“’For the mountains may depart,
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
Imagine for a moment, as you sit reading this, as you look out the window at the skyline you see every day where you work. Imagine that skyline suddenly crumbling and the world as you know it disappearing in an instant. Or imagine coming home after working all day and fighting traffic to find your...
"Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die." Psalm 102:18-20
I was browsing the Des Moines Register's website the other day, and I decided to peruse the mug shots of the recently arrested. I've always been curious as to why these photos are up -- is it a public shaming sort...
A recent article on NYTimes.com boasts of “A New Clue to Explain Existence” found in experiments on particles called muons and neutral B-mesons. Apparently it’s a problem, mathematically speaking, why there is more matter than anti-matter in our universe, and scientists want to know why we exist (who doesn’t?), so they’re poking at particles in a collider for an answer. (Their words, not mine.)
I’m not going...
I was talking to a friend about Easter, and he mentioned how much he loves the holiday for the candy. (Who doesn’t?!) Then, realizing what he said, he quickly tacked on, “Oh, and also for Jesus/the crucifixion/resurrection/all that, too,” and he looked Heaven-ward with an “I’m sorry” sort of gesture. I had to ask him if he knew about God’s grace.
There are two holidays in this country that make people feel need to be at church: Christmas and Easter. Maybe people go out of tradition. Maybe out of a sense of obligation. Maybe out...
“The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”
I used to get in trouble with my coaches when I ran cross country. Instead of focusing ahead on the finish, I would keep my eyes down on my feet. I would think that if I didn’t focus on how much longer I had to run, then the race would be easier. But I also didn’t pass very many people ahead...
"And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for beauty and for glory." Exodus 28:2
I was recently reading through Exodus after what some may consider the “fun” part with the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. For example, as God was describing his initial plan for the Israelite nation, he goes from Exodus 25 to 30 to explain in precise detail his sanctuary and the consecration of the priests. That sort of reading is a little more low-key than frogs and fireballs from heaven. But among the repetition and description, I was...
“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
I can be a religious-moment spiritual-high holy-rolling sort of junkie. I can find myself going from day to day looking intently for gigantic miracles, or I’ll perhaps pray a big prayer and then wait, oh, a good two hours—only to promptly run into disappointment when God doesn’t deliver the fireworks on schedule like I planned. My idea of God can sometimes be too big, so that I...
When I first started following Jesus I was flat-out desperately in love with him. It wasn’t difficult to feel a love from my heart when his grace was so immediate, overwhelming, and powerful. But as time has gone on and the emotional high from my salvation has worn off, having a relationship with the Lord has become more difficult and even downright painful as he continues to work at my habitual sins.
This may sound childish on my part, but I have to admit there have been moments where I wished I could have run away...
I’ve always been a bit grateful that I don’t have a memory of the day I was born. For many people I hear that day was a joyous occasion, but I’m sure if I could remember it, my feelings at the time probably included a good mix of hunger, agitation, surprise, discomfort, and anxiety. (Like I said, thankfully I don’t remember.)
I find it interesting that as children our memories don’t start to form until much later. I have a three- to four-year period of my life where I know that I must have existed but have...
I attended my first rodeo last Friday and had a fantastic time—thanks to the fine people of Grand River, Iowa (and a friend who absolutely loves horses). I’m convinced nothing says “America” like the cowboy experience: manhandling cattle, racing horses, goofy-looking hats, and riding very angry ton-sized bulls.
We’re certainly not the first society to tango with bulls, but I bet we’re pioneers of the idea of riding a bucking one for entertainment and sport. We even have angering bulls down to a science with methods I will not describe lest PETA or small children happen to...
According to a group of statisticians at Oregon State University, the best answer to reduce your carbon footprint is actually not buying a green car or utilizing reusable grocery totes. Instead, they suggest having fewer children. Consider that along with the estimated price for raising a child: about $291,000 (and that doesn’t even include college). It seems like a no-brainer. Why would anyone bother having kids anymore?
In fact, you could save the $200k, buy a sweet car, and have less of an impact on global warming altogether, thus assuaging your global conscience in both a fashionable...
More often than not I catch my self-talk saying, “What is it that you have to offer that anyone would care about?” I’m not uncommonly interesting or wise or funny. When I look at myself, I tend to notice more what I can’t do than what I can. It doesn’t take long before I feel incapable and then I start doubting—not a good place to be.
But you know what? That’s all just one big lie. Jesus loves me, in a ridiculously amazing I-don’t-care-who-you-aren’t-or-what-you-can’t-do sort of way. He made me exactly how he wants me—it delighted him...
While we’re on the subject of all the things dying lately, I had a small loss of my own this weekend—some of my pet fish passed on to their porcelain heaven. I’m not down about it, but I am a bit bummed to say that I’m down to three fish when I started with ten. But my fish led good long lives, and I didn’t kill them within five minutes of bringing them home, so it was a small triumph for me.
I have to admit that I used to think of fish as boring pets. You...
