Daily Devotionals

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 Episode IV? After a laser battle between a little spaceship (the good guys) and the ominous Imperial Star Destroyer (the bad guys),…

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…

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,…

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…