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Thoughts From Tim Challies

Dear Friends, Today I want to share a “thought” about one of the most commonly accepted sins. You probably know what it is before I even mention it. You may even have engaged in it. Some engage in it frequently, not even considering it a sin. It’s called gossip. It can come in many forms – a whisper in the ear, a prayer request offered in front of a group, a secret you make someone promise not to share with anyone else (hoping or knowing full well they will!), or to get support or sympathy or revenge in relation to something they said or did to us. We have all likely been guilty of committing this sin at one time or another or in one way or another. In fact, it can be particularly common in churches. As one person once told me while chuckling about some churches he'd attended, “The gossip lines in some churches spread information as fast as cell towers for AT&T and T-Mobile, and have just as wide a coverage.” Yet, as Christians it should not be so. And lest we be unawa
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Thoughts from Milly Jones

Dear Friends, Today’s post has to do with the pursuit of what is true. Not merely accepting what sounds good to me, or what fits with the personal narrative I’ve chosen to hold in life, or what I want to be true. It has to do with seeking what is really true – because truth does matter. For instance, how many have heard the commonly accepted statement that the phrase “do not fear” or “do not be afraid” occurs 365 times in the Bible, “once for every day in the year.” In regard to that statement one person wrote: “This sounded very encouraging. Having done some Bible searching in the past I was doubtful the actual phrase ‘do not fear’ would be found written in exactly that format 365 times but thought maybe verses which communicated that sentiment in various forms – such as fear not, don’t be afraid, etc. – would make up this excellent number.” I want to share the rest of this person’s story below, because they did go on (as we should) to do the research to see if it was t

Thoughts From Kathleen Norris

Dear Friends, Today’s ‘thought’ comes from an engaging book called “Amazing Grace – A Vocabulary of Faith” by Kathleen Norris who “returned to the Christian church after many years away.” She had struggled with what she called, “the scary vocabulary” used when she grew up in the church – judgment, wrath, dogma, sinner, salvation, reprobate – which to her had “abstract meanings that were all but impenetrable.” It was only upon reconsidering these words, and wrestling through them, that they eventually “could confer their blessings and their grace,” and she returned to the church. In today’s selection she considers the words “sinner” and “wretch,” tracing the origins, changes through history, and both the personal and theological implications. In some cases, she and I arrive at different conclusions, but I do enjoy the challenge of looking at things from her perspective – as a prodigal much like me, who returned home to the Father’s house after years of straying. Enjoy. SINNER

Thoughts From Priscilla Shirer

Dear Friends, During difficult times have you ever been tempted to focus only on the negative, the lack, the struggle, the sense of hopelessness? And if you were tempted to do so, did it blind you to what you did have? Did it cause you to overlook the blessings that were there all along, even in the midst of those times of lack? It’s not hard to do so. Our mounting concerns during difficult times can blind us to God’s supply. This week’s “thought” speaks to that situation. It comes from the devotional book entitled “Awaken” by Priscilla Shirer. A friend gave it to me a couple weeks back and I’m just starting to go through it. This particular devotion is entitled “What Do You Have?” and is based on II Kings 4:2 where a widow owes money, is confronted by creditors who come and threaten to take her two sons and sell them into slavery, in order to cover her debt. When Elisha finds out, he asks her: “What can I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” Priscilla’s

Thoughts From Daniel Fuller

Dear Friends, Have you ever been challenged by a skeptic to “prove” the existence of God? I have. And though I can’t offer “proof” sufficient to convince every skeptic, I can say the most reasonable argument for God’s existence begins by affirming our existence. It goes like this: Being cannot come from non-being. That is, something cannot come from nothing. Existence cannot come from non-existence. Therefore, if we reason backwards – since being cannot come from non-being the fact that we exist proves God's existence. And his existence proves the eternality of his existence, since he could not be if he had not always been. If there is a God, he must always have existed, for if he did not, he would not and could not exist now – and neither could we or anything else. With some slight differences of nuance, or phrasing, most theologians would tend to agree. Yet that raises another question: If God has always existed, why did he wait so long to create? Stretch the timelin

Thoughts From Pastor Jeff on Understanding Scripture

Dear Friends, Today I realized that sometimes we can assume too much. For instance, as a pastor I can assume (after many years of preaching) that many people do not know that the New Testament writers wrote their manuscripts in Greek (with a couple Aramaic phrases in them), and the Old Testament authors originally wrote theirs in Hebrew. That could be why some first-time visitors to my church some-times look at me with scrunched eyebrows wondering why (in my sermons) I will say, “In the Greek, or in the Hebrew, it says…” They are probably wondering how Greek and Hebrew have anything to do with the English Bibles in their laps! In fact, in some cases, when I’ve been critiqued for using a newer version, I have had to remind people that any English version is a translation from manuscripts originally written in those two languages. That includes the King James Version, which I have jokingly had to remind some of my friends, “is not the version Paul used.” Likewise, some do not kn

Thoughts From Tim Gustafson

Dear Friends, As one who loves the Lord, I have sometimes been tempted to defend Him against angry and sometimes unfounded attacks from people. After all, isn’t it necessary to defend those we love? What I have discovered over the years is that in the case of those who need our help in defending them, the answer is yes. But when it comes to the all-knowing and all-powerful God who “laughs” when “the nations conspire and the people’s plot in vain” (Psalm 2:1-6), it’s a very different story. The thought of me defending such a God actually seems rather silly! Sort of like an ant thinking it needs to (or can!) defend an elephant! Do I challenge some ideas and thoughts people put forth? Yes. Do I now try to do it calmly and graciously? Yes. Why? Because oftentimes the person antagonistic to God is actually hoping for an angry tirade from believers. It helps them justify their unbelief. Many former church goers (I have found) actually received such a response when they expressed some