Why God Invented Swimming Pools

A Christian physician, whom I should not name for safety reasons, told me of God’s faithfulness to complete that which He had started. He and his wife have led a ministry to Afghanistan for many years that included medical care, personal evangelism and hospice development. When the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, their ability to continue ministry in person was torn from them.

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MRI

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3, NIV).

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A Song from the Heart

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him” (Psalm 40:3, NIV).

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A Brilliant Machinist

Somehow in our fall from grace, we were distorted to become creatures to suck life in, like this vacuum cleaner. Our natural, fallen selves are wired to take from the world, to seek good things for ourselves and possess them, to suck in all that our hearts long for.

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My Way, Not Yours

I’ve been discouraged over my “effectiveness” for Christ recently. It seems that, though I love Him, I am not accomplishing the work for Him that I imagine. At 10 a.m. this morning I took a 15-minute break and kneeled in the hospital chapel, just asking for Him to do what He wanted with me for His service.

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Taking It with You

She’s had two cancers and is free from both now. She moved to be near her daughter, but her daughter has rejected her. “I have to love her from a distance. She got a new job and bought a Range Rover. Now she acts like I never loved her. She don’t know that you can’t take nuthin’ but your good works with you when you die.”

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Making God Smile

It was a number I didn’t recognize and answered too late. When I called back, no one picked up. Later the same number called me and said, “Dr. ___?” I recognized her voice from the past immediately. I called her name and said, “You must have butt dialed me.”

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Almost Eaten

Last week I felt inspired. I delivered the first half of a Christian-life lecture to local healthcare students, and it was smooth.

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Birthday Trip

The hospital notified me today that one of the residents I supervise had more than 600 “view alerts” on her computer that had not been addressed. Alerts contain critical labs, radiology results or notes from other physicians who need a response.

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Forbearance

The hospital notified me today that one of the residents I supervise had more than 600 “view alerts” on her computer that had not been addressed. Alerts contain critical labs, radiology results or notes from other physicians who need a response.

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Contending as One

We were sitting at a small table in the cheap furniture section of the hospital employee dining room, my first chance to get to know her: a young, chief of in-patient psychiatry, mother of three small children, follower of Christ—me: an old guy, chief of oncology, 50 years married, grandfather of six, follower of Christ.

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Oxymoronic

He spoke of the Lord often as we addressed his malignancy, acknowledging Jesus as the one he trusted with his health. But somehow, he sidetracked us into a conversation about his sexual exploits in ways that were natural to him but too graphic for me. I was somewhat perplexed by these two lines of conversation that seemed a bit oxymoronic.

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What’s in an Age?

I was visiting a patient in the rehab center who had undergone a knee replacement. He was fine except for the slow pace of rehab. His wife was there, vivacious, energetic, appearing far younger than her stated age, which I will not share. I asked her how they had met.

 

“We actually met in church,” she shared. “You know, I am older than he. When we started dating, he wouldn’t tell me how old he was. I called the church office to find out, but they wouldn’t tell me either. By the time I found out he was five years younger, I was already in love, and the rest is history.”

What difference does age make anyway?

Quite a bit, actually…

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Turn Around

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30, ESV).

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Zoom Encounter

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).

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The Conductor

He spent a month with me as a fourth-year medical student, an Alaskan who loved the Lord.

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The Unexpected

As a physician, I was not shocked at my dear friend’s death, but I was surprised by the way I discovered it. It was clearly unexpected when I walked into his room.

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The Way Back

Whatever the cause of the separation, God wants us back. He stands with open arms, running toward us, like the father of the prodigal. All it takes from us is surrender.

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Belonging

“People without our Lord believe the world belongs to them or to some unnamed, unapproachable power out there. They live reactive lives, responding to the actions of fickle circumstance—making plans, and changing them as the world changes around them, hoping to steal something good and meaningful from an Olympian-like god of Fate who has never existed and never cared.””

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He is or He Ain’t

“I greeted him in church, a father who had lost his daughter abruptly to cancer. I could not help but put my arms around him and tell him how sorry I was. Six pews down, I was surprised to see a friend who had missed church for months due to a prolonged illness that had stumped the specialists. She shared, “Two weeks ago, five of our Bible Study class came over, laid hands on me and prayed for me. I have been improving ever since.””

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Face-planting

I wish his statement was more true of me. One of our gospel’s major principles is that followers of Christ are called to give. It’s clear in the teachings of Jesus, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42, NIV).

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Giving

I wish his statement was more true of me. One of our gospel’s major principles is that followers of Christ are called to give. It’s clear in the teachings of Jesus, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42, NIV).

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Branded

I could tell he was more uncomfortable than usual by the way he was seated, leaning forward, head down. His malignant disorder was doing fine, but his body was racked with arthritis. The orthopedic specialist had given up on improving his chronic pain. 

