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    Light and Momentary Troubles

    Job loss. Global pandemic. COVID-19 killing thousands. Racial injustices. Knees on necks. Anxiety. Depression. Social distancing loneliness. Sexual harassment. School bullying. It’s just one thing after another. Maybe you wonder if God is even paying attention.    We all face discouragement. We try our best, only to be humiliated in front of our coworkers by a toxic boss who leaves us feeling unappreciated and discarded. We toil to make our marriages work, only to feel frustrated because nothing is changing. We give and serve at church, only to have our jaws hit the floor when we learn of members’ gossip and betrayal. It’s a good thing that what God says…

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    Called to Be Holy

    First Peter 1:17–23 is part of the lectionary readings for the third Sunday of Easter, April 26. In this passage, the author summoned us to cultivate hope, holiness, and love in our lives, especially during trials. Many Bible scholars consider this early Christian letter to be part of the persecution literature of the New Testament (which also includes Hebrews, Revelation, and possibly James). The epistle would have been written during one of the three periods of Roman persecution endured by early Christians—under emperors Nero (AD 62–64), Domitian (AD 90–97), and Trajan (AD 111). If one holds to Peter’s authorship of the letter, the only period that fits would be the…

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    Shame, Jesus, and Me

    This month I’m honored to invite my friend and teammate Christian Williams as my guest blogger. I love being in Christian’s company because one minute she’s making me laugh so hard I’m crying and the next she has stopped me in my tracks with a thought-provoking reflection. Christian is a Dallas transplant (Native Arkansan) and DTS student who loves communicating truth and building safe, authentic, purposeful communities. She feels God’s pleasure most when using her imagination, storytelling, teaching, and living in intentional relationships which yield growth and transformation. Dub: (verb) to give an unofficial name or nickname to (someone or something). I dub everything. From my period- I call her…

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    Heartprints

    Tips for Teaching #1

    I want to share some tips that will hopefully help us better prepare our children for the difficulties of standing strong in the faith. Encourage children to ask the hard questions. If they aren’t asking, ask them! Teach them how to wrestle with the Word of God to find the answers. We tend to shy away from the questions that are hard to answer or maybe can’t really be answered. Learning that we can’t demand answers but must be humbly thankful for the revelations God gives is a hard lesson to teach and even harder to learn. I was recently talking with a woman who grew up in a Christian…

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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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    Jeffrey Dahmer–Our Brother in Christ?

    Jeffrey Dahmer was arguably one of the most heinous serial killers of our time; he mercilessly drugged, strangled and raped, dismembered and cannibalized at least 17 men. When convicted in 1991, no punishment seemed befitting regarding the magnitude of his deplorable crimes.  Nevertheless, he was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment. However, yesterday, I found out that this vile creature was dipped in the cleansing water of God's Grace as he was believed to have put his faith in Jesus Christ. He was baptized by Roy Ratcliff in 1994 and upon hearing this news, my knee-jerk reaction was stomach turning.  A beast of a man, such as Jeffrey Dahmer,…

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    God’s Big Story

    I cannot start watching a movie, reading a book, or hearing a news story from the middle or end. I’m confused about who the people are and what’s going on. It’s impossible to grasp the meaning of the climax with zero information about the beginning and middle.  The Bible is the same way. Knowing the story of Jesus doesn’t make nearly as much sense without understanding the bigger story. I have been taught to begin sharing the gospel with the fact that all are sinners—but how did that happen? And how does Jesus’s life and death help us understand the horrendous evil and darkness in the world?  In Joshua Chatraw's article…

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    Spirit of the Rainforest: A Forty-Something Book Report

    “We want people who will really care about us, like the man who came into my village and put his arm around me when I was covered with dirt, sweat, saliva, and mucous…He showed us something we knew nothing about—love.”–quoted from Spirit of the Rainforest             Eight years ago my husband announced he would quit his corporate job to go to seminary full-time. I reminded him of his disdain for reading and writing. Not that I wanted to dissuade him, but I didn’t believe him for the aforementioned reasons. Years later I joined him and I took a fascinating class on Angelology. I expected the extensive…

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    Pain and Redemption, Loss and Hope: Ponderings on the Significance of the Resurrection

    My earliest memories of Easter include new church dresses with hats and patton shoes, intense searches for plastic eggs with the rare $2 bill stuffed inside, and loads of Cadbury chocolate, complete with the resulting stomach-ache. The day came and went with a little bit of anticipation, but nominal impact on my day-to-day life. As I grew up, the cognitive recognition that Easter celebrated something important, something critical, something that all of reality hinges upon, was not lost on me. However, the disconnect between head and heart can sometimes keep the significance of an event at a distance. I would reflect on its importance for a moment, perhaps at a…

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    Perfected…No Longer Flawed

    I was once an uptight perfectionist. Yes, I admit it. My whole self-image depended upon being perfect in grades, piano performance and whatever got me awards for achievement. Yet, my flaws kept getting in the way of getting straight A’s one six weeks so that I missed out on the “straight A’s” award for that school year. I was horrible in athletics so PE was my nemesis. Then, in college, physics knocked me down big time—I just couldn’t see how to get the answers to those problems. My flaws were ever before me, and I sobbed when I couldn’t achieve perfection—which happened a lot. My self-image was tied to a…