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    Money as a Spiritual Barometer

    Jesus taught a lot about money, for He knew that the making and spending of it occupies much of our time and thought. The Savior did not tell us in what ways to make more and spend less money. Instead, He encouraged us to be compassionate and faithful stewards of the financial and material resources He has entrusted to our care.   In the parable about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31), Jesus put His finger (so to speak) on a basic truth about money. It’s not really ours. Indeed, the Creator has placed it in our hands to use in a prudent and godly manner. This means that the…

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    Treating others as if they were Jesus

    It seems as if each generation is labeled as being excessively self-centered and self-focused. Take, for example, the millennials. According to the former Time columnist, Joel Stein, millennials are the “me me me generation.”[1] He also thinks they are “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”   Baby boomers don’t escape similar accusations, either. For instance, cultural historian, Amy Henderson, stated in a Smithsonian column that “when it comes to Baby Boomers, it is still about ‘me’”.[2] In fact, she maintains that the aging members of this generation have “merrily embraced their selfhood.”   Scripture, it turns out, urges Jesus’ followers to resist the temptation of becoming lifelong, career narcissists, regardless of…

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    My Written-in-Real-Time Blog of Billy Graham’s Funeral

    A speaker by speaker, song by song, verse by verse summary, with brief commentary, of Billy Graham's funeral in Charlotte, NC on March 1, 2018.   To me, it felt a little bit like the days after 9-11. The enchantment of this world was momentarily broken, and the curtain pulled back on the ultimate reality of what is good, true and beautiful. Thank you, Billy Graham, for pointing the way home in life and death.   Setting—Tent for 2,300 people (representing 500 countries) positioned for the view to perfectly frame the Billy Graham library/museum, an enlarged dairy barn-styled building with a silo beside it. And to the left, the relocated…

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    World weary? “All Things New” Torches our Hope

    Even as I load this post into Engage, the stock market is plunging over a cliff. I,000 points down, which must have triggered a rebound.  Now roller coastering back up. Now plunging again in just the time it has  taken to type this paragraph.    Sometimes reading my Facebook page feels the same way. A friend's three-year old dies. Another gets a stunning prognosis on lung function.   I've spent hours this past week talking with women in the throes of such horrific trials that all we can do is grieve together and pray.    Sometimes I get bogged down in chronic weariness over our political trench warfare or going…

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    Cutting Teeth

    There’s a reason why “cutting teeth” became a popular phrase to describe a newcomer struggling to learn a task. Cutting teeth is hard—as any momma and her child can attest. Swollen gums. Sleepless nights. Endless fussing with no relief. Weeks of waiting for a single tooth to painfully push itself through.  Our first foray into leadership often feels like those early infant days of cutting teeth. We work countless hours, often on little sleep. We muddle through conflict, navigate bureaucracy, and endure opposition. We question our purpose. We struggle and strive and stress for what feels like years with seemingly little to show for it. Where’s that beautiful pearly white…

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    This Too Shall Pass

    I wrote this blog post on May 7, 2012, not quite five years ago. I had no idea that by this point, I would hardly be walking, using a scooter 95% of the time and unable to move without a walker for the rest. Pain and serious weakness are my daily companions. As I noticed the counts on my most popular blog posts and discovered this one among the top, I am grateful that the wisdom God gave me five years ago is even more true today. And I am grateful that I can even minister to myself . . . Sometimes it’s the simplest things that help us navigate…

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    Destination Theology: Is the Gospel mainly about going to heaven?

    I grew up with the Wordless Book—one page black for sin, one red for Christ’s blood, one white for being cleansed of sin, one gold for going to heaven, one green for growing. It is a strategy often used in children’s ministry to explain the salvation message. It has no doubt been helpful to bring many to Christ. But I think in my own life that gospel message and the children’s ministry I was a part of nurtured a “Salvation is a ticket to heaven” mentality. The main thing was to get rid of my sin, escape hell and get to heaven. I think there were some adults in my…

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    Gun to Your Head. “Are you a Christian?” What would you say?

    We can never know how we would respond to the ultimate threat.  But a thoughtful heart check sheds light on what we treasure most.   While our choices matter to God, he tells us our motives matter even more. God is always looking at our hearts.   Thinking of what I would say to a shooter pointing a gun at my head was not nearly as revealing for me as pondering why I would say it. As you read these wildly different responses from the candid crew over on Reddit what values do you see at work?   “Strong Catholic here. I can't deny God. No matter what; for me…

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    “What the….?”

    Hell is not a topic Americans spend much time thinking about. The extent of our ponderings on such a place are often relegated to funny quips like this: Sidenote: Cold coffee IS a minor catastrophe. While the subject of hell doesn’t tickle our positive sensibilities, our ancestors in the faith seemed to think it was a worthy topic to keep before their parishioners. I recently visited the famous Duomo in Florence, Italy. After climbing the 400 plus (yep – you read that right) steps en route to the top of the Dome, I was greeted by a stunning fresco that inspired Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel. As I gazed…

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    What Makes New So Beautiful?

    New. What comes to mind when you think about that tiny but enlivening word? A home with freshly painted eggshell walls? A classroom full of wide-eyed kindergarteners? An unknown city bursting with possibilities—and anxieties? When I think about new, I envision a clean white shirt, freshly pressed with a hint of starch mingled with my husband's scent. I love fresh, new things. But I crave the familiar too. Do you? Flip through the book of Revelation, and you won't find much that's new—at least at the beginning. Images of destruction, fear, and horror stain the pages—until you reach the end. Then everything changes. In Revelation 21, the author paints a…