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    Year-End: Plan to Do Good

    It’s the last week of the year. And that means many people have the opportunity to make year-end contributions for maximum tax benefits. And we enjoyed more gingerbread cookies and pecan pie than our bodies needed, so it’s time to get serious about caring for our health. And we have more possessions than we need, maybe even new piles we got for Christmas, so we need to clean out some stuff. Does any of that describe you? If so, plan to take ten minutes with technology turned off to focus, making measurable good plans to benefit yourself and others.  Start with prayer. Ask, “Lord, help me to steward well all…

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    Plan Now for the Holidays: 7 Suggestions

    Carved pumpkins still line my walk. We still have some leftover candy. And I have yet to decide between apple or pumpkin pie for the family Thanksgiving gathering. So maybe it feels early. But the first Sunday in Advent falls on November 28 this year. And I want to create a sane, wise holiday season—and to replace debt with dignity. That requires planning ahead. If you want to do the same, here are my seven suggestions: Select your devotional reading. If you use You Version, check out these two reading plans: “Advent Chai with Malachi,” which my seminary students and I wrote; and “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a collection of pieces…

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    Meditations on COVID-19

    Catherine of Siena has a particularly relevant story as our world faces what could be the Black Death of MMXX. One hundred seventy years before the Protestant Reformation, the plague of the day swept through Siena, and by AD 1349, half the population was dead. Half. Fifty percent. Not one percent. Not two percent. Fifty. In some places even sixty percent. They didn’t have tests. So maybe somebody exaggerated. So let’s just round down to fifty.   In the middle of this—the first of several such pandemics—Catherine was born. Her parents’ twenty-fourth child, Catherine lost a twin at birth. A younger sister after her died as well, making Catherine the youngest of a…

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    Compassion Reflects Overflowing Joy in the Lord

    Listen to this blog as a similar podcast: One of the most amazing verses in the whole Bible is 2 Corinthians 8:2! Paul, writing to the Christians living in southern Greece, discusses the offering being collected by the Christians in northern Greece for those suffering terrible hardship in Jerusalem. “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” Oh, my, that is so radical! Extreme poverty giving generously? Those early Christians are an amazing example to all believers, including you and me, of the dynamic difference that God’s grace can make in the mindset of His people when it comes to…

  • Heartprints

    TAKING TIME TO WORSHIP

    How is it possible that the day of the year set aside as a Holy Day to celebrate the greatest gift ever given usually finds us exhausted, stressed, and even at times depressed? Our children wake up all excited in anticipation of presents that in the end may or may not be what they expected. Spirits tend to dwindle as we move through the day ending up tired, over sugared, and overwhelmed ready to fall into bed exhausted.   We all have a desire to focus on the Lord. As believers. we usually plan to do our best to make the season one that is about worship and gratitude. Honestly, how…

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    Want Calmer Holidays? Start Now.

    Yeah, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I promise I’m not one of those people who starts playing Christmas music the day after Halloween. But the first Sunday in advent falls on December 3 this year, so I don’t want us to get broadsided by the insane pace, the mega-debt, and the uber-insanity. That means planning ahead a bit. Here are my seven suggestions: Decide to make Christ your focus. Pray for wisdom and ask God to help you honor him during this holy season. Set aside ten minutes this week to decide what reading plan you will use for spiritual reflection. Do you need to order a…

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    Leave it

    As a young Christian in college I was challenged to ask God to provide a specific amount of money so I could pass it on to a ministry or mission and experience the joy of being a conduit for God’s generosity. I stepped out hesitantly and asked God to give me $15 so I could give it toward a friend’s mission support. Then I watched and waited. Only a few weeks letter I received a valentine’s card from my stepmother (who never wrote to me). It contained a check for $15. Later, in our early marriage, my husband and I decided to ask God to overfill our cup by $100…

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    What’s Your Superpower?

    If you could choose a superpower, which one would it be? When asked this question as an icebreaker, I’ve heard some people say they’d love to fly; others say they would choose mindreading. Some would love to be invisible. But for the believer in Jesus, the idea of having superpowers isn’t a fantasy. It is the reality of being indwelled by God Himself, the source of actual and real supernatural power. And He gives gifts, spiritual gifts, that consist of supernatural enabling. We find the spiritual gifts in four places in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. Consider these spiritual gifts—superpowers,…

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    Social Gospel or Gospel with Social Ramifications?

      Before I became a Christian, I attended churches where I heard the “social gospel.” That is, I learned all about doing good works, but I didn’t actually know how to have peace with God through Christ. I thought good works were the way to such peace. But grace means that works follow salvation, not the other way around. Unfortunately, since becoming a Christian, I have often encountered an equally distorted view at the other extreme. Christians who know how to have peace with God through Christ often view pretty much everyone committed to feeding the poor and clothing the naked as preaching a “social gospel.” Often such believers see…

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    Praying for America with Franklin Graham in SC: Frustrated but Hopeful

    Undeterred by the 40° weather, we stand in front of the South Carolina capitol, thousands of us, joining Franklin Graham to pray for our nation. It's the fifth stop on his Decision America Tour to all fifty capitols.     No other speakers. No political endorsements.    The only piece of campaign literature I see is underfoot.   The head of Samaritan’s Purse relief agency and the son of Billy Graham says, “I don’t have any hope for the Democratic Party.” And as Republicans begin to high-five each other he continues, “I don’t have any hope for the Republican Party. Or the Tea Party. Or any party. I don’t see…