Archives

Shout Hallelujah!

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

A few days ago, I spied my old friend Bob vigorously pedaling a bike at our neighborhood gym and staring down at a blood pressure monitor on his finger.

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I’m Alive

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, didn’t know it but she was one of 14,000 people in 2011 whose name was incorrectly entered into the government database as dead. She wondered what was wrong when she stopped receiving disability checks, and her loan payments and her rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to clear up the issue, but the representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead! Obviously, they were mistaken.

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Mistaken Identity

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

My youngest brother, Scott, was born when I was a senior in high school. This age difference made for an interesting situation when he grew to college age. On his first trip to his college campus, I went along with him and our mom. When we arrived, people thought we were Scott Crowder and his dad and his grandmom. Eventually, we gave up correcting them. No matter what we said or did, our actual relationships were overridden by this humorous case of mistaken identity.

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What’s In A Name?

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

My friend wrote a letter to his newborn child that he wanted him to read when he was older: “My dear boy, Daddy and Mummy wish that you will find and stay focused on the Light. Your Chinese name is xin xuan. Xin means faithfulness, contentment, and integrity; xuan stands for warmth and light.” He and his wife carefully chose a name based on their hopes for their baby boy.

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Who’s At The Center?

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Recently, I had what for me was a “Copernican moment”: I am not at the center of the universe. The world doesn’t revolve around me. It doesn’t move at my pace, in my terms, nor in accord with my preferences.

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Boo!

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

One of the early games that many parents play with their children involves a fake scare. Dad hides his face behind his hands and suddenly reveals himself while saying, “Boo!” The child giggles at this silliness.

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Consider The Lilies

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

I enjoy nature and giving praise to its Creator, but I sometimes wrongly feel guilty for admiring it too much. Then I remember that Jesus used nature as a teaching tool. To encourage people not to worry, He used simple wildflowers as an example. “Consider the lilies,” He said, and then reminded people that even though flowers do no work at all, God dresses them in splendor. His conclusion? If God clothes something temporary in such glory, He surely will do much more for us (Matt. 6:28-34).

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The Power Of Love

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Books on leadership often appear on best-seller lists. Most of them tell how to become a powerful and effective leader. But Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership is written from a different perspective. The former university professor who spent many years serving in a community of developmentally disabled adults says: “The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus? . . . In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal.”

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Unintentional

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

When I was returning our grandson Alex to his family after a visit, the traffic seemed especially challenging. Fast-maneuvering cars blocked me from the correct toll lane, forcing me to go through a lane where only cars with a prepaid pass are permitted, which I didn’t have. Alex told me that my license plate would be photographed and a ticket might be mailed to me. I was frustrated because a penalty would have to be paid even though my infraction was unintentional.

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Before And After

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

What changes take place in a life of faith after severe testing? I thought of this as I read the tragic story of a Jamaican dad who accidentally shot and killed his 18-year-old daughter while trying to protect his family from intruders.

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Precious In God’s Eyes

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

In response to the news that a mutual friend of ours had died, a wise brother who knew the Lord sent me these words, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Ps. 116:15). Our friend’s vibrant faith in Jesus Christ was the dominant characteristic of his life, and we knew he was home with God in heaven. His family had that assurance as well, but I had been focused only on their sorrow. And it’s appropriate to consider others during their grief and loss.

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Bricks Without Straw

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Many of us face the challenge of working with limited resources. Equipped with less money, less time, dwindling energy, and fewer helpers, our workload may remain the same. Sometimes, it even increases. There’s a saying that sums up this predicament: “More bricks, less straw.”

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In Harmony

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

I love playing the 5-string banjo. But it has one drawback. The fifth string will harmonize with only a limited number of simple chords. When other musicians want to play more complicated music, the banjoist has to adapt. He can lend marvelous melodic tones to a jam session only by making the right adjustments.

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Words That Help And Heal

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

On November 19, 1863, two well-known men gave speeches at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The featured speaker, Edward Everett, was a former congressman, governor, and president of Harvard University. Considered one of the greatest orators of his day, Mr. Everett delivered a formal address lasting 2 hours. He was followed by President Abraham Lincoln, whose speech lasted 2 minutes.

