Author: | David Z. Nowell

Moving the Conversation

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This one caught my eye. Because every child deserves a good home — no matter what that home looks like. And we have the responsibility to make sure that homes are safe places for kids. A member of the Hope team sent me a link. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee, have sent a letter to all 50 governors seeking the names of all private foster care providers state inspection and accreditation practices financial information child abuse rates The Senate interest prompting these letters started with a news organization’s investigation …

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Shapers

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A bit of a more personal note today if you don’t mind . . . Several years ago, I began to reflect on the people who had impacted my life. Some distantly… A friend from high school who was a star football player from a wealthy family (by our small-town standards) who took time to be friendly with every person. Some a bit closer… A Sunday School teacher who made time to take a group of 11-year-old boys camping almost every Friday night, but then insisted that we stand and recite our assigned Bible verses every Sunday morning; to this …

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Grace and Works

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Talking about grace and works in Sunday school, using Peterson’s book on Ephesians. I get the struggle. I understand that guilt and self-reliance push us to try to earn God’s favor by our good deeds.  But at the same time, I also think we set up a false dichotomy between the spiritual (grace) and the physical (works) to the point that we want to dismiss the physical as irrelevant to our lives of faith. But the lesson from the New Testament is that the Lord of Eternity is also Lord of the Present. Remember the story of the healing of …

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The Face of True Religion

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Reading Micah 6 this week.  Really glad he is a minor prophet.  I don’t think we would have been friends. . . . what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? I like the formalities of my religion, the stained glass, the order of service, the readings, the hymns. Especially the hymns. First growing up in the church of the south, and then living within her embrace as an adult, I find meaning in the rituals of southern churchhood, both deep and sometimes mundane. From Wednesday-night …

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When Dirty Faith Gets Too Close to Home

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I think God must have read my book. He’s letting dirty faith get far too close to home. It is very easy to practice dirty faith while safely ensconced 5,000 miles from the kids of Hope. They become numbers and good stories, not hurting children whose eyes hold pain, and whose hearts understand a side of the world I will never fully comprehend. It is a safe faith because the dirt under my fingernails gets washed away on the twelve-hour flight back home. It is not ever-present, ever-pressing. I like my dirty faith to be clean. But then there is …

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The House Rules: Five Essentials for Your Mission Trip

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It’s that time of year again. Yesterday our church commissioned the youth summer mission trip team. Nine teenagers, three adult leaders, headed to Atlanta for a few days of work. Good kids, good sponsors, and a really good project practicing dirty faith among the kind of people Jesus loved. They will join thousands of other churches on the ubiquitous Mission Trip that is standard summer fare for church youth groups throughout North America. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, read Dirty Faith, or heard any of my radio interviews, you know I’m kind of on the fence about short-term …

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Hidden Treasures

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I like old wood. I mean really, really old—and really, really like.  And with those qualifiers, last week was a special treat. Susan and I had been looking at a small farm near the acreage we now have. Small, but bigger than our place. We ended up deciding against making an offer, but we spent several afternoons after work walking through the fields and woods. On our second afternoon there, we “discovered” (the land owners had always known it was there) an overgrown and dilapidated 18th century cabin. Not too dilapidated, and not too overgrown, but well past its prime—by …

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When Jesus messes up our plans, Part 2 (Or, perhaps, Peripheral People 1)

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I have asked this before, and I probably will again, because it is a really good start-thinking-about-what-it-means-to-be-a-follower question. Yes, that sentence did set a record for most hyphens in one compound adjective. What does your Jesus look like? Not the stained-glass guy behind the baptistery, but the one who walked this earth 2,000 years ago. What did he look like? How did he sound? Did he like the foods you like? How did he smell? Would he have fit in with your friends? At your church? Did he have good manners? Think about it for a minute while we go …

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When Jesus messes up our plans

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I guess post-Mother’s Day, it’s okay to write this one. My Mom had an interesting relationship with God, or, at least, an interesting understanding of her relationship with God. Perhaps it was a little shy on the grace measure of things. She had this great fear that God was going to spring the big one on her, the demand that she would have to do something she really did not want to do. Jonah became the operative story for her—and China her Nineveh. She passed away with fears unrealized; God let her live out her life as a pastor’s wife …

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Grace – and cost – in unexpected places

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God’s tough to put in a box. And his grace, by definition, is free. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t costly. I preached at our home church a couple of weeks ago and commented that spiritual awakening rarely finds its genesis where we expect it. I had no idea how soon I would discover the verity of those words. So, to begin, a story . . . A few years ago my friend Cassidy introduced me to a couple of Amish families in northern Indiana. Over the years we became friends; I‘ve spent time in their homes, have enjoyed talking theology, …

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