If there is one Christmas movie that stands out as a classic for the ages, maybe it’s the one that has been repeated and adapted more than any other: the Charles Dickens book A Christmas Carol. There seems to be a new version of it every few years. Black & white, color, animated, live-action, singing, no singing, Muppets, and Mickey Mouse. (Those last two are my favorites.) Charles Dickens must have really connected with something deep inside people for that story to continue being told and adapted into so many new versions decade after decade. Maybe it’s lasted so long because Scrooge’s transformation in the story is so heartfelt: from a greedy miser who takes as much as he can, to a merry friend who gives as much he can. Or maybe it just inspires us, because it shows a hurting world–a hurting family with a hurting boy (Tiny Tim)–but it also shows that one person can make a difference, if their heart is in the right place…
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have every week of the rest of my life planned out. (I’m lucky if I can remember what’s coming next week!) Some people seem to be able to peer all the way into their future, though, and it makes me jealous. I’ve known many folks who were confident of God’s specific calling on them forever, or always knew what job they would have when they grew up and have continued full steam ahead in their successful career path. I don’t know how they got that inside scoop, or if they made the plans all themselves, but God never laid out to me the full track of my life, with all its twists and turns. What I did feel God showing me was which step to take next, and then providing assurance when I stepped in a good direction.
As much as we’d like to shout out the cold hard “truth” and tell mean people how terrible they are, we have to ask ourselves, “Do I want to improve things, or just yell my angry guts out for spite?” (Sure, sometimes you just want to choose the second option.) But let’s say we do want to help our friend, family member, spouse, whoever understand better. Here’s what we do…
I was troubled to learn about a survey study in 2015 showing that “kids raised in religious homes were less generous and kind than those raised in non-religious homes.” They “tended to be more judgmental, less altruistic, and more punitive than kids raised without religion.” Yikes!
Everybody wants strong muscles, right? Well, your physical muscles aren’t the only ones you have. People shouldn’t just exercise their physical muscles but also their intellectual, emotional, and definitely their spiritual muscles. Just like lifting weights, doing sit-ups, and going for runs make us physically stronger and fit, we should also monitor and exercise our faith…
When a friend, loved one, or even just an acquaintance, is grieving, it’s hard to know what to say to them. You hate to see them hurting, so you try to come up with something comforting to say. But some things are better than others. Here 5 good things to say, and 5 to avoid.
Even if you aren’t one of those crazed UNC fans, you can still respect Dean Smith, who coached Carolina’s men’s basketball team for 36 years. He had the same philosophy for coaching basketball as he did for life: “Play hard, play smart, play together.” That can inspire us too.
We might not see it much in our small town setting, but when you drive to the larger towns and cities near us, you start to notice: people on the corner, at the intersection, or at the gas station, asking for money. You’re wary that it might be a scam, or just someone wanting money for substance abuse. But you’re also a nice person who wants to help people, and you remember Bible verses like “Give to anyone who asks you” (Luke 6:30) and “If anyone is poor…do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them” (Deuteronomy 15:7). So what do you do? What would be most helpful?
The more we assess other people’s worth and value based on how they seem, then the more we start to equate our own worth and value on how we look too. So in our personal lives, how much money, stress, and attention do we give to our looks, fashion, gadgets, car, house, living room, etc., etc.? We work hard to look good, instead of working hard to be good. How different would we be if we instead focused that time and energy on being a good person on the inside instead of looking like a good person on the outside?
We are very blessed to live in a free country, where we are free to worship without fear for our lives. But what if we didn’t? What if we lived in a country where religious minorities suffered abuse and persecution? Most people would just worry about surviving. But is there any way to have an active, effective witness for the love of Christ amidst such hostility? (Hint: YES!)
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