Thoughts of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 In What We Keep, a collection of interviews by Bill Shapiro, each person tells of a single item that holds such importance and joy that he or she would never part with it. This caused me to reflect on the possessions that mean the […]

Remain in fellowship

“And now, dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬ My wife was sharing with me recently from the books she read. The question “why did God made hell if He is a […]

A place belonging to God

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Ephesians 3:17 Some years after the tragic loss of their first spouses, Robbie and Sabrina fell in love, married, and combined their two families. They built a new home and named it Havilah (a Hebrew word meaning “writhing in pain” and “to bring forth”). It signifies the […]

The Reality of God

In C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, all of Narnia is thrilled when the mighty lion Aslan reappears after a long absence. Their joy turns to sorrow, however, when Aslan concedes to a demand made by the evil White Witch. Faced with Aslan’s apparent defeat, the Narnians experience his […]

Reflect Jesus

“Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever […]

The Mouse That Roared

The one who is in [us] is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 Several years ago my sons and I spent a few days camping in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Northern Idaho. It’s grizzly bear habitat, but we carried bear spray, kept our campsites clean, and anticipated no major […]

When Life Is Hard

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2 Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I curled up in my recliner. Our family had followed God’s leading and had moved from California to Wisconsin. After we arrived, our car broke down and left us without a vehicle […]

God’s Priority

In Matthew 28:18-20, we have the top priority on God’s list, And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy […]

Do not write me off

John 4:7-9 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate […]

How to Stay on Track

The Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. 1 John 2:27 As the world’s fastest blind runner, David Brown of the U.S. Paralympic Team credits his wins to God, his mother’s early advice (“no sitting around”), and his running guide—veteran sprinter Jerome Avery. Tethered […]

No restoration without true repentance

  Repentance Joel 2:17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.  Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples,  ‘Where is their God?’” Restoration Joel 2:18-19 Then the Lord was jealous […]

A Fire Called Holy

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16 After several years of drought, the wildfires of Southern California left some residents thinking of them as acts of God. This disturbing impression was reinforced when news sources began referring to one as the Holy Fire. Many unfamiliar with the area didn’t realize […]

A Time for Beauty

A crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning. Isaiah 61:3 One January morning I woke expecting to see the same dreary midwinter landscape that had greeted me for several weeks: beige grass poking through patches of snow, gray skies, and skeletal trees. Something unusual had happened overnight, though. A frost […]

Pray for all nations

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬b Are you a Christian? Are you a believer? Are you a saint? If yes, then this is for you. This year has started in a relatively strange manner. From the natural disaster in Australia to Iran-USA drag. Plane/helicopter crash killing everyone on board. […]

Going, Going, Gone

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone. Proverbs 23:5 The mischievous artist Banksy pulled off another practical joke. His painting Girl with Balloon sold for one million pounds at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Moments after the auctioneer yelled “Sold,” an alarm sounded and the painting slipped halfway through a shredder mounted inside the […]

Deliverance is in dwelling

Psalm 91: 1-3 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. […]

Life to the Full

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 The year was 1918, near the end of World War I, and photographer Eric Enstrom was putting together a portfolio of his work. He wanted to include one that […]

Surrounded

2 Kings 6:16 – 17 15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early in the morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. So he asked Elisha, “Oh, my master, what are we to do?” 16“Do not be afraid,” Elisha answered, “for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then […]

Friendship Bench

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11 In the African country of Zimbabwe, war trauma and high unemployment can leave people in despair—until they find hope on a “friendship bench.” Hopeless people can go there to talk with trained “grandmothers”—elderly women taught to listen to people struggling […]

Rejoice in Persecution

“I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬ In many situations, we believers complain of the segregation, cheating, and neglect we experience because we are Christians. There are things we are not permitted to […]

No Line to Love

I have made you and I will carry you. Isaiah 46:4 Sometimes when my Labrador retriever wants attention, he’ll take something of mine and parade it in front of me. One morning as I was writing at the desk with my back turned, Max snatched my wallet and ran off. But realizing I hadn’t seen […]

