Episodes
Published 02/27/24
Time is an uncomfortable reality, isn’t it? Like clothing, time rarely seems to fit just right. Sometimes we want to rush toward a longed-for event or a new stage of life. Or, we can’t wait for a trial to end. Other times we cry for the clock to stop. We’d like time to stand still so we can just sit and savor. For centuries, philosophers and theologians have argued that we are uneasy with time because we weren’t created to be caged by it. Our hearts were made for more. Jesus promised eternal...
Published 02/27/24
Perhaps the greatest longing of the human heart is to be loved—to be cherished, cared for, and admired. As we reflect on the many ways in which we live out our love for God, today we acknowledge the foundational truth that He loved us first. Love is a central theme in the book of 1 John. It’s a pastoral letter, written by the apostle John to the churches under his leadership. His affection for them is evident, since he calls them “beloved” many times. These believers are loved by John. Also,...
Published 02/26/24
When Jesus walked the earth, He healed many people. He even raised some from the dead. With each miracle, He demonstrated His deity and His power. But He also showed His love for the hurting and lost. But Jesus’ healing went far beyond the physical. In Mark 5, two individuals came to Jesus for healing. The first was Jairus, a synagogue official (v. 22). A well- respected man, whose daughter was dying, Jairus had heard of Jesus’ power and pursued Him in his most desperate hour. He fell at...
Published 02/25/24
Did you know that forgiving others has health benefits? The physical benefits include less anxiety, lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and improved self-esteem. The spiritual benefits are even greater: restored communion with God and others. You may think of Matthew 18 as the “church discipline chapter.” Verses 15–20 are often referenced when one member of the body has conflict with another. But we should also pay attention to the context. Jesus tells a parable about the one...
Published 02/24/24
When we confess, we admit guilt and acknowledge our sin. Repentance takes confession a step further. When we repent, we are asking for forgiveness and changing of direction, turning from evil and running toward good. Both confession and repentance are acts of love. Psalm 51 gives us a model of both confession and repentance. In David’s song, we see how we too can be cleansed and restored. The psalm begins with David’s plea to God for forgiveness (vv. 1–2). He appeals to the Lord’s mercy,...
Published 02/23/24
You may be familiar with the sin cycle described throughout Scripture: longing, temptation, sin, consequences, confession, repentance, restoration, then back to longing. It seems God’s people have always struggled with this same pattern, just as we do today. In 1 Samuel 13, the young King Saul longed to make a name for himself. He had already defeated the Ammonites in the east. Now he wanted to engage the Philistines, one of Israel’s greatest enemies. Saul rebuilt his army up to 3,000 men....
Published 02/22/24
When counseling someone in a new dating relationship, we might advise, “Guard your heart.” Don’t get too close or emotionally attached to a significant other in case the relationship ends in rejection and hurt. “Protect yourself from undue pain” seems to be the warning. Proverbs 4:23 also tells us to “guard” our heart, but it carries an entirely different meaning. Chapter 4 is a condensed version of the instructions found throughout the Proverbs. It encapsulates the book’s teaching on...
Published 02/21/24
Pain, both physical and emotional, is a part of human experience, and as Christians we are not exempt. How can we walk through times of suffering while remaining in God’s love? In 2 Samuel 15, David found himself in deep pain. His son Absalom had gained a following and was conspiring to take the throne from his father. David fled for his life. Many commentators believe that David wrote Psalm 143 from that place of pain and betrayal. David begins his prayer by crying out to God (v. 1). The...
Published 02/20/24
Emotions play a significant role in our lives. They motivate us, connect us, and add meaning to our experiences. But emotions can also rise and fall like a roller-coaster ride. How can we be consistent in our love for God when our emotions may be out of control? In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul addresses our emotions, both negative and positive, and puts them in the context of our Christian walk. First, he explores the connection between emotions and actions. Paul instructs the Ephesian...
Published 02/19/24
When researchers asked 50 people over the age of 95 what they would do differently, their top three answers were: reflect more, invest in more long-living projects, and take more risks. While Scripture doesn’t advocate taking risks for risks’ sake, we do see God’s people following His leading boldly into the unknown. Take Moses. He was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, when the angel of the Lord appeared to him (3:2). When Moses went to investigate, God Himself called his name...
Published 02/18/24
One Friday afternoon, as I drove home from work, I was already feeling frustrated. I had expectations for our Saturday that I knew would not be realized. Yet in that moment, the Spirit prompted me to “adjust my expectations,” to set aside my to-do list and make it my goal to love well. Expectations are a natural part of life. It is easy to get frustrated when reality does not measure up. Acts 20 records the story of Paul and his companions, meeting with the elders of Ephesus for the final...
Published 02/17/24
During the Holocaust, Corrie ten Boom and her family helped many Jewish people escape the Nazis. We can only imagine the anxiety she experienced. Later she wrote, “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” In Matthew 6, Jesus instructed His followers: “Do not worry about your life.” He listed common human concerns: food,...
