Articles related to Drew Smith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Grace, Discipleship


How Your Church Can Transform From Tepid to Robust
How Your Church Can Transform From Tepid to Robust

By: Mark Tidsworth
Some church leaders desire to keep as many people happy as often as possible, but this leads to a watered-down, tepid religion. Here's what your church needs to do to become a robust congregation.

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What Will You Do With Your 'One Wild and Precious Life'?
What Will You Do With Your 'One Wild and Precious Life'?

By: Molly T. Marshall
Mary Oliver's poem, "The Summer Day," poses the question: "What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" The wild and precious life of Jesus beckons us to allow transfiguration in our lives.

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In Our Tumultuous Society, Hear Wisdom's Quiet Voice
In Our Tumultuous Society, Hear Wisdom's Quiet Voice

By: Colin Harris
While the prophet calls us to speak up and be heard, often boldly in the face of threat and opposition, wisdom has a quieter call to live a certain way in the ordinary, everyday moments and circumstances.

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The Good Samaritan: How Far Should Love Reach?
The Good Samaritan: How Far Should Love Reach?

By: Juan Aragon
The needs in our world are so overwhelming that we run the risk of becoming unresponsive and impervious. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reminds us to bestow his love and grace to everyone.

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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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Can Christians Model Peace in World of Hostility?
Can Christians Model Peace in World of Hostility?

By: Colin Harris
In our current climate of hostility, is there a way for a faith perspective to be peaceful while being a responsible participant in efforts to bring faith to bear on crucial issues that divide us?

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To Combat Hate, Churches Must Be Extremists for Love
To Combat Hate, Churches Must Be Extremists for Love

By: Mark Tidsworth
Perhaps the most disturbing development in 2016 was watching the forces, rhetoric and actions of hate escalate. To deal with the hate movement, churches need to become love extremists.

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How Well Does Your Church Develop Disciples?
How Well Does Your Church Develop Disciples?

By: Mark Tidsworth
Churches are tasked with developing human beings into disciples of Jesus, in collaboration with the Holy Spirit. Is your church aware of and focused on this unique and clear calling to help believers walk the walk?

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Does Your Church Need a Recombobulation Area?
Does Your Church Need a Recombobulation Area?

By: Bill Wilson
Going through airport security can leave people discombobulated. Similarly, many congregations are discombobulated by the challenges of being a 21st century church. We need a recombobulation area.

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When You Pray Boldly for Grace, Mercy and Help
When You Pray Boldly for Grace, Mercy and Help

By: James Gordon
How do we pray for a world impatient with mercy? How do we answer anger with understanding and make respect and compassion more persuasive than grievance and resentment?

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6 Ways You Can Cultivate More Diverse Relationships
6 Ways You Can Cultivate More Diverse Relationships

By: Brent McDougal
In an already divided America, it's harder to cultivate relationships with people from different ethnic, political and social groups. Here are 6 ways you can turn that around.

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Embodying the Only Story That Really Matters
Embodying the Only Story That Really Matters

By: Jim Kelsey
During Advent, we reflect upon the moment when the story of God's love went from being related to us to actually being embodied among us. And we are to embody this story that has so captured us.

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Do You Need a Fresh Supply of Hope? Just Ask
Do You Need a Fresh Supply of Hope? Just Ask

By: Molly T. Marshall
Like breathing itself, hope is an intrinsic practice that sustains life. Hope helps us see beyond the present limitations and craft a different narrative for the future.

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6 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Sea Glass
6 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Sea Glass

By: Bill Wilson
Pounded by the waves and roiled in the sand and stones, ordinary glass bottles and containers wash up on beaches, transformed into pieces of art. And they offer six illustrations for what it means to be the church.

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Churches Needed That Are Highly Aware of Their Calling
Churches Needed That Are Highly Aware of Their Calling

By: Mark Tidsworth
Whether we recognize it or not, Christians are declaring with every word and action 24/7 what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We can no longer neglect our calling and expect to be relevant.

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7 Actions That Will Nurture Your Distracted Soul
7 Actions That Will Nurture Your Distracted Soul

By: Matt Sapp
Constant updates. 24/7 cable news. Alerts on our smartphones. This information overload hits all of us. Distractedness is killing our souls, but you can take steps to turn it around.

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What the Bible Says About Intergenerational Ministry
What the Bible Says About Intergenerational Ministry

By: Christina Embree
Intergenerational ministry is not a new craze. It's a practice that dates back to Christianity's origins. While age-appropriate ministry still has value, we can find ways to both in our churches.

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Why You Have Two Hearts and Two Minds
Why You Have Two Hearts and Two Minds

By: Ron Rolheiser
People are both big-hearted and petty, open-minded and bigoted, trusting and suspicious, saint and narcissist, warm and cold. The question is to which heart and mind are you linked?

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Amish Grace: The Only Option for Jesus' Followers
Amish Grace: The Only Option for Jesus' Followers

By: Leroy Seat
Ten years ago, a man entered an Amish school and shot 10 girls, killing five and leaving one with a severe brain injury. The Amish community's response of grace and forgiveness is a lesson for all.

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You Don't Realize How Weird Church Is
You Don't Realize How Weird Church Is

By: Nick Lear
Most adults in churches have grown so used to what we do that we don't realize how weird church is for the vast majority of people, even more so for children and young people. And many of them leave when they're adults.

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Many Christians Obsessed with Keeping Up Appearances
Many Christians Obsessed with Keeping Up Appearances

By: Mitch Randall
The techniques of a capitalistic marketplace have penetrated the church and are instilled in many Christians' everyday lives. In our efforts to keep up appearances, we're lying to ourselves and to God.

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Should Christians Wash Their Linen in Public?
Should Christians Wash Their Linen in Public?

By: Stuart Blythe
Social media reveals that Christians viscerally hold different views on ethical issues. However, we must find other places to express those differences than only social media. Maybe church is a good place to start.

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Should You Stop Using the Term 'Disciple'?
Should You Stop Using the Term 'Disciple'?

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
The word 'disciple' occurs frequently in the Gospel and Acts, but not in the letters of Peter, Paul, James or John. A disciple represents an individual, but the plural of disciple is church.

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Why the Bible Isn't Your Instruction Manual
Why the Bible Isn't Your Instruction Manual

By: Nick Lear
When seeking how to approach life's complexities, do you read the Bible looking for answers or for wisdom? It may seem like an esoteric exercise in semantics, but your answer reflects how you approach life.

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Which Set of Questions Best Defines Your Church?
Which Set of Questions Best Defines Your Church?

By: Mark Tidsworth
When it comes to church, there are driving questions behind and underneath everything we do. Of these two question sets - one foundational, the other organizational - which one drives your church?

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Church Isn't the Place to Avoid Hard Questions
Church Isn't the Place to Avoid Hard Questions

By: Logan Carpenter
Sometimes, church seems like a place where we skirt around hard questions of our faith. Instead, churches should welcome questions, explore what Scripture says and admit when we don't know the answer.

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When You Struggle to Love Your Neighbor
When You Struggle to Love Your Neighbor

By: Ron Rolheiser
We are good-hearted people, but if we're honest, we find it hard to love our neighbors. We don't turn the other cheek or love our enemies. We struggle, mostly unsuccessfully, to wish our enemies well.

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Spiritual Fitness Tracker: How to Get Your '10,000 Steps'
Spiritual Fitness Tracker: How to Get Your '10,000 Steps'

By: David Hull
Personal fitness trackers are in demand and are a great way to measure our fitness goals to reach 10,000 daily steps. What if you could wear a spiritual fitness tracker? What would it measure?

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During Turmoil, Modern-Day Prophets are Guiding Lights
During Turmoil, Modern-Day Prophets are Guiding Lights

By: Matt Sapp
Biblical prophets provided historical context and perspective to the passionate concerns of the day. During our tumultuous times, who are your modern-day prophets?

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Even Adults Can Learn From the Children's Message
Even Adults Can Learn From the Children's Message

By: Christina Embree
While age-appropriate ministry within the church is necessary and valuable, children and adults can still learn together in church. After all, even adults can learn something from the children's sermon.

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"Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future"

By: Neville Callam
Steve Harmon's new book, "Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future," calls for the kind of receptive ecumenism without which the church can hardly be fully the church.

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Why Churches Must Take the Right Kind of Risks
Why Churches Must Take the Right Kind of Risks

By: Jerrod Hugenot
Taking risks can be good. When churches feel more like circling the wagons than trying anything approaching adaptive change, it shows throughout their ministry and the way they share the gospel.

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6 Ways Your Church or Ministry Can Flourish
6 Ways Your Church or Ministry Can Flourish

By: Renée Embree
Growing your church or ministry is good. It's not all about the numbers but about helping people know the God who loves them. Here are 6 ways your church or ministry can begin to flourish.

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Changing Our Focus from What's Wrong to What's Right
Changing Our Focus from What's Wrong to What's Right

By: Christina Embree
We often start conversations with what's wrong with society. Instead, what if we focused on God's goodness? We don't have to ignore what's wrong, but we need to change the conversation's tone.

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Who's in Your Church? Members or Disciples?
Who's in Your Church? Members or Disciples?

By: Mark Tidsworth
Over the centuries, as church and culture and government blended, the word "member" took on a new meaning in church life. Members focus on rights and privileges. Members volunteer; disciples serve.

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The Role of Individual Volition in Moral Formation
The Role of Individual Volition in Moral Formation

By: Stuart Blythe
Four interdependent areas contribute to moral formation. Individual volition is at the core of such formation. For Christian moral formation, it's the individual will in relationship to God.

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Do You Accept All of Christ or Just Part of Him?
Do You Accept All of Christ or Just Part of Him?

