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Three Healthy Christian Habits

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The hardest part of developing good habits is breaking bad ones. Bad habits are like styrofoam pellets, they attach themselves easily, but are hard to shake loose. However, in the spiritual realm, the Christian develops godly habits not merely under his own willpower, but foundationally by the willpower of God. Keenly aware of this, Paul urges these three healthy Christian habits: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ… Read More »Three Healthy Christian Habits

Misdirected Attention

Misdirected Attention

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Fifteen seconds of fame. That’s the siren song of the media. Nevertheless, pursuing it often results in looping ten-second sound bites of infamy. It highlights the misunderstanding that can result when the context of our words is left on someone’s cutting room floor. However, in the case of Habakkuk, a truncated quote has led to misdirected attention. Habakkuk’s Strength Recently, while studying that prophetic book, I recognized an oft-quoted passage: Though the fig tree should not blossom,nor fruit be on… Read More »Misdirected Attention

The blessing of persecution

The Blessing of Persecution

The singular event in history revealing the evil in men’s hearts, is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the perfectly righteous Son of God. Yet, that same evil is at work in every generation as is clear from Jesus’ final declaration in the beatitudes. Those described in the previous beatitudes as humble, mourning over sin, meek, longing for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers, find themselves the objects of persecution. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for… Read More »The Blessing of Persecution

Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed Peacemakers

They don’t get clicks, likes, or retweets on social media. They don’t dominate the news or gather a great following. In earthly spheres of power and influence they are insignificant; however, in Christ’s kingdom they are sons and daughters of God. Jesus called them blessed. They are the peacemakers. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). Beatitudes A Rare Word for an Exceptional Virtue On the surface, we may not think of peacemaking… Read More »Blessed Peacemakers

Matthew 5:8

A Pure Hope

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Do I believe in miracles? The question is not merely speculative. Heaven and hell are at stake. Jesus forces this question upon me with his pronouncement, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). This beatitude arouses either pure despair or pure hope. It all depends on whether I believe in miracles. The Beatitudes The Necessity of a Pure Heart The beatitude echoes Psalm twenty-four: Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who… Read More »A Pure Hope

Mercy for the Merciful

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There is a saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” What a bunch of hogwash! Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7). This mercy is not merely a response to wrongs committed. It is tenderheartedness toward the hurting, the opposite of callousness or indifference. The transforming grace of God takes an icy heart oriented toward selfish pursuits, comforts, and kudos and melts it into pity for others. Apart from that miraculous transformation we have… Read More »Mercy for the Merciful

Longing for Righteousness

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As a child, I struggled to finish my dinner. Not that I was given too much food, I just disliked one or more of the items on my plate. Often my mom would remind me of the starving child in Africa who would love to have my food. Fortunately, international adoptions were not common back then, else I might have foolishly suggested we procure one. That would not have gone over well. The problem was not an inefficient allocation of… Read More »Longing for Righteousness

Triumphant Meekness

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It is like the Rocky movies. Twelve rounds, winner take all, the arrogant, brutish slugger up against the over-matched but hopeful challenger. The first nine rounds are somewhat typical in that the amateur rival is getting the snot beat out of him by the champ, along with a good deal of blood. However, this match is different. The challenger does not even throw a punch. He is continually knocked down, gets back up, staggers but stays in the fight. Finally,… Read More »Triumphant Meekness

Matthew 5:4

Good News for Mourners

The term social justice has become a volatile catchphrase that is bound to stir up emotions across the political spectrum. Though the Bible clearly calls us to uphold justice, some have hijacked the vocabulary of justice to promote an agenda contrary to God, his commandments, and his design. These people proceed with a presumption of their own righteousness. However, the biblical starting point for godly social justice is not self-righteous indignation, but mourning. Yet, that mourning is not without hope.… Read More »Good News for Mourners