Strength for the Journey

Strength For The Journey Podcast | Strength for the Journey

with Joe Stowell
Strength For The Journey Podcast | Strength for the Journey


with Joe Stowell



Getting Along

Jul 25, 2019


I can still remember what it was like to take our family on vacation, only to have the kids in the backseat mar the joy of it all by their…

What We Really Need

Jul 24, 2019


Veruca Salt, one of the not-so-sweet characters in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was notorious for demanding whatever she wanted. Her indulgent parents didn’t know what to do, especially…

Born Free

Jul 23, 2019


I remember one commute when I ended up following a busted-up pickup truck that sported a bumper sticker proudly announcing, BORN FREE. As I thought about the announcement on the…

At Just The Right Time

Jul 22, 2019


Why is being on time so challenging for some of us? Even when we start early, something inevitably gets in our way to make us late.

But here’s the good news:…

More Than a Hobby

Jul 21, 2019


For most people I know, fishing is a hobby. Some approach it casually, picking up a pole and dipping a few worms in the lake for fun while they’re at…

Love and Life on the Big Screen

Jul 20, 2019


One problem with Bible-polished rule keepers is that from a distance we all tend to look pretty good. Especially compared to those who don’t keep God’s rules. And believing that…

It’s All Good

Jul 19, 2019


Auguste Bartholdi traveled from France to Egypt in 1856. His artistic mind was stimulated by the grandeur of the pyramids, the magnitude of the mighty Nile, and the beauty of…

Visible Reminders

Jul 18, 2019


What’s the first image you see when you turn on your computer? Maybe it’s a family portrait or a special vacation picture. Or perhaps your favorite pro athlete.

How about an…


Jul 17, 2019


The old Porgy and Bess tune that declares, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy”no doubt was written when life was so much different than what it is now. If you’re…

Saying “I Do”

Jul 16, 2019


No doubt about it, wedding season is in full swing. It’s the time when the words “I do” are heard in churches all over the country and the weight of the…

Getting Away From It All

Jul 15, 2019


A pastor friend of mine was telling another pastor about the long-awaited vacation that he and his family were preparing for. The other pastor immediately replied, “Vacation? I never take…

Agents of God’s Glory

Jul 14, 2019


A friend of mine is an agent for professional athletes. His whole career is based on representing his clients to teams in hopes of securing them the best possible salary…

My Only Hope

Jul 13, 2019


Any Star Wars fans out there? Remember the opening scenes of Episode IV? After a laser battle between a little spaceship (the good guys) and the ominous Imperial Star Destroyer (the bad…

Pay Attention!

Jul 12, 2019


I would love to have a dollar for every time I heard my Mom say, “Joe, pay attention to what you’re doing!” As I was growing up, there was always…

Solid Rock and Sinking Sand

Jul 11, 2019


Over the past several years we've seen hurricanes wreak mind-boggling destruction. When a hurricane hits, countless homes and lives are washed into the sea, and the things people count on…

On Target

Jul 10, 2019


If we’re not careful, we may become like the man who prided himself on being an expert archer. The secret to his success was that after he shot his arrow…

Painting Pictures of Peace

Jul 9, 2019


The Last Supper, painted by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the great Renaissance masterpieces. It took da Vinci 3 years to complete, and during this time in frustration his…

Pleasing Him

Jul 8, 2019


It may not always seem like it, but children really do want to please their parents. Just picture the little boy who beams with pleasure when his mom proudly puts the…

Getting Even or Getting Better?

Jul 7, 2019


I’ll never forget an older woman who came to my office and heatedly dumped on me a long list of objections about her husband. I asked how long she had…

You Are What You Think

Jul 6, 2019


I don’t know about you, but some nights I can’t shut down my mind—it races back through the day, scanning my mental hard drive, opening conversation files, viewing jpegs of…

Never Surrender!

Jul 5, 2019


The setting was England’s House of Commons in early June of 1940. Another World War had broken out and the prospects for Britain were uncertain at best. In the face…

A Parade Worth Marching In

Jul 4, 2019


For Americans, the Fourth of July is usually a day of picnics, parties, and parades. Putting aside partisan differences and political perspectives, the people of the nation gather to celebrate…

A Collector’s Heaven

Jul 3, 2019


People love to collect things—from baseball cards to stamps to coins. And while collecting can be a fun hobby, it is sobering to think that once we leave this earth,…

Overcommitters Anonymous

Jul 2, 2019


I am hopelessly prone to overcommitting myself. Is anyone else out there a little too quick to say “Yes” to every request? Let’s start our own little group—Overcommitters Anonymous. We…

Operation Rescue

Jul 1, 2019


I recall counseling a woman who had just come to know Christ. She was interested in becoming God’s kind of woman, so we were studying passages of Scripture that had…

Don’t Trust Your Instincts

Jun 30, 2019


Flying into a storm is a dangerous experience. The temptation is to fly by your instincts, or, as aviators say, “by the seat of your pants.” But as any pilot…

The Hot Shot Café

Jun 29, 2019


The Hot Shot Café in Asheville, North Carolina, is where the locals used to hang out for good old home cooking. Several years ago, I had the chance to eat…

God With Us

Jun 28, 2019


He was sitting three rows back in the aisle seat, slouched down in his chair, wearing a baseball cap on his head and a green Diesel shirt that complemented his blue…

Get In The Game

Jun 27, 2019


I love going to professional sporting events. There's nothing quite like cheering for your favorite team alongside thousands of other fans. I can't help but think, however, that Christianity has…

No Greater Honor

Jun 26, 2019


My dad was the most important person in my world when I was a boy. He was a respected pastor, a good preacher, and a kind and gentle leader. His…

The Jesus Way

Jun 22, 2019


In the early hours of the morning, five drug dealers kidnapped Buster Soaries and drove him to a vacant lot. They dragged him out of the car and jammed a…

Dare to Call Him “Dad”

Jun 16, 2019


Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis has a beautiful, stately auditorium. I’ll never forget the time I preached there. I was taken with the beauty of it all—the chimes of the…

The Sting of Betrayal

Jun 4, 2019


Most of us are familiar with the events in the upper room, where we see Jesus washing the dusty feet of His followers and preparing them for the drama that…

Out of Luck

Jun 3, 2019


An oft-quoted movie line comes from Napoleon Dynamite. The line closes the film, after Napoleon’s brother, Kip, gets married and rides off on horseback with his new bride. If you’re a…

Peace in the Midst of the Pieces

Jun 2, 2019


There I was, minding my own business, shopping for an anniversary card for Martie when something on another shelf caught my eye. It was a box with a tantalizing picture…

Holiness Has an Edge

May 31, 2019


All of us who have kids have been guilty of ending an argument about why they should or shouldn’t do something with the conversation stopper: “Because I said so.” The…

Our Rally Cry

May 30, 2019


Whether or not you’re a history buff, you probably remember learning about the historic revolutions that launched significant changes in both the economic and intellectual landscape of the Western world.…

What’s For Dinner?

May 29, 2019


I can hardly imagine inviting special friends over for dinner and then throwing a few leftovers into the microwave to serve up to them. But if I were to do…

Make Way

May 27, 2019


Dwight D. Eisenhower was known for his courageous leadership during World War II. His battle-tested skill equipped the troops to reclaim Europe. Soon after returning to the U.S. as a…

Not Quite Dead…

May 26, 2019


Paul Harvey tells a fantastic story about an encounter with a kangaroo.

The Italian sailing team was in Australia for the America’s Cup and, finding themselves with some free time, decided…

Disappointing Sideshows

May 17, 2019


When I was a boy, one of the biggest annual events in town was the circus. My dad would take us early in the morning to watch the circus trains…

Hearing The Sermon Again

May 16, 2019


A story is told about a man who preached an impressive sermon, seeking to be the pastor of a new church. Everybody loved it and voted for him to become…

Full Pockets

May 15, 2019


Every man needs pockets large enough to carry all the important things in life: wallet, keys, breath mints. By looking at my wife’s purse, it seems she has a whole…

Final Exam

May 14, 2019


In universities everywhere, mid-May brings late-night study sessions, caffeine-fueled writing binges, and ulcer-inducing stress as students are preparing for final exams—those critically important tests to determine how well the student…

Whose Side Are You On?