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The Best Life

My wife had put up with me for many years before I took her to Spain recently on our 50th wedding anniversary. Seville is an amazing town founded by the Phoenicians, developed by the Carthaginians and conquered by the Romans as a sea port in southern Spain before the river connecting it to the ocean silted out.

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Why Do I Believe?

My wife had put up with me for many years before I took her to Spain recently on our 50th wedding anniversary. Seville is an amazing town founded by the Phoenicians, developed by the Carthaginians and conquered by the Romans as a sea port in southern Spain before the river connecting it to the ocean silted out.

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In Defense of Marriage

I know God does not plan such a union of love for everyone. He has different and important plans for others with the freedom of singleness (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).

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A Child’s Prayer

I know some of it is realizing that the child we love has a new connection with the God who may someday become the Lord of his or her life.

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More Than Conquerors

How does God’s goodness make us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) when we suffer, whether we ask for the suffering or not?

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Politics and Faith

Our faith should certainly impact our politics, but I’m not sure our politics should ever impact our faith. Certainly, politics impact faith for those who are persecuted around the world because of their faith, but that is not how it should be.

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The Realist

One of the young doctors I train is an amazingly good doctor and a person of faith. She had a discussion today with a patient who refused the medicine we offered, wanting to wait instead for God’s miracle.

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A Second Step

A few weeks ago, he had come to me discouraged that his physical debilitation had taken away his ability to serve the Lord. Today was different. He began to share as I was transcribing his prescriptions.

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A Second Baptism

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b, NIV).

“I’m ready for you to let me go, Doc,” he said.

“You mean to heaven?” I asked.

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Heart Words

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b, NIV).

“I’m ready for you to let me go, Doc,” he said.

“You mean to heaven?” I asked.

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Easter Signals

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b, NIV).

“I’m ready for you to let me go, Doc,” he said.

“You mean to heaven?” I asked.

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Reasons for Living

Reasons for Living

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b, NIV).

“I’m ready for you to let me go, Doc,” he said.

“You mean to heaven?” I asked.

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Promises

Promises

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…” (Romans 4:18, NIV).

“I got my hug!”

I had not seen her in a while. Her husband had been one of my dear friends with medical problems that complicated COVID and took his life last year.

“I was so blessed,” she said. “I was dreaming about him, just like when he was healthy. In that dream he gave me this wonderful hug.”

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Car Thief

Car Thief

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9, NIV).

My patient has just retired, and I was curious how he was handling it.

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Stinky

Stinky

“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV).

Yesterday morning one of my colleagues, whose office is next to mine, walked into my office just before clinic started.

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On His Blindness

On His Blindness

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel” (Philippians 1:12, NIV).

He was beaten down by loneliness and a cancer that brought him pain, but he loves Jesus the Christ. When I asked him how he was doing on this visit, he said, “Not so well.” I was surprised at his continued response, unrelated to the issues above: “The main reason I’m not doing well is that I want to serve the Lord again, and I just can’t.” He was too weak and too displaced by his circumstances to have a solid foundation from which he could serve, and his heart was deeply committed.

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Impractical Decisions

Impractical Decisions

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV).

I’ve worked with him for years, through his aggressive cancer, allogeneic transplant, now doing well except for lung damage from the graft versus host disease. He always brings me homemade beef jerky that I hand off to those who love it. Today he had a special request: “I need a letter to go to the Philippines.” He had met a young lady online and had been online dating for four months, now planning to marry her there and bring her home to the U.S.

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Louder

Louder

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16, NIV).

He sat across from me and had time to chat while I was ordering some complex treatment for him, a part-time pastor with theology as good as a ThD professor. We were talking about how much the world needs Jesus.

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Pulling Back

Pulling Back

“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever” (Psalm 19:9a, NIV).

She has issues with chronic anxiety and depression, which are reasonable in her case, with a history of three different cancers and a family that rejected her. She is healthy today and was sharing with me her dependence on Jesus. “I just bring Him along with me. Sometimes I get so worried, and He comes in and just makes me feel warm and comfortable in spite of things.” She added, “Sometimes, though, I get too close to Him, and it scares me. I have to pull back.”

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Crying Out for Momma

Crying Out for Momma

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4, NIV).

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Valueless People

“He said also to the man who had invited him, ‘When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you…’” (Luke 14:12-14, ESV).

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Limiting God

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6, NIV).

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Exclusion

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20, NIV).

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Steroid Mania

steroid

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NIV).

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Christmas Lights

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27a, NKJV).

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Saving the Coach

Saving the Coach

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14, NKJV).

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Solid

“…whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27, NIV).

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Holy Spirit Boldness

“Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11, NIV).

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Spring Chickens

I honestly don’t know what the word “old” means anymore. When we measure our days against the eternity that is ours, we are all spring chickens.

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The Voice

God speaks to us in so many ways: through incidents like this, through dreams, through visions, through an unexpected word from a friend, through a formal Sunday sermon, through a quiet morning Bible passage.

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Cumulus Clouds

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14, NIV).

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Momma’s Pillow

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all’” (Proverbs 31:28-29, NIV).

