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Showing posts from January, 2019

Is Labelling People A Murderous Act?

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The other day my wife and I had a conversation about the use of the word "fool" as it relates to one's children.   You see, I tend to call it like I see it when it comes to particular actions by my boys that appear foolish to me.

Merideth argued that not only was my use of the word was hurtful, but that Jesus himself once said that calling someone a fool was a damnable offense.  

Even though I felt chastened (and rightly so), a blasphemous thought went through my head in my defense---a thought that didn't make its way to my lips: "Well, Jesus didn't have boys that acted like fools now did he?"
I have been thinking about that conversation, though.  The verse Merideth referenced comes from Matthew 5:22 and it goes like this:   But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca,' is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in…

Raising The Bar On What's Heroic

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Recently. I found myself watching a viral video of two police officers on a beach in California work to free a young seal from a hunk of fishing net that had entangled it.  The frightened seal kept trying to bite his would-be liberators, but they finally cut him loose.

The caption below the video read something like, "Hero-Cops Free Seal."

It seemed odd to me that an act of kindness for a creature in distress--an act that seems so natural, so instinctual by most human beings--would be considered heroic.  It felt a bit like the word was being used too broadly, cheapening it somehow.

Which makes sense because I've been thinking about this quote I read the other day from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis---a quote that has been haunting me ever since.

In the passage in question, Lewis remarks on the degradation of a society “inside which minimum decency passes for heroic virtue and utter corruption for pardonable imperfection.”

If there was ever a time in our recent history to …

You: Created In The Image Of God

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I do not know how to end hatred, I truly wish I did--but recognizing our shared humanity is a good beginning.  - Elie Wiesel

I'm having a hard time focusing today.  My mind started racing after I read the above quote from Elie Wiesel.  Wiesel, who passed away last year, was a Holocaust survivor, a University professor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.  
Wiesel was known for his infectious laughter and his constant way of approaching life with joy and hope.  He spent his life in the pursuit of peace and understanding between peoples who struggled to find both. This from a person who was a firsthand witness to the Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz.  
The more I think about what Wiesel is proposing in his quote (namely, to recognize the shared humanity in everyone), the harder it is for me to put my mind around.  
As I think about how far Wiesel's willingness to move beyond anger, bitterness, and hatred took him, I am convicted and humbled.  
You see, I find…

Lessons On Hope

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My cat is cold again this morning apparently because for the third or fourth day in a row she has placed herself directly in front of my computer screen--in between it and my keyboard.  

I've had to make adjustments to accommodate her on account of her stubborn insistence to sit where it's warmest, at least in her mind.  I also know that as soon as I get up, she will move to occupy my chair. 
I don't mind.  It's kind of calming to have her sitting in front of me.  I'm just going to embrace this purring-cat-on-my-keyboard induced moment of peace for a bit.  All of the bad news of the world can wait for a bit.  
I shouldn't have done it, but I peeked a look at my online news feed earlier. There were stories about recent mass shootings, more angry rhetoric over the recent government shutdown and the threat of another one reports on violence all over the world... 
I'm worn out from feeling outraged all of the time, or at least feeling like I ought to be.  I wish so…

Home Wreckers - Week Four: An Extra Place At The Table

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Today we are going to continue our sermon series, "Home Wreckers: Guarding Your Family God's Way."


The idea behind this sermon series is pretty simple:  Families in our culture are facing a number of issues--any one of which could completely wreck them.


And Christian families are no different.  In fact, studies have shown that Christian families are struggling at as high or higher rates as non-Christian families when it comes to these issues--namely: Busyness, Lack of Communication, Financial Troubles and Lack of Spiritual Depth.


So each week of this series we're going to tackle one of these home-wrecking issues as we learn how to guard our family God's way.

Today we're going to talk about how the discipline of spiritual practices can help pass our faith on to our family.

And the one thing that I want you to hold on to today--the take away that will change your family dynamics if you embrace it is this:  Set A Place At Your Family Table For Jesus.  

Do you know …

Unruly, Holy Curiosity

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I once read a parable about two rabbis who spent years arguing with one another over the meaning of a particular passage in the Torah.  They grew old together in their argument as their disagreement went on for decades.  

At last, God decided enough was enough and appeared to the two old men when they were in the middle of one of their debates.  

"I'm tired of listening to you two argue," God told them.  "I'm going to tell you the meaning of the Torah passage, and maybe it will shut you both up at last."  

Both men looked at one another and then one of them burst out to God, "How dare you!  We don't want you to tell us what this means, we've only started to figure it out ourselves, and we are doing just fine, thank you!"  

I've always loved that parable.  It speaks to me on so many levels.  

On the one hand, it reveals just how stubborn we are as human beings, and so over-confident in our own abilities to figure out the mind of God.  

But th…

Your Words Matter

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Words matter. 

Sometimes when people take umbrage over the ways that words are often used to marginalize, dismiss or gloss over the voice, ideas or even the true humanity of others, there are those who collectively roll their eyes, and chalk up such notions as simply hypersensitivity to politically incorrect speech.   

And truth be told... I've been one of those people.  I've rolled my eyes when someone parsed my words and took offense to something I said or wrote.  I've even ranted about it.  

"I never wore a seatbelt growing up," I'd say.  "And I never wore a bicycle helmet, either.  I also didn't get a trophy just for participating on the Little League team.  People just need to grow a thicker skin."  

