Archives

True Hospitality

Our Daily Bread Cover May 2013

In 1987, our family moved to California to take up the pastorate of a church in the Long Beach area. The day we flew into town, my secretary picked us up at the airport to take us to our house. As we pulled into traffic, the very first thing I saw was a bumper sticker that read: “Welcome To California . . . Now Go Home!” It was not exactly a warm and cheery welcome to sunny southern California!

Read More »

Looking And Learning

As an umpire stood behind the plate at a girls’ softball game, he heard a player’s mother start chanting: “We want a new ump! We want a new ump!” Soon, other parents took up the chant. The ump smiled, then turned toward the crowd and yelled, “I want new parents! I want new parents!” The heckling died away.

Read More »

Earthquake City

In his book A Crack in the Edge of the World, Simon Winchester writes of the small earthquake-prone town of Parkfield, California. Seeking to attract tourists, a hotel sign reads: “Sleep Here When It Happens.” A local restaurant menu features a large steak called “The Big One,” and desserts are called “Aftershocks.” But all humor aside, a real earthquake can be a terrifying experience. I know. I’ve lived through California earthquakes.

Read More »

Never Say “Never”

cover_201005

While a friend and I walked along the path of the former Berlin Wall, he told me, “This is one of those ‘never say never’ places in my life.” He explained that during the years when the Wall divided the city, he had made a dozen trips through Checkpoint Charlie to encourage members of the church living under continuing surveillance and opposition in East Germany. More than once, he had been detained, questioned, and harassed by the border guards.

Read More »

Day Of Good News

cover_201005

My Australian friend Graham wasn’t born blind. He was blinded by a freak accident at age 9. Yet he never felt sorry for himself. Wherever he went, he shared what Jesus Christ meant to him. His last trip was to Thailand as a practicing physiotherapist. Besides using his professional skills there, he wanted to share the gospel of Christ.

Read More »

Many People

cover_201004

New York City. Easter Sunday, 7:30 a.m. I was the only customer at Jimmy’s Diner in East Harlem when a man entered and approached my table. He said, “Good morning, and God bless you,” left a gospel tract, and quickly walked out. I smiled, appreciating his witness and realizing that God has His people everywhere. That night I attended church with our daughter Debbie, joining an enthusiastic congregation of 300 people, most in their twenties and thirties. Their infectious love for Christ and others was a bright light in a city that is often considered spiritually dark.

Read More »

United Goal

cover_2010032

The spotted owl has been disappearing in the US. Originally it was believed that old growth logging was its greatest threat. But research shows that one of the owl’s relatives may be the problem. For the past 15 years, the barred owl has been rapidly migrating westward. Barred owls, which used to live exclusively east of the Mississippi, compete for the same food as spotted owls but are more aggressive and adaptable.

Read More »

To The Rescue

cover_2010032

Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard the message of the saving grace of Jesus. The thought of reaching our world for Christ felt overwhelming.

Read More »

A Mutual Friend

cover_2010011

Imagine being a visitor in a foreign land, showing up unannounced at a gathering of people you have never met and who have never heard of you—and then being allowed to address that group just a few minutes later. That can happen only if something breaks down barriers— something like mutual friends.

Read More »

Sowing Seed With Tears

cover_200912

In our Bible-study class, we were reading Ephesians 4:17-24 out loud when Alyssa began to cry. Most of us were wondering why, when she quietly said, “I’m crying because hearing this passage read out loud makes me see the condition that lost people are in. They’re separated from God and are blind to it! That breaks my heart.”

Read More »

Ready To Speak

cover_200907

Lee Eclov and his wife were at a coffee shop in Estes Park, Colorado. At another table sat four men, one of whom was mocking Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus.

Read More »

A Powerful Message

cover_200906

Bible teacher Lehman Strauss was brought to Christ through the power of the Word when he was young. At his girlfriend’s suggestion, he read Romans 3:23, 5:8, and 10:13. As he did, he was convicted of his sin. He wept and believed.

