Archives

Victory Over Death!

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

An ancient painting I saw recently made a deep impression on me. Its title, Anastasis, means “resurrection,” and it depicts the triumph of Christ’s victory over death in a stunning way. The Lord Jesus, newly emerged from the tomb, is pulling Adam and Eve out of their coffins to eternal life. What is so amazing about this artwork is the way it shows how spiritual and physical death, the result of the fall, were dramatically reversed by the risen Christ.

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Easter Every Day

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

A friend of mine, who is a preschool teacher, overheard an animated conversation among her students. Little Maria threw out the question: “Who loves God?” All of them responded, “I do! I do! I do!” Billy said, “I love Jesus.” Kelly protested, “But He died.” Billy said, “Yeah, but every Easter He rises from the dead!”

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The Spotlight

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

I’ll never forget the Easter Sunday in 1993 when Bernhard Langer won the Masters golf tournament. As he stepped off the 18th green to receive the green jacket—one of golf’s most coveted prizes—a reporter said, “This must be the greatest day of your life!” Without missing a beat, Langer replied: “It’s wonderful to win the greatest tournament in the world, but it means more to win on Easter Sunday—to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior.”

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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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All Kinds Of Help

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

In the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, many people have felt strongly compelled to help. Some donated blood for the injured, some provided free lunches and coffee at their restaurants for workers. Others wrote letters of comfort or just gave hugs. Some sent gifts of money and teddy bears for the children; others offered counseling. People found ways to serve according to their personalities, abilities, and resources.

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Joining The Family

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

Maurice Griffin was adopted when he was 32 years old. He had lived with Lisa and Charles Godbold 20 years earlier as a foster child. Although Maurice was now a man living on his own, adoption had been what the family and he had always longed for. Once they were reunited and the adoption was official, Maurice commented, “This is probably the happiest moment in my life. . . . I’m happy to be home.”

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Spoonful Of Sugar

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? I know this sounds as if I’m longing for the good old days when cheerfully unrealistic movies featured characters like this fictional nanny, but what I’m really longing for are people with a vision for the future that is realistically optimistic. I yearn for joyful, creative people who can show us the positive side of what we consider negative, who can remind us that “just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

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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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Determination

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

During a television news report on the plight of refugees displaced from a war-torn country, I was struck by the words of a 10-year-old girl. Despite there being little possibility of returning to their home, she showed a resilient spirit: “When we go back, I’m going to visit my neighbors; I’m going to play with my friends,” she said with quiet determination. “My father says we don’t have a house. And I said we are going to fix it.”

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New Beginnings

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

New beginnings are possible. Just ask Brayan, a young man who joined a gang in elementary school. Brayan ran away when he was 12 years old, and for 3 years was lost in gang and drug life. Although he left the gang and returned home, it was difficult for him, as he had been expelled from school for selling drugs. When he enrolled in a new high school, however, a teacher inspired and encouraged him to write about his experiences rather than repeat them. He embraced the challenge and is now experiencing a fresh start.

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“Isn’t God Powerful!”

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

One day, my 3-year-old granddaughter Katie surprised her mom and dad with a bit of theological expertise. She said to them, “You both had sisters who died. Then God took them up to heaven to be with Him. Isn’t God powerful!”

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Left Side Of The Road

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

Growing up in the US, I always thought it interesting that in some countries motorists drive on the left side of the road instead of the right. Then, when I was in England, I heard a London tour guide explain one possible reason for this law: “In the 1800s, pedestrians as well as horse-and-carriages used the same roads. When a carriage was on the right side of the road, a driver’s horse whip would sometimes hit a passerby. To remove this hazard, a law was passed requiring all carriages to travel on the left side of the road so the pedestrians could be kept safe.”

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Loved To Love

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life was at risk every day he stayed in Hitler’s Germany, but he stayed nonetheless. I imagine he shared the apostle Paul’s view that being in heaven was his heart’s desire, but staying where he was needed was God’s present purpose (Phil. 1:21). So stay he did; as a pastor he offered clandestine worship services and resisted the evil regime under Hitler.

