All posts filed under: Teaching

Justin Bieber shares a photo of walking in handcuffs as a testimony of how far God has brought him

In a recent post to his over 160 million followers on Instagram, international pop star, Justin Bieber, shared a photo of an incident that took place seven years ago as the police led the pop star away in handcuffs. He had just been arrested in Florida on Jan 23, 2014, for driving under the influence and with an invalid license. In his post, Bieber simply shared how far God has brought him since those early days when he was constantly having run-ins with the law. Bieber wrote: “7 years ago today I got was arrested, not my finest hour. “Not proud of where I was at in my life. I was hurting, unhappy, confused, angry, mislead, misunderstood and angry at God. “I also wore too much leather for someone in Miami. “All this to say God has brought me a long way. From then til now I do realize something.. God was as close to me then as he is right now. “My encouragement to you is to ‘let your past be a reminder of …

‘Your Money or Your Life!’

“Your Money or Your Life!” Believe it or not, someone actually said that to me. He cornered me in an alley and backed me up against a wall. I remember his hand on my shirt and the look on his face. He was a young guy, younger than me and way thinner. But he was taller and tried to look scary. The problem was that I was not scared. In fact, I laughed. I don’t why I laughed. I guess it was because I didn’t take him seriously. After all, it’s a pretty cheesy line to say when you want to rob someone. As soon as I started laughing, he lost his nerve and actually looked embarrassed. Poor guy. I felt sorry for him. I wonder if I actually had money if I would have been so cavalier in my response. I had no money so the question seemed absurd.  For me, there was no choice. But for many it would be a tough choice. What if someone demanded that you give them your wallet …

Enforcing religious freedom in Moscow, Russia, err Idaho

A court has just ruled in favour of Gabriel Rench who was arrested on Sept 23, 2020, when nearly 200 believers gathered to worship and praise God during an outdoor service in the parking lot of the city hall in Moscow, Idaho. The event, called Psalm Sing, was sponsored by Christ Church and according to Gabriel Rench, who serves as a church deacon, they had been holding services for several months with no problem. The church believed its right to worship is guaranteed under the US Constitution. But the Sept. 23 service would prove to be different. Police were in attendance and arrested three people including Gabriel Rench as the group was singing “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.” Though they were not wearing masks, neither were most of the people attending the service. The police had arrested the three for violating the mayor’s emergency health order. But according to Michael Jacques, a lawyer with the Thomas Moore Society who represented Rench, under this legislation, the city exempted “[a]ny and all expressive and associative …

Ironically, doing good to others, is good for you

Most have heard of Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan who provided aid to a man who had been mugged by robbers and left for dead by the side of a road (Luke 10:25-37). And while he provided both medicinal and financial aid to the fallen man, studies have shown that people who are kind or help others may also be helping themselves. This was the conclusion of a Canadian study that revealed helping others may lead to better health for the person doing the helping. The study involved several students who were asked to tutor elementary students for two months. In the study the students were broken up into two groups, one group actually tutored the students and the second group were put on a waiting list and never tutored any of the elementary students. Then four months after the tutoring assignment has run its course, the researchers ran blood tests to find out if there was any noticeable differences between the two groups. They discovered that students who had actually done tutoring had …

Are religious people stupid?

You may have heard the arguments, psychologists have done many studies, and they have found that atheists are more intelligent than religious people. Here is a quote from an article linked here: “the research found that atheists performed better overall than the religious participants even when demographic factors like age and education were taken into consideration. Agnostics mostly placed between atheists and believers on all tasks.” READ: Atheists are more intelligent than religious people, finds study How does that make you feel? One question is; does religion make people stupid, or do stupid people choose religion? I’m writing as a Christian; I believe in the God who made this world, and I believe that Jesus made the way for us to find God. Does that make me stupid? Recently, I explained what I believe to a young relative of mine, and his answer was something like “How can an intelligent person believe that?”  I still have a good relationship with my relative, but the experience taught me some important lessons. When believers are accused of …

2021: Do we have a future now?

