Category Archives: Lifestyle

Digging Bunkers: The Misuse of Knowledge

If you and I were to type in the same search term or phrase on Google, we would likely get different results. Let’s say we search for “Fun things to do.” Our Google search will be personalized by our location … Continue reading

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The Kingdom Commission

Earth is in a civil war – a spiritual war, really, though we must understand that spiritual means more than religious, or mystical or emotional. Spirit is un-bodied personal power, and earth is caught in a cosmic struggle between opposing … Continue reading

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I Want to Be Like Bob

I met Bob and his wife about thirty years ago. He was just back in the states after a span of years in an east African country. Bob performed surgeries in a hospital there for people who otherwise would not … Continue reading

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Can People Really Change?

I know alcoholics who have stayed sober for decades, but they stayed sober by changing and continuing to change – by growing. But staying sober is not the only thing that requires change; staying Christian does too. It requires progressive changes, one leading to another, across the span of a lifetime. Continue reading

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You Can’t Argue with That

We are the most argumentative people in generations. We now have technological pillboxes from which we, unseen, can send a volley of argumentation at our opponents while remaining shielded from their counterarguments. At the same time, there are fewer listening posts than ever before—and most of those we do have are abandoned. We simply never have to hear what our opponents are saying.

Contrast that with the Emperor Antonius, adoptive father to the philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was said not only to tolerate frank opposition, but to be “pleased if somebody could point to a better course of action.” Such openness to reason has always been uncommon. In today’s climate, it is astonishing.
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Why I Took the COVID-19 Vaccine

I’ve noticed that many people who fear the virus do not fear the vaccine and many who fear the vaccine do not fear the virus. I refuse to fear either. I wear a mask when necessary because our governing authorities have required it, because I want to protect others, and because doing so does not require me to disobey God. But I do not wear a mask because I fear contracting the virus. Continue reading

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Stumbling Block or Steppingstone?

Follow my example, he says. Live the way I do. Be ready to make personal sacrifices in order to help people come over to Jesus’s side. Everything you do, religious or otherwise, must make God look good – that is, “do it all for the glory of God.”

This involves both a negative (what we should not do) and a positive (what we should do). We do certain things and do not do others based on the impact our actions will have on people who have not yet come over to Jesus’s side.

Paul states what we should not do first (verse 32): “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God.” Stumbling here and throughout the New Testament, is not just about falling down but about falling away—from God. Our attitudes, actions, and words can make it harder for people to believe in God and confess Jesus Lord. We can cause them to stumble. Continue reading

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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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Church and Kingdom: Not a One-to-One Correspondence

The church is where the kingdom of God takes shape on earth, but the kingdom extends beyond earth, beyond humanity, and throughout creation. Saturn and Jupiter, the Milky Way, the Horsehead Nebula, MACS0647-JD (the furthest known galaxy) are all under … Continue reading

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Humility: The Path Along Which All Spiritual Growth Proceeds

Jeremy Taylor was one of the most influential teachers and theologians of the 17th century. His influence reaches our day through writers like Geroge Macdonald andC. S. Lewis. His two most famous works are The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living and The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying. My son Kevin recently showed me some of his instructions from Holy Living on the subject of humility.

Since humility is the path along which all spiritual growth proceeds, and since “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,” true humility is of greater worth than gold. Taylor makes the following suggestions for anyone who would live in the “grace of humility.”

To begin with, we need to understand that “Humility consists in a realistic opinion of yourself, namely that you are an unworthy person.” For the self-esteem generation, this assertion cannot help but seem misguided and even harmful. It is perhaps the most difficult advice Jeremy Taylor gives on the subject – and the most important.

When Taylor says we are “unworthy,” he does not mean we are worthless. Far from it: our worth is incalculable. When he says we are unworthy, he means that we have done nothing and can do nothing to merit the value God has placed on us. Until I see this is so, I will always be trying to prove myself worthy by my strength, my intelligence, my kindness or even my spirituality. I cannot “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) while at the same time trying to prove myself. It is impossible. Continue reading

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