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Change. Change is not something widely appreciated by most people – including me. I like my socks to be in the same place in the same drawer each morning. I enjoy kissing my wife and children at the same time each night before we go to sleep.
Change? Well, it just seems like more hassle than it’s worth or perhaps too risky. What if I lose something I highly value when I change what I eat or wear, or how I behave?
Once a week, my amazing husband watches the kids while I go out by myself for a few hours to run errands. I’m certainly blessed to have a husband who cares so much about me and enjoys helping with our kiddos.
Recently, on one of my excursions I decided to stop by our local Salvation Army. My goal was to get in and get out, and score a bunch of kid’s clothes for cheap. As I was perusing through old and dusty clothing, I heard right next to me, “Excuse me? Excuse me!”
Miley Cyrus tried every move imaginable to mankind in order to get someone to look… and she did. Heads turned. Heads rolled. And most heads shook, at first, with disgust, and then with deep sadness. Gone was the rather innocent girl, Hannah Montana, who drew massive crowds of mimicking pre-teen girls. Gone was the bright, happy smile. Gone was the calm, content, and loving picture of Billy Ray Cyrus with his sprawling family in tow. Gone…
Cancer. That one, singular word cuts into the fabric of our lives with fear and anxiety, doesn’t it? Every person knows someone who has battled against cancer – perhaps you know one who is in the middle of the fight right now. This lethal, fearsome disease is waging war against their body, seeking to wrack their frame with total destruction.
The beautiful sunshine of spring was gently cascading across the landscape as our little son, Hudson, and I drove across town to worship Christ with the Evangel church family at this year’s Good Friday service. We sang cheerily as we turned northward onto Telegraph road, just a couple miles south of our church campus.
Suddenly the ominous, startling sound of an ambulance rang through our eardrums. Hudson fearfully grasped for my hand as a large EMS vehicle raced past us at breakneck speed. I wondered what we might find up ahead, but I never imagined the scene would be so shocking…
Does behavior “A” always result in “B” – every time? Is Christianity just a cause and effect cycle? Does God keep the carrot of heaven’s hope or hell’s punishment out in front of our noses so that we behave properly? Does God say, “If you behave correctly, you’ll be safe and get what you want! So you better be a nice person, give money to the church, and not have sex before marriage!” Or is there something more?
To be honest, a lot of preaching in today’s culture resembles a man dangling a carrot in front of a donkey’s nose – “Just keep going – the carrot is your cause!”
Impure motives of pride, heartless obligation, superiority, longing for admiration, applause, success, wealth, rank, or pity are never sung aloud from our lips for all to hear. We quietly hide them, creatively disguise them, and carefully redefine them. We naturally think ourselves very good at judging the motives of others, but how about our own motives?
Ouch. That question seems to drop like a sharp knife between my toes. Perhaps the most penetrating and uncomfortable question for all of us to ask ourselves is: What is my motive?
To determine the answer to this question I believe we need a litmus test.
Having a strong intellect is a good thing, yet there is an inherent danger in touting our mental powers or relying on human intelligence. A person may have a high IQ and be missing the essential ingredient for the soil of becoming spiritually mature – to grow in the faith and in the likeness of Jesus. The measure of one’s intelligence does not indicate the measure of one’s spiritual maturity or usefulness in God’s mission. . . .
We don’t like having a finger pointed at us because it implies we’re guilty! However, we are pretty natural at pointing toward someone else. It seems quite easy to see the sins of others; doesn’t it? We think we’re quite accurate at evaluating the faults and failures we presume to observe in friends, family members, neighbors, and the like. . . .
God the Son, Jesus Christ, died the death we deserved to free us from sin and give us new, eternal life in Him. Yet this shocking, heart-saving, soul-healing love is not only a message for people like you and me, but also for men and women from every corner across the tapestry of God’s world. . . .
The men, women, and children I regularly speak with usually approach the who, what, why, when, and how of baptism with a note of seriousness, recognizing it’s no trivial matter. But many, many people have heard such a variety of opinions about baptism that they are left rather confused about the biblical meaning and pattern for this important ordinance Christ’s established for His followers.
Are you unsure about the meaning or practice of baptism? Have you not yet taken the step to be baptized as a follower of Jesus? Were you baptized as an infant, yet now wonder if you should be baptized as a believer?
When we’re jogging along in a healthy trajectory of spiritual growth, we can find ourselves gaining an inordinate confidence in ourselves. We gaze back at our past accomplishments with a token note of thanks to God, yet also an encroaching desire for a good ole’ pat-on-the-back. We might ease up on the throttle, subtly believing we’ve crossed a threshold in obvious maturity. . . .