Fellows Articles

Heaven On Earth

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Changing Culture A reoccurring fantasy of mine is to be a witness as the Spirit moves in a great way in this country. Slowly at first, changing families, towns, perhaps regions. And then sweeping the country from coast to coast. Imagine the confusion, the frustration, the outrage as those who were comfortable, even happy, with the status quo woke up to a country where radical changes were happening. Where the Kingdom of God was seizing territory, seizing lives, seizing souls. And as Jesus was a revolutionary, so too should we be. Overthrowing institutions is the goal for those institutions that. . . Read more »

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A Fearful Future?

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Threats to Liberty, Morality & Peace It seems as if not a day goes by where some fundamental right we have as Americans isn’t under serious threat. Just the other day I saw where the Obama administration is trying to present their case for killing Americans on American soil they deem to be a threat. No discussion, no trial, just death. They could be our enemies after all. You’d think something like that might make quite a few headlines. But it’s crushed under the other headlines of other freedoms being attacked. We live in truly frightening times. And then there’s. . . Read more »

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I Am Who I Am

I Am Who I Am

Reflecting His Image I remember an occasion when I was trying to find my way around in a dark room where only faint shadows could be discerned. As I turned a corner, I realized I was not alone. I could barely make out an outline that looked like another person. With a heart-pounding adrenaline surge, I reached for the switch and turned on the lights. When the illumination revealed the secrets of the darkness, I found that the person I saw was me. I had seen a reflection of myself in the mirror on the wall. Image-reflecting is what mirrors. . . Read more »

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Against All Enemies—Voting Your Conscience

Against All Enemies

Lying Politicians Year after year our senators and congressmen in Washington solemnly swear before God and men to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” but only a handful of these men pay any attention to their constitutional limits. Our leaders regularly violate their oaths of office and we do nothing about it. We expect politicians to break their promises, and we even vote for them the next time around. We may grunt and grumble about having no other choice, but in the end we pull the lever for a known liar. . . Read more »

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Slave Culture

Slave Culture

Loving Slavery We are a nation of slaves and we love it. We have pursued our masters with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our minds. And now we are fully content in our serfdom. We don’t feel the stripes on our back, the chafing of the chains, the loss of movement, the indignity. We don’t feel any of that. What we feel is jumpiness I guess, a nervous energy that never seems to go away, an addict’s itch. All we ask for in exhange for the chains is all the stuff. . . Read more »

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Does On Demand TV Leave Time for Good?

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Our enemy is tricky He’s been around a long time and he is patient. When you overcome him one way he always returns. He’s not quitting anytime soon, and just when you think you’ve beat him, don’t relax. He’s already found another way. Turning Off the TV More than a decade ago my wife and I decided we wanted a different life for our family than most, so one of the things we did was stop watching television. Turning off the cable and packing away the antenna, we thought, would save us some money, help us keep some of the. . . Read more »

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Wisdom of the Crowd

Wisdom of the Crowd

In a recent interview with NPR, former vice president and global warming wonk, Al Gore, was asked yet again about America’s response to “climate change.” He said a number of different and very familiar things, but one phrase in particular caught my ear; he spoke of the “wisdom of the crowd,” referring to the public’s supposed increase in concern over global warming because of Hurricane Sandy. Before you tune out, this is not about global warming. It is about the idiocy of the “wisdom of the crowd.” Let’s consider some of the brilliant decisions of “the crowd.” It was the. . . Read more »

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Piggy Banks—Teaching Children to Use Money Wisely

Piggy Banks—Teaching Children to Use Money Wisely

“Mommy, is this fourteen cents or forty cents?” Gabriel asks. Teaching our children the value of money is an important responsibility that goes beyond teaching proper addition and subtraction skills. Joyful Giving The earliest and most important lesson we teach about money is the lesson of giving. Second Corinthians 9:7b informs us that “God loveth a cheerful giver.” This verse always reminds of the children’s Bible memory song by Steve Greene in which he laughs joyfully after each refrain. (“Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!”) This is the attitude we are looking for in our children (and ourselves). We practice joyful. . . Read more »

