You need the Spirit
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Between the messages the world tells you and the things you know about yourself, I bet you could come up with a whole list of the reasons you are a screwup. Over and over your conscience would whisper that you are quick-tempered, conniving, unlovable, judgmental, and weak. If you were left on your own, you might be tempted to truly believe the bad things you know about yourself. That, right there, is the whole reason that when Jesus went back... Read More
Humble greatness
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The stories that children probably come to love first about Jesus involve his power. What a miracle worker he is! Lord of the sea, master of storms, conqueror of disease, victor over demons, raiser of the dead—there is nothing he can’t do. He is the ultimate superhero, cooler even than Batman or Superman. As you get older, though, you come to appreciate Jesus even more in his acts of humble service. One of the most powerful stories in all of... Read More
Ladies' aid
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It is one of the signs of the times we live in that ladies’ aid church societies and the skill of home sewing is slowly disappearing. Women work outside the home now and don’t have time to acquire homey skills like canning, darning, embroidery, and the making of clothes by hand. Fewer and fewer are able to teach the few who want to learn. Besides, machine-made clothing is so relatively cheap that sewing is at best a hobby, not an... Read More
Cherish the child
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It is unfathomable that a loving mother would take her seven-year-old daughter to a border crossing and tell her to head north because the child would be better off wandering alone in the U.S. than remaining in her violent town in Central America. How desperate a mother’s love can be. It is equally unfathomable that our divine Father would send his only Son from heaven to be enfleshed in misery on earth and then forsake him on a cross. How... Read More
The Lamb of God died for you now
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No Israelite who had participated in the giving of a sin offering or guilt offering could possibly mistake the message of the divine drama: God’s mercy is brokered through a substitute’s death. Jesus Christ did many wonderful things during his 33 short years on this earth. He taught people the Word of God. He healed the sick and even raised the dead. He gathered and trained 12 disciples who would continue the work when he was gone. He obeyed all... Read More
A lamb died for you then
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Worship life in Old Testament times partially resembled ours today and partially looked very different. When people gathered in their synagogues on the Sabbath, they sang, prayed, gave offerings, and listened to Scripture read and explained just as we do. But the personal worship at the tabernacle and later temple has no parallel today. What a vivid, unforgettable experience God designed for the animal sacrifices that he expected! Some were “whole” offerings or “burnt” offerings—these signified total dedication to the... Read More
God is in the small voice
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Sometimes confrontation is our moral obligation. The difficult conversation can’t be avoided. We have a duty to one another. It is a duty to intervene at a critical moment and make a determined effort to prevent the self-destruction of a soul. By the time we ramp up our courage to say something, the fuse has been lit. Emotions are pre-charged and ready to go off. Apprehension and defensiveness finally explode into an argument that makes matters worse. It doesn’t go... Read More
What is a pastor?
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What do we pastors look like to you? Ivory tower or glass house residents? Holier-than-thous? Performance artists? Or maybe your wise spiritual guides? Steady friends? Compassionate counselors? When you are trying to help somebody with big spiritual needs, your pastors can be your prayer partners, your strategic advisors, your question answerers, your Bible interpreters, and your encouragers. They can help you find books, pamphlets, people connections, and web resources. They can meet with both of you in a place that... Read More
In cash we trust
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Becoming a good manager of God’s stuff, especially his money, is difficult. It is learned behavior and it takes time. Our natural inclination is to love money and use people (for example: rapper 50 Cent’s 2003 debut CD was entitled Get Rich or Die Tryin’). Jesus teaches us to love people and use money—see the difference? Jesus did the reverse—he embraced poverty so that we might become rich. Bob Dylan wrote a hit song in 1979 that contradicted the myth... Read More
Living in the golden age
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It’s hard to imagine that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were human beings. The stories and legends and the passage of many decades have made them seem superhuman. Their images are burned into our imaginations—Washington in his blue frock coat and buff breeches on his white horse, Lincoln looking sad-eyed into the camera as if anticipating his assassination. And yet in their day they took plenty of abuse. People sneered at Washington for being a highborn aristocratic slaveholder, and Lincoln... Read More