May 13, 2019


Ever been caught in the middle of a fight? When I was a kid in junior high school, two of my buddies had a disagreement and planned to prove their…

Under Pressure

May 12, 2019


When our kids were growing up, we loved having picnics in the backyard. No picnic was complete without a plate full of big, juicy watermelon slices! From my kids’ point…

A Parent’s Pain

May 11, 2019


I’ll never forget meeting Nathan and Connie. With five sons, they loved the Lord and were busy going about His work. Suddenly, their world was decimated by an unthinkable tragedy. The…

An Eclipse of Heaven

May 10, 2019


Solar eclipses are an amazing phenomenon. As the moon slides between the earth and the sun, the sun’s brilliance gradually fades. Its light grows dim, as if there’s a layer…

Reborn Identity

May 9, 2019


One of my favorite movies is The Bourne Identity. The main character, Jason Bourne, suffers from a severe amnesia that leaves him haunted, frustrated, and confused.

A lot of us live like…

Ash-heap Christians

Apr 29, 2019


Several years ago, a series of fires raged through parts of southern California, fanned by the notorious Santa Ana winds. Laguna Hills, a posh, picture-perfect community set inland from the…

The Good Old Days

Apr 28, 2019


I must confess: I’m a romantic at heart, which means I love to hear stories of how people met and fell in love. What’s more, I love to hear stories…


Apr 27, 2019


Here’s some bad news: left to ourselves, we’re not very good shots when it comes to living. We are, at the core, sinful, which explains why we lead such “ready-fire-aim”…

Friends in High Places

Apr 26, 2019


Most of us would like to be known by someone important—to have friends in high places. So being invited to the White House to meet President George W. Bush was…

High-Tech Communication

Apr 25, 2019


When it comes to communication, our world is becoming increasingly high-tech. The popularity of things like Twitter and Facebook might cause some to think the Bible is too old-school. The…

A Worthy Offering

Apr 24, 2019


I was delighted when a mutual friend gave my neighbor a Bible. But my neighbor told me she stopped reading it because she couldn’t understand why God would be so…

Trash Talk

Apr 23, 2019


One morning when I was pulling out of our driveway on my way to work, I noticed that someone had thrown a beer can on our lawn. I picked it…


Apr 22, 2019


If you were ever a freshman in college, you may remember how cool you felt if an upperclassman showed some interest in you.

T. J. Evans lived across the hall from…

Grisham’s Testament

Apr 21, 2019


Any John Grisham fans out there? If I were to select a favorite character from his novels, Rachel Lane would top the list.

Rachel Lane, unbeknown to her, was the illegitimate…

Cheerleading for Jesus

Apr 20, 2019


It was my second pastorate and, like many pastors, I had a few nagging insecurities about other churches in town that were outstripping us in terms of head count. To…

The Significance of Suffering

Apr 19, 2019


Let’s be honest, most of us would have to admit that we have a natural aversion to suffering. It may not bother us so much when “bad” people suffer, but…

Promises Kept

Apr 8, 2019


I am about to let you in on a deep, life-changing, earth-shattering theological truth. Are you ready for this?

God keeps His promises!

I mean, He really keeps His promises. Even if…

Unloading the Baggage

Apr 7, 2019


I boarded the plane in Chicago with too much baggage. Not the kind of baggage you stow in the overhead compartment or squash under the seat in front of you.…

The Search For Satisfaction

Apr 6, 2019


When it comes to jigsaw puzzles, we all know that to enjoy a satisfying outcome you need all the pieces. In many ways, life is like that. We spend our…

Our Co-Pilot?

Apr 5, 2019


The bumper sticker “Jesus is my co-pilot” may be a well-intentioned sentiment, but it has always troubled me. Whenever I’m in the driver’s seat of my life, the destination is…

Who Are You?

Apr 4, 2019


If someone were to ask, “Who are you?” my guess is that you would tell a little about yourself and what you do—“I’m an electrician” or “I’m a nurse.” But…

To The Rescue

Apr 3, 2019


Martie and I recently traveled to some major cities in several countries. We were struck with how lost our world is and grieved over the millions who have never heard…


Apr 2, 2019


A recent journey through the book of Genesis got me thinking about Abraham. Ever stop to realize how significant Abraham is to literally billions of people around the world? Jews…

Don’t Be an April Fool

Apr 1, 2019


Warning! It’s April Fools’ Day!

I’ve had a lot of April Fool's jokes pulled on me, and I must admit that I’ve pulled off a few pretty good ones myself. But one…

Running In The Right Direction

Mar 31, 2019


One of the most difficult experiences in my years as a pastor was telling a member of our church that her husband, her son, and her father-in-law had all drowned…

Hey, You Can’t Eat Ketchup In That

Mar 30, 2019


My granddaughter, Mary Catherine, affectionately known to me as Cate the Great, is all-girl. Just put her in a princess outfit with glittering slippers, wand, and a crown, and she…

Don’t Get Stuck

Mar 29, 2019


I had just landed in Phoenix for some meetings when the clerk at the rental car desk told me they were all out of cars except for one expensive luxury…

Are We Small Yet?

Mar 18, 2019


Kids are great! Things that we take for granted are occasions for awe and wonder for them. And their perspectives are often convictingly right on.

Take, for instance, the little girl…

Bravo for the Boundaries

Mar 17, 2019


In case you haven’t noticed, we live in a no-holds-barred, do-your-own-thing world. We have been force-fed on the thought that we exist to experience pleasure, that the pursuit of happiness…

Before and After

Mar 16, 2019


I’m sure that you’ve seen those before and after pictures in ads for diet pills. The before picture always features some tremendously out-of-shape obese guy. The after picture then shows him looking trim, sculpted,…

This Time It’s Personal

Mar 15, 2019


I’ll make a confession if you promise not to tell.

Having been selected to represent my college in a traveling music team one summer, I had a few days to relax…

No Cause For Alarm

Mar 14, 2019


The sound of the alarm blaring from inside the church struck panic in my heart. I had arrived at church early one Sunday morning, planning to spend a little time…

Royalty Recognized

Feb 22, 2019


As a kid, I loved watching the film Little Lord Fauntleroy. The story focuses on Cedric, a boy growing up in a poor home with his mother in Brooklyn. He…

God’s Heart Revealed

Feb 21, 2019


It’s easy to think of God as a divine fly-swatter, just waiting for you to land so that—whap—He can nail you for your sins. But that’s not what we see…

Somebody Cares

Feb 20, 2019


When I was a little boy growing up in Hackensack, New Jersey, I would often fall asleep listening to my little radio. One of my favorite shows was “Big Joe’s…

The Safety Zone

Feb 19, 2019


The first church I pastored was in Springfield, Ohio. Our home was situated near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base—directly in the flight path of landing B-52 bombers that were coming home…

A Little Herod in All of Us

Feb 18, 2019


When archaeologists excavated King Herod’s palace—an opulent structure boasting a pool large enough to float boats! It stood on a hill outside Bethlehem that allowed the king to monitor the…

When Slaves Become Sons

Feb 17, 2019


For some lucky students it’s a day off of school, but it’s possible the fact that today is Presidents’ Day may have slipped your notice. Nestled between Valentine’s Day and…

Can You See Her?

Feb 16, 2019


In recent years we have been inundated with staggering statistics regarding the numbers of women and children that are slaves to the sex industry. And yet many of us have…

First Church Of The Lampstand

Feb 15, 2019


I love it when churches have names like “King of Glory Lutheran Church” or “Alpha and Omega Missionary Baptist Church.” If the church in Ephesus were still around, maybe we’d…

Can’t Wait

Feb 14, 2019


Hey, for you guys out there who have forgotten, it’s Valentine’s Day! Hopefully you still have time to pick up something special for the love of your life. (And you…

Graffiti on the Face of Jesus

Feb 13, 2019


The graffiti mafia struck again. I read about it in the morning paper after Chicago gangs had defaced a variety of historic landmarks the night before. If you are a…

Hey, Where’d You Get That?

Feb 12, 2019


One of my favorite classical works of music is The Creation. But what I like even more than the stirring sounds and moving lyrics is the attitude of composer.

It was the…

Good Works!

Feb 11, 2019


I had promised my wife that I would bring her a cup of coffee after my morning run. So, at 6:03 a.m., breathing hard and sweaty, I walked into Starbucks…

Goin’ Home!

