Articles related to Drew Smith


Proclaiming Gospel Draws Ire from Powers of Injustice
Proclaiming Gospel Draws Ire from Powers of Injustice

By: Drew Smith
Like John the Baptist, prophets of God's justice face persecution when speaking truth to the powerful who oppress the vulnerable. Becoming prophets will put us on a collision course with retribution.

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What's God's Vision for Just and Fair Economy?
What's God's Vision for Just and Fair Economy?

By: Drew Smith
While Christians can disagree about how to create an economy that is more just and fair, we cannot deny that Jesus was clear about what constituted God's vision of a just and fair economy.

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Why Sacred Time, Space are Vital to Your Worship
Why Sacred Time, Space are Vital to Your Worship

By: Drew Smith
Both sacred time and space are vital to authentic worship and can function to draw us into the experience of God. Sadly, in efforts to be relevant, some churches have lost a sense of sacred time and space.

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4 Elements of Genuine Worship
4 Elements of Genuine Worship

By: Drew Smith
The strongest obstacle to the life-changing experience of God in worship is our own self-centeredness and self-absorption. So what do we need to do to experience genuine worship?

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Gospel Compels You to Tear Down Walls
Gospel Compels You to Tear Down Walls

By: Drew Smith
Our society is good at building walls to separate us from those not like us, but not all those walls are brick and mortar. We also erect non-physical walls to keep us from building authentic community.

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Early Christians' Radical Actions Really Not So Radical
Early Christians' Radical Actions Really Not So Radical

By: Drew Smith
While the actions of giving up private property by the early Christians may have been something radical, the reality is that these actions were actually normative for Christian identity and community.

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Jesus' Healings: Restoring Every Person to Wholeness
Jesus' Healings: Restoring Every Person to Wholeness

By: Drew Smith
The stories of healing of a prominent synagogue leader's daughter and an unnamed social outcast are intertwined in Scripture, reminding us that healing is available to all in society.

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Believing in God Entails More Than Lip Service
Believing in God Entails More Than Lip Service
By: Drew Smith
Jesus calls those who hear his message to a belief that is more than simply mental conformity to God's rule. He called and continues to call folks to the actions of faith.
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Profiles in Goodwill: Drew Smith
Profiles in Goodwill: Drew Smith
By: EthicsDaily Staff
Drew Smith, director of international programs at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, writes columns for EthicsDaily.com. Find out which of the gospels is his favorite and why.
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The Importance of Jesus' Faith in God
The Importance of Jesus' Faith in God
By: Drew Smith
Jesus' power to do miracles may be credited to his faith in God to work miracles through him. The Gospel of Mark shows Jesus as the example of faithful discipleship.
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The Politics of Jesus: Compassion and Justice
The Politics of Jesus: Compassion and Justice
By: Drew Smith
Jesus was a political figure, but not in the sense that he was involved in any political power system of his day. His message and his mission confronted the social structures of his day with the politics of God.
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Why Christians Must Be Peacemakers
Why Christians Must Be Peacemakers
By: Drew Smith
Peacemaking not only reflects Jesus' teachings, it mirrors the life of Jesus, who came as the Prince of Peace. But what's required to be peacemakers and why must we be peacemakers?
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Magi's Visit Reminds Us Rulers Must Rule with Justice
Magi's Visit Reminds Us Rulers Must Rule with Justice
By: Drew Smith
The Magi's visit reminds us that the rulers of this world are not the true authorities over God's cosmos, particularly if they seek to rule with illegitimate, unjust and oppressive power.
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Ark. School Misses Chance to Teach Understanding
Ark. School Misses Chance to Teach Understanding
Kowtowing to parental outrage, an Arkansas school district withdrew an invitation to a Muslim man to speak at a student assembly. They missed the chance to teach understanding.
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Racial Equality: A Choice Between Chaos and Community
Racial Equality: A Choice Between Chaos and Community

Some believe the answer to racial equality is to be tolerant, but this is too shortsighted. The gospel calls us to move beyond mere tolerance to full and vulnerable embrace.

