What if he wants to leave?
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Even with a “till death us do part” promise at one time, a marriage, in order to survive, needs two willing participants. St. Paul lists a situation in which a believing spouse may seek a divorce without sinning: “If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances” (1 Corinthians 7:15). Note the two conditions: 1) one partner wants out and the other is innocent; 2) the one who has given... Read More
Baptism clothes
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One of the most adorable features of family baptisms is when the baby wears a long white handmade baptismal “dress” that has been handed down for generations. They are beautiful—eyelet lace, tiny satin ribbons, billows of linen. A proud grandmother may say shyly that that dress was used for her baptism many decades earlier, and those dresses are stored carefully and shared with each new little Christian in the family. The Bible teaches us that there are baptismal clothes even... Read More
Singing rocks
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It’s fun to listen to children trying to wrap their minds around God’s divine attributes—all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal in past and future, present everywhere. “Dad, if God is all-powerful, that means he can do anything, right?” “Yep.” “Well, then, can he make a rock so big he can’t lift it?” God is indeed omnipotent, but there are some things he won’t do. He refuses to force anyone to worship him. Worship, like love, cannot be forced. It must be given freely... Read More
Don't tell me, show me
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Christian missionaries in Third World countries will tell you that a teaching ministry is much more effective if accompanied by a mercy ministry (clinic, agricultural training, disaster relief, water well drilling, etc.) In post-Christian America we have come full circle. Christians and Christian churches would probably do well to envision themselves as missionaries and mission outposts once again. Their words can have an impact, but their words plus kind and authentic acts of joyful service make their overall witness much... Read More
Pain memories
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Movies that do well at the box office and sell a lot of DVDs portray characters with whom people want to identify. What are your top three? The biggest sellers tend to portray strong action heroes for the guys and tender love stories with meaningful dialogue for the women. Jesus’ stories pull you right in, just like great movies, because he understands the human situation so well. And even though we’ve all been pampered at one time or another, it’s... Read More
Wanna go to church?
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God invented congregations for many vital purposes—public worship; teaching and learning the Word; fellowship; service training; spiritual care of the new ones, the old ones, and the straying; and enjoying the precious Sacraments of Baptism and Communion. One of the most wonderful features of congregational life is the opportunity it gives for people to get involved in serving people. Jesus’ foot washing was a demonstration of attitude, not so much a literal command. Today we don’t wash other people’s feet,... Read More
Live distinguished lives
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In the world, but not of the world. That’s a phrase that Christians throw around so often you think it’s an actual passage. Really, it’s more of a summary of Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17:14,15: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect... Read More
I'm not leaving you
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“Ruth replied, ‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God’” (Ruth 1:16). These words are heard often at Christian weddings. Indeed, the words Ruth spoke sound great coming from a Christian groom to a Christian bride and vice versa. They eloquently voice the commitment that any marriage must have to last. They... Read More
Bachelor farmer
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Meet Boaz, a bachelor wheat farmer in the Judean breadbasket (that’s what Beth-lechem means in Hebrew). A young widowed Moabite named Ruth was gleaning in his fields, picking up scraps to help support her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. Though he may have thought that he was destined to be a bachelor all his life, God had a surprise for him later in life. Boaz was a relative of Naomi’s late husband, Elimelech, and God led him to make an important decision.... Read More
Parable redux: The sower
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From Matthew 13—A farmer who was into organic growth went out to plant seed in a rugged land. He wasn’t very careful about it. He never tested the soil to see if it was right for the seed. He just scattered it everywhere. For him it was about the abundance of the seed, not the worthiness of the soil. He thought if he could get lots of it around, it would grow the way it was supposed to. Some places... Read More