Topic | Personal Growth

Posts Categorized: Personal Growth

Why Community Fails

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Community Pool People have funny ideas about what “community” is. Some think that it’s formed by a list of rules like the sign you first see at a pool that states clearly: No Running, No Diving, No Alcohol. Just keep the rules and you can stay. Break the rules and you just might lose your pool privileges. Others think of community as being in the pool together; this is what they have in common. They are all in the water and they are all wet. Some pools have memberships and the members have the entrance codes to the gate and. . .
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Don’t Be a Narcissist {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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A Revolutionary Act Giving thanks is a revolutionary act. Thankfulness is not intuitive for us as we sit calculating our wants and needs. On top of our own inequitable ideas of what we deserve, we find ourselves operating in a world crowded with misery and injustice and violence, where our suffering may indeed be the result of someone else’s sin. The innumerable manifestations of wrongdoing proliferate daily and are displayed publicly by absentee fathers, gossip mongers, child pornographers, smooth-tongued liars, hypocritical churchgoers, and a seemingly endless variety of miscreants. The stinging pain of all that sin presses in, trespassing in. . .
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Why Christians Hate Each Other

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Firing Shots at Fellow Christians I remember this time when this friend of mine had a disagreement that turned into a fierce argument. We both shot at each other with bursts of sarcasm attempting to win what had moved from discussion into a contest. Problem was, this sad and disturbing display was semi-public, it was at the place where we worked and all around us were people who we had been witnessing to for some time. One of them addressed us in shock, “The two of you are fighting?!” That gave both of us pause, we stopped the verbal and. . .
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Know Who Your Friends & Your Enemies Are {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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Waging War Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?—James 4:1 Life together is difficult. I doubt many people will argue with that. We mount wars against each other when we should be blessed peacemakers. If we stop for a moment we can probably all think of an example of this in our own experience. The odd thing is that we keep looking for a serene existence all the while being led by our own desires to trample the perfect commands of God and grind. . .
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How to Be Bitter

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Bitter from Birth There exists a brilliant prescription for bitterness and we do not even have to wait in line at the CVS to pick it up. We are just born with it. From birth we have assumed that we are the center of the universe, that all of life and those other creatures we see around us exist to serve us. If we have very godly parents and at least one sibling, this notion becomes diffused a bit, though we suspect that the operating law is still valid but must be obeyed in light of several (annoying) amendments. We. . .
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Skinflint Stewardship

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Controlling Grip Maybe you’ve seen something like this: someone holds out a twenty dollar bill, but when the other person starts to pull it away, the first person holds on to it with a death grip. They only let go after an imposing glare or a final meaningful remark. The point of such an act is about control. Even when the money finally leaves their hand, the hovering presence of the giver still follows the money around, breathing down the neck of the receiver. This cash comes with strings attached. Scripture tells us plainly that the borrower is the slave. . .
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Be Steadfast {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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Steadfast Faith In a world where people display the constancy of butterflies and changefulness of chameleons, be a sequoia. Sequoias are not only the largest trees in the world, but possibly one of the oldest living things on earth. They are broad, sturdy, tall, aged, and if they can be said to do anything, they stand. They stand there, year after year, growing in height and breadth. I think we may safely call them steadfast. We should be steadfast too. The prophet assures us: The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.—Isaiah 26:3. . .
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Reflections on a Faithful Life

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The Legacy As I write this, it is the eighth anniversary of my father’s death. I’ve gotten lots of comments from friends and family about the impact of his life on them. He wasn’t a well-known guy and didn’t have an extraordinary amount of earthly success. He came from a very poor upbringing, even by Depression standards. He left a successful and promising corporate retail career to care for his aged aunt and grandmother in Mississippi. He enjoyed relative anonymity in the country, while my mother became the successful merchant, choir director, and business woman. I think he preferred it. . .
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Staying Put: Sticking it Out When the Going Gets Tough

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The average American moves every five years. That’s a number that has stayed fairly stable for awhile. It includes everyone from the elderly who are not as prone to moving to the 18–24 year olds who are moving every year for college or first jobs or exploring. My experience in witnessing families around me is that this is fairly accurate. Whole families, all the pets and kids and stuff, out of here and on to there. New job, new church, new friends. Wipe your feet and move on down the road. The moves are financial, personal, going to something, going. . .
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What do I say to someone who is dying?