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When Jesus Said Not to Worry, What Did He Mean?
When Jesus Said Not to Worry, What Did He Mean?
Instead of striving for the things in this world that bring worry and pass away, Jesus calls us to strive for the kingdom of God, in which we are dependent on God and God's goodness toward us and all creation.
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4 Calls Jesus Made to Radical Living
4 Calls Jesus Made to Radical Living
Jesus was always calling his followers into a community in which they were to find a new way of existing in the world that demonstrates the ethics of God's rule. Here are four of his calls to action.
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3 Ways to Model Radical Love for Your Enemies
3 Ways to Model Radical Love for Your Enemies
While loving your enemy is a difficult and often impossible struggle, viewing Jesus' command as unattainable misses something rooted in the heart of the gospel of grace.
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How Should Christians Respond to Immigration Reform Debate?
How Should Christians Respond to Immigration Reform Debate?
As Christians who follow a Savior who lived as an alien rejected by his own, why are so many apathetic about developing a compassionate response to the immigration issue?
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3 Ways to Improve Your Religious Literacy
3 Ways to Improve Your Religious Literacy
A report suggests that many Americans are vastly illiterate about their own religion as well as the religion of others. Here are three ways to boost your religious literacy.
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2 Scripture Passages Are Key to Discerning God's Will
2 Scripture Passages Are Key to Discerning God's Will
Seeking God's will requires reading Scripture, reflecting on what Scripture says, and using sound and critical reasoning to find the direction God desires for our lives in the new year.
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This Christmas, Are You Believing in God?
This Christmas, Are You Believing in God?
Jesus calls us to a radical belief, a faith through which we are no longer being conformed to a self-centered way of living but are being transformed by the gospel of God.
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This Advent, Are You Repenting Toward God?
This Advent, Are You Repenting Toward God?
Repentance is more than a magical formula we use to get in right relationship with God. It's yielding our lives to the will and purposes of God and God's just rule on earth.
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This Advent, Are You Listening to God?
This Advent, Are You Listening to God?
Scripture's many references to the act of hearing imply that God has something to say to us. Despite these clear commands, obstacles deafen our ears to God's voice.
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This Advent, Are You Waiting on God?
This Advent, Are You Waiting on God?
Mark's Gospel, unlike Matthew and Luke, doesn't say anything about Jesus' birth, but this doesn't mean Mark lacks an Advent theme. One of those themes is waiting.
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Jesus Cares About a Hungry World. Do We?
Jesus Cares About a Hungry World. Do We?
People don't choose to be hungry. For most, especially women and children, hunger is caused by the system in which we live that often favors the more fortunate while neglecting the poor.
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How Jesus' Divisiveness Created New Unity
How Jesus' Divisiveness Created New Unity
We often think of Jesus as a uniter and not a divider. However, he often challenged the status quo of power and tradition, which were resistance to love and justice.
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What Jesus Has to Say About God's Economy
What Jesus Has to Say About God's Economy
Our economic systems are inherently inconsistent in the effects on the lives of people within a society, creating haves and have-nots. What would God's economy look like?
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Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?
Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables?
Some says Jesus' parables made deep theological ideas easier to grasp for his first-century listeners. But Jesus said his parables were meant to be difficult. So why tell them?
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Why We're Reluctant to Accept Jesus' Humanity
Why We're Reluctant to Accept Jesus' Humanity
It's easy enough for Christians to accept Jesus' divinity, but many of us find it hard to embrace fully his humanity. In loving us, God chose to face life as we face life.
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Why God Wants You to Live in the Moment
Why God Wants You to Live in the Moment

For many of us, time is a stream in which we're aimlessly floating. But God wants us to live in the moment, putting away distractions that make us drift toward insular and selfish lives.

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Christians' Views Differ about God-Inspired Scripture
Christians' Views Differ about God-Inspired Scripture
Christians have differing views on what the inspiration of Scripture means. Those who suggest the text is as much a human creation as a divine one aren't less faithful in their belief in God.
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Interpreting the Bible for Our Generation
Interpreting the Bible for Our Generation
The stories of the Bible extend beyond their own frames of reference to communicate a belief in God's good future in which each generation can find hope in the midst of the challenges of human existence.
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Faith or Fear: What Shapes Your Immigration View?
Faith or Fear: What Shapes Your Immigration View?
Does your immigration position model Jesus' teachings? If we claim to follow Jesus, our views should be more informed by the compassion of our faith than the fear our culture feeds us.
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Protestant Reformers – Heroes But Far From Saints
Protestant Reformers – Heroes But Far From Saints
Although the historical leaders of the Protestant Reformation took actions that provided us with the faith we embrace today, they were also flawed people who weren't as heroic as we imagine them.
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Self-Appointed God-Protectors Hinder God's Work
Self-Appointed God-Protectors Hinder God's Work
Like the religious leaders Jesus faced, many Christians still believe that God needs protecting. But these guardians of religion fail to see what God is really like and what God is really up to.
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Three Reasons Why Jesus Condemns Rich, Favors Poor
Three Reasons Why Jesus Condemns Rich, Favors Poor

The rhetoric of the rich and their defenders reveals how out of touch they are with Americans struggling to provide for their families. The teachings of Jesus, however, were harsh on the wealthy.

