Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Couldn’t God Simply Forgive?

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Couldn’t God Simply Forgive?

We have just observed Holy Week. Our spirits have been solemn, turned inward and upward more intently than at any other time of the year. We have remembered Jesus’ last days on earth and and his suffering on the cross. Yesterday, we rejoiced in Christ’s resurrection and victory over death and sin. Today we carry the glow of Easter and the promise of new life. In this time of Easter celebration, let’s continue to reflect on what has happened through the events of Jesus’ final days on earth. Why did the cross have to happen. Really, why did Jesus have to die when God is all-powerful and all-loving? Why couldn’t God simply forgive our sin and wipe the slate clean? Many of us have been taught that Jesus had to die to pay the price for our...

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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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What’s a Hypocrite?

What’s a Hypocrite?

I don’t think we’ve had this particular discussion before with the boys. It was verses from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) and questions in Good Dirt (http://gooddirtfamilies NULL.com/good-dirt-devotional/) that got their wheels turning and, before we’d even finished the Scripture reading our 8-year-old was interrupting with, “What’s a hypocrite? … What’s a hypocrite?” They couldn’t really identify with Jesus’ examples of blowing trumpets when giving money in church, or praying really loud on street corners, or fasting from food with troubled faces. So, the challenge was to bring hypocrisy to a kid’s level. “It’s doing things so that other people will think you’re a really...

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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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Jesus, Friend of Sinners

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

It’s Christmas time, and Jesus is front and center. For some of us, Jesus is the reason we celebrate. For others of us, Jesus is a part of the holiday that is foreign; Jesus belongs to some people but definitely not to me, we may feel. Jesus isn’t a part of our lives and he’s not someone we want to think much about. We can go through Christ mas without knowing Jesus, pushing thoughts of him to the edges of the season. What is it about Jesus that causes some of us to look the other way? What is it about this God-Man who lived on earth for 33 years that prompts discomfort, that makes us freeze up inside even as we scurry about bundled against the winter chill? Maybe it’s what we don’t understand about Jesus that keeps us frozen inside....

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