Take a peek at some of the installments you'll find on Homiletics Online ...

Lines That Shape Our Lives

Ruth 1:1-18

“Here’s looking at you, kid!” It’s only one line from a movie, but we remember it. Like the movies, the Bible has its own share of memorable lines. And one of them is in this moving story of love and the providence of God.

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100 Years of 11.11.11

Hebrews 9:24-28

One hundred years ago, an armistice was signed. Two thousand years ago, a different armistice was signed — in blood.

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Enough Really Is Enough

Mark 12:38-44

There are moments in life — perhaps daily — when you realize that you’re done. Enough is enough.

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One-and-Done

Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

“One-and-done” is an expression that originated from Article X of the National Basketball Association’s collective bargaining agreement struck in 2006. It can also refer to an agreement that reconciled us to God.

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Need-to-Know Basis

Mark 13:1-8

Do parents tell their children everything? No. Kids are on a “need to know basis.” The rule applies to the children of God as well.

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Too Busy for God

Psalm 132:1-12 (13-18)

Some concert venues now require that patrons stow their smartphones in smart pouches that renders them temporarily unusable. The concertgoer still has his or her phone, but he or she cannot record the show or take photos.

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God's Emoji

Jeremiah 33:14-16

Emojis are so commonly used that it should not come as a surprise that someone might get sued for using the wrong one. What we see in this text is a kind of divine emoji conveying a very specific message.

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The God Who Completes

Philippians 1:3-11

Although its official name is the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, some people refer to it as the “Cathedral of Saint John the Unfinished.”

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When Fear Gives Way to Joy

Zephaniah 3:14-20

How are our hopes and fears “met in thee tonight”? It’s a reference to Phillips Brooks’ famous carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

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The Burden of Birthdays

Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

Birthday parties have become so lavish that some parents dread the responsibility.

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The Case of the Missing Baby

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

Special Installment: Christmas Eve

Editor Timothy Merrill ordered a hand-carved nativity scene. But something was missing. Actually, Someone was missing.

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Two Boys in Church

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

Kids in church. It’s the stuff of many a hilarious story. Some churches ban children from the worship service. Today, we have two texts — each relating a story of a boy in “church.”

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YouTube It!

James 1:17-27

You can learn how to do anything if you just watch a YouTube video. Can we find a tutorial about living a good life?

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Dreamwork

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Is it possible the speaker of these lyrical verses was dreaming? And what does this say about her fears?

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Dead Faith

James 2:1-10, 11-13, 14-17

When is a person really dead? How does a doctor know? How do we know when our faith is dead?

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Taming Your Tweet

James 3:1-12

Celebrities tweet and often need to delete their tweets. What they posted was insensitive or stupid. James urges us to learn how to tame our tweets.

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The Survey

Mark 8:27-38

Businesses and organizations will go to great lengths to capture our opinions and turn them into data.

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The Believer Tree

Psalm 1

More than 60,000 species of trees inhabit the Earth. What kind of tree does the psalmist describe?

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Death Cleaning

Mark 9:38-50

Swedes have a word — döstädning — for the cleaning you do so that when you die, your children don’t have to. Jesus suggests we all do this cleaning.

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A Brief History of Communication

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Groans and moans, and then speech. Stone tablets, scrolls, printing presses, telegraph and telephones. Prophets, priests and Jesus Christ.

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Changing Up

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Beyond the Lectionary
She founded a religious order in India. She was known as Mother. She died in her 80s in the 20th century. And she is not Mother Teresa. Who is she?

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The 100 Percent Rule

Mark 10:17-31

Google is known for its 20 percent policy. God is known for another policy, and it’s more than 20 percent.

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Deep Work

Job 38:1-7 (34-41)

Some tasks call for our undivided attention. This is a lesson Job learned when God demanded that he focus and get a grip.

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Personal Priest

Hebrews 7:23-28

Many people hire personal trainers, shoppers, life coaches or pooper scoopers. How many have a personal priest?

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The Republic for Which It Stands

Deuteronomy 10:17-21

Special Installment: Beyond the Lectionary
Old and tattered flags are fetching good prices these days. We value these flags, but what values does Old Glory symbolize?

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Within Earshot

Psalm 130

How far can the human voice travel? Can one's call of distress reach the ears of God?

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The City of David

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10

David captures a hill and names it after himself. But there were some strongholds more difficult to conquer.

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The City of God

Psalm 48

Major cities around the world promote their attractions and uniqueness. What does the psalmist say is so special about the City of God?

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Bad Birthday Party

Mark 6:14-29

King Herod throws a birthday bash, and it ends in a murder.

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Moving God

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

How do you move God? Very carefully. Better question is: How is God going to move us?

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Passport Power

Ephesians 2:11-22

A US passport is strong, but it is not the strongest in the world. The apostle Paul talks about a passport that shatters racial and religious barriers.

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Objects of Desire

2 Samuel 11:1-15

Sometimes, when we become attached to an object, we personify it by bestowing on it a pet name. That may be odd, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it. But when we objectify a person, that's a huge problem.

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Innovations in Eating

John 6:24-35

Drive-thru restaurants were an innovation in 1948. Today, robots that make tossed salads and self-driving cars that deliver pizza are innovative. Go back to the scene when Jesus feeds 5,000 people with virtually no food on hand. That's innovative!

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Lorem Ipsum

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Publishers use filler text to get a sense of how words will look when laid out on a page. In this text, Paul urges us to be careful about our words. We should take a look at how they appear on the pages of our life.

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God's Startups

Psalm 111

Some very popular products got their starts in very inauspicious ways. And we're not talking about the garage startups that produced twentysomething billionaires. In this psalm, we identify three divine startups that have blessed our lives.

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The Cane Fu Defense

Ephesians 6:10-20

Some senior citizens in Florida are taking classes to help them learn how to use their canes as defensive weapons should the need arise. This leads us to Paul's discussion of the defensive tools we have at our disposal to battle hostile spiritual forces.

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Spirit-Driven Disruptions

Acts 10:44-48

When companies innovate, they sometimes turn an entire industry upside down. That's what happened when the church was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

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Paul, the Letter Writer

Ephesians 1:15-23

Talk to kids today about letters, and they might ask, "What's a letter?" A letter is a written communication that is delivered to a recipient. Today's text is taken from such a device.

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A Mother's Comfort

Isaiah 66:13

Beyond the Lectionary
Maternal metaphors for God are not uncommon in the Bible, especially in Isaiah. One striking example of this is Isaiah 66:13, "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you."

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Babel Fish Church

Acts 2:1-21

Two speakers. Two languages. One device called Pilot is in the ear of each speaker. Voila! Each person hears the other person in their own tongue!

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The Holy Spirit Guide Service

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Travel experts have two categories for the adventure vacation: the soft and the hard adventure. Jesus invites us to the hard adventure, and we are going to need a guide.

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Guardian of the Galaxy

Isaiah 6:1-8

It's a popular movie franchise, and on Trinity Sunday, a great way to talk about the true Guardian of the galaxy.

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Treasure in Plastic Bottles

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

The amphorae of this text (clay jars) were discarded, like plastic water bottles today, after the liquid treasure inside had been consumed.

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When God Is Not Enough

1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20, (11:14-15)

Israel decides it wants a monarchy. Samuel is not amused.

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The Eternity Brand

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Google, Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Netflix, Airbnb, Facebook and Starbucks are popular brands. But there's one brand, not on this list, that has staying power that exceeds any brand known today.