By: Larry Eubanks
Many Christians accept the basics of Christianity but still reject Jesus' overall teachings. They advocate violence toward enemies, do little to help the poor and discriminate against foreigners and minorities.

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Parents Not Alone When It Comes to Discipling Children
Parents Not Alone When It Comes to Discipling Children

By: Christina Embree
Parents have a significant influence on their children, but it's not exclusively a parent's job to disciple their children. It is corporately the church's role to disciple children.

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The Source of Lasting Peace: God's Love and Grace
The Source of Lasting Peace: God's Love and Grace

By: Robert Guffey
In the swift stream of our times, we all seek a lasting peace. There's only one source. It's the love and grace of God, which will open the doorway to heaven on earth and fill your life with the gladness of God.

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Bringing Back the Bible to Our Churches
Bringing Back the Bible to Our Churches

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
The reading of the Scriptures had been downgraded in our churches and our homes. Our congregations are becoming increasingly biblically illiterate. Therefore, we need to bring back the Bible to church.

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How the Cross Fixes Us
How the Cross Fixes Us

By: Matt Sapp
The churchyard cross has seen better days. While it may need fixing, the cross actually fixes us. It reminds us that God's peace is stronger than war and God's love stronger than hatred.

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Praying and Doing: Getting the Balance Right
Praying and Doing: Getting the Balance Right

By: Colin Sedgwick
Some Christians wouldn't dream of missing a service; ask them to do some work, and they won't be found. Others are eager activists, but they neglect to nurture their souls. The trick is getting the balance right.

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3 Questions to Ask as You Study the Bible
3 Questions to Ask as You Study the Bible

By: Joe LaGuardia
Scripture tells us that it is good to meditate on God's Word, but how do we dig into its teachings? The next time you study a Bible passage, ask yourself these three questions.

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Being Christian Doesn't Mean Being Against Islam
Being Christian Doesn't Mean Being Against Islam

By: Arthur Brown
Being Christian and being Muslim are not the same. We don't have identical understandings of the God we worship. However, Christians can reject the bigotry of judging others and build bridges of respect.

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5 Things to Quit to Discover God's Future for You
5 Things to Quit to Discover God's Future for You

By: Matt Sapp
Quitting gets a bad rap. We equate quitters with losers. However, it's actually a very Christian thing to do. Consider quitting some of these things, and you'll have more room for something else.

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How You Can Survive the Agony of 10 Painful Words
How You Can Survive the Agony of 10 Painful Words

By: Bill Wilson
Ten words - and they're not the only such words - cause heartbreak, pain and betrayal in peoples' lives. But the Bible with its incredibly honest and sobering view of life declares these words will not win.

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4 Reasons People Don't Want to Attend Church
4 Reasons People Don't Want to Attend Church

By: Robert Guffey
Most people don't go to church for one of four reasons. If Christians are to reach people for Christ, especially those for whom God and church are not important, we are going to have to do it through love.

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How Christian Ethics Guide Cultural Engagement
How Christian Ethics Guide Cultural Engagement

By: Guy Sayles
Faith communities make it either more or less likely that people will be able to live out their faith. You can't nurture peacemakers in a community that uses attack as its main way of relating to culture.

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3 Questions Before You Leave Your Church Youth Group
3 Questions Before You Leave Your Church Youth Group

By: Greg Mamula
If a church isn't meeting your child's needs, should you leave in order to find a church that's more entertaining or dynamic? Before you do, consider these three questions.

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Presto! 5 Things Christians Can Learn from Magicians
Presto! 5 Things Christians Can Learn from Magicians

By: Nick Lear
A performance by a master magician can be an evening filled with surprises and entertainment. However, magicians can provide thought-provoking lessons for Christians. Here are five of them.

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Jesus: Uncool, Untrendy, Difficult to Follow
Jesus: Uncool, Untrendy, Difficult to Follow

By: Michael Shaw
Why can't Jesus be cool? The truth is: We don't want Jesus to truly impact our lives. We don't actually want to carry a cross; we want all the bits of Christianity that we like, but none of the stuff that makes it hard.

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Are You Living Up to Your Smile?
Are You Living Up to Your Smile?

By: Greg DeLoach
We are far too guarded with our smiles. In a world deafened by traffic noises, acerbic political discourse and mean-spirited exchanges, we need more smiles of kindness.

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Survey: Southern U.S. Most
Survey: Southern U.S. Most "Bible-Minded"

By: EthicsDaily Staff
The most "Bible-minded" cities are found in the southern United States, the Barna Research Group found. The annual survey found all of the top 10 cities were located below the Mason-Dixon Line.

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Why Our Society Needs 'Amazing Grace' More Than Ever
Why Our Society Needs 'Amazing Grace' More Than Ever

By: Colin Harris
The coals of fear, ignorance and prejudice flame up to produce expressions of contempt on the public stage and in private conversations. We need "Amazing Grace" more than ever.

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Why We Think We Know Whom God Blesses
Why We Think We Know Whom God Blesses

By: Larry Eubanks
In almost all religions, there are those who are recipients of God's favor, and those who aren't. The problem is that we think we know who the blessed ones are and who they are not.

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Suffering from Too Much Ceremonial Christianity
Suffering from Too Much Ceremonial Christianity

By: John Pierce
The United States is plagued with 'ceremonial Christianity,' which baptizes national allegiance and political ideologies in the language of faith. And Jesus' teaching is lost in the process.

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What Jesus Wants from Us More Than Worship
What Jesus Wants from Us More Than Worship

By: Griff Martin
We're pretty good at worshipping Jesus, but he desires more from us. He desires obedience. In other words, imitating his life, taking his teachings and living and making them our teachings and livings.

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When Speaking the Truth Isn't Always Appropriate
When Speaking the Truth Isn't Always Appropriate

By: Ron Rolheiser
Having the truth is one thing, speaking it in a place and a manner that's helpful is quite another. Simply put, it isn't always helpful or charitable or mature to throw a truth into someone's face.

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You Have an Invitation to Join Slow Club
You Have an Invitation to Join Slow Club

By: Logan Carpenter
We're well into the Christmas season. Squished in with hope, joy and peace are parties, shopping, obligations, family gatherings and more. Know what you need? An invitation to the Slow Club.

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Finding the Beauty While Living In-Between Addresses
Finding the Beauty While Living In-Between Addresses

By: Greg DeLoach
We're all living in-between addresses. It is not where you are from or even where you are going that matters most, but where you are right now. And Advent reminds us of that.

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When the Bible Speaks, Do We Hear What We Want?
When the Bible Speaks, Do We Hear What We Want?

By: Philip Jenkins
Does the Bible speak? If so, how? Human beings are very good at reading into a text what they want to get out of it. We see things not as they are, but as we are.

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Commitment to Discipleship Practices Low, Despite Desire for Spiritual Growth
Commitment to Discipleship Practices Low, Despite Desire for Spiritual Growth

By: EthicsDaily Staff
The desire for spiritual growth among Christians is not translating into significant commitment to practices facilitating this development, a survey finds.

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Nature's Lesson: Don't Rush Through Life
Nature's Lesson: Don't Rush Through Life

By: Chuck Summers
Nature has its own pace and doesn't tend to rush things. We could learn something from nature. Our rush through life keeps us from experiencing what God has in mind for us here and now.

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Why Many Christians Prefer to 'Get By' as Disciples
Why Many Christians Prefer to 'Get By' as Disciples

By: Nick Lear
Many Christians approach discipleship with this attitude: What's the minimum I have to do to get by? Instead, we should offer our lives as "living sacrifices by striving for excellence in whatever we do.

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When the Bible 'Clearly' Says Something
When the Bible 'Clearly' Says Something

By: Larry Eubanks
Interpreting Scripture is a wonderfully complicated endeavor because the Bible is a complex compilation of literature. Even when a verse has a clear meaning, there may be more we need to know.

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How You Can End the Us-vs.-Them War
How You Can End the Us-vs.-Them War

By: Elizabeth Evans Hagan
We love a good game of us vs. them. We stake the claim of the divide with no possibility of middle ground. But what happens when you get to know a "them," and they become more like an "us"?

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3 Spiritual Habits You Can Pass on to Your Children
3 Spiritual Habits You Can Pass on to Your Children

By: Christina Embree
Not only are your kids watching you, but they are also copying you. Like a serious game of "Simon Says," your children are learning what is normal in life by watching your actions.

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How Your Church is Like a New Operating System
How Your Church is Like a New Operating System

By: Randy Hyde
Downloading a new operating system to your computer mirrors church life. Our old way of doing things is comfortable and familiar, but doing God's work requires time, effort and exploring the unfamiliar.

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Martha and Mary: Two Sides of Christian Discipleship
Martha and Mary: Two Sides of Christian Discipleship

By: James Gordon
Martha often gets the short end of the stick in the biblical account where Jesus visits Martha and Mary. But these women represent the two sides of discipleship - ministering to others and devotion to God.

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Why Church Disciple Programs Yield Religious Bullies
Why Church Disciple Programs Yield Religious Bullies

By: Larry Eubanks
Most churches have religious bullies, and they're often our leaders. They do everything our discipleship programs tell them they should do - and yet they can be the meanest persons you'll ever meet. Why?

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4 Ways to Help Your Teens Navigate Social Media
4 Ways to Help Your Teens Navigate Social Media

By: Christina Embree
Social media has a huge impact on teens, with some checking their social media accounts 100 times per day. But parents can take some practical steps to help their kids navigate the digital world.

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These 3 Steps Will Embolden Your Prayer Life
These 3 Steps Will Embolden Your Prayer Life

By: Matt Sapp
The problem for a lot of us isn't that we don't want to pray, but that we don't know what to pray for, and we're not sure what to say. Check out these three suggestions to pray more boldly.

