Articles

The Influence of Intercession

Every once in a while I find myself with thoughts that cause me to wonder if someone has been praying for me. Sometimes it’s waking up with a song that seems to have come out of nowhere. On other occasions, I find myself with an awareness of God’s goodness or presence that seems to have […]

What Trust Looks Like

What does trust look like when we can’t explain our trouble, or see beyond it? Listening to others as they try to show faith in crisis can be confusing. Some say they are “believing God” for a job, restored health, a reconciled marriage, or the return of a prodigal. Others say reliance on Him means […]

Why Didn’t Paul Quote Jesus?

Critics of the church raise an interesting question about the credibility of the apostle Paul. The query sounds something like this: If Paul represented Jesus as he claimed, why did he rarely quote Christ in his letters? If we haven’t heard anyone raise this challenge before, it might surprise us to know that Paul was […]

Marital Submission and Sacrifice

Lately, I’ve asked a few husbands I know whether they make a practice of telling their wives what to do. The question usually gets a smile that acknowledges something I suspect. Most of us know that the apostle Paul calls a husband the head of his wife and urges wives to submit to their husbands. […]

False Intimacy

Over the past year, we have been working with some courageous men who have been willing to talk about their escape from pornography. In a compelling video presentation of broken and restored lives, several men told their stories in an empty warehouse that provides a visual backdrop for the lonely, secret obsession that had been […]

Feeling Down

What can we do when we’re out of sorts, not ourselves, and lost in emotions of inexpressible heaviness? What if, on top of it all, we’re feeling guilty for not being able to think or pray ourselves out of whatever is consuming our focus and energy? Spiritual talk that is supposed to help leaves us cold. Imagine meeting […]

The Trouble with Grace

Is grace the fast food of a spiritual diet? Could undeserved kindness be the junk food of slackers? By definition, grace is “the unmerited favor” by which God shows us the kindness we don’t deserve. It is closely related to His mercy by which He withholds the punishment we have earned. The trouble with grace […]

Business and Ministry

Is it possible to do ministry in a businesslike way . . . and to see business as a ministry? The question seems important because, even though nonprofit and profit-making efforts are different, both have a lot in common. To survive, both need a clear mission. Both need to know their public, adapt to change, […]

Emerging Churches

Over the past decade, there has been growing controversy about “a new way of doing church.” Many of our sons and daughters are forming or joining congregations that don’t look or sound like our kind of church. Yet, they are likely to tell us they are just trying to be authentic followers of Jesus, and […]

Coneys

In times of financial, social, or medical uncertainty, the coney might seem like an unlikely example of wisdom. But this little rodentlike critter, so common in certain regions of Africa and the Middle East, is worth getting to know.  The coney is interesting for a number of reasons. Based on DNA similarities, some biologists have […]

Jesus and Tolerance

Someone has said, “Wise are those who look at others with the same generosity they offer themselves, and at themselves with the same critical eye they have for others.” Such advice is difficult to disagree with because it amounts to treating others the way we’d want to be treated. The “golden rule” is hard to […]

The Limitations of Formulas

If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that followers of Christ have about as many unexpected health, work, and family problems as everyone else. Even though the Bible is full of wisdom that promotes spiritual, emotional, and physical health, it does not give us formulas for making life predictable. One of my younger brothers […]

Children and Disciples

Like clockwork, each new generation rides a pendulum of reaction to “the sins of the fathers.” As grateful as we may be for the good we have inherited, we are apt to “overcorrect” what we see as the failures of our parents. Seems to me that this is happening in the way an emerging generation […]

Jerusalem, Sodom, and Jesus

Why did God judge Sodom and Gomorrah? Most of us could answer the question. We’ve heard about the same-sex culture and out-of-control sexual aggression that Sodom and Gomorrah are known for (Genesis 19:1-10). But is there a story about the twin cities that we might have missed? Let’s take a closer look. Sodom and Gomorrah […]

Underdogs

One of the timeless appeals of the Bible is that it is good news for underdogs. What could be more inspiring than true stories about Davids in a world of Goliaths? That’s not ignoring the fact that the same book can also bring us to the end of ourselves. Some chapters sound like bad news […]

The Story and Struggle of Marriage

In first-century Greek, Roman, and Jewish society, a man was the master of his house. Wives lived under the rule of their husbands and were expected to submit to them. So when the apostle Paul, in his New Testament letters, encouraged wives to submit to their husbands, those words would not have been unusual. Today […]

The Spin Zone

The FOX News Network has made a name for itself by promising to present the news “fair and balanced.” Its anchors say, “We report. You decide.” Bill O’Reilly opens his hour-long program with, “You’re in the no spin zone.” He closes with a bit of a smile and twinkle in his eye, saying, “Remember, the […]

