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November-December 2018 Issue

Worth Repeating

“If you’re asking yourself, ‘How in the hell can I be happy in retirement?’ I say, try a little heaven.” Financial planner Wes Moss, whose national survey of thousands of retirees showed that religious practice enhances happiness (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) “All American Christians must work together these days to distinguish religious liberty from religious privilege.” Church […]

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Using the Bible to avoid Jesus

It is a seemingly odd thing to do: to express a strong commitment to biblical truth as a way of avoiding Jesus. Yet that is precisely what many fundamentalist-evangelical leaders are doing. A prime example comes from pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, who is much in the news as […]

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Sacred Landscapes

Religion and the American West Far upon the plains of Wyoming is the Old West town of Medicine Bow, a tiny community of some 300 people. In this remote locale I lived one summer as a young man. Founded in 1869, Medicine Bow, Wyo., in the early 20th century boasted two saloons, a general store […]

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Nature & nurture

Adventure meets inspiration in shared, small-group experiences It has become something of a mantra: “We don’t do tours; we provide shared experiences.” There’s no herding a large group in matching T-shirts, or meals of rubber chicken with banquet bullets (green peas); no memorized tour commentary, but instead thoughtful insights and personal engagement. Since 2014 many […]

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Leaders come to peace with the pruning

Nine years ago the Spirit whispered to me, “Trust me. I am calling you to Trinity. And I will prune you.” Pain, not pleasure, seemed to control the pruning metaphor of John 15:2. Because it was a Jesus teaching, I said “yes” to the pruning by moving from Louisville to San Antonio. This is a […]

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THEOLOGY IN THE PEWS: The church as a foretaste of the kingdom

In addition to its calling to be a sign and instrument of the kingdom of God, the church is sent into the world by Jesus (John 20:21) to be the dwelling place of the Spirit as a foretaste of that kingdom. The Spirit is given to the church to empower it for participation in God’s […]

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REBLOG: Unless we stop saying ‘unless’

Here am I, Lord, send me… Unless it’s to Africa or the Middle East or some other faraway place. After all, God, I don’t know the language or the culture. And what about my safety? Some of these places are dangerous. Here am I, Lord, send me… Unless it’s to the hospital to visit the […]

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THE LIGHTER SIDE: Gracia a Dios por gente amable

(Thank God for kind people) A month ago two of our favorite people visited from Texas. We loved having them here, but they are really friendly. That they are not New Yorkers was most evident on the subway. Our friends get on the train, sit across from each other, and begin a conversation. At first […]

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CLASSIFIEDS

Minister for Adult Discipleship: Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., is seeking a full-time minister for adult discipleship who has a passion for educating, equipping and leading adults in their spiritual journeys as disciples of Jesus Christ. A full job description and more information about our church are available at providencebc.org/connect/employment/. Submit résumés to ministersearch@providencebc.org […]

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DIGGIN’ IT: What does DNA say?

Ancient bones and modern science combine to tell surprising stories Two recent stories highlight the growing role of DNA analysis in archaeology. One of them offers a reminder that Israel — a land bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe — has always been a land of migrants. In 1995, a large karstic cave (one formed […]

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Six Gifts

Quaker writer Parker Palmer offers insights into aging There’s no shortage of advice these days about aging, but in our culture, most of that advice seems to be about how to deny that it’s happening. Dye your hair, bleach your teeth, learn about Snapchat and eat more antioxidants. Parker Palmer’s new book, On the Brink […]

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Matthew & Migration

Reading the birth story of Jesus in new light The power of the gospel narratives concerning Jesus’ birth may easily escape us when we read them while enjoying Christmas cheer amid jingling bells and twinkling lights. We cherish them as favorite stories while giving them little serious thought. Yet, meditating on these texts, especially in […]

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Calling the church to battle opioid addiction

Evil comes in two forms according to theologian Fisher Humphreys. First, there are actions we take that are knowingly wrong — that we are free to not take, but do anyway. These are actions sins. For these actions, the church proclaims we are to preach repentance and forgiveness. As followers of Jesus, we are to […]

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RELIGION AND THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS: Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)

From lofty perches in urban towers East and Midwest, American capitalists in the summer of 1923 cast their collective gaze upon a new promised land of financial profits. Even the unexpected death of Republican President Warren G. Harding, a pro-business chief of state who had cut tax rates for wealthy individuals, failed to cast a […]

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‘Are you saved?’

What the Bible does and doesn’t say about salvation There are people who want salvation but sometimes wonder if they are truly saved. They may review their conversion experience to be sure it was genuine. They may be baptized more than once. They may worry about whether they have properly followed the “plan of salvation.” […]

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Why do ‘nones’ avoid religious identification?

One of the most talked-about trends in American religion today is the growing number of persons who say they are religiously unaffiliated. But, why do they claim no religious identity? Pew Research Center took that question to more than 1,300 so-called “nones” to better understand the reasons behind their lack of identification with any particular […]

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Speaking God

A conversation with Jonathan Merritt about spiritual conversations With his new book, Learning to Speak God from Scratch: Why Sacred Words are Vanishing — and How We Can Revive Them (Crown Publishing Group), Jonathan Merritt is advancing a conversation about spiritual conversations. So, this timely conversation is adapted from an interview with Merritt, a popular […]

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Lament and Light

Losing patience with the slow train of justice, but not hope The first time a Kate Campbell CD landed in my inbox, in 2001, it stayed there until a convincing publicist called weeks later to follow up. Leaving the office I grabbed the hymns-plus-original-songs CD, Wandering Strange, and played it in my car. The moving […]

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Questions Christians ask scientists: Why do some people think the earth is flat?

“The world, I believe, is honestly flat.” Thus did “Mad” Mike Hughes, a California limousine driver, explain why he launched himself 1,875 feet above the Mojave Desert in his homemade steam-powered rocket. The feat, performed on March 24 of this year, took him another step toward his ultimate goal of rising so high that he […]

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Through the year, at the end of the year

The poet Maya Angelou said, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” To early Christians, Paul quoted the words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Most of us know those truths. We have spent our lifetimes embracing the important role […]

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