Waiting with the Turtle

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40:1 Every fall, when the painted turtle senses winter coming, she dives to the bottom of her pond, burying herself in the muck and mud. She pulls into her shell and goes still: her heart rate slows, almost stopping. Her body […]

Demonstrating Grace

Wake Up

You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 “In moments where tragedy happens or even hurt, there are opportunities to demonstrate grace or to exact vengeance,” the recently bereaved man remarked. “I chose to demonstrate grace.” Pastor Erik Fitzgerald’s wife had been killed in […]

Clean Containers

Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred corrodes the container that carries it.” These words were spoken by former Senator Alan Simpson at the funeral of George H. W. Bush. Attempting to describe his dear friend’s kindness, Senator Simpson recalled how the forty-first president of the United States embraced […]

Kingdom talents

Psalm 139:14 ” I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.” Have you ever stopped to realize that some things come easily to you? Have you ever stopped to wonder why some skills others struggle to learn can seem very simple […]

Words

“Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬ The importance of words was highlighted in the Bible as early as Gen 1:3 (“Then God said”). In fact, words were used to create and have fellowship before sin entered into this world. It is noteworthy that Satan also deceived the […]

Walking with the Spirit

Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 Ten thousand hours. That’s how long author Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes to become skillful at any craft. Even for the greatest artists and musicians of all time, their tremendous inborn talent wasn’t enough to achieve the level of expertise […]

Power in death

Luke 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. As humans it is only natural to be conscious  of our environment, to be expectant of pains, frustration, depression or even death in certain situations. However, no matter the amount of pains afflicted to […]

A Lifestyle of Praise

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Psalm 146:2 Wallace Stegner’s mother died at the age of fifty. When Wallace was eighty, he finally wrote her a note—“Letter, Much Too Late”—in which he praised the virtues of a woman who grew up, married, and raised two sons in the harshness […]

The Only King

They bowed down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:11 As five-year-old Eldon listened to the pastor talk about Jesus leaving heaven and coming to earth, he gasped when the pastor thanked Him in prayer for dying for our sins. “Oh, no! He died?” the boy said in surprise. From the start of Christ’s life on earth, there […]

Here Be Dragons?

The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 Legend has it that at the edges of medieval maps, marking the boundaries of the world the maps’ creators knew at the time, there’d be inscribed the words “Here be dragons”—often alongside vivid illustrations of […]

The Leaning Tower

Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24 You’ve probably heard of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, but have you heard of the leaning tower of San Francisco? It’s called the Millennium Tower. Built […]

A Hundred Years from Now

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Job 19:25 “I just want people to remember me a hundred years from now,” said screenwriter Rod Serling in 1975. Creator of the TV series The Twilight Zone, Serling wanted people to say of him, “He was a writer.” […]

Doing God’s will

Numbers 20:6-12 6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water […]

Mysterious Helpers

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2 Louise suffers from muscular dystrophy. While trying to exit a train station one day, she found herself facing a large flight of stairs without an elevator or escalator. On the verge […]

Perfectly Placed

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Job 38:4 Scientists know our planet is precisely the right distance from the sun to benefit from its heat. A little closer and all the water would evaporate, as on Venus. Only a bit farther and everything would freeze like it does on Mars. Earth is […]

God waited

The Lord longs to be gracious to you. Isaiah 30:18 When Denise Levertov was just twelve, long before she became a renowned poet, she had the gumption to mail a package of poetry to the great poet T. S. Eliot. She then waited for a reply. Surprisingly, Eliot sent two pages of handwritten encouragement. In the preface […]

Good for you

Wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope. Proverbs 24:14 People the world over spent an estimated $98.2 billion on chocolate in 2016. The number is staggering yet at the same time not all that surprising. Chocolate, after all, tastes delicious and we enjoy consuming it. So the […]

Thanksgiving

Psalm 105 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;     make known among the nations what he has done. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;     tell of all his wonderful acts. 3 Glory in his holy name;     let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 4 Look to the Lord and his strength;     seek his face always. 5 Remember the wonders he has done, […]

A Designed Deficiency

You did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. Isaiah 22:11 There’s a natural spring that rises on the east side of the city of Jerusalem. In ancient times it was the city’s only water supply and was located outside the walls. Thus it was the […]

