Having hope
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Job suffered in a way that I can’t imagine. He lost everything in a matter of minutes. His livestock. His livelihood. His house. His family. Everything was gone. Then he lost his health as painful boils covered his body. When Job’s friends looked at the method and timing of his misfortune, they determined that Job did something so evil that God had to immediately bring down violent judgment on him. Job knew better. He knew that God was not punishing... Read More
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I’m starting to get how this blessing works: “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Because I’m a Christian, I’ve been expecting some peace. But I still have trouble sleeping. I still don’t have everything done. I’m still concerned about so much violence in our world. I still bounce my foot up and down constantly. But I see this blessing isn’t about the peace of Jason. It’s... Read More
God works; we work
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What causes things to happen? Does that sound like a dumb question? Seriously—has God ordained everything and we are just going through the motions, or is he just watching as we act out human history? How do you fit into the scheme of the universe? Are your deeds your free choice, or is God controlling everything? Do you have marionette strings attached to your hands and feet? Or are you on your own? The answer is yes to all of... Read More
Rise of the nones
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I am of the Baby Boomer generation. We have much to be proud of, but much also of which to be ashamed. Our parents believed in institutions—they were joiners. We were rebels and were skeptical about institutions. We began the drift away from church. Our children, the Millennials, have adopted our ideas with a vengeance. According to social researchers, one-third of the Millennial generation has left the church and may never come back. The most rapidly growing religious preference in... Read More
Just a spoonful
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You know those big spoons that are in your kitchen silverware drawer? I’m not talking about the soup spoons. I’m talking about the BIG serving spoons. On a few occasions, I’ve had to use the big spoon to eat cereal because all the other spoons were dirty. With the big spoon you can’t help but deliver generous amounts of food to your mouth. What size spoon do you use to deliver forgiveness to other people? Peter thought he was being... Read More
Choose to praise
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When I was a teenager, it seemed to me that everybody else pretty much had it going on and I was on the outside looking in. Only much later in life did it dawn on me that everybody else was struggling just as much as I was. They were just better at pretending self-confidence. People are cruel. Children are cruel. Teenagers can be especially cruel. They are masters of mockery, cliques, exclusion, castes, boasting, gossip, and sarcasm. All these things... Read More
Worship is praising
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What is worship? Okay, I suppose that sounds like a dumb question. It’s what we do in church, plus a little bit at home and privately, isn’t it? Most of us have “worship habits” grooved pretty deeply in our lives, so we don’t think about it much anymore. It’s possible to keep repeating familiar and comfortable phrases and songs by rote. But what is worship really? Worship is how we express our relationship with our God. It is our joyful,... Read More
Make a plan
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Do you wish you were more generous? Sure you do—who doesn’t? How to become more generous is the question. You might think that more money would make you more generous. That sounds good at first, but between the lines you are actually blaming God for your lack of generosity: until he gives you more money, you can’t be generous. Since blaming God never seems to end well, let’s think through this a different way. God’s greatest act of generosity did... Read More
Our streets are so violent
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The human race just can’t get over having been expelled from Paradise. We just cannot shake the illusion that there should be heaven on earth. Ever since our first parents decided that Satan’s way of life sounded exciting, we, their descendants, have to live in Satan’s war zone. One of its trademarks is human cruelty and violence. The “good old days” in biblical times were not always so good: “LORD, confuse the wicked, confound their words, for I see violence... Read More
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Parents like to think that their children’s growth and education come primarily from their teachers at school. Would that ’twere so. Our kids’ education is derived to an astonishing extent from their peers, from the people they hang out with. Each year you will have less and less influence on the people they choose as their friends. Each year you will be less and less aware of the conversations and culture that they are part of. It is important that... Read More