Archives

He Calls The Stars By Name

On a plateau high above the Atacama Desert in Chile, the world’s largest radio telescope is giving astronomers a view of the universe never seen before. In an Associated Press article, Luis Andres Henao spoke of scientists from many countries “looking for clues about the dawn of the cosmos—from the coldest gases and dust where galaxies are formed and stars are born to the energy produced by the Big Bang.”

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Lasting Regrets

While I was talking with a gifted pianist, she asked me if I played any musical instruments. When I responded, “I play the radio,” she laughed and asked if I had ever wanted to play any instrument. My embarrassed answer was, “I took piano lessons as a boy but gave it up.” Now, in my adult years, I regret not continuing with the piano. I love music and wish I could play today. That conversation was a fresh reminder to me that life is often constituted by the choices we make—and some of them produce regret.

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Whoppers Or Adventures?

My grandfather loved to tell stories, and I loved to listen. Papaw had two kinds of tales. “Whoppers” were stories with a whiff of truth, but which changed with each new telling. “Adventures” were stories that really happened, and the facts never changed when retold. One day my grandfather told a story that just seemed too far-fetched to be true. “Whopper,” I declared, but my grandfather insisted it was true. Although his telling never varied, I simply couldn’t believe it, it was that unusual.

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Living Bridges

People who live in Cherrapunji, India, have developed a unique way to get across the many rivers and streams in their land. They grow bridges from the roots of rubber trees. These “living bridges” take between 10 to 15 years to mature, but once they are established, they are extremely stable and last for hundreds of years.

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Feeling Chained?

Boethius lived in sixth-century Italy and served the royal court as a highly skilled politician. Unfortunately, he fell into disfavor with the king. He was accused of treason and imprisoned. While awaiting execution, he asked for writing materials so he could compose his reflections. Later, these became an enduring spiritual classic on consolation.

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True Loyalty

By one estimate, more than 14 trillion frequent-flyer miles have been accumulated by people worldwide. It all started in the early 1980s, when airlines began the first frequent-flyer programs to encourage repeat business by rewarding customers for their loyalty. Accumulated miles could be redeemed for free travel, goods, and services, so it wasn’t long before people began planning their travel based as much on personal reward as on price or schedule.

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Grain On The Mountaintop

I’ve been on a number of mountaintops in the US in my time, and I can tell you that not much grows up there. The summits of mountains are bare rock and lichen. That’s not where you would normally find an abundance of grain.

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“No Grace”

I have nicknamed our car “No Grace.” Sunday mornings are the worst. I load the car with all the stuff I need for church, get myself in my seat, close the door, and Jay starts backing out of the garage. While I am still getting settled, the seat belt warning starts buzzing. “Please,” I say to it, “all I need is another minute.” The answer, apparently, is no, because it continues buzzing until I am buckled in.

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The Power Of A Name

Nicknames are often descriptive of some noticeable aspect of a person’s character or physical attributes. Growing up, my elementary school friends brutally called me “liver lips” since at that stage of development my lips seemed disproportionately large. Needless to say, I have always been glad that the name didn’t stick.

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Paranoia In Reverse

I remember watching television news reports in 1991 as the nonviolent revolution took place in the streets of Moscow. Russians who had grown up in totalitarianism suddenly declared, “We will act as if we are free,” taking to the streets and staring down tanks. The contrast between the faces of the leaders inside and the masses outside showed who was really afraid, and who was really free.

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Look To The Hills

Atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, stands Christ the Redeemer, one of the tallest statues of Christ in the world. Standing 30 meters tall, with arms spreading 28 meters, this sculpture weighs 635 metric tons. It can be seen day or night from almost anywhere in the city. One look to the hills brings this figure of Christ the Redeemer into view.

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Asking Different Questions

When tragedy strikes, questions follow. Our loss of a loved one may lead us to ask God any number of pointed questions: “Why did You let this happen?” “Whose fault was this?” “Don’t You care about my pain?” Believe me, as the grieving father of a teenager who died tragically I have asked these very questions.