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Living Backward

Our Daily Bread Cover December 2013

The Chicago River is unusual because it flows backward. Engineers reversed its direction over a century ago because city-dwellers were using it as a dump. Dishwater, sewage, and industrial waste all funneled into the river, which emptied into Lake Michigan. Since the lake supplied drinking water for the city, thousands grew sick and died before city authorities decided to redirect the river to flow backward, away from the lake.

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Hope For Skeptics

Our Daily Bread Cover December 2013

As a workplace chaplain, I’m privileged to be in conversation with many different people. Some are skeptics of the Christian faith. I’ve discovered three major hurdles that keep them from trusting in Christ for salvation.

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Spiritual Plagiarism

Our Daily Bread Cover November 2013

When I teach English composition, I require students to write in class. I know that in-class writing is their own work, so in this way I become familiar with each student’s writing voice and am able to detect if they “borrow” a bit too heavily from another writer. Students are surprised to learn that their writing voice—which includes what they say as well as how they say it—is as distinctive as their speaking voice. Just as the words we speak come from our hearts, so do the words we write. They reveal who we are.

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Traveling Companion

Our Daily Bread Cover November 2013

I looked up the members of my seminary graduating class recently and discovered that many of my friends are now deceased. It was a sober reminder of the brevity of life. Three score and ten, give or take a few years, and we’re gone (Ps. 90:10). Israel’s poet was right: We’re but strangers here and sojourners (39:12).

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Welcome Back

Our Daily Bread Cover November 2013

Jim decided to follow Christ at the age of 10. Fifteen years later his commitment had faded. He had adopted a live-for-the-moment philosophy and developed some bad habits. Then his life seemed to fall apart. He had problems at work. Three family members died almost simultaneously. Fears and doubts began to plague Jim, and nothing seemed to help—until one day when he read Psalm 121:2, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” These words cut through the fear and confusion in his heart. He turned back to God for help, and God welcomed him.

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To Whom It Is Due

Our Daily Bread Cover November 2013

My husband and I live in a rural area surrounded by farms where this slogan is popular: “If you ate a meal today, thank a farmer.” Farmers definitely deserve our gratitude. They do the hot, hard work of tilling soil, planting seeds, and harvesting the food that keeps us from starving to death.

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God In The Storm

Early one morning the wind began to blow and raindrops hit my house like small stones. I peered outside at the yellow-gray sky and watched as trees thrashed in the wind. Veins of lightning lit the sky accompanied by bone-rattling thunder. The power blinked on and off, and I wondered how long the bad weather would continue.

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O Glorious Day!

It was the day after. My favorite team had just lost its final game and the dream of a championship was now over. It was cold out and a bit gloomy as I got in the car to go to work. None of this should have mattered much, but it was shaping up to be a blue Monday.

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Barrier-Free Love

Not long ago I heard the distressed chirping of a bird coming from the side of my neighbor’s house. I discovered that a nest of baby birds was inside a vent covered by a screen, placing a barrier between the mother bird who was trying to feed her hungry chicks. After I told the neighbors, they removed the screen and took the nest and chicks to a safe place to be cared for.

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Being A Witness

When I was a teen, I witnessed an auto accident. It was a shocking experience that was compounded by what followed. As the only witness to the incident, I spent the ensuing months telling a series of lawyers and insurance adjustors what I had seen. I was not expected to explain the physics of the wreck or the details of the medical trauma. I was asked to tell only what I had witnessed.

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Life Without Bread

In cultures with an abundance of food choices, bread is no longer a necessary part of the diet so some choose to live without it for various reasons. In the first century, however, bread was viewed as an essential staple. A diet without bread was a foreign concept.

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Immeasurably More

It’s not going to happen, Aunt Julie. You might as well erase that thought from your mind.”

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Married To Royalty

The book To Marry an English Lord chronicles the 19th-century phenomenon of rich American heiresses who sought marriages to British aristocracy. Although they were already wealthy, they wanted the social status of royalty. The book begins with Prince Albert, son of Queen Victoria, going to the United States to pay a social call. A mass of wealthy heiresses flood into a ball arranged for Prince Albert, each hoping to become his royal bride.