But our words matter.  It's a pesky truism that can't be shaken or diminished no matter how uncomfortable it makes us or how inconvenient it is for us to confront.  

The great British theologian G.K. Chesterton once wrote: 
Why shouldn't …

Living Peaceably With Everyone

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I've been watching with interest this week the unfolding story of a viral video that created a firestorm of controversy.  

The initial video of a confrontation between high school students and a First Nation protestor ended up making the rounds on all of the cable news networks, and all over the internet where it caused so much outrage that some of the students in the video received death threats. 

In the days that have followed, however, more video was released, and reporters uncovered additional eyewitness accounts that painted a slightly nuanced portrait of what happened that day. 

Cable news outlets began stumbling over one another to report on the additional interviews, statements, and videos in an effort to walk back their initial stories. 

It is clear is that there is definitely more to the story than what was portrayed in the original video that was released from what has been characterized as a "fraudulent" Twitter account (an account that has subsequently been susp…

Being Intentional About Spiritual Growth

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Recently my wife and I made a decision to stop griping about a particular situation that we were dealing with and to start praying about it instead.  

What precipitated this decision was an even more important decision that we made together: the decision to begin our day with some Bible study and prayer time, just the two of us.  

And if I want to be inclusive, what started the whole thing was a piece of word art on the wall in my home office---a quote from Johnny Cash, which I thought was awesome and spoke of Cash's great love for his wife June Carter Cash.  

Here's the quote:  
"This morning with her, having coffee." - Johnny Cash: When asked for his definition of paradise. My wife found that piece of word art offensive because I rarely, if ever, had coffee with her in the morning.  Instead, I guarded my morning devotion time against interruptions like a junkyard dog.  

So we started having coffee (she drinks tea, though) every morning we are together.  And we started r…

Home Wreckers - Week Three: "No Money, Mo Problems"

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Today we are going to continue our sermon series, "Home Wreckers: Guarding Your Family God's Way." 


The idea behind this sermon series is pretty simple:  Families in our culture are facing a number of issues--any one of which could completely wreck them. 

And Christian families are no different.  In fact, studies have shown that Christian families are struggling at as high or higher rates as non-Christian families when it comes to these issues--namely: Busyness, Lack of Communication, Financial Troubles and Lack of Spiritual Depth. 

So each week of this series we're going to tackle one of these home-wrecking issues as we learn how to guard our family God's way. 

Today we're going to be talking money.  

And the one thing that I want you to remember today--our big idea is this:  Money might be able to buy you lots of things, but it can't buy you peace, and  A Peace-Filled Family Is Priceless.  

The title of this sermon is "No Money, Mo Problems," w…

Live Simply

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This week the Daily Devos are going to be focused on one very simple idea:  Changed people can change the world.  In other words, if you want to change the world, the change you seek needs to begin in you.

Each day this week, we're going to be exploring practical ways that we can open ourselves up to the transforming power of God in your life.  I hope that these devos will become action items in your life, as I will be striving to make them in mine.

Today we're going to be offering up the challenging action item to Live Simply.

One of the most-watched shows on Netflix this month is the series "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo." Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and best-selling author, whose books have been translated into a dozen different languages and sold all over the world.

Kondo's method of organizing your house is to go room by room through your house, and then to put all your belongings through a test to see whether you really need them or not.  According …

Step Into The World

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This week the Daily Devos are going to be focused on one very simple idea:  Changed people can change the world.  In other words, if you want to change the world, the change you seek needs to begin in you. 

Each day this week, we're going to be exploring practical ways that we can open ourselves up to the transforming power of God in your life.  I hope that these devos will become action items in your life, as I will be striving to make them in mine. 

Today the action item that we'll be exploring is one that might sound a bit odd at first, but we're going to unpack it thoroughly.  Here it is:  Step into the world.
When I was growing up in the church-y world of conservative evangelicalism, we were warned about the dangers of "becoming like the world."  

"The world" is a derogatory phrase that I still hear used today by many Christians when they describe the things about our culture they find offensive.  I recently heard a pastor bemoaning the state of "…

Be In Community

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This week the Daily Devos are going to be focused on one very simple idea:  Changed people can change the world.  In other words, if you want to change the world, the change you seek needs to begin in you.  

Each day this week, we're going to be exploring practical ways that we can open ourselves up to the transforming power of God in your life.  I hope that these devos will become action items in your life, as I will be striving to make them in mine.  

Today we're going to be addressing the kind of action item that seems simple on the surface but is actually a lot more complicated and messy than most of like to admit:  Be in community. 

Essentially, if we make the effort to be in community with others--to find a group of people to "do life with," to rely upon during tough times, to lift us up when we are flagging or failing--it will change us for the better.  

To begin, we will discover more about who we are, and who we are being called to be in community with others th…

See Things Differently.

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This week the Daily Devos are going to be focused on one very simple idea:  Changed people can change the world.  In other words, if you want to change the world, the change you seek needs to begin in you. 

Each day this week, we're going to be exploring practical ways that we can open ourselves up to the transforming power of God in your life.  I hope that these devos will become action items in your life, as I will be striving to make them in mine. 

Today we're going to offer up a challenging action item that can have a deep and lasting impact on your life if you choose to embrace it:  See differently.

Jesus once told his followers: 
22 The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light.What Jesus was inviting his followers to do was to learn to see the world differently.  Essentially he was telling …