The famous marshmallow tests were first conducted in the 1970s at Stanford University. Researchers presented preschool-aged children with a marshmallow and a choice: eat one marshmallow right away or wait until the researcher returned to the room and get two marshmallows. Follow-up studies on the children showed that the ability to delay gratification—to be patient enough to receive a second marshmallow—was linked to higher competence and SAT scores in adolescence.
Peace is an intrinsic part of the Christian life. Believers receive peace with God. We, in turn, seek peace with others as we forgive and love them. We also experience peace in our hearts and minds when we let go of our sins and our fear to trust in God. In fact, letting go is a key aspect of peace.
The organ notes sounded like dancing. I already knew that the guest organist for the noon Lenten service was one of the best around, but I was unprepared for the sheer joy that shone through a relatively short introduction to the closing hymn. The organist wasn’t just accompanying a hymn. He was living out his gift, his purpose, and his delight in making music for the glory of God. The organist’s joy overflowed to the entire congregation.
At youth group, the teens in attendance were engaged in a very lively discussion, during which, my daughter said something slightly off the mark theologically. I immediately corrected and expanded on her words—matter-of-factly, I thought. I was one of the youth leaders, after all. It was my duty to make sure the kids understood everything correctly. The discussion continued, but without my daughter. Her head went down, and she said nothing else.
When we got home, she turned to me, “You made fun of me!”
During Advent and Christmas, we hear about peace. We read Isaiah’s names for the Messiah, including “Prince of Peace.” In Jesus’ birth story, recorded in Luke, the heavenly hosts say, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” (Luke 2:14). We sing, “Sleep in heavenly peace” in the hymn “Silent Night, Holy Night” (LSB 363:1).
In Exodus 32:15, Moses descends from Mount Sinai after spending forty days in God’s presence. In his hands are two “tablets of the testimony” (Exodus 32:15) with the words of God written on the front and back. Verse 16 emphasizes how holy the tablets are: “The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16).
After reading Mark’s account of the transfiguration, I asked the teenagers in Sunday School if they had any comments or questions. A fifteen-year-old girl hesitantly raised her hand. “Um, I don’t know how to say this, but the disciples were . . . not smart.” The other kids laughed and agreed, and we spent a few minutes talking about the clueless disciples.
We hear some Scripture passages more than others over the course of our Christian lives, especially the Gospel stories surrounding Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection. One of these is the account of the resurrected Jesus appearing to the disciples, cooking them fish on the beach, and restoring His relationship with Simon Peter after Peter’s denial.
The epic saga of Joseph and his brothers spans thirteen chapters of the Book of Genesis, and most Christians are familiar with it. Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, where he suffers and then rises to power in Egypt. A famine forces his brothers to come to him in search of grain; and after an extensive back-and-forth to assess if his brothers have changed, Joseph reveals his identity and forgives them. It’s a glorious picture of how God can work through even the worst betrayal and suffering to bring about salvation (in this case, literal, physical salvation from starvation) and healed relationships.