• Heartprints

    When is Good Enough… Good Enough?

    Imagine that the Christian life is like learning to walk on a balance beam. The Gospel helps us to mount and stand on His promises. Staying in balance is only possible because of Jesus. Colossians 1:27 Fall to the right and be immersed in a sinful endeavor to be good, to keep all the law of Moses. Striving for perfection and trusting in the ability to get it right. It is legalism, faking it until you feel you are making it. Working harder, self-righteousness, arrogance, pride, and delusions of glory. Here, ideas of being good guide us and our self-righteousness rules us. Fall to the left, and struggle with blatant…

  • Impact

    Declutter our lives? In advance? As a prerequisite? Really?

    For the second Sunday of Advent, December 8, 2019, the Revised Common Lectionary readings included Matthew 3:1–12. The focus of the passage was on John the Baptizer serving in his God-ordained role as the forerunner of the Messiah. While I listened to the speaker that Sunday, I became increasingly pensive. This is because the homiletician talked at length about the necessity of parishioners “decluttering” their lives in preparation for the advent of the Savior. Indeed, throughout the message, the speaker emphasized God’s children removing whatever was unnecessary, along with cleaning up whatever remained, in their lives. Allegedly, doing so was of utmost importance. Just to clarify, the homiletician did not…

  • Declare God's Faithfulness
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    Declare God’s Faithfulness

    There is a line in one of my favorite praise songs that says, “Though darkness fills the night, It cannot hide the light; Whom shall I fear?” Darkness is one of those things that can cause fear. Think of a time when you were in a really dark place. With not even a glimmer of light. Was it in a cave? Or on a dark street? How do you feel in total darkness? Afraid. Lonely. You look for light from any source, don’t you? You see that light, and you follow it to get out of the darkness. That’s what God does for us—He calls us out of darkness into…

  • Engage

    Give Thanks In…

    At the height of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln formally scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. He implored all U.S. Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation” (History of Thanksgiving). With Thanksgiving just 17 days away, families and friends are making preparations for food, festivities, and football. We excel at making external preparations. But are we preparing internally for Thanksgiving? Are our hearts ready to give thanks? With the political intensity of the last several months, it’s easy to forget that…

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    Evangelicals and Sexism

    What should I know about feminism? Many evangelicals think of feminism only as a movement in which women are elevated over men. But such is the case in only in a handful of cases. More broadly, a feminist is someone who opposes sexism of any kind, especially under the law.  Often evangelicals understand the general culture’s reference to “equality” as suggesting a unisex interchangeability of men and women—but, feminists usually do acknowledge (many even celebrate) the differences between men and women. They just say those differences don’t translate to a hierarchy in which men have more innate power. At one time in the US, men got custody of kids in…

  • Impact

    Paul’s Damascus Road Experience and Its Consequences

    The Lord’s mission of reaching the lost through Paul (Saul) began with his conversion from Christian-hater to devout disciple. The account, which forms a significant part of the apostle’s life and legacy, is described in three places in Acts (9:1–19; 22:2–21; 26:9–18). The basic narrative is the same in each case, but there are slight differences in the details in each telling of the account.   After persecuting the believers in Jerusalem, Saul decided to go after those Christians who had fled the city, to bring them back to face trial before the Sanhedrin and possible execution (9:1–2; 22:4–5; 26:9–11). On the road near Damascus (9:3), about noon one day…

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    What kind of God initiates suffering for the innocent?

    One spring when kings normally go out to lead their troops, King David of Israel hangs out in the comfort of his palace. There, from his hilltop, he spots Bathsheba washing. And he wants her. So he sends his guards to fetch her. And he takes her as his own.  Soon David learns Bathsheba has become pregnant by his actions. So he has her husband killed in battle, and David takes her as his wife. She mourns for her husband (2 Sam. 11:26). And the biblical text reveals, “The thing that David had done displeased the LORD (v. 27).  So the prophet Nathan confronts David; through Nathan God says, "Out…

  • Heartprints

    How the “Everyone Gets a Trophy” Culture Conditions People to Reject the Gospel

    I want everyone to feel valued, especially kids, and nothing makes a kid feel more valued that receiving a nice shiny trophy.  Win or lose…show up or just signed up… everyone gets a trophy no matter how they played or whether they even tried; but, everyone is happy so that’s good, right? Looking from the perspective of the kid, there doesn’t seem to be any harm. But, what if we are wrong. What if we are sending the message that it’s ok to not do well thus creating the mindset that EVERYTHING is acceptable and praiseworthy and good.  And what if by having that mindset we are unknowingly conditioning people…

  • Gospel Infographic
    Heartprints

    Back to School Prayer Acrostic

    A couple weeks ago, my son bounded down the stairs before I left for work, proclaiming, “I am so excited!” “Why is that?” I asked. “I get to start Kindergarten,” he proudly proclaimed. Then he marched over to our fridge calendar and showed me how many days until the start of the school year. My older daughter, on the other hand, isn’t so sure she wants summer to be over. She’s nervous about a new class and fears it won’t be as fun as last year. Whatever your situation—starting school, packing a child’s lunch, or slowly sipping pumpkin lattes—chances are you’ve got a lot on your mind. Yet, no matter…

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    Pursing Fruitfulness in our Children’s Discipline

    For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. — Hebrews 12:11 Every time God disciplines one of his children, he has a clear goal in mind. He wants us to bear fruit—to become more and more like our holy God so that we exhibit the characteristics that he so perfectly embodies.   As Christian parents, we seek the same goal. Although we are broken, imperfect people, we seek to see God’s fruitfulness take root in our children’s lives. But how do we get there? How do we pursue fruitfulness, especially as we…