Renowned psychotherapist and physician Alfred Adler stressed the need to understand individuals within their social context. Calling for compassion and empathy in relating to others, he described empathy as “seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
Last year, as we were headed to my sister’s house on Christmas Eve, my husband and I picked up a few last-minute items at a large grocery store. My musings on the variety of shoppers populating the store on this special night turned to dismay when I headed past an aisle where Christmas items had been stocked only days earlier. Gone were the splashes of green and red. Now pink and red heart-shaped items for Valentine’s Day filled the shelves.
Do not judge others” may be the most popular verse in the world. It’s the one phrase from the Bible that everyone seems to know—and often misapply. A former politician continued to text inappropriate photos of himself to strangers even after he apologized and resigned in disgrace. He angrily told a disgusted voter that he had no right to judge him. Pope Francis, when asked about gay priests, replied, “Who am I to judge?” I believe he meant that it’s not his job to judge people’s sins, but many mistook it as an endorsement of a homosexual lifestyle.
Hi, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Chia Poh Fang. This is my dialect name, and I’m a Hakka. So, in Chinese, my name reads Xie Bao Fang. “Xie” is my family name and it connotes gratitude. “Bao” means protection. And “Fang” means fragrance. So my name means “thank you for protecting the fragrance.”
My wife and I were downtown trying to start spiritual conversations with people we met. We came across a 23-year-old street dweller and shared the gospel with him using a method called The Big Story. It involves drawing circles to explain God’s story and plan of salvation. The young man had a pizza box at his feet as he sat on a street bench, so I drew on it as I explained the good news. God moved in his heart and he received Jesus as his Savior! What’s more, later we saw him sharing the circles on the box with a man who had joined him on the bench. Then, not long afterward, the new believer in Jesus was showing them to another person.
In 2004, a massive tsunami created by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia destroyed entire towns and villages. Hundreds of thousands lost their lives simply because they didn’t know the wave was coming. Many countries have now put tsunami warning systems in place, allowing citizens to be alerted so they can move to higher ground.
We like to sing hymns in our church—the older the better. We often put new music to them, but sometimes we sing the songs as written. The power of the words, the beautiful melodies, the fact that Christians sang these truths long before us, make hymns an important part of our worship.
In trying to sell our house by owner (not using a real- estate agent), my husband made sure to ask each of our neighbors for permission to place a directional sign at an intersection near our home. One particular homeowner seemed surprised that Scott had bothered to ask. As he gave his assent, he admitted that his usual response was to pull up any signs left by others who had not asked his permission. So we weren’t surprised, when driving by his house a few weeks later, that our sign remained in its place while another real estate sign had been removed and tossed to the side. The lesson for us was clear: A little respect goes a long way.
The opening line of the 1984 song “Holding Out for a Hero” asks, “Where have all the good men gone?” That’s a fair question in a world that has seen more than its share of passive or violent males.
Most parents have great expectations for their children. I’m sure the world’s first parents, Adam and Eve, had high hopes for their first child. We see this in Eve’s response: “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man!” (Genesis 4:1). The reformist Martin Luther taught that this rendering does not quite capture the intensity of the optimism Eve had for her firstborn. Knowing of God’s promise of a Savior (Genesis 3:15), Eve honestly believed that her son was the promised Messiah. There’s a sense in which Eve said: “I have the man from the Lord!” Or as found in the NASB footnotes: “I have gotten a man, the Lord.” One Bible expositor translated it as, “Here he is. The Redeemer is here.”
A gifted local actor was asked to play the part of Scrooge in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for my friend’s church. The revised story included a scene where his crusty character broke down, confessed his sin, and received Jesus as his Savior. Each play practice, the actor struggled with the scene—for he was not a believer in Christ. On opening night, however, as he was spoke the scripted words of repentance and acceptance of God’s gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit moved in his heart and he gave his life to Jesus!
I had the heart-wrenching, joyous, bittersweet experience of losing my dad on January 6, 2012—his birthday. Our loss was truly his gain! He had been battling rapidly deteriorating health before God graciously took him home.
Rhythm and blues artist Rihanna sang of the power of friendship to pull us through cloudy weather in her hit song Umbrella. “Now that it’s raining more than ever,” she sings, “Know that we’ll still have each other; You can stand under my umbrella.” An umbrella is a memorable metaphor for our need to help each other, but it also…
One of the many traditional Christmas carols we often hear and sing this time of year is We Three Kings. It was written by John Henry Hopkins in 1857. Go ahead—sing a few lines!
Now, I hate to topple a much-loved tradition, but there were likely more than three kings who traveled afar to visit Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12). The Bible doesn’t…
You can look at a window and see its glass and frame or you can look through a window and see the mountain vista it’s there to reveal. Today’s passage is a little like that. A superficial reading will miss the beauty of all that we’re meant to understand.
On first glance we see just another healing story about Jesus—albeit…