Feb 10, 2019


At the age of 96, my Dad went home to be with the Lord. I have to tell you those last few days with him were precious days in many…


Feb 9, 2019


We all remember the neighborhood tattletale—not the most popular kid on the block! He or she took great delight in exposing deeds we were trying to hide.

Unfortunately, our tongues play…

Getting “In The Way”

Feb 8, 2019


The ancient Romans were known for their roads, which crisscrossed their empire with wide, heavily traveled highways. It’s what Jesus’ audience would have pictured when He claimed, “I am the…

Hats Off to Birthdays

Feb 7, 2019


Hey, today’s my birthday! Don’t ask . . . I’m trying not to think about how many candles I’ll have on the cake. But it hasn’t always been like that. There…

Joy of Loving Jesus

Feb 6, 2019


Ever been in love? If so, you know what it means to be preoccupied. I met my wife Martie in the fall of our freshman year at college. It didn't…

From Fear to Faith

Feb 5, 2019


I have a friend who says, “Through the years I have seen a lot of things change, and I have been against them all!” Change can be very unsettling. It…

The More Things Change . . .

Feb 4, 2019


I’ll admit it—I’m a raving fan of change. I’m delighted that I can “Google” information, watch HD-TV, take pictures digitally, and send and receive e-mails. Though I hate to date…

Let Me Show You to Your Room

Feb 3, 2019


Every once in a while when I travel to speak at a conference, the organization puts me up in a five-star hotel. You know the type—lobbies with lavish flower arrangements,…

Garden Talk

Feb 2, 2019


Okay, I have to confess . . . I like gardening. There, I said it. Sorry guys, but I do! So, liking gardens, I have often thought about how wonderful the…

Making The Cut

Feb 1, 2019


Every year, high-school seniors apply to their favorite universities and then watch the mailbox for the letter announcing their acceptance.

It was different for teens in New Testament times. Jewish boys…

Join the Revolution

Jan 31, 2019


In one of my all-time favorite Peanuts cartoons, Charlie Brown is standing on the deck of a cruise ship with a rather disheartened look on his face clutching his unfolded deck…

Back Seat Serenade

Jan 30, 2019


I’ll never forget a double date that Martie and I had with another couple in college. I was driving, which meant that my then fiancée, Martie, was in the front…

It’s Not Good to Be Alone

Jan 29, 2019


While reading through the creation narratives in Genesis for the umpteenth time, I was struck by God’s commentary on Adam being alone in the garden. What caught my attention was…

What Are You Aiming For?

Jan 28, 2019


Let’s talk about heaven. If you’re like me, it’s hard to get your head around it and harder still to let it grip your heart. While most of us believe that…

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

Jan 27, 2019


What’s with celebrities? The last few years have been littered with famous people behaving badly . .

I’m sure it would only take a minute for you and I to come…

Jesus – Our Champion!

Jan 26, 2019


At some point in life we’ve all felt the frustration and fear of being up against situations that we can’t deal with and, worse yet, there seems to be no…


Jan 25, 2019


A friend once told me: “Joe, I’ve come to realize that my life is not made by the dreams that I dream but by the choices that I make.”

Count on…

Casting Shadows

Jan 24, 2019


Legend has it that Michelangelo painted with a brush in one hand and a candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering his masterpiece in progress.

That’s the kind…

The People Principle

Jan 23, 2019


I didn’t mean to break it!

In fact, just the night before, as our hosts for the evening were showing my wife Martie and me around their beautiful home, they drew…

Who Will Help?

Jan 22, 2019


I don’t think I’ll ever forget the story my son told me about taking his family to see the stage production of The Lion King. A good time was being had by…

Bad News . . . Good News

Jan 21, 2019


Today our dose of daily strength comes from Matthew 5:11, when Jesus gave a “good news . . . bad news” announcement to His disciples. First the bad news: They…

Stunned by Grace

Jan 20, 2019


For all of us who think that God is the hammer guy of the Old Testament, think again! I’m just a little put out on the prevailing thought that God…

The Best Things in Life Really are Free

Jan 19, 2019


Recently I read the creation narratives in Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-25. I’ve read them lots of times, but something special emerged this time. That’s one of the things that is so…

Clearing Out The Clutter

Jan 18, 2019


My garage serves as “storage” for things that don’t have a place in our home, and, frankly, there are times when I am ashamed to open the door. I don’t…

What Are We Holding On To?

Jan 17, 2019


Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings trilogy came to life in recent years on film. In the second epic story, the hero, Frodo, reached a point of despair and wearily…

Leaving a Legacy

Jan 16, 2019


Do you ever wonder what kind of legacy you’ll leave behind?

I remember an older gentleman from one of the churches I pastored. He was the epitome of grace toward others;…

Delight in the Details

Jan 15, 2019


Each year Time magazine publishes an issue focusing on that year's “Best Inventions.” Notable technological marvels once included a 130 mph electric roadster, a mattress that uses magnets to levitate 16…

Love on Display

Jan 14, 2019


A few years ago my wife Martie and I had an opportunity to travel to Hong Kong for a ministry trip. One of the highlights of the trip was spending…

This Little Light of Mine

Jan 13, 2019


I have a lot of favorite stories, but this one has to rank near the top. My friend Paul Eshleman is the founder of the Jesus Film Project, which arguably…

Playing with Fire

Jan 12, 2019


No doubt you’ve noticed that people around you are not into absolute truth these days. When it comes to matters of morality, the prevailing philosophy is a multiple-choice view, with…


Jan 11, 2019


If you were invited to a meeting at the White House with the President of the United States, regardless of your opinion of him or her, you would probably go.…

That’s Awesome!

Jan 10, 2019


The word awesome is tossed around a lot these days. Talk about cars, movies, songs, or food—and somebody will say, “That’s awesome!”

But if we call earth-side stuff awesome and then call…

Neighborly Love

Jan 9, 2019


It would have been simpler just to buy a new hair dryer. But determined to save a buck, I decided to fix it myself. In order to loosen the screw…

Who’s Holding All the Cards?

Jan 8, 2019


To borrow a poker phrase, some people seem to hold all the cards. They are dealt a winning hand while the rest of us do the best with what few…

Leap of Faith

Jan 7, 2019


What do you picture when you hear the word faith?

One of my mental pictures of faith in action is the memory of my two-year-old grandson, Silas, shivering by the side…

Truth or Consequences

Jan 6, 2019


In my first church ministry, I pastored a small, newly planted congregation, which meant that I shouldered many of the week-to-week office responsibilities. So, when the Sunday school curriculum needed…

Instrument-rated Living

Jan 5, 2019


You’ve probably heard the expression “flying by the seat of your pants.” It smacks of living in a random, spontaneous, unconnected way. And, if I am being honest, there are…

Is That Jesus?

Jan 4, 2019


As I walked into church one Sunday morning, a little boy looked at me and said to his mother, “Mom, is that Jesus?” Needless to say, I was curious to…

Never Disappointed

Jan 3, 2019


As an avid baseball fan, I love watching the Chicago Cubs. For decades leading up to their amazing World Series victory in 2016, the team had a reputation of letting their fans…

Heaven – This Way

Jan 2, 2019


The classic World War II movie The Longest Day portrays one of the clever military strategies of the German army. After the Allies had taken the beaches of Normandy on D-Day,…

Living in the Perfect Tense

Jan 1, 2019


One of my all-time favorite jokes is about the guy who was applying for a truck driver’s job. As part of the oral exam to pass the driving test, the…

Save the Paper

Dec 25, 2018


Above the joyful sounds of Christmas morning, as children open their presents in attack mode, you can usually hear someone older and wiser saying, “Don’t rip the paper. Save it…

The Hope of Christmas

Dec 24, 2018


We talk a lot about hope.

We hope the weather will be good for our family vacation. We hope that our favorite team will win the Super Bowl—or at least make…

Dirty Windows

Dec 23, 2018


A friend of mine, Bud Wood, founded Shepherds Home in Wisconsin for boys and girls with developmental disabilities. The original ministry opened its doors in 1964 to 36 children, providing…


Dec 22, 2018


Interruptions are inevitable. It’s just the way life works. But, I keep asking myself, why is it that they come at such inopportune times? After listening to a zillion options…

Holding Your Hand

Dec 21, 2018


One of the joys of being with kids is holding their hands. We do it to keep them safe while crossing the street, or to keep them from getting lost…

Don’t Just Celebrate…Imitate!

