Articles

Joe Friday

Growing up in the 1950s, I remember the television series Dragnet. Each episode began with the notes of an ominous theme. Then the rich voice of announcer George Fenneman intoned, “The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Producer and actor Jack Webb narrated […]

Imponderables

Where did God come from? Could a creator who made the earth out of nothing come from nowhere? Even a lowly mosquito doesn’t just happen without a spawning pond or puddle. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer. I see the logic of believing in a first cause great enough and personal enough to explain […]

The People vs. Job

Public interest in high-profile court cases often declines once the outcome is known. The People vs. Job, however, is a landmark decision that never loses its significance. In one of the most published trials in history we see the eyes of heaven and hell focused on our times of trouble. In the same public record […]

Esther: The Story Behind Purim

She was an orphan who hid a family secret until becoming a national heroine. Today her life is honored in synagogues around the world and celebrated in the streets of Israel during the Jewish holiday of Purim. With noise-makers, costumes, and practical jokes, her national family still remembers one of the great stories of history. […]

Why I Don’t Go To Church

1. I don’t go to church expecting to see a group of people consistently reflecting the attitudes and values of Christ. I’ve seen enough of myself in church sanctuaries, meeting halls, and boardrooms to know that we all are at varying degrees of spiritual growth or regression. Some of us are like noisy newborns. Others […]

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code has been on the New York Times Bestseller List since its release in April 2003. In less than 2 years it has become a bestseller in 150 countries and one of the most widely read books of our time. Author Dan Brown has done what many authors only dream of doing. […]

A Prediction

One of the most amazing predictions of the Bible was made in the middle of a national disaster. The pride of Israel had been broken. On the heels of a military defeat, some of the most religious people in the world wondered if God had abandoned them. Many of Israel’s brightest and best young people […]

Misplaced Trust

If God is good, but good isn’t God, how do we avoid making some of our worst mistakes with the best things in life? In an effort to clarify the problem of misplaced trust, what if we said to our hearts: Love God, but don’t depend on your love for Him. Seek to know Him, […]

The Many Faces of Humility

I don’t want to walk with the proud. But neither do I want to be counted among the humble. Humility has P. R. problems. Pride has done a good job ruining the reputation of its rival. Many of us cannot even think of humility without suspecting pride in disguise, or an unhealthy and self-defeating personality. […]

A Great Impostor

I’ve been thinking about a great impostor—one so clever that he deceived even the devil himself. This master of illusion has turned angels into demons, kings into animals, pastors into predators, and sheep into wolves. While the elusive deceiver is not a person, it overcomes that problem by borrowing personality from its victims. With no […]

Spiritual Warfare

In one of the oldest stories of the Bible, the heart of a mere mortal gets caught in the crossfire between a rebel leader and the King of the universe. According to Satan, God has bought the heart of a man named Job by giving him protection in exchange for his loyalty. In response to […]

The King of Kings

Long ago, before dinosaurs roamed the earth, and before there was a star in the sky, a great king issued a decree that shook the realms of darkness. The king spoke and the universe exploded into existence. He said, “Let there be light,” and the darkness ran from him. By the power of his words […]

A Manifesto

Manifestos declare revolutionary ideas. The Communist Manifesto of 1848 called for the redistribution of wealth. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517 affirmed salvation by faith alone, and the 13 colonies’ Declaration of Independence in 1776 made a case for citizens’ right of revolt. The most revolutionary declaration of all, however, was the first-century preamble to […]

An Admission

Dear Aaron, I hope you are doing well. I miss our conversations about life, religion, and the Chicago Cubs. Even more, I regret that we haven’t kept in touch after your move to Philadelphia. I’m writing now because time has changed my thoughts on a subject we used to disagree about, and I owe you […]

Wisdom

ACCORDING TO BUDDHIST FOLKLORE, two traveling monks reached a river where they met a young woman. Wary of the current, she asked if they could carry her across. One of the monks hesitated, but the other quickly picked her up onto his shoulders, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other […]

Snoopy

FOR 50 YEARS, cartoonist Charles Schulz gave us pictures of ourselves wrapped in a smile. One of the last strips I clipped from our Sunday paper showed Snoopy the dog sitting on top of his doghouse with a typewriter, writing about his life. He titled his story . . . The Dog Who Never Did […]

