Article

Article

system escape concept on the wooden background

Prejudice

I took a class on the Civil Rights movement once, and I’ve often thought of something the professor told us. “We’re all prejudiced. Every single one of us.” I don’t know if you agree with him, but I think he touched on an important point. Let me reword it slightly: We’re all tempted to view people according to superficial qualities. In fact, we do it so often and so subconsciously that we might not even notice it. We put people…
Stack of clean towels on wooden table in bathroom.

Unstained

We live in the world, and it’s hard to keep it from rubbing off on us. Sometimes it’s tempting just to escape it, isn’t it? Move to the proverbial deserted island or to a rural mountain in Tibet. Some believers in church history tried that route, retreating to caves, deserts, or monasteries, but it didn’t always work well. Tempting as it might be sometimes, God never called us to retreat from the world. So here we are. We live and…
Man stressed while working on laptop

That makes me uncomfortable

Taking the Bible seriously will absolutely make you uncomfortable. Not all of it, of course. I like the parts about Jesus giving me rest and the abundant life and preparing a beautiful mansion for me. All that sounds nice. I don’t even mind the parts about being a good person, because being reasonably good isn’t that hard most of the time. But you don’t have to look far to see something considerably more difficult than that. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right…
mysterious cloud

Braggin’ Rights

I thought about beginning this article by discussing football in the state of Alabama.  Every year at this time, fans wearing either crimson and white or orange and blue claim bragging rights for the next 364 days.  But I’ll turn in a different direction here.  People enjoy being able to boast about things.  Whether it’s football, some other sport, or even the time we rang the garbage can with a wad of paper from 20 feet away, many of us…

Real Religion

One of the scariest things about faith for me is the incredible ability most of us have to deceive ourselves. Occasionally I’ve been appalled at the behavior of someone who called himself a Christian and wondered how he could ever reconcile his behavior with his claim to follow Jesus. “What a hypocrite!”, I’ve self-righteously mumbled. Then it hits me: Where are my blind spots? What sins am I committing but ignoring, or perhaps justifying? Maybe I don’t do what he…
Worship and praise

Here we are to worship

There’s stuff to joke about, things to be flippant and casual about, to laugh at. God is not one of those things. I cringe when I hear someone refer to God as “the Man upstairs.” I’m sure most of them don’t mean anything disrespectful, but I think they’re missing something important about God. Several times in the Bible people came into God’s presence in a special, miraculous way. It scared them to death. Here’s one of those times: In the…
Top view of the hands of a programmer on his laptop

The Preacher and Porn

Not long ago I read an all-too-familiar story: another preacher got caught. He was looking at pornography on his computer, then switching to his Bible software program to work on his upcoming sermon, then back to porn . . . all in the span of a few hours. Are you shocked? Unfortunately, you’ve probably seen too many headlines to be too surprised. I don’t know this preacher, and I don’t know any of his circumstances, but I think I can…

On Level Ground

Things aren’t always fair down here, but they ought to be. The poor don’t get the same treatment as the rich, and minorities are often pushed to the margins. We love a good David-and-Goliath story. We like to see Cinderella make it to the big dance. We love the Rudys of the world, the underdogs, the outmanned, outmatched, and overpowered. Occasionally, we like to see the little guy winning and the big guy begging for mercy. We like to see…
Bible and praying hands

Believe that he’ll answer

Ever prayed a prayer you didn’t really think God would answer? Why do we do that? Maybe it’s because we’ve focused so much on what God doesn’t do that we forget about what he does. Well, we might think, I know God created the world and parted the Red Sea and raised Jesus from the grave, but now . . . I’m not suggesting God is still resurrecting people, but I wonder if perhaps we ought to focus more on…
Buddha's hand

Idols

It’s easy enough to see idols in other people’s lives. I’ve occasionally scoffed at how someone seemed obsessed with something that is obviously (to me) unworthy of much time, attention, or money. The problem with that is that idols trouble us all, and focusing on how other people’s priorities are misaligned obscures my own struggle with them. Jesus couldn’t have been more in-your-face than he was here: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,…
One pawn standing against set of black chess

Ouch

Most of us in church work worry when attendance numbers go down; Jesus seemed to worry when they went up. He had what we might call “Thin ‘em out” sermons—messages he preached, it seems, to push people away. That wasn’t his intent, of course, but his message certainly didn’t fit well within any church growth book I’ve read. We often try to make the gospel more palatable; Jesus gave it to the crowds straight and unmixed. Sometimes, when he finished…
Woman praying

Have you talked to God about it?

I wonder how much we miss out on just because we don’t ask God? Or because we don’t really ask him. I’ve had times in my life where I was thinking about something for several days, and I suddenly realize that I haven’t talked to the Lord about it. Oh, I’ve worried about it. Lost sleep over it. Fretted and wrung my hands and contemplated all sorts of bad scenarios. But haven’t taken it to the Lord. I think that’s what…
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