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Uncertain Times

During a major economic downturn several years ago, many people lost their jobs. Sadly, my brother-in-law was one of them. Writing to me about their situation, my sister shared that although there were uncertainties, they had peace because they knew that God would care for them.

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The Jaws Of Death

Lauren Kornacki is glad she took that summer CPR class, but she probably never thought she would have to use it so soon and on someone she loves. Her father was repairing his car when the jack slipped and the car fell on him. Lauren, a 22-year-old, reportedly heroically lifted the 3,300-pound car enough to pull him from underneath! Then she kept him alive with CPR until the paramedics arrived.

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Not A Hitching Post

You may have heard the saying, “The past is supposed to be a guidepost, not a hitching post.” It’s easy to become tied to memories of “the good old days” instead of using our experiences to find direction for the road ahead. We are all susceptible to the paralyzing effects of nostalgia—a longing for what used to be.

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The Growth Chart

If my family ever moves from the house where we live now, I want to unhinge the pantry door and take it with me! That door is special because it shows how my children have grown over the years. Every few months, my husband and I place our children against the door and pencil a mark just above their heads. According to our growth chart, my daughter shot up 4 inches in just 1 year!

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Dependence Day

In the US, the Fourth of July is a national holiday when outdoor grills are heated up; beaches are packed; and cities and towns have parades and fireworks displays, picnics, and patriotic celebrations. All of this is in remembrance of July 4, 1776, when the 13 American colonies declared their independence.

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Tender Loving Care

Max runs a small farm as a hobby. Recently when he checked on the cows he is raising, he was surprised to see a newborn calf! When he bought the cattle, he had no idea one was pregnant. Sadly, the mother cow had complications and died shortly after her calf was born. Immediately, Max purchased some powdered milk so he could feed the calf from a bottle. “The calf thinks I’m its mother!” Max said.

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A Lesson In Worry

My friend handed me a tall glass of water and told me to hold it. The longer I held it, the heavier it felt. Finally my hand grew tired, and I had to put the glass down. “I’ve learned that worry can be like holding that glass,” she said. “The longer I worry about something, the more my fears weigh me down.”

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Who Is This Man?

When Kelly Steinhaus visited Harvard Square to ask college students what they thought of Jesus, the answers were respectful of Him. One said He was “a person who took care of people.” Another said, “He sounds like a cool guy.” Others rejected Him outright: “He was just a guy. I don’t think He was the Savior.” And “I do not accept any faith system that says, ‘I am the only way to God.’” Some people thoughtfully question who Jesus is and some reject Him.

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The Big Comeback

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

Chad Pennington is a former American football player who has suffered multiple career-threatening injuries. Twice, his injuries forced him to endure surgery, months of physical therapy, and weeks of training to get back onto the field. Yet, both times he not only returned to playing but he also excelled at such a high level that he was named Comeback Player of the Year in the National Football League. For Pennington, his efforts were an expression of his determination to return to football.

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Focus On The Process

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

In William Zinsser’s book On Writing Well, he says that many writers suffer from “the tyranny of the final product.” They are so concerned with selling their article or book, they neglect learning the process of how to think, plan, and organize. A jumbled manuscript, Zinsser believes, is produced when “the writer, his eye on the finish line, never gave enough thought to how to run the race.”

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Do No Harm

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

Many consider the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates as the father of Western medicine. He understood the importance of following moral principles in the practice of medicine, and is credited with writing the Hippocratic Oath, which still serves as an ethical guide for today’s medical doctors. One key concept of the oath is “to do no harm.” It implies that a physician will do only what he thinks will benefit his patients.

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Roadside Assistance

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

An acquaintance of mine was hunting with friends near Balmoral, the country estate of the queen of England. As they walked, he twisted his ankle so badly that he couldn’t go on, so he told his friends to continue and he would wait by the side of the road.