A few minutes ago, I got a surprise. I went for a walk, and the winter ice is slippery, so I was doing my careful penguin slide-walk. You have to live in a place with cold winters to know what that means. A neighbour came by, walking in the same way. We said the usual “Hello, how are you?,” and he was very happy to know that I was doing well. We walked together for a while, and he told me how concerned he was about our personal freedom. You probably know someone like him, and maybe you agree with him. Conspiracy people. He told me about a place that has a curfew, where millions of people are not allowed out at night, and this is supposed to keep us safe from the COVID virus. My neighbour bought extra groceries because he isn’t vaccinated. Apparently, he has been praying for me. I did not know that he had any religious beliefs, but he is very concerned about our future. I hear words like his in …

It was legal until God said ‘No’

An interesting thing happened to Howard Kirby who lives in Ovid, Michigan. In 2019, he bought an old couch for $70 from a Habitat for Humanity Restore. After he had brought the couch home and set it up in his man-cave, it didn’t take long for his family to notice that the foot cushion was exceptionally hard. For several months, Kirby just put up with it, but finally his daughter-in-law couldn’t take it any longer and in January 2020, she cut it open to find out what was going on. Inside, she discovered a box stuffed with $43,170 in cash. It was a miracle. It was enough to pay off the mortgage on Kirby’s home and a lawyer even told Kirby that the money was legally his. But in an interview with MLive.com, Kirby said that God had a different opinion on the matter. “The Holy Spirit just came over me and said, ‘No, that’s really not yours.’” After God spoke to Kirby, he found out through the store who had donated the couch and …

Are micro churches, the church of the future?

The COVID lockdowns has caused some church leaders to take a second look at their church structures. Typically, most churches have meetings on Sunday morning in a larger building with one main pastor/teacher leading the service. But the lockdowns are challenging that structure as governments are fining, and in some instances even threatening jail time, if churches continue meeting on Sunday morning. With the lockdowns continuing into 2021, and in some instances with harsher restrictions that 2020, some churches are adapting. There is a new trend emerging called micro churches involving smaller gatherings of between 10 and 40 people. They typically meet in homes or a neutral setting such as coffee shops, and they are fully functioning churches. Many larger congregations already utilize house churches that meet during the week in addition to the main Sunday morning service. These additional meetings are often poorly attended, because if busy, people typically cut out the house church meeting since it is not considered the “church’s main service.” But some are wondering if these smaller groups should be …

The World keeps on Churning

Churning is not a word that most of us in daily conversation. When’s the last time you heard this: “Hey, Bob. What’s you got churning?” And that famous old song, Proud Mary encourages the “big wheel to keep on turning and Proud Mary to keep on burning” as the old paddlewheel travels down the river. It doesn’t say keep on churning. What is churning anyway? According to the Cambridge dictionary, churning means to move something, especially a liquid, with great force. Dairy farmers know it also means mixing milk until it becomes butter. If your stomach is churning, you feel nauseated or ill. Churning means to work up or to agitate. Did you know it is also used on the Bible? Nehemiah, Job, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Jude all mention it. Perhaps the one that is most well-known is from Proverbs 30:33. “For as churning cream produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.” Churning is not fun and it can be frightening to watch. When we …

Our History and Our Future: What scary things will happen in 2021?

Our History and Our Future: What scary things will happen in 2021? This is a history lesson. I am writing this on January 1, and everyone I know is worried about this new year 2021. What is going to happen? Should we worry? I might have an answer, and I found this answer in my closet yesterday. Our history is our future. We haven’t changed. Recently, I was reading something, and I saw two words that reminded me of something: “Nikolsk Ussurisk.” That led me to a search of my closet, and I found those words again. This is the story, from the beginning, including the parts where I guess what probably happened. I have a tiny French New Testament, published by the American Bible Society, in 1910, and probably printed in the U.S. It’s in excellent condition, and probably no one ever read it, including me. A few words are penned inside: “French” to tell English speakers that it’s a French Bible, and some faint handwriting “Franz [something] Nikolsk Ussurisk [something] 7/VII 1920. That’s …

Communist China: Jailed for doing God’s will?

