Spiritual Growth There's more to life than meets the eye. Here are some resources to help you grapple with spiritual issues and concerns. Click here for Answers to Questions | Dear God | Life Notes

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A New Place - Many are the people, myself included, who are comparing how things are with how good things were a few years ago, and how everything came crashing down. Job loss, foreclosure, financial security, or rather insecurity, and divorce, are just a few of the issues many now face.

Please Let Us Know - Would you like to see the SpiritRenew app continue? This is the first time we've pushed a message like this out in the 11 years that SpiritRenew has been going. But we need your help!

No Facades Here - I grew up playing church. I knew how to dress to fit in with the congregation. I knew how to sing memorized stanzas of the church's favorite hymns.

A Recipe for Hope - It's hard to trust in a graveyard. There's something dark and brooding there, waiting beside the plastic flowers. It seems especially lonely when the long black hearse arrives with the casket.

Made to Last - You were made to last forever. In my heart is a longing to experience eternity. We were not meant to live a mere 60-80 years before being shoved into a hole in the ground and covered with dirt.

Stuck In Atlanta - I'll never forget the summer I lived in Georgia, where I worked as a community service volunteer. I was 18 years-old and had joined a group of college students who had committed 10 weeks of their time to host a recreation program...

Ultimate Freedom - Many today view freedom as the absence of law. In their view laws are restrictive and confining. I recently read an article by a guy who wants to do away with the weekly cycle. He argues that it is archaic and out of step with 21st century culture, and he argues that it needs to be abolished.

Ordinary Miracles - When was the last time you saw a miracle? Really! We read in Scripture about Jesus healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, even resurrecting people from the dead. But those kinds of things don't happen today--do they?

Fears, Big or Small - When I was six years old, I went with my family to visit a butterfly museum. As we walked through the indoor rainforest, my mom, dad and sister all whispered in amazement, allowing the butterflies to land on them. I, on the other hand, screamed and cried in agonizing terror while the mammoth-sized beasts flew around me.

Selling People Short - My muscles were screaming. I told my mind to fight through the pain. Just put one foot in front of the other. I wanted to give up. Everything in my mind was ready to quit.

Over 60 in Omaha - A couple of weeks ago I was visiting someone in a Rehab Center and saw a stack of magazines titled Over 60 in Omaha. I remember thinking to myself there might be some stuff in there my folks would enjoy. On my way out of the facility I picked up a copy.

To Be Content - Contentment or satisfaction often seems like the ideal we always want but never attain. We often rate our lives on the satisfaction scale of one to ten. Now, it's easy to rationalize our satisfaction (or lack of it) by saying that if one area of our life was better, then we'd be satisfied in all the other areas.

Living Among Bigots - If ever one was called to live among crusty bigots--among those who were steeped in strong prejudices with exclusionary tendencies, it was Jesus.

Eyes Wide Open - It’s sad how as adults we have lost the awe and wonder of the simple things in life. I saw a little girl at work today pick up a Christmas gift bag from under our office tree, hold it up to her ear and shake it, desperately trying to see through the decorated paper bag, a look of curiosity...

Try Harder? - There are some who like to try and measure their spirituality based on their performance. This can either lead to smugness or despondency...most often, the latter.

Road to Happiness - So let me ask you right off, Are you happy? And by happy, I am talking about feelings of contentment, joy, or feeling blessed. However you answer, you'll be interested to know that science has now discovered that our level of happiness comes packaged in our genes.

It Could Be You - Do you vicariously participate in life from afar? Do you spend most of your days wishing, hoping and dreaming, but never realizing fulfillment and satisfaction? Do you want to make a difference in other people's lives? If so, you're on the right track.You were not meant to be a spectator but a participant in life!

The Magic of Sleep - Sometimes a journey is unbearable long! "Daddy, how much longer?" Then you fall asleep and the next moment the sound of laughing voices and a blast of cold air announces you've arrived. You're there!

Weathering the Storm - The storms of affliction have battered me. While the storms were in progress I could see no purpose in the buffeting winds. I screamed out in lament to God, protesting the injustice of my pain, but no answers could be heard above the roaring wind.

Walking with God - Halfway between standing and kneeling by my bed one day recently, the words "O for a closer walk with God" came strongly to mind. It was early one morning and I had just gotten up, but I was feeling exhausted. It was still very dark outside and I was tempted to get back under the covers, but I resisted and I began to dialogue with God.

Transitive Faith - A preacher peers out at his congregation and announces: “Now, folks, verse 17 in this passage is one of the most difficult to understand in all of Scripture. So let’s go on to verse 18!”

Undivided Attention - When was the last time you gave anything your undivided attention? Today that’s a pretty tall order with SmartPhones, nagging emails, work, family issues and more. Giving anyone or anything your undivided attention means that something important may get neglected. Then what?

God's Children - When my children were born, I was amazed at their glory. The wonder of their fingers and eyes. I was dazzled by their smiles. I loved their sweet smell. As they became toddlers, I delighted in their confidence in my strength and abilities.

Respect for Life - Several years ago I was privileged to be able to walk among the graves of American soldiers in Normandy, France. No doubt you have seen pictures of the thousands of bright white crosses contrasting with the green grass at the American cemetery in Normandy where the D-Day invasion of WWII began.

Welcome Hypocrites - Hypocrites are people who say one thing but do another. They are two-faced, two-timing fence straddlers who speak out of both sides of their mouths. They are the kind of people we love to hate.

Overkill - Do you know someone who, when asked a simple question, typically gives a twenty minute response that makes you wish you had never asked? The problem with information today is that with so much...

The Relationship Factor - Over the years all sorts of books have been written by doctors and psychologists with the purpose of helping us get along better. And maybe they have helped. However, unless they get to the root of the problem, they will give only something cosmetic, something temporary.

Tending God's Creation - Christians are hardly known as a passive group when it comes to politics, debates and the issues of our time. Yet when it comes to issues concerning the environment, Christians usually scoff for one reason or another.

Sudden Collapse - Years ago when I lived in Florida, I remember driving to Orlando on a business trip and stopping to see a disaster in the making. Without warning a giant sinkhole had developed in a populated section of town.

Who Cares About the Earth? - I live in a forest in Pennsylvania. In the clearing around my house, I have thirty fruit trees and lots of berries. I guess you could say I'm an organic grower, as I've never sprayed them with insecticides.

Lost Donkeys - I was reading 1 Samuel 9-10 last night for devotions with my family. It was about Saul being sent by his dad to look for lost donkeys. When he can't find them, after a long search, he and his servant decide to go see...

Let it Shine - It's a very natural thing; to find Jesus, to experience His amazing love, to make Him our own, and to want others to find Him too. However, there are some very unnatural methods being used by sincere, well-meaning Christians that are not only counter-productive...

Grounds for Divorce - Hers was probably an arranged marriage. In the place and time that she lived, most were. She didn't have any choice in the man her parents chose for her. No doubt like most young girls, she hoped that her husband-to-be would be handsome, gentle, and kind.

Tongue Tied - Not long ago, I observed a boss yelling at one of his employees. His back was turned to the door as I passed quietly through the hallway. So, the supervisor was unaware that his words had been overheard.

What Am I Here for? - If you're asking this question and you're not in a tux at the altar or wincing in the dentist chair, kudos to you. Not only are you among the small minority of people who value themselves enough to ask. You are also setting yourself up for more of the good stuff, like sanity and significance.

Tired of Being Stressed? - You might think Yosemite's natural beauty would automatically have protected it from exploitation and over development. In reality, from the very beginning, Yosemite has needed active protection. Early entrepreneurs saw the area as a place for making money from hotels, sheep grazing and logging. Later, the Hetch...

Hidden Treasure - Imagine with me for a moment, that some 75 years ago an eccentric elderly millionaire (we'll call him J.T. Johnson) hid a chest full of valuables near the town where you live. Let's just say that it was his strange method of leaving his "mark" on the world as he was passing through.

Rage-edy Ann - I belong to small group of dedicated writers who meet regularly to practice our craft and share. At the beginning of our time together we take time to calmly and quietly focus on breathing. We have rushed in from several directions, and we want our minds to be clear and creative.

Unlikely Heros - Since the beginning of the Balkan wars in 1991, about 2,500 people in Croatia have died from land mine explosions. During the four-year war, 90,000 land mines were placed across the entire country, mostly at random and without any plan or existing maps.

The Father I Always Wanted - Over the years I have reflected on how my father treated his children and how much it appeared that he cared for us. My father had a really good job and he provided for the family. We never had to worry about where we were going to sleep or what we were going to eat.

Yottabytes and More - It is interesting and somewhat amusing--the efforts we humans make to collect and store data--much of which never gets seen or used again. I have so many photos that I've taken over the years and stored on external hard drives that are inaccessible because I have no organized way to retrieve.

How To Be A Winning Father - In his book "Winning," former GE chairman Jack Welch speaks about work-life balance with our families. Outlining the life of a good parent, Mr. Welch is admittedly chagrined about his poor performance as a father.

Genuine Fraud - In his book "Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium," psychic Mark Edward offers some fascinating thoughts on the hunger in our culture for community and spiritual truth. Edward admits that for decades he peddled what he called "junkyard superstition ... to the gullible, the lonely, the hopeful, and the dim."

Maps and Doctrines - I was reading in my devotional time this morning about doctrine. The Bible tells us: "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16). But have you noticed how boring doctrines can be at times? Usually they're not very exciting! People want a feeling; they want to experience Christianity.

Wake Up Call - Are your kids giving you a hard time? I once read about a 12-year-old girl who “set her sleeping mother’s bed on fire and took off in the family car to fake an abduction of herself and her two younger siblings.” You know you’re having a bad day when you wake up to find your bed on fire!

Don't Forget the Roots - When you see a healthy tree, the tendency is to appreciate the beauty that you see. That’s not a bad thing. Whether it has a tall smooth trunk, perfectly shaped leaves, or colorful flowers, we praise what we see. In describing a beautiful tree, you wouldn’t gush over the roots.

A Sacrificial Act - Tim Winton is Australia's most celebrated novelist today. Author of more than a dozen bestselling books and winner of numerous literary prizes, Winton resides on the coast of Western Australia, where he lives with his family.

And God Spoke - As I searched for God the other morning, I heard him speak. I know that always causes some feelings of angst amongst people. Some don't believe it while others wonder why it doesn't happen to them.

Lonely People - John Cacioppo, the director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, is the world's leading expert on loneliness. In his landmark book, Loneliness, released in 2008, he revealed just how profoundly the epidemic of loneliness is affecting the basic functions of human physiology.

The Power of Example - Children are watching you. Whether you are a parent or not, they're watching how you talk, how you interact with them, and how you treat others that you encounter.

Do I Need Counseling? - Kevin was ready to push "send" on his cell phone when he suddenly slammed the cover down. "I can do this myself! I don't need any shrink to help me." Life had been fairy stable for Kevin. His parents did the best they could to provide him with the necessities of life.

Love's True Test - Ever wonder what love looks like? We see different pictures of love in the media: a puppy with a bright red ribbon around his neck, or a father holding his newborn baby, or a man giving a smiling lady a big diamond in a commercial.

Captive, But Satisfied - I recently read a number of lines from author/pastor John Piper's son Abraham, who wrote an amazing list of 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child. Since he was a wayward child himself, it is clear after reading the list of 12, that Abraham knows what he is talking about.

Focused Living - The acquisition of things can become the overriding focus of our lives if we aren't careful. It's so human to get caught up in the accumulation of stuff.

Grow Up - When I was a kid I disliked being told that I was too young to participate in an activity that was better suited for older children. "Someday when you're older," was a statement that I hated to hear. I always seemed like the older kids got to do all the fun things!

Going Nowhere Fast - When was the last time you took the time to just sit and do nothing? Waiting in line, at a traffic light, or for a medical appointment doesn’t count. Seriously, when was the last time you walked into a room, sat down, and did nothing - for awhile? Scheduled, or unscheduled? Or, when was the last time you went for a walk on the beach, a stroll through the woods, or sat on an isolated hilltop?

Are You Content? - I've been thinking contentment recently. Another word for contentment is being satisfied. Are you satisfied with what you have? Are you content? Looking at my life, I find that discontentment, or not being content, frequently creeps up. In fact, it’s a temptation that pulls at my mind on a daily basis, sometimes even hourly.

