Cross and Crescent
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In A.D. 537 the Byzantine Emperor Justinian dedicated what was then the largest cathedral in the world in his capital city of Constantinople. It was called the Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God (referring to the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ), known more commonly by its Greek name Hagia Sophia. For its time it was a stupendous miracle of engineering and construction. Its inner walls were covered with mosaics, and it boasted a 49-foot-tall iconostasis, the screen... Read More
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Sometimes Satan’s attacks are obvious. Lately, though, I’ve been seeing how “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Case #1: Conscious Uncoupling Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin, have decided to end their marriage. Instead of sticking with the original design that called for them to stay married until they die, they’ve decided to go through the process of “Conscious Uncoupling.” Wordplay tries to make the hurting, searing pain of divorce sound lovely, peaceful, full... Read More
Another Slow Cooker
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You’ve heard of John Newton, haven’t you? No? Well, you know his famous hymn “Amazing Grace,” one of the most famous Christian songs ever written. In just a few deft lines, Newton expresses the depths of human sin and his gratitude for God’s grace, amazing grace, that could forgive a wretch like him. A lost man was found; a blind man got his sight back. The song is, of course, autobiographical. Newton was born in London in 1725, and his... Read More
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On March 21 Iran celebrated its new year. Saeed Abedini didn’t have much to celebrate. Saeed was raised Muslim, and when he was 20 years old, he trained to be a suicide bomber. The training led to depression, which led to his conversion to Christianity. From then on, he shared the good news through underground house churches until persecution led him and his wife, Naghmeh, to move to the US in 2005. He served as a pastor in Boise, Idaho, and... Read More
Crime in Crimea
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The Western world is staring at Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea, slack-jawed and impotent. The educated elite and the chattering classes of newsies just can’t believe that in this modern, advanced, socially evolved world such naked power grabs can still happen. Guess they do. The UN has a tongue but no teeth. But nobody should be particularly shocked. Nations have been pushing and shoving for territory and resources for millennia. I’ve been reading First and Second Samuel devotionally lately and... Read More
Seven Sour Prayer Attitudes
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What keeps people from praying more? Enjoying their prayer life more? What hindrances do you find in your own prayer life (or lack thereof)? Here are seven sour attitudes that I've come across (full disclosure—some of these attitudes come from within my own brain, I’m sorry to say): #1  Patronizing attitude: I don’t want to insult God by appearing to tell him things he already knows. If he’s really omniscient, he doesn’t need my reports. If he really loves me,... Read More
God is . . . hate?
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Fred Phelps, Sr., died on Wednesday. As the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, (which isn’t really fair to either Baptists or churches) Phelps was best known for picketing military funerals. In a convoluted logic, (which isn’t really fair to logic) he felt that every military service member’s death was God’s condemnation on the United States’ acceptance of homosexuality.  Still, his death doesn’t mean the church is closing. Instead, this group of 100-ish people (how does such a small group made up almost... Read More
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I’m fairly certain I have given my children the impression that they are supposed to behave so they don’t embarrass our family or bring us grief. That’s not what I intended. These past six months as we have been settling into a new community, new school, new church, new jobs, new everything, I have talked (probably endlessly) to my children about making good first impressions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As King Solomon said, “To have a fool... Read More
Snakes in Church
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Well, another one bit the dust. More accurately, another one was bitten and went back to dust. Rev. Jamie Coots of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name of Middlesboro, Kentucky, passed away after he was bitten by a poisonous snake during a religious service last month. He and his father were leaders in a movement of Holiness churches in Appalachia that believes that God promises Christians today the power to handle poisonous snakes without harm. His family said that... Read More
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John 3:16 Day is coming up on March 16. (3-16, get it? It took me a little while to catch on.) If you’re old enough to remember the 70s and 80s like I am, maybe you remember the Rainbow Man. A ubiquitous figure at sporting events, his rainbow afro and John 3:16 sign made him famous. (Though he is now spending life in prison for some crimes he committed.) For those who don’t remember rabbit ears or the console TV,... Read More