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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…

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    In My Father’s House: What’s It Like?

    Last night a motorcyclist had an accident only feet from my front door that took his life. And his death provided yet another opportunity to consider the post-life world for the Christian.    There have been a number of such occasions in recent months. In February, I attended the memorial service for the beloved Howard Hendricks, a mentor to thousands, including me. In March, we lost the cat that had been part of our life’s rhythm for more than seven thousand days. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Roy Zuck entered his reward. He had officed next to me at Dallas Seminary and was a dear brother and editor on whom I depended.…

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    The Happiest Place on Earth?

    Disneyland has long positioned itself as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” And Disney goes to great lengths to maintain that illusion. Their parks are as close to spotless as you can get; you never see wrappers, gum or spilled popcorn on the ground, since they get swept up within a minute of hitting the pavement by an army of “cast members,” from custodians to ride workers, who are devoted to maintaining the fantasy. Every Disney park cast member is trained to be assertively friendly in making things right and keeping people happy. When a friend’s child lost the ice cream scoop from his cone, within moments a Disney person replaced…

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    What the Dallas Mavericks Show Us About Worship

    We had a little excitement here in Dallas last week. Our Mavericks won the NBA Title. (For you non-sports people—like me, actually—this means that our local professional basketball team won the game that makes them Best Basketball Team in the U.S. It’s like winning the World Series. Or the Superbowl. It’s really big.) The game was on the TV in our living room, and I (being a non-sports people) was working on my laptop in the same room. I enjoyed watching the Facebook news feed churn out all kinds of happy updates from ecstatic fans. Then the news showed over five thousand Mavs fans crazy happy outside the American Airlines…