Topic | Theology & Biblical Studies

Posts Categorized: Theology & Biblical Studies

God’s Sovereignty and the Difficult Things

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There is a long bookshelf in our living room that holds more than twenty years’ worth of photo albums. My wife is a fantastic photographer and with her camera she has chronicled the birth and growth of our children, their birthdays, softball and basketball games, family vacations and other special occasions. We will frequently pull a random book off the shelf, sit together and enjoy these great moments all over again. If the house ever catches fire, those albums will be what I grab on my way out the door. Yet, as grateful as I am for the love and. . .
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Sin and Reality

By in Highlands Blog on

Our sin is both an escape from reality and the establishment of a new reality all-together. First, we sin because we do not like the world that God has constructed for us, either in general or in the moment. Any sin, from mental covetousness to physical murder is our way of reshaping the world in our image. We lie because the world of our lie is preferable to us to the world of truth. We lash out in anger because someone else is not acting in conformance to our desired reality. You can take this across every sin, those against. . .
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My Favorite Book of the Bible

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Admitting which book of the Bible is your favorite is like admitting you have a favorite child. You are supposed to love them all equally, but deep down inside you know that there is one that aggravates you less than the others. If I were asked to name that book of the Bible most difficult for me to love, that would be easy. It’s Job. A friend of mine who once described Job as “nauseating.” It is practically unteachable, and perfectly unpreachable. However, the child you are least likely to favor is the one who undoubtedly needs more of your. . .
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God Talks to Us

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I think of it as awesome that God talks to us. Of all the persons on the planet that you would like to meet and get to know, wouldn’t the Creator of the universe be your first choice? Because God speaks to man, we can know why we are here, what life is all about, what is after all of this because we do see leaves change and fall to the ground. If somehow God were seated next to us on a flight, what might we ask Him that He hasn’t already revealed? By that I mean that He has. . .
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What Should I Do With My Life? {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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We all feel small. We fail at things. We sense our inadequacy long before anyone else ever notices it. When wondering what to do with our lives, insecurity often drowns possibility. The truth is, life isn’t about us, but we don’t find that out by taking an emotional inventory. If you run in Presbyterian circles, like I do, you’ll hear the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (What is the chief end of man?) rattled off ad nauseum as the complete solution to every practical question about work and life. You ask, “What should I do. . .
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Confident World-Changing Prayer

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Prayers that Get to Heaven There are many prayers that only make it as far as the ceiling; they don’t make it to heaven and so they have no effect on the world. But in Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul is absolutely confident that his prayers are not like that. He believes that his prayers are heard in heaven and he expects the world to be changed as his prayers are answered. So what gives him that confidence? Paul’s confidence in prayer is grounded on the truths about Jesus in Ephesians 1: 19–23, since Jesus has ascended to heaven, your. . .
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Are You Living the Gospel Before Your Children?

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Your Life Speaks Your children will do what you do, not what you say. Other familiar ways of saying the same thing are, actions speak louder than words, and more is caught than taught. Generally speaking, I agree with these statements. Not to diminish the significance of verbally teaching our children the faith, the benefit of these statements is that they remind us that our actions teach our children what we really believe. This is a difficult reminder for me. I regularly see my children sinning only to realize they learned that particular behavior from me. The sin of their. . .
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No One Wins at Whack-a-Sin

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Lessons from Whack-a-Mole Those clever little electronic moles! Just when you prepare to whack the one in front, he disappears and the rascal in the back pops up. You prepare to smite him and now he’s gone too. Look, over there! That’s the mole you should focus on now! Wait, no, that one! Mostly you just pound empty holes. The moles try to survive by alternating and distracting you, blurring your vision and confusing your aim. As a carnival game, it’s great fun. But when a sinful world adopts the same strategy and convinces you to play along, no one. . .
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Know Who Your Boss Is {A Girl’s Guide to the Good Life}

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No matter how independent we imagine ourselves, we are not. Before we can toddle about on our own two feet, our hearts (if not our lips) impetuously bawl, “You’re not the boss of me!” to anyone with the audacity to order us about. Unfortunately, infantile outbursts against rightful authority are not outgrown as quickly as a two-year-old stretches the limits of her toddler clothes. When last season’s footie jammies are pulled out of storage it’s obvious they need to go, but we continue trying to outfit ourselves with positions of independence and autonomy refusing to acknowledge that no matter how. . .
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I Have Overcome the World

