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    More Than Just a Day for Chocolate

    Do you happily celebrate Valentine’s Day or bitterly avoid it? In years past I revolted against this “Day of Love.” The only benefit in my opinion was the half-priced chocolate offered the following day. You might have mixed emotions the same as mine. But this year I propose a solution to transform this “Hallmark holiday” from one of stress and sadness to fellowship and friendship: Celebrate like a Mexican. Mexicans see February 14 as El día del amor y la amistad (The Day of Love and Friendship) and share cards and small gifts with close friends, family, and coworkers. Yes, much of the United States’ Valentine’s Day marketing has made…

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    Thanksgiving: Not Only for Giving Thanks

    Canadians recently celebrated Thanksgiving, while Americans will be celebrating it later this month. Does your country have a specific day for giving thanks? While many Americans associate Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Native Americans, it was Abraham Lincoln who made Thanksgiving a national holiday in the midst of the Civil War. In his October 3, 1863 proclamation, Lincoln spoke to a fractured nation and proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving. Not only that, he asked for prayers for “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and…

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    Paul and His Subversive Passage on the Family

    In the first half of the Book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul lays out the Christian’s new identity in Christ. In the second half, he provides the “so what,” or the ramifications. As he outlines what Spirit-filled living looks like (Eph. 5:18ff), he envisions a community in which people show Christ’s love by serving one another. And one of the places where such service happens is in the household—where in his day he would have found spouses, kids, and slaves under one roof.  People living in the first century under Roman rule would have been familiar with instructions for respectable families known as “household codes.” These codes outlined the ideal…

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    Fresh Perspectives on Women in the Bible: Esther By Natalie Edwards

    The sound of water flowing fills the palace. Trickling fountains. Incense burning. The smell of lavender lingers in the air. Shades of fine silk in purple, red and blue are laid out for the choosing. It’s a spa of the most luxurious sort and hundreds of women are preparing for their encounter with the king. Yet only one will be chosen queen of Persia and marry King Ahasuerus. Among the crowd of women to come before the king is Esther, our Bible character in this week’s Fresh Perspective on Women in The Bible. Does God value bold courage as a desired feminine quality too? Let's find out.     Raised…

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    Heartprints

    Good Friday? Good for who????

    Think of it. The blackest, darkest Friday of all time. Christ is hanging, suffering unbearably on a cross. This is the day labeled Good Friday by those who claim to love Him most. “Good for who???” might be a question that pops into the mind of a child who has been taught from birth that Jesus loves everyone and is always good.  Even teens or adults who have not grown up hearing the full story of Jesus might look at the suffering Savior and His weeping friends and ask the same question.  I certainly had questions at the age of 6. I was coloring a picture in Sunday School of…

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    The Transforming Love of the Father

    It cuts like a dagger—the pain of rejection piercing deep from someone we love and serve. We feel it when our child ignores us, too preoccupied to notice our presence. We sense it when someone we serve makes a sharp turn in the other direction, intentionally avoiding our company. We notice it when a friend, once warm and safe, turns strangely cold. Last week we welcomed spring break with unexpectedly warm weather and uninterrupted time as a family. My husband, who normally works many early mornings and late nights, had the whole week off. Our toddler son soaked up every minute. At first I relished the break. A few moments…

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    What Lent & Valentine’s Day Have in Common

    You may have noticed something unusual about this Wednesday: February 14th. Besides this celebration of Cupid’s arrows, it’s also Ash Wednesday—the first day of Lent. Both holidays happen to coincide on the same day this year. Some of us view Valentine’s Day as the day for excessive chocolate eating, right? And Lent, of course, is often typified by fasting in preparation for Easter. At first glance, these special days may seem contradictory, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I appreciate the connection—particularly the one unifying word, love. If you’ve been around while, you know that chocolate and roses don’t define love. True love involves enduring sacrifice for…

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    Christian Parenting Mistakes: #3 Giving Stuff Versus Giving Myself?

    What does love look like? How do we teach it to our children? For some families, it is expressed through encouraging words or the giving of lots of stuff. For other families, it looks like a vacation in amusement parks or exotic places. The Bible teaches that love is not about giving stuff or even just spending time together, it is about giving self.  Little in this world is satisfying long term. Words can be empty and time together isn’t always productive. Quoting Isaiah’s message from God, Jesus said, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Time without investing our heart will never…

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    The Cost of Our Spiritual Adoption

    Stacks of notarized documents, contracts, home inspections, social worker interviews, fire extinguisher requirements, bank statements, medical exams, blood tests, and more…these are just a few of the many customary items required to receive approval to adopt a child. The process is tedious, time-consuming, exhausting, frustrating, and…expensive. The average cost to adopt a child is $35,000 USD. That is the average cost for just one child. (It takes a village of lawyers, social workers, and adoption professionals.) The cost alone scares many families away from adoption. According to Hank Fortener, founder of the crowd-funding platform, AdoptTogether, 70% of couples considering adoption are deterred because of the costs. In the end, only…

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    It Was a Black Friday but It Was a Good Friday

    Jesus taught in parables. He used every day ordinary objects and events to teach amazing spiritual truths. I can’t help but wonder what He would say if He chose the American Black Friday as the event to highlight a spiritual lesson. “Forty-five of Jesus’ fifty-two recorded parables had a market place setting.” —Jim  Harris I think there is an interesting parallel between the religious Black Friday that we call Good Friday and the American Black Friday. They both are represented by a relentless and ruthless suffering that results in savings. The lesson learned would be like that of the shrewd business manager. He was an employee which means he received…