On Dec. 28, 2020, China’s despotic communist regime sentenced a young woman, Zhang Zhan, 37, to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in the communist regime. Zhan, a former lawyer, was working as a citizen journalist when she went to Wuhan, China in February 2020 to report on the COVID-19 pandemic that had broken out in the city. She shared videos showing empty streets and packed hospitals to reveal the full extent of the crisis that was taking place. In some of her videos, she criticized the communist regime’s attempts to silence whistleblowers and as well its harsh lock down that included welding the doors of people’s home shut and sealing their windows with metal bars so they couldn’t escape. In one of her last videos Zhan reported “The government’s way of managing this city has just been intimidation and threats. This is truly the tragedy of this country.” Shortly after this, Zhan was arrested. Many believe the severity of Zhan’s sentence reveals the regimes desire to stamp out any dissenting …

The importance of the word ‘in’

Sometimes we completely underestimate the importance of some of the smallest words in the English vocabulary. Today, I want to talk about the simple two-letter word ‘in’ and more specifically how it is used when the Apostle Paul tells us: 18 In [èv] everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASV) Notice in this verse, that Paul did not say to be thankful ‘for’ all things but rather to be thankful ‘in’ all things. The Greek word for ‘in’ is the equally short word ‘èv’ and means simply to be inside, into, or in and when used in the sense of time “during.” Simply, the Apostle Paul was encouraging believers that no matter what circumstance we are in, we need to be giving thanks, literally finding things to be thankful for. In a sense we are offering up sacrifices of thanksgiving, because in some situations it is the last thing we want to do, and being thankful requires a sacrifice of our mind, will and …

Book of Life

It is customary for essayists and journalists to write a year-end review or to make predictions for the new year. 2020 was a year that was difficult for many people. But how bad was it really? One year saw a flood that destroyed the entire world except for Noah and his family and the animals on the ark. Now that was a bad year. Other years saw wars and disasters, genocide and infanticide. And these things are still going on today. They are underreported since COVID is what sells this year. Wars still happen. Hurricanes, droughts, floods, volcanoes still happen. Whole peoples are being targeted and executed. And of course, we legally kill more babies now than at any other time in history. Every day people are being murdered. Children are being raped. People are being attacked. These are bad things. The kind of things that used to be reported. The kind of things that go on every single day. And then there are the good things. Babies are being born. People get married. Lives …

Low Temperature Religion: Is a Muslim Christmas possible?

There are stories this Christmas of Muslims putting up Christmas trees and putting gifts under them. I have read at least two of these stories in the news. The Muslims, in the stories, are immigrants living in places where most people celebrate Christmas. This seems strange; the holiday is Christ-mass, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Until now, Muslims never celebrated Christmas; they had their own special events on the calendar. From the descriptions, it looks like some Muslims chose to celebrate a cultural Christmas, with a decorated tree and presents, and maybe some thoughts about a jolly fat man coming down the chimney. There were probably no herald angels on the tops of the trees, and probably no manger scene with a baby Jesus. They were having fun, and enjoying the season. It’s easy for me to understand, and smile, and I am sure some strict conservative Muslims do not approve. These events happened in places where Muslims were immigrants, and a minority in the population. READ: I’m Muslim and didn’t celebrate Christmas …

What is Melchizedek’s Temple Zero?

If you haven’t heard yet, you will learn soon about ‘Temple Zero’ in the city of Jerusalem. Long ago, the city of Jerusalem was named ‘Salem’ and it had a king Melchizedek. That king was a priest of the same God that the Jews and Christians worship, and we are told that Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation respected him and gave him some generous gifts. Now, some people claim that ‘Temple Zero’ has been found, in Jerusalem, and tourists can see it. READ: Temple Zero in Zion | Melchizedek’s Anointed Standing Stone in Jerusalem We can be cynical. This discovery may boost the local tourist industry, and someone will probably charge admission, if you want to see an old piece of stone. We can also know that a stone in Jerusalem probably marks a place where the God of the Bible was worshipped, and the people who worshipped there were not Jewish. The Israelite or Jewish people came much later and built a temple on a hill at Jerusalem, and rebuilt it twice. …

Radical Disruption: Your life is about to change.