Two Thieves

Crucifixion was torture. Leather straps or spikes were used to hang a condemned man on a pole. Like a helpless animal tangled in a barbed wire fence, the victim could survive for days with excruciating pain. Death usually came by suffocation when, hanging by his hands, the victim lost the strength to draw another breath. […]

Information Overload

Never before have so many had access to so much information. With human knowledge doubling every few years and search engines like Google, Alta Vista, and Ask Jeeves at our fingertips, the potential for learning seems endless. Ironically, much of what we are discovering helps us to see how little we know. According to Reuters […]

Symphony

OVER TIME, WE ALL COME ACROSS IDEAS that change the way we think about ourselves. For me, one of those thoughts is that a well-lived life is more like a symphony than a solo. The point takes nothing away from a solo. I love hearing Willie Nelson sing “September Song,” or LeAnn Rimes do her […]

Diminished Capacity

In an age of equal rights, it is sometimes difficult to see the Bible as a friend of women. Although some texts treat husbands and wives as equals (1 Corinthians 7:4), other passages view women as the “weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7) and place them in a supporting role rather than a leading role (Ephesians […]

Who Killed Christ?

Could The Passion of the Christ stir up flames of ethnic hatred? Some of our Jewish neighbors fear that Mel Gibson’s film about the last hours of Christ will set the calendar back. Many remember the long history of anti-Semitism that surfaced in the writings of Church fathers, the Crusades, and the Holocaust. Now as […]

Our Identity in Christ

Identity theft is a problem most of us didn’t think about 5 years ago. Today it is common to hear the stories of victims who are trying to salvage their name and credit rating after learning that someone has stolen and misused a password, social security number, or charge card. Knowing the danger of identity […]

The Values of Christ

Mel Fisher has been called the world’s greatest treasure hunter. His motto “Today Is The Day” came true on July 20, 1985, when his team found the Mother Lode of their dreams in the tropical waters of the Florida Keys. After years of salvaging shipwrecks of lesser significance, Mel’s team discovered stacks of silver bars, […]

The Attitudes of Christ

What is the goal of spiritual maturity? Jewish rabbis had their opinion. They did more than impart knowledge of the Torah and the Talmud. Their goal was to leave something of themselves in their students. Ben Sirach, writing about 180 years before Christ, expresses the Jewish point of view when he says of a mature […]

The Existence of God

A mature Christian woman recently told me of an experience that caused her to doubt the existence of God. Hearing a woman of the church talk about her doubts got my attention. Over the years I’ve thought of women not only as the gender chosen to give physical birth but most likely to nurture spiritual […]

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 […]

What Works

Trend watchers tell us that a growing number of Americans are more likely to ask “Does religion work?” than “Is it true?” In the past, spiritual seekers asked, “Is there a God and, if so, how can I know Him?” Today, many are more apt to ask, “How can I use spirituality to overcome my […]

What God Said To Me

What if I told you that God has been speaking to me about an issue that I haven’t been able to put out of my mind? Because you know me, you don’t think I’m claiming to have heard God speak in an audible voice. You assume that I have had an idea that I believe […]

Religious Conservatives

Why are the villains in the greatest story ever told a group of religious conservatives? The question is personal. I am a religious and biblical conservative. I believe in the importance of the family and am convinced that our children need to learn the dangers of Darwin, abortion, and same-sex marriage. Theologically, I’m a fundamentalist. […]

Forgiving Ourselves

Why do we punish ourselves for old regrets long after we believe God has forgiven us? The question stuck in my mind after a conversation with someone I’ll call TC. TC described himself as being in recovery for multiple addictions. A couple of times he said, “My problem was forgiving myself. I found it a […]

Unfairness

Life isn’t fair. Helpless children suffer for their parents’ mistakes. Some who work hard are cut down prematurely by accident or disease. Others who hardly work inherit the wealth of someone else’s labor. People of faith seem as subject to the luck of the draw as the weekend gambler. As if by a random dealing […]

The Day God Died

On April 8, 1966, the cover of Time magazine asked in bold black letters, “Is God Dead?” The lead story described the work of several theologians who no longer held to traditional concepts of God. They were alike in concluding that the God of our fathers had not survived the dawn of evolution and birth […]

