Bait & Switch

usedcarIf you’ve paid much attention to advertising, you’re familiar with the old “bait and switch” tactic. You know the scheme—the ad in the paper features a hot used car for a ridiculous price, but when you show up to buy it, you learn that it was “just sold”—but here’s another one, only a bit beat up and for a lot more money than you’d planned to spend. Would you like to go for a test drive?

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Our Father…

You’re a good, good Father…

It’s a song we sing often at our church. I love the simplicity behind the lyrics—God is a good Father who loves us, His children. With Father’s Day this weekend, I’ve had that song running through my head, and I started wondering—what makes a good Father? When the Bible says that God is our Father, what does that entail?

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What Good is the Church? (Part 2)

(This is the second half of my answer to the question, “What good has the church ever done for the world?” I posted part one last week.)

One way to see how Christianity has affected our world is to compare areas that have historically been Christian to areas where the church is largely absent.

Probably the clearest understanding of the difference the church has made, and is still making, in the world comes from a short article written in 1990 by missiologist Luis Bush. He describes a concept called the “10/40 Window”—a square box drawn on a map of the eastern hemisphere between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north. In that part of the world you will find the spiritual center of the major non-Christian religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) and the least access to Christian resources.

Of course, we’re talking about a generalization. There are glaring exceptions, such as the inclusion of Korea, a predominantly Christian country with a high standard of living, and the exclusion of Indonesia with its huge Muslim population.

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What Good is the Church?

“What good has this “my way or the highway to hell” religion ever done for the world?” —TheFriendlyAtheist

It hurts to come across statements like the one above (I found it in the comments section of an article I was reading). Christianity has done a world of good in the last two thousand years. The sad thing is that few people are aware of our legacy. This is largely the church’s fault. True, we don’t want to boast, but a bit of PR might make a big difference. Besides, these aren’t our accomplishments—they are God’s blessings. Shouldn’t we tell everyone what God has done?

Here is my answer to TheFriendlyAtheist:

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Fear of Food

What I learned from the internet in the last week:

  • Beans are good for you. (source)
  • Beans are bad for you. (source)
  • Whole grains are healthy and we should eat more of them. (source)
  • Grains are bad for you. Whole grains are worst. (source)
  • Saturated fats (lard, etc.) are good for you. (source)
  • Saturated fats (lard, etc.) are bad for you. (source)
  • A daily handful of nuts will reduce your risk of heart disease. (source)
  • Nuts are toxic and eating them causes heart disease. (source)
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Jesus Wept

Church was beginning, the band hit their first beat, and the congregation stood up to sing an upbeat song about God. It was two days ago, Sunday, a typical weekend service. I was feeling anything but upbeat.

Earlier that morning, I’d read the first news reports about the victims of last week’s shooting in Aurora, just an hour north of here. While every life counts, I was particularly affected by the mom in critical condition in the ICU who kept asking if her six-year-old daughter was all right. Of course, if you’ve seen the news at all, you know she wasn’t all right. She was dead. And no one could bring themselves to tell the mom.

I could relate too well. I have two daughters and now a granddaughter. Having something horrible happen to them is my worst nightmare.

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He’s That Kind of God

Last time I mentioned that Pete and I were headed out on a road trip. One of the advantages of being away from our normal routine is that we can’t just run on automatic. Every simple act requires a lot of effort. Which road do we take? Where should we stop to eat? Should we go to this state park or that wildlife refuge? There isn’t time to do everything we’d like to do, so which option is best?

I’ve taken enough trips by now to realize that God is the ultimate tour guide. He doesn’t just hand you a map and point you in the right direction, He comes along and leads you step by step.

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Goodness Me

Last month, I wrote about how faith is an essential foundation for effectiveness and productivity, according to 2 Peter 1:3-8. Now I want to look at the second of God’s “Steps to Success”—goodness.

When I was growing up, my parents frequently commented on how “good” I was. It’s true that I tended to be obedient—and when I wasn’t, well, I was pretty good at not getting caught! But this isn’t the kind of “good” that Peter means.

While “good” can mean “satisfactory,” God has higher standards. I was a satisfactory child, but I certainly wasn’t good in the Biblical sense!

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It’s All Good!

A week ago I wrote about our good friend who received an organ transplant. Much has happened since then, so I thought I should share the good news that God is amazing (just in case you hadn’t realized that yet).

Due to a series of delays, surgery didn’t begin until 27 hours after the phone call came alerting us to the possibility of a compatible donor. By the time the doctor finished at half past midnight, he (and we) had been up over 24 hours. (The same surgeon also removed the organs from the donor and accompanied them to Denver.) Finally, at 2:30 a.m. we were allowed to stop briefly in the ICU where our friend was somewhat awake and obviously in significant pain.

The next 48 hours were a struggle to find a balance between the much-needed pain medications and their side effects (primarily nausea). In addition, a nasal tube was causing gagging, intensifying the misery. Friends, family members, and others prayed earnestly for God to intervene. Things were so bad, an extra night in the ICU was added.

And then…

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