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Is a sharp memory good? Depends. It’s good when you remember names, birthdays, anniversaries, appointments, and promises. It’s bad when you remember past slights, insults, failures, injuries, mistakes, faux pas, other people’s faults, and every embarrassing and humiliating thing that’s ever happened to you. Even worse than remembering those negative things is stressing over them, obsessing over them, fuming over them, hating on yourself over them, consumed in ancient resentments, trapped in an endless memory loop in which you are... Read More
Sins of the sons
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I know about pain that doesn’t go away. I wrote a book about it. I’m writing about it again, but not because of my miserable back. This is about the pain of having a child with pain that doesn’t go away. I have a son suffering from mental illness, homelessness, addictions, and legal trouble. I have overreacted, underreacted, and not reacted at all. I facilitated court orders and devoted energy and resources to treatment for him with no lasting benefit.... Read More
On God’s side
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During the Civil War, one of President Lincoln’s advisors said he was grateful God was on the Union’s side. Lincoln told him, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Joshua, the leader of the Israelite army, was about to battle Jericho, and he fell into the same trap as Lincoln’s advisor. “He looked up and saw a man standing in front of... Read More
Chariots of fire
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Gehazi, servant to the prophet Elisha, had no difficulty seeing his problems. Ben-Hadad II, the evil king of Aram, had sent an entire company of infantry with chariot support to surround the town of Dothan and seize Elisha, whom he blamed for passing military secrets. As Gehazi looked out early that morning, he must have assumed that it would be the day of his death. “‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the... Read More
Oh, grow up!
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Don’t you hate it when your kids settle? Know what I mean . . . when they settle for Cs when they could get As . . . when they settle for second team when they could start . . . when they stay a peon at work when they could be a manager? How do you suppose God feels? He has provided a great wealth of spiritual information in the Bible to help us understand the great arc of... Read More
Having hope
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Job suffered in a way that I can’t imagine. He lost everything in a matter of minutes. His livestock. His livelihood. His house. His family. Everything was gone. Then he lost his health as painful boils covered his body. When Job’s friends looked at the method and timing of his misfortune, they determined that Job did something so evil that God had to immediately bring down violent judgment on him. Job knew better. He knew that God was not punishing... Read More
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I’m starting to get how this blessing works: “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Because I’m a Christian, I’ve been expecting some peace. But I still have trouble sleeping. I still don’t have everything done. I’m still concerned about so much violence in our world. I still bounce my foot up and down constantly. But I see this blessing isn’t about the peace of Jason. It’s... Read More
God works; we work
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What causes things to happen? Does that sound like a dumb question? Seriously—has God ordained everything and we are just going through the motions, or is he just watching as we act out human history? How do you fit into the scheme of the universe? Are your deeds your free choice, or is God controlling everything? Do you have marionette strings attached to your hands and feet? Or are you on your own? The answer is yes to all of... Read More
Rise of the nones
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I am of the Baby Boomer generation. We have much to be proud of, but much also of which to be ashamed. Our parents believed in institutions—they were joiners. We were rebels and were skeptical about institutions. We began the drift away from church. Our children, the Millennials, have adopted our ideas with a vengeance. According to social researchers, one-third of the Millennial generation has left the church and may never come back. The most rapidly growing religious preference in... Read More
Just a spoonful
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You know those big spoons that are in your kitchen silverware drawer? I’m not talking about the soup spoons. I’m talking about the BIG serving spoons. On a few occasions, I’ve had to use the big spoon to eat cereal because all the other spoons were dirty. With the big spoon you can’t help but deliver generous amounts of food to your mouth. What size spoon do you use to deliver forgiveness to other people? Peter thought he was being... Read More