The Invisible Woman

I recently saw a greeting card that shows a woman sitting in a business meeting with five men. The man at the head of the table says, “That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.” Men smile because the card catches them with their guard down. […]

Shadows Of Doubt

Dear Mel, I’ve been thinking about the spiritual doubts you were struggling with the last time we talked. I didn’t say much at the time because I didn’t know what to say. Now that I’ve had a chance to collect my thoughts, I want you to know that I respect you for admitting that you’ve […]

The Return of Christ

Only hours before His death, a carpenter rabbi from Nazareth told His followers that He was leaving them. Then He said, “Let not your heart be troubled . . . . I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). Almost 2,000 years later, […]

Ten Things I Learned From My Dad

In the memories that come with a parent’s passing, I’ve been reminded of what my dad taught those of us who lived and worked with him. In many ways, Dad didn’t have an easy life. Long before his problems with a detached retina, heart surgery, and Parkinson’s disease, he lived in the shadow of his […]

The Political Challenge

Is it wise for followers of Christ to be involved in the social debate over public policy? The question of political activism is dividing Christian groups right down the middle. Some are convinced that it is our moral responsibility to use our civil rights to “capture our culture for Christ” and “reclaim our national Christian […]

The Value of a Person

What is the value of a person? In many cultures men are honored more than women. Rich people are respected more than poor people. The current market value of a person is determined like the price of a car. Model, year, and condition all play a part. The disturbing truth is that human worth, like […]

The Sounds of Music

The sound of worship has hit a sour note. In many congregations, changing styles of music have become a source of conflict. ¶ Some church members miss the loss of doctrinally rich hymns. On the other side of the aisle is a generation that seems to thrive on new songs, more volume, and repetitive lyrics. […]

Rules For Fair Fighting

One of the promises of marriage is that shared love will bring out the best in each other. I remember giving my wife Di an anniversary card that said, “I love you not only for who you are, but for who I am when I am with you.” But what happens when husbands and wives […]

Why Israel Can’t Be Ignored

Whether loved or hated, Israel is a magnet. Although no larger than the state of New Jersey, she draws journalists, statesmen, and tourists from all over the world to a few acres of the most contested real estate on earth. Arriving from many nations, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim pilgrims stream through Ben Gurion airport in […]

The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Conflict in the Middle East flows from generation to generation like a river of tears and bad blood. From the days of Abram there has been an unending current of personal rejection, revenge, and mutual loss. The Jewish and Arab problem affects all of us. It costs us at the gas pump. It divides us […]

A Friend’s Struggle With Assurance

A friend recently described to me how his understanding of spirituality has changed over time. I was interested because I knew something of the influence he’d had in his community while still in his teen years. He was known in the small town where he grew up for breaking the county high school pole-vault record. […]

Picturing Animal Sacrifice

In 1987 the city council of Hialeah, Florida, passed several ordinances banning animal sacrifice for religious purposes. A district court initially upheld the council’s actions, citing four concerns: (1) health risks, (2) possible emotional damage to children present at the sacrifices, (3) cruelty to animals, and (4) the council’s interest in restricting the killing of […]

Should We Forgive Terrorists?

The front page of our local newspaper carried the story of peace activists protesting the use of bombs to fight international terrorism. The article included a photo of a child carrying a sign asking, “What Would Jesus Do?”  ¶  The question on the sign is important. Jesus said that if we don’t forgive others, the […]

An Orphan Becomes Queen

She was an orphan who hid a family secret until becoming a national champion. Today she remains the talk and centerpiece of a Jewish holiday. The story of Esther is told every Spring at the Festival of Purim. With noise-makers, costumes, and practical jokes, the nation of Israel celebrates the story of a Jewish orphan […]

Remembering Henry (1914-1995)

“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 […]

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 […]

What’s A Soft Answer?

I admire the person who can use humor, thoughtfulness, or a self-deprecating comment to defuse the tension of an angry moment. Maybe that’s why I’ve become so intrigued with the proverb that says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). I’m convinced that there is more here […]

A King’s Story Unfolds

One of the great challenges to understanding God’s Word is finding its storyline within its 66 sections. But when we uncover the basic plot, we find that not only is the Bible a good read—it’s our story.  ¶  In these pages, we learn of a Great King who outmaneuvers the terrorist strategies of a former […]

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