Listening

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Two days into the Apollo 13 moon landing mission, and almost 200,000 miles from earth, a spacecraft oxygen tank exploded. Cabin air, water, and power supply were suddenly in danger. Mission Control had to overcome enormous challenges to get the crew home. Since that crisis in space, the expression “Houston, […]

Solomon’s Messed-Up Life

From a distance, it would be easy to idealize Solomon. The Bible tells us about his wealth and accomplishments. His national building projects are a tribute to his vision. His collections of proverbs and reflections on the meaning of life show his lifelong pursuit of knowledge. On closer look, though, we see that Solomon had […]

The Wisdom of Agur

It’s painful to be misquoted. I remember how I felt when someone used the Internet to accuse me of saying that Matthew was wrong in applying Hosea 11:1 to Jesus (Matthew 2:15). I had not said Matthew was wrong, but wrote an article to show that Jesus gives fullness of meaning to events and principles […]

A Survey

A 2006 Baylor Religion Survey found that Americans have very different opinions about whether God is inclined to be angry. According to the Baylor study: ? 23 percent believe in a God of goodwill who   shows up in our lives and is not inclined to   be angry. ? 31.4 percent believe in an […]

The Wisdom of Motives

Is it right to consider not only whether a law was broken, but why? I’ve been wondering about this after reading how a German court handled the ticketing of a motorist caught speeding by a traffic control camera. When the court learned why the driver had broken the speed limit, charges were waived. Instead, officials […]

Wise Counsel

Long ago, Solomon wrote, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14). Could this ancient proverb offer insight not only for hurting people but also for the family members and pastors who are called upon to help them? Overwhelming problems So many of us […]

Father Issues

Some of us have a hard time relating to God the Father. We sing to the Son, pray to the Son, and ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” But when Jesus talks about His Father, He touches issues that may be affecting us more than we realize. Maybe our problem is that His Father doesn’t […]

Enlightenment

What does it take to be wise? In a television commercial for online yellow pages, actor David Carradine plays a guru to a young seeker. When the student asks, “How do I find enlightenment?” the master says, “Yellowbook.com . . . Everyone is searching for something . . . . After all, it is a […]

A Shuffled Deck

Life is like a game of cards. We have to work with what we’re dealt. But what happens if we make up the rules as we go along? What if we assume that there is no real order or purpose to the shuffled deck of circumstance? Questions like these were raised in 1990, when American […]

The Urge to Jump

In April 2006, a man attempted to jump from the top of the Empire State Building. At the last minute, security guards physically restrained him and New York City police charged him with first-degree reckless endangerment. A judge later dismissed the charges, noting that the man had taken steps to ensure the safety of others. […]

Marital Abuse

Do we have a high enough view of marriage to respond adequately to marital abuse? Before answering, let’s consider one woman who represents many. To personalize her, let’s imagine her as our daughter or friend. She doesn’t know where to turn and blames herself for ending up in a bad marriage. We know she isn’t […]

The Big Fish Story of Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, a big fish story is read in synagogues. As worshipers fast, confess their sins, and reflect on the words of Moses and Isaiah, they listen once again to the account of a catch and release that is so amazing no one would believe it […]

The Love of God

I looked in the mirror and wondered if I was staring at one of heaven’s spoiled brats. After consuming more than my share of mercies, I could see in my eyes a sadness that reflected not what God had given, but what He had withheld. Questions formed emotional distance between me and the Father I […]

Wounded Soldiers

A veteran of the Iraq war recalls patrolling a street in Mosul on an ordinary Saturday morning when a grenade, tossed from a rooftop, exploded under his Humvee. He says he remembers lying on his stomach in the street unable to move his arms or legs. Blinded by the smoke, his ears were ringing as […]

Missing Prophecies

Is it possible that followers of Christ have overstated the case for fulfilled prophecy? Like many others, I grew up hearing that one of the strongest reasons for believing in Jesus is that He fulfilled hundreds of predictions in the Jewish Scriptures. Years later I found myself wondering where most of those prophecies were. More […]

Personal Bible Reading

How important is personal Bible reading? The question has been eating away at me for a number of reasons. Most people didn’t own Bibles until recently. For most of church history, followers of Christ relied on the public reading and teaching of Scripture. Personal copies of the Bible didn’t become common until well after the […]

Aesop

Until recently, I thought of Aesop as an ancient Dr. Seuss. Then I started reading his fables. What surprised me is that his stories about talking animals, birds, and insects aren’t just for children. As an adult, I found that many of Aesop’s fables parallel or at least reinforce moral insights of the Bible. Aesop’s […]

