• Impact

    Our Shepherd

    The 23rd Psalm is one of the most familiar and dearest passages of the Bible. It is a beautiful poem about God, the shepherd, and his people the sheep that speaks to the desires and fears of all humanity. As such, it is a lovely reminder that the LORD is a merciful and compassionate God. Furthermore, it reminds us that, like sheep, we depend on God’s care and provision for survival. (2)

  • 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…

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    Keeping Grace at the Holiday Table

    When my husband and I would visit my parents, we liked to take bets about how long it would before my Dad would bring up the subject of the driverless car. After all, he was a transportation engineer for more than 3 decades, so he couldn’t help himself. It was fun for us to exchange knowing glances when the conversation really picked up steam, and Dad never disappointed.  Time with family can be so fun.  It’s often predictable.  I have highlighted a pleasant, recurring theme in my family, but I definitely have some recurring behavior that I unleash when I’m with my family that isn’t so sweet or benign.  So…

  • Heartprints

    Teaching Tip #4

      God’s amazing grace is the heart of the Gospel message. From Genesis to Revelation grace weaves its way through every book of the Bible. Every time we see God act, we are viewing a glimpse of His amazing grace. What greater gift can we give our children than to guide them to accept God’s grace, let it empower them to overcome sinful habits, and teach them how to live out of the grace they have received becoming generous givers of grace. Grace giving or receiving does not come naturally to the human heart. Parents are inclined to teach better conduct by keeping and enforcing rules, rather than teaching a need…

  • Heartprints

    Teaching Tip # 3

    Relationship! Relationship! Relationship! From the Garden to the final judgment, God is all about relationship.Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in perfect relationship. When God walked in the evenings with Adam and Eve in the Garden, He didn’t come to check up on His creation, He came with a desire to fellowship with the only aspect of His creation made in His image. As parents and teachers, we need to start as early as possible teaching our children to have a personal relationship with their Father God. It is too easy to teach children what they should and should not do as though they can do something to…

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    Waiting Out the Wait

      I’m not good at waiting. Most of us aren’t. We live in a culture of instant response and immediate gratification. Even waiting out a storm can drag on. “Right now” has become the norm and expectation. But immediacy in all aspects of life is a relatively new phenomenon. In the not-too-distant past, responses and news of current happenings travelled at a snail’s pace. But as pre-iPhone kids, this created anticipation each week as we looked forward to the Sunday paper’s section of cartoon strips. My favorite: the beloved Snoopy by Charles Schulz. I still remember the picture of Snoopy laying atop his red doghouse with ears relaxed and eyes…

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    Heartprints

    The Blame and Shame Game

    We live in a day and age when counseling is a norm. Many churches have a Christian counselor on staff. Folks flock to bookstores where self-care and wellness books line the shelves. I woke this morning thinking that counseling is often a safe place to confess. The idea that we need to confess our sins against others as well as their sins against us verbally is a huge part of the healing process. Personally, I have not found that another human telling me that I am not at fault or am forgiven hasn’t been  truly freeing. It is more like a bandage than a cure. It stops my bleeding heart…

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    Unanswered Prayers

    When someone dies, we struggle with the “why”. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? Why didn’t God answer the prayers of everyone else? Why was this life cut short? As Easter approaches and we solemnly remember the Last Supper and the gruesome events that unfolded, the “why” questions of the disciples are laid bare. Jesus was taken by force from the garden. He was tried for false crimes, beaten to the edge of life, and brutally hung on a cross to die in agony and ridicule. His disciples and followers watched it all. They had grown up in the Jewish tradition of prayer. And Jesus, their esteemed rabbi, taught them…

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    Why Kids Leave the Church After High School

    The Youth Transition Network has released the results of research about why 70% of students in high school youth groups have left the church within a year after high school graduation. One big reason is the unrealistic expectations that our young people sense from parents and church authority figures. When asked, “What does it mean to be a good Christian,” students responded with a long list of do’s and don’ts, always and nevers: No sex No secular music No fun No profanity No bad attitudes Be perfect Be a virgin Be wholly devoted to God Be righteous Be a role model Don’t doubt Have all the spiritual answers Always be…

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    The Whole Law

    After church one day an older woman approached me and said, “I didn’t see you in church today. I saw your husband take communion, but I didn’t see you take communion.” I responded, “You are correct. I did not take communion today.” To which she replied, “I’ve been sitting in the front row for years, and I know exactly who does and does not take communion.” I think she even ended with a, “Hmphh,” but I can’t confirm that. Now, I sometimes just blurt stuff out without weighing the consequences. Lucky for my husband in this moment I did more weighing than blurting. Not that I cared what she thought…