How are you doing this year? Did you see all these changes coming, in 2020? I didn’t. It’s clear to all of us that things are still changing. Everyone I know does not like the restrictions with the COVID pandemic, and we wonder when things will be normal again. That will be never. Disruption to our lives, and the cost of coping with COVID restrictions is forcing businesses, employers, to close; and they might never re-open. The world has changed forever. READ: Covid-19 will permanently change the world’s economy So, what does that mean to us? What happens when my life changes, and keeps changing? What will happen to you? This is not an abstract economic theory, this is a permanent change to the way we live, and it has already happened. Soon we will see and feel the effects. I work at a job that I really enjoy, and in a few days it will all be over. I can’t tell you what it is until the work has stopped because I work under …

Healing the racial divide: A black and white congregation merge

An interesting thing happened in Salisbury, North Carolina when two churches decided to merge. Now, there is nothing particularly unusual about churches merging, because I was even part one several years back. But this was a bit different because it involved the merging of a black church pastored by a young black man, Derek Hawkins, and a predominantly white mega church pastored by Jay Stewart. And in the light of the racial divisions appearing in America’s social fabric, this may have more significance than we realize as both pastors felt they were led by the Holy Spirit to do this. In an interview with the Christian Post (CP), Hawkins said the first step to the unlikely merger started in 2014, when he took his daughter to have her hair done and came across a sign for a downtown extension of Stewart’s mega church, The Refuge. This led to Derek attending a service and eventually asking the older middle-aged Stewart to take on a mentoring role as Derek was preparing to pastor a church in nearby …

Are You Human Clutter?

There are times in which we find our lives busy and cluttered. During those times, my desk looks like a bomb went off and my office is so jammed with donations and ministry material that I can barely open the door. While busyness and clutter go hand in hand, there are different kinds of clutter? Some clutter is comprised of the things we need. It is necessary stuff that just needs to be organized. There is another category of clutter that is stuff we don’t need but we want. This stuff needs to be either discarded or put in a place that is not taking up the area of the things we need. The third pile of clutter includes the things we neither want or need. This stuff just needs to be shoveled into the debris pile and out of the house. As difficult as it is to deal with these categories of clutter, there are even worse types of clutter. Clutter that we almost always avoid dealing with. Human clutter! There are people in …

The Covid Crisis: Are you ready for the virtual God?

We are living in strange times, and this is a very strange year. I don’t want to criticize the authorities who must make hard choices, but some restrictions are strange. Where I live, the government and the medical authorities are being cautious with social restrictions. We are mostly warned to be careful, and given good advice. I haven’t heard about fines or arrests for breaking the rules. My work, for the government, is high-risk, and I have a generous supply of spray cleaner and hand disinfectant. I also have training on how to use the cleaners and stay safe. A neighbor goes to a church near us and they are probably still refusing to wear masks in their services. No one is talking about this in the news, my neighbor told me when I met him in the back alley. Do you believe in God? If you are a believer, what tells you to believe? What are the signals that you need? Do you attend a church or a temple, a mosque or a synagogue, …

What About God?

My first sermon was in an established downtown church. I think there was probably close to two hundred people. My sermon was titled, The Family that Forgot God. This was back in 1984 I believe. Thirty-six years have passed and the world has changed so drastically since then. The division and hatred weren’t so strong then. We argued fiercely about politics, religion, and human rights but we didn’t burn down neighborhoods or attack each other. I don’t even think we cancelled anyone back then. We may have hated but we put up with each other. And somethings are still the same. Back in the Eighties, we had a recession. Interest rates skyrocketed. People lost their jobs and their homes. Society in North America became even more divided especially between the rich and the not so rich.   The biggest thing that is the same is our need for God. God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” In a world in which change is rapid and destructive, …

Have you found your four-hour work week?

