Invoking the Presence of the Holy Spirit

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One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found at the very end of Matthew. It gets me though the hard times, the good times, and all the times in between. It reminds me of my source of comfort, joy, and power. You’ll find Matthew 28:20b at the end of the Great Commission, where Jesus says, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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Understanding the Times

What kind of times are we living in? Are you an optimist, believing that the world is getting better and better? Or and things going downhill? What are the problems we face? What are the solutions?

1989-9 Martha Meadows043One of the advantages of accumulating a lot of birthdays is that we gain perspective. We have a longer view, and can more easily see trends. Pete’s 80+-year-old grandmother (right) frequently observed, “The world is going to hell in a handbasket!” Being in our 20s, we thought it was just old age speaking. Now that I’m considerably older, I’m beginning to share her perspective.

Some things are obvious. On a positive note, science and technology have improved our lives to a great degree (and also caused a host of new problems). Due to the civil rights movement, past injustices are being corrected. In spite of the dire claims you hear, the environment is actually much cleaner than it was when I was coming of age in the ’70s. On a global scale, extreme poverty and child mortality are down, literacy rates are rising, and overall, if we look at the standard of living, a majority of people are living healthier and more comfortable lives.[i]

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My Take on Essential Oils

If it’s natural, it must be safe! Right? Not exactly. There’s a common misconception that chemical compounds made in a laboratory are always dangerous, while those assembled by Mother Nature are inherently safe. It would be nice if this were always the case, but it just isn’t so. It’s obvious, if we stop to consider that arsenic and cobra venom, seriously dangerous substances, are both quite natural.

Essential oils are also natural. But, being the skeptic that I am, after hearing from a number of people that essential oils will cure pretty much anything, I started asking two questions: are they effective—do they do what they claim to do—and, more importantly, are they safe? Continue reading

Serving Outside the Church

Last week was our church’s annual SERVE Gala. The staff went all out to let our church volunteers know they’re loved and appreciated, and each of our church’s five campuses singled out a Volunteer of the Year. It was fun, heartfelt, an excellent way to say thank you for all the time and effort members of our congregations invest in our church.

Pete and I were there because we, too, are church volunteers, helping out in a variety of ways. I believe that every churchgoer should serve their church body, according to their gifts and abilities. (Check out Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12.)

But there was something missing, something I rarely see mentioned when it comes time to talk about serving: while helping out at church is important, not all serving should happen in the church.

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Knives and Guns, Oh My

In the wake of the recent spate of mass shootings, gun control is again being debated. I had just finished reading some opinion pieces (now called “news”) both for and against more restrictive laws, when I came across this article in Newsweek:

UK’s #Knifefree Chicken Boxes Called ‘Offensive’ and ‘Racist’ by Some

Wondering how a chicken lunch could be considered offensive and racist, I clicked on the article. I learned that eating chicken for lunch is considered a black stereotype, so a social program targeting chicken lunches is offending some people. (Really? Fried chicken is racist? I thought it was just delicious!)

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Being in His Presence

If you could have anything you want, what would it be? A new car? A bigger house? A billion dollars, so you could have both of those, and more? Or would you prefer perfect health, a fitter body, or the ability to eat all you want yet never become overweight? Maybe you’re yearning for a spouse, or a child, or you dream of spending more time with a loved one who has passed away.

Now think about heaven. Yes, perhaps we’ll have material items (we don’t really know). We will certainly have perfect health in our new bodies (2 Corinthians 5:1-4). We look forward to being reunited with people we love. But most of all, heaven means that we’ll be with Jesus.

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