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    Running the Race of Life

    As Thanksgiving approaches, many of us are gearing up for our favorite running day of the year. Even non-runners love the annual Turkey Trot where young and old alike jog in anticipation of the great feast ahead. Then you can eat all the turkey dinner you want AND have a second helping of dessert guilt-free. Okay, maybe that last part is just my tradition. Unfortunately, I can’t run this year due to a back injury. Doctor’s orders. As I’ve lamented and longed to run again, a new picture has emerged: Life as a race with hurdles and PR’s (personal records). Scripture says: “Since we are surrounded by such a great…

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    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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    Sit Among Your Weeds

    Today I start with a confession: I’ve been struggling. I know situations won’t always turn out the way I think they should, and often things are much more difficult than expected. But for the last six weeks my life has been like wading through a sulfur mud pit, taking on darts from a hidden adversary. I’m not one to air my dirty laundry for all the world to see, but I admit that my challenges encompass overwhelming obstacles, disheartening misunderstandings, and nagging frustrations: damage to my car a vandalized fence discord in key decisions new doors of opportunity remaining closed heirloom crystal pitcher––broken favorite blue shorts––ruined expensive new spring bulbs…

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    Five Books that Warrant a Second Read

    Summer heat peaks in August, but many teachers and students plunge into a new study/work year this month. I’ve decided to start the school year reading an older book, one that has stood the test of time and still attracts readers at least ten years after publication. Here are five very different volumes that deserve a first read if you haven’t pondered them in the past, and a second read if these titles are familiar to you. 1.       Knowing God, by J. I. Packer, has been in print over 40 years and has been translated into multiple languages. This book explores God’s attributes exhaustively. If you let Packer guide you as…

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    When We Forget What Is True

    Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, the phone rang. It was one of the women from the online support group I help moderate for those struggling with same-sex attraction. “Hi, Em.” “Sue, can you talk?” “I have two minutes.” “OK, then in two minutes tell me again why homosexuality is wrong? I’m at an AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] retreat and there are so many women here I could really connect with and they keep turning out to be gay. And the leader is wonderful, but she’s a former nun who is just so happy and content with her lesbian partner. I can’t remember why I’m supposed to be…

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    The Way of Escape

        No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.                                                                             1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)   I sat across the table from a friend who had just confessed her extra-marital affair to me. “My marriage is…

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    A Mystery and A Warning

    It is a fascinating theological conundrum. The bible teaches both God’s overarching sovereignty and the free will and responsibility of persons.  Both are revealed, yet they appear contradictory.  How is a person other than a puppet if God’s sovereignty overrules our choices? How can a person be held responsible if there is no choice to make? Is God diminished by man's free choices? Recently in teaching Judges 14-16 covering the life of Samson, I discovered for the first time how his story illustrates this theological mystery.  Both the God’s sovereign purposes as well as Samson’s free choice are revealed in the narrative.   The writer clearly states that though Samson…

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    Spiritually Bipolar

    Here’s another confession. I’m bi-polar when it comes to my spiritual life.   On the one hand I can be very self-condemning: I’m a rotten worthless sinner who can’t do anything right. I wrote a song once called Failure the lyrics to which expressed how I often feel:   I confess that I’m a failure This sober truth, it haunts my life Decisions made that were unwise I’ve messed up my own, and others’ lives Too many times…   Yes, I beat myself up a lot. And, yes, I know Jesus loves me, but I have often asked, “But does He like me?” 0

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    Confessions of a Church Critic

    "For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3).   When I first considered writing Christian articles/columns or a blog online the following thought came to mind: “Wouldn’t it be neat to visit different churches and then write a column rating that church? I could tell others what was cool about the church, where they were on the straight path, where they were straying, where tradition was overriding biblical teaching, where they had…