Read More »

Waiting For The Harvest

cover_200902

In the book What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest? James Engel and Wilbert Norton illustrate on a graph how people often go through a series of preconversion stages before stepping over the line of faith and receiving Jesus as their Savior.

Read More »

Beyond Help?

cover_200901

A 110-year-old Israeli Bedouin shepherd was admitted to a Beersheba hospital while experiencing a heart attack. In spite of his age, doctors worked hard to save him. The man was thought to be the oldest heart patient ever to be treated successfully with anticlotting drugs. A hospital spokesperson reported that the Bedouin returned to his tent in the Negev Desert to tend his goats.

Read More »

That You May Know

cover_200809

One day, while Wim was in the marketplace in the Netherlands, he struck up a conversation with a woman who remarked that you can get to heaven by doing good works.

Read More »

What’s Your Story?

cover_200809

Every believer has a unique story of encountering Christ. Ann, a receptionist at RBC Ministries, told me that she has kept a journal for much of her life. She treasures the account she recorded about her conversion when she was 15. Here is an excerpt. “[I] went to see Billy Graham. I got saved! I’m very happy. . . . When I got saved I felt warmth in my heart.”

Read More »

True Teamwork

cover_200808

Sports brings out the best and the worst in people. The news media often focus on the worst. Those who comfort players with “It’s not whether you win or lose that counts; it’s how you play the game” seldom make world news. But once in a while they do.

Read More »

True Trust

cover_200805

If you didn’t know him, you might think Nick Vujicic has everything going for him. Nick has never had a sore arm. He’s never had knee problems. He’s never smashed his finger in a door, stubbed his toe, or banged his shin against a table leg.

Read More »

A Personal Gospel

cover_200804

In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world.” But what about His love for individuals? The rest of the verse reveals the central purpose behind God’s sacrifice of His Son: “That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Therefore, without exception, every person may interpret John 3:16 like this: “For God so loved me!”

Read More »

The Oyster Man

cover_200804

In the days of John Wesley, lay preachers with limited education would sometimes conduct the church services. One man used Luke 19:21 as his text: “Lord, I feared Thee, because Thou art an austere man” (KJV). Not knowing the word austere, he thought the text spoke of “an oyster man.”

Read More »

Too Old?

cover_200711

God has limitless ways of reaching people. So if you feel that you don’t have the ability to reach others for Christ, think about 76-year-old Ethel Hatfield. Desiring to serve her Lord, she asked her pastor if she could teach a Sunday school class. He informed her that he thought she was too old! She went home heavy-hearted and disappointed.

Read More »

The Casket And The Jewel

cover_200710

Canadian minister John Gladstone has made a compelling application of a sad episode in the life of Isaac Watts. That famous English hymnwriter fell in love with a beautiful young woman, Elizabeth Singer. She admired his poetry, his mind, and his spirit, but for all her admiration she could not overcome her revulsion at his appearance.

Read More »

The Lingo

cover_200708

What do teenagers mean when they say they’re “chillaxin”? (They’re chilling and relaxing.) What if they ask for some “cheddar”? (That’s cash.) If a teen likes someone’s new clothes, he might just say, “money,” meaning cool. Teenagers have their own lingo that some of us might not understand, and it seems to be always changing.

Read More »

Beautiful Feet

cover_200708

Recently, I met the man who introduced me to Jesus 35 years ago. Warren Wiersbe, former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago and Bible teacher for the Back to the Bible ministry, had preached the gospel at a Bible conference in 1972. It was the first time I heard the good news of God’s love for me as shown in Jesus’ death on the cross. The Spirit opened my eyes and heart that night, and I received Jesus Christ as my Savior (John 1:12).

Read More »

Just Be Yourself

cover_200706

For those of us who don’t have the spiritual gift of evangelism, the word witness can stir up some unpleasant memories or paralyzing anxieties. In fact, I’ve sometimes felt like a complete failure when I tried to follow methods that were designed to make witnessing easier.

