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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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    Heartprints

    Eyes on Eternity

    Perspective is everything. The lens we use to see will determine how we prioritize our activities, our necessities, and our indulgences. Recently a friend shared with me an illustration used by Francis Chan. He pointed to a rope on the stage where he was standing. It began on one side of the stage and extended across the stage and off the other side as though it went on forever. The beginning section of the rope was dyed red. It was just a tiny little section of a very long rope. He asked the audience to imagine that this was the extent of their life on earth. The rest of the…

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    What kind of God initiates suffering for the innocent?

    One spring when kings normally go out to lead their troops, King David of Israel hangs out in the comfort of his palace. There, from his hilltop, he spots Bathsheba washing. And he wants her. So he sends his guards to fetch her. And he takes her as his own.  Soon David learns Bathsheba has become pregnant by his actions. So he has her husband killed in battle, and David takes her as his wife. She mourns for her husband (2 Sam. 11:26). And the biblical text reveals, “The thing that David had done displeased the LORD (v. 27).  So the prophet Nathan confronts David; through Nathan God says, "Out…

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    What Difference Does the Resurrection Make?

    What difference does the resurrection make—in our lives? It’s the most important event in all of human history. Where’s the “so what” for today? I meditated on this question for weeks, eventually creating a list too long for this blog post. So let me share my favorites. All pain and suffering will be redeemed and resolved. I’ve lived in a body with a disability since I got polio at eight months old and was paralyzed from the waist down. I got some use of my left leg and hip back, but I had to wear a steel and leather brace for the first several years of my life. Every step…

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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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    Jesus, the eternal King

    Title:Jesus, the eternal King Aim: To recognize that Jesus is the eternal King of heaven and earth. Scripture: Revelation 1:1–20   The apostle’s opening greeting, Revelation 1:1–8   John began his book by stating that it is a “revelation” (Rev. 1:1). The apostle used the Greek noun, apokalypsis, to describe the nature of what he was about to convey. For this reason, scholars have also called his work the Apocalypse, that is, an unveiling or disclosure of truths about God’s universal judgment and the introduction of a new era.    John stated that God the Father gave the message to His Son, and Jesus the Messiah in turn used an angel to make…

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    Paul, a theologian of the cross

    Title: Paul, a theologian of the cross Aim: To learn that believers never lack Jesus’ grace to endure any hardship they encounter. Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12:1–11   Paul’s reason for writing 2 Corinthians   Although there is considerable certainty about Paul’s authorship of 2 Corinthians, many questions have arisen about the exact time of the writing. Most Bible scholars agree that the letter was penned in the mid-50s, probably later in the same year that the apostle wrote 1 Corinthians.    One reason some have raised doubts about the dating of 2 Corinthians is Paul’s reference to a “painful visit” (2:1), which is not recorded in the Acts. Another reason is the apostle’s…

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    Hope Deferred—Observations from Hannah’s Story

    She pushed herself up from the table and left the room. She did not have much appetite. The day had been long, and she could take the painful and provoking comments from Peninnah no longer. As she walked towards the temple, tears poured from her eyes and slid down her cheeks and nose, making a wet trail in the dust. Her lips moved as she prayed, but she did not utter a sound as she pleaded and begged the LORD for a child. To make matters worse, the priest believed her to be not grieved, but rather, drunk. (1 Sam. 1:7–14) Hannah suffered much because of her childless state. Many…

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    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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    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…