Something New - God uses the new to captivate new and older generations. As difficult as it is for us to let go of traditions and the past, God is not limited by the old. It was new and useful at one time, but God is the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

The Sound of Silence - It had been a doozy of a day. I collapsed onto the couch beside a pile of laundry that threatened to topple to the floor before I could fold it. Dirty dishes were stacked in the sink and covered every grubby counter top.

Is Heaven Real? - In most jokes about heaven, St. Peter guards the pearly gates and some religious leaders get around on skateboards instead of Mercedes Benz chariots. But is there an actual location, a real place, where a person can walk on the streets, pet a lion...

Conquering Your Fears - I cringed lower into the seat of my grey metal desk, yearning for the faded yellow floor to swallow me into oblivion. A crimson heat spread from my forehead to my neck; my legs trembled uncontrollably. I struggled to bring my lurching stomach under control - vomiting all over my classmates was about the only thing that could worsen this nightmare.

The Sliding Door - One Saturday night in mid February I was surprised to find a honeybee perched on the back of the living room couch. Mistaking it for a cockroach, I was about to smash it when I noticed it was a bee. Totally lethargic, it allowed me to scoop it into a small Tupperware bowl and transport it to the outside porch.

Red Light - I love being loved. Soft touches. Winks from across the room. Notes under the pillow. Pecan pie to start a meal. Unexpected kindness. Knowing what I like and going even further.

Happy Medicine - While the average child laughs 150 times a day, say researchers at the University of Michigan, the average adult laughs only 15 times. Perhaps we adults need to go back and read the scriptures when they tell us that a "merry heart does good like a medicine."

How Salty? - Have you ever wondered why Christ, in His Sermon on the Mount, told His disciples that they were to be the "salt of the earth"? What is there about salt that so aptly portrays the role that the child of God is to play in the world around him or her.

The White Robe - In the early 80s, after spending a year as an intern pastor at a church in Orlando, Florida, Linda and I were asked to move to a small two-church district in a part of northern Florida that seemed more like Georgia. The coastline had no beaches, the population was scattered, and 90% of the county consisted of...

Alien Invasion - News Flash! On Halloween night, 1938, Orson Wells and the Mercury Theater aired a dramatization of H.G. Well's famous tale, "War of the Worlds," which described a Martian invasion of the Earth. It seemed frighteningly real! The program used staged news bulletins to interrupt a scheduled broadcast to inform listeners of the unfolding drama. For a moment, imagine what it was like.

Bargain Hunting for a Church - "Get to Heaven on a Harley!" A church, desperate to attract new members, hit on the idea of raffling off a brand new motorcycle. Week by week, anyone who came through the doors got a free ticket entering them in an end-of-year drawing.

People Matter - God is crazy about people—he loves them with everything he is and has! He spends all of his time helping and saving people who want his help! The primary way God does this is through people like yourself.

Total Forgiveness - A few years ago I was honored to be asked to perform a wedding for a couple of young people whom I had much love and respect for. I gladly agreed to be part of their very special day and looked forward to it very much.

Heaven Is Your Home - There's no place like home! You can fly all over the world, climb mountains, sail across oceans and visit far away places, but when it's all said and done and you finally walk through your front door, it feels really good to be home!

Our Identity - Have you ever reached a point where you felt like stress and worry would consume you? I reached that place a few weeks ago. I was struggling to keep up with a never-ending to-do list, and all I could think about as I opened my eyes each morning was, “how am I ever going to get through this day?”

Being Together - My grandma had flown across the country to spend a few weeks with my family and I was excited to show her the beauty of the West Coast. Much to my dismay, the weather had other plans

Orange Delight - Oranges are one of my favorite winter foods. I look forward to January when they become ripe enough to eat. For 12 years we lived in a coastal region of southern California and had a naval orange tree in our backyard. Nothing compares to being able to walk over to a tree to personally harvest part of your breakfast. The flavor of the tree-ripened fruit explodes in your mouth! It's wonderful!

Keeping It Real - Authenticity. I find myself searching for it lately. Seeking it in people. Craving it in my entertainment and personal interactions. Yesterday, I heard myself say that I would rather forgive a person of a million indiscretions than to have that person pretend their mistakes away, and I really would.

Good, Better, Best - How would you feel if Jesus were coming to your house for dinner tonight? If your first thought would be of all the preparations you'd need to make before He arrives, you are probably a Martha. Remember the story of Martha and her sister, Mary?

How to Find Forgiveness - When I was 17, I left home for the first time and went away to college. I was apprehensive, insecure, scared. My parents drove me to the college I would be attending and all of my belongings were finally in my room when I went down to their car for my last two suitcases.

The Mayonnaise Jar - I do not enjoy reading but fortunately for me, my wife Linda, and my daughter, DeAnne, do. They both know I love illustrations and when they find good ones, they always share them with me.

Is Your Soul Thirsty? - We must have water to survive! Our bodies are more than 70 percent water; to keep them running smoothly we are told to drink eight glasses of water a day.

How God Saves People - So you know what it means to be adopted? My familiy had a dog named Jazz that adopted a kitten named Tiger. When we brought little Tiger home from the animal shelter, Jazz didn't like her.

Jesus Matters - Ultimately, the only thing that matters is Jesus! Seeing and knowing him, following, obeying, sharing, and praising him mean more than money, career, health, beauty, family or friends. The top and bottom lines of life have to do with Jesus. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Always Cheerful - It was a dark and stormy night – honestly! And I faced the dreary specter of teaching a three-hour college algebra class after already putting in a full day at my regular job.

Jesus the Lobbyist - You’re a lobbyist? You’d almost have better luck putting “Top Used-Car Salesman” on your resumé. Politicians, especially those with an ambitious eye on a comfy white house in our nation’s capital...

Pop-up Windows - Recently, I began to receive a barrage of pop-up windows on my computer. Every time I logged on to the Internet, I received an arsenal of solicitations that included everything from plastic surgery to refinancing. There was no end to it; it was maddening!

He Cries; I Do Not - During a program at church, or the intense scene in a film, I now end up passing a tissue to my husband. I can still feel my own tears brimming at the edge of my eyes, however, I usually can stay emotionally composed.