Read More »

The Waggle Dance

cover_200705

How do bees lead one another to nectar? Scientists say it’s all about the “waggle” dance. The theory was regarded with skepticism when it was first proposed by Nobel Prize-winning zoologist Karl von Frisch in the 1960s. But now, researchers in the United Kingdom have used tiny radar responders attached to worker bees to support von Frisch’s theory. They’ve confirmed that the bee orients its body toward the food source and uses the intensity of its waggle dance to signal the distance to other bees.

Read More »

Indebted

cover_200704

The film Saving Private Ryan, though disturbingly graphic, tells the gripping story of a World War II rescue squad sent to bring a soldier out of harm’s way. One by one the squad members are killed—sacrificed for the life of Private James Ryan. Finally, mortally wounded and near death, the squad leader calls young James close and simply says, “Earn this.” Men had given their lives to save Private Ryan, and he needed to embrace the sense of indebtedness such sacrifice should engender. Ryan owed his life to those who had rescued him.

Read More »

Speak Up!

cover_200704

If you’re like most people, you think that when God does something important, He uses important people to get it done—people like John Stott, Billy Graham, or Joni Eareckson Tada. The rest of us just fill space until Jesus comes. But that’s not true.

Read More »

Rescue And Response

cover_200703

The sign outside Dave James’ shop in Seattle, Washington, says more about getting your life repaired than it does about fixing your vacuum cleaner, but Dave is in business to do both. The top line of the sign is always the same: Free Bibles Inside. The second line changes and features thoughts such as: Surrender Your Heart for a Brand-New Start.

Read More »

Knock, Knock

cover_2007021

A knock came at the door of the home of a man who had a young family. When the father answered the door, he was greeted by someone he had never met—a friendly man from a nearby church who had stopped by to say hello.

Read More »

Silent Witness

cover_200701

On a beautiful, warm January morning, a colleague and I were having breakfast in an outdoor coffee shop at MacRitchie Reservoir Park in Singapore. With a beautiful lake and immaculate gardens surrounding us and a light breeze blowing across the water, the setting was quiet, calm, and lovely.

Read More »

The Heart Of Christ

cover_200610

I was filling out an online survey when I came to this question: “What is something that is true about you that most people would not guess?” The answer is that I am very sentimental. I get choked up at the movies when the violins start to swell, eyes fill with tears, and the boy finds his long-lost dog—or something comparable. I’m just a softie when it comes to those things.

Read More »

Mixing-Bowl Musings

cover_200609

Countless times I’ve heard myself say, “I’m going to bake a cake.” Then one day I realized that I’ve never baked a cake in my life—only my oven can do that. I simply mix the right ingredients and allow the oven to do its part. Through that division of labor, I have the joy of seeing others taste and enjoy delicious cake.

Read More »

Common Ground

cover_200609

Roman emperors are not generally remembered for their wisdom, but there are a few exceptions. One great thinker was Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome from AD 161 to 180. Gifted with a brilliant mind, he was one of the great intellectual rulers in Western civilization.

Read More »

Between Sundays

cover_200609

Most Christians are not engaged in professional ministry. They don’t preach or sing or work for an evangelistic agency. Their time between Sundays is spent doing jobs that don’t seem to have value for the spread of the gospel. Therefore, some believers may view themselves as second-class disciples.

Read More »

He Wanted To

cover_200607

In his book Love Is Now, Peter Gilquist mentioned that he and several other friends were invited to speak to a group of UCLA students. After the meeting, a young man expressed a desire to discuss the matter of salvation. So Gilquist arranged to meet with him the next morning.

Read More »

A Servant’s Heart

cover_200602

George Washington Carver is well known as an African-American scientist who developed scores of products from the peanut. Dr. Carver was also a humble servant of God who took every opportunity to speak to others about the Savior he loved and served.