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Drink Lots Of Water

Our Daily Bread Cover September 2013

Visitors to Colorado often become dehydrated without realizing it. The dry climate and intense sun, especially in the mountains, can rapidly deplete the body’s fluids. That’s why many tourist maps and signs urge people to drink plenty of water.

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The Path Of Wisdom

Our Daily Bread Cover September 2013

Albert Einstein was heard to say, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Sadly, it does seem that far too often there is no limit to the foolishness we get ourselves into—or the damage we create by our foolishness and the choices it fosters.

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God’s Will

Our Daily Bread Cover September 2013

We’re often looking for God’s will—especially when we’re in a difficult situation. We wonder, What will happen to me here? Should I stay or does God want me somewhere else? The only way to know for sure is to do what He asks you to do right now—the duty of the present moment—and wait for God to reveal the next step.

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Beneficial Power

Our Daily Bread Cover September 2013

Boxing and strong-man competitions have a unique aspect to them. In the events, the athletes compete individually for the purpose of demonstrating their superior strength. It’s like arm wrestling—you do it to prove that you are the strongest person in the room.

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A Special Day

Our Daily Bread Cover September 2013

What’s special about September 4? Perhaps it’s your birthday or anniversary. That would make it special. Or maybe you could celebrate the historic events of this day. For instance, in 1781, the city of Los Angeles, California, was founded. Or this: In 1993, Jim Abbott, a pitcher for the New York Yankees, didn’t let anyone get a hit off his pitches—and he was born without a right hand. Or if you’re a TV fan: In 1951, the first live US coast-to-coast television broadcast was aired from San Francisco.

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Cupbearer To The King

Our Daily Bread Cover September 2013

One of my favorite Bible passages that applies to work is Nehemiah 1–2. King Artaxerxes’ employee Nehemiah had been such an exemplary worker that the king wanted to honor him by helping him when he was sad that Jerusalem was still in ruins. He asked Nehemiah, “Why is your face sad? . . . What do you request?” (2:2,4). He wasn’t just any worker for the king, he was the cupbearer, the man who tasted the king’s drink to protect him from being poisoned. In order to have earned such a position, he apparently worked hard and honored God in everything he did. And the king granted his requests.

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Surrounded By Mercy

Our Daily Bread Cover August 2013

It was almost impossible not to see the giant billboard with the red background and huge white letters that shouted: “This year thousands of men will die from stubbornness.” Later I learned that the billboard was one of hundreds just like it targeted at middle-aged men who typically avoid routine medical screenings and often die from preventable conditions.

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The Gift Of Light

Our Daily Bread Cover August 2013

Sir Christopher Wren designed and built more than 50 church buildings in London during the late 1600s. His design style had two prominent features—the first of which was sturdy, tall steeples. The second, however, was more profound. Wren was convinced that all of the windows in his churches must use clear glass as opposed to the stained glass so popular in churches of that era. In part, his reason for the clear glass is found in words attributed to him: “God’s greatest gift to man is light.” Allowing light to bathe people as they worshiped was, to Wren, a celebration of that gift.

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Thumbs Up

Our Daily Bread Cover August 2013

Pandora is one of the musical marvels of the Internet age. It helps you create your own personal radio station by allowing you to “customize” your music. It plays a song and you then click a thumbs up or thumbs down sign to indicate whether or not you like it. You end up with a grouping of only songs that you like.

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“I’m . . . Uh . . . Sorry”

Our Daily Bread Cover August 2013

The news is quick to report all the details of famous people’s wrongdoings and their subsequent confessions. Perhaps it’s an athlete who was arrested for driving while drunk. Or it could be a politician caught in an indiscretion. Only God knows the heart, but when we hear a stuttered “I’m . . . uh . . . sorry,” we may wonder if they are truly repentant or just sorry they got caught.

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Reflections On Windows

Our Daily Bread Cover August 2013

Much of the scenery I saw during our vacation in Alaska was through the windows of moving vehicles. I was thankful for glass that allowed me to see the beauty while remaining warm and dry. But the windows also presented a challenge. When it rained, water drops on the outside obscured the view. When the temperature changed, condensation caused fog to develop on the inside.

