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May 22, 2019

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“There is something extraordinary about their lives …”

let your lighr shine (1)Throw out the fish, keep the wrapping. That’s what I always say — especially after I came across the following passage in the Liturgy of the Hours. It was discovered in Constantinople in 1436, where its larger manuscript was employed as wrapping paper in a fishmonger’s shop and called The Letter from the Disciple to Diognetus. Experts think it dates back to the second century and was written by the ubiquitous “Anonymous.” Some nit-pickers might dis the body-soul talk (that’s not de-rigueur). As for me, I think it captures the in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world motif.

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.  

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives. They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. 

Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.  

Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

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May 14, 2019

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Is America A Christian Nation?

Is America a Christian nation? Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says it depends on what we mean by “Christian.” Then he goes on.

View the video. See if his answer is cogent.

 He is currently president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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May 12, 2019

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Bereavement in an Age of Rage: Comments on the Commentary

Tweeters dropped their smart phones and genuinely grieved over such a malevolently random death. It was as if a previous era’s medical fickleness reached into ours and snatched one of our own.

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May 6, 2019

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Hope Rears Its Lovely Head

“Mr. Redfern, we’ve analyzed your CAT scans and PET scans over the past year and we have examined you. We cannot be sure, of course, but we think there’s a good chance your cancer is gone.”

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April 14, 2019

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The Week That Shook The World

We’re about to enter those climactic, universe-rattling days, otherwise known as Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday (today) and reaches its zenith in the three days of the Easter Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday).  We remember Jesus as he knowingly walked into his own travail. 

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April 12, 2019

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Church Boards and the T-Rex

I served churches for about 26 years as a pastor. My response to this image’s message: “Yup.”

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April 2, 2019

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Dodging The Rain of Cliches

I’m all yawns. Perhaps that’s because modern candidates inevitably portray themselves as Messiahs. I’ve got bad news for them: It’s been done. An excellent Messiah pointed us to Kingdom living, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. It all happened two thousand years ago, so trim your aspirations to a mere chief executive, oh aspirants. Maybe I’ll then be interested.   

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March 22, 2019

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Hollering at a buried man

Ecclesiastes 7:9: “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

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March 15, 2019

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A Reply To Terror

I long to board a plane, land in New Zealand, and weep with those who are weeping.

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February 21, 2019

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Tapping Unseen Blessings

I once feared these verses and prayed that God would steer me clear of “trials of various kinds.” I now see their blessing. We gain steadfastness in our sufferings. We don’t merely go through them; we grow through them.  

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