The secret ingredient for a healthy church is never spoken of in the gospel accounts, but shows up predominantly in the letters to churches and the individuals that follow. It is an integral part of life together as God’s people, one of the “one-another” commands of Scripture (1 Thess 5:11), and is just plain old important for the church to endure through difficult times.
My four wisdom teeth were pulled yesterday. It was about as fun as it sounds and I’ll need a few days of recovery just to get back to living a normal life where I can eat food with texture.
I have, as my wife would say, ignored my dentist for over 13 years. Every check-up, every cleaning the refrain is the same, “We should take those wisdom teeth out.” And my response has been the same, “I’m not taking them out until they give me trouble.” Well friends, the day of trouble came two weeks ago, when every dentist was closed due to the snow.
This might seem like a mean point to make as your entire family is probably melting down from cabin fever, you may have experienced some financial impact from not being able to work, or your plans have been affected greatly by our weather, but I guarantee you my intent is not to poke at your discomfort and make fun -- it is to try and grow your trust in God.
“The Holy Spirit is like a dove, if I sin he’ll fly away”.
I hadn’t been a Christian very long, but I knew what my friend had been told was wrong. We were discussing God’s indwelling presence -- the scandalous truth that God himself comes to dwell in our very being when we trust in Jesus Christ for salvation. My friend was recalling a teaching he heard about living uprightly and the Holy Spirit. In it, the teacher made the claim that since the Bible refers to Holy Spirit as being, “like a dove,” if we sinned, we would scare away the third member of the Trinity because our sin was like a loud noise to a bird.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. – Phil 4:14
It’s funny how we choose what verses of the Bible we decide to claim for our lives. The verse that precedes this one is one of the most quoted, famous, and lifted up verses in our culture; even someone who doesn’t know anything about the Bible would be aware of it. The infamous verse is, of course, Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”.
I took down our Christmas tree a couple of days ago. It was far less exciting than the day I put it up and much scratchier. Maybe you're feeling a little scratchy too as you look back and reflect on the recent Christmas and New Year’s festivities. Perhaps you're feeling a little ho-hum, let down, depressed, and sad because of the end of an extended focus on all that is good.
Undoubtedly, if you grew up in the Western world, you had a certain relationship with a man in a red suit who sneaks into your house once a year to give you more stuff. But in many churches, and even among families in our own church, there are differing attitudes towards Santa as a cultural icon.
I’ve seen four distinct ways most Christians deal with Santa in their homes. My goal is not to lift one above the other, but to help you consider different options that may bear weight on your conscience so you can make a wise choice for your household.
We recently returned from a family vacation to Ireland. When trying to decide whether or not to go, one of the things we considered was the weather. On paper, Everett and Ireland have pretty much the same weather this time of year: cloudy, rainy, windy, and just not a very nice place to be if you want to be outside. Realizing we could be cold and wet in a different country or cold and wet here, we decided to branch out and travel somewhere new.