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Category: Bible

Actions, not words – keeping the ego in check

God has this incredible but often annoying tendency to set me right when I get a little full of myself.

My ability to puff up my own ego is usually done subconsciously. In fact, I don’t wake up every morning thinking, “how can build up my ego today?”

I don’t go about seeking ways to do so.

Ego-building is done more passively.

It comes to me, either via a compliment, or positive statement, or an acknowledgement of an achievement.

Now there is nothing wrong with a compliment or even a good review of my book. In many ways, we all need those. However, when I don’t deflect those praises up to God, then I kind of tuck those warm-fuzzies away into a giant Hefty bag in the back of my head.

Eventually, that bag gets bigger and bigger, stretches more and more, until every molecule of that bag has reached critical mass. read more

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Claiming “Christ Alone” from the bottom of the stupid ditch

There’s a funny video going around social media showing a boy pulling a sheep out of a tight ditch. When the boy finally frees the sheep, the sheep excitedly bounds away and, possessing the average intelligence of a sheep, leaps into the same ditch. Often the caption is attached: “Some days when Jesus shepherds me.”

I am having one of those moments.

The last couple of weeks have not been my most stellar. I have not felt on my “A” game. In fact, I have felt I urge to be relegated back to the Peewee League of life.

Many nights, I have laid in bed this week, staring up at the ceiling and thinking, “I am a grown man. How did I miss this?”

I couldn’t even ask what I was thinking because clearly I wasn’t thinking. read more

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Is there any hope for America? Should that even be our focus?

Over the last several weeks, I have wrestled with a question that just will not go away: is there hope for America?

I taught high school history and government for almost twenty years, and I have always concluded that the idea behind the United States was a good idea.

The United States was by no means perfect. There are several black spots on our history: slavery, the relocation and/or slaughter of the American Indian, the internment camps of Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor, McCarthyism, Jim Crowe…

The list goes on. I am not naïve enough to pretend we’re perfect. No nation is.

However, what makes the American idea unique is that it is based on an accurate understanding of human nature. The framers of the constitution knew human nature is fallen. read more

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We cry “Hosanna!” now more than ever

Today is Palm Sunday.

This is the day thay marks Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.

The story is found in Matthew 21:7-9:

They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

Matthew was intentional to mention the donkey that Jesus rode in on. He was connecting this event to a prophecy written by the prophet Zechariah hundreds of years before: read more

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Navigating a national tragedy through kingdom eyes

It is a twisted world we live in when, during the unfolding of a horrible, tragic event, the first response many of us have is not horror at the events unfolding before us, but dread of the asinine rhetoric that is about to erupt.

I followed closely the unfolding events at Covenant School in Nashville when a transgender woman shot and killed six people—three adults and three nine-year-old children. I am a teacher in a Christian school. This tragedy hit close to home. Like most hearing the story, it sucked the air right out of me.

Sadly, and all too frequently, we no longer have time to process the tragedy, to grieve, to be angry at the evil in the world.

The narrative became political almost immediately. Within hours, it was no longer about the victims. read more

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Do Christians think Easter is still a big deal?

As I strolled down the seasonal aisle during my weekly grocery run, I stopped at the chocolate Easter bunnies, debating within the solid versus hollow bunny controversy.

Then something caught my eye.

Right next to the Easter bunnies, displayed in full glory, stood a chocolate cross.

This gave me pause.

I wasn’t sure what to think.

On one hand, I wanted to appreciate the acknowledgment of the spiritual aspect of Easter. On the other, I was unsettled by the thought of going into a diabetic coma after eating a chocolate molding of an ancient means of slow execution.

I actually don’t fault secular companies for trying to tap into a particular market. They don’t know the meaning of that symbol. They just see it perched on the top of a building or hung around a person’s neck and think: maybe they’ll buy this. read more

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Campus revival and the critics who follow

During my years in seminary, I wrote a research paper on revivals in America.

Now, I don’t mention that to pretend that I am somehow a world expert on revivals. Simply put, the subject intrigued me. I bring up that paper because of an observation that came out of it while doing the research: it appears that most—if not all—major revivals in America came out of the Christ-following youth.

Then

Many attributed the First Great Awakening to Jonathan Edwards, but Edwards attributed the start of the Awakening to the youth himself by observing the happenings at Yale University in 1741:

“This awakening was at the beginning of that extraordinary religious commotion through the land, which is fresh in everyone’s memory.  It was for a time very great and general at New-Haven; and the college had no small share in it…The students in general became serious, many of them remarkably so, and much engaged in the concerns of their eternal salvation.”[1] read more

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Following Jesus in a wild world of relativism

I often look at the world around me with bewilderment and wonder whether I the one missing something.

Am I just not getting it?

Surely, I can’t be the only one connecting the dots between the current reality and insanity.

I don’t claim I am the only sane person in the world. I just have trouble understanding it.

And that has occasionally boiled over into frustration.

Recently a major paradigm shift has increased exponentially with each passing year. Symptoms include inconsistency, slippery definitions, construction of truth narratives filled with blatant yet unrecognized contradictions, and lack of self-awareness. This shift is happening institutionally, culturally, and even individually. read more

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The not-so-secret secret to a happy new year

And just like that, Christmas is over.

Living rooms now contain cold corners where Christmas trees once stood. Decorations have disappeared in homes and stores. Christmas music—the mere thrill of playing it in November—now feels a little stale. The pace has geared down to a trudge. Christmas goodies found on every aisle in every store are now crammed into a single space with giant 50%-off signs. The snow and chill of December often described as white and brilliant are now considered gray and bone-chilling.

The week after Christmas serves as a reality check that real life continues to roll on.

We attempt to extend the hope of the holidays one final time on December 31—New Year’s Eve. People will gather all over the world to count down the final ten seconds of 2022 before shouting, amidst a flurry of confetti: “Happy New Year!” read more

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Regaining your bearings when your kingdom crumbles

I tend to get into Christmas.

I mean really get into Christmas.

I am Clark Griswold. If I could cover my house in thousands of lights, I would risk my well-being to string them up. If I could find a tree too big for my living room, I would cut it down and figure out a way. I am proud of that identity. I own it. I have no inhibitions.

However, this Christmas feels a little more subdued. I still “don me now my gay apparel” (Oh, how I wish the original meaning of that word hadn’t been hijacked): Christmas tee-shirts, and neckties, and an over-the-top Santa hat. I watch Christmas movies like A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation, and Die Hard (and, yes, it is a Christmas movie). I play carols incessantly without hesitation or shame (and those who constantly complain about Christmas music, I don’t care). read more

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