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Salty & Lighty

Salty & Lighty

Giving a Defense The role of the Christian, as far as I can tell from Scripture, is to simply act like one. Scripture is telling us how this comes about, what it is and what it means. That’s about ninety-nine percent of the job. The other one percent is “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). We evangelicals usually get it the other way around and mess up the wording of the latter, translating it thusly: “always be ready to be on the. . . Read more »

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Hate Speech

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Friendly Debate As I sat working in my office, a knock was heard; it was the orthodox Jew I had recently met. I had gotten to know him well enough that we could venture into some difficult conversations. Clutched in his hand was a Hebrew Old Testament. He was energized from our last conversation, and I could tell that he was ready for battle. I reached for my sword, the Hebrew version to match his weapon of choice, and after mutual salutations, I let him take the first blow. Fortunately, God had prepared me for this battle. I thought I. . . Read more »

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Wasted Time?

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  Life is seasons. We all live in the God-ordered context of seasons; cold to warm, hot to cool, fierce heat to fading light, falling snow to frolicking lambs and back again. We accept this. We even enjoy it. The transitions are assuring and sometimes exciting as the mid-season days grow long and tiresome. But are we as accepting of seasons in our own lives? Seasons of Plenty We do have plenty of examples from Scripture of how God orders the lives of His saints to encompass the mundane as well as the terrifying, the years of fat cows being. . . Read more »

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The Fearing Father

The Fearing Father

I have been a father now for twenty nine years. God has blessed my wife and me with ten children. And I am thankful that by God’s grace each one of my children has professed faith in Jesus Christ. And those who are now married are now raising their children to love the Lord, to be recipients of His grace, to cry out for His mercy. And I am humbled when I remember how God has used me as an instrument in bringing the reality of faith in their lives. Fatherhood is Not for Wimps You see, fatherhood is not. . . Read more »

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A Father’s Plan

A Father's Plan

Teaching Our Children As a father, I have plans for my children. I want them to be strong of will and full of experience. I want them to be godly. So far they have canoed, hiked, raised goats, fished, kayaked, skied, butchered chickens, rafted whitewater, ridden horses, farmed, traveled by plane, train, boat and subway, body surfed, shot trap, and milked cows. During their entire life there has been a constant flow of people through our home and at times, living with us: students, missionaries, troubled teens, homeless people, seekers, travelers, friends, and acquaintances. All of this was on purpose. . . Read more »

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Don’t Let Them In

Don't Let Them In—The Power of Advertising

Power of Advertising I never understand why a large corporation like Nike would pay Tiger Woods $40 million to basically wear a hat with their logo on it. I tried, but for a while I just couldn’t figure it out. The math just wouldn’t add up. My thinking went something like this. Two million people see Woods wearing his Nike hat during the Memorial Tournament. Of that two million, so many would buy a hat. I even tried to figure how much profit they could make from each hat. On and on I went down the line trying to understand. . . Read more »

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I Still Do

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Marriage Vows Vows should always bring a sense of reservation. They bring a sense of sober contemplation. Taking a vow should cause us to pause and consider who we really are and who we will be. And there are few vows that are more important than the marriage vow. But one of the beauties about the marriage vow is that it involves two parties who make a similar promise, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish for a lifetime. These vows may seem constraining to some because they do indeed call us. . . Read more »

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Loving God’s Law & Legislating Morality

Loving God's Law & Legislating Morality

by Rev. Marion Lovett Legislating Morality The law is good. Application of the law is good. In fact, we have to apply the law in order to keep it. In addition, I believe our government ought to legislate morality. For either it will legislate morality or immorality. After all, we do support outlawing abortion. Don’t we? Sabbath breaking, like murder and abortion, was an offense that required capital punishment in order for justice to be met. So legislating Sabbath morality is good. God blessed Nehemiah when he did this (cf. Neh 13:15-22). The problem, however, comes when we go beyond. . . Read more »

