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Beating as One

By |2022-12-27T01:33:03-05:00December 27th, 2022|

Stories have captivated humans since the dawn of creation—functioning as a way to pass down knowledge long before written language existed. We’ve all known the delight of hearing or reading a story and being immediately engaged by such opening lines as “once upon a time.” The power of a story appears to extend beyond merely enjoyment: when we listen to a story together, our heartbeats seem to synchronize! Though our individual heartbeats vary over the course of a day, and might only match another’s coincidentally, new research indicates our hearts may all fall into the same rhythm when we hear the same story at the same time.

God begins telling us His story with the words, “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). From the moment Adam and Eve first drew breath (v. 27), God has used that unfolding story to shape and influence not just our individual lives but also—and perhaps more importantly—our collective life as His children. Through the Bible—the most magnificent nonfiction story ever recorded—our hearts as believers in Jesus are joined together as people set apart for His purposes (1 Peter 2:9).

In response to that story, may our hearts beat in shared rhythm, delighted by the Author’s creative works. And may we share His story with others, declaring “his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples” (Psalm 96:3), inviting them to become part of it too.

When Weakness Is Strength

By |2022-10-29T02:33:19-04:00October 29th, 2022|

Drew had been imprisoned for two years because he served Jesus. He’d read stories of missionaries who felt constant joy throughout their incarceration, but he confessed “this was not my experience.” He told his wife that God had picked the wrong man to suffer for Him. She replied, “No. I think maybe He picked the right man. This was not an accident.”

 

Drew could likely relate to the prophet Jeremiah, who had faithfully served God by warning Judah that God would punish them for their sins. But God’s judgment hadn’t fallen yet, and Judah’s leaders beat Jeremiah and put him in stocks. Jeremiah blamed God: “You deceived me, Lord” (v. 7). The prophet believed God had failed to deliver. His word had only “brought me insult and reproach all day long” (v. 8). “Cursed be the day I was born!” Jeremiah said. “Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” (vv. 14, 18).

Eventually Drew was released, but through his ordeal he began to understand that perhaps God chose him—much like He chose Jeremiah—because he was weak. If he and Jeremiah had been naturally strong, they might have received some of the praise for their success. But if they were naturally weak, all the glory for their perseverance would go to Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). His frailty made him the perfect person for Jesus to use.

Promise-Keeper

By |2020-09-26T09:06:02-04:00September 26th, 2020|

Gripped by the gravity of the promises he was making to LaShonne, Jonathan found himself stumbling as he repeated his wedding vows. He thought, How can I make these promises and not believe they’re possible to keep? He made it through the ceremony, but the weight of his commitments remained. After the reception, Jonathan led his wife to the chapel where he prayed—for more than two hours—that God would help him keep his promise to love and care for LaShonne.

Jonathan’s wedding-day fears were based on the recognition of his human frailties. But God, who promised to bless the nations through Abraham’s offspring (Galatians 3:16), has no such limitations.

To challenge his Jewish Christian audience to perseverance and patience to continue in the Christian faith, the writer of Hebrews recalled God’s promises to Abraham, Abraham’s patient waiting, and the fulfillment of the what had been promised (Hebrews 6:13–15). Abraham and Sarah’s status as senior citizens was no barrier to the fulfillment of God’s promise to give Abraham “many descendants” (v. 14).

Are you challenged to trust God despite being weak, frail, and human? Are you struggling to keep your commitments; to fulfill your pledges and vows? In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God promises to help us: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For over thirty-six years God has helped Jonathan and LaShonne. Why not trust Him to help you?

Suffering Together

By |2020-09-01T09:05:03-04:00September 1st, 2020|

In 2013, seventy-year-old James McConnell, a British Royal Marine veteran, died. McConnell had no family, and staff from his nursing home feared no one would attend his funeral. A man tapped to officiate McConnell’s memorial service, posted a Facebook message: “In this day and age it is tragic enough that anyone has to leave this world with no one to mourn their passing, but this man was family. . . . If you can make it to the graveside . . . to pay your respects to a former brother in arms then please try to be there.” Two-hundred Royal Marines packed the pews!

These British compatriots exhibited a biblical truth: we’re tied to one another. “The body is not made up of one part, but of many,” Paul says (1 Corinthians 12:14). We’re not isolated. Just the opposite: we’re bound in Jesus. Scripture reveals organic interconnection: “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with [him]” (v. 26 nasb). As believers in Jesus, members of God’s new family, we move toward one another, into the pain, into the sorrow, into those murky places where we would fear to go alone. But thankfully we do not go alone.

Perhaps the worst part of suffering is when we feel we’re drowning in the dark all by ourselves. God, however, creates a new community that suffers together. A new community where no one should be left in the dark.

Unseen Realities

By |2019-07-10T13:16:25-04:00July 10th, 2019|

Stephen Cass, an editor at Discover magazine, was determined to investigate some of the invisible things that are part of his daily life. As he walked toward his office in New York City, he thought: “If I could see radio waves, the top of the Empire State Building [with its host of radio and TV antennas] would be lit like a kaleidoscopic flare, illuminating the entire city...”

Divine Diversions

By |2019-06-24T12:08:35-04:00June 28th, 2019|

It can be difficult when we’re told “no” or “not now,” especially when we sense God has opened a door for us to serve others. Early in my ministry, two opportunities came my way where I thought my gifts and skills matched the churches’ needs, but both doors eventually closed. After these two disappointments, another position came along, and I was selected...

God Is Here

By |2018-11-23T14:08:57-05:00November 26th, 2018|

A plaque in our home states “Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” A modern version might read, “Acknowledged or unacknowledged, God is here.” Hosea, an Old Testament prophet who lived in the late eighth century bc (755–715), wrote similar words to the Hebrew nation. He encouraged the Israelites to “press on” (Hosea 6:3) to acknowledge God because they had forgotten Him (4:1)...

Thanks for Who God Is

By |2018-11-05T16:49:54-05:00November 16th, 2018|

Among the thousands of sentiments printed on greeting cards, perhaps one of the most touching is this simple statement: “Thanks for being you.” If you receive that card, you know that someone cares for you not because you did something spectacular for that person but because you’re appreciated for your essence. I wonder if this kind of sentiment might indicate for us one of the best ways to say “thank you” to God...

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