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The Standoff

Our Daily Bread Cover August 2013

When a local bookstore rearranged its shelves, I noticed an increase in the number of titles relating to sorcery and witchcraft. In fact, the religion section had become a virtual “standoff” between light and darkness. Christian titles flanked one side of the aisle, while roughly the same number of occult books lined the other side.

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Your Flight Is Confirmed

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

A heavy thunderstorm delayed our flight to Frankfurt, causing us to miss our connecting flight. We were told that we had been confirmed on another flight the next evening. But when we arrived at the gate, we were told that we were on standby. The flight was full.

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What’s Love?

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

When asked “What’s love?” children have some great answers. Noelle, age 7, said, “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.” Rebecca, who is 8, answered, “Since my grandmother got arthritis, she can’t bend over and polish her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even after his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Jessica, also 8, concluded, “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.”

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Taking Root

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

A small area of my yard just couldn’t seem to get going. The grass always seemed sparse in that spot, no matter how well I watered it.

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Warning Sign

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

On a sandy beach in Uruguay, giant concrete fingers partially submerged in sand reach up toward the sky. It is called the Monument to the Drowned. Locals just call it La Mano, “The Hand.” It was created by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal as a warning to swimmers about the danger of drowning. “The Hand” has become a tourist attraction, but its real purpose remains to remind swimmers about the perils of the sea.

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Jesus Loves Me

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

On cold days, our old dog moves around the yard, finding a sunny spot to stretch out on the grass to keep herself in the warmth of the sun.

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A Flying Miracle

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

Among God’s creatures, the butterfly is one of the most stunningly beautiful! Its gentle flight, colorful wings, and amazing migratory patterns are traits that make the butterfly a masterpiece of the natural world.

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Bouncing Back

Our Daily Bread Cover July 2013

On January 18, 2012, the longest winning streak in US intercollegiate varsity sports history—252 consecutive victories—ended when Trinity College lost a squash match to Yale. The morning after the team’s first loss in 14 years, Trinity’s coach, Paul Assaiante, received an e-mail from a friend, a prominent professional football coach, who wrote, “Well, now you get to bounce back.” Ten days later, that football coach’s team lost in one of the most widely seen athletic events—the NFL Super Bowl. All of us must cope with defeat.

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Love And Prayer

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2013

In a popular children’s book, Winnie the Pooh watches Kanga bound away. I wish I could jump like that, he thinks. Some can and some can’t. That’s how it is.

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Flight Simulator

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2013

When airplane pilots are training, they spend many hours in flight simulators. These simulators give the students a chance to experience the challenges and dangers of flying an aircraft—but without the risk. The pilots don’t have to leave the ground, and if they crash in the simulation, they can calmly walk away.

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Greedy Birds

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2013

Every year when I put out the hummingbird feeder, the busy little birds start battling for position. Even though there are four places at the “table,” the birds fight for whatever place one of their neighbors is using. The source of food at each place is the same—a reservoir of syrup in the bottom of the feeder. Knowing that all the feeding stations are equal, I shake my head at their greediness.

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To God Be The Glory

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2013

When Jason was asked to sing at a church he was visiting, he was delighted to participate even though he wasn’t asked until a few minutes before the service started. He chose a familiar hymn, “To God Be the Glory,” because it was a song that was especially meaningful to him. He practiced it a few times in the church basement and sang it without accompaniment in the church service.

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Imaginary Friend?

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2013

Not long ago, I heard about this billboard along the highway: “God is an imaginary friend—choose reality. It will be better for all of us.”

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More Than Information

Our Daily Bread Cover June 2013

How is behavior altered? In his book The Social Animal, David Brooks notes that some experts have said people just need to be taught the long-term risks of bad behavior. For example, he writes: “Smoking can lead to cancer. Adultery destroys families, and lying destroys trust. The assumption was that once you reminded people of the foolishness of their behavior, they would be motivated to stop. Both reason and will are obviously important in making moral decisions and exercising self-control. But neither of these character models has proven very effective.” In other words, information alone is not powerful enough to transform behavior.