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Six Days You Shall Labor

Six Days You Shall Work

One thing I strive to instill within my children is an understanding of the necessity of work. For anyone alive, we are commanded by God to be productive, to be industrious, to be those who are not idle, but those who are engaged in some sort of enterprise. The Lord God Almighty has not only decreed this to be a characteristic of all mankind, He even modeled it Himself. The creation account is one that details work, that details labor, that details creativity of the highest nature. The Lord God created the heavens and the earth and all that is. . . Read more »

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In Defense of Mourning and Dancing

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As many of you know, Kim, my bride of almost twenty-four years, passed into glory this April after a relatively brief, but intense, struggle with cancer. Besides myself, she left behind six children, all of whom still are at home. In the months that have passed since then, we have started along the road of mourning and grief that R.C. and his children started just ahead of us. Even though we are still relatively new on this path, I have learned a few lessons. First, it is healthy and necessary to mourn. Denial of grief or pain achieves nothing good.. . . Read more »

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The View from 99

About a week ago, my darling husband was lamenting the impact pregnancy has on fathers. He summed it up with “Fifteen months. That’s positively scandalous!” I stared in disbelief. Surely he jests… First, the school marm in me wanted to hand him a pencil and paper. “Using two unit multipliers, convert eleven pregnancies to days.” But no. He wants to talk in months; fine, we’ll talk in months. “99.” Eleven pregnancies converts to ninety-nine months of my life being pregnant. That’s eight years and three months. Your point?  His shocked silence told me I had hit home. “Well, when you put it that way…”. . . Read more »

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A Time to Plant

A Time to Plant

Discouragements of Motherhood One of the most difficult questions for a young mother to answer is “Am I doing a good job?” The farmer must sow in faith that his seeds will bring forth the harvest he seeks, yet it is difficult to foresee the kind of fruit the beliefs and actions of today will result in years to come. For some young mothers this truth is paralyzing. “What if I do or don’t do something that messes up my child for life?” Rest assured. Your child will be a messed up sinner for the rest of his earthly life.. . . Read more »

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Reich.edu

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany and families that refuse to enroll their kids in state schools are fined, arrested, and threatened with losing custody of their children. Recently, German police invaded the home of the Wunderlich family and forcibly removed their children. There were no allegations of abuse or neglect or failure to provide an adequate education. Their crime, according to the Darmstadt family court, was the parents’ failure to cooperate “with the authorities to send the children to school.” The judge also authorized use of force “against the children” because the children had “adopted the parents’ opinions” regarding homeschooling. . . Read more »

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Ducklings and Eaglets

One of the most delightful aspects of parenting is observing the distinct differences between children. Ten times the Lord has allowed Steve and me to meet a new person created from the same raw materials, a child of the same man and woman. Each one is unique. There are some similarities, for sure. I often call Jonathan “Matthew” because he looks so much like his brother at this age. At church, one look determines at a glance that “that is a Murphy,”except for maybe Gabriel. Even within this tight genetic pool, that fellow looks completely different from his brothers and. . . Read more »

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Together in Suffering

It is perhaps the deepest challenge and, in turn, the greatest lesson for a man when those whom he loves suffer. Everyone is tempted to wonder about God’s will and the why of suffering. Everyone tastes the bitterness of that first fruit, pleasing as it was to the eyes and desirable to make one wise. Everyone feels the sting of suffering, the shared pain of shared lives. But a man, a husband, a father—he feels something else: impotence. There comes, when the doctor gingerly delivers the bad news, a horrible, gnawing, piercing pain because you are the fixer, and you. . . Read more »

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A Boy Named Sue

Five-year-old Gabriel snuggled deeper into covers, his arm protectively cradling something. Granny, to whom the task had fallen to tuck him into bed, shifted the blanket back revealing not the teddy bear she expected, but a machete. Raising boys to be men is not a task for the faint of heart. In God’s (sometimes humorous) sovereignty, He has given us eight of these creatures to rear for His glory. Life with boys is often noisy, dirty, and physical. Crazy exploits, wrestling matches, and inventing unsafe structures define my boys’ days. Guests to our home chuckle at the lack of breakable. . . Read more »

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Is Humanist Philosophy Circling the Drain?