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Why Christians Ignore Jesus' Call to Nonviolence
Why Christians Ignore Jesus' Call to Nonviolence
While many have tried to live true to Jesus' straightforward call to nonviolence, many Christians have found this command unsettling, and perhaps even ridiculous.
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How You Can Be Greedy Without Being Rich
How You Can Be Greedy Without Being Rich
Scripture is clear that greed is not only sin because we put wealth and possessions in place of God, but also – and perhaps an even greater sin – because it prevents us from sharing with others in need.
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To Defeat Hatred, Mere Tolerance is Not the Answer
To Defeat Hatred, Mere Tolerance is Not the Answer
Many believe tolerance is the answer to hatred and bigotry. Tolerance doesn't promote the fullness of God's love in Christ. Rather than tolerate people, we need to fully embrace them.
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The First Person a Pastor's Sermon Should Reach
The First Person a Pastor's Sermon Should Reach
Sermon preparation is hard work, despite what some church folk might think. Still, how often do pastors allow biblical texts to speak to them before they share their messages with their congregations?
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Prayers Not Hitting the Ceiling? Remember This
Prayers Not Hitting the Ceiling? Remember This
Feel like your prayers aren't reaching God? Remember, prayer is not really about us. It's about where God is leading us in our lives, rather than what we want or need.
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How to Live the Real Political Message of Jesus
How to Live the Real Political Message of Jesus
Many Christians in the United States ignore the political nature of Jesus' message. Like Israel's prophets, Jesus confronted leaders about their injustices. And the one he spoke the most about? Poverty.
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Why Many Christians Want Jesus to Exclude Others
Why Many Christians Want Jesus to Exclude Others
From nations to next-door neighbors, our society excels at creating borders to keep others out. Perhaps the most entrenched borders have been put in place by religions. Does your Jesus build fences?
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No Easy Answers to Why God Allows Suffering, Evil
No Easy Answers to Why God Allows Suffering, Evil
Many have tried to deal with and solve the problem of why God allows evil and suffering. While no explanation is adequate, we can follow the pattern of many of the psalms of lament.
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God Seeks To Unite People, Not Exclude Them
God Seeks To Unite People, Not Exclude Them
God is not a God of one privileged people. Rather, the Spirit seeks to break down the wall of exclusion and separation and to unite people of all walks of life into the love of God.
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Jerusalem Should Be City of Peace for All Faiths
Jerusalem Should Be City of Peace for All Faiths
Nothing continues to threaten the prospect of peace in the Middle East like religious extremism, but what is an authentic Christian response to the Middle East question?
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Common Ground That Christians and Muslims Share
Common Ground That Christians and Muslims Share
If we affirm that Christians and Jews worship the same God, but each faith understands God differently, then can we say that Muslims also worship the same God, though they understand that God differently?
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Common Ground That Christians and Muslims Share
Common Ground That Christians and Muslims Share
If we affirm that Christians and Jews worship the same God, but each faith understands God differently, then can we say that Muslims also worship the same God, though they understand that God differently?
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Finding Faith Through Questions, Not Answers
Finding Faith Through Questions, Not Answers
We are prone to doubts and confusion simply because we are finite human beings. It's only natural for us to be skeptical about far-fetched ideas. And religious ideas can be very far-fetched.
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Churches' Response to Change: Stagnation or Relevance
Churches' Response to Change: Stagnation or Relevance
How does the church respond to the world's constant change? It has two choices: try to halt the change or invest energy into reframing the Christian faith in order to remain authentically relevant.
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During Advent, Make Time to Wait on God
During Advent, Make Time to Wait on God
While Christians typically focus on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love during Advent, Mark's Gospel reveals other themes. One of them, waiting, is a challenge for a society that lives for quick gratification.
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Why It's Important to Question the Bible
Why It's Important to Question the Bible
Is it off limits to ask questions about the Bible? Searching for the truth requires asking serious and difficult questions. And even Jesus reminded us that the truth will set us free.
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Four Ways Christians Relate to Society
Four Ways Christians Relate to Society
How should the church relate to society? Some choose to withdraw, others seek the force of political power, and others embrace it without being a prophetic voice. But there is another response.
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Why Obeying Jesus' Call to Peace is Hard for Christians
Why Obeying Jesus' Call to Peace is Hard for Christians