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True Sacrifice

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2013

Eric was one of the good guys. As a police officer, he saw his work as service to his community and was fully committed to serving at all costs. Evidence of this desire was seen on the door of Eric’s locker at the police station, where he posted John 15:13.

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Not Abandoned

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2013

Years ago, while my husband and I were visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, we noticed a baby stroller by itself with no one nearby. We assumed that the parents had left it there because it was too bulky and were now carrying their child. But as we approached, we saw a sleeping baby inside. Where was a parent . . . a sibling . . . a babysitter? We hung around for quite some time before hailing a museum official. No one had shown up to claim that precious child! The last we saw of him, he was being wheeled away to a safe place.

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To Be Continued

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2013

The fifth book of the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, records the beginnings of the Christian church under the leadership of the people Jesus had appointed. Some scholars have suggested that this book could also be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit’s power supplied courage for the apostles in the face of every hardship.

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Golden Eagle

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2013

My son Mark and I were leaving the Clyde Peterson Ranch in Wyoming to head back to Michigan. In the distance we spotted a huge bird sitting in a solitary tree overlooking a steep canyon. As we approached, the golden eagle leaped from the tree and soared out over the canyon, the golden streaks in its feathers shimmering in the morning sun. Its immense size and beauty filled us with wonder. We felt privileged to witness this magnificent demonstration of God’s awesome creativity.

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Overcoming Bad News

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’” (Ps. 4:6). These words of David seem to describe the pessimistic outlook we so easily develop in our world today. The front page of newspapers and the top stories on the Internet or television seem to focus on crime, accidents, politics, the economy, and prominent people behaving badly. Our conversations at work and home begin to dwell on difficulties, and it’s enough to discourage anyone. Where can we turn for better news?

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Strengthened Through Suffering

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

Church services often end with a benediction. A common one is taken from Peter’s concluding remarks in his first epistle: “May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10). Sometimes omitted in the benediction is the phrase “after you have suffered a while.” Why? Perhaps because it is not pleasant to speak of suffering.

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Tell The Story

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

In an interview with Wired magazine, filmmaker George Lucas was asked how he wanted to be remembered. He replied: “I’ll be remembered as a filmmaker. . . . Hopefully some of the stories I told will still be relevant. . . . If you’ve raised children, you know you have to explain things to them, and if you don’t, they end up learning the hard way. . . . So the old stories have to be reiterated again in a form that’s acceptable to each new generation. I don’t think I’m ever going to go much beyond the old stories, because I think they still need to be told.”

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Making Up For Lost Time

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

None of us can say that we have no regrets. Often we are led down paths of bad choices—some paths longer than others—which can have a lingering effect on the mind, body, and soul.

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Keep It Simple

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

James Madison, fourth president of the United States, was instrumental in the drafting of the US constitution. He warned against creating laws “so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” Based on some of the complicated government forms I’ve read, that’s advice that still needs to be heeded a little more often!

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I L-O-V-E . . .

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

My husband and I were at a public swimming pool when the people around us started staring into the sky. A small plane was emitting smoke in the form of letters. As we watched, the pilot spelled out the letters: “I L-O-V-E.” People began speculating: Maybe it was to be a marriage proposal. Perhaps a romantic man is standing nearby on a balcony with his girlfriend and will soon pop the Will-you-marry-me? question. We kept gazing upward: “I L-O-V-E Y-O-U J-E-.” I heard young girls guessing: “I bet it will be Jen or maybe Jessica.” He kept spelling. No. It was: “J-E-S-U-S.” The pilot was declaring love for Jesus for many people to see.

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Supernatural Surveillance

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2013

Not far from my house, authorities have rigged a camera to snap pictures of drivers who race through red lights. The offenders later receive in the mail a ticket along with a “red-light photo,” which is visual proof of their traffic violation.

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Knee-Deep In Daffodils

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2013

When the first flowers of spring bloomed in our yard, my 5-year-old son waded into a patch of daffodils. He noticed some debris from plants that had expired months before and remarked, “Mom, when I see something dead, it reminds me of Easter because Jesus died on the cross.” I replied, “When I see something alive—like the daffodils—it reminds me that Jesus came back to life!”