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You're Not Josh Duggar, But 'Small' Sins Do Damage, Too
You're Not Josh Duggar, But 'Small' Sins Do Damage, Too

By: Christina Embree
A blog post titled "I Am Josh Duggar" is circling social media. But the truth is many Christians are not Josh Duggar. While society and churches focus on 'big' sins, those 'little' sins we dismiss separate us from God, too.

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Intergenerational Worship Can Anchor Your Church's Youth
Intergenerational Worship Can Anchor Your Church's Youth

By: Christina Embree
Young people often leave church because they have no connection to the larger church body. While there's no magic bullet, intergenerational worship can provide that link.

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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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Show Your Love for God by Meeting Others' Needs
Show Your Love for God by Meeting Others' Needs

By: Ron Rolheiser
We too easily and too frequently get the wrong focus befitting both Christian discipleship and human maturity. For the main part, our own salvation will take care of itself if we focus on the needs of others.

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Like Docked Ship, Some Christians Safe But Not Sound
Like Docked Ship, Some Christians Safe But Not Sound

By: Larry Eubanks
A docked ship is safe, but that doesn't mean it's sound or seaworthy. Like that ship, many Christians feel safe about going to Heaven but that doesn't mean their behavior is sound.

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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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A New But Familiar Way to Raise Disciples
A New But Familiar Way to Raise Disciples

By: Jim Kelsey
Churches must disciple people in the same way we raise our children. We don't sit our kids down for a weekly lecture. We walk with them through their lives, helping them draw lessons from their successes and failures.

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Horizontal and Vertical Churches: Where's the Balance?
Horizontal and Vertical Churches: Where's the Balance?

By: Roger Olson
Some churches relate to God horizontally through fellowship and healthy relationships; other relate to God vertically through worship and spiritual practices. They key is to find the balance.

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Why Jesus Won't Give You One-Size-Fits-All Answers
Why Jesus Won't Give You One-Size-Fits-All Answers

By: Larry Eubanks
Few of life's dilemmas can be solved by ready-made answers. People aren't machines, and neither is life. Jesus knew that developing discernment in others was far superior to giving them point-blank directions.

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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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Why Can't Our Churches Be More Like Legos?
Why Can't Our Churches Be More Like Legos?

By: Bryan Brock
Lego buildings are fascinating structures. All those different-colored blocks connecting together to make one structure. But when it comes to church, we prefer everything and everyone to be the same.

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Coach's 3-Prong Philosophy Applies to Churches
Coach's 3-Prong Philosophy Applies to Churches

By: Guy Sayles
Legendary UNC Coach Dean Smith had a three-prong philosophy for his teams: play hard, play smart, play together. And that's not a bad philosophy for churches, too.

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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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What Does It Really Mean to be Righteous?
What Does It Really Mean to be Righteous?

By: Rupen Das
What does righteous mean? The average church member likely associates it with being blameless or holy. Righteous can also be understood as an obligation in the context of our social relationships.

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Why Many Churches Have a Common Core Christianity
Why Many Churches Have a Common Core Christianity

By: Joe LaGuardia
Common Core provides national benchmarks for students. With so many churchgoers lacking basic bible knowledge, many churches must take a Common Core approach from the pulpit.

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An Occupational Hazard That Trips Up Faithful Folks
An Occupational Hazard That Trips Up Faithful Folks

By: Ron Rolheiser
Too often, many Christians are embittered moralizers, secretly envying the amoral and criticizing our world out of bitterness. It's an occupational hazard for the good and faithful. Is it tripping you up?

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Why Few Christians Know What It Means to be One
Why Few Christians Know What It Means to be One

By: Robert Guffey
Far too many Christians think far too little about what it means to be a Christian. Their priorities focus on power, consumerism and celebrity, rather than Jesus' way of humility, kindness and grace.

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2 Important Skills for Church Leaders
2 Important Skills for Church Leaders

By: Guy Sayles
Effective leaders need two important skills when leading a church. They need to be able to motivate members to take a hill and they need to be able to discern which hills to take.

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How Your Church is Like a Coffeemaker Factory
How Your Church is Like a Coffeemaker Factory

By: Jim Somerville
Factories make coffeemakers. Those coffeemakers don't make more coffeemakers; they make coffee. If they don't, their factories go out of business. Churches are disciple-making factories. What do their disciples make?

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3 Questions That Saved My Spiritual Life
3 Questions That Saved My Spiritual Life

By: Mark Tidsworth
Do you feel like you're playing a hide-and-seek game when you look for God in the institutional church. Before you walk out altogether, consider these three questions. They may just save your spiritual life.

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How You Can Rediscover Contemporary Jesus
How You Can Rediscover Contemporary Jesus

By: Guy Sayles
More than any argument for the truth of Christianity, what persuades me over and over again is the immediate and inescapable presence of Jesus. We relate to him as a here-and-now reality.

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Skype Interview: Michael Okwakol on African Churches
Skype Interview: Michael Okwakol on African Churches

By: EthicsDaily Staff
Michael Okwakol, senior pastor of a Baptist church in Uganda and president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, talks about challenges for African churches in a new EthicsDaily.com Skype interview.

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Does Your Church Function as a Green-Light Church?
Does Your Church Function as a Green-Light Church?

By: Bill Wilson
Churches used to be a source of entrepreneurship, but many have abandoned that spirit and are in survival mode. Instead of being a green-light church where ideas are born, they're stuck in yellow and red.

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5 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from AA
5 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from AA

By: Logan Carpenter
Review Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-step program, and you'll see the organization expects a lot from those who attend. They are family who hold each other accountable. The church could learn from them.

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Training the Church's Next Generation of Leaders
Training the Church's Next Generation of Leaders

By: Ircel Harrison
It's not enough to identify and disciple leaders for the church. Leaders need to invest their time to mentor young leaders who will in turn invest their time training the following generation.

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10 Places Members Go When They Skip Church
10 Places Members Go When They Skip Church

By: Bill Wilson
Weekly church attendance is in serious decline as loyal members attend less frequently than before. Here are 10 of the most frequent places they go on Sundays when they're not in church.

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Your Church Must Choose: Window or Aisle Seat?
Your Church Must Choose: Window or Aisle Seat?

By: Bill Owen
You may feel cramped in the window seat of a flight, but you have a great view of the world. The aisle seat offers far more comfort. Metaphorically speaking, many churches prefer the aisle seat.

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Why Too Many Christians Go it Alone, Pilgrim
Why Too Many Christians Go it Alone, Pilgrim

By: Mark Tidsworth
Many Christians see the process of growing as disciples as personal, private and individualistic, believing they don't need a community of faith. Here's why playing the John Wayne type won't work.

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No Higher Calling: Advocating for Poor, Powerless
No Higher Calling: Advocating for Poor, Powerless

By: Bob Browning
Jesus couldn't ignore the plight of those who were being exploited, especially by the religious leaders. He accepted his mission to be an advocate for the poor and powerless. We also have no higher calling.

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What Filters Does Your Church Need to Jettison?
What Filters Does Your Church Need to Jettison?

By: Greg DeLoach
We filter our email to weed out unwanted solicitations, but the church should be a place where all are welcome and no one is filtered out. Yet churches have many filters that need to be jettisoned.

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God Doesn't Want Us to Live as Walking 'Selfies'
God Doesn't Want Us to Live as Walking 'Selfies'

By: Greg DeLoach
Now that every other person has a phone with a camera, the world's awash in selfies. Church can include groups of "selfies," too, but God has called us to reach out to our neighbors.

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How Not to be Discouraged by the Church
How Not to be Discouraged by the Church

By: Guy Sayles
Devotion to the church often keeps company with doubts about the church. While we can be greatly discouraged and hurt by people at church, it's also where we discover God's grace.

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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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To Find Your Voice, Listen to God
To Find Your Voice, Listen to God
By: Bob Browning
Do you believe people need to hear what you have to say? Peter, the leader of Jesus' disciples, did. However, he learned that before he could find his voice, he must first be willing to listen to Jesus.
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Lessons You Can Learn from Anti-Beatitudes
Lessons You Can Learn from Anti-Beatitudes
By: Joel Snider
You know the blessings within the Beatitudes. When you reverse them, you discover curses for those who ignore those blessings. These curses help you better understand the road map that Jesus gave you.
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Which Is Better: Small Churches or Big Churches?
Which Is Better: Small Churches or Big Churches?
By: Thomas Kidd
Is it easier to live out biblical Christianity if you attend a small church or a large one? The truth is neither model is better than the other. Each comes with its own tradeoffs. Here are three.
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Young Adults Must Step Up into Church Leadership
Young Adults Must Step Up into Church Leadership
By: Joe LaGuardia
As younger adults become increasingly independent, they have the potential to take more ownership in local churches. And local churches must be willing to let them lead.
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How Lent Calls You to Pay Attention to Life
How Lent Calls You to Pay Attention to Life

By: Britt Hester
Lent is about more than the practical benefits of giving up vices and taking up virtues. It's a time to pay attention to your life and determine where you are on your journey.

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How Does God's Grace Shine Through You?
How Does God's Grace Shine Through You?

By: Molly T. Marshall
To reach the fullness of the unique human identity purposed for us, we must focus attention on God's self-revealing in Christ and the ways he continues to shine through faithful sisters and brothers.

