Archive for the 'Character' Category

Is Jesus the ruler of every detail of your life? Putting the principles of heaven into practice doesn’t always come naturally! Joe Stowell draws on his own personal experience of learning…

Discover four traits that single you out as a member of God’s kingdom, as you join Joe Stowell in turning to Matthew 4:17. Last week you learned how to bring the…

In this continuing series on Matthew 4:17, you’ll be reminded that as a child of the King, you belong to His kingdom. Do the people around you get a taste of…

When you pray, “Your kingdom come,” do you really know what you’re asking for? Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:17 that the kingdom is coming, and He is the King. So…

Betrayal is a central element of the Easter story. As we prepare our hearts this week for the celebration of Easter, we join Joe Stowell in examining the events in John 13…

Discover two privileges you enjoy because you are found “in Christ” in this continuing message on 2 Corinthians 5:17. Last week you heard Joe Stowell define being “in Christ” as having…

We’ve all found ourselves using phrases like “in Christ.” But have you ever stopped to consider what those words really mean? Join Joe Stowell for this week’s message as you explore…

Discover what it means to live “inside out” in this continuing message on “The New Covenant.” As Joe Stowell explains, it’s easy—and dangerous—to slip into the habit of basing your faith…

“Love one another.” It’s a simple concept—but you know just how difficult it can be to put into practice! Over the past few weeks we’ve been examining this new command Jesus…

Discover what it means to daily live out your identity as a “New Creation Person” as Joe Stowell wraps up his three-part message on 2 Corinthians 5:14-19. In the last two…

We live in a phenomenally broken world. And a natural response is for our hearts to cry out “God, can’t You somehow fix this for us?” In this message from the…

“Who am I?” We’ve all asked ourselves this question at some point in our lives. In these messages from the “All Things New” series, Joe Stowell makes the key point that…

My wife, Martie, and I had the privilege of traveling to England. While we were there, we visited Hampton Court—the home of King Henry VIII. The first thing we noticed was…

In Cornwall, England, you can visit a place called The Eden Project. The Eden Project attempted to build the perfect environment in which plants and trees could flourish. Obviously named for…

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 for…

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 me…

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 his…

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 statue…

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 how…

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 an…

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 of…

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 in…

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 me…

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 worse,…

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 a…

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. The…

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 with…

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, “Joe,…

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 I…

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 who…

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 the…

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 who…

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, your…

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 famous.”…

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, the…

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 too….

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, squeeze…

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 that…

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 to…

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 fears…

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…

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 my…

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 other….

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 we…

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…

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 got…

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 of…

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 spawned…

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 all…

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…

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 that…

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 Stowell’s…

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…

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 they…

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 you….

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 being…

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 for…

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…

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 in…

One of my all-time favorite moments in the life of Jesus was when a man in the crowd asked Him: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke…

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 be…

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 overlooked…

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 a…

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.”…

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 Yankees’…

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…

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…

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 a…

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 the…

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 and…

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 something…

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 people’s…

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 can…

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 to…

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 there….

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…

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 business…

Have you ever tried to figure out whether or not someone you loved, loved you in return? Some people think you can solve the dilemma by pulling petals off of a…

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 Rosa…

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 were…

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 planet…

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 the…

In politics, the paths to success and significance are paved with the right contacts, the right connections, and the right contributions. Several years ago in Chicago, a series of investigations and…

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,…

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 was…

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 in…

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 reply…

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. Take…

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 hero,…

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 error,…

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 unload…

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 dominant…

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 of…

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 presence…

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 car….

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 ocean,…

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” kind…

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 up,…

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…

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 compound…

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 of…

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 change…

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 aroma….

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 morning….

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 place….

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 back….

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 days…

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…

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 is…

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 car…

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 proportions—they…

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 pangs….

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 by…

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 our…

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…

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…

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 day…

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 black…

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…

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, my…

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 you…

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 at…

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, you…

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 asked…

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 want…

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 beautiful…

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 in…

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 happenings…

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 little…

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 call…

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 city…

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…

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 to…

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…

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 was…

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 myself,…

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…

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…

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 with…

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 heaven…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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 want…

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;…

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 time…

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 has…

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 competing…

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. Upon…

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 to…

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 hear…

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 instructor…