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…
Like the old saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20.” It’s easy to see how one thing leads to another when you’re looking back. But as you’re going through it, we usually have to walk by faith and not by sight–certainly not 20/20 vision sight. So it’s remarkable to look back on years of happenings and experiences, and be able to trace an amazing connection from one to the other that led to more and more unexpected blessings. Like a series of fortunate events you didn’t even know was happening. All we can do is take things day-by-day and try to live our best…
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!
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.
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?
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!)
Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery programs help turn people’s lives around and keep them pointed in the right direction. They try to help people to keep getting better, take responsibility for themselves, and work to help others change their lives too. That sounds a lot like what the church should be doing too.
If you’re like me, you spend time and maybe even worry trying to figure out what God’s will is. What is God’s will for my life, my family, my church, etc.? Anybody who wants to make their life better–whether in general or in the midst of bad consequences–has probably wrestled with that question. Just what is God’s will?? Well, we shouldn’t really have to ask what it is, because it’s easy to find out. We should just ask how to do it better.
What does the Bible say about immigrants? A lot, actually. So it begs the question: Since there are people who have settled in our community/country, do we treat them like the Bible says to treat them? And if so, what is that like?
Sermons are nice but not near as important as the things people share with each other during regular times of life, in the middle of the day, sitting at work, or visiting at home. Some of those listeners will never walk into a church, so the words they hear about how God loves them, coming from their friends and neighbors, are the most important words that they will hear. That means you’ve got a big job to do!
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