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Swimming for the First Time

“In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’” (Acts 2:17, NIV).

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Forever Faithful

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, ESV).

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Living What We Know

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10, NIV).

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It’s Adenocarcinoma

“In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you will extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16, NIV).

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Friendship

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15, NIV).

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Letting Go of the Miracle

“‘Then neither do I condemn you’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8:11b, NIV).

I had managed his lymphoma for a few years. The task had been difficult due to his drug problem affecting his compliance—I almost lost him twice, but he is in good shape now.

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Anger

“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23, NIV).

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Training Well

“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23, NIV).

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The Value of Life

“Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23, NIV).

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Rough People

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV).

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Doctor Tears

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25, ESV).

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Coronary Stents

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” (Matthew 6:34, NIV).

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No Insulin

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).

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Father’s Day

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him” (Luke 15:20, NIV).

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Too Deep

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, NIV).

I received this text early last week. “Dr. ____, Can I come see you today? I’m throwing up and my stomach hurts. And my brother just shot himself in front of me.”

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Prayer List

“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18b, NIV).

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Regrets

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22, NIV).

He is a sharp, talented colleague with whom I work. His son had been suffering with pain for four years. Neither chiropractor nor medical doctors had come up with a solution. Now the truth is out, and the tumor has been removed. He sat in my office talking in circular ways about the long, drawn-out process he and his son had endured to reach the conclusion that finally made his son whole. He talked about the system and the doctors and his frustration at it all. He didn’t talk about the one thing he came to tell me. As he was leaving, I asked him, “Do you feel guilty that you didn’t help him earlier?” “Yes!!!” he answered.

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Temptation

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

Celiac Disease is a fascinating disorder caused by transglutaminase antibodies triggered by glutens in wheat and other grains. It presents in a variety of ways, from severe immediate reactions, to chronic autoimmune symptoms, to even an asymptomatic state. As an oncologist I knew little about celiac disease until my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Italy, where I learned to love pasta. Shortly thereafter I developed minor lower extremity edema. I was evaluated and found to be iron, B12 and Vitamin D deficient with minor anemia. Sure enough, it was celiac disease. I had been born with it, and it was just now waking up. No big deal, just quit eating wonderful food, and it all goes away. It’s hard to be good. Today one of my oncology fellows brought me a peace offering because he thought he had disrespected me, though he had not. It was a box of the most incredible donuts. I knew better. I counted the cost, and I ate half of the most wonderful coconut-coated donuts I had ever tasted, at least since my diagnosis. It was impossible for me to refuse.

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Stones in the River

“…In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:7, NIV).

It’s been a while, but this weekend I remembered. I shared it with my son and his two kids. We were young then with two small children, missionaries in Nigeria, headed home for a medical evaluation. As we signed in at the Lagos departure gate, dreading the next 18 hours on planes, a Nigerian boy stepped out from the shadows and offered, “I can get first class tickets for your family.” I asked how much and handed him the $10 he suggested. Knowing the scam but liking the young man, I watched him melt away into the crowd. When we reached the line to board our plane, we discovered that our tickets had been changed to first class seats. We were amazed and incredibly grateful, thanking God for His recent angel. The only complaint came from our 6-year-old daughter who thought the caviar was nasty.

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Mother’s Day

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).

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Faith or Hope?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).

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The Mustard Seed

“And He said, ‘How can we illustrate the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown in the soil, is smaller than all the seeds on the ground’” (Mark 4:30-31, HCSB).

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Too Late

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Luke 23:43, NIV).

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Wonderfully Made

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV).

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More than Myself

“All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. On that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions” (Exodus 12:50-51, NIV).

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A Request

“They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request, ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus’” (John 12:21, NIV).

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Thank You Cards

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20, NIV).

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Habits of Life

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).

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Swimming Upstream

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12, NIV).

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Multiplied

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown” (Mark 4:20, NIV).

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Guaranteed

Photo Credit: Unsplash.com

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV).

Two years ago, two Albanian medical students came to stay in our home while they studied for one month at our local medical school. One was devoted to the Lord, the other an agnostic. I pray daily for each. The one devoted to Christ remains so, the other remains agnostic. We gave the agnostic a Bible to read as he left our home. If he read it, it did not change him. However, in our recent mission to Albania, we met his sister. God had come to her in a dream and told her to read the Bible. She picked up the Bible we had given to her brother and found Christ as her Savior and Lord.

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Time Constraints

“…The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel” (Joshua 10:13-14, NIV).

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A Crowded ER

“At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Mark 10:22, NIV).

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Chemical Warfare

“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” (Genesis 50:19b-20, NIV).

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Prescription for Prayer

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV).

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Who Am I?

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6, ESV).

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A Roma Christmas

Christmas in the Middle of a Mess December 12, 2018

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son…” (Luke 2:6, NIV).

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Whatever It Takes

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones, ‘I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life’” (Ezekiel 37:5, NIV).

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