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
Husbands, lead
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At first glance, the Bible’s instructions for husbands sound right up our male fantasy alley. The husband is head of the wife? Cool. “Honey, go make dinner while I take a nap.” But listen to how the Bible describes Christian headship: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). You might say that Christ loved us to death. His death. This is Christ-love for husbands: loving her not for what... Read More
Join the team; love the team
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I think most of us underestimate our own selfishness. It’s so much easier to see it in other people, and I know I’m not always paying attention when people (family included) send me hints about my own. Teenagers especially struggle with this. They are naturally pushing away from their parents. They are trying on masks to figure out who they are. They are trying to be their own person and not just get sucked into their parents’ identity. They crave... Read More
Hide-and-seek
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“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Doesn’t that passage make you feel like you’re in some religious hide-and-seek game with God? I wonder if he’s in the basement. Nope. Maybe he’s hiding under the bed. Not there either. I wonder if he’s hiding behind the couch. No way. I get a picture in my head that he runs from spot to spot, trying to make it impossible for me... Read More
Morning people
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Some folks are just plain grumpy when they wake up. They roll out of bed with disheveled hair and a chip on their shoulder. A perky greeting from a morning person just makes it worse. It may be best to steer clear of them until their fog lifts. Kind of makes a person feel bad for looking forward to a new day. Christians are morning people. Our faith is in God’s faithfulness. Our experience with him prompts a positive outlook... Read More
Humble before the Lord
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Perhaps you’ve seen coworkers coming back from a weekday worship service with gray smudges on their foreheads. Some Christian churches not only use the term Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent, but they literally apply ash paste to the worshipers as a reminder of our sin, our mortality, and the terrible price that had to be paid to remove both. Whether or not you wear ashes on your forehead, it is appropriate to come before your Lord in... Read More
God invented love
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The day to express love through cards and gifts has a strange and murky beginning. The early Christian church honored the memory of a number of men named Valentinus and celebrated their feast day on February 14. Their legends describe them as heroic priests who were martyred in a time of persecution. Over the centuries the observance acquired overtones of romance and pagan images like the boy-god Cupid shooting his little love arrows. None of that really matters. Thanks to this... Read More