Bible Study

But God. . . (Part 2)

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A little theological digression here before we get back to Graziella’s story… How often in the follower’s life does the story turn on those words? But God. . . The case can be made that the thought embedded there is central to our identity. It is an affirmation that He is the creator, that He is sovereign, and—perhaps most important—that He is actively engaged in the lives of those He calls His own. This whole thing is God’s game, not ours, and He can suspend the rules and change the outcome as He chooses. David said it this way: ”Though …

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Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gleice

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A Saturday night service at the City of Youth. One hundred fifty or so children who call this place home fill the chapel. Throw-away kids, abandoned, exploited. They all have scars of abuse on the inside; some wear them on the outside. Prayer time. Gleice walks forward from the back row, takes the microphone from Pastor Derli, bows her head. “God, thank you that I am perfect in Your eyes.” Yeah. God, make her perfect in my eyes, too. Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. That verse again.  The one that demands activity—and it is …

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GETTING EVEN (or perhaps) Why I am Comfortable as a Pharisee

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I’m not altogether sold on this idea of grace. I mean, seriously, love with no strings attached? On the surface, at least, I have always been the kind of guy God should want on his team. Some mischief as a teenager, but nothing serious. Always hard-working, loved the Lord my God, and pretty much honored my parents. I’d have made an excellent Rich Young Ruler. I want Jesus to pat me on the back and say, “Good job.” And I really, really want him to recognize what a good deal he got when he got me. Instead… I find that …

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We are the Pharisees

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Didn’t expect to meet God there . . . Over the past decade, I have had the chance to experience grace in some very unexpected places. In a remote village in Mexico, while holding the baby of a teenage prostitute in Brazil, on death row at Angola prison in Louisiana. These are places of darkness, but as I read the New Testament, it becomes more and more apparent that these are the places where Jesus walked. These are the people he loved. This is where we encounter grace. We are lovers of structure, of hierarchy, of people who understand their …

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Christmas Blessings

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May the Truth of Christmas permeate your thoughts in these last days of Advent waiting. May the peace of God fill your heart as you learn to trust. May you experience God’s richest blessings as you celebrate our Savior’s birth.   Merry Christmas to each of you! Thank you for stopping by here during this busy season. I look forward to continuing our journey of dirty faith in the year ahead.

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God’s gift to the world: Himself

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And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 Wasn’t it just like God to become man? The name of the college text is long forgotten, as is the name of the author, but the words still ring true. Because, yes, it was just like God to become man. This is the lasting reality of Advent, that God himself took on the form of a man, and encountered us in our humanity, our brokenness, our need. But… the incarnational …

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Life Lesson from Orphans #3: Dependence gives birth to faith

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Easy lesson here, but it is one we tend to forget. God can handle this, whatever “this” is. Every time I travel to Brazil, I am absolutely overwhelmed by the experiential faith of our kids and graduates. Experiential because it is faith based on a reality that has already been made manifest. They get this faith thing because they have seen the hand of God in their own lives. I have told you before about the impact our graduate church is having on the neighboring community. Our graduates see the drug addict sleeping in the weeds who believes he has …

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Life Lesson from Orphans #2: Gratitude, Entitlement—and Joy

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Thanksliving I have to confess to never having heard the word before yesterday’s children’s sermon. And that first hearing was accompanied by a brief but vigorously engaged dispute between two six-year-olds about whether the holiday actually was Thanksgiving or thanksliving. Plenty of laughs in church yesterday. Thanksliving.  I kind of like that. It is a lifestyle I have seen over and over again with our kids in Brazil. They get it. Theirs is a deep, profound gratitude. A gratitude that humbles and graces when encountered. A gratitude that absolutely bankrupts any attitude of entitlement. A thankfulness for life itself. Those …

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Privilege, Peripheral People, and Rising Lights

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As I write this, I am sitting in my comfortable East Tennessee home. My reality is safe, secure, well-fed. But when I travel to Brazil, I encounter a far different kind of reality. Poverty beyond my comprehension. Kids who know a life I can never understand. Twelve-year-old boys with death warrants against them from drug lords. Girls taught since early, early childhood that their only value in life is in the depraved pleasure they can bring others. A very different reality… Yet somehow I am supposed to believe that God loves them as much as he loves me. Rich and …

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The Hand on Our Shoulder: Investing in eternity

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Day 29:  30 Days of Prayer for Hope If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:9-10) It’s tough work, this caring for kids the world has abandoned, exploited, and abused, but it is what we are called to do. And from the very birth of this ministry, hundreds of you have stood alongside us — investing in …

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