Flowers Springing Up in the Rain

In the past couple of years I have learned more about cemeteries than I would ever have cared to know. I have learned about purchasing plots and commissioning monuments. I have learned about proper etiquette and how different cultures relate to their dearly departed in very different ways. I have learned that a grave offers a place to go to grieve and, as importantly, a place to leave grief behind for a time. One thing we learned quickly is that …

Seven Steps To a Good Breakup

Not every relationship works out. Not every couple who begins dating ends up getting married. Neither should they. In fact, for a dating relationship to be healthy, there must be a way out. As Sam Andreades says, “If you are not able to end a dating relationship, you should never start one.” And so, “Before the day you say I do, you always have to be able to say, I don’t. In your heart, you must be able to not …

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What the Canyon Echoed Back

He told me of a day he had awoken sick in his heart, sick in his soul. He didn’t know what to think, he didn’t know what to do, he didn’t know what to believe. After all those years of marriage, all those years of joy, all those years of living life together, his wife had gone to heaven and he had been left on earth. Though days and weeks had passed, still he was in the depths of despair. …

Prayers To Pray While You Preach, Lead, and Sing

Those who preach or lead during corporate worship services will probably be familiar with the strange phenomenon of having multiple “tracks” playing in your mind at once. Even as you preach the sermon or lead the songs, your mind may be flitting about from the distraction of a crying baby to the fear that you will flub your lines to the idolatrous hope that your listeners will be wowed by your skill. It’s for this reason that it is wise …

What a Wonder Is a Human Being!

I gently lift the baby from his cradle and hold him gingerly in my arms. He wiggles, he kicks, he grunts, and then, settling for just a moment, he seems to gaze at me inquisitively. I look at his little hands as they grasp my thumb and I wonder: What blessings will come to others through these hands? Will they one day hold a scalpel to heal the sick or one day hold a Bible to preach the truth? What …

A Tragedy at Sea

I once read of a terrible tragedy at sea, a shipwreck in which many were swept into the ocean and lost. As the ship foundered and splintered, as first the lower decks and then the upper succumbed to the winds and the waves, most of the passengers sank into the depths. But still fighting for their lives were a father and son who had been traveling together from the Old World to the New. As the ship slipped lower and …

Not a Lack of Food, But a Lack of Hunger

I was once told of a woman who lived in a cold-weather climate. She suffered from poor health and this in a part of the world where she could not easily get the nutrition she needed. Doctors suggested she travel to the tropics where the setting might be more conducive to a recovery. A few weeks after her departure she wrote to a friend to say, “This is a wonderful spot where I have access to all the good and …

The Beauty of Duty

In former days Christians spoke often of duty. Though they most certainly delighted in God and were eager to foster and increase that delight, they tended to do so by way of duty. They examined their lives to determine what duties God was calling them to and audited their lives to determine if they were fulfilling them. They longed to be dutiful in devotion, dutiful in obedience, dutiful in every responsibility and every role. They believed that from their duty …

The Thing About Light and Momentary

They are words that can be tremendously encouraging or tremendously discouraging. Said at the wrong time or in the wrong spirit they can compound hurt, but said at the right time and in the right spirit they can be a cool drink on a hot day, a soothing balm on a sore wound. They are the words “light and momentary.” As the Apostle suffered physically and spiritually, as he spoke of the outer self wasting away, he proclaimed “this light …

Before You Pack Up and Leave…

Every one of us has become familiar with the pattern. Every one of us has seen church members becoming dissatisfied and then disgruntled, missing church occasionally and then consistently. Every one of us has seen the pattern and begun to dread the nearly-inevitable conclusion. This is especially discouraging when the reason for the departure is not an area of essential theological disagreement but something much more common and much less important—hurt feelings, petty squabbles, matters of preference. This pattern is …