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3 Habits to Help Your Church Develop Disciples
3 Habits to Help Your Church Develop Disciples
By: Mark Tidsworth
Developing each other and ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ is one of the unique roles of God's church. Here are three ways your church can begin to develop disciples.
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Some Beliefs That Matter Don't Matter to Everyone
Some Beliefs That Matter Don't Matter to Everyone
By: Colin Harris
In our current theological climate, many defend the rightness of a particular belief against alternatives. But a faith community loses its ability to nurture when rigid beliefs replace a vital, growing faith.
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Churches Must Move Beyond Sunday-Morning Huddle
Churches Must Move Beyond Sunday-Morning Huddle
By: Dennis Atwood
The game-ending final play in this year's Super Bowl has a lesson for churches: Huddling is important, but execution is even more critical. Churches must move beyond their walls and get out into the world.
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You Can't Be a Disciple Until You First Become One
You Can't Be a Disciple Until You First Become One
By: Larry Eubanks
Everyone wants to be a disciple, but no one wants to become one. Discipleship is for those who give themselves completely to it, and ask nothing from it except the privilege to be allowed to continue.
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Why Some Christians See Jesus Like Ricky Bobby Does
Why Some Christians See Jesus Like Ricky Bobby Does

By: Justin Smith
Like Ricky Bobby in "Talladega Nights," many Christians like "the Christmas Jesus best." We're called, however, to joyfully follow Jesus in every season and through any circumstance.

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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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Why Christians Cannot Ignore Climate Change
Why Christians Cannot Ignore Climate Change
By: John Weaver
As climate change continues, it is the poorest in our world who will suffer the most. If we are to call ourselves a gospel people, we cannot ignore the condition and well being of creation.
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Are You Missing the Other Half of Advent?
Are You Missing the Other Half of Advent?
By: Colin Harris
No matter how authentic and spectacular our Advent celebrations are, if we fail to embrace the life to which incarnation invites us, we have participated in only half of the celebration.
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Why Some Christians Desire a Convenient Faith
Why Some Christians Desire a Convenient Faith
By: Seth Vopat
We define truth as an effort to make the world in Christ's image, but that concept is not found in the gospels. We want a convenient faith, which fits nicely into our overbooked schedules, not a faith that requires intention.
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Conversion: Aligning Our Lives with God's Kingdom
Conversion: Aligning Our Lives with God's Kingdom
By: Rod Benson
Conversion, which lies at the heart of evangelical faith and experience, is not primarily about escape from judgment in the afterlife, but about aligning our lives with the principles and priorities of God's kingdom.
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What Does It Mean If You Follow
What Does It Mean If You Follow "The Way of Jesus"?
By: David Fitch
The term "the way of Jesus" has become increasingly popular. While it's meant to emphasize practical everyday Christian life, different groups have co-opted it to mean different things.
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How to Keep Your Faith from Wilting
How to Keep Your Faith from Wilting
By: Bill Wilson
Much of what we call faith and commitment is actually a thin veneer of religious ritualism that withers at the first hint of stress. To hear the Spirit's voice, we need to go deeper. Like Paul, we need to go to Arabia.
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4 Ideas to Guide Your Church Budget
4 Ideas to Guide Your Church Budget
By: Matt Sapp
It's budget time for most churches. This is a time for spiritual self-assessment as your church organizes your plans to accomplish God's dreams. What does your budget say about your priorities?
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Few Adults Know Blessing of Best Friends. Who's Yours?
Few Adults Know Blessing of Best Friends. Who's Yours?
By: Griff Martin
To see the importance of friendship is to acknowledge one of the deepest and most sacred places in our lives. Sadly, many adults miss out on the blessing of having a best friend. Who's yours?
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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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Jesus Loved the Poor. Why Don't Some of His Followers?
Jesus Loved the Poor. Why Don't Some of His Followers?
By: Mike Harton
Jesus spent most of his time on this earth ministering to the poor and disenfranchised. However, when it comes to issues affecting the poor today, many of his followers show little sympathy.
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3 Truths That Church-Hoppers Forget
3 Truths That Church-Hoppers Forget
By: Joe LaGuardia
The fastest growing churches are those with contemporary worship, a founding pastor or both. Church attendance, however, is at an all-time low. That's what happens when many of us hop from church to church.
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What Your Congregation Can Learn from Common Core
What Your Congregation Can Learn from Common Core
By: Brock Ratcliff
Contrary to what others may think, Common Core is not an invasion by the federal government into our children's classrooms. And Common Core has a lesson for your church.
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Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship
Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship
By: Sara Powell
When the electric company trims your trees, you may not like the end result but their work keeps electricity flowing when you need it. What trimming needs to take place in your life to let God work?
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Many Church Discipleship Programs Overlook This
Many Church Discipleship Programs Overlook This
By: Larry Eubanks
Some church discipleship programs overlook an important task given to humans: to take care of God's creation. We are called to care for each other as well as the plants and animals in need of protection.
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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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Extravagant Investments, Extraordinary Returns
We serve a generous God, who extravagantly invested in all human beings by sending God’s Son Jesus to earth. Some received him and grew. Many rejected him and even crucified him. But out of that death and failure, God raised him up so that humanity is offered the extraordinary returns of eternal life. We who are worshippers of this God and this Jesus are now invited to join in the extravagant sowing of the seed of God’s Word. In so doing, we are not defined by a fear of failure, but by a faith that God will provide extraordinary returns in growing God’s Kingdom.
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4 Discipleship Lessons from a Global Perspective
4 Discipleship Lessons from a Global Perspective
By: Peter Dunn
In contrast to the Western world, most of the churches in the global south have experienced dramatic growth. All churches can gain from discipleship programs that engage church members' needs.
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A Better Way: Choosing Unity Over Division
A Better Way: Choosing Unity Over Division

By: Guy Sayles
We classify and separate ourselves and others according to characteristics. Rich vs. poor. Republican vs. Democrat. Sinner vs. saint. It doesn't have to be like this. We can choose a better way.

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Why Church Youth Need to Learn Opposing Views
Why Church Youth Need to Learn Opposing Views

By: Michael Helms
Why do so many youth leave the church after leaving home? We spend a lot of time telling them what to believe, but not enough time educating them about opposing views and helping them think.

