• Engage

    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,…

  • Engage

    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…

  • Engage

    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…

  • Engage

    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…

  • Sanctification-Perfected…No Longer Flawed

    SANCTIFICATION: 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…

  • Justification-Righteous…No Longer Guilty

    JUSTIFICATION: Righteous…No Longer Guilty

    As a teen, I wrestled with the notion that I was not good enough to please God. I could never measure up to His standards of perfection. I was always guilty of not doing something right, of falling short of whatever it was He expected of me. Then, I heard some good news when I committed my life to Christ and chose to follow Him—God declared me “not guilty” of all my sin. Not guilty? All my sin? Really? Yes, dear believer, God declares you “not guilty” of all sin, once and for all, based on your faith alone in His Son. It is an amazing plan that is totally…

  • Forgiveness-Forgiven…No Longer Burdened

    FORGIVENESS: Forgiven…No Longer Burdened

    Like the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears in Luke 7, many of us carry the guilt of our sins with us like a heavy burden, weighing us down. The continual reminder of our sins keeps us from experiencing freedom and from enjoying the relationship with God that we have by faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t just need a teacher. We need a Savior who comes in and does for us what we can’t do for ourselves: forgiveness. All of our debt of sin before God is enormous; we are incapable of ever paying it back. You and I need to understand how complete and continual is God’s…

  • Redemption-Released…No Longer in Bondage

    REDEMPTION: Released…No Longer in Bondage

    Bondage. No one likes being in bondage. Whether it is to a person, a contract, a debt, or something controlling your life, bondage stinks. It stifles. It discourages. It makes you a slave of whatever is holding you “in chains.” Every person who is in bondage longs to be released from those chains. Released. Did you know that every human being born on this planet is born into bondage? I don’t care how much money or status you have. You were born into bondage. Bondage to what? Colossians 1:13 calls it “the kingdom of darkness.” Romans 6:15-18 describes it as being a “slave to sin.” The slave master “sin” calls…

  • Impact

    Why the Incarnation?

    December 3, 2017, marks the beginning of the Advent Season in the church calendar. So, why did Jesus leave the glories of heaven to become a human being? Scripture reveals that Jesus’ incarnation occurred for a number of important reasons, not the least of which are the following:   From the first two Synoptic Gospels, we learn that Jesus came to earth, (1) to fulfill the Hebrew sacred writings (referred to as the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets; Matt 5:17); and, (2) to serve humankind, as well as give His life at Calvary to redeem the lost (Mark 10:45).   From the third Synoptic Gospel, we…

  • Reconciliation-Restored…No longer broken

    RECONCILIATION: Relationship Restored…No Longer Broken

    At some point in our lives, we will all experience a personal relationship that is broken. You can probably think of one such conflict right now. Broken relationships cause pain and often leave us confused about how we can possibly fix them. Most people want to be reconciled so that the relationship can be restored in some fashion. How sad it is when a broken relationship continues to remain broken and isn’t reconciled. What joy we experience when we see a broken relationship repaired and healthy again. Reconciliation is certainly a reason for rejoicing, especially in our relationship with God! But, what does it take for reconciliation? Six terms describe…