Contemporary Pioneers - Sometimes we're tempted to think that the glory days of pioneers exploring new frontiers is a thing of the past. After all, when was the last time you saw a true pioneer? If you cannot think of any, maybe it's time to redefine what a pioneer is and does.

The Shell Around Us - Recently when the wind blew some trees down across a trail near where I live, I went out the next day to clear them away. When I arrived one was still partially standing, leaning up against another tree, so I cut it down with the chainsaw and used the tractor to drag it away.

Soul Sifting - I have a rather unromantic confession to make: The best day of my life was not my wedding day. In fact, it has nothing directly to do with my wife or marriage. It's not a magic moment, a party, or any celebratory moment either. The best thing that ever happened to me was losing it all on a normal day five years ago.

Window Shopping - I remember the first time I saw her. It was 49 years ago, and we were in the college cafeteria just after semester break. She was a new face on campus and being not "socially attached" to anyone at the time, I immediately began to plot how best to impress her and get a date.

FaceTime - I’m getting to that age (aka, old-ness) when I find myself saying, “We didn’t have THAT when I was a kid.” I’m constantly amazed at how quickly technology races forward. Just the other day I was explaining to my teenager what a “Pen Pal” was.

Hidden Songs - Cluelessness. It’s an inescapable fact of our limited human experience. And boy, does my neighbor across the street have a big dose of it.

Brand Name - A red Christmas bow perched on a shiny new car makes you immediately think of a Lexus. Even the first musical notes of a familiar theme can warn viewers that a Cialis TV ad is about to air. Successful branding happens when words build a reputation: “You’re in good hands.”

Forever Young - Perhaps you caught the story a few years ago online: A 56 year-old inventor and author predicted that human immortality is no more than 20 years away!

Is Addiction a Choice? - Is addiction a sin? Or is it a disease? Is it a choice, or is it an accident? If we define addiction as a disease, does that mean alcoholics and addicts aren't responsible for their actions?

A Taste of Home - A few weeks ago, my roommate and I found ourselves in quite a quandary. After months of longing and wanting and wishing for a room on the first floor—where all our friends were—one opened up.

Help for The Weary - Where there is a prince you can be sure there’s a kingdom. Jesus is the Prince of the Kingdom of Peace. Our physical bodies currently reside in a kingdom of darkness (anarchy, disease, death, and war). Through Christ’s death we’ve been given a passport to the Kingdom of Peace. The question is, has yours been validated?

A Cheerful Heart - Three or four times a week I walk around my country neighborhood. I pass horse farms, a goat farm, and a llama farm. I take exercising seriously, so to get my quota of movement I usually am rushing to make sure I cover four-plus miles. After my walk-run, many time I still feel tense as I rush to my next activity or appointment.

When Jesus Comes - The Bible says a great deal about why Jesus will return to earth someday—and what His coming will be like. The first part of this history making feat was accomplished on July 20, with the touchdown of the Apollo 11 lunar module on the moon's surface.

My Only Hope - I have done a lot of bad things. Before I met Jersus I stole money that wasn’t mine, told lies, and ran away from home. I cheated, criticized good people, and broke promises. I took illegal drugs and coveted things that...

Taming the Tongue - Several months back, I wrote an article about how "more" is not always a good thing. As human beings, our natural tendency is to think that if a little is good, more must be better.

Simon Says - Apart from God’s regenerating power, we have no choice but to sin. We don’t have to practice to be good at it, it just comes naturally. It’s the one thing that we do really well. And it’s a way of life that most of us participate in whether we like it or not.

First Things First - It's easy to think of ourselves first; to put our interests and concerns over those of the people around us. This is especially true for people we don't know. It's easy to view them as "anonymous" and "unimportant," sort of like wallpaper or background noise. They're just there, blending in with the scenery.

What I Deserve - Some of my choices and actions cause God personal pain. Some lead me to actions which harm people I love, defeat the cause of righteousness, and throw mud in the eyes of angels.

Ten Years After - On the tenth anniversary of 9/11 I found myself wondering why it ever happened. I grew up proud that America was recognized the world over as a protector of truth, liberty and justice. Perhaps I was naive, but I truly believed that our national goals and policies were based on a doctrine of fairness and unbiased resolve.

The Seeing-Eye God - Several weeks ago during my morning quiet time, I prayed for God to show up somewhere and make Himself evident. I talk to Him most days, and I believe in Him, but sometimes, I need a little handholding and reassurance.

Holy Feminism - This week I’ve feasted my heart on a study of Jesus’ relationships with women. Amazing things happened inside of me. Passion rekindled. Apathy disappeared. My desire to follow Him to the ends of the earth revived. Oh, how I love Jesus!

God and Earthquakes - After the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in 2010 television preacher Pat Robertson claimed it was caused supernaturally. After the 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan, Glenn Beck suggested it was caused by God. He went on to say, “Whether you call it Gaia or whether you call it Jesus--there’s a message being sent.”

Playing it Safe - If we always hold back and try to play it safe, then maybe we aren't really living. Many cautionary voices clamor for our attention from far and near. "Be careful for that curve up ahead. Don't eat this. Get more rest. Take your vitamins. Watch out for that guy over there."

Last Dance - I try my best to avoid funerals. The sadness, the tears, the melancholy music and the overwhelming sense of doom all make death seem awful and permanent. I much prefer those rare funerals when celebration is the word of the day.

Share Yourself - She’s from England, a tourist in Orlando, eager to visit Mickey, Shamu, the Cat-in-the-Hat, and Gatorland. Instead, she has spent the last two weeks in Florida Hospital Emergency Rooms.

The Unsettling Savior - Jesus was radically out of sync with the norm. Instead of playing by the rules he replaced them with ones that shattered the status quo. Little wonder that he was a threat to the religious elite. Everything he stood for challenged their existence. Just place yourself in the Pharisee's shoes (but don't wear them too long)...

What Do You Think? - People tend to become what they think they are. Studies validate this, but so do common sense and experience. For instance, which one of us can’t remember a fidgety grade school lad who ended up designated the class “bad boy,” who then proceeded to fulfill his own label?

