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    A Few Little Things You Can Do: Simplify and Donate

    Do you ever read the headlines and feel helpless? Maybe now is a good time to remember we are each responsible only for our own little sphere of influence….    How’s your corner looking? Literally? Look around. It’s that time of year—when people organize, simplify, and pare down. One of my friends is leading a group through a no-spend month in which people use their funds only for necessities. Others are getting a jump on spring cleaning. Releasing our grasp on stuff is good for us (Matt 6:19–20). And doing so can benefit even more people than me, myself, and I. We can benefit the planet if we dispose of electronics…

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    Shepherd Like a Girl

    Does your nativity set have any female shepherds? Mine doesn’t. And it’s amazing how much I have picked up unconsciously from art….  I didn’t realize that—without anything being said outright—I had internalized the idea that “shepherd” was a “guy” job. So, if I saw a Christmas pageant with girls dressed in bathrobes holding crooks, I told myself the real nativity story lacked girl roles so the directors were taking creative license. But now I know those girls in bathrobes more closely represented reality than did my misinformed imaginations. My understanding about shepherds shifted radically when I traveled with my husband and daughter to Kenya’s Rift Valley. My husband is a…

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    The Foremost Figure of Advent

    In my favorite book to read in this season, Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ, Fleming Rutledge notes, “I have never seen a picture of John the Baptist on any Advent calendar, yet he is the foremost figure of Advent.” We might think Jesus would be the central figure, yet part of our Lord’s centrality in Advent is in his absence. We await his return asking, How long, O Lord?   In John’s day, the Jews—at least, some of them—expected the literal Elijah to return from the dead as forerunner of Messiah (Mal. 4:5). And the announcement of John’s birth identified him as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy; he would come…

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    10 Steps to a Calmer, More Christ-Focused Advent

    The word “advent” comes from “ad” meaning “to” as well as from “vent,” a form of a Latin word meaning “coming.” Think of the first word in: veni vidi vici—I came, I saw, I conquered. So: to come. For many Christians, the first Sunday in Advent—November 29 in 2020—marks the beginning of the Christian new year. Advent is the season when Christians look back and look forward; we look back on the first advent, or coming, of Messiah, and we look forward to the second advent—his return. During the four weeks leading up to Christmas, many believers observe Advent as a season of expectant waiting, during which we prepare our hearts.  Two…

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    Post Election: Where Do We Go from Here?

    At the time of this writing, the numbers say 74,939,396 US citizens voted one way and 70,636,322 voted the opposite. The final numbers will differ some. But regardless of what the final numbers are, that is a lot of difference.  NBC broke down the race-based religious data. And they found this—which will come as no surprise: Among white Protestants, 73 percent voted for President Trump, and 26 percent voted for President-elect Biden. Pew Research paints a different picture for Blacks: 90 percent of Black Protestant registered voters backed Biden. Christianity Today reported, based on National Election Pool results, that nationally Trump took 40 percent of the Latino vote; Biden took 59 percent.  …

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    Church History: What Do We Learn about Women in Public Ministry?

    Have you ever heard comments about church history like these?    “It was the feminist teachings of the past few decades that first spurred Christians to try to argue for [women in public ministry]. Like it or not, the two schools of thought are intertwined.” – Christian blogger “The role of women in church ministry was simply not a burning question until it asserted itself in recent decades in conjunction with the modern women’s movement” – Men and Women in Ministry: A Complementary Perspective, p. 20 When I took some doctoral courses in history, I read numerous primary documents which revealed that the question about women in public ministry in the…

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    Sexuality and Faith: Male and Female in God’s Good Design

    Recently, a colleague and I brought together more than 20 seminary scholars, expert therapists, and researchers in specific areas of sexuality to form a written compilation that released this month from Kregel Academic. The title is Sanctified Sexuality: Valuing Sex in an Oversexed World. One endorser described each chapter as being like a “TED Talk” in each writer’s area of expertise.  All contributors agreed to donate profits to the Institute for Sexual Wholeness. So, sales support a good cause. The book’s topics include a theology of the human body; gender; gender dysphoria; identity; same-sex attraction; adolescent sexuality; celibacy; cohabitation; contraception; human dignity; infertility; marital sexuality; divorce/remarriage; rape/#MeToo/#ChurchToo, how to have conversations with…

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    On the Death of “Notorious RBG”

    When I entered the tenth grade in Northern Virginia’s Wakefield High School—two miles outside of Washington D.C.—our school had no women’s sports teams. But then Title IX got expanded in a way that gave women the right to equal opportunity in sports in educational institutions that received federal funds. And that included us. So, my Phys Ed teacher invited me and others to play on the inaugural women’s varsity soccer team. And we said yes.  Our team wasn’t so great. And people told us the men’s teams were way more fun to watch. They were right, of course. But sadly, only in the past few years did it dawn on…

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    How to Influence the “Liberal Media”

    A Gallup Poll revealed in September 2019 that Americans’ trust in the media had hit a new low. Only 41 percent of us feel like we can trust mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Ad Fontes Media regularly assesses and rates the news for bias and reliability with a rigorous methodology used by a politically balanced team of analysts. Here’s their monthly chart for June 2020. Aren’t you happy to see that the Weather Channel is considered neutral? 😉 As a journalist (which means I’m a member of the media), I often grit my teeth over many conservative Christians’ responses to the media—especially believers who watch only one cable…

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    What Does It Mean That Woman is “Helper” (Ezer)?

    Some years ago, I was interviewing an elderly Old Testament scholar about the Book of Genesis. A brilliant man with decades of experience in mostly Baptist churches and seminary contexts, he knew Hebrew and Akkadian and Aramaic. And he had a solid grasp of ancient Near Eastern culture. When I asked him to comment on how Genesis delineates male/female difference, he looked surprised. “Difference? In Genesis?” The idea struck him as preposterous. Then he insisted, “The first two chapters of Genesis place an emphasis on how much the man and woman are alike.” He went on to stress that the humans share the same name, “’adam.” And when the female is…