Read More »

Joy Over One

cover_200511

Many Christians have succumbed to the false notion that their witness to one individual doesn’t count for much. But that certainly isn’t supported by what we read in the Gospels. Even though Jesus’ public ministry was limited to a little more than 3 years, He was never too busy to deal with one person at a time.

Read More »

Just Watch

cover_200507

The young boy looked up at his grandfather and wondered aloud, “Grandpa, how do you live for Jesus?” The respected grandfather stooped down and quietly told the boy, “Just watch.”

Read More »

Eyewitness

cover_200506

“You don’t want to interview me for your television program,” the man told me. “You need someone who is young and photogenic, and I’m neither.” I replied that we indeed wanted him because he had known C. S. Lewis, the noted author and the subject of our documentary. “Sir,” I said, “when it comes to telling the story of a person’s life, there is no substitute for an eyewitness.”

Read More »

Let It Shine

cover_200504

As a young boy, I enjoyed singing hymns in church like “Throw Out the Lifeline” and “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning,” which used images of shipwreck and danger at sea to illustrate our spiritual responsibility to others. But living in landlocked Oklahoma I had never seen the ocean, and my nautical experience was limited to sailing matchbox boats on mud puddles. I knew the words but had little concept of how to rescue a “fainting, struggling seaman.”

Read More »

Go Home And Tell

cover_200504

Two young men had been friends from childhood. One was a Christian, the other was not. The second man was about to embark on a long ocean voyage, and the believer felt the urge to speak to him about Christ before he left. “I’ll do it on the way to the dock,” he promised himself. But when they reached the dock, he still hadn’t done so.

Read More »

Tight Lines

cover_200501

Fishermen sometimes bestow this blessing on one another: “May you keep a tight line,” by which we mean, “May you always have a trout on your line.”

Read More »

Social Stomachs

cover_200501

Honey ants survive in difficult times by depending on certain members of their group known as “honey pots.” They take in so much nectar that they swell up until they resemble little round berries, hardly able to move. When food and water become scarce, these ants act as “social stomachs” and sustain the entire colony by dispensing what they have stored in their own bodies.

Read More »

Will you tell them?

cover_200501

John, a friend of mine, was once addicted to drugs. Several times he nearly died. He was a broken man when he entered the Christian rehabilitation program that my husband and I established. By the end of the program, John had become a Christian.

Read More »

A Witness Of Hope

cover_200401

As a child growing up in the former Soviet Union, Nickolas was the only one in his school who refused to join the political group for young people. Because of his faith in God, he was singled out for ridicule, given bad grades he did not deserve, and denied a recommendation to the university. Despite the opposition, he persisted, and in later years he led some of his persecutors to trust in Jesus Christ. Now he is the pastor of a thriving church in Belarus.

Read More »

Unlikely Servants

cover_200308

We often hear people say things like: “I’m only a housewife.” “I’m only a janitor.” “I’m only an average student.”

Read More »

A Good Name

cover_200305

On Memorial Day in the United States, thousands of people visit cemeteries and monuments to remember and honor their loved ones. They ponder a name carved in stone and recall the person for whom it stands.

Read More »

The Man Nobody Missed

cover_200305

A man told me that his oldest brother had died. When I expressed surprise that I had not heard the news already, he said, “We never had it announced in any way. He cared about nobody and nobody cared about him.”

Read More »

Just A Messenger

cover_200301

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s restaurants, appeared in more than 800 television commercials. He offered his homespun humor and “old-fashioned hamburgers” to a worldwide audience. Viewers saw him as friendly, funny, believable, and caring. In spite of his popularity, though, Thomas always said he was “the messenger, not the message.”

Read More »

Tuned In

cover_200211

One of my sons was a master at tuning out what he didn’t want to hear. In church, his mind was a million miles away. He could tell you the number of panels in the ceiling and how many seats were in the choir loft. Many times I heard my wife say to him in the midst of a scolding, “Are you listening to me?”

Read More »