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About tom felten

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So far tom felten has created 4 blog entries.

Warning Sounds

By |2022-11-30T03:00:00-05:00November 30th, 2022|

Ever had a close encounter with a rattlesnake? If so, you might have noticed that the sound of the rattle seemed to get more intense as you moved nearer to the viper. Research reported in 2021 in Current Biology reveals that the venomous reptiles do increase their rattling rate when they think a threat is approaching. This “high-frequency mode” can cause us to think they’re closer than they are. As one researcher put it, “The misinterpretation of distance by the listener . . . creates a distance safety margin.”

People can sometimes use increasing volume with harsh words that push others away during a conflict—exhibiting anger and resorting to shouting. The writer of Proverbs shares some wise advice for times like these: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). He goes on to say that “soothing” and “wise” words can be “a tree of life” and a source of “knowledge” (vv. 4, 7).

Jesus provided the ultimate reasons for gently appealing to those with whom we enter into conflict: extending love that reveals us to be His children (Matthew 5:43–45) and seeking reconciliation—“[winning] them over” (18:15). Instead of raising our voice or using unkind words during conflicts, may we show civility, wisdom, and love to others as God guides us by His Spirit.

Drawn by Disaster

By |2022-08-12T02:33:15-04:00August 12th, 2022|

In 1717, a devastating storm raged for days, leading to widespread flooding in northern Europe. Thousands of people lost their lives in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. History reveals an interesting and customary—for that time—response by at least one local government. The provincial authorities of the Dutch city of Groningen called for a “prayer day” in response to the disaster. A historian reports that the citizens gathered in churches and “listened to sermons, sang psalms, and prayed for hours.”

The prophet Joel describes an overwhelming disaster faced by the people of Judah that also led to prayer. A massive swarm of locusts had covered the land and “laid waste [its] vines and ruined [its] fig trees” (Joel 1:7). As he and his people reeled from the devastation, Joel prayed, “Lord, help us!” (1:19 nlt). Directly and indirectly, both the people of northern Europe and Judah experienced disasters due to the effects of sin and this fallen world (Genesis 3:17–19; Romans 8:20–22). But they also found that these times led them to call out to God and seek Him in prayer (Joel 1:19). And God said, “Even now . . . return to me with all your heart” (2:12).

When we face difficulties and disaster, may we turn to God—perhaps in anguish, perhaps in repentance. “Compassionate” and “abounding in love” (v. 13), He draws us to Himself—providing the comfort and help we need.

What a Find!

By |2022-07-20T02:33:05-04:00July 20th, 2022|

While scuba diving in 2021, Jennifer’s eyes fixed on a small, green bottle at the bottom of a river. She scooped up what she describes as “a once-in-a-lifetime find.” The bottle contained a message written by a young man on his eighteenth birthday in 1926! The words requested that whoever discovered the message return it to him. Jennifer used Facebook to locate a delighted family member of the man. Although he’d died in 1995, his once-hidden note brought joy to Jennifer and his family.

In 2 Kings 22:8, we read that Hilkiah made an extraordinary find when he “found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” Instructed by King Josiah to “repair the temple” (v. 5), the king’s secretary found what was likely the book of Deuteronomy. “When the king heard the words of the Law,” he was both deeply moved and greatly distressed (v. 11). Like the temple in Judah itself, God and the reading of and obedience to the Scriptures He’d inspired had been neglected by the people. In repentance, the king had the temple swept clean of idols and anything that would displease God as he instituted reforms for his nation (23:1–24).

Today, our Bibles contain sixty-six books that reveal God’s wisdom and instruction—including Deuteronomy. As we read and listen to them, may the Holy Spirit transform our minds and reform our ways. Dive into the life-changing story of Scripture today and find wisdom to explore for a lifetime!

How Are You?

By |2022-06-18T09:06:05-04:00June 18th, 2022|

Charla was dying, and she knew it. While she was lying on her hospital room bed, her surgeon and a group of young interns poured into the room. For the next several minutes, the doctor ignored Charla as he described her terminal condition to the interns. Finally, he turned to her and asked, “And how are you?” Charla weakly smiled and warmly told the group about her hope and peace in Jesus.

Some two thousand years ago, Jesus’ battered, naked body hung in humiliation on a cross before a crowd of onlookers. Would He lash out at His tormentors? No. “Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ ” (Luke 23:34). Though falsely convicted and crucified, He prayed for His enemies. Later, He told another humiliated man, a criminal, that—because of the man’s faith—he would soon be with Him “in paradise” (v. 43). In His pain and shame, Jesus chose to share words of hope and life out of love for others.

As Charla concluded sharing Christ to her listeners, she posed the question back to the doctor. She tenderly looked into the tear-filed eyes of the surgeon and asked, “And how are you?” By Christ’s grace and power, she’d shared words of life—showing love and concern for him and others in the room. In whatever trying situation we face today or in the days ahead, let’s trust God to provide courage to lovingly speak words of life.

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