Dec 20, 2018


I can still remember my dad standing there, coat on and hat in hand on Christmas afternoon asking me, “Joe, do you want to come with me?” His question made…

The Person Makes The Place

Dec 19, 2018


Engaged couples often spend hours poring over travel brochures and vacation Web sites looking for just the right honeymoon spot. They can hardly wait for their romantic getaway. But it’s…

Exploratory Procedure

Dec 18, 2018


I have a friend who recently underwent a laryngoscopy. I winced as he explained how his doctor took a camera with a light on the end and stuck it down…

Your Brilliance Factor

Dec 17, 2018


Adrian Grasselly was used to working with precious material. As an expert diamond cutter, he was akin to Michelangelo who could look at a slab of marble and see the…

Only Jesus Satisfies

Dec 16, 2018


Victor Krutko came to Moody Bible Institute from Minsk, a town in Belarus. This gifted, passionate pastor and I have become good friends. I’ll never forget an episode with him…

Celebrate Winter

Dec 15, 2018


I love living where there are four seasons. But even though I love settling down with a good book by a crackling fire when it’s snowing, I must admit that…

Grace and Truth

Dec 14, 2018


It’s a grandfather’s prerogative to tease his grandkids a little bit, right? So when one of my young grandkids is first learning math, I quiz him about his newfound knowledge.…

Life on Level One

Dec 13, 2018


In an ancient form of Chinese drama, plays were often performed on a two-level stage. On the first level, the drama would unfold in the natural sequence of the script,…

In Your Head

Dec 12, 2018


I love the prayer that begins, “God be in my head.” When I first heard it, admittedly I thought it sounded a little weird. But then I got to thinking…

Breaking The Spin Cycle

Dec 11, 2018


Politicians are adept at “spinning” the details of a story to advance their own agenda. During a political campaign, spin doctors massage stories to ensure that their candidate is cast…

Chin Up!

Dec 10, 2018


One of my all-time favorite kid’s stories is Charlotte’s Web, starring Charlotte the barnyard spider and Wilbur the pig. The farmer’s daughter, Fern, loved Wilbur and adopted him as her pet—until…

Reliable Grace

Dec 9, 2018


Do you ever pay much attention to bumper stickers? I find them fascinating! You can be driving along and in one minute see a sticker that says, “My child is…

What to Do Until the Stars Fall

Dec 8, 2018


My biology professor, Max Dowell, was an unapologetic southerner with a drawl as thick as deep-South molasses. And while I’m sorry to admit that I don’t remember a whole lot…

Upside Down Toast

Dec 7, 2018


Have you ever made a piece of toast, slathered it with butter and strawberry jam, and just as you’re about to take the first delicious bite, you drop it on…

Father and Friend

Dec 6, 2018


A short clip on the evening news recently featured a suburban high school’s attempt to address the spiraling epidemic of teenage drinking. The reporter attended a parents’ forum at the…

Managing the Mess

Dec 5, 2018


When we meet Naomi in the Scriptures, her life is a mess. She and her husband had gone to Moab searching for food during a famine. While in that land,…

The Power Of Patience

Dec 4, 2018


We’ve all heard the prayer: “Lord, make me more patient—and do it now!”

Why is it that patience evaporates when we are late for a critical engagement and are caught in…


Dec 3, 2018


Have you ever felt completely out of your comfort zone, totally removed from all that’s familiar? It’s the feeling of being displaced. We cherish familiar settings, places that we have…

Kaleidoscope Glory

Dec 2, 2018


When was the last time you looked into a kaleidoscope? Remember those long tubes, usually made of cardboard with hundreds of little colored beads at one end? Inside, a series…

What Can I Do to Help?

Dec 1, 2018


A few years ago a friend of mine joined the staff of a large and growing church. He had admired and respected the senior pastor of that particular church for…

The Power of a Life Well Lived

Nov 30, 2018


In the years leading up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia, I remember praying for Russian Christians who were being persecuted for their faith. The political situation…

True Fellowship

Nov 29, 2018


I remember a time when I talked to a woman about prayer. With a starry look in her eyes, she asked if I had ever prayed with a Mormon. I…


Nov 28, 2018


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A highly anticipated Christmas shopping trip to the mall with our kids and my parents took a dramatic turn for the worst as we suddenly…

The Sorrow Of Betrayal

Nov 27, 2018


When I was a boy, my dad observed my spendthrift ways and often said that money burned a hole in my pocket. I suppose it’s not unlike the way those…

He’s There All The Time

Nov 26, 2018


I’ll never forget my frustrating experience when I went to Chicago’s Union Station early one morning to pick up an elderly relative who was arriving by train. When I got…

Word Power

Nov 25, 2018


It was a beautiful day except for the fact that after a sizzling front nine, my golf game had tanked big time. I felt embarrassed in front of the two…

Foundation Of The Heart

Nov 24, 2018


The great cathedrals of Europe are not only breathtaking but intriguing in their architecture. Because their massive ceilings were too heavy for the walls to support, flying buttresses, or external…

Intimacy That Satisfies

Nov 23, 2018


In my opinion, intimacy is a really attractive word. Deep down inside, all of us long for meaningful connections that satisfy our souls and chase away the shadows of aloneness.…

Giving Thanks

Nov 22, 2018


There are few things that bring greater energy and strength to our souls than the exercise of lifting praise and thanksgiving from our hearts to God’s. Gratitude has a uniquely…

Being Thankful Anyway

Nov 21, 2018


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving—by far and away my favorite holiday. I’m not sure why, except that it has always seemed so uncluttered. Fortunately it has escaped the commercialization of Halloween and…

Chip Off the Ol Block

Nov 20, 2018


I’ll never forget the time I was asked to bring my family to a banquet where I was to be the speaker. After dinner, my son Matt came up to…

Wreck-less Drivers

Nov 19, 2018


I’m not sure who came up with the idea of driving around in circles on a small track in a tiny machine; nevertheless, riding go-karts is a popular pastime in…

The Secret That Should Not Be Kept

Nov 18, 2018


Douglas Coupland is a best-selling author known for his books about cultural trends in America. In his book Life After God, he no doubt surprises his readers when he shares:

Now here…

Jesus in the Spin Zone

Nov 17, 2018


After Rosie O’Donnell announced that she was “coming out of the closet,” I watched with interest as Bill O’Reilly interviewed her on his TV program, The O’Reilly Factor, during a feature…

Aging Grace-fully

Nov 16, 2018


Very few advertisements tout the benefits of growing old. In fact, an outsider studying our culture would surmise (perhaps accurately) that we are deathly afraid of growing old or, even…

Sweeter Than Honey

Nov 15, 2018


I wonder how many of us got tired of hearing our moms tell us, “Eat this, it’s good for you!” And you can bet that if it required a lot…

Tell Me The Story

Nov 14, 2018


Now that I have grandkids, I’m back into the classic children’s Bible stories. Wide-eyed stories like David and Goliath, Noah’s ark, and Jonah and the big fish quickly capture a…

Better With Age

Nov 13, 2018


Some people are obsessed with physical fitness—daily workouts, vitamins, organic food—in spite of the fact that our bodies keep ticking away in inevitable decline. In our twenties and thirties we…

A World of Change

Nov 13, 2018


In case you haven’t noticed, our world has dramatically changed. At one time it would have been unthinkable that millions of unborn children would be murdered in America. There was…

God’s Glasses

Nov 12, 2018


As a kid, I used to devour 3-D comic books, the kind that came with that special set of cardboard glasses. Without the glasses, the pages were blurry. But with…

Not Home Yet

Nov 11, 2018


One of my favorite missionary stories is of a couple who, after decades of faithful service overseas, was returning back to the States. Their heart’s desire was to stay on…

Hey, You in the Corner

Nov 10, 2018


I’ve always been intrigued by the nursery rhyme about Little Jack Horner. At first blush it seems rather cute and innocent. But on further reflection, there is something seriously wrong.…

Humpty-Dumpty Days

Nov 9, 2018


Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that children’s nursery rhymes are a little bizarre? Take, for instance, the depressing tale of Humpty Dumpty.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a…

New Ownership

Nov 8, 2018


In the apostle Paul’s day, Corinth was a major trading center, located just a few miles from two major seaports. As the largest city in ancient Greece, the city bustled…

Savor The Flavor

Nov 7, 2018


America has often been called “a melting pot.” But obviously that is not the case. Politicians tend to fuel sensitivity to class and color divisions for their own gain. Gender…

Snatched From the Fire

Nov 6, 2018


In a conversation with Billy Graham, I asked him what he thought needed to be changed in how we preach to people today compared to the way we preached to…

Supporting Our Habit

Nov 5, 2018


A businessman buddy of mine has the proverbial “Midas” touch. It seems like every business venture he touches turns to gold. I’ll never forget the day he said to me,…

What’s More Important Than Voting?