Why I am a Christian - I’ve tried for two years to figure out why I am a Christian, and have only in the last month started to articulate what binds me to this faith. I am a Christian because of the stories. Other people have their own reasons: My friend Karl insists he’s a Christian because of his...

A Word from The Boss - Imagine John’s jaw-dropping amazement. Jesus, the perfect healer, was more concerned with the content of a life than with its trappings. More interested in productivity than in titles. Fascinated by miracles rather than memberships.

Unpacking - It’s been six weeks since the movers delivered all of our earthly belongings to this new home. I feel like I’ve been unpacking for eons. The clothes, dishes, pictures, toys, books, bedding and applicances seem endless. In fact, if I never see another cardboard box...

Havin' a Hard Time - We’d had a fun weekend at the grandparent’s, but during the long drive home I heard a tired little voice from the backseat say, “I’m havin’ a hard time.”

Fear. God. Love. - Test your knowledge. Put your hand over the screen and guess the three most common mental disorders in the US. They are, in order, with lifetime prevalence rates: Anxiety disorders (about 18%), mood disorders (about 10%), and ADHD (about 5%).

Spiritual Autism - In past years I have experienced working or living near people who either had family members diagnosed on the autism disorder spectrum, or in whom I saw symptoms of those behaviors. The media also exposes us to more about this disorder as some celebrity families have championed the cause for research and treatment.

Can You Canoe? - My husband and I were invited to join a group from his workplace for a retreat day at a local State Park. The main objective was to canoe down the spring-fed river and then have a picnic together. Frankly, it sounded hot, sun-burned and a little scary as activities go.

Waiting to Inhale - “Get that--I’m in the shower,” I yell to my husband on a weekend morning. I know it’s probably my father, making a regular morning call. Yet I still have this emotional hangover from my childhood, when early morning or late evening phone calls were perceived as...

Teddy Sings - I was busy on my computer with the radio tuned to a Christian station. The dog lay nearby and suddenly started to gurgle, yodel and finally break into a howl. Teddy howls to special songs, or perhaps the term is best defined by “sings along.” It all started with a TV commercial for. . .

Salt In the Fridge - Several days into our visit, I rummaged through the refrigerator trying to make room for some large items. I started pulling things off the top shelf, and rarely am I surprised since the man stores many grocery items in his refrigerator. Behind several items—juice, biscuit mix, flour, or jam—the salt appeared. Salt in the refrigerator.

On Being Mute - Thirteen days ago, I lost my voice. At first it was simply croaky, squeaky and scratchy. By the next day, however, it was gone. Days of coughing and fever wore it away until there wasn’t any possibility of sounding more than a whisper. One week into my muteness at a second doctor’s visit and she proclaimed: “You may not get your voice back for two more weeks.” I am discouraged. I have cancelled almost two weeks of counseling clients.

Belonging - The guests started pouring into the room where we held my father’s birthday celebration. Old neighbors and classmates, grown-up cousins, former teachers and employers, children and grandchildren—a room full of memories and connections.

The Mightiest Sword - On Oct. 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV barged into an Amish one-room school house in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania brandishing a gun. His ensuing shooting spree killed five girls, age 6 to 13. To finish off, he took his own life. That very day, a grandfather of one of the murdered Amish girls warned some young relatives not to hate the killer, saying, “We must not think evil of this man.”

Need to Slow Down? - For non-New Yorkers, Central Park is a dangerous place full of muggers and rapists. But for people who live there, Central Park is trees and spacious lawns. It's the one place in the city where young couples can saunter together, a place where you can slow down, listen to bird song, soak up the sun and be at rest.

The Refiner's Fire - It was October of the year 2007. We had just read a chapter on patience in Gavin Anthony’s book, "The Refiner’s Fire." My husband, a newly diagnosed cancer patient, said to me, “I resonate with Gavin. I feel it is not my place to question or to tell God when to heal me. I need to be patient and let God do His work in me—in His own time.

Post-op Ponderings - It wasn't a major surgery, really, but they had to put me under for it. One of my (small) appendages was virtually removed and reattached, and they thought it best I remained unconscious for that experience. I agreed. I planned a full week of work. Recovery period? Two weeks by all normal accounts, but for me, one day should do it. Thank God I am not like other men. I can recover from having a body part removed and reattached in ONE DAY!

What You See - A few years ago, when I used to be a high school science teacher I had a great opportunity to lift and encourage one of my female students, who I’ll call Dana, in my Physical Science class.

Questions that Matter - At the beginning of October I went with a very good friend of mine to Virginia to walk along the Appalachian Trail. He had invited me for over a year now and finally our schedules cooperated and I was able to go.

Autumnal Morning - After a restless night, today I wake up with peace and tranquility in my soul. I looked east and noticed a few clouds in the horizon that covered the sun but with the passing of every second the light was intensifying. The sunlight was coming through my living room window announcing it was coming out.

Country Music - Country Music is of the devil. It's got too much cursin' and leavin' and lovin'. Too many pickup trucks, and not enough serious commitment. Wrong. Country music has a lot of songs that were written by angels. Unfallen angels. Look, for instance, at the music of Randy Travis.

Unexpected Joy - It was a heavenly day today, sun washing the not-too-hot spring air. Such days make me ask why I ever complain.

Pathological Perfectionism - Are you pick, pick, picking your way through life? Do you strive to be thorough? Do you hate making mistakes? Many people pursue excellence as if their lives depended on it. They strain themselves to maintain a flawless image. Unable to accept their humanity, they try to be perfect. How very tiring . . . and tiresome! Perfectionists are the loneliest people in the world. Go figure.

As You Are - "Christians should be more like drug addicts." My husband told me this during our family devotions. I had that thought in the back of my mind the past couple years, I just didn't know how to express it. Now he conveyed the thought perfectly. As a Bible worker, my husband has the heroic yet daunting task of going out into the streets of the urban jungle, knocking on doors that slam in his face...

Joyful Greetings! - It is indeed a joy to announce that I PASSED my counseling certification exam! I was hesitant to let anyone know I even took the test, given that it was so difficult and I didn't want to set myself up for embarrassment. But I'm less forgetful than I thought! I passed! Quick, someone buy me a bouquet of roses.

Watching the Market - I know a guy that watches the stock market closely. Now, I know that there are many people today that are watching the market closely, but his reaction might surprise you.

