He’s both a lion and a lamb
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English majors and high school composition teachers know that it’s considered bad form to mix metaphors. It’s especially bad when you mix two metaphors that contradict each other. How ironic that that’s exactly what St. John saw in heaven when he was allowed to look at the risen, glorified, and ascended Christ. He saw a contradictory vision of the second person of the Trinity: “Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the... Read More
God works in you
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An executive assistant answers your e-mails, balances your calendar, and in general keeps you on top of your game. But he or she can’t pry open the dark corners of your heart where sin hides and change your bad habits. That’s a job for God. He not only works for you but in you. “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of... Read More
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The criminal code that God set up for his brand-new nation of Israelites, newly freed from Egyptian slavery, was not intended for all people of all time. Israelite society was tribal. There were no civil institutions, no police, no government employees, no IRS, and no prisons. It would be decades before there were stable towns and actual houses for people to live in. The rough “frontier” justice that was provided for Israel circa 1440 b.c. was not a timeless model.... Read More
Pecking order
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We have ten chickens—and introducing new ones to the flock can be tricky. If we introduce just one chicken, it will likely get pecked to death. If we bring in a few, we need to separate them for a while so they get used to each other before they share a coop. Or we need to bring in a whole bunch to overwhelm them and so force them to create a new pecking order. Sometimes it seems churches operate like... Read More
Does God condone slavery?
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The history of the “discovery” and settlement of North America celebrates great triumphs, but it also records dreadful abuses. Bringing Old World diseases to the New World killed off countless Native Americans. Periodic abrogation of treaties made Native Americans permanently suspect and scorn the integrity of the federal government. But the worst of all abuses was the widespread practice of race-based slavery. Earnest Christians in slaveholding areas tried to justify slavery from passages in the Bible that urged slaves to... Read More
Creation by committee
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God gave us his Word to create and sustain our faith. Much of its content we can actually understand. Some of it remains a profound mystery, beginning with the very identity of God himself. Already in the 200s A.D. Christians were using the term Trinity (tri-unity) to summarize this mystery. God’s self-revelation in the pages of Scripture reveals a powerful unity of being, purpose, and action, but also three distinct persons with distinct minds and distinct functions. The Bible calls them... Read More
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The Bible over and over uses farm imagery to teach believers how to think about their lives, how God designed things to work, how to make big decisions. This not only made sense to Scripture’s original readers, the majority of whom worked in agriculture-related jobs, but it still resonates today because there’s no cheating and there are no shortcuts in farming. If a farmer plants corn, corn there will be. He shouldn’t expect a wheat crop. If he’s too lazy... Read More
Pray for your pastor
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When you are new to the faith, it’s understandable that you might be a little hesitant in explaining it to someone else. Everything is still so surprising and unexpected that you don’t want to put your foot in something inappropriate, especially when what’s at stake is people’s everlasting destiny. It’s expected that laypeople would want to work on their evangelism skills. Does it surprise you to know that a famous pastor had some fears about being tongue-tied and afraid when... Read More
Being a tourist
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As a military family, one perk of transferring was being tourists in each new location. In Alaska we hiked mountains, fished, saw whales and bears, and visited glaciers. After moving to Washington D.C., we took family pictures in the Rose Garden, Mount Vernon, every monument (multiple times), and numerous battlefields. Moving to California meant we explored places like Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, and all of southern California’s theme parks. Now that we’ve left military life and settled down, it’s easy... Read More
Kept safe
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Have you ever led a tour? been responsible for a large group of people traveling a long distance? chaperoned a class trip, band trip, or sports traveling team? At the end of the day, what is your primary purpose? You must return safely the same amount of first graders, hockey players, or adult day care residents with which you started. Start with 17. Return with 17. Not 14. Not 8. That can be a challenge. Little kids get lost at... Read More