Nov 4, 2018


Don’t forget to vote!

We have all heard that call to good citizenship. But beyond being a good citizen, being a good follower of Jesus means that we don’t forget to…

Our Only Hope

Nov 3, 2018


The early days of November in America signals election time, when the politicians maneuver for votes and the people cast their ballot for their favorite candidates. And, like it or…

Joyful Living

Nov 2, 2018


Our search for joy takes us many different directions—dream holidays, shopping, food, clothes, friends, cars—the list is almost endless.

My guess is that if you perked up at the mention of…

One at a Time

Nov 1, 2018


A lot of us long to see the day when our country returns to its moral foundations. Yet, as wonderful as it would be to see a nation reclaimed for…

True Confessions

Oct 31, 2018


I love coconut. I always have! So, after an exhausting day in second grade, I found a bag of shredded coconut in the cupboard and devoured the whole thing. When…

An Invitation To Friendship

Oct 30, 2018


I grew up in a home with lots of wall plaques. One had a quotation by poet Claude Mermet that stands out in my mind: “Friends are like melons; let…

Storm Tracker

Oct 29, 2018


Normally, my favorite way to drive a speedboat is full-tilt, skipping across the water with the wind in my face. But this time my usual penchant for speed was tempered…

Who Me, A Wretch?

Oct 28, 2018


There are a few hymns that I really like, and “Amazing Grace” is one of them. But somehow, like so many other familiar tunes, the weight of the words soon…

Crisis in Kokomo

Oct 27, 2018


The little airfield affectionately referred to as “Kokomo International” is hardly the bustling hub of a major metropolis. But it was my best option for getting to Grand Rapids, where…

Braggin’ Rights

Oct 26, 2018


When Paul advised the Philippians that they should “rejoice in the Lord” he wasn’t telling them to be 24/7 “happy in Jesus” smile machines. I don’t know about you, but people…

At the Core of the Crowd

Oct 25, 2018


If Jesus were to walk into your town today, I wonder what kind of people He would attract. If you were like the rest of us, you’d probably expect all…

Productive Pain

Oct 24, 2018


I’ll never forget when our youngest child Matthew fell and broke his wrist. It was grotesque! His arm took a sharp left turn at his wrist and then turned again…

Return On Investment

Oct 23, 2018


Long before the US professional baseball season begins each spring, team owners and managers are busy negotiating trades and contracts. They’ll pay large sums of money to get the athlete…

Get a Haircut

Oct 22, 2018


There we were, sitting in the middle of a statewide meeting for ministry leaders when the pastor of a large church leaned over and said to me, “You know, Joe,…

Jesus, or Me?

Oct 21, 2018


One of my all-time favorite memories about our kids was the time my then 7-year-old daughter Libby asked, “Daddy, are we famous?” My immediate response was, “No, Libby, we’re not…

Wilderness Experiences

Oct 20, 2018


Is it just me, or does it seem like Americans have become increasingly fascinated with things like mountain climbing, white-water rafting, rappelling, and other treacherous activities? Anyone with a desire…

Don’t Look Back

Oct 19, 2018


Have you ever felt the pull of past comforts, wishing things could go back to the way they used to be?

Imagine how Abraham felt. Having once lived in Ur of…

What Do You Think of Jesus?

Oct 18, 2018


When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”—He wasn’t having an identity crisis nor was He feeling insecure about His reputation. He passed out the quiz to…

In The Driver’s Seat

Oct 17, 2018


I love the story of the stressed-out woman who was tailgating a man as they drove on a busy boulevard. When he slowed to a stop at a yellow light,…

Finding Jesus

Oct 16, 2018


If I asked the question, “Where’s Waldo?” you might recall those popular children’s picture books from the 1980s. That little guy in the red-and-white-striped shirt and hat loved to hide…

The Muchness of God

Oct 15, 2018


Quite frankly, I’m “out” on posh restaurants that have things on the menu you can’t even pronounce and nothing to show for it but two bites of fish and an…

The Trouble with “One Another”

Oct 14, 2018


Clutching his blanket, and with unusual determination in his voice, Linus announced to Lucy that he had finally discovered his calling in life. He was going to be a doctor.…

Jesus: The Ultimate Joy of Life

Oct 13, 2018


I was seated next to Billy Graham at a dinner in North Carolina. I don’t know how you would have felt, but, given the circumstances, I wanted to be sure…

Fatal Flaws

Oct 12, 2018


If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, you know that his heroes always have a serious character flaw. I guess it’s what makes for a good story—and teaches some important lessons…

Making Hell Happy

Oct 11, 2018


I was guest preaching at a church when a woman who had waited in line to talk to me told me that she was thinking about leaving the church because…

Inside Out

Oct 10, 2018


Shopping for a melon is a tough assignment. No matter how good it looks, it’s hard to tell! So I tap it, thump it, and, if no one is looking,…

A New Career

Oct 9, 2018


For some guys, the annual fishing trip is the highlight of their calendar. They stay in cozy cabins and spend long days fishing just for the fun of it. You…

Caring and Capable

Oct 8, 2018


On my way home one night, I noticed a glow of flashing lights about a half mile up the road. As I got closer, I saw several emergency vehicles on…

Jesus at the Crossroad

Oct 7, 2018


An estimated 40 million Americans view Internet pornography on a regular basis. The average age of exposure is 11. What’s worse yet is that 47 percent of Christians polled said…

Holding Out For A Hero

Oct 6, 2018


It's not uncommon to see some familiar heroes come back to the silver screen. Sylvester Stallone was back in action as Rambo, reprising his role from over 20 years ago.…

The King Lives!

Oct 5, 2018


In the summer of 2006, the Prime Minister of Japan visited the US for high-level meetings with our President. Or at least that’s what I thought. Sure, he was here…

Self-Focused Living

Oct 4, 2018


Learning more about myself is not always a pleasant experience. Introspection often compounds my insecurities and doubts. Trips into my inner self can expose memories of past failures and resurrect…

Join The Choir

Oct 3, 2018


I’ll never forget the first time I saw the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in concert. Nearly 200 people who had been redeemed out of the bowels of Brooklyn—former crack addicts and…

Life Beyond The Rituals

Oct 2, 2018


A royal dignitary was greeting residents at a nursing home, when he was surprised by the unresponsiveness of one woman who just sat there and stared at him. Finally, the…

The Pursuit of Happiness

Oct 1, 2018


The movie The Aviator portrays the fascinating life of Howard Hughes. In the 1930s and 40s, he wowed the public with his brilliant advances in aviation technology and became the wealthiest…

Life in the Waiting Room

Sep 30, 2018


We’ve all heard the prayer: “Lord, make me more patient—and do it now!” Of all the spiritual virtues, patience is one that tends to be troublingly elusive. Let’s face it; if…

On the Road Again

Sep 29, 2018


I hate being lost. I’ve always had a good sense of direction and can usually find my way around without much trouble. But on the rare occasions when I lose…

Our Distinct Advantage

Sep 28, 2018


Have you ever felt that if God were to show up today as often as He did in the lives of the people in Bible times, you too could be…

Sticking Up for Jesus

Sep 27, 2018


Recently, I read a disturbing quote from a pastor of a large church in California. He said, “I used to believe that we should ask Muslims to accept Christ as…

Taking Out The Trash

Sep 26, 2018


My wife usually has to remind me to take out the garbage on trash pick-up days. It’s not one of my favorite jobs, but I muster up the determination to…

Kingdom Living

Sep 25, 2018


I have a lot of friends who work in bad neighborhoods. One of these city warriors transplanted his family to the inner city. One day as he was walking down…

The Truth . . . for Jesus’ Sake

Sep 24, 2018


I’m a little tired of hearing angry Christians running around the world saying “We’ve got it right, and everyone else is wrong!” Granted, the clear teachings of God’s Word are…

Giving God the Glory

Sep 23, 2018


The news from our mechanic threatened to scuttle our plans. A suspicious rattling noise prompted me to take our clunker of a car to the shop a day before we…

Point of Contention

Sep 22, 2018


You don’t have to be a sociologist to know that one of the most damaging dynamics in personal relationships is unleashed by the hurtful things that we say to each…

Love for the World

Sep 21, 2018


It was a cold December morning. Dressed in a white execution gown, he was led to the wall of the prison courtyard with the others. Blindfolded, he waited for the…

Watch What You Lean On

Sep 20, 2018


During a ministry trip to the islands of the Caribbean, I happened to sit next to an unfamiliar attorney on a charter boat excursion. As we chatted, we discovered that…

What On Earth Are We Doing?