Is God Dead? - Martin Luther, that great reformer whom God used to bring light to His people and understand the Bible more clearly, was severely oppressed by Satan with discouragement. Many times he felt persecuted by everyone and abandoned.

The Sound of Compassion - I know what compassion sounds like, because I have heard it often before and after a storm.

Ready to Die? - The photograph is memorable for what it says about one individual's willingness to stand for a belief. The person in the photo is a young Chinese man, standing alone and tall in front of a line of tanks. The tanks have all stopped, uncertain of how to proceed in the face of such strong convictions.

Living Like Nubs? - A few months ago, Marine Major Brian Dennis befriended a dog during his patrols in Iraq. The dog, whom he named Nubs, had been purposefully abused in hopes of making him into a tough fighting dog.

Whale Sitting - It had been a bad couple of days. What has really killed my spirit was the thought that I might be a terrible mother. You see, my son Jake wouldn't sit on his whale.

The Farmer's Faith - Today I'm in a farmhouse in Illinois after coming out here for my nephew's graduation. There are hundreds and hundreds of acres of flat fields around us. All of the fields are dirt brown, but a few have a small hint of green. I walked over to one such field and saw the reason for the green.

I Want to Buy Your House - He wasn't kidding. The man looked around our vacant house and approached my mother, on more than one occasion, about selling. "I want to buy your home," he said. We all knew Smitty well. He had been our neighbor for the 40 years that we lived in that house.

Sprouts - Until we meet Christ, aren't we all like the bean or seed or pea or grain who is basically dead, either dried up or at the very least, no longer connected to God who was our source of life?

Happiness is a Choice - We know a precious nurse who constantly gives herself to her patients in a positive, nurturing and uplifting spirit. She gives happiness, joy and hope to others while they are in the process of recovering. You can look at her and not be aware of the suffering in her own personal life.

Precious In His Sight - Our daughter is excited because in January she gets a Monday off from school. When I asked her, she had no idea why school is closed on that day—she's just excited about a free day! To many in our country, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is simply a day to get out of school or off from work.

Revolutionary Prayer - Here is intimacy that revolutionizes prayer: "God with us." The thunderous God of Mount Sinai has indeed humbled Himself to walk in our streets, live in our homes, attend our schools, work in our offices and factories, patrol our hallways, participate in our churches and die outside our gates.

Words That Heal - God had His forgiveness in place even before it was needed and so must we if we are ever going to become forgiving people. Then He came to our planet and became one of us to demonstrate how to forgive.

God and Your health - Did you know that going to church, studying your Bible, and praying is good for your health?

Think Healthy - Norman Vincent Peale once told about speaking to the Chinese owner of a tattoo shop. One of the designs read: "Born to Lose." Peale asked why anyone would want those words permanently imprinted on himself or herself. The man responded, "Before tattoo on chest, tattoo on mind."

Evil Money - It's clear that money isn't inherently evil, but people can be when one of their only purposes in life is to get more of it. A wealthy person with a spiritual heart can be such a blessing to everyone around them. A wealthy person without a conscience who claims to be a believer can make Christianity look pretty evil.

A Reason to Live - Dennis and Jamie Winegar were in the right place at the wrong time. The visitors from Houston, Texas, were among the survivors of the bridge collapse near downtown Minneapolis. Their car landed on top of a smaller car.

The Sign in Time - In every religion folks revere something—shrines, cities, even people. They drop to their knees and kiss holy ground; their ears grasp the syllables of holy men; they immerse themselves in holy water. Tangibles. Touchables. Holy things that they can feel, see, revere.

Loving Yourself - My friend Pamela saw herself as one giant failure. Her negative feelings about her past, present, and future enveloped her like a heavy fog. She saw no way out. When I visited her in the hospital, she couldn't look me in the face. She was bowed down with shame. "God is fed up with me," she whispered.

Is This All There Is? - In short, nothing in the world itself offers us the solution to our problems. To the contrary, the world itself and all that springs from it (war, disease, suffering, and death) is the problem. Thus, unless we have something that transcends this world—that will take us above it, past it, and beyond it—then our fate is as hopeless as this world's.

Forever Destroyed? - Most of the traditional beliefs about hell—the place in the middle of the earth, the eternal place of torment, even the devil's pitchfork—come to us from the Greeks. These beliefs were picked up and assimilated either by the Jews through Alexander the Great or by the Romans. But what does the Bible say about hell?

The Last Laugh - She'd wanted only one thing in her life, really, and that was a child. It was what she'd been raised to expect—that someday she would present her husband with the first in a line of sons who would carry on his name and his heritage.

Divine Intervention - Joe was born into a healthy, happy family with several siblings and both parents present. His father's work provided a comfortable upbringing. Joe's life was going just fine until his early teen years when he started hanging around an uncle five years his senior. That's how he was introduced to marijuana.

The Sin of Hurry - Time is a holy mystery. It doesn't matter what kind of time it is. We just never seem to have enough it it.

The Sound of Silence - It had been a doozy of day. I collapsed onto the couch beside a pile of laundry that threatened to topple to the floor before I could fold it. Dirty dishes were stacked in the sink and covered every grubby counter top.

Where Else Would I Be? - Christmas is a time to bring the whole family together, to share great fellowship, share great food, make heart-stirring memories all while celebrating the reason for the season. However, oftentimes, bringing the whole family together can also result in a different kind of sharing, a sharing that can run through the whole family like wildfire.

Trusting God to Forgive - It was a long time before I told Daddy the truth about what really happened that day. Of course, he already knew and was just waiting for me to confess so he could tell me he had forgiven me.

A Gelato in Prague - How many people do we pass each day? How many of them are lonely? How often do we avoid getting involved because we're worried about what others will think?

Talking With a Dying Friend - Allen looked thin and gaunt the day I met him, but I noticed the affection with which he looked at the old Chevy in his driveway. "I'm passionate about cars," he said. "My first car was a 1949 Studebaker that looked the same front and back."

Anger Control - If you are like most people. hardly a day goes by that you don't encounter situations that make you angry--people who break line, hectic traffic, an employer who criticizes and blames unjustly, your best friend's betrayal, your spouse's infidelities, your child's deviant lifestyle, or sexual abuse.

