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Timeless truth in a changing world

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Encouragement

On Fire for the Lord

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Pentecost must have been an amazing sight to behold. Men were quite literally on fire for the Lord, as the Holy Spirit descended upon them in tongues of fire. The apostles began to speak in languages they did not know, so that everyone there could hear the Gospel in his own language. Some mocked the apostles, claiming they were drunk. But many did believe, and after Peter’s sermon, Acts 2:41 tells us that “those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Whoa. Three thousand people? And a short while later, after Peter and John healed a lame beggar, John preached again about Jesus, and that day five thousand men believed! That’s astounding. Suddenly the growth of the Church in our own day can seem very meek in comparison.

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Through the Storm

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The disciples should have known better. Granted, they were in the middle of a fierce storm at sea, and the waves were breaking into the boat and filling it. These men, more than a few of whom were fishermen, were no strangers to sailing, but this storm was beyond their expertise. And somehow, through it all, the one person who could do anything about it was sleeping through it all! So they woke Jesus and asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” You can almost hear the panic in their voices, the accusatory look in their eyes trying to mask the fear. But they should have known better because, you see, Jesus had already made them a promise.

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Meeting Together Apart

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I sat in my car with my five children, rain steadily pelting the roof, the windows slowly fogging up with our warm air inside. We had only a limited view of the other cars around us in similar situations. My husband was leading a drive-in church service and had partially retreated to the open door of the church to avoid the rain. We could see neither him nor our fellow worshipers on Sunday morning, but we could hear him over a local radio frequency that had a limited range barely reaching the edge of the parking lot. This has become the new normal. Drive-in church. And I admit, it’s a bit of a letdown. My five-year-old, who was never terribly well behaved in church anyhow, no longer has to sit on my lap during the service, so he slides on and off his seat in the car. My other kids, who are generally quite well behaved in church, now have the freedom to whisper little side comments throughout the service or slouch back in their seats or take off their shoes. Sitting in our car doesn’t have the same effect as sitting in a physical church building with other congregants around us and the organ accompanying us for hymns. Listening over a radio frequency just isn’t the same.

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Drive-Thru Communion

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Three months ago, the idea of drive-thru communion would have been absurd. Most people would snort and roll their eyes, thinking that this is just one more case of how busy our society has become, always looking for convenience. But since the COVID-19 pandemic, drive-thru communion has become fairly common, people literally lining up to receive the body and blood of Christ from a masked and gloved pastor. Really, it almost sounds comical, like something you’d see in a bad movie. But in the absence of an actual church service, pastors have had to get creative in ministering to their flocks, and church members have had to rethink the way they worship.

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Why Me?

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Life is hard.

I have a friend who started her second round of chemo treatments last week. An adolescent from our church was hit by a truck over the weekend and is in the hospital for the foreseeable future. One of my friends was abused as a child and still carries those scars. People struggle with addiction, health problems, persecution, accidents, natural disasters, financial troubles, relationship problems… The list goes on and on. And the natural inclination when trouble strikes is to ask God, Why me?

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Celebrate Christmas Through a Child’s Eyes

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Ask any adult if they’re ready for Christmas, and they’ll likely respond with a groan. For what’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” December usually ends up being too busy, too chaotic, and too stressful to really enjoy. Children, on the other hand, are completely opposite. My kids have been counting down to Christmas since the middle of November. You can see the excitement and wonder in their eyes when they think about the holiday. Christmas for a child is what Christmas is really about—waiting in eager expectation. Our Heavenly Father has given us the perfect gift in His Son. We know that’s what Christmas is all about, but sometimes it’s hard to keep that focus when we think about everything on our to-do list before December 25. So here are a few links of Advent and Christmas activities you can do with your children (or on your own!), to remind you to take a step back and celebrate Christmas through a child’s eyes.

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The Meanest Mom in Town

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Last summer some friends from the neighborhood came over to play with my girls. They played outside for awhile before coming in to get out of the heat. Upon walking into the house, our guests spotted the xBox and asked to play. I told them no and suggested Legos instead. Walking away, I heard the nine-year-old mutter to my daughter, “My mom is nicer than your mom.”

My son and his friends were talking around the lunch table their eighth-grade year, and one friend bemoaned, “My mom just started this new thing called ‘no phones after dinner.’” My son shot back, “Yeah, well, my mom has this thing called ‘no phones…’”

Is it bad that in both cases, I was secretly pleased?

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Hitler’s “Good Luck Charm”

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Anyone who’s ever watched the movie Valkyrie had to groan in disappointment when the bomb planted by Claus von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise) didn’t kill Hitler as planned. The men involved in the assassination attempt were so close. What would have happened if Hitler and his top men had been killed? That’s a question we can never answer on this earth, but it’s not for lack of trying that Hitler defied death as many times as he did. Numerous attempts were made on his life, Operation Valkyrie being perhaps the most famous but certainly not the first. There was “Operation Flash,” the airplane bomb that didn’t detonate properly, shown at the beginning of Valkyrie. There was an overcoat bomb worn by a suicide bomber that didn’t have enough time to go off because Hitler abruptly called the meeting to an end. Some sources list up to 30 attempts on Hitler’s life, and Hitler took it as a sign of Divine Providence that his life was spared; validation of all his efforts. The source of Hitler’s uncanny good luck is a riddle that has plagued many a historian, but it can be solved, in part, by a rather unglamorous answer: Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel.

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When You Feel Insignificant

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My son is in marching band this year, and each member of the band has his or her own set of steps to learn. No two people have the same drill, and yet everyone works together to form a cohesive show. My son knows this, but it didn’t really dawn on him until they had a competition recently, and the band directors sent a video of their show to each of the members to watch. As he watched the entire show, finally able to see everyone together, he said in awe, “Wow. I had no idea that’s what we look like. It’s neat to see the big picture.”

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