Sep 19, 2018


“What on earth are you doing?!” You may have heard that phrase when your mom told you to clean your room and found you playing with your toys instead, or…

Ripple Effect

Sep 18, 2018


As a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was skipping stones across the surface of a smooth lake. Inevitably, ripples would flow from the impact of the stone.

It’s like that…

Transforming the Task List

Sep 17, 2018


What got you out of bed this morning (besides the lure of a hot cup of coffee)? If you’re like me, you finally pulled yourself out of bed because you’ve…

Others First!

Sep 16, 2018


I’ll never forget the time my wife, Martie, and I were traveling on a rather extended ministry trip that involved several segments to our journey. We were in and out…

Curiosity or Compassion?

Sep 15, 2018


Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. Arloa Sutter grew up on a farm in Iowa. One of her fond memories from her time on the farm was…

Real Treasure

Sep 14, 2018


The church in China is a phenomenal example of the gospel’s explosive power in the face of persecution. In the 1940s, the rise of communism led to the dismissal of…

The Missing Piece

Sep 13, 2018


I’m not much for jigsaw puzzles, but I know that you need all the pieces to enjoy a satisfying outcome. In many ways, life is like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.…

Where’s The Leash?

Sep 12, 2018


Recently, while out for Chinese food with friends, I noticed a man walking his dog past the restaurant. Normally I wouldn’t have looked twice. But the dog’s owner had taken…

Changed Landscape

Sep 11, 2018


I love my garden. But living in the Midwestern US during winter reduces my beautiful garden to a frozen, snow-covered, barren landscape.

It wasn’t like that in Eden. Eden was a…

Top of the List

Sep 10, 2018


When my wife Martie says, “Could you run to the grocery store for me?” I always want to know what it is she wants me to get. After asking the…

Eternal Investments

Sep 9, 2018


Madame Blueberry, Veggie Tales heroine of materialism, loves shopping at the “Stuff-mart.” Her problem, however, is that her treetop cottage soon becomes so overstuffed that the tree collapses under the weight…

The Eternal Question

Sep 8, 2018


Life has a way of driving our faith dangerously close to the edge. What we expect from God so often seems to contradict what we experience in life. We find…

Pilgrimage Toward Intimacy

Sep 7, 2018


Several years ago, as I passed the fifty mark on the calendar of my life, I discovered a new and distinct desire to go deeper and pursue God more intentionally…

A Worthy Pursuit

Sep 6, 2018


Let’s face it, if you are a follower in a world that celebrates leaders, you don’t feel all that good about yourself. Walk into any bookstore, and you will note…

The Good Life

Sep 4, 2018


Driving down the highway in Houston, I passed a billboard with large letters that announced “THE GOOD LIFE!” I couldn’t wait to get closer to read the small print, which…

Packed With Power

Sep 3, 2018


My wife, Martie, and I have some items of worth around our house that sit on mantles or behind glass doors. They are things we have collected over the years,…

Getting It Right

Sep 2, 2018


There’s lots of talk about Jesus these days. From The Da Vinci Code debate to Jesus’ claims to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6), there’s nothing like a…

Family Resemblance

Sep 1, 2018


I am the third in an extended line of Joe Stowells. As a young boy, I realized that my name often brought quick recognition and statements like, “Oh, you’re Joe…

As a Deer

Aug 31, 2018


Several years ago my wife Martie and I had the unique experience of going on a camel safari in the desert of the United Arab Emirates. We rocked back and…

Culture Shock

Aug 30, 2018


I love the scene in the movie version of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Lucy encounters the faun, Mr. Tumnus. As Lucy extends her hand to…

Turn On The Lights

Aug 29, 2018


People often ask me what I enjoy most about serving as president of a Christian college. Without question it’s the students. I love their passion for Jesus and the way…


Aug 28, 2018


Did you ever wonder why Rahab, the prostitute who lived in the pagan city of Jericho, opened her home to the Israelite spies? And what gave her the courage to…

Generational Impact

Aug 27, 2018


I have always been fascinated by stories about the people God has chosen to use in significant ways. Two of my heroes are Charles and John Wesley. Charles penned hundreds…

What’s For Lunch?

Aug 26, 2018


It seemed like a good idea at the time. Any thoughts of a diet were out the window when I spotted the steak on the menu. Not just any steak, mind…


Aug 25, 2018


If you had a chance to meet her, you would agree that the name we have affectionately given her really fits. She has a fantastic command of the world around…

Dare To Be Different

Aug 24, 2018


My dad was a pastor, so I got stuck with the label known to every pastor’s kid: PK. But, much to the congregation’s disappointment, the title didn’t stop me from…

Three Dollars’ Worth of God

Aug 23, 2018


Most of us can blow through three dollars without even thinking twice. It’ll get you a cup of Starbucks, a few snacks for a road trip, or a squeak toy…

Is Jesus Exclusive?

Aug 22, 2018


I once saw Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz on a popular news talk program. The interviewer asked, “Are you one of those who believe that Jesus is exclusively the…

Wandering From Wisdom

Aug 21, 2018


If God offered you anything you wanted, what would you ask for?

When Solomon was given that choice, he asked for the wisdom to discern good from evil so that he…

Be A Meter Reader

Aug 20, 2018


Do you remember how old-time TV shows used to have an applause meter to gauge audience reactions? A big arrow would spin around the dial to show how enthusiastic the…

The Lonely Hearts Club

Aug 19, 2018


Three men were stranded on a desert island. A genie appeared and promised to grant each of them just one wish. So the first guy says, “I want to go…

Got Any Neighbors?

Aug 18, 2018


Jesus’ life and ministry dramatically demonstrated that the word prejudice is not in His vocabulary. In fact, He hates prejudice in any form. He detests racism, classism, and religious snobbery. Why?…

Escape to Wisconsin?

Aug 17, 2018


If you live near a big city, no doubt you’ve been caught in the torturous experience of creeping along in bumper-to-bumper traffic. This can be particularly annoying if you are…

Getting Through

Aug 14, 2018


Gone are the days when a real person greets you on the other end of a phone call. It seems as though whenever we try to “reach out and touch…

Don’t Eat That Stuff!

Aug 13, 2018


Recently, when my wife Martie and I wanted to meet our sons and their families for a quick bite to eat, we decided that, with everyone’s busy schedules, it would…

Drifting Away

Aug 12, 2018


On a recent vacation, Tom was casually bobbing around on a raft just offshore. He closed his eyes, basking in the warm sun. Before he realized it, he had drifted…

Supremely Significant

Aug 11, 2018


Modern counseling and psychology focus a lot of attention on obsessive behaviors—whether it’s an obsession with food, tobacco, alcohol, pornography, drugs, or even work. But perhaps one of the most…

True Truth

Aug 10, 2018


Remember the days of the multivolume encyclopedia? Not long ago nearly every home had a set gathering dust on the bookcase.

Not anymore! Research materials are now easily found on the…

The Pharisee in All of Us

Aug 9, 2018


I’ll never forget hearing the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in concert. The sincerity and depth of feeling the singers brought to the music showed that it was more than a mere performance. When…

The Tipping Point

Aug 8, 2018


In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell observes that struggling businesses are often turned around by one key decision. Many once-foundering companies are now thriving and successful because of…

Lessons From Jonah

Aug 7, 2018


The story of Jonah is one of the most discussed and fascinating accounts in the Bible. But for all the debate, one thing is sure: Jonah did a lot of…

Happy Holidays

Aug 6, 2018


At the risk of sounding a little cynical, I have to tell you that I sometimes wonder if some of our holidays have been created by those who can make…

What Has He Done For You Lately?

