Show compassion
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Some of the wisest words ever uttered about building great family relationships came from a career bachelor—St. Paul. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, though, he identified Christlike qualities to cultivate in yourself that will make you a joy to live with. Even though he wasn’t speaking specifically about marriage, there are few passages in Scripture that better contribute to a “happily ever after” marriage. He uses the analogy of putting on clothes. Not wedding clothes. Marriage clothes. Here’s one of... Read More
Crooked or straight
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A meaningful Christmas experience will not come to you. You must go to it. If you do nothing, all you will notice is that most stores are closed on December 25 and there isn’t much traffic. If you are interested in an encounter with the Savior of all mankind, listen to the public relations agent that God himself commissioned during the first Advent time of preparation: “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him,” John the Baptist... Read More
Give gifts from your heart now
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It’s sad to hear stories of people who have dropped out of church life because of money issues. The church should not treat its members like children, making rules for their faith lives. It shouldn’t act like a country club either, charging membership fees. God’s people are royal priests and need to be treated as such. God is still the Creator and Owner of everything on earth. He is still the Giver of everything you own and every dime of... Read More
You owed God a tithe then
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Psalm 24 says that the entire earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. Psalm 50 says that the cattle on a thousand hills all belong to him. God brought that concept home to his minor children in Old Testament times by “taxing” them 10% of their income. That 10% was called the tithe. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the... Read More
Hidden treasure
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Stories abound in the settlement of the American West of people who rushed to establish clear legal title to land they were sure was valuable—land with grazing rights, water rights, and especially mining rights. Prospectors in particular tried their best to keep anyone else from finding out about a lucky strike until they had solidified their ownership. They didn’t want anyone “jumping” their claim. Jesus told a story once about a man’s lucky find and what he did to secure... Read More
Silence is not an option
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During their three-year training period, Jesus’ disciples were not particularly good ambassadors for him. The remarks they blurted out revealed men who were often confused, personally vain and ambitious, and vengeful. They talked when they should have been listening, and they fell silent and even ran away when their testimony was needed. But the Lord stuck with them. He sent his Spirit upon them and transformed them from cowards into champions of the faith. Even when threatened with imprisonment, physical... Read More
Build up your leaders
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Much of the Christian life involves stringing your hammock between two seemingly contradictory ideas. Are we sinners or saints? Well, er, the truth is we’re both. Should we plant and build for the next one thousand years or assume that the world could end tomorrow. The answer is yes. Are we kings and priests of God, free to serve him as we will, or part of an authority structure? You know the answer—both are true. A congregation is a family... Read More
Expect hostility
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In theory we know that there won’t be heaven on earth, that we won’t experience heaven until we’re in heaven, but we just can’t stop fantasizing and wishfully expecting that since we’re Christians all conflict and trouble will die down in our lives. David was such a faithful follower of the Lord that God called him a man after his own heart. But even a wise king and phenomenal warrior like David experienced life blowups, like the time he had... Read More
Desertion
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Military commanders hate desertion. It drains the fighting strength of their unit and is terrible for morale. It is also contagious if not dealt with, and so historically deserters who were arrested were often in for severe punishment—imprisonment, flogging, or even execution. Ministry leaders hate desertion too. Not only does it deprive the church’s ministries of someone’s talents, relationships, and energy, but people are concerned about the spiritual state of the soul and heart of the deserter. St. Paul recruited... Read More
Stretch
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Nobody mends clothes anymore. Machine-made fabrics and mechanical sewing and assembly on a huge scale have made clothes so cheap that when something tears you just pitch it out and buy another. Even the poor can go to a thrift store and outfit their kids for a few dollars. But in the days when all clothes were painstakingly made by hand from cloth woven by hand from yarn spun by hand from fleeces sheared by hand, the cost of a... Read More