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Jesus has left the building . . . and that’s a good thing. I know that those two statements don’t seem to go together but that is basically what Jesus is saying to the disciples in what is commonly called the “Farewell Discourse” found in the Gospel of John, chapters 13–16. A Troubling Announcement In these chapters, Jesus isn’t healing anyone or speaking to the crowds or contending with the church leaders; He is spending the last hours of His earthly time with that rag-a-muffin band made up mostly of blue-collar men who have followed Him for three years and. . .
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The Lord Reigns, Even in Dark Times

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I’ve been beset lately with a downcast spirit of sorts. It doesn’t feel like a storm raging, just dark clouds and a fog within me that blocks out the sun. It isn’t anything clinical or particularly intense, but a consistent feeling of sadness or frustration that many things in and around me simply aren’t as they should be. It might be a frustration with our current cultural or political climate, which is a total mess; I think we can all agree on that. In my memory, I don’t remember a time that our nation has been this divided and pessimistic. . .
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Don’t Give Evil a High-Five

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Avoiding Approval of Evil Evil demands your approval and it does not rest until it finds your level of complacency. It utterly ignores your disavowals of members of the evil genus and continues to press for approval at the species level. Evil doesn’t mind your hatred of categories as long as you make allowances for instances; “I know you’re against abortion, but surely not in cases of rape, right?” Evil loves to empty words of their meaning. Evil keeps changing the subject. Evil constantly blurs the lines. Evil will quickly stoop to deception, as long as it can get you. . .
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Don’t Confuse the Bread with the Plate it Comes On

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Disagreeable Compliments As Christians, when we think about our faith or our worship, we often sink into thoughts or discussions about secondary doctrines or modes of worship. While there is surely a time and place for those discussions, I have been a bit dismayed of late with the relative proportion that is spent on what I would consider tertiary topics, or points of debate that are less than central. I have heard it said far too often (and sadly said it myself) when referring to a pastor or teacher, the constant self-protective caveat of “You know, I don’t agree with. . .
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Jesus Wants You Dead

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Christianity is Harmful Christianity harms women by teaching wives to submit to husbands. Christianity harms children by brainwashing them into a closed-minded system of beliefs. Christianity harms people by setting forth oppressive standards for sexual activity that result in crippling guilt when those standards go unmet. Christianity harms people who identify as gay or transgender by demanding that they change something intrinsic to their self-understanding. Christianity harms society by asserting a fundamental distinction between the saved and the lost, the righteous and the ungodly. And if this were not enough, Christianity is down in the basement right now, boiling and. . .
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Seeing God in All Things

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Enjoying God’s Gifts God has given us good things in the world and not only for their base use. Food is a gift that serves our needs far more than for basic survival. We have food in all its varieties, colors, and flavors to see that God is good and gives us good things. The sun does many things for us, but to only see the thing in the sky that provides light is to only see the sun. The sun is bright, large, and powerful, for us to see the majesty and glory of the Triune God. God gives us. . .
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Did You Have a Blue Christmas?

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Christmas Bright & Christmas Blue For our Christmas morning breakfast we had waffles, eggs, link sausage, coffee, tea, eggnog, and lots of conversation. A playlist of Christmas hymns and songs played in the background as we ate, talked, and laughed. Later in the day we joined another family for more of the same but this time we were slicing into prime rib and pouring wine. Now all my Yuletides have not been nearly as full. Some late Decembers I went hungry and was mostly alone. I worked on December 25 several times and there was no one to come home. . .
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Does God Keep His Promises?

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The Tension of the Story Any author will tell you that a good story needs certain elements to work, to bring in and keep a reader engaged. One of the most critical elements is a sense of tension, something that is not quite right that must be resolved at some point. Even the writers of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery books knew this. Besides the main plot, there was always some sense of tension at the end of each chapter that kept you reading—just one more chapter. This principle doesn’t only apply to fiction. The greatest story of. . .
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Giving Thanks for More Than Just STUFF

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Giving Thanks for What We’ve Got We often think of giving thanks as being happy about the stuff we have: the warm house, hot lattes, and our new iPhone. While that is a part of thanksgiving, it may be the smaller part. A spirit of thanksgiving does more than smile contentedly as the platters of turkey and candy-coated sweet potatoes come around. It is good and right to openly express our gratitude for the stuff which makes our lives more pleasant and the people who have loved us through the ups and downs of the last year. These are very. . .
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Parenting Teens & Reliance On Grace

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The Process of Parenting Teens With one child just out of their teens and five still in the throes of their teen years, I’ve understandably been thinking a lot lately about the process of young people transitioning into adulthood. This train of thought has also been triggered by the experiences of many of my peers who are also navigating these waters, and the idealism that many of us in the homeschooling movement bought into about how smooth the sailing would be. Turns out that sin and circumstance are still big factors churning the waters for both our children and ourselves.. . .
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