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    What can I give the Lord when I have nothing left?

    I grew up in a tradition that observed the season of Lent.  Every year as a young person we were encouraged to sacrifice something in order to honor the sacrifice of Jesus’ death on the cross and to help us as believers to focus on the Lord as we prepared for Easter.  I believe there are a vast number of ways that Lent is used and observed, but as a young person this is what I understood it to be. My most memorable “sacrifice” was soda. I remember because I was in the sixth grade and after my 40 days of soda sobriety, I can honestly say I have never…

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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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    Can you pursue the “American Dream” and be Jesus’ disciple?

    A question presented at a church-planting conference I attended several years ago was this: “Can you pursue the American Dream and be a disciple of Jesus Christ?” I circled those words on my paper and figured I needed to think about this question. To answer a question like that, you and I must first understand the terms. What is meant by the phrase American Dream? Then, what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? How do those two concepts influence one another? In this post, I’ll try to define the terms and answer the real question, “Can you follow Jesus Christ as His devoted, committed disciple and…

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    Meditations on COVID-19

    Catherine of Siena has a particularly relevant story as our world faces what could be the Black Death of MMXX. One hundred seventy years before the Protestant Reformation, the plague of the day swept through Siena, and by AD 1349, half the population was dead. Half. Fifty percent. Not one percent. Not two percent. Fifty. In some places even sixty percent. They didn’t have tests. So maybe somebody exaggerated. So let’s just round down to fifty.   In the middle of this—the first of several such pandemics—Catherine was born. Her parents’ twenty-fourth child, Catherine lost a twin at birth. A younger sister after her died as well, making Catherine the youngest of a…

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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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    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…