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Saying Thank You to God does not have to be a chore — but then again, given the way we are instructed to do things within a cold, contemporary, corporate Christian environment, it is a bit difficult: “We must thank God for everything,” we are admonished, or . . . what? He’ll kick us? Actually, the apostle Paul’s oft quoted words of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 — “Give thanks in all circumstances,” reflect the important prepositional distinction of “in” as opposed to “for,” meaning...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

There is a tiresome joke among Christians about patience that goes like this: “I don’t want to pray for patience, because by golly, God will send me all sorts of circumstances to try it!” Ha Ha. What’s not so funny is that, deep down, many people actually believe this, reflecting their impression of a marionette god, one that pulls our strings as if we were puppets, and if we don’t pray correctly — with enough caveats so that God doesn’t sadistically misinterpret what we really...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

“Jesus is love.” How often do we hear this? If we’re around Christians, or within Christian circles, then we’ve probably heard it a lot. At the same time, however, it wouldn’t be unusual if we were confused, because, though people talk about Jesus, and His love for us, from the moment we grab a bulletin at the church door, actually living as if we believed it were true is a different matter. Do YOU know anyone who worships and follows Jesus as if they really, really believed He loved...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

For many years of my young middle adulthood, life was smooth. Not perfect, obviously — when you raise a family of six on one ridiculously modest income, there’s always the stress of making the mandated property tax, insurance payments, and assorted fees involved in living in a “civilized,” bureaucratic regime. But life was relatively predictable, and God was good. I knew that latter because people were always telling me how good God is, and how much He loves us, and how He is always there...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

Discipline is an ambiguous word, easily misunderstood because its two major applications are so at variance with one another. In a good sense, discipline is what athletes do — training their bodies to achieve top performance through practice, hard work, persistence, attention to diet and daily living habits — in short, they demand much of themselves without approaching punishment. Anyone who chooses to do something well — fine art painting, knitting, gardening, cooking — disciplines themselves...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

Many Christians — myself included — have looked to various events and stories of the Bible as paralleling our own lives. We derive wisdom, teaching, instruction and comfort from the Exodus adventure and subsequent wanderings of the Israelite in the desert, or we see ourselves in the man who called out to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24) This is one of the purposes of God’s Word — in detailing actual, historical events describing the involvement of...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

The Bible is filled with practical application to living, but let’s just start with three, and today, we’ll focus on number one — literally, number one — the most important commandment of all: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) In the Bible, when something is repeated on a regular basis, it’s generally because it’s important, and this statement is made by Jesus, who adds “with all your mind,” in...

by School Of Life on 24 September 2017

Words are powerful, but not in the way prosperity preachers or New Age advocates claim. While words themselves do not convey any ability to create reality, simply because we utter them (e.g., “I CLAIM this blessing!”), they affect those around us because they soothe and heal, or they hurt and damage. Every day, regardless of what our job is, and whether or not we are involved in an official “ministry,” Christians have an opportunity to touch people’s souls by, literally and figuratively,...

by School Of Life on 23 September 2017

Many Christians, especially in church settings, focus — obsess — about finding their ministry, and they pore through 1 Corinthians 12 searching for suggestions: “Do I have faith? or a message of wisdom? I’m pretty sure I don’t have the ability to manifest miraculous powers. What, God, do you want me to DO?” It’s a profound question, and one that we ourselves can answer without buying yet another how-to book from a Celebrity Christian. Rather, let’s look at Scripture, pray, and...

by School Of Life on 23 September 2017

Too many of us are acquainted with the word, backsliding, which, in its purest form, means to lose one’s resolve to follow a chosen path. A recovering alcoholic who re-enters the bar circuit is an example — surrounding oneself by temptation, and resuming behavior that one is trying to overcome, isn’t a particularly successful business plan. Within Christianity, backsliding applies, theoretically, to believers who no longer walk the narrow path of following Christ, reading His word, listening...

by School Of Life on 23 September 2017