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Unobtrusive Measures

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

You can measure height, weight and strength. Samuel did exactly that when he paid a visit to Jesse's sons. But how do you measure character?

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Kill Step

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Restaurants often employ a "kill step" to ensure that harmful bacteria do not make customers ill.

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Name Your Hurricane

Mark 4:35-41

Harvey. Irma. Sandy. Ike. Katrina. Andrew. Agnes. We humans have enjoyed naming storms for a long time. What;s the name of yours? Most people go through more than one.

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God's Nagware

Exodus 20:1-17

Those annoying pop-ups on your laptop screen serve one purpose: to nag you into doing something.

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A Piece of Work

Ephesians 2:1-10

The phrase, “a piece of work,” is almost always pejorative — except in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.

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Exit Lines

John 12:20-33

We look at some scenes in which famous people have left the public stage. Then we consider Jesus, who had the most amazing exit ever.

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Jerusalem March Madness

Mark 11:1-11

The hot sports ticket and the conversational buzz this week is about the NCAA’s annual March Madness tournament. In our text, some madness is going on as well. It’s a madness that will continue throughout the week, although the tone will change.

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Reversible Errors

John 18:1-19:42

Special Installment: Good Friday

Defendants who feel that the justice system gave them a bad deal might be able to get a new trial or a verdict overturned on the basis of “reversible errors.” Jesus did not exercise this option.

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The April Fool

John 20:1-18

It has been more than 60 years since Easter fell on April Fools’ Day. We have to say something about this.

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Untranslatable Joy

Mark 16:1-8

What English word would you use to describe the joy when you realize that Christ is risen?

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Facebook Church

Acts 4:32-35

Mark Zuckerberg recently compared Facebook to a church. Was he right?

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Risus Paschalis

Acts 4:32-35

Beyond the Lectionary: Holy Humor Sunday
On the Sunday following Easter, congregations around the world will engage in a ritual called “Holy Laughter.”

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Favorite Child

1 John 3:1-7

We might deny it, but most experts agree. We have a favorite child. Question is: Does God?

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Augmented Reality

Acts 4:5-12

Today, surgeons, architects and others use AR in their professional lives to enhance their skills and the outcomes of their work.

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Between Cassandra and Pollyanna

Psalm 22:25-31

Psalm 22 begins on a negative note, but ends on a positive one. This is how we often live life — between Cassandra and Pollyanna.

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Cleaning Tips from John

Mark 1:4-11

A little lemon juice and baking soda will work wonders on the chrome in your house. But you need something more to clean up the soul.

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'Boom!' Says the Lord

Psalm 29

What kind of a sonic cannon can strip the forest bare, break cedars and cause mighty oaks to whirl?

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Making Dreams

Genesis 37:17b-27

Beyond the Lectionary: Genesis 37:17b-27
In this BTL segment, we look at dream-making, and the particular dream of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Taking the Call

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

We take a look at some of the most famous phone calls in history. And then we watch the little boy Samuel take a call from the Lord.

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Jonah's Escape Room Strategy

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Escape Rooms are a popular gaming and team-building experience. Jonah didn’t do so well in his escape room challenge.

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Prophet or Pitchman

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

If you’re going to be a spokesperson for an organization, you better not do something stupid that will embarrass the company.

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Star Struck

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

Has anyone counted the stars in the universe?

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The Isaiah Olympic Biathlon

Isaiah 40:21-31

The Winter Olympics in PyeongChang provide an opportunity to reexamine this well-known text.

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Elijah and His Stratolaunch

2 Kings 2:1-12

An airplane with a wingspan longer than a football field is getting ready to take off.

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Soul Repair

Psalm 51:1-17

Repair cafés are popping up all over the world. You can get your toaster fixed. But what can fix a broken soul?

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PGI Time

Mark 1:9-15

If the cheese is Roquefort cheese, you know it’s from a certain region in the south of France. The trade name has a protected geographical indication (PGI).

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23andAbraham

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

What would a DNA test reveal about your spiritual ancestry?

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Humble Pie(ty)

Matthew 23:1-12

These are not the exact words of Jesus, but they come close: "Those who exalt themselves will eat humble pie, while those who eat humble pie will be exalted."

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The Dumpster Redeemer

Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37

Some people make a living by turning trash into treasure.

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Code-Switching

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

Multilingual people switch linguistic "codes" easily as they move from one language to another. In this text, the aging Joshua is concerned about casual switching around with moral and religious "codes."

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The Inclining Christian

Psalm 78:1-7

What does it mean to "incline" oneself to the things of God?

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Prepping for the Apocalypse

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Bomb shelters are not what they used to be. As world tensions heat up, preppers are getting ready for the apocalypse. But they're doing it in style.

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The Victim's Name Is Jesus

Matthew 25:31-46

Will non-Christians get into heaven?

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From Fad to Foundation

Mark 13:24-37

Fidget spinners were hot items last summer (four to five months ago), but are they still cool?

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Thank You for Waiting

2 Peter 3:8-15a

You need to call customer service. So you tap in the number and wait. Then there's a voice. "Thank you for waiting. Your call is important to us." Right!

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Merely Christian

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity was published 65 years ago. Why is it one of the "best Christian books of all time," according to one survey?

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A Dynasty of Grace

2 Samuel 7:1-7, 16

Many dynasties have come and gone throughout history, but one dynasty stands out.

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Manger Danger!

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

You won't believe the cribs parents have used for their infants!

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Design Thinking

Psalm 148

Stanford professors have written a helpful book called Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life.

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Said No One Ever

Matthew 16:21-28

"I would love to deny myself, and take up a cross" -- said no one ever.

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The Unhackable Key

Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus proposes the key to resolving conflict.

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How to Write Your Own Obituary

Romans 13:8-14

Writing your own obituary tends to clarify priorities.

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Forgiveness Fitness

Matthew 18:21-35

When you're aiming for fitness, a personal trainer increases your odds of success.

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First World Problems

Philippians 1:21-30

Internet is down, and you're out of coffee pods at work. Wah! Wah!

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Unhappy Servants

Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus tells the story of some employees who complain about their work and compensation.

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MAYA Jesus

Matthew 21:23-32

Jesus pushes us hard, but not beyond what is attainable.

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Dark Sky Holiness

Philippians 3:4b-14

Many cities are adopting regulations about light pollution. When cities go dark, the night sky lights up!

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Prayers, Pitfalls and Practices

Philippians 4:1-9

Can you lower your stress level by wearing a headband?

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Jesus and the "Gotcha" Question

Matthew 22:15-22

Jesus' interaction with some clever people who want to trap him demonstrates how we, too, can resist taking the bait.

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The Sign on the Door

Romans 3:19-28

Special Installment: Reformation Sunday
Homiletics offers some advice on what to tell your congregation about Martin Luther.

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No Time for Phubbing

Matthew 22:34-46

Ever expect to spend some quality time with a person, only to watch them picking up their phone every 20 seconds? Not good.

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A Beginner's Guide to Eternal Life

Romans 6:12-23

In political columnist Michael Kinsley’s book Old Age: A Beginner's Guide, he advises people to seek "long years of good health, not long years of simply breathing in and out."

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A Cup of Cool Water

Matthew 10:40-42

In this text, Jesus talks about giving the thirsty a "cup of cold water." He could have said, "a cup of water." But he didn't. Why?

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True Mirror

Romans 7:15-25a

We love mirrors. We must because they're everywhere. Now comes the True Mirror, a mirror that allows us to see ourselves as others see us.