What is happiness?
It’s a simple question, but with so many people in this world experiencing unhappiness in extreme severity, I think it’s a crucial one.
A few weeks ago I was reading a blog on the topic of happiness and the blogger quoted Rousseau, who had come to a very philosophical-sounding conclusion that happiness is a sort of state of reverie in which you simply exist in a timeless-feeling sort of way, without cares. The blogger went so far as to compare this feeling to a God-like state where one feels no...
This morning I read in Matthew 16 about the Pharisees demanding Jesus for signs from heaven. Then I pulled up Drudge Report and was hit with a report that SkyNews is carrying a story about a fossilized monkey to be heralded as the link in human evolution.
People want evidence. I think it’s a great testament to God’s handiwork that, given our five senses, we crave more, wanting to see, touch, experience everything. He gave us this world to enjoy and curiosity to explore it so that we might know something of the extent of his goodness....
Three brothers in Hong Kong are in the process of unveiling a replica of Noah’s Ark built to the specifications outlined in Genesis. It’s accurate in size, but this modern-day ark, according to the article in the Wall Street Journal, includes a few deviations from the original: a hotel, a restaurant, a museum, and only 67 pairs of fiberglass animals.
Something tells me Noah didn’t originally save space for a commemorative museum, but that’s okay. The fact that you can reconstruct the ark based on dimensions given in the flood account is just astounding. How...
A vivid memory I have from my childhood is of when my father returned from business trips. I can still remember how my heart would pound as I heard a car approaching from the street—my ear was tuned to pick out his engine from among other cars that would drive by. Then the garage would open and, after what seemed like an eternity, he’d finally walk through the door and I’d jump off the couch to hug him in the entryway. I can still remember exactly what he smelled like: travel and office and, well, daddy—jet fuel, printer paper, aftershave.
Do you ever stop to think about where you came from? One thing about being American is that just about everyone came here from somewhere else (and if you’re a mutt like me, you can’t even really claim a nationality save American). But did you ever think beyond a few generations ago, beyond even the concept of African, or Asian, or European? Where did those people come from? And the ones before them?
There was a time way back, when God divided the world into two types of people: Jew or Gentile. Most of us are Gentiles....
I’ve had a verse that’s been haunting me for a couple months. Actually, it’s a psalm, Psalm 133. It’s short, simple, and to the point, but it packs a powerful punch (and I’m a sucker for analogies).
This psalm sticks with me because when I first read it, I didn’t understand it—especially verse 2. I understood that kings and priests were anointed, and Jesus was, too, by the woman at Bethany. But I’m kind of a clean freak and I never thought of oil poured over the head as an attractive or desirable thing. All I could...
Time for a quiz: Can you name the seven deadly sins?
Did you get them all? They are: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, wrath, and pride.
How about the Ten Commandments? (Check Exodus 20:1-18 to see if you got them right.)
Now try to find where the seven deadly sins are listed in the Bible. Can’t find it? I wonder why. I’m always amused when the seven “deadly” sins come up. The idea that there are only seven deadly ones is a pretty big lie, yet you’ll find more often...
When I read the Old Testament, it never fails to amaze me how many times the Israelites could forget their God. Engrained in their society were rituals and holidays that were meant to remind people of how the Lord saves and provides. But time and time again, it is recorded: “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt.” Judges 2:11-12
The Lord performed miracles on such...
Sometimes I wonder if I’ve grown out of some elementary school stages. Like, in situations where I know I need to pay attention, if I sit in the back of the room, I usually wind up getting myself into trouble.
Case in point: A few days ago in church I sat three rows from the back, and while I was listening to my pastor, I also spent a good portion of his message attempting to make witty yet pointless quips to my neighbors. I know I missed out on some things I should have heard.
Looks like the war on apathy isn’t going so well. They’ve pulled out the big guns this time. Things are so bad, in fact, that we don’t just have the politicians acting. They’ve had to finagle celebrities to pretend like they relate to us just to get us to vote, too.
Leo DiCaprio and a host of other starlets have pulled together in...
Last winter, during the last Christmas break of my college career, I was at a conference with my church. We did a lot of singing, and there’s one song about how Jesus’ love takes my breath away. I thought to myself, “Gee, Lord, I don’t really know what that’s like. I love you more than anything, but you’ve never really done anything to take my breath away before.”
A couple months after the conference, life was back in full swing. Overwhelmed with my last semester of school plus work and church (though not necessarily in that order),...
Why Des Moines?
I get asked that one a lot. People think I’m nuts because, after moving here from Colorado for school, I decided to actually stay. “But—the mountains!” people exclaim. Yes, they are very, very beautiful. But that’s part of the problem. Everyone has a vacation idea of Colorado. Living there, where everyone and their brother is building houses all over the scenery, is something else.
My question is, why not Des Moines? Well, okay, there’s the winter, I’ll give you that. Frozen humidity that encapsulates your car in a thin layer...