Monthly Archives: January 2021

Masks in America: Hiding, Revealing, Transforming

It would not be surprising if the words for “mask” in the world’s languages have been used more in the past year than in all recorded history combined. That is impressive, given the length of time masks have been around. In 2018, archeologists discovered a 9,000-year-old Neolithic stone mask in the Middle East. One could argue that the earliest masks, although not face masks, were worn by Adam and Eve when they donned fig leaf coverings and tried to hide from the Lord.

Ancient Egyptians wore masks in religious rituals. They also placed masks on the faces of the dead to protect them on their crossing to the afterlife. In the Far East, masks were worn both for religious ceremonies and for theatrical productions. Classical actors routinely performed in masks, which explains why the ancient Greek word for actor was “hypocrite,” which means, “the one under the mask.”

Masks sometimes serve as identity markers. The mask marked the stage performer as an actor, the shaman as a healer, the chief as an authority. In West Africa, certain masks identified their wearers as intermediaries through whom petitions might be delivered to the dead.

More often, though, masks are worn to hide one’s identity. In ancient religious ceremonies, masks sometimes hid the wearer from malicious spirits. Historically, judges in many cultures have donned masks to protect themselves from reprisal from both friends and enemies of the accused. Today, companies are working to design “masks” that hide people’s identity from facial recognition software.
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Our Shame and Our Hope

Humans were designed to rule the world but powers they do not understand now rule them. Under God’s rule, they could rule, but the moment they stopped being subject to God, they became subject to fear (verse 10) and were … Continue reading

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Creation and the Butterfly Effect

Adam and Even needed to be trained for the awesome task before them, but they didn’t want to wait. They spurned the opportunity to rule under God and the preparation it required and chose instead to rule beside him. They … Continue reading

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When God Became Immanuel

It was not in a stable that the Creator became Immanuel. It was in a Garden. Do you remember what the Scripture said? “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking … Continue reading

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The Backstory to the Gospel Story

The sermon The Backstory to the Gospel Story gives us a big-picture look that will help us better understand and share our faith. Excerpts will be posted during the week, but you can views the sermon below. (Length: approximately 26 … Continue reading

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Hope, Presidents, and Inauguration Speeches

I write this on the day that Joe Biden was sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States. I thought President Biden’s inauguration speech was well-written and, at times, dynamically delivered. The theme, to which he returned again and again, was the need for national unity.

A secondary theme, a prerequisite for presidential inauguration speeches, was hope. The president brought those themes together when he called all Americans to unite to fight hopelessness. Picking up the hope theme later in the speech, he promised, in the words of Psalm 30, that though “weeping may endure for a night … joy comes in the morning.” Near the conclusion of the address, he said: “Together we will write an American story of hope…”

Every U.S. president in my lifetime has spoken of hope at his inauguration. This may be because inauguration day is a day of hope in the U.S. or it may be that Americans are naturally a hopeful people. They extend hope like a line of credit, placing it at the incoming president’s disposal.

What is the substance of this hope to which presidents routinely refer? Dwight Eisenhower spoke of it as the hope for the healing of a divided world. George W. Bush called freedom the hope of millions worldwide. Ronald Reagan thought of our hope, indeed “the last, best hope of man on earth,” in terms of an “opportunity society” where all of us “will go forward.”
Peace also figures into inauguration day hopes. Jimmy Carter hoped for a peaceful world built on international policies rather than on weapons of war. John Kennedy pledged to engage in a “peaceful revolution of hope” to assist “free men and free governments” south of our border.

Peace, justice, prosperity, and freedom form the substance of hope in inaugural speeches, but how to obtain them is far from obvious. Certainly, the united efforts of the American people play a necessary role. But presidents have assumed another dynamic is in play and that assumption is questionable.

That dynamic can be described in a word: progress.
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How Can I Talk with Others About Faith?

Do you have friends and family you’d like to talk to about your faith? A good place to start is with talking to God about your friends and family. Ask him for opportunities to speak with them. If that is … Continue reading

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The Right Kind of Answer to Skeptics’ Questions

My friend Amy Snapp started coming to Lockwood years ago. Her sister Cindy had been bringing Amy’s daughter Kathryn to our kids ministry. Because Kathryn liked it, Amy started coming and bringing the younger kids too. But dad Glenn was … Continue reading

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Direct Evangelism and Responsive Evangelism

This is the Apostle Peter. “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be … Continue reading

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Do We All Need to Be Evangelists?

Every Christ-follower needs to be able to speak on behalf of Christ but not every Christ-follower is an evangelist. Most local churches have some evangelists among their people – Lockwood certainly does – but not everyone is an evangelist nor … Continue reading

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