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Over the years, people have come to me about how best to approach someone with the gospel who is dying, be it a friend or neighbor or family member. This is usually a situation where the ailing person has kept their distance in the relationship and/or has been antagonistic when it comes to “talking about religion.” Sometimes it all comes down to the Christian being shy or feeling inadequate to present or argue about their faith in Christ which they desire to share. Time is now running out and so they ask me, “What can I do?” The Heidelberg Maneuver. . .
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How to Achieve Long-Term Change

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Will I Ever Be Able to Change? Long-term change is what the Christian life is all about (Ephesians 4:22–24). Someday we will experience the most glorious change from corruptible to incorruptible and we look forward to that glorious day when we will be like Christ. Until that time, the Bible makes it clear that we must strive: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing. . .
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Lessons in Love: It’s Hard

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I am writing this on the day before Valentine’s Day. As do many of you, the holiday makes us think of those we love, have loved, or wish we could love (I’m trying to cover as many of the bases as possible here). However, I was thinking along different lines the other day. I was thinking about how we learn about and express our love for others. Learning to Love There are some people for whom loving others comes very easy. We all know people like this. They have open and overflowing hearts that express love freely and joyfully to. . .
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Being Gracious on Non-Essential Issues

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How can we maintain a gracious attitude toward those we have disagreements with about non-essential issues: breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, home birth vs. hospital birth, vaccinate vs. not-vaccinate,  homeschool or Christian school, organic vs. not-organic. Families have strong opinions about these and other topics. How can we keep these things from becoming divisive? How do we keep from creating laws for each other where God allows freedom?

5 Ways to Judge if Good Activities Have Become Sinful

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Any amount of sin is too much. Any slander, drunkenness, covetousness, or lust is over the line for God’s people. But on a whole host of issues that aren’t sinful in themselves, it isn’t spelled out in Scripture how much is enough and how much turns an innocent pleasure into an occasion for repentance. The Bible doesn’t tell you how much money you should spend on yourself before giving the rest away, but it does warn against greed. The Bible doesn’t tell you how much time it’s acceptable to spend on Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter, but it does condemn sloth. . .
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Use Your Talents {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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Big Problems In the course of a day, how many times do you make contact with the suffering of another living being? Really, if you counted them, how many would there be? It is 6:00 a.m. your radio alarm clicks on and reports that another suicide bomber took out twenty-three more people somewhere in the Middle East (one). Good morning. After mining the nighttime crusties from your eyes and brushing your teeth, you take a scroll through your social feeds. Your college friend just got back from India, a medical mission to the slums, and she brought back scads of. . .
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The Merits of Saying Nothing

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A ten year old boy with a new pocketknife takes it out of his pocket many times throughout the day for no specific reason. He isn’t necessarily planning mischief, but after admiring it and waving it about for the fifteenth time, something ends up getting cut. You are that ten year old boy. Your tongue is that pocketknife. You don’t plan to say something hurtful or thoughtless or dumb, but as the words come tumbling out, some of them get away from you. The worst part is that in many cases there was no reason for you to open your. . .
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The Impossibility of Lonely Christmases

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Lonely Carols There is no better way to respond to Christ’s birth than with singing and over the centuries the Church has amassed a wealth of carols and hymns that is the envy of the world. This has led to all sorts of crooners and warblers without a religious bone in their body recording Christmas albums, interspersing sentimental seasonal fluff alongside forthright carols of Christian joy, topped off with an original or two to try to make their collection distinct. Sometimes this results in a beautiful voice singing beautiful truth, in a plundering-the-Egyptians, blind-squirrel-finding-a-nut sort of way. Other times, we’re. . .
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When Your Christmas Traditions Falter

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Difficult Christmases I don’t mean to come off like a Debbie Downer, but the Christmas season has been somewhat difficult for me for the last couple of years. Not in an overwhelming sense, it has been more like a wet fog and slush in contrast to fresh snow under a blue sky. I’ve struggled to discern the root of my difficulty because it has been even more of a struggle in recent years than it was right after my wife Kim passed away. I began to comprehend the problem after reading an article by a well-known national journalist and a. . .
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