It’s time
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Our world offers you many choices, many temptations, many causes, many philosophies. What do you want? What’s important to you? What do you care about? Where do you see the biggest payoff? What are you chasing? Whom do you trust? Whose approval do you crave? How do you know what success looks like? Here is the prophet Hosea’s challenge: “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to... Read More
Beat the system
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For just about any system out there, you can find a book that claims to help you beat it. The system could be taxes, card games, or the stock market. To beat it means you found a way to make things work in your favor. Can you beat the devil at his system? He uses sin to destroy relationships and cut us off from God. You might think that as long as you avoid immediate consequences of sin, you can... Read More
A heart for God
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I’ll admit it—I’m a sucker for church architecture. I’m drawn to big and ornate houses of worship like a moth to a flame. When I see them as I’m driving, my head swivels. When I see them while walking, I try to get in. I love to look at pictures of them. I love to work on ours to make it even more beautiful than it is now. God loves his houses of worship. He loves it when people gather... Read More
A better way
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You can tell from his writing that the apostle Paul was fluent in the ideals of great civilizations. Being from Tarsus, he knew of the Greek ideal of freedom. Being a Jew, he could speak of the Hebrew ideal of peace. Being a Roman citizen, he benefited from their ideal of justice.  There is controversy and conflict because no one lives up to the ideals. So the critics corner becomes a crowded place. You can elbow your way in there... Read More
I'm tired and thirsty
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There’s a reason why blues music is so enduring. Look around at the office, in your classroom, on the streets where you are driving—you are looking at tired people. The daily struggle to survive is exhausting. Disappointments and setbacks sap your strength and make you weaker for the next one. People are weary. They’re thirsty too, thirsty to be reinvigorated, thirsty for the Water of Life. Thirsty to feel that things are working for them in their lives again, thirsty... Read More
What’s holding you back?
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When people say they’re “ADD,” some are kidding and some are serious. Attention Deficit Disorder is a quick and easy way to blame something else for your laziness and carelessness, but it is also a real mental problem that cripples people’s ability to concentrate and focus on what’s important. Do you know people with spiritual ADD? They mean well. They really intend to get back to church, really, one of these weeks, seriously, but life just keeps intervening. Birthday parties... Read More
Don't call me Naomi
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Nobody is lonely his or her entire life. What creates inner bleakness, however, is when things you love are taken away from you. When people you trusted betray you. When people you depended on take advantage of you. When people you loved die on you. In a time of famine, an Israelite woman named Naomi, along with her husband and two grown sons, needed to emigrate temporarily to find food. They found food in the land of Moab, and the... Read More
Listen to your conscience
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Even non-Christians know that they have a conscience. In popular imagery they may feel that there is a good angel sitting on one shoulder and a little demon in a red suit sitting on the other. Each whispers contradictory instructions in the nearest ear. There is such a thing as natural knowledge of God. People know that there is a higher Power of some kind, and they know that this Power has established good and bad, right and wrong. Even... Read More
They won't know for sure
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When I was teaching, I had to cowboy up for a consultation with a mama bear who was pretty tough on her cubs. We were meeting to discuss why her boys weren’t doing better in school. The one in my class compensated for insecurity with passive-aggressive negligence in schoolwork. I had a theory. I told her bluntly, “Troy doesn’t think you love him.” She growled, “That’s ridiculous. Of course I love him. He should know that. Why, I have given... Read More
Self-made man
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The American Revolution took place in part to get rid of the aristocracy, i.e., inherited titles, privileges, and money. We love stories about people who made it big on their own talent, grit, and hard work—we call them self-made men. Well, talent, grit, and hard work are all good things, but the truth is that all of us, without exception, have benefited from the work of others—from mothers and fathers, teachers and pastors, mentors and business partners, critics and adversaries.... Read More