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The Disturbance of ‘the Way’

When anything other than Jesus becomes our hope (or our wealth, security, sufficiency, completeness, joy, safety, etc…), whatever we have replaced him with has become an idol. And when we place anything on that throne, we will defend it. We will justify it. We will protect it. We will cease to allow the gospel to confront it. We will hang a Do Not Disturb sign on it. As Gerald said on Sunday, “Our idols will always make demands of us.”

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Our Life’s Response to this Christ Child

On Sunday our pastor led our congregation in a study of Isaiah 11:1-12.  In this passage, Isaiah further expounds upon his prophesy of a coming child that he introduces in chapter 9, the One who will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6).  On one level this prophesy offered encouragement to the Israelite people in that time who had been taken captive and forced to leave the land God had given to them.  They could be reminded of God’s plan and his faithfulness to complete that plan.  Even though things were bleak for them currently, God would return a remnant of his people to the promised land in order to finish what he had started through them.  God had promised Eve that he would provide a seed of a woman who would crush the head of the serpent.  He then promised Abraham that this seed would come from his lineage.  Isaiah reminds the Israelite people that despite their own

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Giving to God what is Marginal

God’s rebuke of his priests in Malachi offers a sobering picture of the reality of marginal giving for the Church today.  To understand this, we must fully understand the context of this heavy passage in light of the entire biblical narrative.  In his indictment, God accuses the Priests of “offering polluted food upon my altar” when they “offer blind animals in sacrifice…and those that are lame or sick” (Mal 1:7, 8).  Now at first glance we may simply believe that God chastises his priests for the mere fact that they have broken his law, which indeed they had (see Lev 22:17-25; Deut 15:21; 17:1).  True, the priests were guilty of offering what was easy instead of what was commanded; however, the context and very purpose of the sacrificial system in which the priests participated forbids us to stop at that interpretive level.

The Only Cure for Bullying

Awareness has been raised.  The hashtag campaign is in full force.  Celebrities and stars have enlisted in the fight.  Bullying, in many ways, has become one of the key issues of our day.  And for good reason.  Bullying poses a real threat to young people all across our country.  It has brought about trauma and tragedy.  It is an issue that really must be addressed.  However, can the pandemic of bullying be solved through celebrity shout outs and hashtags?  Although all these things might raise awareness, the ultimate answer to this question is ‘no.’  The primary reason for this is that the anti-bullying message becomes convoluted and confusing when it comes from a culture of bullying.  Consider the following.

What to do about ‘Noah’

I’ve read several reviews of the upcoming movie ‘Noah.’ All I have read confirms exactly what I thought would be the case, that is that the movie does not at all convey the Scriptural story of the historical Noah, the story of the Ark God commanded him to build, or the story of the flood that occurred in his day. This news has not shocked me one bit. I have seen knee-jerk Christian reactions, bashing Hollywood and the film’s writers, producers, directors, actors, etc, angrily calling for Christians to boycott the film. I have also read more level-headed Christian leaders who present the film with the reality that it is, namely a piece of fiction adapted from a story from the Bible. So far, I have not read anyone associated with the film even suggest that the film depicts the Scriptural story of Noah. In fact, I have read where the director has stated that the film is absolutely not

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The Wages of Sin is Death

What is sin?  What an incredibly important question that is!  It is a deceptive question, though, because the answer seems so easy.  However, I am afraid that too many people have a false understanding of the true answer.  In fact, I think we all too often get the answer backwards, and that has everything to do with getting the gospel right. Most of the time when I ask that question to others, I usually get an answer that includes specific actions, words or thoughts that people do.  Now, yes, the actions we do, the words we speak, and the thoughts we have can be sinful, and often are; but, we must understand that this is not the true essence of sin.  Those things are simply the manifestation of sin.  Consider this very important distinction… We are not sinful because of the sinful things we do.  We do the sinful things we do because we are sinful. That seems like a

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