Happy: Appreciate good leadership
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The country of Yemen today is not known in the West for much beyond its poverty, khat chewing, and terrible civil wars. But back in biblical times, when it was known as Sheba, it was renowned for its oases in the desert and for its wealth. Sheba’s queen came to visit King Solomon in Israel to see if his reputation for wisdom could possibly be true. Her trip summary tells us a few things about what makes for a good... Read More
Happy: Enjoy being single
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Every time congregations advertise an event, they are tempted to use the descriptor family with it—you know, “family” Bible hour, “family” potluck dinner, “family” workday. They intend that descriptor to be inclusive, warm and fuzzy, and kid-friendly. Single people have told me, however, that “family” as a tag might as well say, “No singles wanted.” Aargh Pastors know that many marriages in their congregations are struggling and so will speak on marriage a lot. I did a three-part series on... Read More
Happy: Sing a song
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The digital music explosion has been a huge blessing for Christians—never before have we had access to so many kinds of sacred music for our home audio systems, smart devices, and cars. And yet there is a risk—I fear that the more music we have to listen to, the less able we become of making our own. God gave us throats, lungs, lips, and gospel good news for the purpose of personal musical worship. “Is anyone happy? Let them sing... Read More
Happy: Accept your lot
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Americans have a special love affair with happiness. How many other nations have a chartering document that asserts their God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of it? The freedom to chase happiness, however, does not mean that you’ll get it. Happiness is not something that you can pursue and then acquire externally. It doesn’t come with more money, more possessions, more power, more friends, or more fame. Happiness is a choice you make about how you look at... Read More
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Palm Sunday was a pretty big day. A spontaneous parade, shouting, palm branches, praising. You wouldn’t blame Jesus if he wanted to rest after all the excitement. Instead, Matthew tells us that Jesus woke up on Monday and headed straight for the temple because he had work to do. “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. .... Read More
Hosannas that last
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I have to admit something—I think I was a little stuck-up in my childhood Christianity. I remember reading stories of disobedience in the Bible and thinking, “I would never do that.” I’d watch the Ten Commandments movie starring Charlton Heston with complete disgrace during the scene when the Israelites create the golden calf they then begin to worship. “Could they be any dumber?” I’d think. Hearing the story of Palm Sunday each year was no exception. I couldn’t grasp how... Read More
I’m a participant in Holy Week
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It’s a common thing for people to identify with the protagonist in a movie or story. The adventure and emotions pull us in, and we can’t help rooting for the hero. Internet and video game technology today can make the stories even more intense because they are interactive, i.e., you can participate virtually in the Halo or Assassin’s Creed narrative and feel like you’re there. The gospels’ account of Holy Week, especially the three-day stretch of Good Friday/Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday,... Read More
He laughs
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What makes something funny? Let’s admit it—a lot of our humor is based on the misfortune of others, on ridicule, on someone else’s embarrassment or pain. When Jerry hits Tom in the face with a frying pan, when someone slips on a banana peel, people laugh. Does God have a sense of humor? You would probably think not. The Bible presents his thoughts and words with such intensity, such earnestness, such solemnity, that you just can’t imagine Father, Son, or... Read More
Think ahead
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One of the hardest and yet most important skills for parents to teach their children is the ability to think ahead, to delay gratification, to save money, to think before speaking, to do the hard jobs first, to put work before pleasure. In a small mind, there is no tomorrow. There is only now. Now. NOW! Jesus had some very important words for his disciples and for us, words that urge us to lift up our eyes from the ground... Read More
Average Joes
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“Careful now, Joseph, be gentle with him. His journey is just beginning.” “Careful now, Joseph, be gentle with him. His journey is just about done.” “Watch out for splinters from the manger.” “Watch out for splinters from the cross.” “Here, Joseph, I’ll hold his head . . . there . . . now use those cloths and wrap him tightly. That’s it.” The caring hands of one Joseph, taking the role of Dad, tended to Jesus at his birth. He... Read More