A Life That’s Cruciform

A Life That’s Cruciform

It’s those bedtime questions that can require the very most we have to give. I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll say one time that for parents, it’s those moments we’re tucking them in when kids are the most talkative. Don’t rush through bedtime with your kids, he encouraged. They’ll do anything to delay switching off the light. Talk to them. Listen to them. Take advantage of their open hearts and listening ears no matter how tired you are and no matter how ready you are to be done with parenting for the day. Austin, my 11-year-old, asked this one as I was giving him a final kiss at the end of a trying day, to put it mildly. Our 8-year-old had been through two meltdowns, our high schooler had been home sick from school and then had...

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Just a Minute

Just a Minute

In honor of spring break I want to tell the story of a child and of the man he became. This man today loves children like Jesus does and helps other people do the same. He didn’t have a good childhood. He was beaten nineteen times each week for nine months out of each year. He was the son of missionaries in the days when children were sent off to boarding school to keep them from interfering with the mission work. A head master and teachers who didn’t want to teach and were not called to caring for children used physical abuse to keep  some 50 children under control and said that if the kids told their parents they’d become Satan’s tool and would harm the mission work being done. The children lived in misery, fear, and silence. Finally one...

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God Is a Genius

God Is a Genius

It’s funny how perspective can change. Amazing, really, the way the bad in life can take on increasing degrees of hope … Friends of ours needed to return recently from their home overseas due to a serious  health difficulty one member of the family was experiencing. It was a blow they all felt deeply–the critical health issue and then the loss of their long-time second home and relationships of many years. Their work and ministry remained only partly finished. After a few months of being back home in the United States, the family sent an update. All that was happening had been dark and utterly perplexing. Life hung in the balance for one and it had seemed that vital ministry would encounter no end of difficulties due to the family’s...

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Understanding Sin and Where It Brings Us

Understanding Sin and Where It Brings Us

Sin. We can’t talk about what it means to be a follower of Jesus without discussing sin. It’s a word we find a lot in the Bible and a word that has been used in all sorts of ways throughout the eras of the Christian church. Sometimes sin hasn’t been explained well, and sometimes God’s answer to sin hasn’t been celebrated as the vital second half of the story of God’s life with us. I’m reading the New Testament book of Romans with a group at church, and we have plunged right in with Paul, the writer of Romans, to talk of sin and its effects on people in the very first chapter of this book. Paul is writing to a church in the big, first-century city of Rome that has never had a visit from an apostle, has never had...

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Dirty Work and New Growth

Dirty Work and New Growth

Kids never cease to surprise. Over Christmastide, the period of the twelve days of Christmas beginning December 25, our family had a time of sitting together and focusing for more than 30 minutes on both the spiritual parallels for the 12 Days of Christmas song and then on what spiritual disciplines are, why we practice them, and some discussion on a few specific disciplines. We are using a book titled Good Dirt: A Devotional for the Spiritual Formation of Families (http://gooddirtfamilies NULL.com/good-dirt-devotional/) by Lacy Finn Borgo and Ben Barczi (which you can download for free to use with your family or purchase in paperback from Amazon, with two  subsequent issues for upcoming parts of the church year available soon). The book has a brief family...

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Jesus, Our Wonderful Counselor

Jesus, Our Wonderful Counselor

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor …”  Isaiah 9:6 I reflected on the names of Jesus in this Isaiah passage over the Christmas season, but I didn’t get past the first description of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor.This one absorbed all my thoughts. How interesting and significant that this title for Jesus is the first one listed. It struck me these last weeks how much Jesus stands ready–stands near–to counsel us, guide us, teach us, give us wisdom that is beyond any we could find on our own or could receive from any person we might consult. Being  a reader and an all-around word  person, I have always relied on what can be called...

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