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Getting Beyond Ourselves

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

I have one of those friends who seems to be better than I am at just about everything. He is smarter; he thinks more deeply; and he knows where to find better books to read. He is even a better golfer. Spending time with him challenges me to become a better, more thoughtful person. His standard of excellence spurs me on to greater things.

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Strawberry Mess

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

My husband and I had recently moved into our house when a man dropped off a large box of strawberries on our front sidewalk. He left a note saying he wanted us to share them with our neighbors. He meant well, but some children discovered the box before any adults did and had a strawberry-throwing party at our white house. When we returned home, we saw children we knew watching us from behind a fence. They had “returned to the scene of the crime” to see how we would react to the mess. We could have just cleaned it up ourselves, but to restore our relationship, we felt it was important to talk with them and require their help in cleaning our strawberry-stained house.

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Choose Life

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

What is God’s will for my life? The question haunted me when I was growing up. What if I couldn’t find it? What if I didn’t recognize it? God’s will seemed like a needle in a haystack. Hidden. Obscured by lookalikes. Outnumbered by counterfeits.

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Not Counting

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

The play Amadeus tells of a composer in the 18th century seeking to understand the mind of God. The devout Antonio Salieri has the earnest desire, but not the aptitude, to create immortal music. It infuriates him that God has instead lavished the greatest of musical genius ever known on the impish Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Check The Oil

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

When I helped our daughters learn to drive, I included a little instruction on basic auto maintenance. We visited a local service station where they learned to check the oil every time they put fuel in the car. Today, years later, they often remind me of my six-word slogan, “Oil is cheap; engines are expensive.” Adding a quart of oil is nothing compared to replacing an engine.

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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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You’ve Got A Friend

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

One of the ironic consequences of the sweeping growth of social media is that we often find ourselves more personally isolated. One online article warns: “Those who oppose leading one’s life primarily or exclusively online claim that virtual friends are not adequate substitutes for real-world friends, and . . . individuals who substitute virtual friends for physical friends become even lonelier and more depressive than before.”

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Free Tomatoes

Our Daily Bread Cover April 2014

Packing groceries into the trunk of my car, I glanced at the vehicle next to me. Through the back window, I could see baskets full of bright red tomatoes—shiny, plump, and better looking than any I had seen in the store. When the car’s owner appeared seconds later, I said, “What great looking tomatoes!” She replied, “I had a good crop this year. Would you like some?” Surprised by her willingness to share, I gladly accepted. She gave me several free tomatoes to take home—they tasted as good as they looked!

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Bottled Water Binge

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Here in the United States, we’ve been on a bottled water binge for a number of years. Even though most people have a safe supply of water that is free and readily available from faucets and drinking fountains, they still purchase bottled water. Choosing to pay for something that I can enjoy at no cost doesn’t make sense to me, but some people believe that a product they pay for is superior to anything they receive free.

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Blessed Are The Meek

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

One problem with the English word meek is that it rhymes with weak, and people have linked the two words together for years. A popular dictionary offers a secondary definition of meek as “too submissive; easily imposed on; spineless; spiritless.” This causes some people to question why Jesus would say, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

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A Better World

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

In one of my favorite Peanuts cartoons featuring Charlie Brown, the always confident Lucy declares, “How could the world be getting worse with me in it? Ever since I was born the world has shown a distinct improvement!”

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Waiting . . .

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Day after day for years Harry shared with the Lord his concern for his son-in-law John who had turned away from God. But then Harry died. A few months later, John turned back to God. When his mother-in-law Marsha told him that Harry had been praying for him every day, John replied, “I waited too long.” But Marsha joyfully shared: “The Lord is still answering the prayers Harry prayed during his earthly life.”

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The Link To Life

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

By the time he was 16, Morris Frank (1908–1980) had lost his sight in both eyes. Several years later, he traveled to Switzerland where he met Buddy, the canine who would help to inspire Frank’s involvement with the Seeing Eye guide-dog school.

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Out Of Chaos

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Everything I observe makes me believe this is true: Order is not natural. When I consider my office, I’m astounded at how quickly it descends into chaos and how long it takes me to restore order. Order requires intervention; it does not happen naturally.

