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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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    When Suffering Gets Personal

    As a ten-year-old, I lay awake the night before Easter speculating about what would be in my Easter basket. Would it be fluorescent marshmallow chickens, chocolate bunnies, foil-wrapped Hershey eggs, or a surprise? We expected my college-aged brother to arrive home sometime during the day on Easter, too. I had prayed for him as I often did for family members, that God would see him safely home. God answered that prayer, “No.” Pounding at the front door awakened me to early Easter morning darkness and the news that my brother and his friend had been killed by a drunk driver. Agony overtook two families.   When we observe suffering in…

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    The Comfort of Christmas

    Comfort, comfort my people, says their God Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned . . . Isaiah 40:1-2   It’s Christmas time, for many of us our favorite time of the year.   This is the season of brilliant lights and beautiful color, of celebration and laughter, of holiday parties and family traditions, of rich memories and precious anticipations. There is no season like Christmas.   Yet for many of us there’s another side to Christmas, a dark and colorless side, a season of painful memories and family struggles when those who should have brought us joy have…

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    Offering Comfort in a Hurting World

    Wherever in the world you live, you can point to terrible incidences of suffering, hurt or violence. Sadly, I’ve sometimes seen myself in articles and blogs about what not to say to a grieving or suffering person. But I’ve also been blessed to receive meaningful expressions of comfort at times when I have suffered or lost a loved one. Here are five things I have found helpful on the receiving end of comfort: Be present. At the death of my father, my late brother’s high school friend, Danny, came to his memorial service. Simply his presence and his embrace lifted our hearts. He didn’t need to say anything or bring…

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    The Pain Train

           The Pain Train. All aboard. Like Mumbai’s commuter railway during rush hour, no one wants to ride it. No dining car and no sleep car. One thing is for certain—this locomotive is no luxury liner. My junk and I hauling at 1999 modem speed, I anticipate the very next stop. I want off this thing. But the train keeps moving. I run to the caboose and notice the train tracks behind me that disappear into oblivion. How long have I been on this thing? And who bought my ticket? What a cruel joke. I pray the train derails. I’ll rush to the front of the train and…

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    Unexpectedly Beautiful

    The temple mount towered in the background. The Gate called Beautiful cast a shadow on a man’s weathered face. Friends carried him to the gate every day, and he spent his hours pining for alms. He eked out an existence by playing on others’ piety. There was nothing beautiful about this man’s life or the religion practiced within the walls that stood behind him. The temple excluded the needy from its entrance because of their infirmities. The place that should have brought spiritual healing only gave handouts. So he never expected to find salvation outside the temple gate. As the hour of prayer approached, the man continued his plea for…

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    Suffering and All Its Glory

    There are several ways to approach teaching God’s Word. There are those who focus on teaching the principles, others on the doctrine, and still others put the focus on the words or the content of the passages. They tell the stories, they highlight the words and they emphasize the historical facts. They carefully teach the who, what, when, where, why, and even the how of the story. I have tended to use this method. Through this form of teaching I learned a lot of the characters, places, and events in the Bible. I have seen how God works and how people respond to His person, power, and promises. After over…

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    Harvey and The Over-Spiritualization of Suffering

                       Hurricane Harvey pounded the gulf coast of Texas in an epic storm of biblical proportions. Five days since Harvey made landfall, over 13,000 people have required rescue, and over twenty have died. My entire immediate family lives in Houston. The six of them live in a subdivision in the city center, just minutes from areas that experienced catastrophic flooding. The school district has postponed the first day of school to September 5 (more than one week later than the scheduled start date). Based on the media coverage of Harvey, I feared my family would spend days stuck on the upper levels…

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    Good Counsel for Crazy Times

    Imagine a world in which a volatile leader stands as head over a powerful empire. His name is Domitian, and he’s the emperor of Rome. And the word “totalitarian-leaning” accurately describes his government. Firmly at the center of a cult of personality, he fancies himself the “new Augustus,” a self-appointed role that carries with it religious, military, and cultural propaganda. (Eventually, his court officials will assassinate him.) In short, the world is a complete mess from the top down. In such a context, Jesus appears to the elder John in a vision. And Jesus tells him to write what he sees in what we now know as the Book of…

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    Why, God?

    Today I'm happy to feature guest blogger Laura Murray. Laura is a pastor, mom, wife, writer, speaker, baker, and lover of mountains, sleep, and early mornings. “Why?” It is a question that accompanies our pain and suffering. We believe its answer will satisfy. We believe knowledge will bring salve to our wounds, and understanding the hidden purposes will be sufficient for our pain. Yet answers to “why?” fall short, and knowledge does not heal our pain. Indeed, every answer falls short of healing our pain. Our “whys” are often met with a deafening silence, and we are left to wonder if anyone sees, hears or knows. Are we alone? If humans…