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Black Boxes

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2013

Commercial aircraft carry two flight-data recorders called “black boxes.” One logs the performance and condition of the aircraft in flight, and the other records the conversation of the crew with air-traffic controllers on the ground. These boxes are insulated to protect against extreme temperatures and are fitted with underwater locator beacons that emit sounds to the surface. After an airplane crash, these boxes are retrieved and the data carefully analyzed to determine the cause of the crash. Air safety experts want to learn from past mistakes, among other things, so they won’t be repeated.

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Expect Great Things

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2013

William Carey was an ordinary man with an extraordinary faith. Born into a working-class family in the 18th century, Carey made his living as a shoemaker. While crafting shoes, Carey read theology and journals of explorers. God used His Word and the stories of the discovery of new people groups to burden him for global evangelism. He went to India as a missionary, and not only did he do the work of an evangelist but he learned Indian dialects into which he translated the Word of God. Carey’s passion for missions is expressed by his words: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” Carey lived out this maxim, and thousands have been inspired to do missionary service by his example.

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The Power Of Demonstration

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2013

For 2 decades, ecologist Mike Hands has worked to help farmers in Central America adopt more effective methods of growing their crops. It’s difficult, however, for them to abandon their long tradition of “slash and burn” agriculture, even though they know it destroys the soil and pollutes the air.

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Mysterious Truth

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2013

Sometimes when the infinite God conveys His thoughts to finite man, mystery is the result. For example, there’s a profound verse in the book of Psalms that seems to present more questions than answers: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants” (116:15 niv).

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New Eyes

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2013

A college student I met had recently placed her faith in Christ. She described her initial life-change this way: “When I trusted Christ for salvation, it felt like God reached down from heaven and placed a new set of eyes in my eye sockets. I could understand spiritual truth!”

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Unstoppable

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

Under it. Over it. Around it. Through it. Nothing will stop me from doing it.” I often hear people express this kind of attitude when they get an idea or see an opportunity that seems good or profitable. They devote all of their resources to getting it done.

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Red Tape

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

The expression “red tape” describes the annoying way that bureaucracy prevents things from getting done. Originally, the phrase referred to the common practice of binding official documents with red ribbon. In the early 1800s, the term was popularized by the writings of Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle, who was protesting governmental foot-dragging. Following the American Civil War, the problem of “red tape” resurfaced as war veterans struggled to receive their benefits. The term denotes frustration and disappointment because of the burdensome hurdles it erects to accomplishing goals.

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Guest List

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

Qumran was a first-century Jewish community that had isolated itself from outside influences to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. They took great care in devotional life, ceremonial washings, and strict adherence to rules of conduct. Surviving documents show that they would not allow the lame, the blind, or the crippled into their communities. This was based on their conviction that anyone with a physical “blemish” was ceremonially unclean. During their table fellowship, disabled people were never on their guest lists.

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Choose Your God

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

I recently saw a commercial for an online game based on Greek mythology. It spoke about armies, mythological gods, heroes, and quests. What got my attention was the description of how to get the game started. You go online to register, choose your god, then build your empire.

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A Song To Remember

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

I was delighted when I received a free gift in the mail—a CD of Scripture set to music. After listening to it several times, some of the melodies took root in my mind. Before long, I could sing the words to a couple of verses in the book of Psalms without the help of the recording.

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Trouble

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

I was glad to see the final days of the year draw to a close. It had held so much sorrow, sickness, and sadness. I was ready to welcome January with its very own brass band!

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Upside Down

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

There are a lot of things that intrigue me about Jesus. One of the aspects of His ministry that has always produced jaw-dropping, head-scratching responses is His upside-down teaching about life.

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Already Settled

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

I love watching soccer, and I am a fan of the Liverpool Football Club in England’s Premier League. When the Reds are playing, it is an anxiety-filled experience for me. Because one goal or one misplay can change the game’s outcome, I feel a constant tension as I watch. That is part of what makes the games enjoyable. Recently, though, I saw a tape-delayed replay of one of Liverpool’s games. I was surprised how much calmer I felt seeing the replay. Why? Because I already knew the outcome, and as a result I was able to relax and enjoy the action.