Last night we went out to get some chores done, and I almost had a life-changing event. Something almost happened, and if it had, I probably would not be writing this; I would be in some state of anguish. I was driving home in the dark, on a freeway. Here is some advice from me; limit conversations while you drive and watch the road ahead. That’s what saved me. I also give God credit for watching over me. In the darkness, on the freeway, I thought I saw something dark in front of me. All conversation stopped, and I saw a man walking in a traffic lane, with his back to the traffic. I guess he was trying to commit suicide, and probably under the influence of something. Somehow, I was able to slow and swerve, and I missed him. We called the police as soon as we could, but I haven’t heard if they found anyone. Imagine your vehicle badly damaged, and a dead body lying on a freeway at night. That did not …

Do you see apples or do you see pies?

I was reading an interesting story on Charisma News about an interview with Barry Maracle, a pastor, author and prophet, who is convinced that God has a purpose for your life. Maracle shared a story about his Native American grandfather who was a pastor with the Assemblies of God. His grandfather would bring out a white board and put a small apple seed on it and ask his students what they saw. Immediately they all focussed their attention on the board. But gradually their eyes would shift to the tiny apple seed, and they would describe it. As his grandfather pushed them on what else they saw, some would speak of the giant tree that would spring from that tiny seed. But for his grandfather, even this wasn’t enough, they needed to see beyond that. “My grandpa would say, ‘No, you see bakeries.’ ‘You see apple pie.’ ‘You see everything that produces after its own kind,” said Maracle. Like that tree, we all have a greater purpose in life beyond growing and living. And for …

False Prophets

The anointing falls where it may. It is from the Lord God and it is not controlled by men. It is not at the whim of any man that the Holy Spirit decides when he will release the gifts of God. Some preachers make good money deceiving others by claiming the Holy Spirit is here or there or that if you are close enough to God, you will be specially anointed. One man even is trying to sell prayer cloths he claims are anointed. I’ve been to many different styles of services including some genuine times in which people were healed. I have also been to some in which we were told to prepare to receive healing or in which we were told miracles were going to happen. I find these types of claims disturbing. There is no doubt that God performs miracles and there is no doubt that God heals. I am a happy recipient of both. What I find offensive is the idea that the Holy Spirit listens to man’s will. Any person …

Orthorexia Nervosa: Do you have a food religion?

Are you a Vegan, or a Keto Carnivore, or maybe a high-fat, low-carb foody? Are you into fasting, or apple cider vinegar, or PSMF (Protein-Sparing Modified Fast), or the Paleo Diet, or is your diet Perfectly Balanced? I might have missed a few options. In our COVID 19 pandemic there are new ideas. Are you getting enough vitamin D? After decades of fast food and other unhealthy eating, we have a pandemic of health problems, often called metabolic syndrome, and often leading to permanent diabetes. This is happening in the wealthiest parts of the world, where we have an abundance of food at low prices. It seems that we make bad choices, when we have the power to choose. Here is my version of the “Bratman Test,” a method to test if you have Orthorexia Nervosa, or maybe a food religion: Does your healthy diet interfere with relationships and your social life? Do you feel guilty if you eat food not approved for your diet, and do you judge others who break your rules? Does …

A Third Jewish Temple, Yea or Nay?

There have been two temples in Israel’s history. The first built by King Solomon, was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians and a second one built by Ezra when King Cyrus and Darius allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem from their Babylonian. This second Temple underwent major renovations by King Herod and it was the temple that Jesus visited. That second Temple was obliterated by the Romans in 70 AD and since then Orthodox Jews believe that God wants a third Temple built based on prophecies in Ezekiel that spoke of a temple that did not fit the descriptions of the previous two temples (Ezekiel 40-42). According to Israel365 news, an orthodox Jewish news site, many orthodox Jews are convinced a third temple must be built. They also believe that it will be much larger than the first two because it needs to make room for arrival of the gentiles who will be part of the temple worship (Isaiah 2:2-3). Israel365 writes: The details of the prophecy related to the building of the …