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Rebrand: Life in the Spirit

Romans 8:1-11

Nissan, IHOP and Alphabet are all examples of rebranding. So is "Christian."

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Fake Food, Fake Faith ...

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

A lot of people like to cover their pasta with a liberal layer of parmesan cheese. It's possible, however, that this cheese has a lot of filler, like wood shavings — sawdust, basically. It’s fake cheese.

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Good Pain? Really?

Romans 8:12-25

"No pain, no gain." This is the mantra of health-fitness people. They make a reasonable argument. But is all pain good pain? And if not all pain is good, then how do we respond?

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Ask Yahweh

1 Kings 3:5-12

Ask Siri, or Alexa, if you must. But don't forget to ask Yahweh -- YHWH, for short -- because Yahweh gives good advice and is never wrong!

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Solidarity Feeding

Matthew 14:13-21

In Argentina and elsewhere, refrigerators are popping up on the sidewalks of a few cities. Inside is food for the hungry and homeless.

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Joseph and His Visible Thinking

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

"Visible Thinking" is a tool to help us understand how we come to arrive at a perspective we did not previously enjoy. "I used to think ... but now I think ..."

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Faith Badges: Crosses and Conversations

Romans 10:5-15

A cross necklace or ashes on your forehead are called “faith badges” by some sociologists. Other badges include the Hindu bindi (red dot) and a Mennonite woman’s white cap. If you’re wearing one of these “badges,” you are perceived as reliable and trustworthy.

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Potty Talk

Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

We’re talking toilets. Yes. But only because Jesus talks about toilets in this text.

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Guess Who?

Matthew 16:13-20

Ever notice those clickbait headlines about guessing people's ages by soliciting the answers to just a few questions? Jesus and the disciples play a little game of "Guess Who?" in this text.

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The GOCHRIST Challenge

1 Peter 2:19-25

Obstacle courses like the "Tough Mudder" are hot right now, and it is a metaphor we find in the Bible.

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To What Church Would Jesus Belong?

Acts 2:42-47

A well-known columnist asserts that the world’s major religions have deviated significantly from their founders’ vision.

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Travel Plans

John 14:1-14

Jesus reviews his travel plans with the disciples.

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The Whole World in His Hands

Acts 17:22-31

Only a few gospel songs have ever hit the top of the charts, and one speaks to today’s text.

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Remember to Remember

Joshua 4:4-7

Special Installment: Memorial Day
Congregations appreciate a biblical perspective on memorials and the importance of remembering. This topical sermon suggestion provides some ideas.

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Scheduling Problems

Acts 1:6-14

Never in the history of humankind have we had more devices, apps and calendars to help us manage our schedules. In this text, the disciples are very schedule conscious.

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When the Church Fails to Launch

Acts 2:1-21

What happens when Christians are not fueled, programmed and on the right course? The church crashes and burns.

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Cosmic Elation

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

God, happy with creation, moved into creation and now lives among us.

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Not Made to Sit

Matthew 28:16-20

A new book suggests that humans were not created to sit. The skeleton structure supports running, walking and lying down. But sitting — not so much.

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Ultrasound Faith

Genesis 18:1-15 (21:1-7)

The matriarch Sarah could not have imagined anything like ultrasound technology. But she understood biology. The idea that she could have a baby? Laughable.

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Going, but Not Coming Back

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

Would you accept a mission from which you knew you were not coming back?

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Servant Perks

Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17

The really sexy companies these days offer some crazy cool benefits for employees.

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The Lesson of the Locusts

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

The good people of Massachusetts recently suffered a massive invasion of "biblical" proportions.

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When Failure Is an Option

Genesis 2:15-17;3:1-7

Some school districts want to take away the zero as a grading option.

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The Devil's Clickbait

Matthew 4:1-11

You won't believe what the devil said to Jesus, just after --

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Abram and Lucy

Genesis 12:1-4a

What can we learn from the study of our common spiritual ancestor?

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Pardons Unlimited

Romans 5:1-11

Presidential pardons. As of August of last year, President Obama had issued 562 commutations (a record), but only 70 pardons (also a record).

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Know the No's

Ephesians 5:8-14

Product marketers know that simply telling people what is in the product is not enough. People will more readily buy something if they're happy about what is not in the product!

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Innovating to Zero Sin

Romans 8:6-11

Bill Gates told a TED audience that it's not enough to do better. We need to "innovate to zero."

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Kings, Colts, Crowds, Cloaks and Kenosis

Philippians 2:5-11

Writing in Scientific American, Tim Lomas explores the "magic" of untranslatable words. He starts by listing 216 such words. The list now stands at 601. But one word is missing: kenosis.

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A Grave Solution

Colossians 3:1-4

Some big cities have a cemetery problem. There’s not enough space to bury the dead. So, grave-sharing is a new approach that’s gaining momentum.

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No Memorial Needed

Matthew 28:1-10

Many states are struggling with what to do about all the roadside memorials to those who have died in car crashes.

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Peter's First Sermon

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

A budding preacher's first sermon is a memorable event. It was no different when Peter was the preacher.

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When Jesus Drops In

Luke 24:13-35

Zipline is a company that uses its fleet of drones to drop urgent medical supplies in remote areas of Rwanda. Drone technology reminds us of Jesus' post-resurrection appears. He seemed to be dropping in everywhere.

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Let's Keep Herod in Christmas

Matthew 2:13-23

There’s one figure from the biblical narrative we rarely see portrayed in a children's Christmas pageant: King Herod. He's just too mean and nasty for that holy night.

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Wonder Water

Matthew 3:13-17

A water bottle is in development that takes in moisture from surrounding air and produces clean, drinkable water in under an hour.

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The Happiness of Being Dirty

Psalm 40:1-11

Antidepressant microbes in soil may explain why so many of us enjoy gardening and playing in mud. In this psalm, however, David seeks deliverance from the muck and mire!

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Late Light

Isaiah 9:1-4

Some people sit in darkness most of their lives, but in the end, they see the light.

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The Run-Flat Church

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Have a flat tire? Today, there are many ways to fix a flat, or a schism -- if you will. The better solution, however, may be to not have a flat at all. Why not use run-flat tires?

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From Great to Good

Micah 6:1-8

Sixteen years ago, Jim Collins wrote Good to Great. Today, many companies that Collins saw as "great" are now out of business or on the decline. The Bible doesn't think too much of "greatness," but it has a lot to say about "goodness."

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Peer Pressure from the Pharisees

Matthew 5:13-20

Studies show that peer pressure from those who are only slightly superior can be a good thing. But if the pressure is coming from those way out in front, that's not so good.

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Jesus' Stretch Goals

Matthew 5:21-37

The secret to the success of many people is that they have "stretch" goals.

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Driving Directions

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Driving in unfamiliar territory -- a different city, state or country -- can be a harrowing experience. Just ask Moses.

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Revenge Fantasies

Matthew 5:38-48

Life has a million wicked tricks for increasing stress, but now, with the right app, a smartphone can be a tool to help reduce stress and find calm.

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God's Life-App

Psalm 119:33-40

Life has a million wicked tricks for increasing stress, but now, with the right app, a smartphone can be a tool to help reduce stress and find calm.

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Jesus and His Cross-Cultural Shift

Matthew 17:1-9

Tourists and expats understand the meaning of culture shock or cross-cultural problems. In his transfiguration, Jesus portends a cross-cultural shift, one that will rock the world.