Today is a Gift - Only one thing is for sure—Now! Yesterday is a distant memory and tomorrow may never come. Today is here. This is not to say you shouldn't think about the past and plan for tomorrow.

Where Are You? - Where are you? Where are you going? Where have you been? The word "where" implies "some place." We are always somewhere; in a particular place. It may be a desirable place that we have worked hard to arrive at, or it may be the worst possible place.

Who Needs Church? - Church is a really slippery topic. In the minds of some people, the word conjures up visions of the Crusaders, Catholic Europeans who called themselves Christians, ransacking the city of Constantinople which was the center of Greek Orthodox Christians.

Following God - It's a curious convergence: We live in a world that reveres reason, science, logic, power, sex, food and beauty, a world of things, of stuff we can touch and see and manage.

Starting Over - Every person begins their journey as an embryo. You can't be born a teen or middle-aged adult, you have to start at the beginning. Even test-tube babies conceived outside of the womb must be nurtured to birth within a mother's womb.

Making Good Decisions - One of my favorite stories from the Old Testament in the Bible involves a man who had a hard time making decisions. Gideon was his name and he just wasn't sure he understood what God wanted him to do.

Mad Enough to Sin - I was nearing a toll booth at a turnpike off-ramp. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I unintentionally cut in front of another car. I didn't think much about it until suddenly I became aware that the driver of the other car had pulled up beside me.

Hole In One - The following story appeared on CNN.com about a man who lived on a golf course for 40 years who was recently told to leave because some golfers complained that he scared them.

Creation Week - Can you imagine a God powerful enough to speak matter into existence? Imagine what Creation week could have been like through the words of Dr. James Gibson.

Take Time Out - The human body is not powered like the Energizer Bunny. Any system of the human body that is overworked or excessively stressed without appropriate rest will soon fatigue.

God Isn't Fair - The evidence is overwhelming. Missionaries are kidnapped and killed while serving in remote locations. CEOs make millions in shady deals and get off with a slap on the wrist.

Permission to Relax - Sabbath is a lost concept! The idea of people temporarily abstaining from work and play long enough to let their bodies catch up with their brains is foreign.

Re-imagining the Bible - The Bible reveals story after story of people just like us who lose heart, who never follow-through, who seek instant gratification, who make poor choices and who just can't seem to get their act together.

Destination Please - Getting lost is a confusing, if not terrifying experience. We don’t wake up in the morning and make a decision to get lost. Instead, getting lost is more of an unintentional thing...

What About Hell? - Contrary to popular opinion, God does not use hell to try and scare people into heaven. Fear is never an effective motivator, and we know that God makes love the centerpiece of his relationship with humanity; “For God so loved the world...” (John 3:16)

It's Up to Me - All my life, I have been a Christian. My Christian parents ended up working for the church and from the time I was a finger-painting rascal all the way through my stressed-out university years, I attended Christian schools.

Soul Truth - As scientists probe ever deeper into the biochemical reactions within our brain, the notion of the soul as a separate entity becomes increasingly suspect. Francis Crick, who with James Watson discovered the double helix of DNA 50 years ago has spent many years researching consciousness, partly with the goal of disproving the soul.

Everyone Wants My Body - Everybody wants my body. Some, so they can fill me with beer. Others, so they can adjust my appearance to match their definition of “beautiful.” Still others harangue and wheedle about how I must reduce my cholesterol, increase my carbs, reduce my carbs, drink flax seed tea, or purchase new running shoes from only their company.

Our Calm in the Storm - Two young men found themselves in a fierce battle during the days of the Vietnam war. Bullets whistled overhead, and bombs shattered the earth. This didn't seem to faze one of the soldiers. When his buddy asked how he could be so calm, he replied with a grin, "It just reminds me of home."

Amazing Grace - Her name was Marietta Jaeger and she and her husband and five kids took their first-ever camping vacation in June of l973. They left their Detroit, MI, home and headed west to Badlands National Park, Mt. Rushmore, and the Black Hills.

Escaping Insanity - The morning and evening news fill me with images of murder, theft and destruction. The majority of what’s reported is negative and violent in nature. After watching it I often feel depressed and sad.

He is Faithful - As the month wound down, I found myself left with more days than dough. "Please, Lord, you've always been faithful. I need help with my finances, and you're the only one I can depend on." As a single woman disabled with lupus and living on a fixed income, I frequently struggle with my finances. I believe in tithing though, and I trust that God blesses me for putting Him first.

After My Suicide - Suicide…...it's a frightening word that evokes deep pain and emotion. For some, the thought of suicide brings a sense of relief because it appears to offer an opportunity to escape life's problems.

One True Thing - When I was young and in love, God was the furthest thing from my mind. My husband, Seth, and I had a lot of friends and we partied on weekends. Saturdays were spent cleaning our home, grocery shopping and doing all the catch-up duties that working people have to cram into two days.

Our Neighbors - Catherine Booth was the "mother" of the Salvation Army. "Wherever Catherine Booth went," said Campbell Morgan, "humanity went to hear her. Princes and peeresses merged with paupers and prostitutes."

Losing My Voice - At first glance 2 Corinthians 12:10 seemed to make no sense at all to me years ago. "For when I am weak, I am strong." Huh? How could this possibly be?

Caught Red Handed - Years after the death of President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets.

Biting Words - Is "cannibalism" possible within the confines of those who call themselves Christians? Perhaps not in a physical sense, but the apostle eludes to the idea that it can happen in the spiritual and relational realm. He aptly uses the words "bite" and "devour" in Galations 5:14-15, and I'm pretty sure that he's not speaking about using a knife and fork.

Strength for Today - I have my days when I don't feel very strong. In fact, on days like that I have often struggled with who I am, why I'm here, where I'm going, and why life has to be so difficult. Some will tell you that Christians aren't supposed to feel like this, but I disagree.

True Poverty - The story is told of a father of a wealthy family who took his son on a trip to the country to show his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"

I am Blessed - Feeling discontent with who we are, what we have, and our station in life can be normal, but there are too many blessings to stay there. God is SO good to us!

