For a time, Cain was the only child on the face of the earth. Life was good - until he had to share with his brother Abel. We're all descendants of Cain. Envy and anger is part of our daily struggle. How do we tame this tiger?
New years are for beginnings. As we set goals and make plans, there is no better starting point than the first one. The one true beginning is what theologians call ex nihilo—God’s creation, out of nothing. God owns it all because He made it all. Nothing we create could ever be as much ours as this creation is God’s. The implications include every area of life.
Most people picture their life like a bell curve. You go up, up, up until you peak, then down you go until you die. Our world's dream is to be young forever. But in the Bible, the view of life is a gradual ascent all the way into eternity. God is filling you with more and more wisdom until at last you may discover the true meaning of life is not competing and accomplishing but knowing and enjoying God’s presence.
SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 12: 1-8, 13
As soon as Jesus rises from the dead he starts doling out presents - the best of which is faith. Only by meeting Jesus personally do you get faith, and then a sackful of additional presents - peace, purpose, joy, hope and more.
SCRIPTURE: John 20:1-8
Accusation is in the middle of all that is broken in our world. From political arguments to fractures within the family, we all feel its sting. Accusation inspired Adam and Eve’s deviation from God’s plan in Genesis 3 and accusation sent Jesus to the cross. What we see in Jesus’ act on the cross, however, is God’s unwinding of accusation with a stunning display of affirmation. Following Jesus is a “yes” to life, not a “no.”
SCRIPTURE: John 12:12-19
Recent research shows that two weeks of not using your legs can cause a loss of more than 30% in muscular strength. Inactivity leads to a rapid decline in flexibility, strength and fitness. What is true for our physical body is true for our spirit. Here is a great way to get spiritually stronger.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:14-30
Athletes stretch their bodies to the limit in order to keep themselves lean and fit. The Apostle Paul asks, Why can’t you Christians be more like an athlete—focused, dedicated, and willing to suffer for the cause?
SCRIPTURE: Luke 5:17-26
We all know the physical benefits of a good workout, but knowledge alone is often a poor motivator. Staying on track with our fitness, requires meaningful goals. Likewise our faith requires us to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and press on toward the finish.
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 3:7-14
Worship is literally the breath in our lungs. Because of Jesus we have the privilege to experience God’s presence in worship. Such worship is like being connected to a machine that fills us with pure, life-giving oxygen.
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 10:19-25
Solo Christian is an oxymoron. In the body of Christ, our hearts beat in community. But Paul wouldn’t pray and preach on unity so much if it was easy.
SCRIPTURE: Acts 2:42-47
We're made for connection, and one way God gave us for being connected is through sex. But the fallen world twists God's gift by mixing sexuality with hurt and insecurity. The good news is that Christ can restore us to the purity of Eden.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 2
It's been said that sin is the only empirically verifiable Christian doctrine. It's the thing in us that leads us do the thing we don't want to do. Sin isn't rule breaking as much as a form of disordered love. It's the same old story - but there's more to the story.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3
The seven-day work week has become a familiar part of contemporary life. But in Creation, God models a different sort of work week, in which the seventh day is for rest. What if a space for grace allowed us to be both more balanced and more productive at the same time?
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 2:2-3
Today there is remarkable consensus among scientists that human action is determining the quality of future life on the planet, and it isn't pretty. Some blame the Bible for this mess, but the Bible tells the story of a God who created from nothing. This truth — that God made ex nihilo — has huge implications for how we should live.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 1
Authors like to reveal as little as possible at the beginning of their story in order to build the suspense. God, as the author, does the opposite. So much is revealed in the beginning of God’s story that we cannot help but want to see where the story will end.
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 1:1-5
The Magi have been slandered throughout history: “Had they been women, they would have asked direction, shown up on time, helped with the birth, and brought useful gifts, like casseroles and diapers.” In reality, these men showed up on God’s timetable, and brought gifts with meaning and purpose.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2:1-12
If you've ever put a baby into a 4-year-old's arms, you've seen something magical. The 4-year-old looks down with awe, reverence, and even a little fear. At Christmas, we're the 4-year-old, and God is placing the baby Jesus, the Prince of Peace, in our arms.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2-7
The final paragraphs of A Christmas Carol report that Scrooge “knew how to keep Christmas well.” Simeon kept Christmas well, too, by seeing God's promise through to the day of its fulfillment.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 9:2–7
At Christmas, we long to transcend typical consumer trappings. The Christmas story is based on such an experience - the appearance of the angel, bringing good news of a great joy. The catch is that an angel's appearance is but a glimpse of the ultimate experience, God made flesh in a baby.
SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:8–15