One morning, I was surprised to see my mail carrier lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.
During October, the trees come alive with color in my region. One year, a particular tree caught my attention. Like Joseph, it wore a “coat” of many colors. Its top leaves were plum-colored. A little lower, the purple morphed into crimson foliage. The red gave way to robin’s-chest orange, and finally, neon yellow leaves peeked out at the bottom like a petticoat. Although the leaves had radically different colors, they all had sprouted from the same maple tree.
Q; What's the mission of the church? —Sean
A: The church is a holy priesthood. As a body, it shares the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost and intercedes with God for an unbelieving world (1 Peter 2:5,9). Acts 2:42 summarizes the activities of the earliest fellowship of believers—activities that should still characterize the church today—this way: “The believers devoted themselves to the…
My husband and I often must act as referees while moderating the differences between our two offspring. They focus on what makes them different instead of what unites them. We frequently remind the two that they need each other—something that’s hard for them to see.
A question I often hear (and also ask myself) regarding diversity is this: “God calls us to reach out to those who are different from us, but how far are we supposed to go?” Is it enough to serve and minister to people who are different, or are we called to do more?
Have you ever wanted to take a quick peek at someone else’s mail? Maybe it was an envelope from a doctor’s office that held the results of a family member’s recent medical tests. Or perhaps it was a letter addressed to your parents from an estranged family member. As you held the envelope in your hands, the temptation to open it might have felt overwhelming.
April 2013 marked a milestone birthday for me. To celebrate, we took a long trip to my college “stomping grounds.” Numerous tollbooths, scenic beach views, and city excursions marked our unforgettable vacation. The highlight for my husband and me, though, was a little unexpected: it was that our kids had actually enjoyed being together for an extended period of time.
Recently, I watched the making of a popular Korean TV drama. I’ve been a fan of the show, but the behind-the-scene experience brought my appreciation to a new level. I learned that a successful program requires more than just a talented screenwriter. She needs the actors and actresses to bring the story to life. Then, there’s the director, the lighting engineers, the editors, and more. The crew members of this show work so well together that they recently went on vacation in Cebu to celebrate the show’s success. That’s a team!
"The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
Recently, I was talking with a friend who has been scarred by sin—things done to him by others. The effects linger, even though the actions occurred long ago. He was struggling, trying to see beyond the lies that caused him to feel unworthy of God’s grace. He felt powerless and weak, which left him vulnerable to the temptation to assuage his pain through wrong means. His identity in Jesus had been warped and weakened by his negative life experiences. So the two of us took a long look into God’s Word to view my friend’s true identity in Jesus.
We have a tendency to overestimate ourselves and inflate our positive qualities. Recently, researchers asked nearly a million high school seniors to assess their leadership skills. Seventy percent rated themselves as above average, while only 2 percent rated their leadership skills below average. In another study, 94 percent of college professors rated their work above average. Psychologists call this the “illusionary superiority” effect—where we think we’re better than we really are.
One of my deep joys as a pastor has been to baptize both of my sons. I have a picture taken just before I went into the baptismal pool with one of my boys. I’m crouched down, eye-to-eye. I don’t remember what I was saying, but I remember the tears. God was pouring grace on my son, and my church was welcoming him into its fold.
As a pastor, I get interesting responses from people when they discover my vocation. Some will immediately apologize for the language they’ve used. Some offer a forced smile and then come up with an excuse to change the subject. One line I hear often is: “Well, I like Jesus, but I don’t like religion.”