Jesus' command to practice peacemaking requires nonviolent responses to evil. Why do many Christians find this instruction to turn from violence unsettling? Because it requires forgiveness.
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Religious Literacy Will Prompt Tolerance of Islam
Religious Literacy Will Prompt Tolerance of Islam
Millions of Americans would rather continue to remain ignorant about Islam so that they can continue to stereotype Islam as a religion of radical hatred and evil. How should we respond to such religious illiteracy?
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Faith vs. Fear: Which Will We Allow to Win?
Faith vs. Fear: Which Will We Allow to Win?
Many Christians have bought into fear as a thoughtful reaction to important issues. If we surrender to fear, our faith in God and in one another will diminish, and we will become less than the humans we were created to be.
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Candidates’ Religion: Personal, Not Political
Candidates’ Religion: Personal, Not Political
When we make the religious faith of a candidate a determining factor for voting for that candidate, we can confuse the personal faith of a public official with the idea that he or she should be a religious leader in our government.
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The Real Jesus Isn't the Popular One
The Real Jesus Isn't the Popular One
We embrace the Jesus we want, the popular Jesus who listens to our problems, offers us comfort and easily forgives our sins. But we quickly reject the unpopular Jesus, the Jesus who offends us.
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Radical Generosity: Normal for Christian Community
Radical Generosity: Normal for Christian Community
When the early Christians gave up their possessions for the good of others, it was more than an expression of genuine generosity. They modeled the norm for Christian identity and community.
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Excluding Others Hinders God's Dream
Excluding Others Hinders God's Dream
A key characteristic of early Christianity as it began to grow and develop was the welcoming of all into the people of God. So why has today's Christianity become more entrenched in its practice of exclusion?
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It's OK To Be a Social Justice Christian
It's OK To Be a Social Justice Christian
If there is anything at the center of Jesus' teachings and his actions, it's the idea of justice for the outcast, the oppressed, the poor and the sick. If we are not for social justice, we have abandoned our following of Jesus.
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Why Did Mark's Gospel End So Abruptly?
Why Did Mark's Gospel End So Abruptly?
Most scholars agree that Mark's Gospel ends with the women fleeing the tomb in fear and no sighting of a resurrected Jesus. While some may see this as problematic, it fits with the author's intent to show how one follows Jesus.
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Gospel's Minor Characters Play Major Roles
Gospel's Minor Characters Play Major Roles
There are people in the Gospels that we need to see clearly even though we might skip over them in casual reading. One was the widow who gave everything she had. She is a true model of discipleship.
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Are Churches Inclusive Places for All?
Are Churches Inclusive Places for All?
Jesus condemned religious leaders for using their religious power to exclude others from community with God. Are modern followers of Jesus working to create more welcoming communities of faith?
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From Mountaintop to Real-World Ministry
From Mountaintop to Real-World Ministry
When we are at places or in situations that offer us feelings of joy and happiness, we don't want to return to the real world. We prefer the mountaintop experience like Peter, but we can never stay there.
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Do We Understand Who the Messiah Is?
Do We Understand Who the Messiah Is?
When Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was, Peter's answer revealed that he didn't have a clear picture of Jesus' mission. How often do we see Jesus as a source of human power?
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Hoping in God's Good Providence Despite Suffering
Hoping in God's Good Providence Despite Suffering
The world's suffering can shake our faith in God's providence. Yet God moves and shapes creation toward God's divine and righteous will, even as that purpose is challenged by the power of evil and suffering.
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Discerning the Lord's Will for Us in 2010
Discerning the Lord's Will for Us in 2010
Many of us have already made our personal and professional resolutions for 2010. Spend more time with family, do better at our jobs and so on. But how can we discern what God really wants from us?
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Who's More Likely to Steal Christmas? Grinch or Greed
Who's More Likely to Steal Christmas? Grinch or Greed
A fictional icon like the Grinch can't really steal Christmas, but greed certainly can. Before we say greed doesn't rob our Christmas, it might be prudent to examine ourselves more closely.
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False End-Times Prophecy Shifts Focus Off Gospel
False End-Times Prophecy Shifts Focus Off Gospel
The message that the false prophets of end-times theology have is that the world is ending, so let's hurry things along. Let's forget about seeking good in the world, making peace in the world and improving our world.
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The Lord's Prayer: Forgiving Those Who Wronged Us
The Lord's Prayer: Forgiving Those Who Wronged Us