Grace Community Church vindicated after false accusation

While photographs have emerged of California’s Democrat Governor, Gavin Newsom, flaunting his state’s COVID regulations at a recent party, Grace Community Church was falsely accused of causing a COVID outbreak when three members of its 7,000 member congregation caught the virus. According to CBN, this resulted in the church facing additional outbreak restrictions from the city’s health department. As part of its lockdown, California has limited church attendance to 25% of capacity to a maximum of 100. However, the mega church, pastored by John MacArthur, chose to remain open and has fought several court cases as government officials trying to force its submission to the state’s COVID-1984 restrictions. But things took a turn at the end of October, when an article in the Los Angeles Times, entitled, Coronavirus outbreak strikes L.A. megachurch that defied public health orders, accused the church of having a COVID outbreak when three members caught COVID, because of the church’s refusal to obey the lockdown orders. Yes, they described it as an outbreak when just three people caught the virus. However, …

Making A List

Do you ever list things? Many people make grocery lists or lists of supplies for a project or school. The other day I made a list of things that give me a headache. I don’t know why I did this but it was an eye opener. Go ahead and try it. Even mentally I bet there is a pretty long and growing list of things that give you a headache. Some of our lists will probably be very similar, while others may not have anything the same on them. But it is unlikely that any two lists will be an exact match. Some of the items on my list are American politics, government corruption, racism, abortion, poor treatment of indigenous people, and closed churches and open bars. I don’t have to explain my list and you don’t have to explain yours. If we did, it will be an essay and not a list. And I know of at least one person that would argue with me on almost every item anyway. How do lists help? …

My Father Died: Where do I go from here?

I don’t like to write about personal things here, but this was a shock to me. I got a message from my sister that Dad was failing, in his nursing home, and we needed to say goodbye. That was Sunday, and he lasted until Monday afternoon. I am waiting for the funeral to start as I write this, If you are wondering, I’m doing well. Dad was 95 and he lived a good life. He finally died from old age, and not from any accident or illness. In this pandemic year, when everyone seems to be angry about politics, my Dad reminded me that I have a personal life. Dad gave us a stable family and a heritage to be proud of. When I was a boy, we visited the home farm and Dad pointed at a local cemetery and said” Simon Fraser is buried there.” The huge city of Vancouver is on the Fraser River, and in the suburbs is Simon Fraser University. That famous man was a neighbor near the family farm, on …

Fighting for religious freedom: Are Christians verging on becoming second class citizens?

Samuel Alito, 70, was appointed to the US Supreme Court in 2007 under US President George Bush. He is considered an originalist when it comes to the US Constitution, meaning he interprets it as it was intended by the original writers, not by what a person wants it to mean. On Thursday, he was delivering a speech online for the Federalist Society and warned that Christians are verging on becoming second class citizens: “[There are] emerging trends in the assessment of individual rights. This is especially evident with respect to religious liberty. It pains me to say this, but in certain quarters , religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.” He added that the COVID-1984 is simply exposing this underlying sentiment and is being used to restrict religious freedom. As an example, Alito referred specifically to what happened in Nevada where Alito said the government “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship.” The state government placed heavy COVID restrictions on Houses of Worship while not doing the same for Casinos that in practice function very …

Are you called to be an encourager?

A study by the American Heart Association (AHA) revealed that the spirituality helped people who experienced a stroke in recovering from their affliction. The study involved 200 people from Italy who had experienced a stroke with mild to moderate symptoms. The researchers used a survey developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to determine the individuals level of spirituality as well as physical and psychological well-being. But this survey had an interesting twist. Not only were the people who had the stroke asked the questions, but so were the people who provided the care. According to AHA, one of the biggest problems encountered by stroke survivors and caregivers is depression and this can negatively impact a person’s recovery. The survey found that stroke survivors who showed the highest levels of spirituality also reported the highest levels of physical improvement and as well psychological well-being. Faith and hope made a difference. But the same also held true for the caregivers. Those who reported the highest levels of spirituality showed the least amount of depression symptoms. The …

