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Humble Ambition for Glory

We Americans have had a twisting relationship with ambition. Alexis de Tocqueville observed about us: “There are no Americans who do not show that they are devoured by the desire to rise, but one sees almost none of them who appear to nourish vast hopes or to aim very high. All want constantly to acquire goods, reputation, power; few envision all these things on a g...

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Live, Give, Representative

At any given moment, you are to be about . . . what? All the time, you and I are to live, give or serve as a representative. Live, give, representative. Live: Much of life is just, well, living. In order to feed one’s family, one either needs to work, or go to the grocery store or garden. The car ride or working or shopping or picking is just life. But I am to live ...

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The Purifying Power of Thankfulness

In all the Psalms Jesus meets with us, identifying with our weaknesses, having compassion on us, and graciously meeting us with help in our time of need. But he does not always help us on our terms, the way we would devise. Sometimes we call out for him for grace and mercy, but he meets us first with more wounds, more hurt. Psalm 50 pictures such a time. We must keep humbl...

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Malaise and Purpose in Community Groups

Recently I heard someone say that their Community Group lacked purpose. I was disappointed to hear that, but I think I understand the malaise. I want to make three comments to clarify and perhaps inspire us in the purpose of Community Groups.First, remember that God has sovereignly, deliberately placed us in geographic proximity to other real people. Therefore, one of your...

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The Step of Change We Skip

In the process of change, we often miss a vital step. If you miss this step, you miss something vital for going to where you want to go. You want life, real life. And your/my next step for finding life is often one of two things: “Stop doing that,” or “Just believe.” Both are good ...

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Meals Have Meaning

Meals have meaning. When you welcome someone to your dinner table, you act in a rich ritual, one “thick” with meaning. This meaning is heightened and made more clear in Christ....

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Growth and Christian Friendship

We need Christian friends for fruitful endurance. Some grace only comes to us by means of Christian friends. Our friends affect us, shape us, help us ...

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Missions and Churches

Thanks for praying for my trip to Ukraine (and please continue praying for our sisters who are currently ministering in a restricted country). Before the trip I wrote here about Matthew 9:38 - that we would pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. This command was reinforced for me in Ukraine, in this way: the local church sends out ...

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The Roadblock to Times of Refreshing

What would you say is the first way to apply the gospel? We've heard in Philippians that we should only let our manner of life be worthy of the gospel. But then, practically, what does this mean? Keep listening to the rest of the Philippians sermons, but I am struck by how Paul answers this question in Ephesians. Under his umbrella command, "walk in a manner worthy of the ...

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Sympathy vs. Compassion in Truth-Filled Love

True compassion does require empathy, but a form of empathy that utilizes more of our thinking abilities and less emotional sympathy. This kind of empathy actually requires deeper listening, to understand what's really true about the other person. This positions us to then speak truth about Christ that more closely corresponds to what's really going on....

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