Archives

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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