option. The Bible separates people into just two categories as well: those … Continue reading Avoid the “Us vs. Them” Trap
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
Come Thou fount of every blessingTune my heart to sing Thy grace;Streams of mercy never ceasingCall for songs of loudest praise. 1 If I were to ask you to make a Top-10 list of your favorite hymns, “Come, Thou Fount” would probably make the cut. The masterful poetry paired with a singable, beautiful melody comes … Continue reading Does Your Worship Affect Your Heart?
I've been studying recently through the prophetic book of Zechariah, written in the years following the Babylonian Captivity. In chapter 7, the people want to know if they're still required to fast to bring about the end of the exile. God responds with a haunting question: "Was it actually for Me?" This query has gripped … Continue reading Was It Actually for Me?