Uncommon Love: The Hallmark of Christianity

‘A conviction ungirded by love will make the possessor . . . obnoxious and the dogma he possesses repulsive. That’s why the cohesive factor in the ministry of the early Church resulted in the comment: “Behold how they love each other!” (Ravi Zacharias)
“How they love one another!” It wasn’t just something someone said only once. According to Tertullian, “See how they love one another!” was a common statement in Rome when new Christians painted a bright contrast to the darkness of the empire’s decadence and brutality.
We live in a decadent and brutal society today. We can barely drive down a highway, walk through a shopping center, or turn on our televisions or computers without noticing some element of our culture that reflects the debauchery of Rome. Continue reading “Uncommon Love: The Hallmark of Christianity”

Number One Post of 2015: Not Made to Fit in

Thank you for reading!  Happy New Year and God’s richest blessings to you and yours!

“You weren’t made to fit in. You were born to stand out.” Jim Caviezel
A reader recently asked me, “What do you mean by Christian unity?”
Let’s start with what it does not mean.
Christian unity does not mean that we adopt a coexist mentality that blends us into other worldviews. Our call is to shine light into darkness and encourage others to walk with us in the light. Some will come with us. Others will throw stones at us if we don’t dance in darkness with them.
But God didn’t call us to fit in.
We are pulled in two directions. As the world of darkness calls us to fit in with them, we are tempted to remain in our small group of believers who agree with us in nearly every way conceivable. Life is tidy there. We all agree with each other.
But God didn’t call us to fit in. Continue reading “Number One Post of 2015: Not Made to Fit in”

Best of 2015: Cookies, Tea, China, and the Cross

During the holiday season, I am reposting ‘the best of’–most viewed posts from this year.
I was going through the college cafeteria line to buy a chocolate chip cookie and a cup of tea after my morning class. Looking forward to a few quiet moments before I headed to my job, I had a magazine in hand opened to an article about creation. Behind me in line was a professor. As I set the magazine down to retrieve my cookie, a sentence about God having formed the world caught his eye.
No quiet moment now. He asked me about the article, then followed me to my table. He stood as I sat. Continue reading “Best of 2015: Cookies, Tea, China, and the Cross”

The Great God Who Still Gives at Christmas

He has regarded the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their prayer. Psalm 102: 17.
“What do you need?” my husband asked the director of a local food pantry he met ‘by chance’ the other day.
A big smile spread across “Bob’s” face. “Nothing.”
Then he outlined a story about a great need the pantry staff had faced the week before. For years, a local company donated $2,000 worth of turkeys every Christmas. But the company was now gone, replaced by a larger corporate entity.
No more turkeys.
Someone had made a donation that would have put a small dent in this need. But Christmas was coming fast. Continue reading “The Great God Who Still Gives at Christmas”

The Unexpected Expected Baby King

“Our God who breathes stars in the dark–He breathes Bethlehem’s Star, then takes on lungs and breathes in stable air. We are saved from hopelessness because God came with infant fists and opened wide His hand to take the iron-sharp edge of our sins.” Ann Voskamp (138).
First there was the oppression of Egypt, then the captivity of Babylon, then the occupation of Rome.
For quite some time, Israel had been imagining a conquering Messiah. Perhaps on that silent night before the angels’ announcement, the shepherds were dreaming of the day when they would be free from Roman rule. Continue reading “The Unexpected Expected Baby King”

Blogpoem: Speak God's Glory at Christmastime

Before we have finished wrapping the presents,
Baking the cookies and stuffing the pheasant,
Before we have finished decking the heights,
With shiny adornments and twinkly lights,
Before we have finished all of the chores,
Like cleaning the house and clearing out stores,
Before we have finished all that we do,
To make every Christmas special and new,
Let us look back to the Christmas of yore,
When a Baby King came to bring us new life and more. Continue reading “Blogpoem: Speak God's Glory at Christmastime”

Shining Light in the Darkest Days of Winter

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. II Corinthians 4: 6 NASB. 

The first symbol of Christmas was light. The light of the star guided seekers to the cradle of the king. Goodness Incarnate, a babe, warm and peaceful.
God commanded first light into being and light came out of the darkness. He sent a new kind of light in His Son. Beauty, love, tenderness, and mercy came to a murky world of sin and hate. Goodness Incarnate was light to dispel darkness. Dark skies, dark streets, dark hearts became transformation, birth to new birth. Continue reading “Shining Light in the Darkest Days of Winter”

BLOGPOST: Reason for Hope: The Islamic Backlash

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day“–Henry Wordsworth Longfellow

Every day it seems there is something new to fear. Terrorist attacks in Paris showed us that the West was vulnerable. Then the attacks in San Bernardino, California, brought the threat home.

Americans also fear crime. And while crime rates have decreased significantly since the 1990s, a majority of Americans perceive that crime has increased.

Gun sales are breaking records. Even before Paris, Americans overwhelmingly had lost faith in our government to protect us. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: Reason for Hope: The Islamic Backlash”

BLOGPOST: Biblical Illiteracy, a Crop Grown from Seeds of Separation

When quizzing my college students on rhetorical terms, I’ve sometimes resorted to providing a couple easy questions–a few answers they’ll easily recognize. This year, I included one I’ve used in the past with good success.
This quiz was matching. Students were to find an allusion–a reference to a biblical, literary, or historical person or event–in a listing of other examples of other devices. In his famous speech to the Virginia Assembly, Patrick Henry advised his listeners to “suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.”
Henry used other biblical allusions, quoting the prophet Jeremiah, “Peace, peace when there is no peace,” accusing the colonists of not taking the British seriously, and Psalm 119–“I have one lamp by which my feet are guided.”
I didn’t expect the typical student to pick up on those allusions. But there has been one example of allusion that nearly all of them could answer; They knew that Judas had betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Not so today.

Continue reading “BLOGPOST: Biblical Illiteracy, a Crop Grown from Seeds of Separation”

BLOGPOST: A Season of Hope: Lighting a Candle in the Darkness

“There is something deep inside of the human psyche that needs a celebration where we celebrate light that overcomes darkness, where we put aside differences and try very hard to ignore the darker side of human nature — the baser side of who we are — and do good, love one another and be kind to one another.” Rev. Wayne Alloway
Christmas comes earlier every year.  The carols play sooner; the lights go up in November. Of course, there is the shopping.
And every year, there is a news story–or a few–about people trampling each other to get a good deal. Those stories distort the true spirit of Christmas.
For Christians inhabiting a dark world, putting on the music of Christmas, putting up the lights, and searching for gifts to bestow on others illuminate the hope the season offers.
So maybe Christmas coming earlier every year isn’t just the retailers trying to keep red ink out of their books. Maybe  it comes sooner because we keep seeking the light it brings. To move beyond the noise, crowds, and busyness of Christmas, to move beyond our own darkness is to grasp stillness, peace, and joy. Continue reading “BLOGPOST: A Season of Hope: Lighting a Candle in the Darkness”