• Impact

    Sin rears its ugly head!

    Genesis 3:8–17 Time: The dawn of human history Place: Eden   Lesson Aim: To acknowledge that sin disrupts our relationship with God.   Introduction   Elizabeth was folding sheets in the bedroom when Matthew, her six year old, came in looking as if he were ready for Halloween. His face and arms were covered with decorative swirls of blue and green marker ink. Wide–eyed, his mother asked, “What happened to you?” Matthew blinked. “I was sleeping on the couch, and when I woke up, Caleb was drawing all over me with his markers!” Elizabeth shook her head. It would take at least an hour of intense scrubbing to get the…

  • Engage

    The Devil Made Me Do It

    In 1985, Richard Ramirez, a Satanist, killed fourteen Californians. Ramirez claimed evil spirits made him mutilate the elderly, women, and children. His savagery even terrified his trial judge. What do we make of this monstrosity? Or of racially motivated violence, where even Christians misappropriate Scripture to deny the basic human dignity of those they deem inferior to them? The testimonies of Christ and the apostles give evidence that demons work by seducing us with pride, greed, and lust. But can we hold demonized humans responsible for the sins committed under demonic influence? Who bears ultimate responsibility for 9/11 or the Nazi genocide of Jews? Satan, or those who commited the…

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    What’s Love Got to Do with It?

    Some would argue that a loving personal God could not allow the existence of evil and social injustice. Others blame an omnipotent God for malignancies like terrorism and the trafficking of young girls for sexual slavery. God foreknew evil. By the act of creation, God instilled evil's feasibility. But does that make Him responsible for it? Not according to 1 John 2:16. Enter: Free Will. Some may scoff at the notion, as if by supplying it God has given us license to misbehave. But free will does not hinder God’s ability to encroach upon choice. He can stop the madness anytime he chooses. And let’s not forget Jesus Christ—the one…

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    The Origin of Evil

    When did evil and sin enter the world? In the Garden of Eden? And who created evil? Some blame God for temptation and evil by default since he created everything. But let’s rewind. In a galaxy far far away, God created all the angels all at once. And they lived in the stellar places amongst the stars. (Since this is just a blog post and not a seminary paper, I’ll let you verify those gems on your own. A good Systematic Theology text should suffice.)   Now because God only creates “good” and “very good,” he made each angel good, or what some would call “holy.” But Jude 1:6 says,…

  • Heartprints

    A Deeper Look at Suffering

    No one escapes suffering. NO ONE! Suffering entered our world with the first sin.  Choosing a sinful desire over God’s will resulted in suffering.   With sin came death. Death, by definition, is separation, ultimately the separation of God and man. We often focus on the separation of soul and body. Because of sin we suffer all kinds of separation. Daily we face the ugliness of disease, divorce, dysfunctional families, and of course the possibilities of tragic accidents.  There is just no way to truly prepare our hearts for the depth of suffering we may encounter. The journey from birth to death can be a long suffering. There are countless ways…

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    Engage

    Photoshopping Life

    When Ray and I visited the Galapagos Islands, one of my favorite pictures was the two of us with a gigantic tortoise. Unfortunately, my big ol’ red purse was on the ground in the picture too. So I photoshopped it out. At our son’s wedding, one of the ushers wasn’t wearing his boutonniere when it was time for the formal pictures. “Not to worry,” the photographer said. “We can photoshop it in later.” During my daughter-in-law’s holiday family picture taking, someone suggested photoshopping in a beloved uncle, since they were missing him. “No! He’s been dead for two years!,” someone else responded. “You don’t photoshop in a dead person who…

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    Prosperity: The Devil’s Gospel

                Some of us feel entitled to the “good life,” equating hardship with a life gone awry. The prosperity gospel aligns with this ideology—that God ordains health and wealth for Christians. “Name-it-and-claim-it” theology further perpetuates this notion that Christians can up their luck by speaking positivity over situations to alter outcomes.  Taking bible verses out of context, and cutting and pasting them to make crowd-pleasing sermons, prosperity gospel preachers apple-polish the gospel (Rom. 16:17-18).             Pastor Joel Osteen has preached, “Maybe Alzheimer’s disease runs in your family genes, but don’t succumb to it. . . . If you’ll rise up in your authority, you can…

  • Impact

    6/26/2015: Supreme Mistake

    As we approach the second anniversary of a date which will live in infamy, the Supreme Court’s ruling on homosexual “marriage” in Obergefell v. Hodges, I thought it important to remind Christians, so as to keep them awake and vigilant in our culture war. The Roe v. Wade anniversary is often marked by a March for Life. Let us also mark this day as, at the very least, a day of prayer for our wayward nation which has, thus far, bound itself to self-destruction. I do not advocate violence, but vigilance. And even as we warn the unbelieving culture to “repent and turn back so that your sins may be…

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    The Crazed Creation is under the Curse

                “Pain is a blessing in disguise.” Really?             Today, many Christian women seek psychotherapy. Surprised? Because Christians shouldn’t feel angry or depressed.                 I have struggled with doubt and loneliness due to infertility. With the Christianese platitudes that ensued, the sense that people in church disapproved of my struggle was hard to miss. As a Bible study leader, I wasn’t supposed to struggle.             Some of us feel uptight about pain. So we rush others through their pain. We try to fix it instead of letting God fix it, all in the name of Fake Happy. But the plastic church smile only perpetuates…

  • Impact

    A False god to Bring You Comfort in “The Shack” (“The Shack” Review, part 2)

    “True worship must worship God as He exists, not as we wish Him to be. The essence of idolatry is the making of images of God. An image is a shadow, a false representation. We may not bow before a statue or a figure, but if we make an image of god in our mind that is not in accord with God’s revelation of himself, then we are not worshipping in truth….” writes James R. White. “If we love Him and worship Him as He deserves, we will not dare to ‘edit’ Him to fit our desires.”[1] “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew…