Daily Devotionals

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 as…

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 my…

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. “Do…

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, while…

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…

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 in…

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…

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…

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 the…

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 school…

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, their…

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…

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 grown…

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 of…

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 years…

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 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 said,…

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 realized…

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 30…

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 wonderful…

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 other…

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 extensions,…

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. But…

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 there,…

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 Christmas….

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…

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 America. Once…

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…

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…

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,…

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 of…

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 child’s…

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 think…

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…

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 the…

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 the…

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…

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…

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…

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 tensions…

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 people…

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,…

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…

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 not,…

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…

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 God…

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 my…

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 me…

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 by…

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 gets…

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…

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 to…

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.”…

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 to…

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…

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 see…

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 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 in…

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 empty…

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. Lucy,…

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 to…

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….

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 the…

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…

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 can…

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 the…

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…

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. And…

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…

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 prostitutes…

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 dignitary…

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…

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…

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…

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 a…

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 their…

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 get…

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…

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 indeed…

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 were…

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….

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 last…

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…

“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 maybe…

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…

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. We…

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 the…

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…

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 question,…

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…

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 ourselves…

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 than…

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…

In the off-season of baseball, managers and coaches concentrate on trading players to set themselves up for a winning season the next year. But if you are a Chicago Cubs fan…

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 explained…

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, things…

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…

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…

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 forth…

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…

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 name…

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 of…

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….

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 her…

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…

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 only…

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…

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 crowd…

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 back…

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?…

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…

While flying from Europe back to the US, I found myself sitting next to a little girl who never stopped talking from the moment she sat down. She told me the…

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 someone,”…

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…

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 too…

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…

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…

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 they…

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 a…

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 soul-searching…

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…

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 Blue…

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…

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.”…

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 a…

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 across…

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 I…

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. There…

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’…

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 and…

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 still…

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…

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 bickering…

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…

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 bumper,…

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:…

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…

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 we…

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…

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…

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 like…

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 promise…

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 a…

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…

Any Star Wars fans out there? Remember the opening scenes of the first movie that begin with a laser battle between a little spaceship (the good guys) and this huge, ominous…

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…

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 the…

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 at…

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 temper…

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 crayon-scribbled…

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 been…

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…

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 of…

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 Independence…

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, everything…

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…

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 will…

The Hot Shot Café in Asheville, North Carolina, is where the locals hang out. Old jukebox and all—no pretense—just good old home cooking. A while back I had the chance to…

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…

I love going to Chicago’s Wrigley Field for a baseball game—sitting in the stands, downing a great hot dog, and cheering the Cubs on to victory! Unfortunately, Christianity has become a…

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 gifts…

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…

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 a…

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 stuck…

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 shotgun…

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 that…

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 used…

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,…

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 sound…

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…

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…

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 carillon,…

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…

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…

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 it…

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 last-minute…

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. In Chicago, which was my adopted hometown for 20 years,…

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, the…

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 insecurity…

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 proms)…

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…

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 closet…

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 of…

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…

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…

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 that,…

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 US as a hero,…

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 not…

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…

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 is…

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,…

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 sure…

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. The…

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 who…

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 school…

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 our…

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 the…

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…

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 their…

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 universe…

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 has…

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’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 three…

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 of…

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…

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…

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 had…

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….

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 next…

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 I’m…

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 things…

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 with…

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 it…

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 man…

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 chap…

A few 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…

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 of…

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…

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 a…

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 tech-savvy…

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 unfair…

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,…

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…

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…

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 we…

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…

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 do….

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 are…

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…

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 a…

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….

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 packed…

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…

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. Not…

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…

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 nowhere…

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 that’s…

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 the…

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 claim…

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…

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 in…

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…

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 Cubs….

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 would…

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….

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 students…

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…

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 years…

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 promotion…

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 at…

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…

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 and…

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…

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…

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 in…

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 for…

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…

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 Rapids…

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…

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 tasted…

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 label….

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 you…

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…

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…

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 blockbuster 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…

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 rescued…

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 project….

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…

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 discovers…

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 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 Happiness…

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 after…

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…

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 St….

For most of us, prostitution represents a rather repulsive aspect of the underbelly of society. Given our disdain for such a godless practice, my guess is that few of us have…

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…

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 don’t…

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…

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 ways,…

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…

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 way”…

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…

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 take…

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 interrupts…

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 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, a…

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 Garden…

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…

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 the…

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…

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 one…

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…

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…

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 could…

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 was…

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 wonderful…

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…

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…

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;…

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…

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…

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…

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 that…

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 resources…

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…

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…

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 times…

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…

As an avid baseball fan, my favorite team is the Chicago Cubs. The interesting thing about being a Cubs fan is that the team has a way of letting us down….

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,…

The reality TV show Fear Factor featured people who are willing to face their worst fears for notoriety and financial gain. I need to tell you that I rarely watched more…