‘Let my people go’

When God was ready to deliver Israel out of Egypt, He gave these instructions to Moses: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 9:1 NIV) What we often miss in this passage is that God uses people in the fight for freedom. And several churches in California are facing similar battles as different levels of government are using legal means to try to stop churches from holding worship services during the COVID lockdowns. And churches and pastors are standing up to them. Perhaps the most ludicrous involved a $1,000 fine levied against Lady of Angels Catholic Church based in Arcadia, CA, after 11 people were caught leaving the 500-seat building after a time of prayer. The church was actually fined $500 for allegedly breaking COVID regulations and $500 for not allowing an inspector to enter the building. On the other side of the fine spectrum, Calvary Chapel …

The Big Question

There are some really big questions out there. In every area of expertise there are people who sit around and discuss these questions. Science is discovering that it knows less and less about the origins of the universe and all that this entails as it asks more and more questions. Questions are everywhere. Most conversations we have are questions. Even going to the store involves questions. “How are you?” Will that be everything for you today?” We use questions to be polite but we could ask questions to discover things about each other. Good questions cut through the superficial judgments we make every day. We also judge people by the way we look. Our clothes seem to speak loudly to each other. When I wear a suit and have my hair perfect and walk into a room carrying a briefcase, I am treated much differently than when I wear my regular clothes or my work clothes. There’s a saying that clothes make the man. They certainly make the image of the man. Then there is …

Employment: Do we have a future?

“Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?” Do you know that old song? It sounds like a Christian gospel song, except Janis Joplin, who sang it starting in 1970, was making fun of materialistic Christians. There is some truth in every criticism, and my friends and I knew the truth, when we heard the song. The point I got from that song is that my Christian life was more than an extension of the surrounding culture; it was a whole new life. We live in a world of greedy and materialistic people, and Christians can be greedy and materialistic people who also go to church. Janis Joplin was mocking those shallow religious pretenders. The truth comes from many places. We could pray for a few things, or we could have a new life. So, what is new for us in this terrible year of 2020? We need something new. On Thursday of last week, I was told to log into an online staff meeting, for my work. I expected something boring, and it …

Some call it a miracle: She survived COVID, a stroke, heart attack and being declared brain-dead

In May, Tionna Hairston, 26, was at home caring for her mother, Stacy Peatross, who had been diagnosed with COVID. At the end of May, Tionna also started showing symptoms of the Coronavirus that included losing her sense of smell and taste. By early June, she was starting to feel nauseous and weak. However, it was these symptoms, that are common with COVID, that initially resulted in the family attributing her severe headache and loss of movement in her arm and leg as COVID symptoms rather than the actual cause, a major stroke. Stacy only realized her daughter was having a stroke when “her eyes were going opposite of each other.” She was immediately taken to Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where scans reported bleeding on her brain. But things continued to pile up on Tionna, while in intensive care she also had a heart attack. For the next half hour, doctors fought to get Tionna’s heart working properly. Though they were able to do this, the medical staff was very concerned about her …

It’s about how far you have come, not how much you have failed

I read an interesting article on Facts & Trends that discussed a problem that many in the ministry are facing today. With the COVID crisis, churches are needing to find innovative ways to minister to their congregations including broadcasting services online. Of course, this is happening with varying degrees of success. But in their article, Kent Annan and Jamie Aten state that church leaders have fallen into the trap of comparing themselves to other ministries. They write: As people dedicated to serving others, church leaders naturally want to identify and use the most effective streaming technology, employ the most innovative strategies for offering pastoral care, and find new ways to continue to serve those in need. But when their Facebook feed shows a neighboring church leading worship from the roof of their building, transmitting the gospel drive-in movie style to the FM dials of cars lined up in the parking lot, it can be hard to celebrate the fresh, creative solution. More often, it simply feels like someone has raised the bar we all now …