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When Leaders Depart, Disciples Apply Lessons Learned
When Leaders Depart, Disciples Apply Lessons Learned
By: Griff Martin
When Maya Angelou passed away, many remarked that she had so much more to teach us. But when leaders depart, those whom they touched can continue to apply their words and deeds.
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Making a Difference in the Lives of At-Risk Students
Making a Difference in the Lives of At-Risk Students
By: Trevor Barton
How do we help the countless at-risk children in our schools? We can begin by seeing them not as problems to be pushed into the corners, but as people to be welcomed into our hearts.
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Which World Have You Chosen to Inhabit?
Which World Have You Chosen to Inhabit?
By: Guy Sayles
Two groups, mere yards apart, might have been in different worlds. One fueled by anger, the other by happiness. Similarly, Jesus is an entry to a truer world within ours. One inhabited by grace, mercy, love and joy.
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A Definition of Worship to Guide Your Life
A Definition of Worship to Guide Your Life
By: James Gordon
The submission of all our nature and the integration of all our life into adoration and self-giving love describes a deep rootedness of mind and soul in the love of God. That's the core of worship.
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8 Spiritual Disciplines to Give Your Preschoolers
8 Spiritual Disciplines to Give Your Preschoolers
By: Brett Gibson
When it comes to laying a spiritual foundation in the livers of children, it's not the church that has the primary influence – it's the family. Here are eight steps to get your preschooler on the right path.
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3 Things You May Have Forgotten about Faith
3 Things You May Have Forgotten about Faith
By: Matt Sapp
Many of us live as if faith was only an intellectual exercise, but faith is more than intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Here are three things we often forget about faith.
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Why Your Church Needs to Stop Counting People
Why Your Church Needs to Stop Counting People
By: Joe LaGuardia
Churches often measure their growth by how many people they get in the pews on Sunday morning, but is that really the best way to measure the spiritual health of a congregation?
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Fans or Disciples – Which Kind of Follower Are You?
Fans or Disciples – Which Kind of Follower Are You?
By: Colin Harris
What's our best protection against the distraction of sideshows that use the language of faith to disguise all manner of injustice and discrimination? Growing mature disciples.
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The Church Addiction: Satisfying Our Own Egos
The Church Addiction: Satisfying Our Own Egos
By: Bill Wilson
For many, the U.S. church experience is akin to an addiction to a poor substitute for the gospel of Jesus. All of us crave a church that will cater to us. It's time to break the addictive cycle.
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Salt and Light
We are the salt of the earth, from Jesus’ perspective, and the light of the world. And he says “are”... “You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world.” Not will be, not might be, not even “I want you to be or should be.” The verb is not future tense, it is present. Nor is it dependent on our ability to be good. It is a God-given reality, a matter of divine grace, and there is no way we can get around it. We cannot escape it, we cannot avoid it or try to slip around it, explain it away or certainly deny it. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Still, what does it mean?
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Taking Evil Seriously in Our Broken World
Taking Evil Seriously in Our Broken World
By: Gordon King
While many of us can have high standards of personal morality, we can simultaneously be perpetrators of social evil in this broken world. How will the church help the wounded? 
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Releasing Angels
One of the greatest gifts you can give those you love is to share with them the potential you see in them. Let those around you know of the talents, skills, abilities and gifts you believe they possess, and offer your help as they develop them. [ ]Every person needs a support group, a loving, encouraging community where their dreams can be planted and grow. Shouldn’t the church be one of these places?
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Witness the Lamb
I sometimes wonder what would happen if, instead of inviting others to come and debate, to come and be lectured, a community of Christ followers might invite others to come and see them live out their faith by affirming the sanctity of all human life by caring for those among us regardless of age, race, ethnicity, social economic class, and sexual orientation. I wonder what kind of witness we might have if we cleaned up our own sins before we condemned the sins of others. Wouldn’t that be an appealing witness? Instead of “love the sinner and hate the sin,” why don’t we first ascribe to this dictum: “Love the sinner, and hate our own sin”?
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Are You Spiritual But Not Religious? It Isn't Enough
Are You Spiritual But Not Religious? It Isn't Enough
By: Chuck Queen
Some folks eschew church, claiming they're spiritual but not religious. But authentic spirituality requires community. For Christians that means learning how to be the body of Christ.
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Why God Isn't As Close as a Text Message
Why God Isn't As Close as a Text Message
By:  Seth Vopat
We instantly connect with friends wherever they are with a simple text, so why can't our relationship with God be as close? Perhaps it's time to look again at those Scriptures that talk about God's distance.
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3 Activities That Will Revive Your Faith
3 Activities That Will Revive Your Faith
By: Keith Herron
We live in a society that's spinning like an out-of-control merry-go-round. How do we stand firm? These 3 activities will help you to stay grounded in our fast-paced world.
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Do You Settle for the Familiar or Risk Being Shattered?
Do You Settle for the Familiar or Risk Being Shattered?
By: James Gordon
We anxiously cling to the familiar. We must choose between insulated safety with the familiar or risk exposure by being open to that which might shatter us. The latter is the path of grace and faith.
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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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For Struggling Millennials, 14 Christmas Truths
For Struggling Millennials, 14 Christmas Truths
Many millennials have trouble connecting to church. They want – but don't often find – honesty and transparency. Here are 14 truths about Christmas for millennials and others seeking truth.
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Asking Questions: It's Crucial to Your Faith Development
Asking Questions: It's Crucial to Your Faith Development
Good people who do good work can completely miss what God is doing. Are you willing to challenge your religious certitudes by asking weightier and more honest questions?
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What Can Birthdays Teach Us About Advent?
What Can Birthdays Teach Us About Advent?
As we move through Advent's preparation for the church's celebration of that first birthday we call Christmas, we look forward to reliving the joy of the new life that has changed the world in so many ways.
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Sinner's Prayer
Here, we see the scandal of God’s grace. It is a grace that humbles those who exalt themselves, and exalts those who are humble. In this parable, Jesus reminds us once again that we are never so righteous as to be beyond the need for God’s mercy, and we are never so wretched as to be beyond the reach of God’s grace.
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Cost of Discipleship
Jesus seemed to be testing the commitment and resolve of these would-be followers, and he was not afraid to trim down the roster. In fact, he told the crowds to estimate or count the cost before following him. [ ]Jesus’ point, is that anything in life that is worth doing and worth doing well is going to cost something, and we should anticipate that cost in our decision-making.
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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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What is the Most Shocking Thing Jesus Said?
Embracing Jesus’ values and lifestyle will inevitably put us at odds with family members, friends and the prevailing philosophies and patterns of our culture. At times, we’ll feel as if we are swimming upstream. Only the highest level of commitment to God through Christ will keep us focused and determined to remain faithful.
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Rampant Consumerism Feeds Injustices But Do We Care?
Rampant Consumerism Feeds Injustices But Do We Care?
We know about the horrific injustices of how our consumerism is kept afloat, and yet most of the time we don't care enough to let it affect our rampant consuming.
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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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How Close Does Your Spiritual DNA Match Jesus'?
How Close Does Your Spiritual DNA Match Jesus'?
We don't have physical DNA of Jesus, but what if we could test for spiritual DNA? If a crime-scene analyst could test you, how close would your spiritual DNA match Jesus'?
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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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Do Churches Want Transformation or the Latest Change?
Do Churches Want Transformation or the Latest Change?
Change is an essential part of any institution, including the church. When it comes to education, churches must choose between changing to the latest trend or seeking true transformation.
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4 Ways to Continue to Follow Christ Faithfully
4 Ways to Continue to Follow Christ Faithfully
Plenty of books explain how to be a faithful disciple of Christ, but Paul reminds us with one verse: We continue to live in Christ just as we first received Him. But what does that mean?
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Measuring Church Growth: Statistics or Spiritual Depth?
Measuring Church Growth: Statistics or Spiritual Depth?
Keeping track of attendance and finances is important, but we should practice spiritual discernment that pushes us to consider how we are growing as sisters and brothers in Christ.
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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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Where's the Line Between Caution and Dishonesty?
Where's the Line Between Caution and Dishonesty?

Ministers face a delicate dilemma when sharing their knowledge with their congregations. Here are five suggestions to help you discern the boundary between caution and dishonesty.