Published 02/16/24
When my husband and I started the China adoption process in 2005, we were told it would take eighteen months. Then, because of a bureaucratic logjam, we waited for six long years. At times, I was patient. But at other times, I felt frustration, even anger, because of the delay. No one likes to sit in the waiting room. But waiting is a part of the human experience, and God’s timing is often not ours. We love God by waiting well. In Psalm 40, David “waited patiently for the LORD” (v. 1). There...
Published 02/15/24
In 2016, the Wellcome Foundation conducted the world’s largest “Rest Test.” They surveyed 18,000 participants from 135 countries, asking them what activities they found to be restful. The top five answers were reading, spending time in nature, spending time alone, listening to music, and doing nothing in particular. We may demonstrate our love for God when we rest in Him. In Genesis 2:2, God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. In Exodus 16:23–30, God introduced the Sabbath to...
Published 02/14/24
In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg defines habits as actions we perform—all day, every day—with little or no conscious thought. We look at our phone as soon as we hear it ding. We make that afternoon cup of coffee when our eyelids begin to droop. We go for a walk as soon as we get home from work. Of course, habits can be healthy or harmful. The good news is that bad habits can be broken—especially with the power of the Holy Spirit. The book of Proverbs is an excellent source of...
Published 02/13/24
Have you ever used a diet where you had to record everything you ate? It is revealing to track all the calories you consume, and you may be surprised at how quickly you use up your daily maximum. Suddenly, the number on the scale makes more sense. I’ve often wondered what we would discover if we recorded what we feed our souls. As we watch Netflix, scroll social media, listen to music, engage in conversations, and surf the web, what ideas are we taking in? What messages are filling our...
Published 02/12/24
Friends have a powerful influence on us. Good friends help reduce our stress and process our pain. Together, we rejoice and mourn. They increase our happiness, encourage our good choices and our self-control. Of course, the wrong friends can have the opposite effect. They tear us down, tempt us to sin, or even abandon us in our time of need. Psalm 1 warns against keeping the wrong types of friends. God blesses those who do not “walk in the step with the wicked, or stand in the way that...
Published 02/11/24
How do you distinguish between true and fake love? A quick internet search provides plenty of advice. Your love may be fake if you are the only one initiating contact. Or, if you can never rely on the other person. Maybe they won’t acknowledge you in public or resist making plans with you. They express love with words but fail to follow through with actions. This month, we are looking at how we can obey the greatest commandment to love God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second...
Published 02/10/24
Pride is a dangerous and destructive sin. It can skew our view of the world and our place in it. Left unchecked, it can cause an inflated ego, a lack of empathy, the belittling of others, an extreme sensitivity to critique, and ultimately broken relationships. In Romans 12, Paul continues his down-to-earth instruction on how to live out our calling. He first reminds the Roman Christians of God’s grace to him (v. 3). His apostolic position and authority were from God, not earned or deserved...
Published 02/09/24
Last August our family spent a week in Minnesota. For three days, we stayed on the north shore of Lake Superior at the Naniboujou Lodge. This is my favorite place on earth. No cell phone service. No wi-fi. No television. Only delicious family meals in the grand, colorful dining room. Evening board games in the cozy atrium. And early morning prayer times on the rocky beach. It was exactly the renewing I needed. It felt like a rebooting for my soul and brain. In Romans 12, Paul tells us how we...
Published 02/08/24
In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, two friends, Christian and Hopeful, deviate from the True Way to explore By-Path Meadow because it looks like an easier route. They think it will lead them to the same destination, but they lose their way and spend a night at Doubting Castle owned by the Giant called Despair. Doubt is a common experience in the Christian life. It can be caused by many things—convincing arguments, scornful comments, painful experiences. As with Christian and Hopeful, doubt...
Published 02/07/24
A Christian counselor friend of ours once asked our small group that was gathered in his home: “If I told you to think about what you had for breakfast today, could you do it?” Of course, we all nodded. Then he asked, “What if I told you to feel happy on demand? Or sad, or angry? Could you do that?” Not surprisingly, we shook our heads and shrugged. He was making the point that we have greater control over our thought life than over our emotions. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can “set...
Published 02/06/24
In Carol Dweck’s popular book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success she explains a theory that became popular in the classroom. Students with a growth mindset believe their skills and understanding can be improved with study and practice. They are engaged in the teaching and learning process. How about us? Do we have a growth mindset when it comes to our Christian walk? Remaining open to input and instruction should be our approach to all areas of life, including the spiritual. In 2 Peter...
Published 02/05/24
In Carol Dweck’s popular book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success she explains a theory that became popular in the classroom. Students with a growth mindset believe their skills and understanding can be improved with study and practice. They are engaged in the teaching and learning process. How about us? Do we have a growth mindset when it comes to our Christian walk? Remaining open to input and instruction should be our approach to all areas of life, including the spiritual. In 2 Peter...
Published 02/05/24