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Spiritual Sight

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

A prisoner who survived 14 years in a Cuban jail told how he kept his spirits up and his hope alive: “I had no window in my cell, and so I mentally constructed one on the door. I ‘saw’ in my mind a beautiful scene from the mountains, with water tumbling down a ravine over rocks. It became so real to me that I would visualize it without effort every time I looked at the cell door.”

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Where Sinners Go

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

My friend was having a conversation with a man who didn’t have much good to say about the Christian faith. My friend knew that if he were to sound too “religious,” he would jeopardize any chance to witness. So, in the middle of their discussion, he said, “Hey, Bob, do you know where sinners go?”

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Time Out

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

El Bulli restaurant, 2 hours north of Barcelona, is so popular that customers must reserve a table 6 months in advance. But noted Spanish chef Ferran Adrià decided to close the doors of his award-winning restaurant for 2 years so he and his staff could have time to think, plan, and innovate. Adrià told Hemispheres Magazine, “If we are winning all the prizes, why change? Working 15 hours a day leaves us very little time to create.” In the midst of great success, they took time out for what is most important to them.

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The Good Life

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2013

Beauty, wealth, power, love, mar- riage, and pleasure are good things, but they’re not the best. The best is loving God and taking in His love—bringing Him glory and making Him our friend for life. That leads to the best possible life because it gives us satisfaction and joy now (John 10:10), and it’s what Christians are going to be doing forever.

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Bless The Boundaries

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In all the years I’ve worked with people, I’ve yet to meet someone whose life was all messed up because he or she kept God’s commands. Yet, in a day when personal freedom is celebrated as an inalienable right, talk of conforming our lifestyle to God’s ways is often viewed as an infringement. And anyone who speaks out in favor of God’s boundaries is ruled out of bounds. But in this frenzy to be free, it should not go unnoticed that our society is increasingly marked with a haunting sense of meaninglessness and despair.

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Clean Hands

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It seems that wherever you go these days, you see signs encouraging people to wash their hands. With the constant threat of germs and viruses spreading disease throughout the general public, health officials continually remind us that unwashed hands form the single greatest agent for the spread of germs. So, in addition to the signs calling for vigilant hand- washing, public places will often provide hand sanitizers to help take care of germs and bacteria.

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Plowshare Christmas

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In his book Christmas 1945, Matthew Litt tells about the first peacetime Christmas celebration in the US after World War II. The New York Daily News alerted readers to expect a fleet of warships in New York Harbor: “Christmas Day will find a mighty armada, consisting of 4 battleships, 6 carriers, 7 cruisers, and 24 destroyers.” But instead of waging war, the military ships hosted 1,000 needy children.

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The Heavens Declare

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You don’t have to gaze long at the night sky to marvel at the wonder of God’s awe-inspiring handiwork. The massive stretch of galaxies and the cloudy mass of our own Milky Way remind us of the spectacular creation and the sustaining work of Jesus by whom it is all held together (Col. 1:16-17). It’s as though all of us have front-row seats in the theater of God’s creative power.

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The Gift

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We refer to Christmas as the season of giving. Most of us try hard to find gifts that friends and family will like, but not all gifts are equal. Some gifts come with a subtle hint, like an exercise machine or a book about weight loss. Other gifts are those that the giver really wants for himself. But the best gifts are those that come from someone who loves us and knows what we want.

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Joy

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After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, joy was lost. God expelled them from their garden home to prevent something worse from happening. If they had eaten from the tree of life after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would have lived forever in their misery.

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Twenty-Seven Percent

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People’s attitudes toward Bible prophecy vary widely. Some believers are so preoccupied with it that they are constantly talking about the latest world events, thinking they are biblical signs that Christ could return at any moment. Others are so casual in their view of prophecy that it seems as if they don’t believe it’s relevant to the Christian life at all.