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We have an acrostic God

Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21

The psalmist's skillful and playful use of the alphabet teaches us a lot about God.

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When God Gets Mad

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

A new study reports that people who believe that God dispenses punishment when deserved, tend to be better for it.

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Can a Christian Be Lazy?

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

The apostle Paul has some strong words for believers who live in idleness -- his word.

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The Nowhere Place

Isaiah 65:17-25

If we had a chance to live in utopia, would we jump at it?

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Their God Is My God

Luke 23:33-43

A non-Christian faces certain death if he aligns himself with his Christian friends. What he says to his assassins is shocking and inspiring at the same time. The apostle Paul has some strong words for believers who live in idleness -- his word.

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Alarm Clock Christianity

Romans 13:11-14

Technology gives us many ways in which to rouse ourselves in the morning. Now, if we Christians could only wake up, too!

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Let People Check You Out!

Romans 15:4-13

The Human Library Project lets borrowers check out human beings!

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Impatient for Jesus

James 5:7-10

As Christmas approaches, many parents are wondering how to teach their children to be patient.

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The Name Game

Matthew 1:18-25

What do you name a child who will "save his people from their sins"?

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The Best Gift

Titus 2:11-14

Many Christmas gifts are quickly forgotten, except, perhaps, the worst gifts ever!

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Give It Up for Jesus!

Psalm 97

Ever applaud at the wrong time? Christmas Day is the right time to applaud, and, according to the psalmist, no one deserves it more than God.

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Handling the Inheritance

Titus 3:4-7

A tidal wave of wealth is about to transfer from one generation to another. But the greatest transfer of wealth happened a long time ago.

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Full of Use

Philemon 1-21

It's Labor Day, time to remember that Finland, Brazil, Tunisia and France mandate 30 days off a year for their working citizens -- which doesn't count federal holidays.

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The Lure of Righteous Anger

Matthew 5:21-26

Special Installment: 15th Anniversary of 9/11
We will always mourn those who lost their lives in the events of September 11, 2001. We grieve with their families. We grieve as a nation. But, is it time to let go of the anger?

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In God Some of Us Trust

Psalm 14

Militant atheists have become more vocal in the past 10 years than ever before. What is a Christian response?

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Fruit Puddine, Bred Spred and Jesus

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Canned crab meat is not crab meat. And "Boneless Wyngz" are not chicken wings.

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What's On Your Plate?

1 Timothy 6:6-19

Many things we eat regularly are harmful to our health. Paul offers the same warning for the spiritual life.

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Faith Security Systems

2 Timothy 1:1-14

State-of-the-art home security systems, electronic walls, retinal scanners, thumb and fingerprint readers, passcodes, barcodes, motion sensors and more. Security is a booming business.

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The Gift of Goose Bumps

Psalm 66:1-12

Many people today do not seek the mysterious and those things that inspire awe. We seem to be happy with the humdrum and the mundane. This is not good.

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Single-tasking the Spiritual Life

2 Timothy 2:8-15

Ever speed 10 miles past your exit while talking on your mobile? Our brains are not designed to do two things at once.

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Kindling the Presence of God

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Some hotels are replacing print versions of the Bible with electronic e-readers.

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The "Last Year" Test

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Some Buddhist monks periodically look at photos of corpses. It sharpens their awareness of life. What if we took the "Last Year" test? How would we change the way we live?

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God's Eternal Imperative

Psalm 65

In Dan Brown's Inferno -- which appears as a film in theaters October 28 -- an unhinged scientist is obsessed with increasing scarcity -- quite unlike the psalmist of today’s reading, who rejoices in God’s abundance.

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Fortuitous Events

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

A "fortuitous event" can have either positive or negative consequences. So Habakkuk was to learn.

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Hydrochromatic Healing

2 Kings 5:1-14

Artists have created a special paint that becomes visible only when exposed to water.

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The Thinking Cure

Psalm 30

Is it possible to think our way out of distress, anxiety and problems?

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A Fore-Edge Life

Colossians 1:1-14

Some medieval books have works of art hidden on the page edges -- art that is visible only when the pages are ruffled and disturbed.

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Rate My Service

Luke 10:25-37

They are popping up everywhere -- small five-button devices that allow consumers to rate everything from customer service to the cleanliness of toilets.

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Christ Trek

Colossians 1:15-28

Star Trek Beyond opens in theaters July 22. The apostle Paul points us to a trek with the cosmic Christ in the opening paragraphs of his letter to the Colossians.

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Your Li-Fi Life

Colossians 2:6-15, 16-19

Internet access via light technology? Yes! It’s coming, and it will be faster than anything heretofore.

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Your Spiritual Emoji

Colossians 3:1-11

Some people who evidently have nothing better to do have created their own personal online emojis or avatars with the help of an app called Bitmoji.

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Walking on Glass

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

It's a thrill -- walking on glass suspended high above a canyon floor. It's also scary and demands a little faith.

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The Hyperloop Path

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Humans always seem to want better and faster ways to move ourselves. From horses to trains to cars to planes. Now, a hyperloop train promises to move humans in a tube at more than 600 mph!

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That's Awkward

Luke 12:49-56

A misspoken word, a wine stain on a white carpet, a wardrobe malfunction -- all awkward moments. Did Jesus have an awkward moment?

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Jesus Drops the Mic

Luke 13:10-17

When you're performing and you absolutely kill it, there's only one thing to do: drop the mic.

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Staying Hydrated

Jeremiah 2:4-13

We buy more than 10 billion plastic bottles of water per year! Clearly, we feel a need to stay hydrated.

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Getting Dropped

John 14:23-29

No one likes to get lapped when running a race. Yet, some experts say there’s much to learn from being left behind.

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The Lord's Lawn Work

Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5

We love our lawns and gardens. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t spend so much time on them. But wait until you hear about the New Garden!

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Jesus on Mergers and Acquisitions

John 17:20-26

Some corporate mergers work and others don’t (think AOL-Time Warner). In his extended prayer recorded in John, Jesus talks about the church merging into "one."

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Happy Birthday to You, Church!

Acts 2:1-21

Pentecost is a good time to sing a song that's now in the public domain.

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God's Surveillance Society

John 14:8-17 (25-27)

There are eyes everywhere. For some, that's an uneasy reality. For others, it provides a sense of safety. Then there's God -- who sees all, and yet is Someone we can't seem to track.

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Meet Sophie, Your IEC

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Individual Education Consultants are in high demand. They'll help high school seniors get into colleges that are a good fit for them. In Proverbs, we meet Sophie, our own IEC.

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Fire Mission

1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39

Flame-throwing technology has been applied in some odd ways. It reminds us of when the ancient prophet Elijah produced some shock-and-awe pyrotechnics that incinerated an altar drenched in water.

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A Life Worth Living

Galatians 1:11-24

An Ivy League university is offering a course on "Life Worth Living."

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When the Dead Sit Up

Luke 7:11-17

It's the stuff of jokes and sitcoms: someone thought to be dead, sits up in the coffin. It's not as uncommon as you might think. And there's an example of this -- sort of -- in the text.

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Miranda Rights and Righteousness

Galatians 2:15-21

It's the 50th anniversary of the Miranda ruling. SCOTUS addressed the issue of a suspect's rights. The apostle Paul explains the meaning of righteousness.

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Wilderness Bathing

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a

Stressed Japanese workers have taken to dashing off to forests for a deep connection with nature they call "forest bathing." Elijah is doing the same thing, only he's in a desert.

