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Showing posts from July, 2016

The Bible Doesn't Apply to Your Life

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So stop trying to make it about you.

There are two common but terrible methods for studying the Bible: topical and verse-by-verse.
Topical Bible studies are usually a collection of verses and passages ripped out of their original contexts and arranged according to some irrelevant, Western gimmick like characters, virtues, or targeted demographic themes.
Verse-by-verse Bible studies tend to work through entire books in a painfully over-engineered fashion to the point where life applications are extracted through a hunt-and-peck assortment of morphemes and other abused word parts.
Both methods couldn't be more dissimilar nor produce more polarized, self-righteous apostles, yet both fail to recognize one simple fact: the Bible was not written so that we could apply it to our lives.
The Bible is an archive of stories, letters, and other writings that show how humanity came to know God. In fact, these writings are inspired by him so that they might transcend the generations who recorded the…

God Wants You to Be Angry

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Because he doesn't want you to be useless.

Happiness and sadness. Hope and despair. Love and hate. Peace and anger. In any list of emotions, anger is always listed as a negative one--the opposite of good emotions. We're enlightened enough now to know that it's unhealthy suppress it, but the end goal is still to mature beyond the need for it.

Anger is dangerous. It's the reason five Dallas cops are dead. And it's the reason dozens more are dead in Nice, France. It's in the news, it's in our news feeds, and it's in all of us. Just the other day it was in my car when a distracted driver made me miss my left turn arrow at a busy intersection.

We're afraid of anger because we see it do terrible things. So we've made it an enemy to defeat rather than a raw material to refine. As Christians, we feel justified in doing this because the Bible frequently condemns our anger.

The Proverbs condemns a quick temper, but praises the one slow to anger. James seco…

Are Cops State-Sponsored Terrorists?

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We condemn ISIS terrorists as hateful and rationalize racist cops as dutiful.
Americans are terrified of terrorism. According to a recent Pew Research report, ISIS continues to be our greatest concern with 80% calling it a major threat ahead of the economy, disease, and climate change.
Unfortunately, the fear of terrorism has also created a fear of both Islam in particular and Arabs in general. Some genuinely believe that all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists, but I doubt they're a majority. Rather, I think most Americans fear them because they can't know for sure who's a terrorist and who isn't.
Recent events have demonstrated that there are certainly ISIS sympathizers among us, so it's not an unreasonable fear. And while I don't agree with it, I understand why many Americans are wary of our friends in hijabs. Terrorists have not only ruined their reputations, they've strained their relationships with the rest of us.
The irony is that white people still ref…

The Whole Story Behind Alton Sterling's Death

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Spoiler: it has nothing to do with Alton Sterling.
With every police shooting of a black person that sparks national outrage, I hear the same tired narrative from conservatives: we don't know the whole story. Or let's wait until we have all of the facts.
Of course, that used to mean things like video evidence which makes the skepticism of the Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile cell phone videos all the more ironic, but I digress.
In fairness, the accusation from conservatives is actually true: most of us don't know the whole story behind each of these shootings. But the whole story isn't as simple or isolated as we might imagine. While most white Americans will consider each shooting individually, a complete understanding requires a broader knowledge of some key points in history.
Slave Castles
Americans got their first taste of African slavery in 1619, but the European slave trade was already thriving thanks to slave castles that dotted the West African coastline. Fo…

We Need a Dependence Day

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Guest post by Shawn Cornett based on his July 3rd, 2016 sermon entitled "Dependence Day." Shawn is the Pastor of Griffith First Christian Church in northwest Indiana. He blogs regularly at The Lavished Pauper.

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As a pastor, I experience feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and insecurity. I cry out to God and say, "I'm not strong enough! I can't do this!" That's when He says to me, "You're right, you never could do it on your own." It's easy to forget that self-doubt is often a result of self-reliance.

Sometimes we get too independent for our own good. We think that if we follow the three steps to growth or the five steps to health or avoid the seven pitfalls, we'll grow and experience success.

But when we look at the book of Acts, we see people who were completely dependent upon God in four key ways. Their example isn't another formula for us to copy, but it is a model for us learn from and make our own.

Dependence on God'…

Don't Celebrate Independence Day

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Celebrate the freedom we have to be selfless.

On July 4, 1776, thirteen North American colonies informed their governing empire that they no longer trusted it to pursue their best interests. They declared their sovereignty and fought for it over the next seven years before the empire finally recognized their statehood in 1783.
Americans were finally independent. Independent from the influence of others because they clearly didn't need anyone else.
We all know how well that worked out. In 1838, we didn't need the first peoples. In 1857, we didn't need black people. In 1862, we didn't need each other. In 1929, we didn't need our own banks. In 1942, we didn't need immigrants. In 1945, we didn't need the Japanese. And in the 1960's, we didn't need Cubans or the Vietnamese.
Two hundred forty years and dozens of war crimes later, Americans still think they don't need anyone.
It's not an uncommon human posture. Most of us hate depending on others ma…