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Article

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…
Colorful yellow card with printed question mark

Why?

Why does bad stuff happen to Christians? Why do we get cancer and heart disease? Why do we lose our jobs and face money problems? Why are we persecuted because of our faith? There aren’t always good answers to these questions, and we certainly don’t want to trivialize anyone’s pain by responding with a cliché. But part of the answer is found here: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that…
Poppy flowers retro peaceful summer background

Grace

Many people tell me that time passes more quickly as you get older. I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, but from where I sit I think they’re right. Can you believe that it’s the year 2019? Do you remember when everyone was stressing over Y2K? That’s been nearly two decades. What’s happened in your life in the last few years? Did you send a child to kindergarten for the first time? Send one to college? Get a new…
Toy smartphone and robot assistant.

But I need it

Most of us probably use the verb need a little too loosely. Man, my phone is ancient—I’ve had it almost two years—I really need a new one. These clothes are so last year . . . I need some new ones. We really need to redecorate the house . . . It’s getting kinda dated, you know? The automaker convinces us that a four-year-old car that’s missing most of the latest bells and whistles is beneath us . . . We need something better, and…
Blue gift boxes

Giving gifts

Most of us like receiving an occasional gift—maybe for a birthday or for Christmas or some other special occasion. It makes us feel sorta special like someone cares for us. The apostle Paul takes an interesting approach to receiving gifts, it seems, and it’s probably because he wants us to learn an important lesson. He’s in prison, and it’s fascinating to think of his eyes lighting up when a friend from Philippi brought him a gift from the home church…
Thoughtful man looking out the window

Just-Around-The-Corner Contentment?

There’s a tendency to postpone contentment or to explain away why we don’t have it right now. The condition is so common that it’s got its own street name: the “Greener Grass Syndrome.” Sometimes the good life is almost within grasp, just the other side of a 5% raise. Or it’s in that house just across town, the pretty one with 500 more square feet and the fenced-in back yard and the better school district and less traffic. Yep, I’d…

Cut flowers

Note: I wrote this article before the governor of New York signed a bill on Tuesday that legalized abortion up until birth in some cases. He also directed the One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit in pink to celebrate the passage of the “Reproductive Health Act.” How exactly the law will be interpreted and applied remains to be seen, but it seems like another step in the deeply discouraging direction of becoming a nation that delights…

Expectations

In Luke chapter 9, we read that Jesus sent His disciples into the towns and villages to teach the gospel and to heal.  Followers of Jesus should expect to be sent. We don’t become Christians to be served or catered to. So, in our youth ministry, we are hoping to help equip our children for their mission to reach out to the lost and dying world and show them Jesus. But when Jesus sent his disciples out to work, he…

No matter what

Many Christians have faced very difficult situations, and some of you are going through them right now. Sometimes it’s uncertainty at work: is my position going to be phased out? Should I make a career change? It might be one of your children that you’re worried about: life and relationship choices, immaturity, worldliness. Sometimes it’s health problems, either your own or someone close to you. Or maybe some other dilemma. You don’t know how something’s going to work out, and…
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