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Jesus Fruit

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Square watermelons? Pears shaped like little Buddhas? Yes, it's possible. So is bearing fruit that the apostle calls the "fruit of the Spirit."

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Song of Reconciliation

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Ever have trouble getting a song out of your head? It's because of "processing fluency," and the apostle Paul uses the technique in this text.

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Turning Trash into Treasure

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Two stories: In the first, a young Nigerian woman and MIT grad finds a way to turn trash into treasure. In the second, a young man finds a way to turn treasure into trash -- but, in the end, is restored.

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Is that Even a Thing?

Isaiah 43:16-21

When we happen to hear of something really unusual, unique, we might -- in the slang of the day — say, "Is that even a thing?" In this text, God says, "Yes, it is a thing -- a new thing."

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The Norm of Jesus Devotion

John 12:1-8

Employers, even the so-called "enlightened" ones, expect "job devotion" in return for all the employee perks they offer. What does Jesus expect?

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Batman v Superman v Jesus

Luke 23:1-49

Okay, the hype has been on for months! Now the long-awaited movie is here.

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Bad Friday

Psalm 22

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: GOOD FRIDAY
Any way you look at it, things started going south for Jesus soon after he got into the city. And on Friday, things got bad, really bad.

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Signs of Life

Luke 24:1-12

NASA has discovered a planet that looks at lot like Earth. Scientists are now looking for signs of life. The women coming to the tomb Sunday morning, however, were not.

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No Zombie Jesus

Revelation 1:4-8

Zombie walks are becoming mainstream. Many cities have them, usually fundraisers for charity. Our text says that Jesus was the "firstborn of the dead." Wait, what?

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Objection! Non-responsive!

John 21:1-19

Lawyers have many tools in their toolkit to object to witness statements. They know when a witness is avoiding the question. Jesus did, too.

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The Shepherd and the Circle

Psalm 23

Both the shepherd and the circle represent a symmetry that can be described as "change without change."

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Jesus Removes All Suspense!

John 10:22-30

You might be surprised to learn that Jesus once kept a crowd in suspense! What was going on?

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The Love Haptic

John 13:31-35

Haptics is the technology of impressions. It's a technology that lets you know that you're tapping and poking on your smartphone. Jesus says that love sort of does the same thing.

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God Is in the Relocation Business

Jeremiah 31:7-14

When a company asks you to relocate, the relo package they offer might be very attractive.

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Kicking the Worry Habit

Isaiah 43:1-7

Not only do we tend to worry too much, but we worry about the wrong things!

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Forcing God's Hand

Acts 8:14-17

Here's a newsflash: Any attempt to manipulate God into serving our own agenda is doomed to failure!

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From Shadow to Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The "shadow work economy" consists of all the work we now do ourselves which we used to employ others to do.

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Different Parts, Same DNA

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Surgeons are now able to regenerate body parts from a patient's own cells, shaped especially for their role within the body.

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Hello, Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:4-10

A chil's doll or teddy bear often had a pull string that activated a voice recording. Now, the doll is able to have a conversation with the child.

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The Agape Update

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

The app you have on your smartphone often will not work unless you update it. The Corinthian church was in need of a serious love update. The apostle Paul explains.

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Jesus -- the Face of the Good News

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

Einstein is the face of genius; LeBron James, the face of basketball; Miley Cyrus, the face of pop culture. What about Elijah, Moses and Jesus?

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The Day of the Lord

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Special Installment: Ash Wednesday
Joel predicts that a day of reckoning is coming. But a survey of predictions reveals that some seers get it wrong in a big way.

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3 Things Jesus Lost in the Wilderness

Luke 4:1-13

We begin with a review of items that have been lost — or found. Then we look at Jesus' temptation to consider what was lost -- and found -- in his exchange with the devil in the wilderness.

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Do You Have the "Look"?

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Logos, brands, images, marketing. A "look" is a very valuable asset for a successful business. Christians have a certain look, too. Or, at least, they should.

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The Unsubscribe Problem

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

When we get unwanted emails from companies wanting our business, we can often "unsubscribe." Is there a way to "unsubscribe" from unwanted temptation?

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A New Test

Mark 12:28-34

The test for New York cabbies has been reduced from more than 80 questions to just 10! Jesus did something similar with the Law of Moses.

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Ruth and the Matchmaker

Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17

Matchmaking services, an ancient tradition, are once again on the rise.

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Hannah and the SBNRs

1 Samuel 1:4-20

Spiritual, but not religious? Right! Hannah was both spiritual and religious.

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The Question Jesus Doesn't Answer

John 18:33-37

In Pilate’s conversation with Jesus, one question the procurator posed went unanswered.

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God Talks

Psalm 25:1-10

TED Talks are a YouTube sensation — they’ve been viewed more than a billion times! But have we heard a GOD talk lately?

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The Love Pill

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

We know about happy pills. Now, we learn of a pill which may make us more loving.

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The Terror of Advent

Malachi 3:1-4

If you read the Old Testament lection for this Sunday, you might find yourself scared to death.

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The Force Awakens

Luke 3:7-18

The Star Wars franchise is alive and well! The latest movie, opening this weekend, has some lessons worth considering.

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What's Wrong with Being Happy?

Philippians 4:4-7

Who doesn’t want to be happy? So why are we vaguely embarrassed to admit that it’s a life goal?

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Baby Jesus

Hebrews 10:5-10

Animatronics is a division of robotics research that makes robots “come to life” as animals or humans. The nativity scene in the store window may have an animatronic baby Jesus.

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The Big Announcement

Isaiah 52:7-10

Evites, "save-the-date," sky-writing, hand-written notes — all of these and more are possible ways to make your big announcement. And then, there’s the Incarnation.

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The Dress Code

Colossians 3:12-17

Strange as it may sound, some places still exist where you can't just show up wearing whatever you want.

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Sparring Partners

Mark 7:24-37

Jesus seems to treat the Syrophoenician woman rather poorly in this text. What's going on?

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Quid Pro ... No!

Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9,22-23

Does God have some kind of a reciprocal arrangement with us?

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Hot Mic!

James 3:1-12

More than one politician, on-air newsperson and celebrity has been overheard to say something better left unsaid.

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Stream Living

Psalm 1

Water rights are often the most important asset a farmer has. This psalm says that believers are not located near wells of water, but streams of water.

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Prodigious Children of God

Mark 9:30-37

We're always amazed to see a child with enormous talent and intelligence.

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You Are Here

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22

How should we respond when we know we're somewhere, but we're not sure where, or why?

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This Is Your Brain on Prayer

James 5:13-20

When we pray, our brains not only undergo change, but our lives are changed as well.

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Flipping the Church

Psalm 26

Investors seeking a quick buck will sometimes buy a rundown house, renovate it, and re-sell it, i.e., "flip" it. Does the church need to be flipped?

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Jesus Meets Henry

Mark 10:17-31

The rich, young man of the text is a "HENRY." And he messes up his one chance to find meaning in life.

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If You Could Ask God One Question

Job 23:1-9, 16-17

Suppose, when you get to heaven, you are given an opportunity to ask God one question. What would it be?

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Ransomware

Mark 10:35-45

Bad people want to infect your computer, freeze it, and demand you pay a ransom for its release. In this text, Jesus uses the word "ransom." What does he mean?

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How to Call for Help

Mark 10:46-52

In an emergency, how do we get help? Calling 911 is an obvious answer. What other avenues of assistance are available to us?

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Take Nothing for the Journey

Mark 6:1-13

The TSA advises travelers to leave a lot of stuff at home when traveling. So does Jesus.

