Pastors' Notes

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Thinking About Self-Control

Thanksgiving is powerful - the act, that is, that the holiday emphasizes. Ironically, in America, the holiday, however, has become more about the very thing thanksgiving is meant to penetrate and kill - self-centered indulgence. I don't mean don't enjoy the pumpkin pie - I myself like a little pumpkin pie with my Cool Whip. But ironically, it is only through the act of tha...

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The Painful Nothing

One of life's deepest pains is a lack of connection to others. When you know someone with clinical depression, assume first that it hurts. Depression often feels like disconnection from everything - others, oneself, even God. It hurts, because previously there was a connection, and now it's mysteriously missing - the odd pain of a vacuum, the pain of nothing, where there s...

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Do the Next Thing

Recently I came across this poem on The Gospel Coalition website; I had not heard of it before. It was well-timed grace "low inspiration", customized by God for a low moment: "From an old English parsonage down by the sea There came in the twilight a message to me; Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven, Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven. And on through the do...

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Truly Christian Help

You are in your discipleship group, and someone reveals their recent, painful loss. You respond by expressing empathy and grief. But then what? Buddhists and atheists and Communists express empathy and grief. What next, that would be "Christian"? Read Titus 1:1-2, and insert "Paul", with your name, and "an apostle of Jesus Christ" with the less technical - but still appli...

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Reflecting on Life with Lucy

It's hard to believe that it's been three years since God brought Lucy into our life. Three years of joy and exhaustion and recalibrated plans about life. As I reflect on those three "features" of life with Lucy, here are some lessons I'm learning, in no particular order: Sometimes often a mom won't get a Sabbath rest, and rejuvenating time with God, unless dad makes ...

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The Reformation in a Verse

This Halloween is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, when Martin Luther revealed his 95 Theses, setting off a firestorm of debate, controversy, change, and blessed freedom. Many passages of Scripture could claim to be the heart of the Reformation; Colossians 2:23 is one of them. If you want to understand the Reformation, seek to understand Colossian...

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Addicted to Righteousness

An old Reformer once said, of the Christian's life, that "unless we are addicted to righteousness", "we will faithlessly abandon our Creator". That phrase - "addicted to righteousness" - is striking. Certainly the language of addiction applies to our present day, even in our entertainment practices - we don't just "watch TV"; we "binge watch" shows. And there is the myriad...

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Hugh and Jake

Sometimes God gives compare and contrast moments that are inescapable. This morning I saw in the New York Times that Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy, had died. Thinking biblically: ". . . you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God . . . because of t...

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Grace for Gracie

Many of you have asked about my family member Gracie, who was shot by a fellow student in her school a couple weeks ago. She is recovering well. Though the bullet literally bounced off her spine (and missed her aorta by a hair), doctors expect a full recovery (though she is not yet walking again). As you read this, please pray for her. As I understand it, she was shot and...

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Earthy Means to Flourishing Community

"Community" is simply being with other people. A flourishing community is one where there is mutual, multiplying joy among the members, as a product of being with each other. This is because we humans are hard-wired for joy. We're created with this innate desire. The only way that any human experiences satisfying joy is in God. Therefore the only truly flourishing communit...

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