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I Invented It

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Willard S. Boyle, Nobel Prize winner in physics, was the co-inventor of the “electronic eye” behind the digital camera and the Hubble telescope. He was in the market for a new digital camera and visited a store in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The salesman tried to explain the complexity of the camera to Boyle, but stopped because he felt it was too complicated for him to understand. Boyle then bluntly said to the salesman: “No need to explain. I invented it.”

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The Trail Of Tears

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A very severe and tragic event in US history was the forced relocation of thousands of Native Americans in the early 19th century. Native American tribes, who had struck treaties with and fought alongside the burgeoning white population, were driven out of their ancestral lands. In the winter of 1838, thousands of Cherokee were forced to embark on a brutal 1,000-mile march westward known as The Trail of Tears. This injustice resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, many of whom had little or no clothing, shoes, or supplies for such a journey.

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Go! Go!

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From across the intersection, I watched as a car hesitated when the traffic light turned green. Then, out of nowhere, a voice began screaming, “Go! Go! Come on, go!” The driver appeared frightened by the angry cries, and he was a bit confused as to where the voice was coming from. Then I saw it—the car behind him was equipped with a loudspeaker that enabled him to yell at other drivers! Eventually, the hesitant driver collected himself and moved along. I was struck by the rudeness and impatience of the angry driver.

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Barriers And Blessings

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What did Jesus see when He looked at the woman at the well in John 4? He saw someone who wanted acceptance and desperately needed to know she was loved. Most of all, He saw someone who needed what only He could give—a new heart.

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We Need Hope

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Adam and Eve didn’t need hope because they didn’t lack anything they needed. And they had every reason to think that life would go on as pleasantly as it started—with every good thing that God had given them to enjoy. But they put it all at risk for the one thing the serpent said that God had withheld: the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17; 3:5). So when the serpent came with his offer, Eve was quick to indulge, and Adam quick to follow (3:6). They got what they wanted: knowledge. But they lost what they had: innocence. With the loss of innocence came the need for hope—hope that their guilt and shame could be removed and goodness restored.

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A Life Of Honor

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In 2010, my brothers and I cele- brated our dad’s 90th birthday. We hosted an open house with great food and fellowship. In the living room, family and friends took up banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, and Irish drum to play and sing all afternoon. A big cake was prepared with this written on it in frosting: “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord—Psalm 112:1. Happy 90th birthday, Hal.”

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Love Finds A Way

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Years ago I saw a cartoon that depicted a sour, disgruntled, elderly gentleman standing in rumpled pajamas and robe at his apartment door. He had just secured the door for the night with four locks, two deadbolts, and a chain latch. Later he noticed a small white envelope stuck beneath the door. On the envelope was a large sticker in the shape of a heart. It was a valentine. Love had found a way.

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Even Her?

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Imagine looking through your fam- ily tree and finding this description of your ancestor: “A prostitute, she harbored enemies of the government in her house. When she was confronted by the authorities, she lied about it.”

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A Fresh Glimpse Of Glory

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Every summer, thousands of Good Morning America viewers cast their votes to select “The Most Beautiful Place in America.” I was delighted when the winner for 2011 was announced—Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in my home state of Michigan. Admittedly, I didn’t expect the winning location to be in my own backyard. It reminded me of the time my wife, Martie, and I visited Niagara Falls. A man nearby watched our tourist behavior and quipped, “Ain’t nothin’ to it. I see it every day.”

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Love We Can Trust

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Perhaps the most painful statement a person can hear is, “I don’t love you anymore.” Those words end relationships, break hearts, and shatter dreams. Often, people who have been betrayed guard themselves against future pain by deciding not to trust anyone’s love again. That settled conviction may even include the love of God.

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Before The Beginning

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When he was a teenager, my son asked me one of those questions that make you earn your pay as a parent. “Dad,” Steve inquired, “if God has existed for eternity, what was He doing before He created the universe?”

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No More; No Less

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Recently I was reading about how easy it is to mishandle the message of the Bible. We may try to make it support what we already believe is true instead of allowing it to speak to us with God’s intended message. Some people use the Bible to defend one side of an issue, while others use the Bible to attack that same issue. Both quote Scripture to support their views, but both can’t be right.

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