Do you find humanistic philosophy really crazy and pointless? Are you, like me, convinced of the seeming uselessness of humanistic philosophy? Humanists for several hundred years have explored every avenue of possible thought attempting to find higher truth. They pursue metaphysical questions seeking access to that universe by means of things that are seen. Their quest has proven to be useless, for the phenomenal world, by its nature, can shed no light on the neumenal realm. Studying the stars or the atoms will never unlock truth about the existence or nature of God. It will never show us what is. . . Read more »

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Heaven on Earth?

In 1888 a socialist named Edward Bellamy published a book titled Looking Backward, 2000-1887. Though largely forgotten today, the book sold more copies in its time than any other book published in America except Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and launched a political movement that still haunts us today. In the novel, a 19th century man, Julian West, awakes from a trance in the year 2000, finding that America has been transformed into a socialist paradise. Through his conversations with Dr. Leete, who awakened him from his trance, Julian learns how socialism created this heaven on earth. Dr. Leete explains the key. . . Read more »

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What about separation of church and state?

Written: October 2011 As we gyrate through the pre-election candidates’ masquerade event, we glimpse bits of the guests’ secret faces and wonder about their closeted pasts.  Shhh-did you hear? Oh, sorry, careful, but anyway her husband councils people queerly, and, yes, I am certain now, the dancer in the cowboy boots sponsored an event with public prayer – Jesus and everything. Of course you’re shocked dear. We all are. Ooof, whose foot did I just step on? It’s those dominionists I tell you, they’re the ones forcing their churchy noses into everybody’s business. Why can’t they just stay in their. . . Read more »

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A Father’s Touch

He had been complaining of nausea all morning and the night before, but without any incident. But soon after the family had settled in for worship, he seemed to be in distress so I asked him if he needed to head for the restroom. Bravely, he said no. I put my hand on his back to let him know that I was aware of his discomfort, and if he changed his mind, I was ready to help. The church that we were visiting that day was on our route home from vacation and was known for great doctrine and beautiful. . . Read more »

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Watch Out, Bread!

I have never seen someone die during the Lord’s Supper. I’ve had a pastor die in front of me while preaching, and someone had a seizure while I was preaching, but the Lord’s Supper goes without a hitch. This observation is important because a text in the New Testament,  upon first reading, seems to say that people should be dropping like flies during the Lord’s Supper. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and. . . Read more »

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Earthly Seraphim

Perhaps the Apostle John said it best, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” This should be the heart cry of the Christian parent, this should be the motivation that inspires our prayers and our actions as we invest in the lives of the children that God has given to us. Sadly, in many evangelical churches the promises of God with respect to our children are often ignored. For instance, we read in Psalm 103:17 that the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His. . . Read more »

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The Mighty Hand of God

There are a few rare days when we find a glimpse of God’s raw character, His fearsome majesty, His rule in every detail, His mighty hand and out stretched arm as our forefathers in the faith referred. At those moments we know we have seen not only the arm of God but something more. Yesterday was a difficult day. Everything went bad on top of everything going bad. It was out of my hands. People are cruel. Not always surely. Yet yesterday seemed like a cruel day as every moment unfolded. It was a rare conglomeration of ugly and strange. . . Read more »

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Busted

I have been reading about the many states that are in the red on their budgets. The number is now at 46 states that are borrowing money every day just to keep doing what they do. There are only four states living within their means (Alaska, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Montana). Along with all this accumulating debt there is also an endless list of counties and cities that are wheezing  financially. The county in which I live was in debt over $140,000,000 last I heard. Besides all this there are scores of municipalities that have spent away the retirement funds. . . Read more »

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Covenant: Building Block of Christian Nations

I was reading the Mayflower Compact (Covenant) this week. The Compact formed the first civil government by Europeans coming to America. It was written and signed in 1620 by the Pilgrims before they got off the ship. This was the start of American Christian governance. While short, the Compact does carry several references to it being a covenant. It was not called a constitution, a charter, a Bill of Rights, or any of the other titles we might associate with modern western style governments. It was a Compact which in the language of the time was a synonym for covenant, the. . . Read more »