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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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Gentle Witness

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Years ago, I was hospitalized following a life-threatening, 38-foot fall from a bridge. While I was there, the wife of the man in the next bed stopped to speak to me. “My husband just told me what happened to you,” she said. “We believe God spared your life because He wants to use you. We’ve been praying for you.”

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Promoting Unity

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

The language of Proverbs 6:16-19 is strong. In the citing of seven things the Lord hates, sowing “discord among brethren” makes the list. The reason for naming this sin is that it spoils the unity that Christ desires for His followers (John 17:21-22).

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Coming Soon!

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

A “COMING SOON!” announcement often precedes future events in entertainment and sports, or the launch of the latest technology. The goal is to create anticipation and excitement for what is going to happen, even though it may be months away.

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Still Working

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Vivian and Don are in their mid-90s and have been married more than 70 years. Recently Vivian suffered a setback when she broke her hip. This has been additionally difficult because for several years both Don and Vivian have been saddened by the realization that they are no longer strong enough to be active in the life and work of their church.

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Misplaced Love

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Martin Lindstrom, an author and speaker, thinks that cellphones have become akin to a best friend for many owners. Lindstrom’s experiment using an MRI helped him discover why. When the subjects saw or heard their phone ringing, their brains fired off neurons in the area associated with feelings of love and compassion. Lindstrom said, “It was as if they were in the presence of a girlfriend, boyfriend, or family member.”

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Heaven Rejoices!

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Joann had been raised in a Christian home. But when she went to college, she began to question her beliefs and walked away from God. After graduation, she traveled to a number of countries, always looking for happiness but never feeling satisfied. While experiencing some difficulties, she recognized that God was pursuing her and that she needed Him.

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Sweet Fragrance

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Some scents are unforgettable. Recently, my husband mentioned he was running low on shaving cream. “I’ll pick some up,” I offered. “Can you get this kind?” he asked, showing me the can. “I love the smell—it’s the kind my dad always used.” I smiled, recalling the time I had been momentarily taken back to my childhood when I got a whiff of the same shampoo my mom used to wash my hair. For both Tom and me, the fragrances had brought an emotional response and pleasant memory of people we loved who were no longer around.

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Perspective From The Clouds

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

In 1927 the silent film Wings, a World War I film about two American aviators, won the first Academy Award for Best Picture. When it was being filmed, production stopped for several days. Frustrated producers asked the director why. He responded: “All we have is blue sky. The conflict in the air will not be as visible without clouds. Clouds bring perspective.” He was right. Only by seeing aerial combat with clouds as a backdrop could the viewer see what was really going on.

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Heart Food

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

I love food! I love to see it beautifully presented, and I love to savor the taste. If it were up to me, I would eat more often than I should—although it wouldn’t help my waistline! So, it’s a good thing my wife, Martie, knows when to lovingly remind me to eat healthful foods in the right amount.

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Job Titles

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

When the British Broadcasting Corporation asked for examples of important-sounding, obscure, and even bizarre job titles, one writer offered hers: Underwater Ceramic Technician. She was a dishwasher at a restaurant. Sometimes titles are used to make a job sound more important.

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Prone To Wander

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

One of my favorite classic hymns is “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” which was written in 1757 by 22-year-old Robert Robinson. In the hymn’s lyrics is a line that always captures my attention and forces me to do some self-evaluation. The line says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I feel that way sometimes. Too often I find myself distracted and drifting, instead of having my heart and mind focused on the Savior who loves me and gave Himself for me. Robert Robinson and I are not alone in this.

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Without Power

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

In late October 2012, a hurricane-spawned superstorm struck the heavily populated northeastern US, leaving massive flooding and destruction in its wake. During the storm, more than 8 million customers lost electricity. Power outages alone caused shortages of food, fuel, and water, along with the chaos of gridlocked transportation. The howling winds and surging waters left many neighborhoods crushed, flooded, and choked with mountains of sand. Media coverage of the event reported: “Millions Without Power.”

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The Golden Rule

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

The concept of The Golden Rule—treat others as you would like to be treated—appears in many religions. So what makes Jesus’ version of the saying so exceptional?