Aug 5, 2018


My friend Frank Tanana, who pitched the Detroit Tigers into the American League Championship Series, has an interesting take on baseball fans. He pitched a stellar game against the Toronto…

Welcome to the Complaint Department

Aug 4, 2018


In one of my favorite children’s books Oh, the Places You’ll Go! the great philosopher Dr. Seuss writes about the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, he says, “Hang-ups can happen…

What’s Really Good For Us?

Aug 3, 2018


U.S. News & World Report previously ran a cover story entitled “The Trouble with Premarital Sex.” The subtitle was, “Americans don’t think it’s too much of a problem. Maybe they should.”…

Don’t Feed the Bears

Aug 2, 2018


Each year over 3.5 million people visit Yellowstone National Park. The park is loaded with signs that read, “Don’t feed the bears,” but visitors are constantly doing just that. As…

Wall-Bangers Anonymous

Aug 1, 2018


I’ll never forget the time during college when, after I had finished writing a big paper that was due the next day, I heard a loud commotion in the room…

Who’s in the Spotlight?

Jul 31, 2018


If you’ve been around the world of golf for long, you know that winning the coveted “Green Jacket” at the Masters is arguably the most coveted accomplishment in golf. As…

Connectedly Challenged

Jul 30, 2018


I’ll never forget the time I bought a new stereo system. I brought the boxes home and carefully unwrapped each piece of equipment. I spread everything out on the floor.…

Setting the Record Straight

Jul 29, 2018


Baseball fans will always remember the 2007 season—an interesting summer of baseball to say the least! Tom Glavine joined the elite club of pitchers who have won 300 games, the…

V.I.P Treatment

Jul 28, 2018


A quick read through the Old Testament leaves no doubt that God wants His people to take His Word seriously. The Jews were told to write the commands on their doorposts…

Cross Bearing

Jul 27, 2018


Right now it’s summer! When I’m wearing flip-flops to the grocery store and running the air conditioner in my car it’s hard to remember the frigid days of January, and…

Like There’s No Tomorrow

Jul 26, 2018


I expected some challenges when I took on the presidency of Moody Bible Institute, but I never expected a death threat.

It happened during my first year at Moody. For reasons…

Finding Jesus in the Loop

Jun 25, 2018


My friend Craig Phillips was a 27-year-old rising star in Chicago’s corporate world. His natural drive and determination landed him a premium position at a Fortune 500 company in the Loop—Chicago’s…

Cause for Rejoicing

Jun 24, 2018


I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when I was hanging out in the hall with a bunch of my “cool” junior high friends before Sunday school. Walking toward us was…

Living With a Clear View

Jun 23, 2018


I love Wrigley Field in Chicago. But like most old ballparks, it has the necessary but aggravating problem of support posts that obscure the view of the game. Unfortunately, I got…

Are You Down With It?

Jun 22, 2018


In the early hours of the morning, five drug dealers kidnapped Buster Soaries and drove him to a vacant lot. They dragged him out of the car and jammed a…

She Loves Me, . . . She Loves Me Not

Jun 21, 2018


Did you ever try to figure out whether or not someone you loved, loved you in return? Who knows when, but a long time ago some romantic had the idea…

Getting Closer to God

Jun 20, 2018


With e-mail and text messages, the joy of letter writing—and, better yet, receiving letters—is almost a lost commodity. I love getting mail, especially from someone I deeply admire and appreciate. My dad…

The Right Answer

Jun 19, 2018


When Jesus asked a question, it was not because He didn’t know the answer. You can be sure He was making a point.

Jesus and His disciples were in Caesarea Philippi,…

Two-Way Street

Jun 18, 2018


Ever had a one-way friendship? You know the drill—people who always need a favor but never give anything in return. Every time they come close, you can almost hear that sucking…

On Purpose

Jun 17, 2018


Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life has had an unbelievable run on the best-seller lists. Its phenomenal appeal reminds us that believers and nonbelievers alike have a deep longing for a clear…

Thou Shalt Not Be a Bystander

Jun 16, 2018


In 1955, an African-American Christian woman in her 40s refused to surrender her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. As a result, many now view…

God’s Instrument

Jun 14, 2018


I’ll never forget my conversation with Erin, who is an accomplished violinist. As we were talking about violins, I asked her whether or not the coveted violins made by Stradivarius…

A Boost of Courage

Jun 13, 2018


When my son Joe was a child, I took him to the local YMCA for swimming lessons. I could almost see an Olympic gold medal swinging around his neck.

To my…

The Quarter In Your Pocket

Jun 12, 2018


Some things are irresistible. For me, it’s bubble-gum machines. I can hardly resist the urge to watch one of those colorful gumballs roll down the tunnel so I can pop…

Open-Book Test

Jun 11, 2018


Have you ever taken an “open-book” test? At first blush they seem like a piece of cake. You can actually have the book open during the test! No late-night cramming. No…

Now Appearing . . . Jesus!

Jun 10, 2018


If I were God—and I know a lot of people including my wife who are deeply grateful that I’m not—I might very well have planned a stealth arrival to our…

Living Here for There

Jun 9, 2018


Victoria Perez watched as the Cessna touched down on the road in the distance. When she was sure it was him, she shouted to her children, “That’s your father!” Grabbing…

Anybody for Servanthood?

Jun 8, 2018


In politics, the paths to success and significance are paved with the right contacts, the right connections, and the right contributions. In Chicago, which was my adopted hometown for 20…

When the Going Gets Tough

Jun 7, 2018


There I was driving along, half hypnotized by the steady flow of traffic. I glanced at the car ahead of me. The bumper sticker read, “When the going gets tough,…

Whitewater Experiences

Jun 6, 2018


I was enjoying the start of my first whitewater rafting experience—until I heard the roar of the rapids up ahead. My emotions were flooded with feelings of uncertainty, fear, and…

National Pride

Jun 5, 2018


My wife, Martie, and I have grown to love England—its history, culture, and people. One of our favorite activities when we visit is going to outdoor concerts (also known as…

Finger Pointer’s Anonymous

May 27, 2018


A glass of wine or not a glass of wine? To dance or not to dance? To work on Sunday or not to work on Sunday? To play cards or…

The Great Race

May 26, 2018


The month of June brings many sure signs of summer: the sweet smell of cut grass, soft breezes, picnics, fireflies, thunderstorms—and runners. This unique breed of humanity, forced to run circles…

Leaving Sin City

May 25, 2018


A seriously disturbing commercial made its way to TV sets across America recently. The ad begins with a chauffeur opening the door of a stretch limousine for a woman who…

Put A Lid On It

May 24, 2018


Now that the weather is getting warmer, it will be my job to barbecue the hamburgers, or steaks if I’m fortunate! Over the years I have learned, through trial and…

Compete Or Converge

May 23, 2018


Walking through campus one day, a seminary professor came upon a custodian reading the Bible during lunch hour. The professor asked what he was reading. “Revelation,” the custodian said. “I’m…

Speak Up!

May 22, 2018


If you’re like most people, you think that when God does something important, He uses important people to get it done—people like John Stott, Billy Graham, or Joni Eareckson Tada.…

See Ya in Heaven

May 21, 2018


Periodically, current world events stir up discussion about the endtimes. While I believe in the importance of being ready for Christ’s return, I don’t put much stock in date setters…

Stuck with a Thorn?

May 20, 2018


A small, older, hunched-over lady greeted us with a glowing smile at the doorway of our little son Matthew’s Sunday school room. She was one of the most effective Sunday…

Secret Storage

May 19, 2018


One of the New Year’s resolutions that I have managed to keep is my plan to clean out the two storage rooms in our basement. When we initially moved into…

Getting Along

May 18, 2018


I’m guessing that even astronomical gas prices won’t stop many parents from packing up the car and taking the kids on a road trip for vacation this summer. And if…

God’s Presence At Church

May 8, 2018


I love reading church slogans. You know, the ones you see on the marquee in front of churches. Recently I noticed a slogan that said, “Come in and experience the…

Thank God for Mothers!