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Coming Clean

Psalm 24

Before coming to the meal, one question always comes up.

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The Greatest Gift of All Time

Ephesians 2:11-22

The Statue of Liberty. New Jersey. The Trojan Horse. All of them gifts. But is any one of them the greatest?

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Two Fish and a 3-D Printer

John 6:1-21

Imagine the scene if the disciples had a 3-D printer that could print food!

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King David

2 Samuel 11:1-15

King David, the movie, is in the works. What's the moral of the story?

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For Shame!

2 samuel 11:26-12:13a

You wouldn't believe what passengers do on flights. That's why flight attendants now have a site to post the photographic evidence.

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Church with Integrity

Ephesians 4:1-16

A well-known restaurant chain known for its burritos insists on serving up food with integrity.

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Eating for Eternal Life

John 6:35, 41-51

You'd be surprised at how often we link food with something that's simply divine!

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Am I Dying?

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

This is the question people in extremis often ask. Should they be told the truth?

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Big Time

Ephesians 5:15-20

London Tower's Big Ben is a huge clock. But it's not the largest in the world.

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Paul's Product Proposal

Ephesians 6:10-20

Last year, a lot of cool gadgets hit the market. In Ephesians, we find another one.

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The Depravity Standard

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Can evil be quantified or codified? On a scale of depravity, where would you put people like Hitler, Pol Pot or the gunman who killed scores of school children in Norway? ISIS? Boko Haram?

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The Ethiopian Innovation

Acts 8:26-40

If Philip the Evangelist was anything, he was open to change.

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The Helium God

John 15:9-17

Special Installment: Mother's Day
You've heard about "helicopter" parents. So what are "helium" parents?

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Buying Peace

1 John 5:1-6

Need some peace and quiet? Buy yourself an Ostrich Pillow. Or not.

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The Holy Autocorrect

Ephesians 1:15-23

The Holy Spirit acts as a sort of holy "autocorrector," and Lord knows that this is something we need!

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Spirit Code

Romans 8:22-27

Does God have a ZIP code?

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The Palindromic God

Isaiah 6:1-8

The Trinity means that backwards or forwards, inside and out, God is God.

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Up the Wrong Tree

Genesis 3:8-15

It's one of the most famous trees in all of literature: the tree in the Garden of Eden.

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By Reason of Insanity

Mark 3:20-35

The Bible says that some people believed Jesus was mad? Why would they think this?

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Hope in a Seed

Mark 4:26-34

The text speaks of the power of a tiny mustard seed. Don't believe it? Consider a seed that's saved more than 50 million lives.

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Faith, Risk and the Sky-High Selfie

Mark 4:35-41

Rooftoppers love to scramble to the top of a skyscraper and take a photo downwards, so their feet are showing in the photo. Daring. Risky. Perhaps like stepping out of a boat in a storm to try to walk on water.

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How Underdogs Can Win

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Is there a secret to being a successful underdog? If so, the little shepherd boy, David, must have known all about it.

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When is Rich, Rich?

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

To know if you're rich, measure yourself against Christ.

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El Shaddai

Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

Some promises are more lasting than others. This Hebrew name for God tells us a lot about how God keeps promises.

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The Sign of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

The symbol for handicap access has changed in New York. But some symbols never change.

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Mercy and Graced to Life!

Ephesians 2:1-10

Ever feel like hotels and airlines are nickel and diming you to death?

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How to Select Your Ethics Setting

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Robot cars may someday make life-and-death decisions based on your ethics setting.

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Face Like Flint

Isaiah 50:4-9a

The "Servant" of this text sets his "face like flint" as he prepares to suffer.

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Once is (Not) Enough

Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Special Installment: Good Friday
If you love movies, you may agree that there are some movies, although excellent, you never want to see again.

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Lincoln and the Lord

Mark 16:1-8

Easter Sunday is just a few days removed from the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Lincoln (which occurred on Good Friday).

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No Snapchats with God

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

Kids today can use Snapchat, Yik-Yak, Secret or Wut to send messages that self-destruct or are anonymous.

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The Sharing Society

Acts 4:32-35

Bartering, car-sharing, bicycle-sharing, Uber and Lyft, the Lending Club. These are all signs that people are trying to share resources today.

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Don't Make Me Think

Psalm 4

Recent studies show that people would rather self-administer an electric shock than to sit still and think.

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Listening for the Bible's Message

Acts 3:12-19

In today's text, the apostle Peter says: "You Israelites, ... you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses." Harsh. What did he mean?

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Christ Life: Not the Same Old Formula

1 John 3:16-24

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company is introducing a new product called Coke Life.

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Finding Hope in a Dark Conclusion

Psalm 147:12-20

Some scientists are saying that we’re never going to find a cure for cancer. That’s a pretty dark conclusion.

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Space Places

Ephesians 1:3-14

Some believe that by uploading their brains and shooting their mind files into outer space, they'll be able to achieve immortality. The apostle Paul has a better idea.

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Kintsukuroi Christianity

Acts 19:1-7

In Japan, you wouldn't believe what they can do with broken pottery.

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LinkedIn by God

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

LinkedIn now thinks it knows well enough to link up high school seniors with the perfect college. God knows us even better.

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Rules of the Road

John 1:43-51

Some weird driving laws are still on the books. Nothing weird about Jesus' first words to potential disciples. The first "rule" is to "follow."

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Trust God and Avoid Decision Fatique

Psalm 62:5-12

Consumers now face so many choices, making a decision can be exhausting.

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Jesus Chooses His Disciples -- and They're Not Geniuses

Mark 1:14-20

Who have the highest IQs in the world? How important is IQ for being a disciple of Jesus?

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From Anthro to Theo

Psalm 111

We love God's creative work. But now humans have created something totally new: plastiglomerate, a new "rock." It's not an ex nihilo creation, and, frankly, its disturbing.

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Schopenhauer's Quote

Isaiah 40:21-31

We love books, websites and lists of famous quotations. But, many of them are wrongly attributed. Take Schopenhauer, for example.

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Jesus, the Transformer

Mark 9:2-9

Yes, there's going to be a Transformers 5.

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Internal Shrinkage

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Retailers have just completed their annual inventory. Some have discovered external shrinkage of inventories. But others have uncovered another problem.

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A Brief History of Jesus

Mark 1:9-15

We know about Stephen Hawking's famous book about time. Now comes Mark's six verses about Jesus.

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A Wall Against the Water

Joshua 3:7-17

When you're hit by a tsunami, you're going to try to protect yourself. That's what the Japanese are doing. The Israelites, too, had issues with water: at the Red Sea, and now at the Jordan.

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A Vocabulary Event

Matthew 23:1-12

When VP Joe Biden used the word "malarkey," it set off what linguists call a "vocabulary event." In this text, Jesus has some choice words for self-righteous poseurs.

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The Power of the Hidden Influencer

Matthew 25:1-13

Snowball sampling helps researchers discover "hidden influencers." Both the wise and foolish groups in Jesus' parable had them, and they're in the church, too.

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Silicon Faith

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Tech companies say that we need personal computers, iPads and smartphones. But maybe we need something else, too.

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The Great Gates of Praise

Psalm 100

We look at some of the famous gates in the world. Then, there's the gate that leads us into the presence of God!

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Christians Behaving Badly

Isaiah 64:1-9

Too many tourists behave like fools.

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Circles or Straight Paths?

Mark 1:1-8

Time to break out of our endless loops and move in a new direction.