We often recite The Lord's Prayer in worship but have we really paid attention to the words? Perhaps one of its most troubling portions is that we must commit ourselves to forgiving others.
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Three Ways to Live Out the Hardest Commandment
Three Ways to Live Out the Hardest Commandment
One of the most troubling and ignored commands of Jesus is the order to love our enemies. How can we do it? We can look to three primary actions and reactions that Jesus took toward those who were his enemies.
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The Prison of Want: How to Break Free and Find Contentment
The Prison of Want: How to Break Free and Find Contentment
Each day we are confronted with problems and circumstances that test our peace and contentment. What is the secret of contentment? How can we live lives free of anxiety and filled with satisfaction?
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Gated Community? Religion Often Decides Who's In and Out
Gated Community? Religion Often Decides Who's In and Out
Societies create borders at all levels to keep others at a distance. Perhaps the most entrenched borders we find in human existence are those established by religions.
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Progressive Christian: Beyond Conservative and Liberal
Progressive Christian: Beyond Conservative and Liberal
The greatest reason I am a progressive Christian is Jesus' message of transformation that leads me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow him in self-giving service to others.
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What Does It Mean To Be a Progressive Christian?
What Does It Mean To Be a Progressive Christian?
Once you designate yourself as a member of a particular religion, you are to some extent lumped into a larger stereotype of that religion that is mostly known by the bad representatives of that religion.
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What Lies at the Heart of Jesus' Message? Peacemaking
What Lies at the Heart of Jesus' Message? Peacemaking
Jesus' call for peacemaking requires nonviolent responses to evil. However, Christians often have found his command to turn from violence unsettling and even ridiculous.
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Cross Purposes: Will the Church Return to Its Roots?
Cross Purposes: Will the Church Return to Its Roots?
Western Christianity has turned the cross into a symbol of political power. For the earliest followers of Jesus, however, the cross was an internal symbol of faithfulness to the radical virtues of Jesus.
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Stranger Danger? Fear Mustn't Sway Immigration Views
Stranger Danger? Fear Mustn't Sway Immigration Views
Since the horror of 9/11, our nation has developed a fear of foreigners. We need to make sure our views on immigration are guided by the compassion of our faith, not the fear of our culture.
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Choosing Sides: In Health Care, Jesus Sides with Poor
Choosing Sides: In Health Care, Jesus Sides with Poor
God is always on the side of the poor and vulnerable. If we are to be on God's side of the issue of health care, we too must side with the nation's poor and vulnerable.
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Bad to the Bone? Are Humans Sinful by Nature?
Bad to the Bone? Are Humans Sinful by Nature?
Many churches are in the business of condemning people and focus on making people feel guilty, rather than helping them live out their faith in Christ by loving others.
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Churches Must Become Authentic, Relevant
Churches Must Become Authentic, Relevant
Why do people stay away from church? Perhaps the church has waned in its relevancy to touch people's lives and to translate the gospel for the needs of today's world.
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Many of Jesus' Followers Flee Suffering He Endured
Many of Jesus' Followers Flee Suffering He Endured
The church is Jesus to a world in need of prophetic voices, serving hands and feet, and compassionate hearts. Yet we have forgotten that the body of Christ should also be broken.
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How Would Jesus Handle Health Care?
How Would Jesus Handle Health Care?
While recognizing the universality of pain and suffering, Jesus rebuked a system that offered preferential treatment for those with power, status and money.
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Jesus' Call: Be Authentic Witnesses
Jesus' Call: Be Authentic Witnesses
We may shrink away from the zealous and arrogant evangelistic methods that some use, but we can't ignore Jesus' clear command to be his witnesses.
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Four Common Misconceptions about Being a Christian Witness
Four Common Misconceptions about Being a Christian Witness
Former teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron is better known today for his zealous proselytizing of others to the Christian religion. While he and others may be passionate about what they're doing, they may do more harm than good.
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What Does it Mean to Say All Scripture is Inspired by God?
What Does it Mean to Say All Scripture is Inspired by God?
A fundamental tenet of Christianity is the belief in the inspiration of scripture. When examining the idea of inspiration, we must ask: Why did the writers of the books of the Bible write and why did they write what they wrote?
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Bible Can Withstand Honest Questions about Its Origin
Bible Can Withstand Honest Questions about Its Origin
To read the Bible faithfully, we should come to understand its writings as historically situated texts written by historically situated human authors who had their own views of God, humanity and the world.
