It is a great comfort to know that God oversees all things; controls and directs the affairs of angels, stars, and mankind; and has a plan for each of our lives. Except when it isn’t. It’s fun to praise God when you get a promotion, find a great new boyfriend, inherit a chunk of money, or close on a new house. But do you still feel blessed when you get laid off, hear a chilling diagnosis from your spouse’s doctor,... Read More
Burial is a big deal in every culture. In ours you will see caskets with locking screws, a long parade of cars with high beams on, concrete vaults with rubber gaskets, plastic flowers at gravesites, green carpeting around the hole as mourners gather, polished granite markers with names and two very important four-digit numbers.
The whole scene is solemn, respectful, and a little creepy. As hard as we try to prettify the death business, we know there’s a lot of... Read More
Everybody feels down now and then. Everybody gets the blues. But that’s not depression. Depression is a daily prison of self-hatred, a life with long stretches of wretched darkness.
The darkest place of all for a Christian is to fear that it was God who sent the misery. Has God now become my enemy? How could I possibly ever succeed in my life if the Power behind everything is against me? Have you ever thought something like this: “You have... Read More
One of the surprising discoveries of parenthood is how much you like “baby smell,” even the smell of your baby’s breath. Did you know that God’s breath is sweet too?
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the earth and blew the breath of life into his nostrils. The man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). When God created animals, he simply formed them and they started living. For people, he did something special. He took... Read More
“Doesn’t God say he’ll bless us? Then why did I get let go from my job?” You have heard that question and its many variations before, have you not? If God loves me, why does he let me struggle like this?
Probably for the same reason that you don’t do your kids’ math problems for them. They will never learn quadratic equations until they have struggled with them, failed a few times, and learned to overcome. “My son, do not... Read More
Young men can be pretty rude in the nicknames they choose for their friends. It would not be appropriate for me to put some of the nicknames of the guys in my college dorm in a devotional book. That was not a problem for Joseph of Cyprus (one of the big Mediterranean islands). He had developed such a reputation for being kind and generous, such a willing help to his friends, that they called him “Mr. Encouragement.” “Joseph, a Levite... Read More
When you play Monopoly, everybody starts out with the same amount of money—$1,500. Not in God’s world. He loves diversity in his children, and it pleases him to make them all different. Nobody has everything and nobody has nothing. Everyone is gifted.
“To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability” (Matthew 25:15).
In the monetary system of the Greek-speaking eastern Mediterranean world, a talenton weighed 75... Read More
You understand, don’t you, why Jesus’ disciples wanted to get rid of the children? The six monthers screech, the toddlers talk and babble and blow out their diapers at inopportune times, the kindergarteners just fool around with their toys, the primary kids ask too many dumb questions, and the middle schoolers just roll their eyes and act bored. “People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus... Read More
The 5th of May has always been a big deal to people who trace their ancestry to Mexico. Now it’s attracting the notice of Anglos as well, but generally only as an excuse to party with nachos, guacamole, margaritas, and Mexican beer.
Whether or not you choose to go to a party today, I hope that you will take just a little time to learn something about Hispanic culture. People from the majority culture often notice and remember only the... Read More
Have you ever noticed how casually we sling around the words die and death? Like, “That tiramisu is to die for” or “That kid will be the death of me” or “I just died from embarrassment.”
Jesus didn’t die from embarrassment. He died from being crucified. But unlike the suicide bombers of today, he didn’t throw away his life in a cruel and hate-filled act of terrorism. He allowed his life to be tortured and taken so that he could... Read More