The Road to Realism

Someone has noticed that, “Optimists think the glass is half full. Pessimists think it’s half empty. Realists know that if they stay around long enough they’re going to have to wash the glass.” In art, realists paint life with blemishes, wrinkles, and scars. Idealists paint a subject as they imagine it could or should be. […]

Higher Ground

Do any of us think we are on the wrong side of a disagreement? Isn’t it ironic that, in times of conflict, we all think we have right on our side? It doesn’t matter if the disagreement is marital, political, or international. Together with our allies, we all are convinced that our side holds the […]

Heaven

I’m looking forward to long walks with good friends, shared meals without rushing, and endless laughter at no one’s expense. I’m anticipating meaningful work with plenty of time for reading, photography, fishing, and community service. For occasional entertainment I haven’t written off stadiums and ballparks. If my hunch is right, competition between friends will be […]

Mental Health

Soon after our marriage, my wife and I were faced with the needs of a family member whose inner world was deeply troubled. Sometimes this loved one heard voices no one else could hear. Sometimes there were fears that the government was spying on her through her television set. Sometimes she accused us of trying […]

Hell

I wish I didn’t have to believe in hell. While seeing the need for eternal justice, the thought of cruel and unusual punishment that lasts forever sounds morally wrong to me. Yet, the Bible describes God as a great King who creates a lake of everlasting fire for rebels who want no part of His […]

Words To Remember

A few years ago, I began collecting memorable thoughts and quotes. My regret is that I didn’t start earlier. I’d be willing to trade my stashes of WD-40 and duct tape for those message outlines, good jokes, and countless facts I’ve heard and forgotten along the way. Recently, while looking over the few hundred I […]

Remembering Henry

“The devil always overplays his hand.” I can still hear Henry Bosch, founder of Our Daily Bread, say those words. His eyes would brighten and a smile would come to his face as he talked about the upside of a difficult day. What Did Henry Mean? Even though Henry wasn’t a card player, I know […]

The Holocaust

Having just returned from a work assignment in Israel, I’ve been reminded again of the Jewish commitment to never forget their national Holocaust.  I’ve also come back with a renewed concern for friends who see a link between anti-Semitism and the New Testament. While recalling discussions with one of those friends, I’m writing: Dear Eli, […]

The Creative Process

TEACHERS OF CREATIVE THINKING sometimes say, “All things are connected. Try to find relationships where you’ve never seen them before.” The exercise might raise questions among those who are more committed to “living by the book” than to “thinking outside the box.” On the other hand, it could be that no one has a better […]

What We Believe

DO THOSE WHO DON’T SHARE OUR VIEWS on God, morality, and public policy enjoy being around us? Or has the tension of moral politics come between us? If so, here’s a question. Is it possible to remain faithful to our own beliefs while fighting for the right of others to disagree with us? My guess […]

The Story Factor

Some people spend a lifetime trying to understand the Bible. Others reduce it to a few basic principles. In Walk the Line, a film portrayal of country singer Johnny Cash, a conversation between two young brothers suggests another approach. During a reflective moment, just before a tragic accident changes their lives, the boys are lying […]

Abuse of Authority

There is a fine line between the healthy and unhealthy use of power. At any time, even the best of leaders can begin making decisions that increasingly put their own interests before the needs of others. The misuse of authority, however, is not always subtle. History tells the stories of countless leaders who boldly acted […]

Marital Abuse

Marital abuse comes home when it happens to someone we care about. Imagine if the following were your daughter: A Woman In Pain: She doesn’t know where to turn and blames herself for ending up in an abusive marriage. You know your daughter isn’t perfect. But what you haven’t seen is how often she’s cried, […]

People-Watching

A people watcher defines his sport like this: “The art of people-watching involves studying the subjects, guessing who they are, where they are coming from, and where they are going. Sometimes it even includes trying to imagine what they are thinking.” What rings true about this description is that it describes people-watching as a series […]

Rescue

In the summer of 2002, a coal mining accident left nine Pennsylvania men trapped 240 feet underground. For three days the men huddled in the darkness of a cramped space that had filled almost to the top with 55 degree water. On the surface, a nation watched as rescue efforts dragged on longer than expected. […]

Futures Trading

The Wall Street we see on the evening news looks out of control. The flailing arms and white shirts on the floor of the trading pit give the appearance of a madhouse way of doing business. The earlier chaos. The confusion, however, is more orderly than the system it replaced. Before the development of “futures […]

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, by continuing to use this site you agree to this. Find out more on how we use cookies and how to disable them.