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Faith Conquers Far Right's Fear-Inducing Propaganda
Faith Conquers Far Right's Fear-Inducing Propaganda
Far right commentators often rely on fear to fuel their political agendas. History, however, has shown that this path leads to isolationism and hate-filled violence. Faith in God can defeat the manipulative power of fear.
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Proclaiming God’s Justice Will Draw Wrath of Powerful
Proclaiming God’s Justice Will Draw Wrath of Powerful
The Gospel of Mark narrates John’s arrest and death in a way that implies something deeply theological about the vulnerability of those who would dare to be prophets of God.
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God Didn’t Protect Jesus from Human Vulnerability
God Didn’t Protect Jesus from Human Vulnerability
In only two verses, Mark raises challenging theological questions by what he does—and does not—say about Jesus’ temptation.
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Lent Should Be a Time to Reflect on the Vulnerability of Life
Lent Should Be a Time to Reflect on the Vulnerability of Life
As Christians, we are particularly guilty of assuming that all things should work out for us. And, when we and others encounter life’s struggles and tragedies, instead of asking and struggling with deeper theological questions with sheer honesty, we often voice standard, but hollow expressions about life and its uncertainties.
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Would Jesus Carry a Gun to Church?
Would Jesus Carry a Gun to Church?
Here is a question related to what the lawmakers in Arkansas are considering: “Would Jesus carry a gun to church?” I think most of us would certainly answer no to this question. But the issue over guns in church raises a larger question about our infatuation with violence that is directly contrary to Jesus’ message and life of non-violence.
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Authentic Discipleship is Both Costly and Liberating
Authentic Discipleship is Both Costly and Liberating
Even as we speak of discipleship as costly, we must also view it as liberating. The call to the two sets of brothers to leave what they know, what gave them comfort and security, is at the same time a call to find liberation and hope in something that is transformative.
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The Inauguration of Barack Obama: Moving Out of Our Exile
To use religious language to describe my thoughts on Tuesday, I felt that I was not witnessing so much the inauguration of a president, as I was participating in a revival meeting that was calling all of us to repentance, redemption and renewal.
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Giving Thanks Is a Way of Life
Thanksgiving is more than a day. Thanksgiving is more than an attitude. Thanksgiving is a way of living.
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The Lord's Prayer Calls Us to Pray for God's Protection during Times of Testing
We recant our faith in practice when we fail to love our neighbors and our enemies, when we neglect the poor and oppressed, and when we use abusive power against others.
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The Lord's Prayer Calls Us to Forgive Others as God Has Forgiven Us
Jesus does not command us to forgive others as an act to which we begrudgingly submit. Rather, Jesus understands the power of forgiveness to transform enemies into friends.
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Jesus Calls Us to Pray for Bread for Today and the Coming Day
Jesus will break bread in the eschatological banquet and share with those oppressed by the social structures of the world.
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Revere God's Name in Word and Deed
The Lord's Prayer calls us to venerate the name of God in our discipleship.
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Through Christ We Find the Strength to Love Our Enemies
There is no doubt that Jesus commanded his followers to love their enemies. Moreover, there is no room for negotiation with Jesus on this point. No intelligent person can present a persuasive argument against taking his command seriously. Indeed, while we attempt to evade Jesus' clear teaching by placing limitations on his command, specifically related to who we love and how much we love, these limitations cannot be accepted by those who seek to follow the teachings of Christ with great sincerity.
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Jesus Modeled What it Meant to Love Our Enemies
A few years ago, as I was teaching on Jesus' command to love our enemies, a very perceptive young man asked me, "How far should we go to love our enemies?" Not only was this a thought-provoking question, it was one I had never seriously considered until that moment.
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We Can Trust in God's Good and Sovereign Providence Despite Suffering
Anyone who is even slightly observant about the happenings in our world must draw the conclusion that there is indeed great suffering across God's creation.
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Until God's Redemption Is Complete, We Must Be Discontent
In an earlier column, I wrote about how we discover contentment through the experience of God's continual presence, the present that God gives us to live today and the relationships God brings into each of our lives. For followers of Christ, however, there is a paradox in our discovery of contentment.
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Jesus' Life Offers a Model of Contentment
We live in a restless and discontented world. Each day we are confronted with problems and circumstances that test our peace and contentment. We worry about financial problems, health problems and family problems. We are anxious about raising our children, succeeding at work and maintaining a certain standard of living.