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5 Ways to Plug in Church Members for Service
5 Ways to Plug in Church Members for Service
When church members say they can't find a place to plug in, it may have more to do with the way the church empowers members than with the lack of available opportunities.
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How to Make Your Bible Study More Meaningful
How to Make Your Bible Study More Meaningful
The Bible is more accessible than ever, but who's reading it? The primary goal of engaging the Bible is more to live right than to practice sound doctrine.
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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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Campbell's
Campbell's "Glad River" – Story of God's Extravagant Grace
Will D. Campbell, who died last month at 89, was hailed as a maverick. His novel, "The Glad River," deals with the themes of grace and undeserved and unreserved forgiveness.
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What Mickey Mantle Can Teach Us About Discipleship
What Mickey Mantle Can Teach Us About Discipleship
As superior as he was to most other baseball players, Mickey Mantle didn't exercise his gifts to the fullest. It's not about how we compare to others, but how we use the gifts given to us.
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Freedom in Grace
Grace sets us free from false identity – Grace sets us free from exile – Grace sets us free from our spiritual poverty – Grace invites us to keep in step with the Spirit in order to join in the feast as one family. This is the good news at the heart of Galatians, God’s Gracebook. There is freedom in grace. Believe it. Receive it. Live it.
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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 Move Your Church to a Deeper Faith
3 Ways to Move Your Church to a Deeper Faith
Many churches have preconceived ideas about what Scripture already says. Here are three ways pastors can lead their churches to read Scripture again – for the first time.
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The Cycle of Grace
We can come to terms with the fact that whether it’s poverty or hunger or illness or death itself, the great God stands with us and wants to accept the gift of life as a precious gift of grace. We’re to take our gift of life and share it as we live and breathe and have our being. “Grace given, grace received” all the way through the arc of our lives.
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Testimony of Grace
Grace has often been defined as the unmerited, undeserved favor of God, and that is certainly true. But many preachers, myself included, have often tailored our messages about grace to pander to our audience. Alas, Paul’s testimony of grace this morning will not let me preach such a message today.
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Grounded in Grace
Why is Paul foaming at the mouth at the Galatians? Because they feel like his own children, children for whom (he is) again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in (them) (4:19). Paul labored mightily to give birth to committed Christ-followers in Galatia, and thought he had succeeded. Now, he’s watching his Galatian children desert the gospel and the God behind the gospel, trading away their freedom in Christ for slavery to the Old Testament Law.
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Gospel of Grace
. Grace reminds us that we do not deserve Christ’s offering of himself for us. Grace instructs us that we cannot earn God’s rescue from this evil age. Grace humbles us to concede that we cannot dictate the will of God the Father. All we can do is to recognize that we need forgiveness of our sin, we need rescue from this evil age, and we need to surrender our lives so that “not my will, but God’s will be done.”
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Balancing the Tension Between Pastor, Prophet Roles
Balancing the Tension Between Pastor, Prophet Roles
For pastors and laypersons alike, balancing a spirit of sensitivity and compassion while speaking prophetically about today's issues isn't easy. Being one often risks the other.
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What Value Do College Ministries Offer Churches?
What Value Do College Ministries Offer Churches?
Many churches don't see college ministries as a great investment. While ministering to college students offers little to no payout, churches are about making disciples, not filling sanctuaries.
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Jesus Truth Minus Jesus Way Won't Equal Jesus Life
Jesus Truth Minus Jesus Way Won't Equal Jesus Life
A myopic focus on the Jesus truth reduces the gospel to a proposition to be believed. We need to expend just as much energy considering what exactly the Jesus way is.
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Loving Others Requires Sustained, Patient Practice
Loving Others Requires Sustained, Patient Practice
If you're going to be good at something – whether it's golf or math or art – it will require years of patient practice. Why should we expect love to be any different?
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How Choir Rehearsal is Like Christian Discipleship
How Choir Rehearsal is Like Christian Discipleship
Choir rehearsal is a joy on some days, a challenge on others. And that makes it much like life. Some days we're obedient to the Spirit, and others we're doing our duty.
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Jailhouse Religion
Bonhoeffer and King, Peter and Paul…these men did their best work in jail out of commitment to the One who also was arrested, and convicted, and beaten, and crucified. Yes, we’ve learned through hard experience that the work of the kingdom often involves suffering, even death. But thanks to the resurrection, we know that no power on this earth can keep Jesus and his followers locked up in jail, or down in a tomb.
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Why Your Church Isn't Like a Ford Model T
Why Your Church Isn't Like a Ford Model T
Like assembly lines mass-producing millions of Ford Model Ts, today's churches are seeking the right formula to mass-produce growth. But people are not material objects.
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4 Characteristics of Churches That Call New Leaders
4 Characteristics of Churches That Call New Leaders
Many congregations are so focused on survival that they've grown blind to the call to propagate and reproduce leaders, but they're putting their future at stake.
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Hey! We are Invited!
God is appealing to us, imploring us, pleading with us. God calls us to come and receive from God what cannot be bought, sold, or stolen—restoration. We've been invited by God to a banquet although we have no way to pay the admission price. We've been invited to healing even though we have no health insurance or money to pay the healer. We've been invited. We've been invited. We've been invited.
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Does Your
Does Your "Lunk Alarm" Sound Around Mature Believers?
Just like we wish the guy who lifts 500 pounds in the gym would go away while we're working out, do we react the same way toward spiritually mature believers?
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The Call to "People-Catching" Living
Discipleship involves following Jesus in taking people alive for God so they become part of God's love, truth, peace, hope, and joy in the world. It means following Jesus in liberating people from oppressive forces and systems—including cultural, social, political, economic, and religious forces and systems—that trap and cripple them. Discipleship involves following Jesus in living as God's good news and work for freedom, healing, peace, love, justice, joy, and hope. This meaning of discipleship—following Jesus—in "people-catching living" gives the term "catch and release" an entirely new meaning.
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Tender Mercies
The message of God’s word long before we get to Jesus’ death is that our lives really are all about grace, all about mercy. That we exist at all is a gift of grace. That we have air to breathe, and lungs to breathe with is a work of God’s mercy. Every moment of every day is grounded God’s love and grace.
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Great Themes of the Bible: Grace
It is all about grace. God loves us because he chooses to. God extends his mercy and forgiveness to us, not because we deserve it, but because that is the way his heart is. God loves us still because of his grace.
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Who Tells You Who You Are?
Who Tells You Who You Are?
Jesus didn't follow John the Baptist's expectations of who he should be. Instead, he followed the Holy Spirit's leadership. Will you follow your path or someone else's?
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What Do You Value in Life's Daily Auction?
What Do You Value in Life's Daily Auction?
We place a value on everything, whether it's our time, our health or our family. The sum of these decisions reflects whether we believe life is about us or something much bigger.
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Finding Hope by Sharing What You Treasure Most
Finding Hope by Sharing What You Treasure Most
We live in a world where we praise the powerful and show kindness only to those who can do something for us. What if we gave the world the things that mean the most to us?
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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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A New Prayer for a New Year: God Bless This Mess
A New Prayer for a New Year: God Bless This Mess
Many assume they need to get their lives together before they approach God. But God comes to us as we offer him our mess and invite him into the midst of it.
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What Point of View Guides Your Life?
What Point of View Guides Your Life?
When authors develop a strong point of view, readers can relate to their characters. If you think people need to follow your point of view, you're likely not employing Jesus as your life's editor.
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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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We're Human Becomings, Not Human Beings
We're Human Becomings, Not Human Beings
My reading of the New Testament tells that Jesus' followers are headed into life as God means it to be. Our destiny is to become our authentic selves by becoming like Jesus.
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Immersed by Grace
On this day of baptism, we are invited to remember Jesus’ baptism and our own. We are invited to jump into the deep end of the waters of faith and be a follower of Jesus.
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Thank God for the Church
Thank God for the Church, not because we are faithful, but because God is faithful, who has called us into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Five Ways That Christian Educators Grow Disciples
Five Ways That Christian Educators Grow Disciples
The work of the minister responsible for educating church members has changed over the years. No longer simply administrators, they are expected to grow disciples.
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Flesh and Blood
So I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps what Jesus means, by inviting his listeners to eat his flesh and drink his blood, is that they are, in accepting him, to take all of him, every last morsel, to immerse themselves completely in his presence, to fully engage in his way of life and to follow him without reservation.
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The Power and Problems of the 'Life Forever' Meal
God invites us into a "life forever" relationship with divine grace and truth that will challenge and change the world.
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What Is It?
When difficulties come our way, we don’t know how we’re going to stand it. Somehow, in his infinite and patient understanding and grace, God sees us through it.
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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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The Case of Mistaken Identity
All we often hear from the news has to do with the Herods and Assads of our world. But slowly, imperceptibly, somehow, in the mystery and patience of God, the grace and mercy that comes only from God is seeping through the microscopic cracks of our world to redeem people like you and me.
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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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Growing in Christian Faith Like Family Farming
Growing in Christian Faith Like Family Farming
Being a Christian is not mainly ideas we have or beliefs we affirm; it is a whole way of life. Christians are people who are learning, by experience, to do all of life in the Jesus-way.
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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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Gospel For The Overwhelmed
Grace rises to confront the wind and waves of our overwhelming circumstances. Grace rises to speak peace to our trembling and frustrated spirits.
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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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Fruit-Bearing Disciples
Jesus issues this loving invitation: “Remain in me. Abide in me. Make yourself at home in me just as I do in you.”
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The Way of Grace
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The Lord’s Prayer: An Uncomfortable Arrangement
The way we treat others says a tremendous amount about the way we treat God.
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The Way of Discipleship
During this season of Lent, let us hear with open ears and courageous hearts what Jesus told his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” How will we respond to this challenging invitation?
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Lessons From A Day In The Life of Jesus
We're called by Jesus to embody God's grace and truth as servants! Suffering people are waiting and hoping. Let's meet them in the prayerful power of God's Spirit so they can renew their strength.
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Bonhoeffer – A Faith That Stood Against Darkness
Bonhoeffer – A Faith That Stood Against Darkness
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who urged German Christians to stand against Nazi tyranny and violence, joined in a plot to assassinate Hitler – one of the more problematic elements of his life.
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Why God Doesn't Recognize Your Plans
Why God Doesn't Recognize Your Plans
We often make great plans about how we want to serve God – and then expect God to show up and bless them. Instead, we need to show up for God's plan.
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Powerful Teaching
May the words and demonstration of Jesus’ powerful teaching release us out of our bondage and into the freedom of God’s glorious grace!
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No Ordinary Relationships: Great Expectations
So we expect Jesus to voice the highest, and we also understand Christ to be full of grace, ready to receive us when we fail. His grace is sufficient for our every need.
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Repent and Believe
Repent and believe. That is the invitation that Jesus gave to His would-be followers at the beginning of His earthly ministry. That is the invitation that Jesus gives to His would-be followers today. Will we accept this invitation?
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Hemmed In
While we work hard at protecting our innermost secrets, here comes God invading our privacy, knowing more about us than we even know ourselves.
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Why We Want the Easy Way to Follow Christ
Why We Want the Easy Way to Follow Christ
The desire for practical ways to make life better seems to be common in today's churches. We want Christ, but we don't want the difficulties of following Christ.
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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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This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
The one who entered the world in weakness and vulnerability came to reveal a way of life that has the power to transform everything. But do Christians know where Jesus is?
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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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Sold Out!
God's Spirit is calling us, through the life of Jesus and the discipleship of Barnabas and others, into living that is "sold out" to the generosity produced by God's grace.
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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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Gracious Generosity
God is still graciously calling for laborers.
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Weed Control
If Jesus is to be taken seriously—and certainly people who claim to follow him should do so—controlling "weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun" is important.
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Why Churches Need More Comedy, Less Advertising
Why Churches Need More Comedy, Less Advertising
Church marketing makes it seem easy to become a disciple of Jesus. If truth in advertising were to prevail, we have to admit that this Jesus-following thing isn't easy.