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Eating Plastic Fruit

Every Monday we receive a basket full of organic fruits and vegetables grown by our local farmer friend. I know a little about the hard work and toil that goes into each basket. It requires good seed, good soil, good water, and plenty of good hard work. There is no short cutting the process. There is no such thing as instant edible fruit. The agrarian metaphors of Scripture are particularly applicable in today’s modern, synthetic society. The world is always trying to create things that must be grown and forcing things that must take time. Authentic fruit is a result. . . Read more »

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Kings and Tyrants

Kings and tyrants may seem a peculiar topic now at the beginning of the 21st century. After all, America has never had a king and the despotic and bloody tyrants, well, weren’t they rulers of other countries? We elect presidents here. No kings or tyrants we can see. What brought the topic to mind however, is that I have begun to notice disparate voices literally calling for the return of earthly kings “…We were also musing – on Bastille Day – on why monarchy was not such a bad system of government, after all. At least, Louis 16th was less sensitive to. . . Read more »

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Hurt

Here comes trouble. That’s what I thought when she walked into the room, kids in tow. Not unlike when the young man, arm still full of bands from the hospital, walked in. He still had crazy eyes from the bath salts that put him in the ER the night before. Dozens more; old, young, even children. They sit down and people greet them and engage them and worship alongside them. But we watch our children around the wounded and weary, who walk in filled with hurt. Why? Because sometimes, it spills out. Jack came to our church for many months.. . . Read more »

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Plumb

  When Rob Bell commented recently that “I have gay friends who are serious followers of Jesus,” I wasn’t surprised at all. Bell, who masquerades as a Christian pastor, has always pushed the envelope when it comes to Truth, challenging orthodox Christianity on just about every important point. But his choice of words is very telling: “followers of Jesus.” I hate that term; I really do. But “Christ-follower” has gained lots of traction in the past few years, mainly among the thirty-something set. And, for a large part, these are actually genuine converts who say this. (Set aside for a moment today’s. . . Read more »

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Noisy Time

I’ve spent enough time in quiet time studying and meditating on Scripture to have learned this: the Bible does not require me to have a quiet time. I’ve read the Bible all the way through and the command just isn’t there. It’s a shock I know. That I can virtually hear the gasps of you readers is strong evidence that “quiet time” has become an evangelical icon. It also means that I ought to clear the air before I proceed, in the hopes that you will proceed along with me instead of skipping this article altogether, angry at me for. . . Read more »

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Lifted Up Into the Heavenlies

The more I love my wife the more I want to be with her, enjoy her, and share all of life’s experiences with her. And what makes it all the better is to know these feelings are mutual. A few issues back I wrote an article about marriage being the metaphor for the relationship Christ has with His Church (His Bride), and not the other way around. Building on that truth, we must consider more closely our earthly marriages and the realities they reveal about our heavenly relationship with Christ. The epistle to the Hebrews is rich with heavenly truths. . . Read more »

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Obamacare and the Good Samaritan

Written in 2012   The giant news all week was the hearings before the Supreme Court over the Obamacare health plan. Twenty-seven states sued to have the mandated insurance program overturned. It was the government’s contention that everyone must somehow have health insurance and that the government should be the entity deciding the nature and limits of that care. The states pushed back, asserting the feds had no such power to make people buy health insurance, and that the proposed government system is in fact unconstitutional. Amidst all the articles, arguments, and buzzing buzz this week I rarely heard any. . . Read more »

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Antithesis.

You don’t get to where I am without a lot of mistakes along the way. Where I am is a middle-aged man, husband, father, friend, etc. I’m sure that many of you feel the same way. With the increase of hairs in the drain comes an increase in reflection and often that involves a bit of regret. Or a lot of regret, like the shooting of that egret. One of my biggest regrets is not being so much us that I saw them for what they were, the enemy. That is where much of the church is today I’m afraid.. . . Read more »

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[kuh-MYOO-ni-tee]

We called this issue [kuh-MYOO-ni-tee] to emphasis the point that we Christians today don’t understand what this is. We know what activity is. We know what fellowship is. We even know what love is all about some of the time. What we fail to comprehend is the wonderful, challenging, painful, joyful world that exists within a Christ-centered community. I speak as one who didn’t understand and even today has a difficult time fully embracing it. I didn’t understand it when I joined my church, Saint Peter Presbyterian, in 2005, but it is what caused me to not only join that. . . Read more »