Worry Pills - In her article titled "Listening to Xanax," reporter Lisa Miller chronicles "how Americans learned to stop worrying about worry and pop its pills instead." Miller acknowledges that depression can be a "serious medical problem" that requires medication, but her article focuses on the use of drugs to deal with "low-grade anxiety" about ordinary life.

Junk or Treasure? - There is was, gleaming white, and poking out of a discarded box in the dumpster. I couldn't believe my eyes! A year ago in May my family attended a graduation at a school that shall remain nameless. After the festivities, and after everyone had gone home, I took a stroll out by the dumpsters that were parked in the back of the dormitories.

Choosing Peace - Recently, two shoppers were killed by a shooter at a mall in Portland, Oregon, and now 26 people, including 20 children, ages 5-10 years-old are dead in Newtown, Connecticut, by the hand of a sick young man.

Learning About Prayer - Our daughter, Cassie, was born without muscles in her eyelids. I will tell you what this experience taught me about prayer. At first, I was stunned—absolutely useless. I prayed that it wasn't true, that it hadn't happened, that it was a bad dream.

It's My Choice - When the United States won the war of independence from Great Britain, it became a “sovereign state.” Notice the word “reign” in “sovereign,” indicating that we in the United States reign over ourselves. This freedom to self-govern came as a free gift to us, but at the ultimate cost to a host of forgotten soldiers.

Killing Spree - A nation is shocked during the holiday season while the news media serves up a mind-numbing barrage of details in blurring, rapid-fire succession. 20 students, (most of them 6 or 7 years of age,) 6 adults, and a perpetrator are dead after a tragic shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14th.

Precious Prodigal - I was raised in a loving Christian home, and I cannot tell any sordid stories about a dysfunctional upbringing. My mother took me to church every week, and I was a member of the local church "kid's club." But something about me was very different from those I knew.

The Unwanted Blessing - In this life all forms of poverty are shunned. No one wants to be poor because those who are are perceived as powerless. If you don't have money you may end up living on the streets eating out of dumpsters.

A Trojan Horse - I've been using a Mac for years and have never worried about getting a virus, until last night. I didn't click on a strange link or get a wormy email from anyone. I was looking at some table lamps on several websites that came up after I executed a Google search, and one of them gave me a Trojan Horse virus.

Molly's Story - In Dennis Rainey's book "Stepping Up," he tells the story about the short life of his granddaughter Molly. Born with a brain aneurism, Molly lived only seven days. As difficult as those seven days were, Molly's parents and grandparents held firmly to their trust in God, confident that they will see Molly again in the future to come.

Becoming Mighty Oaks - On the first Friday morning in March, just as the sun began to wake the world, our precious 3 ½ year old son fell asleep in Jesus. As young parents, this was inconceivable! Already we had been plunged into the world of children’s hospitals and cancer treatments.

The Song - It’s amazing that all it takes is a song. Maybe I’m in the grocery store, or driving down the road. Maybe it’s during a party at a friend’s house, or while wandering through the mall. Sometimes it only takes a few bars of the melody for me to be transported. Like jumping on a bullet train of memories. And suddenly, just like that, I’m somewhere else. Transported by the song.

Making Lemonade - The day after my father's funeral, I was surprised that instead of flowers, a package was delivered to my sorrowing mother. She opened it and found a basket with dry moss on top.

Compost or Character? - I remember a tense chat I had with my youngest daughter, who at about five years old became angry over some comment I made during dinner. She stalked off, planting herself on the couch with an ugly scowl.

Devotions for Busy Moms - Recently, I had the pleasure of going on a "play date" with some of the other mothers from my church. We three mothers took our children to see a music show and then went to lunch together.

Have Mercy - As Jesus was nearing the city of Jericho, I was sitting there in my usual spot hoping I could collect enough change to buy something for dinner. This has been my daily routine for years--ever since I lost my sight through a freak accident when I was in my 20s. Now I'm well into my 50s, and over the years...

The World Stage - What if you woke up one morning to the stark realization that you were being watched on the big stage of the world, and worse yet, you were playing the lead role in a saga about, well, you?

What About Tomorrow? - When dwelt upon, tomorrow's unknown fears can impact the way you live in the present. Like a scorching fire, fear burns up your energy and vitality. It devastates your hopes and eager expectations, cripples faith and can ultimately destroy your health.

Ready to Finish - Every form of life on this planet has a beginning and an end. The end may come unexpectedly and prematurely, or it may come after many years of gradual decline. Whenever it comes, it is usually not welcomed!

Just Like Christ - Care for the other person pushes us toward the virtue of altruism. A virtue that is all but lost in our age of "me, myself, and I!" Thinking of the other as of primary interest is part of what it means to be like Christ, our personal moral example.

Tasteless Christians - Jesus wants his followers to bring flavor and "good taste" to life. But today some who profess to be "Christian" are tasteless with regards to their comments, actions and attitudes.

A Culture of Life - Preemies are an expensive blessing, and I’m suddenly the grandpa for two high-priced treasures. It will run well into the financial six figures for Audrey’s lungs to be restored and for Miles’ patent ductus arteriosus to be painstakingly repaired.

The Right Combination - C. S. Lewis once observed that we really don’t know how much faith we have until the moment of great testing. It’s one thing, he comments, to use a piece of rope to tie up a box and send presents to Grandma. It’s quite another matter if you’re dangling off a cliff and that rope is the only thing that's keeping you alive!

NICU Prayers - A few months back I hovered anxiously over an incubator, its blue rays to combat hyperbilirubinemia casting a surreal glow over a tiny form squirming silently against formidable odds. “Baby Hafich A” – Miles Douglas – and his twin sister Audrey weigh a scant total of four pounds one ounce, and the high-tech machinery hummed with a host of digital warnings: pulse rate, BP, breaths per minute, body temp.

Roller Coaster Faith - When a choir sings "Amazing Grace," are you stirred? Does a powerful sermon bring you to tears? And if not, is that a warning that you are spiritually comatose?

Heaven for Calvin - If you follow the harum-scarum exploits of six-year-old Calvin in Bill Watterson’s cartoon strip, this kid is extremely difficult to please. A desperate dad, hoping vainly that this time will be different, carts his wife, wayward son, and stuffed toy tiger Hobbes to a distant vacation with canoe rides, towering mountain scenery, and bracing swims in the shimmering lake.