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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

    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 provision. Gratefully receiving and generously giving comes from…

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    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…

  • Seeds spilling out of a cup onto a saucer
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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…

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    Guaranteed Joy: The Twelve Blessings of Christmas

    It is one thing to *want* to focus more on giving time and gifts of love to Jesus and others at Christmas. It is another to actually resist the cultural gravitational pull of manic celebrations, %50 off sales and pouring all our energy into producing our own family Christmas.   I like the *idea* of spending less on things we don’t need and focusing on lavishing unexpected kindness on others, especially the least of these, but the actual reality? That’s not so much what my track record tells me. This year has afforded a new opportunity to actually DO something.  In the ten days still left before Christmas—here are some…

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    A Grace-Filled Gift

    Something happens to a child in need when they receive an unexpected Christmas gift. The sparkle of glittering wrapping paper distracts the hardness of life even if it’s just for a little while. The satin bow adds hope and laughter. Smiles replace hopelessness and joy comes like the first snow in winter. Forget opening the gift. Holding it means someone loves you!     I should know, because it happened to me.   One of my favorite Christmases of all times involves strangers, lots of gifts and a turkey. To this day, I don’t know the folks responsible for the presents, the cans of yams and the big ‘ole turkey.…