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The Silent Pen

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Former US President Harry Truman had a rule: Any letters written in anger had to sit on his desk for 24 hours before they could be mailed. If at the end of that “cooling off” period, he still felt the same sentiments, he would send the letter. By the end of his life, Truman’s unmailed letters filled a large desk drawer.

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Make It Personal

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

During my days as a teacher and coach at a Christian high school, I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with teenagers, trying to guide them to a purposeful, Christlike life—characterized by love for God and love for others. My goal was to prepare them to live for God throughout life. That would happen only as they made their faith a vital part of life through the help of the Holy Spirit. Those who didn’t follow Christ floundered after they left the influence of Christian teachers and parents.

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Dressed To Deceive

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Hiking in the mountains of Utah, Coty Creighton spotted a goat that didn’t look like the rest of the herd. A closer look revealed that the unusual animal was actually a man dressed as a goat. When authorities contacted the man, he described his costume as a painter’s suit covered in fleece, and he said he was testing his disguise for a hunting trip.

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Transforming Power

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Many people love to play games that test their knowledge. Recently, a colleague and I were testing a Bible-knowledge game. Since we were seated in an open area of our office, those nearby could hear our conversation. Soon questions ranging from Noah’s ark to the woman at the well were being answered by those within earshot of us. It was a delight to hear various staff members volunteering responses to Bible questions.

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Not Lost In Translation

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to teach the Bible to many people around the world. Because I can speak only English, I often work with interpreters who can take the words of my heart and translate them into the language of the people. Effective communication is directly dependent upon the skill of these translators. Whether it is Inawaty in Indonesia, Annie in Malaysia, or Jean in Brazil, they ensure that the meaning of my words is clearly expressed.

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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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Me And Dad

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

A friend once spent a day installing large stone steps in his backyard. When his 5-year-old daughter begged to help, he suggested she just sing to encourage him in his work. She said no. She wanted to help. Carefully, when it would not endanger her, he let her place her hands on the rocks as he moved them.

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No More Prejudice

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

A 2010 survey by Newsweek contained some startling statistics: 57 percent of hiring managers believe an unattractive (but qualified) job candidate would have a harder time getting hired; 84 percent of managers said their bosses would hesitate before hiring a qualified older candidate; 64 percent of hiring managers said they believe companies should be allowed to hire people based on appearance. All are clear examples of unacceptable prejudice.

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Instant Gratification

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

When the Polaroid SX-70 camera was introduced in 1972, it revolutionized photography. An article by Owen Edward in Smithsonian magazine described the camera as “a miracle of physics, optics and electronics.” When a photo was snapped, “a blank square would emerge from the front of the camera and develop before our eyes.” People were sold on speedy, immediate results.

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Jesus’ Love For All

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

It was a bit unusual, but three times in one day I heard the same song. In the early afternoon, I attended a hymnsing at a home for the elderly. As part of her prayer at the end of our time together, Willie, one of the residents, said, “Sing with me, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’” In the evening, I attended a gathering with young people who sang it while pounding out the beat with their hands and feet. Later that evening, I received a text message on my phone with an audio recording of my 2 1/2-year-old grandniece with a sweet little voice, singing, “I am weak, but He is strong.” People in their nineties, teenagers, and a toddler all sang that song that day.

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Sunrise

Our Daily Bread Cover March 2014

There was a magnificent sunrise this morning, but I was too busy to enjoy it. I turned away and became preoccupied with other things. I thought about that sunrise a few moments ago, and I realize I lost an opportunity for worship this morning.

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Big Spring

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a remarkable natural wonder—a pool about 40 feet deep and 300 feet across that Native Americans called “Kitch-iti-kipi,” or “the big cold water.” Today it is known as The Big Spring. It is fed by underground springs that push more than 10,000 gallons of water a minute through the rocks below and up to the surface. Additionally, the water keeps a constant temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning that even in the brutally cold winters of the Upper Peninsula the pool never freezes. Tourists can enjoy viewing the waters of Big Spring during any season of the year.