To God be the glory

PSALMS 100:1-5 “Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates […]

Led by His word

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalm 119:133 At the BBC in London, Paul Arnold’s first broadcasting job was making “walking sounds” in radio dramas. While actors read from scripts during a walking scene, Paul as stage manager made corresponding sounds with his feet—careful to match his pace […]

The Big Shuffle

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 In The Call of Service, author Robert Coles, exploring our reasons for serving, tells the moving story of an older woman’s service to others. As a bus driver, she showed great care […]

A String of Yeses

Luke 2:19 Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. One Christmas, my grandmother gave me a beautiful pearl necklace. The beautiful beads glowed about my neck until one day the string broke. Balls bounced in all directions off our home’s hardwood flooring. Crawling over the planks, I recovered each tiny orb. […]

Most Importantly

Matthew‬ ‭6:33‬ ‭AMP‬‬ “But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” For many believers, this is the time to reflect on the year thus far and […]

Failure Is Impossible

This work had been done with the help of our God. Nehemiah 6:16 “Failure is impossible!” These words were spoken by Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), known for her immovable stance on women’s rights in the US. Though she faced constant criticism and later an arrest, trial, and guilty verdict for voting illegally, Anthony vowed to […]

Written on the Heart

2 Corinthians 3:2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. Written on the Heart As a professor, I’m often asked by students to write letters of recommendation for them—for leadership positions, study-abroad programs, graduate schools, and even jobs. In each letter, I have a chance to praise the […]

Our Prince of Peace

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭9:6 “This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” ‬  Jesus, Our Prince of Jesus Peace is often noticeable in its absence. When we […]

Learn to wait

Exodus 24: 15-18 15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites, the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered […]

Overcoming Fear

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 Fear ruled a man’s life for thirty-two years. Afraid of being caught for his crimes, he hid at his sister’s farmhouse, going nowhere and visiting no one, even missing his mother’s funeral. When he was sixty-four, he […]

Canceled Debts

The Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. Deuteronomy 15:2 In 2009, Los Angeles County stopped charging families for the costs of their children’s incarceration. Though no new fees were charged, those with unpaid fees from before the change in policy were still required to settle their debt. Then in 2018 the county canceled all […]

Praise God for others

Wake Up

1 Thes 5:16-18 Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Christianity in this modern age is gradually turning to a personal affair. As much as I understand that salvation is personal, there is also a place for collective Christianity. Nowadays, believers […]

Don’t Forget the Giver

Be careful that you do not forget the Lord. Deuteronomy 6:12 It was just before Christmas, and her kids were having a difficult time with gratitude. She knew how easy it was to slip into that kind of thinking, but she also knew she wanted something better for the hearts of her children. So she went […]

Intentional Kindness

I want to show God’s kindness to them. 2 Samuel 9:3 Boarding a plane alone with her children, a young mom tried desperately to calm her three-year-old daughter who began kicking and crying. Then her hungry four-month-old son also began to wail. A traveler seated next to her quickly offered to hold the baby while Jessica […]

The Lost Envelope

Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:20 We were on the way home from a visit with family in another state when I found it. I was pumping gas when I noticed a dirty, bulky envelope on […]

The Flip Side of Love

race, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. 2 John 1:3 The Roman inns during the time of Christ had a reputation so bad that rabbis wouldn’t even permit cattle to be left at them. Faced with such bad conditions, […]

The Holy Spirit

Luke 1:34-35 How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. One of the greatest mysteries that […]

Carefully Crafted

Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people. Ephesians 4:11–12 In a YouTube video, Alan Glustoff, a cheese farmer in Goshen, New York, described his process for aging cheese, a process that adds to a cheese’s flavor and texture. Before it can be sent out to […]

Hazardous Materials

See, this [live coal] has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. Isaiah 6:7 The sound of a siren increased to an ear-piercing level as an emergency vehicle sped by my car. Its flashing lights glared through my windshield, illuminating the words “hazardous materials” printed on the side of […]