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Wisdom From Above

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

If Kiera Wilmot had performed her experiment during her high school science class, it might have earned her an A. But instead she was charged with causing an explosion. Although she had planned to have her teacher approve the experiment, her classmates persuaded her to perform it outside the classroom. When she mixed chemicals inside a plastic bottle, it exploded and she unintentionally unsettled some fellow students.

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Veins Of Gold

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

While visiting the charming Cotswold area of England, I purchased some bone china mugs as souvenirs. I used them carefully, but eventually one fell into the sink and shattered. I thought about that mug recently when I learned about the Japanese art of Kintsugi.

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Restored By The Master

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

Over the centuries, many attempts have been made to restore damaged and time-worn masterpieces of art. While some of these efforts have skillfully preserved the original work of artists, others have actually damaged many works of genius, including ancient Greek statues and at least two paintings by da Vinci.

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Meet Shrek

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

Shrek was a renegade sheep. He went missing from his flock and remained lost for 6 years. The person who found him living in a cave on a high and rugged place in New Zealand didn’t recognize him as a sheep. “He looked like some biblical creature,” he said. In a way, he was. Shrek was a picture of what happens to sheep who become separated from their shepherd.

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The Light Of The Lamb

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

For countless generations people have looked to the sun and moon to light the day and the night. Whether illuminating our path or providing the life-giving radiance for fruitful crops and the nutrients our bodies need, the sun and moon are part of God’s marvelous provision of light. The book of Genesis tells us that God gave “the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen. 1:16).

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The World’s Children

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

After a group of high schoolers visited an orphanage during a ministry trip, one student was visibly upset. When asked why, he said it reminded him of his own situation 10 years earlier.

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Rock-Solid

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

It was a sad day in May 2003 when “The Old Man of the Mountain” broke apart and slid down the mountainside. This 40-foot profile of an old man’s face, carved by nature in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, had long been an attraction to tourists, a solid presence for residents, and the official state emblem. It was written about by Nathaniel Hawthorne in his short story The Great Stone Face.

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We’re Safe

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

The United States Bullion Depository in Fort Knox, Kentucky, is a fortified building that stores 5,000 tons of gold bullion and other precious items entrusted to the federal government. Fort Knox is protected by a 22-ton door and layers of physical security: alarms, video cameras, minefields, barbed razor wire, electric fences, armed guards, and unmarked Apache helicopters. Based on the level of security, Fort Knox is considered one of the safest places on earth.

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Keep Calm And Carry On

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

Keep calm and call mom.” “Keep calm and eat bacon.” “Keep calm and put the kettle on.” These sayings originate from the phrase: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” This message first appeared in Great Britain as World War II began in 1939. British officials printed it on posters designed to offset panic and discouragement during the war.

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An Honest Heart

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

I came across an epitaph on an old gravestone in a cemetery the other day. It read, “J. Holgate: An honest man.”

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Crowns Of Honor

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom are stored securely and protected within the Tower of London under 24-hour guard. Each year, millions visit the display area to “ooh and aah” over these ornate treasures. The Crown Jewels symbolize the power of the kingdom, as well as the prestige and position of those who use them.

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Generous God

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

When our family lived in Chicago several years ago, we enjoyed many benefits. Near the top of my list were the amazing restaurants that seemed to try to outdo each other, not only in great cuisine but also in portion sizes. At one Italian eatery, my wife and I would order a half portion of our favorite pasta dish and still have enough to bring home for dinner the next night! The generous portions made us feel like we were at Grandma’s house when she poured on the love through her cooking.

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Lesson From A Toothache

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

When I was a child I often had a toothache,” wrote C. S. Lewis in his classic book Mere Christianity. He continued, “and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something that would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother—at least not till the pain became very bad. . . . I knew she would take me to the dentist the next morning. . . .  I wanted immediate relief from pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right.”

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What Do We Want?