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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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“Lie Down”

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Our golden retriever can get so overly excited that he will go into a seizure. To prevent that from happening, we try to calm him. We stroke him, speak to him in a soothing voice, and tell him to lie down. But when he hears “lie down,” he avoids eye contact with us and starts complaining. Finally, with a dramatic sigh of resignation, he gives in and plops to the floor.

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Empty Fort Strategy

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

In the Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, author Luo Guanzhong describes the “Empty Fort Strategy,” a use of reverse psychology to deceive the enemy. When 150,000 troops from the Wei Kingdom reached Xicheng, which had less than 2,500 soldiers, they found the city gate wide open and the famous military tactician Zhuge Liang calmly playing the zither with two children beside him. The Wei general, baffled by the scene and believing it was an ambush, ordered a full retreat.

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Limitless Love

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Recently, a friend sent me the history of a hymn that I often heard in church when I was a boy:

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Bolt On Blake

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake of Jamaica made history when they finished first and second respectively in both the men’s 100-meter and 200-meter race in the 2012 London Olympics. Despite their rivalry on the track, Bolt paid tribute to Blake as a training partner: “Over the years, Yohan has made me a better athlete. He really pushed me and kept me on my toes.” It’s clear that the two spurred each other on to greatness on the track.

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Tell It On The Mountain

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

I was surprised to see a nationally distributed news article commending a group of teenage snowboarders who hold weekly church services on a Colorado ski slope. In the Summit Daily News, Kimberly Nicoletti’s story captured a wide audience with her account of teens who love to snowboard and to tell how Jesus changed their lives. Undergirding the teenagers is a Christian youth organization equipping them to demonstrate God’s love.

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Covering Sinkholes

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

In late May 2010, tropical storm Agatha hit Central America, producing torrential rains and landslides. Once it finished its course, a 200-foot-deep sinkhole opened in downtown Guatemala City. This sinkhole caused the ground to collapse suddenly, sucking land, electrical poles, and a 3-story building into the depths of the earth.

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The Eleventh Hour

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

World War I has been ranked by many as one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Millions lost their lives in the first global modern war. On November 11, 1918, a ceasefire was observed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. During that historic moment, millions around the world observed moments of silence while they reflected upon the war’s terrible cost—the loss of life and suffering. It was hoped that “the Great War,” as it was called, would truly be “the war that would end all wars.”

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Helpers Needed

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

To some people, the term helper carries with it second-class connotations. Classroom helpers assist trained teachers in their classes. Helpers assist trained electricians, plumbers, and lawyers on the job. Because they aren’t as skilled in the profession, they might be viewed as having less value. But everyone is needed to accomplish the task.

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On Listening

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason,” the saying goes. The ability to listen is an essential life skill. Counselors tell us to listen to each other. Spiritual leaders tell us to listen to God. But hardly anyone says, “Listen to yourself.” I’m not suggesting that we have an inner voice that always knows the right thing to say. Nor am I saying we should listen to ourselves instead of to God and others. I’m suggesting that we need to listen to ourselves in order to learn how others might be receiving our words.

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Why Cause Grief?

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Pastors make an easy target for criticism. Every week they are on display, carefully explaining God’s Word, challenging us toward Christlike living. But sometimes we look to find things to criticize. It’s easy to overlook all the good things a pastor does and focus on our personal opinions.

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The Great Creator-Healer

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

A few years ago, I had a rather serious skiing accident and severely tore the muscles in one of my legs. In fact, my doctor told me that the tear caused excessive bleeding. The healing process was slow, but during that time of waiting I found myself in awe of our great Creator (see Col. 1:16).

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True Love

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

During the rehearsal for my brother’s wedding ceremony, my husband snapped a picture of the bride and groom as they faced each other in front of the pastor. When we looked at the photograph later, we noticed that the camera’s flash had illuminated a metal cross in the background, which appeared as a glowing image above the couple.

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Character Or Reputation?

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden (1910–2010) believed that character is far more important than reputation. “Your reputation is what you’re perceived to be by others,” Coach Wooden often told his players, “but your character is what you really are. You’re the only one that knows your character. You can fool others, but you can’t fool yourself.”

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Hyperseeing

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Sculptors have a term for the artist’s ability to look at a rough piece of stone and see it in its final, perfected form. It is called “hyperseeing.”