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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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Growing Grace and Truth in Precarious People
We each begin life at pedestrian morality. God calls us, woos us, and welcomes us to "higher ground" where grace and truth can take root, grow, mature, and become fruitful.
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Who Knows You Better than Anyone Else?
Sometimes we think the loving thing to do is to tell people what they want to hear. No, this is not the loving thing to do, but the easy thing to do. True love doesn’t have cataracts. It sees clearly and shares what it sees, even if painful, for the purpose of redeeming and healing the offender.
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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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Even Greater Things
Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples. How are we in fulfilling Jesus’ great commission? How are we in making disciples who in turn can make disciples of Jesus?
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What Would Bonhoeffer Say to 21st-Century Issues?
What Would Bonhoeffer Say to 21st-Century Issues?
Baptists have long revered Dietrich Bonhoeffer – one of the few German ministers willing to think deeply about the implications of being a person whose chief allegiance was to God and not the state – but from a safe distance.
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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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Why Some Churches Remain Mum on Social Issues
Why Some Churches Remain Mum on Social Issues
Too many churches have decided that loving God doesn't require attention to social issues. They fret more about church decor than they do about war and peace.
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Why Christina Aguilera's Flub Fascinates Us
Why Christina Aguilera's Flub Fascinates Us
Nearly everyone was abuzz about Christina Aguilera's flubbing of the national anthem during the Super Bowl. Why do we take such secret delight in the very public failures of others?
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Declaration Calls for Discipleship, Reconciliation
Declaration Calls for Discipleship, Reconciliation
Reflecting the voices of Christian leaders from 198 nations, the Lausanne Movement's latest declaration states two themes – the need for "radical" discipleship and for cross-centered reconciliation.
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Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Some people, even Christians, don't want to imitate Christ. To do so would mean following his radical ethic of love, his call to nonviolence and his message about sharing with the poor and practicing forgiveness.
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British Christians Live Out Faith Where It Counts
British Christians Live Out Faith Where It Counts
Instead of focusing most of their energy on church activities, British Christians can learn to live out their faith in the places they spend the most time, the head of a Christian agency says.
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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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Bloom Where You’re Planted
If you have the courage to look back and trace the journey of your life, I think that for the most part your testimony would be that your life is not only good but it is better for the way you’ve done it. In fact, had your life turned out the way you planned it, chances are it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it really is.
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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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Turtles All the Way Down
Welcome to the hard sayings of Jesus where Jesus pushes hard against a common sense level of faith and demands more than any of us are willing to give. What you do with these words is up to you, but I doubt you feel comfortable with them.
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What Ever Happened to Following the Way of Jesus?
What Ever Happened to Following the Way of Jesus?
Early Christians understood that being a disciple of Jesus included humility, inclusivity, forgiveness, compassion and surrender to a greater good. Today, many versions of Christianity exist that don't resemble this way.
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Loving Beyond Our Theology
As Christians, God calls us to be people of conviction. God calls us to be discerning people. God calls us to know right and wrong and to persevere in our faith. We are supposed to know where the line is drawn, but there is a tension here.
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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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The Imperfect-Perfect Game
“Surely, this was a righteous man.” Even the most jaded person could not ignore what happened that day.
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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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God Stories: When God Grieves
A true worshipper, saved by God’s grace, realizes he has escaped catastrophe because of God’s goodness. Such a worshipper comes as Noah did, to declare dependence upon God thorough sacrificial worship.
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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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Two Baseball Heroes Show Us How to Behave
Two Baseball Heroes Show Us How to Behave
In the perfect game that wasn't, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and veteran umpire Jim Joyce became baseball heroes for showing us how to be responsible adult human beings.
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Missing a Perfect Game, Witnessing Perfect Grace
Missing a Perfect Game, Witnessing Perfect Grace
Despite their rarity in professional sports, every now and again, there is a bright and shining moment that provides us with a fleeting glimpse of all-too-rare goodness. A Detroit Tigers game revealed several moments of grace.
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God Stories: My Brother’s Keeper
Cain and Abel were brothers. They played together as children. They built forts. They swam together. They had carved into the same tree. They’d always been racing and competing with one another. They were brothers – they were rivals and friends.
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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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Ministers Must Examine Their Own Lives, Too
Ministers Must Examine Their Own Lives, Too
Honesty and transparency are rarely encouraged in the clergy world, and that's a huge problem. While trained to see the faults of those around us, ministers struggle with the ability to reflect on our own lives critically.
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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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Grace: Available to All – No Conditions
Grace: Available to All – No Conditions
The notion of grace and forgiveness is uniquely divine, but we give a human twist to grace. We take that which is free and liberating and make it cost something.
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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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An Embracing Love
Grace is a kind of mercy that we in the church have had a notoriously difficult time handling. We’ve taken that which is free and we’ve made it something to earn. It’s sad in a way because we first come to God seeking forgiveness and the desire to be whole. And then, after experiencing the liberation that only God can bring, we go out and get lost all over again.
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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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The Power of Grace
How different would you be if you really turned God’s grace loose in your life, like Paul did? If you fully embraced His grace, or more appropriately, if you were fully embraced by it, how would it change you?
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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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Testing...testing...
What we are finally left with is what every child is left with... the need for mercy and forgiveness, the knowledge that in our imperfect world, inhabited by flawed people such as ourselves, the law is not the final word. With God, grace is always the bottom line. And aren’t you glad for that?
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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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Living the Dream: Finding Purpose and Mission in Life
Living the Dream: Finding Purpose and Mission in Life
What's your idea of a dream life? Most of us think of a dream life as an upgrade in our circumstances, a life with fewer challenges and greater comfort and convenience. But is this God's dream for us?
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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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When Calamity Strikes: Is God Our Punisher or Healer?
When Calamity Strikes: Is God Our Punisher or Healer?
Some ministers are quick to see God's judgment in calamity, but they work from an incomplete picture of God. As a result, they teach too many people to live under God's scorn rather than his grace.
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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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Country of the Blind
I once was blind but now I see. I am sure I don’t see perfectly, but I do know that what God reveals to me in Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. May we pray for the sight to always see as God sees.
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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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Living Bread
When we hunger for that grace, God does a magical thing. God reaches down into the very depths of our hearts and lifts us up above the cares and difficulties we encounter, and enters our personal wildernesses. And in that moment, we are offered something to eat, something that will never perish. I encourage you to accept this grace as if it were your very last meal, for in it you will find the Living Bread. And if you accept it, you will never hunger again.
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Grace and Hope
  Hope in God's grace gives us strength to love bruised, battered, and oppressed people. That hope gives us strength to challenge entrenched forces of injustice and oppression. Hope in God's grace lifts us when we fall, strengthens us in times of weakness, quiets our trembling hearts, and gives redemptive meaning to our efforts. When we live in the power of God's grace with that kind of hope, we are more than witnesses about God's grace. We are, like Martin King and so many hopeful soldiers of faith, partners with Christ, and instruments of God's gracious purpose to redeem people and the world from the depths of sin.  Amen.
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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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Premonition
There’s a sense in which you and I ourselves are living in a story within a story. We haven’t reached the final word of grace... not yet. That final word has yet to be written. But in the meantime, we are to be like the disciples who go out and minister in Christ’s name... with a hammer or paint brush in our hand, with just a smile or an encouraging word for those who so desperately need it. There is no guarantee that we won’t be confronted by our present-day Herods. The only assurance – but it is assurance enough – is that God will be with us every step of the way.
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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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Up Close and Personal
Ministry is contagious. There is nothing as fulfilling and meaningful as helping someone who is struggling. There is nothing as inspirational, either. Whose story inspired you? Who has been inspired by your story? I am convinced that you will have the opportunity to write another chapter this week. Make it a good one.
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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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Not Grading on the Curve
Don’t we all need to come today – not like the Pharisee, with poisonous pride, but like the tax-gatherer, with brokenness and with contrite hearts, receiving the justification that comes from a spirit of humility and the acknowledgment of the need for a Savior.
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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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Interfaith Friendships Spark Deeper Reflection on Jesus
Interfaith Friendships Spark Deeper Reflection on Jesus
My involvement in an interfaith group and the friendships that developed led me to reflect more sharply on the implications of believing in Jesus Christ as God's unique embodiment and revelation in the midst of a pluralistic 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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A Real Jesus
When you show up, it is not about how much you do, as Mother Teresa said, it’s how much love you put into what you do. How much you are willing to follow the one who loves you beyond all measure and imagination.
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Knee-Bending Lifestyle Places Others Before Self
Knee-Bending Lifestyle Places Others Before Self
When Paul says every knee ought to bow, it's not as a ritual of religious homage. It's a physical act that serves as an ethical symbol of the way one is choosing to live one's own life as we serve others before ourselves.
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Some Folks Need to Break Their Addiction – To Church
Some Folks Need to Break Their Addiction – To Church
Some people become churchaholics, going to four or five meetings a week for church-related events. Some feel compelled to do this. Others feel it’s their calling. Some attend out of guilt.
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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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Created for Good Works – Just Like the BMW Sports Wagon
Created for Good Works – Just Like the BMW Sports Wagon
The 2009 BMW 535i xDrive Sport Wagon costs $72,000-plus. It makes sense that something created for good works will come with high costs. The writer of Ephesians appreciated that truth.
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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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Lose Some Life to Save Some
Lose Some Life to Save Some
Americans have been led to think that all they have to care for is their own selves. And that turns out to be a lot of people in this country—people who have bought into, whether upon deep examination or casual and almost unconscious commitment, a comprehensive philosophy of self-interest.
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There Is Always Enough God
There Is Always Enough God
There is not enough money to solve all the world’s problems, but there is enough God. There is not enough time to accomplish all we hope in life, but there is enough God. There are not enough resources to guarantee we will never experience the loss of key relationships, but there is enough God.
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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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Wherever He Leads, Will You Go
When Fuller arrived in heaven on Wednesday, what do you think the Lord said to him? Do you think it is possible that He whispered in his ear as He gave him a big hug, “Thank you, Millard, for not getting too comfortable?” I do.
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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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Slow to Anger
God who kept making allowances for Jonah until he finally did the right thing is our God. This story is our story. And this past momentous week is the newest chapter of God’s patient call to us to see and do the grace of God ourselves.
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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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Obama’s ‘Peter Moment’
During his inaugural address, President Barack Obama quoted the Apostle Paul, but it was really a Peter moment.
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The Gospel of—or About—Jesus
The alternatives here are not between leaving Jesus in or out of the gospel picture. Jesus figures centrally in both options, but in much different roles. In one he is the decisive object of faith. In the other he is the decisive figure who points to the object of faith by his words and deeds and who invites others to be a part of the new thing that God is doing.
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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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Put Matthew 25 on Your 'To-Do' List
What about putting at least a minimum number of acts of charity on one's daily "to-do" list and committing oneself to checking them off when they are completed?
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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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Tough Times Can Open Door to Transformation