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Gibberish-Free Zone

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

More than 100 scientific articles, published by major journals, have turned out to be pure gibberish.

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I Am Doxology

Romans 16:25-27

The Scriptures do it with Wisdom (see Proverbs); Erasmus of Rotterdam did it with Folly (In Praise of Folly); Homiletics is doing it with Doxology. Personification.

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Son of God, Love's True Light

Isaiah 9:2-7

In a narrow canyon in Norway, a little village didn't get a whole lot of sunlight. But one day that changed.

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If Christmas Came Tomorrow

Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

A last-century ad asks a provocative question.

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Jesus of the Gaps

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus is the subject (and protagonist) of a number of new novels.

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The Christian Textbook

Romans 13:8-14

You'd think that school textbooks would get it right. Right?

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Gyroscopic Grace

Matthew 18:15-20

A lesson from your iPad or smartphone screen.

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Don't Vex the Vegans

Romans 14:1-12

The apostle Paul defends non-meat eaters.

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G-Rations

Exodus 16:2-15

The Marines are looking to spice up their MREs.

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The Upside of Giving Up

Matthew 21:23-32

Can quitting be the right choice sometimes?

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2114

Philippians 2:1-13

What will the world be like in 100 years? Will there be any love and kindness left?

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Radical Honesty

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Can you really be honest all of the time?

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The Most Influential Person The Trouble with Guiding Principles

Philippians 4:1-9

It’s fine to have a moral compass. The problem is that sometimes we forget to bring it along on our journey.

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The Inviting God

Matthew 22:1-14

It’s possibly the world’s largest cathedral. It’s in Africa. And it’s virtually empty.

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Render to Caesar Your Bitcoin

Matthew 22:15-22

The bitcoin is a hot commodity right now, and controversial. What would Jesus do?

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Rightfully Yours

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

How do you respond when you are denied what is rightfully yours?

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The Permanent Directive

Matthew 22:34-46

New printers can now print using water instead of ink. But, the imprint is not permanent.

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The Apostle Paul Takes a Selfie

Romans 7:15-25a

President Obama has done it. Hillary Clinton has done it. Ellen DeGeneres did it at the Academy Awards. Well, who hasn't? Most of us have taken a selfie. Even the apostle Paul.

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Prisoners of Hope

Zechariah 9:9-12

This text is usually read on Palm Sunday. But on Palm Sunday we usually don't hear anything about the "prisoners" of this text.

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The Most Influential Person Who Never Lived

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Think about it. There are a lot of famous people who never lived. Sherlock Holmes. Tom Sawyer. Spiderman. There's a well-known person in this text, too.

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God Shoes

Romans 8:12-25

GPS is great if you're in your car or riding a bike. But are you on foot? Forgot your smart phone? No worries. You've got your shoes with GPS software embedded in the sole.

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Jacob's Travel Challenge

Genesis 28:10-19a

Have you taken the travel challenge on Facebook? If so, you've listed all the interesting places in the world you've seen. In this reading, Jacob is on the journey of his life!

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Desert Dynasty Dynamic

Genesis 29:15-28

Despite some major controversies, the reality show, Duck Dynasty has maintained its popularity. For some reason, the show reminds us of the ancient family of this text.

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Jesus Bread

Matthew 14:13-21

There are many types of bread available today. The most nourishing, however, is "Jesus bread."

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Bible Badgers

Romans 10:5-15

Who weeds auto-correct, anyway?

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Joseph's Humblebrag

Genesis 45:1-15

A "humblebrag" is a tweet or online message that purports to show one's humility, but it's offered in a way that manages nevertheless to puff up the sender.

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God in Quiet Mode

Exodus 1:8–2:10

When our laptop virus protection is working properly, it's often working in "quiet mode." We can't see it, but it's there, doing its job.

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The Greatest Speech Ever Given

Matthew 16:13-20

Lots of memorable speeches have been made in the history of humankind. One need only mention Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln for starters. Then, there's Peter.

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Good to Know

Matthew 16:21-28

You hear some piece of arcane trivia. You'll probably never need to remember it. But, still, it's "good to know."

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Jesus, the Stranger, Guest and Host

Luke 24:13-35

Jesus participates in the ancient practice of Christian hospitality by acting as both guest and host.

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#YOLO

John 10:1-10

The new carpe diem.

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Jesus Christ, POW

1 Peter 2:19-25

One hundred and fifty years ago the POW camp at Andersonville, Georgia, was a place of death and degradation.

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G-O-A-T

Acts 7:55-60

If you're an athlete, you don't want to play like a goat, but you definitely want to be a G-O-A-T.

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The Stones and Bones of Bath Abbey

1 Peter 2:2-10

The church at Bath Abbey is in peril unless some dead bones can be successfully removed without causing the building to collapse.

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Consider the Ketchup Bottle

1 Peter 3:13-22

Every bottle of one particular brand of ketchup is a design statement. And therein is a lesson for the church.

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How to Break Up with a Country

John 17:1-11

U.S. citizens are turning in their passports -- renouncing their citizenship -- in record numbers. Do Christians have a citizenship problem, too?

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Body Parts

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

First, we take a look at some useless human body parts. Then we turn to the text to reflect on whether there are similar parts in the ChristBody.

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Place Hacking

Matthew 28:16-20

Place hacking is a new global movement to "hack" into places that are forbidden. Not supposed to be in that construction site? You go in anyway, and take photos.

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Age of Resurrection

Romans 6:1b-11

The new Transformers movie is out, but the message for us is not the "Age of Extinction," but rather the "Age of Resurrection."

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The Bald Truth about Fear

Matthew 10:24-39

Every year bald people get together for a convention. We thought about this when Jesus mentions the part about God knowing the hair count on every head.

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Beware the Narrowed Pleasure

Romans 6:12-23

We begin with a website for serious bicycle riders called Strava. It's a site where individual times can be posted. Riders will try to beat those times, and it has led to death.

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God-Spoken

2 Peter 1:16-21

It's Oscar night, and we're wondering what the winners are going to say during their acceptance speeches. The apostle Peter reminds us of what God has said through Jesus Christ.

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Alarm Fatigue

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Special Installment: Ash Wednesday
It's alarming: New reports suggest that, with all the alarms that go off in a hospital room, some health care professionals don't get too concerned.

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Outside of the Garden

Genesis 2:15-17;3:1-7

When do people really grow up? The Genesis account has something to say about this.

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If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't ...?

Matthew 4:1-11

DNA scientists believe they are close to manipulating genes to boost the intelligence of children by as much as 20 IQ points.

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Was the Apostle Paul Trying to Reinvent the Wheel?

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

A wheel is round, right? Well ....

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The Ahh Effect

John 4:5-42

If you're thirsty, you grab a bottle of cold water, twist the cap and take a swig. What do you say next?

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Third Culture Christians

Ephesians 5:8-14

Thousands of children live with their parents overseas. There's a phrase for them: They're Third Culture Kids.

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Shake, Rattle and Roll

Ezekiel 37:1-14

This title phrase has been rattling around in rock 'n' roll since the '50s. But it evokes something that happened in an ancient prophetic vision.

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Solvitur Ambulando

Romans 8:6-11

There's one small secret to living well, and you might be surprised to learn what it is.

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The Quirky Truth

Matthew 21:1-11

Some strange truths underlie many common occurrences in life. Palm Sunday is an opportunity to reflect on this.

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Can Google Solve the Death Problem?

