Category Archives: relationships

Identity Issues: Growing Up in the Adam’s Family

Everyone carries baggage from their growing up years. No family is perfect, some are hideous, and all have their oddities. It’s like everyone grows up in the Addams family. For some people I have known, the Addams family would have … Continue reading

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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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Is Marriage on the Way Out?

My son the youth pastor asked me this week if I thought that marriage was on the way out. He wondered, he said, because cohabitation is now widely accepted and many people who do get married don’t stay married for … Continue reading

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Justice Offers Forgiveness but not Escape

I once called on a mother of two girls who were in our little mission church’s Sunday School. I was nervous about what I had to say. Her daughters were both out of control, disrupting Sunday School classes and even … Continue reading

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The Lesson My Dad Taught Me

My dad was a tough guy. He served as a Marine in the 1940s. He married while he was still in the Corps and was divorced not long after. I know almost nothing of his first marriage and only learned … Continue reading

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Things I’m Glad My Dad Didn’t Teach Me

(For Father’s Day I am posting a piece first published in 2015 by Gatehouse Media.) After reading an article by Peter Scholl, a forty-something married man with kids, living in Australia, I find myself grateful for the things my dad … Continue reading

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“I Believe in the Forgiveness of Sins”

Many people find the extravagant breadth of Christian forgiveness objectionable. Should even Hitler, if he has expressed “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” be forgiven? What about the sexual predator? The murderer?

I have had to be clear about this in my own mind. The forgiveness of sins is easy enough to believe when you are sitting in a church pew. It is another matter when you are sitting in a jail cell with a man accused of molesting a two-year-old child or a woman who shot her sleeping husband and then decapitated him so she could be with another man. In such situations, could I honestly say that I believe in the forgiveness of sins?

Yes. I have been able to believe in the forgiveness of sins – even in those cells – because I believe in the God of Jesus. I am, however, in doubt about whether the people I came to see believed. They didn’t stop making excuses long enough for me to find out, but people who believe in the forgiveness of sins make confession, not excuses. Continue reading

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An Eye for What Others Miss

The biographies of Jesus tell a fascinating story about his encounter with a man named Levi Matthew, a tax collector. The evangelist Luke makes a point of stating that Jesus “saw” him. Other people saw him too, but not in the same way.

They saw him the way motorists see the toll booth worker on the turnpike: most took no notice of him. Those who did tried to avoid him. But others looked at him with disgust. He was a tax collector. People have never cared much for the company of tax collectors – then or now. But people working for the IRS are a hundred times more welcome in our day than tax collectors were in Levi’s day.

A tax collector was a citizen of Israel who went to work for Israel’s conquerors, the Romans. He collected tax money from his people and gave it to the Romans to fund the military occupation of their own country. And he did it for money. When people looked at Levi, the more generous saw a greedy and dishonest low-level bureaucrat. Most saw a traitor. The rest just saw a loser.

St. Luke says that Jesus saw Levi Matthew. He had his eye on him. He saw the things other people saw, but he saw something they didn’t see: He saw what Levi Matthew would become. Not a traitor who sold his life for money but a saint who would sacrifice his life for God; not a low-level bureaucrat but a high-level apostle; not a loser but a saint.

It is unlikely that other people saw this. Continue reading

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When it Comes to Love: Know the Operating Specs

We often assume that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a is telling us what we are ordered to do – or at least what we should do. But read it for yourself: There are no commands here—not a single imperative (or even subjunctive) mood verb in this entire section. Paul is not ordering us to love; he is describing love to us. The 15 active voice verbs in this section provide us with love’s operating specs, which we can then use in our own lives. This is intensely practical stuff.

Look at the first spec: love is patient. That lets us know that if we are living in love, we will be seeing patience. But what if we see impatience instead? That is also helpful. It means an adjustment is necessary – not that we need to try harder but that we need to come to God in trust and possibly repentance, so that love can start flowing again.

The same thing works for each of these actions listed. Love acts kindly. That is an operating spec. If I am living in love as I was designed to do, I can expect kindness to be part of my life. On the other hand, if I am easily angered or am keeping a record of the wrongs, that is an indication that I have moved out of love and adjustments need to be made.
Can you see how helpful this could be? Continue reading

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What it Takes for Love to Last

Hundreds of years before people began celebrating Valentine’s Day, the holiday du jour for February 14 was Lupercalia. The philosopher Plutarch refers to Lupercalia as a time when “young men of noble families run through the city naked and …strike those they meet with shaggy thongs.” They were history’s first streakers.

Though respectable people no longer took part in it, the festival was still being celebrated in the middle of the third century when a priest named Valentinus – we know him as St. Valentine –lived in Rome. Fast-forward to 496 AD. Lupercalia is a distant memory. February 14 is now the day to celebrate the Feast of St. Valentine. Continue reading

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