As a pastor and follower of Jesus, the teachings of the Bible and the initiatives of Christ are constantly re-formatting my lifestyle, calling me to leave behind the errant ways of my past so that I might live more authentically, more passionately and more faithfully.
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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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We Are the Bible Others Read
We Christians really are the only Bible that some people will read.
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Find Peace in Hard Economic Times
What does one do when the stock market keeps diving, gas prices keep rising, and all that experts can agree upon is that nobody knows when or how this economic free fall will end? Many are consumed by rumor, worry, stress and fear. Lost jobs, income and savings are a gloomy reality. Some of us are more OK than others, but everybody is affected.
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Has Sports Become a Religion in America?
Most religions focus on one god, one deity, or one central spiritual leader.
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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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The Importance of Living an Authentic Life
By now the Bigfoot story is no longer big news. It was all a big hoax.
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Converting the Church
I must have been about 10 when I first went to Disneyland in Southern California around 1968. Going to Disneyland was a dream come true for me. My parents scraped and saved to make this trip possible.
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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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In God He Trusts
Last Friday, a judge in Lake County, Illinois granted the petition of 57-year-old Steve Kreuscher to change his name to In God We Trust. His legal first name is now "In God" and his legal last name is "We Trust."
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The First Beatitude
"When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:1-3, NRSV)
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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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Where is God in the Storm?
Somewhere a preacher is preaching. He shakes his fist at the ceiling as he describes the wrath of God. That wrath has come, he tells his attentive congregation, on the crest of a terrible storm. God has shown his power and his might by smashing a wall of wind and water into villages in the troubled country of Myanmar.
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The Devil Is In the Doing of Evil
Reading sacred texts about an all-loving and all-powerful God raises questions and concerns when that image is compared to the realities of life. All have faced, or will face, tragedy, misery and death. Events will occur that appear unfair, leading most of us to question if any sense of cosmic justice truly exists.
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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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If the Bible is So Important, Why Don't We Take Jesus More Seriously?
A friend of mine was telling me of his latest adventure of faith. The church he pastors has a sign on the main road of their small town. They posted this message: "The Sum of Christianity is Love God, Love Your Neighbor. The Rest is Doctrine." My friend said that message caused unexpected controversy in the Christian community of his town. One minister took out an ad in the local paper attacking the message and the church that posted it. Others communicated their criticism in more direct ways.
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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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Mother's Day for Peace
According to Wikipedia, the roots of Mother's Day may go all the way back to celebrations of motherhood by the ancient Greeks. In 16th century England, the custom developed of observing Mothering Day on the 4th Sunday in Lent. On that day, people would return to their "mother church" where, naturally, they would likely encounter their mothers.
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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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Battling Prejudice at Home and Abroad
I recently traveled to Romania, where Buckner International enables churches to give shoes and socks to orphans who live in group homes. Meeting these children to give them humanitarian aid was amazing. Considering the country is less than 20 years removed from the dictatorial reign of Nicolae Ceausescu, it is all the more remarkable.
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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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It Ain't Easy Being Green
Just ask Kermit the Frog, who sang about it. Or the Jolly Green Giant, about whom the following was sung:
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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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Clintons Provide Moral Example with Charitable Giving
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Clinton, reported late Friday afternoon that they made since 2000 more than $109 million and gave $10.25 million to charity.
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Faith and Doubt
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is currently offering an exceptional production of Tom Dudzick's humorous play, "Over the Tavern." The story line is about a Catholic family in the 1950s that literally lives over a tavern. The characters, Chester and Ellen, are struggling to raise their four children, including two teenagers, a son who has down syndrome and a son who doesn't want to be Catholic.
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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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Easter Message From Baptist Leader: Don't 'Crucify' Vulnerable Australians
As Easter approaches this year, Australian Christians and Australian churches will retell and reflect on the great gospel events--the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we look back on the gospel story that, more than any other, gives meaning and purpose to all we do, it is important also to look to the present and future and to re-examine our motives and priorities in the light of the central gospel event.
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Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Sunday Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is viewed by believers just about everywhere as the foundation of Christianity. They assert that by raising Jesus from the dead God has defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life.
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Descending and Ascending
The writer of the Gospel of John has John the Witness (a.k.a. John the Baptist in the other Gospels) saying, upon seeing Jesus approaching him:
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What Does Suffering Mean for Us and Jesus?
Suffering is at the heart of the Christian gospel. The Gospels themselves are stories, with long introductions, about the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus calls us to choose suffering for the sake of His kingdom as He himself chose to suffer for the Kingdom of God. We say that His suffering redeems us--but how?
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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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Don't Worry, Live Abundantly
Midway through the Sermon on the Mount there is the passage from Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear."
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New Baptist Covenant Celebration a Gift to North American Baptists
Like every other Baptist gathered in Atlanta, I was so pleased at the experience from participating in the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. I was unsure whether to come at first, not knowing what to expect or what to think about what might come of this meeting, but I was told by one of my elder mentors that I needed to be there. As usual, the wisdom of my friend was right on target and I am grateful to God for the chance to see it with my own eyes and to hear it with my own ears.
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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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The New Baptist Covenant: What's Next?
The New Baptist Covenant gathering in Atlanta exceeded all my expectations, and I hope it marks the beginning of a new day for Baptists in North America.
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Sacrifice Was Jesus' Master Plan
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a time to think of sacrifice. It is a time to think of willing sacrifice. We give something up; usually physical in nature to appreciate the sacrifice of the cross and to sharpen our spiritual vision for Easter, which is just around the corner.
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Living With Our Fallibility
It has been a pesky problem from the very beginning. Adam, who walked with God in the cool of the garden, could not follow one simple proscription. Abraham, called by God to be the progenitor of a great nation, lied about Sarah being his wife to save his own hide. Moses, chosen from among all the people of the world to receive God's law, could not follow simple instructions like hitting the rock once instead of twice. And let's not forget about King David. In a single stroke, David managed to mangle four of the Ten Commandments.
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Gore Delivers Most Important Baptist Address in 30 Years
Former Vice President Al Gore delivered the most energetic, substantive and potentially transformative speech made by a Baptist to a Baptist audience in 30 years.
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Can We Be Saved By Lent?
The first Sunday of February is Transfiguration Sunday, followed by Ash Wednesday ringing in Lent. It is a reflective time to wrestle with sin and rediscover our need for salvation.
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The Misunderstood Man From Nazareth
Back in November of last year Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters for financial information from six of the countless mega-church television preachers. The senator was widely portrayed as persecuting these millionaire preachers. The offended preachers surrounded their auditors with lawyers and let the senators, IRS and anyone interested know that they were not responding to such insolent questions.
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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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Christmas Star Gets Its Due on Epiphany
(Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly) Christmas, despite what the calendar says, isn't over. And the star--"star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright"--that shone over Bethlehem won't go dim until it gets its proper due on Epiphany on Sunday.
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New Day's Resolution
If you've been alive the last two weeks, and will continue to be alive in the upcoming two weeks, you'll see a lot of stuff on TV, online, and in print about the pressure to make--and keep--the bane of January's existence: New Year's Resolutions.
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Transforming Poverty by Reconsidering Our Citizenship
The power of our communities lies in the ideals of our common humanity. To continue to live in separate villages whose cohesiveness is ephemeral at best, or in gated communities of homogeneity, will only enhance everyone's poverty.
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Christmas Preparation
Every year at Christmas I take a week of vacation either before or after the holiday. This year I took off the week before. Knowing that things might be hectic in the church office I thought I had everything lined up and taken care of related to adopted Christmas families, the weekly food program and everything else that takes place during the week. I really needed a break to get myself ready for Christmas.
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The More Things Change, the More They Change: A Christmas Memoir
As a child I would go to bed on Christmas Eve so excited I could hardly sleep. Of course, part of the problem was that the last words I heard from Mama before I went to bed were "Go to sleep now; Santa Claus won't come if you're awake." So I went to bed terrified that I wouldn't be able to sleep and certain that if I didn't sleep then there would be no gifts for me.
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The Kingdom of God is Ultimate Reality
The Kingdom that Jesus taught is ultimate reality--reality that cannot be transgressed without dire consequences. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23.)
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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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New Baptist Covenant Celebration Must Avoid Appearance of Partisanship
I am a supporter of the Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant. I hope the meeting will enhance Baptist relationships and Baptist witness. Still, I see a potential problem with the political image it may present.
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A Parable of Christmas for Our Time
I have been trying to come up with a parable for the Christmas season. I wanted to write a story that would capture the mood of this strange religious time we live in. But before I could even get my imagination cranked, reality came along with something much better than any thing I might dream up.
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The Ballad of John and John (Ode to John Lennon)
Every year when December hits, we hear a lot about John. That's John, as in the strange and hairy man screaming as loud as he can that we've really messed up the world, and we all better get our act straight before it's too late.
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Creeds, Covenant and Community
Creeds developed early in the history of the church. "Jesus is Lord" may well have been the earliest one. The Apostle's Creed came later, followed by a number of creeds developed and approved by church councils. Most early Protestants continued to generate creeds.
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In Search Of Christmas
Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to begin preparing for Christmas in earnest. Unfortunately with the arrival of the season also comes the accompanying lunacy. I refer of course to the annual battle to save Christmas. The decision by many retailers to use the inclusive language of "Happy Holidays," rather than "Merry Christmas," has become the latest battleground for conservative Christians' war on culture.
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Being in God's Place and Time
The nurse who greeted us in the emergency room was pleasant and efficient. I could not help noticing, however, the colorful tattoo on her right forearm. Below the tattoo were two additional figures, which looked like Chinese characters.
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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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Veterans Day Creates a Ministry Dilemma
Veterans Day creates a ministry dilemma. As a pastor and religious leader, how can I be faithful in teaching what I believe to be central to following Christ and yet not unduly offend others?
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Seekers After Less Than God
A story that appeared recently in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution set me to thinking about the ethics of attending church as a "seeker."
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God's Economics: Choosing Who Gets What
Economics is like a game of musical chairs. There are not enough chairs in the world for everyone to have as many as they would like. But rather than play music and race to the nearest chair, we have an auction, and those with the most money buy their chairs while those without are left standing.
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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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Where Have All the Prophets Gone?
There have never been many of them, but every now and then God manages to refresh the earth in general and the faith community in particular with the presence and the preaching of a prophet. I am not referring to some soothsayer who claims to be able to predict the future.
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A Place for Jesus in the Church?
A Web-based group calling themselves TopVerse.com recently conducted a survey asking Christians to identify their favorite verses. The reason for the survey was to speed up an online search feature offered at the site.
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Mammon at the Malls, Part 2
When Jesus uses the word Mammon, he gives it a nearly demonic connotation--or at least a spiritual connotation distinct from simply "cash"--that sets it up as an alternative to God in a way that Caesar, for example, doesn't have to be.
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Cookies, College, Career and Creation
I have been saddened with all the discussion of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's homemaking degree. It seems such a waste of energy and resources that have once more distracted Baptists from the mission of Christ Jesus--to be the hands, voice, and presence of God in a needy world.
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