I walked away from a conversation massaging my injured feelings. I felt like the victim of a dozen papercuts. Replaying the conversation offered no insight. What had triggered my friend’s barbs?Continue Reading
Unsafe people live, work, and worship among us. They insert themselves as experts on social media. They may appear friendly and helpful. But a dark streak lurks beneath their scrubbed exterior. How do we recognize unsafe people?
Laban, whose name means white, was a dark cloud in Jacob’s life. Laban betrayed his own daughter as well as Jacob by switching brides on Jacob’s wedding night. He cheated Jacob, changing his wages ten times. His story helps us identify the unsafe people in our lives. Let’s take a closer look at Jacob’s father-in-law and employer for twenty years.Continue Reading
Are You Gentle?
How do you treat your weaknesses? Do you castigate yourself when you fall short of your standards or impose stringent disciplines to overcome your weaknesses? Or, do you treat yourself with compassion?
How do you treat those who disappoint you, are caught in sin, or don’t share your views? Do you raise your voice and pound the table to hold their attention? Do you hope to win them through quarreling?
Using gentleness to combat sin and weakness may seem counterintuitive. Yet, it can change a king’s heart and break a bone. It may not be your natural response, but this supernatural choice carries divine power.Continue Reading
The smell of burning sacrifices made it impossible for Samson to ignore the Philistines’ celebration. He hung his head. It’d taken blindness and captivity to open his spiritual eyes and loosen the bonds of his self-centeredness.
His mother’s eyes had shone every time she said, “The Lord himself has chosen you to be his special servant to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” How had he not noticed when she stopped reminding him of his calling?
Philistine cheers jolted him from his thoughts. Maybe he could still do something. “O God, please strengthen me just once more,” he prayed.
Hebrews 11 names Samson in its list of those commended for their faith. His backstory seems to show more flaws than faith. If I were listing examples of faith, I’d hardly include Samson. Yet, God did. Samson’s story offers hope for fathers and mothers of prodigals.
A Promising Beginning and Messy Middle
The angel of the Lord appeared to Samson’s mother and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. …He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judg. 13:3–5).
What high hopes these words must have raised in Samson’s parents. The Lord had set apart their son from the womb to the tomb to be his special servant. Samson’s parents were devout followers of Yahweh. His mother followed the strict Nazarite diet. His father Manoah prayed for instructions on how to bring up their son.Continue Reading