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    More Than Just a Day for Chocolate

    Do you happily celebrate Valentine’s Day or bitterly avoid it? In years past I revolted against this “Day of Love.” The only benefit in my opinion was the half-priced chocolate offered the following day. You might have mixed emotions the same as mine. But this year I propose a solution to transform this “Hallmark holiday” from one of stress and sadness to fellowship and friendship: Celebrate like a Mexican. Mexicans see February 14 as El día del amor y la amistad (The Day of Love and Friendship) and share cards and small gifts with close friends, family, and coworkers. Yes, much of the United States’ Valentine’s Day marketing has made…

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    Iron Sharpens Iron

    Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In reflection on our many years in ministry, I am drawn to the truth of this proverb. I have seen it play out in my own life more times than I can remember. We usually think of ministry as investing our lives through serving others, as we hopefully “sharpen” them through discipleship, worship and community. However, I have recently given some thought as to how often others have sharpened me in the past, when I didn’t even realize it. What does this proverb mean, exactly? Most commentators see it as a statement of how people affect, or influence, one…

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    The Clarity of Death

    “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2). My father died recently. He was always sharp, quick with a pun or a play on words, an accountant by trade who worked until he was seventy-seven years old. He was a student of the Bible for almost sixty years. He did a lot of reading, writing, and “sparring” (personal debating) over the years, quoting folks like Barnhouse and Spurgeon in the process. But dementia overtook him these last few years. He could no longer…

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    The God of Friendships Past

    My husband's mom died last week, and the body of Christ has proved its "family" love in multiple ways. Kelley and Mary brought loads of food; church people who did not even know us hosted two different lunches for strangers; folks sent flowers and money to causes my mom-in-law loved; some sent cards; many delivered hugs. And my friend Mary DeMuth provided this guest post. I'm delighted to welcome her as a featured columnist: I drove by a restaurant that reminded me of a dear friend. She used to invite me over, grab takeout teriyaki, and we’d eat and laugh over chicken and steamed veggies. So when I passed a…

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    Leadership and Friendship—Are They Mutually Exclusive?

    With whom can you be yourself—totally raw and without filters—without expectations? Someone recently asked me this question. Several names came to mind, but I realized my list was short. This person advised, “You need these types of people in your life, people who will listen to you without expectations or judgment, with whom you can climb down off the mentorship and ministry pedestal.” Regardless of the world in which you work or serve—corporate, construction, education, marketing, medical, ministry, research, restaurant, the arts, or the home—being a leader can make finding raw-and-without-filters friendships difficult. Why is that?   First, leaders are visionaries. They lead the charge. They think outside the box.…

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    Heartprints

    Choosing the Best BFF

      The best BFF is one who will help you pick a life time of good ones!  “A person who has friends may be harmed by them, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 (NET Bible) Many of the children grow up in the church only to leave it as adults. Those who are true believers will return but what set them up to leave in the first place. So much lost time in lives wasted on frivolous friendship with the world. Can it be prevented? I think so. God created us in His image and because of that great gift we have the need for…

  • Heartprints

    The Tale of a Traitor

    There are many wonderful heroes and traitorous foes in the pages of the Bible. Both good and bad share in the human frailties that come from being made of dust. Noble heroes of faith surrounded by their unbelieving, accusing and deadly opponents are found in every book. However, tucked in the corner of a bigger story we find some who pose in the OT as worshipers of Jehovah or in the NT as Christ followers. They would fade into the background of the story if not for the amazing crossroads where their half-hearted faith meets their whole-hearted greed or hatred. Judas Iscariot was just such a man. Speaking of Judas,…

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    Around the Table: Why Gathering Matters

      Gathering is nothing new. All throughout sacred history, women and men have been gathering around tables to celebrate, reflect, feast, and remember. From Israel’s inception the sacrificial system ushered people into God’s presence and then around a table as they often enjoyed a meal as part of their offerings and festivals. In the book of Ruth, Boaz sat around the table with his workers, inviting an unknown Moabite woman to eat of his bread. In Psalms David celebrated God’s banquet table. And in the New Testament, Jesus gathered around tables with friends and sinners, and then he instituted his memorial supper around over the Passover meal as he and…

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    Are You a Spiritual Hoarder? Three Ways We Withhold Ourselves—and Our Stuff—from Others

    Hoarder: “A word that describes anyone that feels the need to find, collect, keep, [or] pack any and everything because they do not know how to throw things away” (Urban Dictionary). Several years ago there was an entire TV series about hoarders. There are entire companies devoted to helping hoarders clean up. And there are even medical disorders related to hoarding. Innate within each of us—to varying degrees—is a desire to hold on to something. Hoarding is more than just stowing away our stuff in some dark closet. Sometimes it means we keep our deepest selves locked tightly within us. Here are three ways we withhold ourselves from others and…

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    Let God be your mentoring match-maker

    One of the most frequently asked questions I get from women concerns mentoring. Young women crave a more experienced woman to walk with them through life and help them grow up as all-in Christ followers. But when older women set up mentoring "programs" that artificially match women, young women often describe these programs as "scary".  What might work better than a tightly orchestrated mentoring "program"? Instead of leaders trying to micro-manage other people's mentoring relationships, why don't we all try to create a mentoring culture where women connect naturally. Why don't we all learn the ins and outs of mentoring today. What worked in 1990 won't work in 2015. In…