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The Good Samaritan Teaches There Are No Limits to Our Community
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most familiar and beloved parables told by Jesus. Yet the danger in knowing the story too well is that we have often understood the story apart from its original social context, leading us to miss the shock the parable had on its first audience. While the parable can stand on its own as a good story about one person showing compassion to another, hearing it as the first hearers did opens to us the real sting of the tale.
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Religious Doctrine Must Not Serve as a Weapon
When I was in seminary, the institution I attended experienced a radical shift to the far right. During those days I witnessed a theological battle that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. On one particularly rough day, my Hebrew professor came into class and made one statement that has stuck with me ever since. "Theology is never the issue. It is always the weapon. Power is the real issue."
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The Bible Cannot Answer Scientific Questions
For over a century debates have raged over the ability of the Bible to tell us about the world, particularly how the natural world, and beings that inhabit this world, came into existence.
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Patriotism Is Not Enough
Several years ago, while on a family trip to London, we were making our way up from Trafalgar Square to St. Martin's Place. As we headed toward the National Portrait Gallery, I glanced at one of the many statues that surround this area of Britain's capital. My glance at the stone monument, however, quickly turned into an intense focus and reflection on the words below the figure carved there. The words read, "Patriotism is not enough." The woman whose representation was situated atop that citation was Edith Cavell.
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The Cross Must Again Become the Focal Image of Christianity
What does it mean to be Christian? The word, as far as we know, is first used in Acts 11:26, when the disciples are called Christians at Antioch. The term itself means one who follows Christ. But in our modern society, where Christianity has been so intertwined with American culture, the word has lost its original meaning, and its common use clouds our understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
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Jesus Gave Strong Warnings Against 'Affluenza'
We are in the middle of a very serious epidemic in this country. No, the Centers for Disease Control have not issued any warnings, and doctors and healthcare professionals have not reported any outbreak of disease or plague. But the epidemic we face is real, powerful and very dangerous. It is an Affluenza epidemic.
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Sermons Should Call Us to Radical Discipleship
Perhaps it's who I am, but when I sit in church trying to follow the sermon, I am often stunned by the blandness of many Sunday-morning homilies.
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Suffering Raises Questions About God's Justice
I was sitting on my porch this past week reading the Monday edition of our local newspaper, enjoying very much an article about a married couple who spent their lives traveling the U.S. driving trucks. It truly is a great story of love and partnership between husband and wife.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Consciousness
When you read the Gospel narratives, do you ever notice how Jesus sees and hears those people ignored by others? Whether a blind beggar, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years or a hungry crowd, Jesus either sees them when others don't or he sees them quite differently than others do. These encounters inform us that Jesus had an intentional consciousness of those around him.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Sharing
In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who had plenty. In fact, the man had so much grain that he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. This rich man believed that because of his new windfall he was set for a life of ease and pleasure. Yet, in a shocking twist of events, the man's life came to an unexpected end, and his abundance was wasted. He had assumed that his surplus of grain would keep him comfortable for years to come, but instead his life was demanded of him that night, and his excess became useless.
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The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of Love
In reading the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, I cannot help but draw one fundamental conclusion about the essence of God: God is love. From Genesis to Revelation, the pages of the Bible sing forth that God is love. If this is true, then we must conclude that the primary characteristic of God's kingdom is also love. While we speak about God's kingdom coming in power, it is in the power of love that God's kingdom transforms the world.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Peace
At the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus makes nine statements that would be enough to offer us a guide to living the way God would have us live even if they were the only extant words of Jesus we had. Each statement promises blessings if we live according to what is demanded by Jesus. Unfortunately, his demands are not easy, as he tells us that to find blessings we must be poor, be mournful, be meek, hunger for righteousness, be merciful, and endure persecution in the name of Jesus.
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Martin Luther King Jr. was Prophetic Voice for Peace
