All the works that Jesus did on earth had to be extremely important for the Son of God to come down in order to do them. But when you examine those extremely important things, you see that not all of them were what most people would call “spectacular” in the physical. Many of the things He did—the spiritual transformations—had very little, if any, fanfare. Many of them, like His witness to Nicodemus,1 or forgiving the immoral woman’s sins,2 or His encounter with the woman at the well,3 weren’t outstanding in physical ways.
The world in which Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ earthly parents, grew up was substantially different from our world today, and they were probably still very young when they were betrothed. In ancient Israel, a couple became betrothed when the man gave the woman either a letter or a piece of money, no matter how small, directly or through a messenger. It was also required that he expressly state, before witnesses, that he intended to make the woman his wife. At the time of the betrothal, the marriage contract was written and agreed upon. Once the woman was betrothed, she was legally considered the man’s wife.
Do you sometimes forget to pray, or not know where to start or how to go about it when you do remember? It takes a while for prayer to become a habit, but it’s one that’s worth cultivating because it can solve so many problems, sometimes before they even happen. If your prayer times need a jump-start, these tips should help.
God is in the heavenly realm, but He works in the real world. He deals not just in spiritual blessings and rewards, but in tangible, black-and-white, dollars-and-cents material blessings and rewards as well. He’s the God of heaven, and also the God of this present world. He transcends both, rules in both, lives in both, dominates both‚ creates in both, and has the power to pay us in both currencies.
I don’t think that God intended any marriage to be perfect. I think of it as the “thorn” factor that He allows into the equation—that element that we shrink from, but that He knows we need. You may wonder, Why would we need differences of opinion, sensitivities, misunderstandings, jealousies, resentments, comparing, sacrificing, arguments, emotional upsets, fears, heartbreaks, and adversity? Those things don’t sound like they would build a very strong marriage.
According to Dr. James H. Bossard, a former professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the greatest weaknesses in family life is the way parents talk in front of their children. After studying extensive recordings of table talk, he wrote, “I have found that family after family had definite, consistent conversational habits, and that the critical pattern was the most prevalent. These families rarely had a good word to say about anyone. They complained continuously about friends, relatives, neighbors—almost every aspect of their lives, from the lines of people in the supermarket to the stupidity of their bosses.
Appreciation is a human need. It’s not just something that’s nice to have when possible, but something that each person needs in order to be happy and to thrive. That’s true in every setting, but it’s perhaps nowhere more evident than in the workplace. When people feel genuinely appreciated by those they work for and with, they’re much more likely to be excellent contributors and “team players.”
Maria and I recently returned from a trip to Switzerland where we stayed with some friends who live by a lake. While there, I would often look out the window at the beautiful lake and surrounding mountains. There was one mountain in particular which stood out to me. It jutted up like a gigantic rock, and each morning when we opened the curtains, I would look at it and marvel at how majestically it towered over the lake.
Christians aren’t immune to difficulty—family problems, fears, uncertainty, too much to do, financial pressures, and so much more. Having faith doesn’t keep us from difficulties, but we who know the Lord can avail ourselves of His promises, which can get us through those difficulties.
I want to share a few of the things that help me to keep going when things are rough. These are part of my personal survival list.
Peter and I were taking a few days’ break at a small beach town. One late afternoon, I was taking a walk along the beach, when I looked up to find one of the most stunningly beautiful scenes taking shape before my eyes.
The scattered clouds began to take on pastel hues of peach, violet, and gold against the deepening blue of the sky. I love sunsets, but every once in a great while I encounter one that is so awe-inspiring that I can’t take my eyes off it. And the Great Painter was certainly getting my attention with this one. It was as if He was pouring liquid colored light into each cloud. The colors crept higher and higher until they seemed to overflow, and their streams became a living, swirling kaleidoscope of ever-changing beauty.