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Where Our Fears Live

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Twelve years into our marriage, my wife and I were discouraged by the emotional roller-coaster of hopes raised and dashed in attempting to have children. A friend tried to “explain” God’s thinking. “Maybe God knows you’d be a bad father,” he said. He knew that my mother had struggled with a terrible temper.

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The Power Of Music

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

In Wales, the music of men’s chorus groups is deeply engrained in the culture. Prior to World War II, one Welsh glee club had a friendly yet competitive rivalry with a German glee club, but that bond was replaced with animosity during and after the war. The tension was gradually overcome, though, by the message on the trophy shared by the two choruses: “Speak with me, and you’re my friend. Sing with me, and you’re my brother.”

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Maintain Unity

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

A man stranded by himself on an island was finally discovered. His rescuers asked him about the three huts they saw there. He pointed and said, “This one is my home and that one is my church.” He then pointed to the third hut: “That was my former church.” Though we may laugh at the silliness of this story, it does highlight a concern about unity among believers.

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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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Who’s That Hero?

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Reading the book of Judges, with its battles and mighty warriors, can sometimes feel like reading about comic book superheroes. We have Deborah, Barak, Gideon, and Samson. However, in the line of judges (or deliverers), we also find Othniel.

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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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The Telltale Heart

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

Recently I read about a private investigator in the US who would knock on a door, show his badge to whoever answered, and say, “I guess we don’t have to tell you why we’re here.” Many times, the person would look stunned and say, “How did you find out?” then go on to describe an undiscovered criminal act committed long ago. Writing in Smithsonian magazine, Ron Rosenbaum described the reaction as “an opening for the primal force of conscience, the telltale heart’s internal monologue.”

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An Important Command

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

When asked by a lawyer to identify the most important rule in life, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). In those words, Jesus summed up what God most desires from us.

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Resolve To Resolve

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions since 1975. I haven’t needed any new ones—I’m still working on old ones like these: write at least a short note in my journal every day; make a strong effort to read my Bible and pray each day; organize my time; try to keep my room clean (this was before I had a whole house to keep clean).

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Guidance Needed

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

St. Nicholas Church in Galway, Ireland, has both a long history and an active present. It’s the oldest church in Ireland, and it provides guidance in a very practical way. The church towers over the town, and its steeple is used by ships’ captains as a guide for navigating their way safely into Galway Bay. For centuries, this church has reliably pointed the way home for sailors.

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Heard By God

Our Daily Bread Cover February 2014

After reading several children’s books with my daughter, I told her that I was going to read a grown-up book for a while and then we would look at books together again. I opened the cover and began to read in silence. A few minutes later, she looked at me doubtfully and said, “Mommy, you aren’t really reading.” She assumed that since I wasn’t speaking, I wasn’t processing the words.

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Buyer’s Remorse

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Have you ever experienced buyer’s remorse? I have. Just prior to making a purchase, I feel the surge of excitement that comes with getting something new. After buying the item, however, a wave of remorse sometimes crashes over me. Did I really need this? Should I have spent the money?

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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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Great Expectations

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

I once asked a counselor what the major issues were that brought people to him. Without hesitation he said, “The root of many problems is broken expectations; if not dealt with, they mature into anger and bitterness.”

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The Wonder Of The Cross

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

While visiting Australia, I had the opportunity on a particularly clear night to see the Southern Cross. Located in the Southern Hemisphere, this constellation is one of the most distinctive. Mariners and navigators began relying on it as early as the 15th century for direction and navigation through the seas. Although relatively small, it is visible throughout most of the year. The Southern Cross was so vivid on that dark night that even I could pick it out of the bundle of stars. It was truly a magnificent sight!

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The Discipline Of Waiting

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Waiting is hard. We wait in grocery lines, in traffic, in the doctor’s office. We twiddle our thumbs, stifle our yawns, and fret inwardly in frustration. On another level, we wait for a letter that doesn’t come, for a prodigal child to return, or for a spouse to change. We wait for a child we can hold in our arms. We wait for our heart’s desire.