A Sincere Thank You

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 In preparation for Xavier’s first job interview, my husband, Alan, handed our son a pack of thank-you cards for him to send out after he met with prospective employers. He then pretended to be a […]

He’s Got This

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18 Pastor Watson Jones remembers learning to ride a bike. His father was walking alongside when little Watson saw some girls sitting on a porch. “Daddy, I got this!” he said. He didn’t. He realized too late he hadn’t […]

God’s Special Treasure

But you are . . . God’s special possession. 1 Peter 2:9 Imagine a vast throne room. Seated on the throne is a great king. He’s surrounded by all manner of attendants, each on their best behavior. Now imagine a box that sits at the king’s feet. From time to time the king reaches down […]

God Talk

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Deuteronomy 11:18 A study conducted by the Barna Group in 2018 found that most Americans don’t like to talk about God. Only seven percent of Americans say they talk about spiritual matters […]

Your Inward appearance

‭‭I Samuel‬ ‭16:7‬ ‭ “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” We often consider this passage in […]

Divine Grace

Matthew 15: 21 – 28 21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.” 23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged […]

True, Deep Desire

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. Mark 10:51 A mouse with a shrill voice, Reepicheep is perhaps The Chronicles of Narnia’s most valiant character. He charged into battle swinging his tiny sword. He rejected fear as he prodded on the Dawn Treader toward the Island of Darkness. The secret to Reepicheep’s […]

Loving the Stranger

After a member of my family converted to a different religion, Christian friends urged me to “convince” her to return to Jesus. I found myself first seeking to love my family member as Christ would—including in public places where some people frowned at her “foreign-looking” clothes. Others even made rude comments. “Go home!” one man […]

Slaves to righteousness

Romans 6:12-14 New International Version (NIV) 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself […]

Prayer and Thanksgiving

Philippians 4:6 Be careful about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Do you know that your prayer is the cause of some of your challenges? Every new level has a challenge attached to it. For example, we pray for the grace to get […]

Aiming for the Prize

Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24 In the 1994 fictional movie Forrest Gump, Forrest becomes famous for running. What began as a jog “to the end of the road” continued for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. Each time he arrived at his destination, he set another […]

Alert Circles

African gazelles instinctively form “alert circles” while resting on the savannah. They gather in groups with each animal facing outward in a slightly different direction. This enables them to scan the horizon a full 360 degrees and to communicate about approaching dangers or opportunities. Instead of looking out only for themselves, the members of the […]

True Friends

In high school, I had a “sometimes friend.” We were “buddies” at our church, and we occasionally hung out together outside of school. But at school, it was a different story. If she met me by herself, she might say hello; but only if no one else was around. Realizing this, I rarely tried to gain her […]

Our Blessings, His Love

To him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever. Psalm 136:16 In 2015, a woman discarded her deceased husband’s computer at a recycling center—a computer that had been made in 1976. But more important than when it had been made was who made it. It was one of 200 computers hand built by Apple founder Steve […]

It’s Up to God

Nate and Sherilyn enjoyed their stop at an omakase restaurant while visiting New York City. Omakase is a Japanese word that translates, “I will leave it up to you,” which means customers at such restaurants let the chef choose their meal. Even though it was their first time to try this type of cuisine and it sounded risky, they […]

He is worthy

Revelation 4:11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. One of the greatest misconceptions you can have as a believer is to think that God is dependent on your prayer. God has been God before […]

Enduring Prayers

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2 “Prayers are deathless.” These are the attention-grabbing words of E. M. Bounds (1835–1913), whose classic writings on prayer have inspired people for generations. His comments about the power and enduring nature of […]

That Was Awesome!

Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor. Proverbs 12:24 It was the seventh-grader’s first cross-country meet, but she didn’t want to run. Although she’d been preparing for the event, she was afraid of doing poorly. Still, she started the race with everyone else. Later, one by one the other runners finished the […]

“Love You—Whole World”

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 My three-year old niece, Jenna, has an expression that never fails to melt my heart. When she loves something (really loves it), be it banana cream pie, jumping on the trampoline, or playing Frisbee, she’ll proclaim, “I love it—whole […]