On Friday, April 4, the world remembers the 40th anniversary of the untimely and tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King's legacy is large, and much of the progress we have made in race relations, although still inadequate, is due to his unwavering belief and commitment to justice, freedom, and equality for all.
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Jesus' Message that God's Kingdom Coming Into the World Still Relevant
In the opening of Mark's Gospel, after his baptism and temptation, Jesus announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. The way in which the author narrates this proclamation as Jesus' first words in the story suggests that Jesus' central message throughout his life was about the kingdom of God.
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The Real Jesus Offends Us
When I was working on my Ph.D. in Edinburgh, Scotland, I would often take breaks from my writing and roam Auld Reekie, as Edinburgh is affectionately known. One of my favorite places of respite from the grind of writing a dissertation was the National Gallery. There I could view in peace the creative works from the great artists of history.
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The Faith of Jesus Refuses the Politics of Fear
On Sept. 11, 2001, Americans entered into a daily existence that much of the world already experienced; living with the continual threat of terrorism. Yet, since that tragic day, we have been gripped by the oppressive power of fear, a fear that the media and our political leaders want to consistently bring to our attention. While appropriate measures of security are necessary to defend against violence, fear only suppresses our desire to live with a sense of hope, and it essentially leads us away from living life with faith in the face of fear.
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Jesus' Political Message Pronounced Judgment on Imperial Power
Most readers of the Gospels are familiar with Jesus' confrontations with demons. Throughout his ministry, Jesus encountered many individuals who were said to be possessed by unclean spirits; spirits who were in direct opposition to Jesus' mission, but who ultimately could not stand against the power which Jesus thrust upon them. While these stories convey various levels of meaning, there is one in particular that suggests that Jesus' political mission opposed the arrogant power of empire.
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Jesus' Political Message Judged the Immorality of Poverty
One of the sad facts about American Christianity is that many Christians are ignorant of the political nature of Jesus' message. Preferring to see Jesus in only spiritual terms, and his message as only about salvation and heaven, we often miss the significance of Jesus as a political figure.
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Jerusalem Should Be a City of Peace for People of All Faiths
On May 14, 1948, the modern State of Israel declared its sovereignty as an independent state and a home for the Jewish people. That action opened a floodgate of violence that continues to this day, and it created a human catastrophe as nearly a million Palestinians were forced from their homes and became refugees--a number that, according to the United Nations, has increased exponentially.
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A Position Opposing Abortion Does Not Make One Pro-Life
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most memorable decisions in the Roe v. Wade case. That decision viewed laws that banned abortion as violations of constitutional rights to privacy and gave women the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Since that decision, the issue of abortion has been center stage in each election campaign for president, and the debates that have raged have divided the United States along entrenched partisan lines to the point where both sides feel so passionate about their views that they have mischaracterized the other side's position.
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Christians Should Respond to the Immigration Debate with the Compassion of Christ
The Christmas Season has once again come and gone. Presents have been opened and exchanged, decorations have been stored for another year, and resolutions have been made to start the New Year. The ever-familiar Christmas story lives on in our hearts and minds, narrating for us the incarnation of God into the world in the person of Jesus. Yet, while we celebrate and retell the story with feelings of warmth and comfort, from its beginning to its end the story is a narrative about the rejection of Jesus as a stranger and alien in a foreign land.
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People of Faith Should Vote with a Well-Informed Religious Conscience
The Christmas season has arrived again and the hustle and bustle of the holiday rush will occupy our time and thoughts over the coming weeks. Yet, another event is beginning to seek our attention that will captivate our minds for the next year; the 2008 presidential election.
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Pluralism Challenges Exclusiveness of Christianity
There is no doubt that 21st century America is more religiously diverse than any previous century. This may be due mostly to the 1965 Immigration Act that abolished an immigration policy that was exclusive to European immigrants.
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Church, State Should Remain Separate for Theological Reasons
In the year 313, Roman Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan. This decree, which came as a result of Constantine believing that the Christian God had given him victory over his enemy, and thus sole power in the Empire, reversed the persecution that had been sporadically carried out against Christians.
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