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An Ordinary Day

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

While exploring a museum exhibit titled “A Day in Pompeii,” I was struck by the repeated theme that August 24, ad 79 began as an ordinary day. People were going about their daily business in homes, markets, and at the port of this prosperous Roman town of 20,000 people. At 8 a.m., a series of small emissions were seen coming from nearby Mount Vesuvius, followed by a violent eruption in the afternoon. In less than 24 hours, Pompeii and many of its people lay buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash. Unexpected.

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Where Have You Been?

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Missionary Egerton Ryerson Young served the Salteaux tribe in Canada in the 1700s. The chief of the tribe thanked Young for bringing the good news of Christ to them, noting that he was hearing it for the first time in his old age. Since he knew that God was Young’s heavenly Father, the chief asked, “Does that mean He is my Father too?” When the missionary answered, “Yes,” the crowd that had gathered around burst into cheers.

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Load Line

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

In the 19th century, ships were often recklessly overloaded, resulting in those ships going down and the crews being lost at sea. In 1875, to remedy this negligent practice, British politician Samuel Plimsoll led the charge for legislation to create a line on the side of a ship to show if it was carrying too much cargo. That “load line” became known as the Plimsoll Line, and it continues to mark the hulls of ships today.

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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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True Greatness

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Some people feel like a small pebble lost in the immensity of a canyon. But no matter how insignificant we judge ourselves to be, we can be greatly used by God.

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Two Men

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Two men were killed in our city on the same day. The first, a police officer, was shot down while trying to help a family. The other was a homeless man who was shot while drinking with friends early that day.

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All Spruced Up

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Getting our children to look good for church was always a challenge. Ten minutes after arriving at church all spruced up, our little Matthew would look like he didn’t have parents. I’d see him running down the hall with his shirt half untucked, glasses cockeyed, shoes scuffed up, and cookie crumbs decorating his clothes. Left to himself, he was a mess.

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Heavenly Perspective

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Fanny Crosby lost her sight as an infant. Yet, amazingly, she went on to become one of the most well-known lyricists of Christian hymns. During her long life, she wrote over 9,000 hymns. Among them are such enduring favorites as “Blessed Assurance” and “To God Be the Glory.”

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The Little Tent

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

During evangelist Billy Graham’s historic 1949 Los Angeles campaign, the big tent that held over 6,000 people was filled to overflowing every night for 8 weeks. Close by was a smaller tent set aside for counseling and prayer. Cliff Barrows, longtime music director and close friend and associate of Graham, has often said that the real work of the gospel took place in “the little tent,” where people gathered on their knees to pray before and during every evangelistic service. A local Los Angeles woman, Pearl Goode, was the heart of those prayer meetings and many that followed.

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Food In The Cupboard

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

My friend Marcia, the director of the Jamaica Christian School for the Deaf, recently illustrated an important way to look at things. In a newsletter article she titled “A Blessed Start,” she pointed out that for the first time in 7 years the school began the new year with a surplus. And what was that surplus? A thousand dollars in the bank? No. Enough school supplies for the year? No. It was simply this: A month’s supply of food in the cupboard.

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Sweet Rest

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

Try as we might—tossing, turning, fluffing the pillow, pounding the pillow—sometimes we just can’t fall asleep. After offering some good suggestions on how to get a better night’s sleep, a news article concluded that there really is no “right way” to sleep.

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Much More Than Survival

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

In April 1937, Mussolini’s invading armies forced all the missionaries serving in the Wallamo region to flee Ethiopia. They left behind just 48 Christian converts, who had little more than the gospel of Mark to feed their growth. Few even knew how to read. But when the missionaries returned 4 years later, the church had not just survived; it numbered 10,000!

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A Neighbor On The Fence

Our Daily Bread Cover January 2014

The fence around the side yard of our home was showing some wear and tear, and my husband, Carl, and I decided we needed to take it down before it fell down. It was pretty easy to disassemble, so we removed it quickly one afternoon. A few weeks later when Carl was raking the yard, a woman who was walking her dog stopped to give her opinion: “Your yard looks so much better without the fence. Besides, I don’t believe in fences.” She explained that she liked “community” and no barriers between people.

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