Servant Angels
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Everybody works in heaven. Jesus said once, “The Father works, and I also work.” That is, the three persons of the triune God not only exerted themselves tremendously when they designed and built the universe, but they work each day to maintain and sustain it. The angels work too. They don’t just hover around in great winged clouds, waiting to see what’s going to happen, watching God and watching us. They are God’s spirit-agents, carrying out his gracious will on... Read More
Everything Just Seems Hopeless
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“Keep Hope Alive” was Jesse Jackson’s campaign slogan when he ran for president in 1988. And yet those words are more than just throwaway political placards and yard signs. Social change is impossible in communities that have given up. America’s inner cities need to keep believing in America’s central promise of freedom and equality under the law. Do you know the taste and odor of despair? Of seeing nothing positive? Does your marriage seem permanently broken? As a single parent,... Read More
Perfectionism
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Do you have friends who always seem to criticize and never praise? Worse—did your own mother simply make demands on you and never let you know that you had done anything well? Do you still live in fear of her criticism? Do you dread your father’s constant disapproval of your decisions? Worst of all—do you beat yourself up because nothing you have ever done seems good enough? What makes people so perfectionistic? Perhaps they grew up on a steady diet... Read More
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
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Psychologist Richard Carlson is given credit for this wonderful two-part advice on dealing with stress: (1) Don’t sweat the small stuff. (2) It’s mostly all small stuff. Most of us find ourselves getting wound up over issues that, in the larger scheme of things, are not all that important. We want so badly to be right that we fry relationships to prove our point. We argue and argue, but to what end? We hold ancient grudges, but what is the... Read More
Guests in God’s World
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All of us struggle every day to try to get control of our environments. We try to build financial wealth so that we won’t suffer need. We try to take care of our health so we don’t feel pain or suffer illness. We try to manage our relationships to reduce stress. It is humbling, though, to realize that we aren’t in control of very much. Actually, this world doesn’t really even belong to us. We are guests in someone else’s... Read More
Balance Sheet
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Do you find yourself doing personal inventory every now and then? You know, mentally reviewing your assets, your personal balance sheet as it were? Perhaps you reflect with satisfaction on your steadily growing mutual funds, IRAs, 401(k)s, and annuities. Maybe you are counting the months until you make that last mortgage payment and the house is finally yours, not the bank’s. Or you smile at the steady promotions and raises you’ve received or your wonderful new car or much bigger... Read More
Don’t Be Shy
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Do you remember the awkwardness you felt when you attended somebody else’s family gathering for the first time? How uncomfortable it was to meet your date’s parents and feel them look you up and down? How nervous you were that you would say the wrong thing or fail to perform the way you were supposed to? How glad you were to get out of there? I suspect that one of the fears that keeps Christians from praying more often, and... Read More
Hannah’s Sacrifice
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Has anyone in your family struggled with infertility? Have you? One of the seeming injustices of human life is that people who have no business having children seem to conceive easily, while couples with secure homes and lives and empty arms try and try and wait for a baby that never comes. Hannah was one of those infertile women with a broken heart. What made matters worse was that she had to live in a polygamous marriage. Her co-wife had... Read More
Remember Who You Are
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Imagine that someone was trying to steal your inheritance by keeping you from claiming your rights as a son or daughter of royalty. Imagine that the strategy was to get you to doubt that you really had royal blood at all. Satan is trying to steal your joy and persuade you to doubt your legal identity. Don’t let him. Through your adoption papers (i.e., baptismal certificate) God is named as your Father. St. Peter called you no less than God’s... Read More
Study Her
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One of the teasers and puzzles that sustains interest in a marriage over many decades is the fact that you never fully comprehend your partner. Men and women are tantalizingly wired differently from each other. Their perceptions about money, romance, communication, time, and appropriate social behaviors can be significantly different. God built us with these differences to enrich our lives. Satan would like to use them as wedges to drive us apart. Spouses who assume that their partner thinks just... Read More