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

My friend Mary tells me that she doesn’t always sing all the words to the hymns and choruses in a church service. She says, “It doesn’t seem honest to sing, ‘All I want is Jesus’ when my heart wants many other things too.” I appreciate her honesty.

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D-Day

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

Recently I asked my older sister, Mary Ann, if she remembered when our family moved into the house where we lived for many years. She replied, “You were about 9 months old, and I remember that Mother and Daddy stayed up all night packing boxes and listening to the radio. It was June 6, 1944, and they were listening to live coverage of the Normandy Invasion.”

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Reframing The Picture

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

For 3 months I had a ringside seat— or should I say a bird’s-eye view—of God’s amazing handiwork. Ninety feet above the floor of Norfolk Botanical Garden, workers installed a webcam focused on the nest of a family of bald eagles, and online viewers were allowed to watch.

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Room And Board

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

On a recent trip to England, my wife and I visited Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon. The house is more than 400 years old, and it was the childhood and family home of William Shakespeare’s wife.

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The Careful Walk

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2014

One of my favorite places to visit in Jamaica is Ocho Rios, home of Dunn’s River Falls—a spectacle that never ceases to amaze. Water cascades down a long series of rocks as it makes its way to the Caribbean Sea. Adventurers can climb the falls, scrambling over rounded rocks on an invigorating trek to the top. The flowing water, the potentially slippery surface, and the steep angles make the going slow and a bit treacherous.

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As White As Snow

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

Iwas driving my son home from school one day when snow began to fall. The cottony fluff came down steadily and quickly. Eventually, we slowed to a stop, boxed in by traffic. From inside our vehicle, we watched a transformation take place. Dark patches of soil turned white. Snow softened the sharp outlines of buildings; it coated the cars around us, and accumulated on every tree in sight.

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Quest For Stolen Treasure

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the dwarfs gathered to go up against Smaug, the fierce dragon, to retrieve their stolen treasure. In spite of the dangerously frightening quest, Balin, the dwarfs’ second-in-command, expressed confidence in Thorin: “There is one I could follow. There is one I could call King.” His commitment to the mission, as dangerous as it was, was empowered by his confidence in his leader.

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The Crash

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

For years after the Great Depression, the stock market struggled to win back investors’ confidence. Then, in 1952, Harry Markowitz suggested that investors spread their stock holdings over several companies and industries. He developed a theory for portfolio selection that helped investors in uncertain times. In 1990, Markowitz and two others won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their theory.

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Blessed Forgetfulness

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

My office is downstairs, but I make frequent trips upstairs to various rooms in my house for one thing or another. Unfortunately, by the time I get upstairs I often forget what I was planning to do when I got there. Researcher Gabriel Radvansky has come up with an explanation for this phenomenon. He proposes that a doorway serves as an “event boundary.”

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An Appropriate Name

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

The name of the southeastern Asian nation of Indonesia is formed by combining two Greek words which together mean “island.” That name is appropriate because Indonesia is made up of more than 17,500 islands spanning nearly 750,000 square miles. Indonesia—an appropriate name for a nation of islands.

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More Than We Deserve

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

Sometimes when people ask how I’m doing, I reply, “Better than I deserve.” I remember a well-meaning person responding, “Oh no, Joe, you deserve a lot,” to which I replied, “Not really.” I was thinking about what I truly deserve—God’s judgment.

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Anchors In The Storm

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

When Matt and Jessica tried to navigate their sailboat into a Florida inlet during Hurricane Sandy, the craft ran aground. As the waves crashed around them, they quickly dropped anchor. It held the sailboat in place until they could be rescued. They said that if they had not put down the anchor, “We would have lost our boat for sure.” Without the anchor, the relentless waves would have smashed the vessel onto the shore.

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Once Upon A Time

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2014

Some people say that the Bible is just a collection of fairy tales. A boy slaying a giant. A man swallowed by a big fish. Noah’s boat-building experience. Even some religious people think that these events are just nice stories with a good moral.

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