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Milquetoast Men in a Milquetoast Church

Blessed be the Lord my God, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle wrote David in Psalm 144. What a Godly and righteous sentiment. More than a sentiment, it is a recognition of how God often works in the life of a righteous man. I have not seen these kinds of statements written about the female heroes in Scripture. The men however, are often presented as fighters. This is disconcerting in its political incorrectness. It is also disturbing to many in the church who seem to believe that the main point of the Christian life is to. . . Read more »

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Serving a Killer Meal

Hot dogs, baked beans, and chips—that’s the first dinner I served our next door neighbor boy. (Hey, it was a bad week!) Perhaps not the most nourishing meal for his body, but this dinner fed his soul. Nick is like many twelve-year-old boys in our country. Both parents work full-time outside the home, he is an only child, public schooled, and most of his meals go from box to microwave to TV tray. We rarely saw him outside. He relied on video games and movies to fill his lonely after-school hours. His parents are nice people, church goers who wouldn’t. . . Read more »

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Gardening and THE Gardener

It is early May here in the Appalachians, in southwest Virginia. Everything is green. The lawn is mowed twice, could have been thrice, already. When you live in the wilderness every year is partially taken with chopping, hewing, burning the ever accumulating vegetation that abounds faster than you can whack it down. There is enough winter here to stop the machine for a few months, but by mid-March the weedy bounty has come to full bloom. We have a large greenhouse about twenty-five yards from the house, and some raised beds up on the hill above. From these gardens we. . . Read more »

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Where the Wild Things Are

Homeschooling mothers are the most fearful set of people on the planet. We fear whether our children are being properly socialized. We fear if we are doing too little or too much academic work. We fear whether we are doing it right. (“It” defined here as whatever a particular homeschooling speaker, author, or friend thinks is the right way to homeschool.) Are we studying the right subjects or enough subjects? Should we teach reading early or late, in English or Latin or Greek, or at all? What if I miss something important? How will I teach my child chemistry? Then. . . Read more »

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Biblical Plan for Representative Government

As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, celebrating the birth of our American Republic, I am reminded of the greater republic which preceded and helped to inspire ours. This is not just idle babble either. Rather, it is the re-introduction of Biblical ideas that we desperately need to bring back to rebuild the civil government. This is no small thing, nor is it a futile dream that has no chance. It is, in fact, the fulfillment of God’s own revealed plan for human government in the nations. It is a wedge, a fine Christian, Biblical, wedge, that ought to. . . Read more »

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A Cartoon Jesus

In the Sunday school classrooms in which I taught years ago, each weekly lesson had a main idea that we repeated over and over. Platitudes such as “God loves me,” “I am special to God,” and “We are kind to one another” filled the teacher’s manual. Curiously, we did not see “God is angry at the wicked every day.” Unfortunately, twentieth century American Christians more often take our cues from Frobel and Montessori than from the Word of God. If we are to train up a generation of God-fearing Christians, we must change both the methods and content of what. . . Read more »

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Income Tax Debates

Income Tax Debates

Written 2010 Republicans & Democrats Talk Taxes The fight is on to decide if the American people will pay more in income taxes in 2011. Our congressional leaders are busy positioning themselves right and left. Some say they want no more tax increases of any kind while others are saying we ought to tax the rich another bite. Taxes are an endless topic in popular politics so I suppose tax talk will be a recurring theme here. The good news is that the Bible has a lot to say on the subject so we never have to just guess it. . . Read more »

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Mommy Time

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God gives us many unlimited blessings—grace, forgiveness, peace, but one gift that is not unlimited is time. The Bible instructs us to redeem the time and this is a lesson that God is teaching me. When my oldest children were very young, each day dragged. I counted the hours and minutes until Daddy came home, and I believed I would be in this season forever. As God has taken friends home, moms-of-many in their thirties and forties, He has been teaching me that I may not presume upon God for the number of days I am given. Rather than make. . . Read more »

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