Looking for joy
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You know the old phrase that says you get what you pay for. Long ago some Christian amended that proverb to this: you get what you pray for. I’d like to add a third: you find what you’re looking for. If you have a basically pessimistic outlook on life, if you expect to be disappointed by people, encounter moral and ethical failures, run into financial hardships, and suffer rejection, you will find all those things. If on the other hand... Read More
What are you morphing into?
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Do your kids or grandkids like to watch Transformers cartoons or play with Transformers action toys? These mechanical marvels look like robots but can transform themselves into vehicles or aircraft. There is ceaseless war between the good Autobots and the Decepticons, led by the evil Megatron. You and I may enjoy the fantasy that we are sovereign and independent agents in life, clearheaded and in control, but in actuality we are all changing into something or another and the only... Read More
I'm lost
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You’ve heard the proverb, “You can’t go home again.” Can prodigal daughters and sons go back to God after they have run away for a long time? Am I talking about you? Or maybe someone you know? How do you get back with God? What if it’s been years, or even decades, since you’ve been in church? Is it too late? What if you don’t even know what to think or how to believe anymore? What if you’ve forgotten the... Read More
Ministry failure
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As a child I enjoyed hearing about the amazing missionary journeys of St. Paul and the astounding successes he had in one city after another, planting congregations in spite of ferocious hardships, recruiting and training new leaders, and performing miracles. But it wasn’t all seashells and balloons. Just as Jesus’ own ministry initially yielded more unbelievers than believers, Paul also suffered some severe setbacks. “Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away... Read More
I feel useless
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I used to visit a sweet little old man named Alex. He was a dear guy, but pretty self-centered, with a perpetually gloomy outlook. At some point in every conversation he would say, “Ah, I’m no good no more.” He saw no purpose in his continuing existence. He had defined the minimum for a satisfied life, and in his mind he was sure he would never again reach even that minimum. Do you ever suffer from Alexitis? Have you doubted... Read More
Devoted to fellowship
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Golfing by yourself is not a lot of fun. It’s okay for practicing, but it pales next to playing in a foursome. What’s the fun of making a hole in one—or even just hitting a good shot—when you’re golfing by yourself? First of all, nobody will believe you and second, you want to be with people to celebrate the PGA-level shots and to groan and laugh together about the lame ones. Expressing and sharing your faith isn’t for loners either.... Read More
Appreciating the artists
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Some Christians long for simplicity, even stark and severe plainness, in their churches. I can appreciate their desire to reserve all their focus and attention for the Word of God, that they want their worship space to look like everyday life, not like a theater or hotel ballroom. But that’s not me. I long for a separate space, a sanctified, other worldly space, where designers and artists have been commissioned to use the materials of God’s world—the copper, oak, glass,... Read More
The future matters more
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The first two mentions of Mark in the New Testament are not particularly flattering, and sometimes I wish I were not named after him. He is probably the young man who happened to be without an undergarment in the Garden of Gethsemane. As guards tried to seize him, they caught his outer garment. He fled naked, leaving the garment in their hands (Mark 14:51,52). It gets worse. He accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey, but he did not prove... Read More
Parent heartbreak
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Years ago I was complaining to an older friend about the burden of raising small children. He grinned patronizingly, “Little children, little problems. Big children, big problems.” How our children can hurt us! God told that to Eve already in Genesis chapter 3, and little did she know what was in store. She became the first in what would become a long stream of weeping mothers with sons who were murdered. How our children can hurt us! We are so... Read More
Bring Healing
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“You are so stupid.” “You’re worthless.” “You will never amount to anything.” “I hate you.” “You are such a loser.” I hope you’ve never heard those words, and I hope that you’ve never said them. But a great many people you know have been beaten down with words like those. Words like those can damage people permanently. They crush the human spirit, maybe permanently. Our world is full of wounded adults who were badly hurt as children long ago, and... Read More