Category Archives: Spiritual life

Christians and Mental Illness

My son Joel Looper (PhD, University of Aberdeen) just published a moving article that looks at Christians and mental illness in Church Life Journal, a journal of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. Check … Continue reading

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The Words We Use Broadcast Who We Are

The “social psychologist James Pennebaker spent years researching the significance of our use of words. With a team of grad students, he developed a sophisticated software program that analyzes what our words say about us. Pennebaker claims that the words we generate over a lifetime are like “fingerprints.” Even small words – what he calls “stealth words,” like pronouns (I, you, we, they) and prepositions (to, for, over) – “broadcast the kind of people we are.”

No wonder Jesus said “that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Continue reading

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The Rewarder

These people imagine, to misquote Hanani the seer, that the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking to criticize those who don’t do everything perfectly. But the truth lies in the opposite direction. What Hanani really told King Asa was: the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking to show himself strong to those who hearts are fully his. Not those who do everything perfectly. God is not looking for opportunities to criticize but to reward. Continue reading

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Is Christianity a List of Dos and Don’ts?

A few of Jesus’s many commands can be kept, even without faith.
For example, no one has ever sued me for my tunic, so Jesus’s command to give such a person my cloak as well has never been a problem for me. However, the
command to stop worrying has been a problem. So has the command to love my
neighbor as myself, to guard against hypocrisy, to get rid of all bitterness, and to do everything without complaining or arguing.

As it stands, it is simply impossible to check off these and
the other New Testament commands in the way one checks off items from a to-do
list. To consistently do these things and, more to the point, to be shaped in heart and mind in such a way that doing these things becomes natural, a person must have faith. This kind of faith is not mental assent to a doctrine, even a
doctrine about God, nor is it a belief that God exists and that everything will work out in the end. It is not that these things are wrong; it is that they are not what Jesus and his early followers meant when they spoke of faith. Continue reading

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The God Who Feeds the Ravens

Hypocrisy and greed are responses to a real problem: fear. Hypocrisy is the pathological response of a malfunctioning soul brought on by the fear of what people think of us. Greed is the response of the soul to the fear of not having enough. Hypocrisy and greed are ways of self-medicating. They alleviate the fear problem … for a while.
But hypocrisy and greed are only temporary fixes; they are stop-gap measures. And, unfortunately, the temporary fix makes the long-term solution less likely. Continue reading

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The Family Business: Doing the Work of God

How often we … miss what is happening around us. Because we don’t see it, we think nothing is happening, that God is on break. But Jesus helped us to see that his Father is working all around us, all the time. Continue reading

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Take Advantage of Second Chance Opportunities

He is not merely the God of the second chance, but of the third and fourth and hundredth and thousandth. Continue reading

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What You Don’t Know Just Might Hurt You

God promises to be found by those who seek him, not by those who don’t care to look. Continue reading

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Can’t Wait to Be Patient: A look at James 5:7-12

God is not willing to sacrifice your future to ease your present … He will make things right; you can depend on it. But, better by far, he will make you right – just don’t short-circuit what he is doing. You must be patient. You must trust him. Continue reading

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Religion Is Not an End in Itself

That is analogous to telling someone in Iowa that to get to the intersection of Forest Drive and Hicks Avenue in Annapolis, Maryland they must go east. It’s not that it isn’t true; it just isn’t very helpful. Continue reading

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