May 8, 2018


It was Sunday morning and her son still had not appeared at the breakfast table. She had tried yelling up the stairs: “Wake up and get down here!” But there…


May 7, 2018


Interesting, isn’t it, how some childhood experiences are permanently seared into our memory banks? One of my unforgettable memories is of watching my boyhood friend Bobby getting hit by a…

Out Of Proportion

May 6, 2018


I’ll never forget the time I had my picture taken with Shaquille O’Neal, one of the giants of professional basketball. I never thought of myself as short until I stood…

Drumroll, Please . . .

May 5, 2018


There are some moments in Scripture that I would have choreographed a little differently if it had been up to me. Now, before you start writing in to tell me…

Wake Him Up!

May 4, 2018


Elouise worked the cash register in the food court at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute. She was, by far and away, one of my favorite people. I liked a lot of…

A Known Commodity

May 3, 2018


My new ministry was at a large, sophisticated church just outside of Detroit. I confess—at only 36 years old, I felt more than a little intimidated in this congregation populated…

A Boy’s Lunch

May 2, 2018


Once I made the mistake of thinking I could single-handedly finish a 28-ounce steak at a restaurant. I had the remainder boxed up to take home. I thought, At least…

A Bigger Shovel

May 1, 2018


It’s interesting to me that Jesus taught more about money than any other subject. He consistently talked about the importance of generosity and the deadly danger of greed. To the…

Don’t Forget

Apr 30, 2018


We all have little slips in our memory once in a while, right? I love the story about the guy who decided to do something about his increasing forgetfulness. This poor…

A Place Fit for a King!

Apr 18, 2018


While in seminary I worked as a bellman in a luxury hotel in Dallas. On most days it was a ho-hum job, except for the time when the Vice President…

Let’s Hear it for the Rules

Apr 17, 2018


Most of us don’t really like rules. I don’t know why, but deep down inside we have an aversion to people telling us what to do and what not to…

What’s In The Name?

Apr 16, 2018


There are a lot of fun events associated with being a pastor. And while great food at church dinners and getting invited to cool events with people in your church…

Under New Management

Apr 15, 2018


It’s always an unsettling moment when you pull up to one of your favorite haunts only to see a sign posted in the window that reads “Under New Management.” A…

No Hassles At The Border

Apr 14, 2018


American citizens flying to and from neighboring nations like Canada and Mexico used to get by with carrying a birth certificate or, in some cases, just a driver’s license as…

Brand New

Apr 13, 2018


I love the smell of a new car. You open the door and, wow, there’s just something about it! If you were like me, you’d buy it just for the…

The Case for Kindness

Apr 12, 2018


A story I heard in the news a few years ago caught my attention. It was about an 85-year-old man who used to eat breakfast in a Kroger supermarket every…

Agents Of Change

Apr 11, 2018


With 4 years of seminary under my belt, I walked into my first ministry with a long agenda. As a new pastor, I thought I was there to change that…

Loving God

Apr 10, 2018


Early in our marriage, I thought I knew the ultimate shortcut to my wife’s heart. I arrived home one night with a bouquet of a dozen red roses behind my…

Hometown Hero

Apr 9, 2018


Chicago Cubs fans are the most optimistic people in baseball. Until last year's big break,  it had been over a century since their last World Series victory, yet we still…

Naming Rights

Mar 28, 2018


Is there anyone out there as excited as I am that it’s baseball season again? Some questions were once brewing about “the Friendly Confines”—the home field of my beloved Chicago…

Time For A Change

Mar 27, 2018


A friend once told me, “In my lifetime I’ve seen a lot of things change, and I’ve been against them all!” Perhaps he overstated the point, but many of us…

Price Tags

Mar 26, 2018


You may have heard the story about the pranksters who broke into a hardware store. Strangely enough, they didn’t steal a thing. Yet what they did created chaos of epic…

The Middle

Mar 25, 2018


I am a passionate fan of Oreo cookies. The mere thought of a tall, ice-cold glass of milk and a huge stack of Oreos is enough to induce some major hunger…

Hurry Up and Wait

Mar 24, 2018


One of my all-time favorite school teacher stories is about a kindergarten teacher who at the end of an exasperating day had to put boots on all 31 of her…

Gate Crashers

Mar 23, 2018


Several years ago, the Pentagon built warships designed to fight terrorism. This class of battleship could carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore…

A Tongue That Moves Dirt

Mar 22, 2018


R. G. LeTourneau, the owner of a large earth-moving equipment company, often told this story: “We used to have a scraper known as the Model G. Somebody asked one of…

Your Faithful Friend?

Mar 21, 2018


Junior high school can be one long intensive seminar on drama in relationships. I am convinced that any psychological malfunction in my life today is directly traceable to those two…

Fear Of The Unknown

Mar 20, 2018


Has God ever asked you to do something that seemed unreasonable? Something that took you into the territory of the unknown? What if He asked you to refuse a long-awaited…

Jell-O Knees

Mar 19, 2018


Somewhere in the distance I heard a siren. Buildings loomed on either side of us and my pulse quickened each time we passed an unlit alley. I was a boy…

The Song Of The Saints

Mar 13, 2018


We’ve all heard the expression, “I don’t get mad; I just get even.” Reading about the judgments described in Revelation, one might assume that God will get “even” with sinners…

Make Up Your Mind

Mar 12, 2018


When I was young, my mother tried to prepare me for life by urging me to make up two things: my bed and my mind. When I got up each…

Gone Fishin

Mar 11, 2018


Not long after I married my wife, Martie, I realized that she had a deep love for animals in general and dogs in particular. She grew up with Trudy, a…

The Wise Guy in the Backseat

Mar 10, 2018


Driving with two young children in the backseat often requires a special kind of grace. Especially when, like on this trip, I was the parent. We were driving to Grand…

A Way Out

Mar 9, 2018


It’s confession time.

The mere sight of a squad car—particularly when my speed is a little beyond the posted limit—kicks off a flurry of excuses in my mind. My speedometer must…

Stretching the Truth

Mar 8, 2018


I worked for a carpenter one summer between college semesters. Being the inexperienced apprentice, occasionally I would cut a board too short. Seeing that I had wasted a good board,…

The Problem With Self-Sufficiency

Mar 7, 2018


The city of Laodicea had a water problem. One nearby town had fabulous hot springs and another had cold, clear water. Laodicea, however, was stuck with tepid, mineral-laden water that…

Soul Food

Mar 6, 2018


Grocery shopping with my wife, Martie, is like taking a seminar in nutrition. I’ll often pick up a box of something that looks good, and she’ll say: “Look at the…

Help Is on the Way

Mar 5, 2018


My aging Chevy Tahoe has a nifty little feature—the OnStar button. Some time back, General Motors started installing this blue button on many of their vehicles. If you need help, all…


Mar 4, 2018


Hearing voices has to be the most haunting of all the mental disorders. After all, which voice do you listen to? Talk about massive confusion! But before you think that…

What’s In Your Wallet?

Mar 3, 2018


An advertising blitz for a credit card company once featured two humorous television commercials. One featured Vikings who were defeated by credit card’s low interest rates. The other series of ads poked fun…

Brain Drain

Mar 2, 2018


When I travel, wake-up calls are really important! More than once I have registered my wake-up time with the hotel desk confident that they would call right on time. Well,…

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Mar 1, 2018


Baseball legend Yogi Berra is known for his oft-repeated quips like, “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “It’s like déjà vu all over again!”

I wonder if the disciples felt…

How To Become Rich

Feb 28, 2018


I find it interesting that Jesus taught more about money than anything else. And He wasn’t trying to ratchet up the treasury. As far as we know, He never even…

The Best Story Ever Told

Feb 27, 2018


It's not uncommon for hit movies today to be followed by a sequel and even a "three-quel." The film industry has discovered that we like to revisit certain stories. We…

Hitting the Rapids

Feb 26, 2018


I’ll never forget my first white-water rafting experience. The guide made me wear a dorky helmet and a life jacket that was anything but flattering. Thankfully, my sagging self-image was…

Providential Partnership

Feb 25, 2018


Dads love it when their kids ask, “Can I help?” Even though the job may be too complex, they welcome the chance to let their kids take part in the…

Reversing the Flow

Feb 24, 2018


Chicago is a world-class city. It’s known for its great pizza, architecture, symphony, sports teams, and lakefront setting. I love Chicago! If you were to visit Chicago, you’d see the…