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Does God hate sinners? I said that in a message some time ago and got some push-back from some readers and viewers online. God does say that, and perhaps a word or two of explanation could help with this concept that some find difficult. It is always a temptation to take difficult concepts in the Bible and rationalize them and make them fit our human reason. Sometimes the Bible asks us to accept two seemingly contradictory concepts and hold them... Read More
Afterwards....
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“Afterwards” is always so disappointing, isn’t it? Things we look forward to so intensely can bring such joy but the “aftertime” can leave you with the backlash of depression, and emptiness that just seems impossible a week earlier when everything seemed to be going so well. The month after Christmas can be a difficult time for people. Especially those who live far away from loved ones and may have had a chance to see people they really care about, enjoying... Read More
Content to Serve
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I’ve been serving in an inner city ministry for more than a quarter of a century. For the first years that I was there, several people said they wondered, because my background was so middle class, how could I be comfortable there.  People would ask, “Is this hard for you? Aren’t you afraid?  Are you just putting in your time to be a good sport, and then you’ll move on to a comfy place when you can?” I’ve had 14... Read More
There Is Healing!
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People who struggle, especially people who are ill or have chronic disabilities, look at the stories of Jesus’ miracle healings and they sigh. “Oh, if only he would do that today.” I think it’s good to take a balanced view of the things that Jesus was doing. For one thing, he is still healing today. God always prefers using people rather than doing everything through miracles. Jesus’ main goal for being on earth was bringing people the saving Word to... Read More
Dealing With Random Violence
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A feature of the world that we have to live in today is violence in public places – mindless violence, deadly violence, unthinkable violence. Violence often without a reason, random violence, and violence in schools. What parent has not had a moment of cold fear wondering if that violence could ever touch my family. The scary thing about random violence is that there’s nowhere you can run or hide – as we found out last year. Even the Amish could... Read More
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The doldrums are dead wind pockets in the Atlantic Ocean. Sailors get stuck in them. Their boats don’t move, and they sit there, and sit there, and sit there and wait for wind. You feel like your life is in the doldrums when you’re stalled and not moving, waiting for some wind to push you along. That wind comes from the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the Lord lets us stall as a way of getting our attention, as a way of... Read More
The New Year & Setting Goals
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December has slipped away, and January and new things are upon us. It’s a cliché to make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s a great idea for Christians to seize political rhythms in life, or calendar things, or secular things that coincide with Christian virtues. It was not really a church holiday to celebrate Thanksgiving, for instance, but what a perfect time to stop in your tracks and make a great noise of thanks to the Lord. Mother’s Day was not... Read More
Firsts
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When you’re young, firsts – first times, first things, are really exciting. First time in an airplane … is a blast. First time you ever hit a home run in little league … is a memory you’ll have for a lifetime. Your first date – when a guy calls you up and asks you out – probably will stick with you for the rest of your life. Your first apartment; your first job; those are great. As you get older,... Read More
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The more you read the Bible the more you realize it’s important to keep two ideas – often seemingly contradictory ideas – in your head at the same time. For instance, that God is a God of law and gospel simultaneously. That he is both furiously angry with mankind and unbelievably merciful and loving toward mankind, at the same time. Not one or the other, but it’s both, and it’s not a mixing of the two to get a kind... Read More
Forgiveness
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Christmas is a great time to be in the forgiveness business. Just as it’s a great time for us to come to the manger of Jesus and say “I need you,” it’s a great time for us to be reflectors of forgiveness that we receive from him. The closer you get to your Savior in the manager, the less comfortable you can be with holding onto your own grudges when you realize that he bridged an absolutely enormous chasm to... Read More