Matthew 28:1-10

Google announced late last year that they have a new project: solving death. Hasn’t that been done already?

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Doubtful Design

John 20:19-31

A 47-story building in Spain lacks elevators on its upper floors to ferry potential residents to their homes. Oops! Is theological doubt like this? No elevators to the truth?

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Jesus Goes Home

John 1:1-9, 10-18

Going home is not always easy, especially if your hometown is not particularly impressed with you.

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Partial Love

Acts 10:34-43

God is no "respecter of persons," according to our text. God loves impartially. So what does partial love look like?

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2014: Year of the Ark

Psalm 29

The Netherlands, Hong Kong, the United States -- all home to some kind of ark-themed attraction. The writer of this psalm sounds like he needs one, too.

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The Satisfaction Survey

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Ever get an email from a hotel or airline wanting to know about your recent experience with them? The apostle Paul talks about his satisfaction level with the church at Corinth.

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The Genome Name

Isaiah 49:1-7

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that human genes cannot be patented. Our text says that God knew us while we were yet in the womb.

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What Atheists Can Teach Christians

Matthew 4:12-23

Atheists are often a vocal group. Is there anything theists and Christians can learn from them?

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The People of God's World (1)

Matthew 5:1-12

The first in a series of four on the Sermon on the Mount. Here, we take a first look at what the people of God’s world, or kingdom, look like.

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System Requirements

Micah 6:1-8

If you buy new software, you'd better make sure your hardware is equipped to handle it. God, too, has "system requirements."

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The People of God's World (2)

Matthew 5:13-20

Part two of a four-part series on the Sermon on the Mount and the second part of a discussion of the people of God's world.

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The Ethics of God's World (1)

Matthew 5:21-37

Part three of a four-part series on the Sermon on the Mount and the first part of a discussion of the ethical principles of God's world.

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Baby Talk

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Pediatricians say that talking baby talk to your infant is an important part of the linguistic development of the child. In our text, it sounds as though the apostle is getting weary of baby talk.

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The Ethics of God's World (2)

Matthew 5:38-48

Part four of a four-part series on the Sermon on the Mount and the second part of a discussion of the ethical principles of God’s world.

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Up a Tree

Luke 19:1-10

If your inner child is healthy, you may still enjoy climbing trees. Tree Climbers International exists to nurture this indulgence. This leads us to take a look at Zacchaeus, the Patron Saint of Tree Climbers.

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A Knotty Faith

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

Philippe Petit, who once cavorted on a high wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center, has written a book about tying knots. There's a lesson here about faith.

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A Marriage (NOT) Made in Heaven

Luke 20:27-38

Jesus is asked a tricky question and his answer suggests another look at marriage.

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How to Live when the World's on Fire

Luke 21:5-19

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens this week. Homiletics takes a look.

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Digging Deep

Isaiah 12

What's the deepest human-made bore on Earth? Is it as deep as the "wells of salvation?"

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Mappa Mundi Christiana

Colossians 1:11-20

The discovery of a medieval map leads to a discussion of the cosmic Christ revealed in this text.

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The Insomniac Christian

Matthew 24:36-44

What's the record for staying awake? More than 100 hours? 200? We ask, because Jesus asks us to "stay awake."

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Wild John and Homeless Jesus

Matthew 3:1-12

A statue of Jesus portrayed as a homeless person has a hard time finding a home.

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Total Reclamation

Isaiah 35:1-10

Recycling CFL bulbs and planting millions of trees in Inner Mongolia are only two examples of people helping to reclaim the planet. That's what Advent is about, too.

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Belonging to Jesus

Romans 1:1-7

The need to belong is a well-documented and researched psychological reality. Fortunately, our text today reminds us that we are called to "belong to Jesus."

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FutureHope

Isaiah 9:2-7

Special Installment: Christmas Eve
Jesus is our future. Jesus is our hope. Jesus is our everything.

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The Hebrew Diary

Isaiah 63:7-9

Did you have a diary when you were a kid? The kind with a clasp and key? This text reads like a diary entry.

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The Humility Hall of Fame

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Football season starts on Thursday, which means we're in for five months of excessive celebrating in the end zone.

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Honey from the Rock

Psalm 81:1, 10-16

How do you get something sweet out of a hard, unyielding place?

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Finding the Potter's House

Jeremiah 18:1-11

Jeremiah is asked to go to the potter’s house. Did he know where this potter lived, or did he ask for directions?

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Appointed to Serve

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Luxury bed tester, candy taster and island caretaker — three of the best jobs in the world if you can get the work.

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Y'all Keep Prayin' Now!

1 Timothy 2:1-7

A new study says that Texans are losing their twang. The apostle urges us not to lose our own distinctive language, i.e. the language of prayer.

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Bad Medicine for the Soul

Jeremiah 8:18–9:1

No balm in Gilead. That’s the verdict. Instead of a nice, soothing balm, the ancient Hebrews need to swallow some bad medicine.

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No Big Regrets

Luke 16:19-31

A hospice nurse published a book about the top five regrets people have on their deathbeds. And not one of them involves not getting a business deal or promotion.

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Dutiful Faith

Luke 17:5-10

Jesus says that a servant shouldn’t be applauded for simply doing his job. Yeah, so what’s the point here?

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The Gospel License

2 Timothy 2:8-15

You need a license to do just about anything anymore, whether it's selling hot dogs, driving, getting married, pulling a tooth or cutting hair. Even the apostle says that Timothy needs to be "approved."

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Augmented Reality Check

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Put on a pair of Google glasses and a whole new dimension opens up. But for Christians this is old news. Isn’t this sort of what the gospel is all about? Augmented reality?

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The Vertical Race

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Marathoners run horizontal races; stair climbers run vertical ones in some of the world’s tallest buildings. Paul invokes sporting metaphors when he looks back on a life of faith.

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Inter Gravissimas

Joel 2:23-32

Ever feel like you’ve wasted a year or two of your life? More than 400 years ago, 15 days disappeared — forever. In this prophetic text, the question is raised as to whether the years “that the locusts ate” can ever be recovered.

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The Christian Goo-Goos

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Do-gooders, goody two-shoes, goo-goos. Is this what the Bible is asking us to be in this epistle text?

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Vacationaries

Luke 10:25-37

You have the heart of a missionary, but you also have a career. What to do? Take a vacation with a mission!

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XO

Colossians 1:1-14

Signing letters with X's and O's was once very common, until no one was writing letters anymore. Now, suddenly, they're back in e-mails and texts. What does this mean?

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Sis-ling Rivalry

Luke 10:38-42

National Sisters Day is coming soon. What better time to re-examine this well-known text about the Bible's most famous sisters.

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Relearning the Lord's Prayer

Luke 11:1-13

The archbishop of Canterbury suggests that learning the Lord's Prayer in school might not be a bad idea.

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Salvation Corners

Psalm 85

Owen Sound, Ontario, has an intersection on which a church sits on each of its four corners.

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The Theohedonia Option

Luke 12:13-21

Hedonists love pleasure. Those suffering from anhedonia cannot experience pleasure. So who are theohedonists?

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The Expat Christian

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

More than 200 million expatriates are working on the planet away from the homeland. Bring these people together politically, and you’d have the world's fifth largest nation.

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Self-cleaning Clothes

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

Chinese engineers have discovered a way to make clothes that clean themselves. College dorms will never be the same!

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The View from the Tower

Isaiah 5:1-7

This year is the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame. Yes, the Notre Dame, and many improvements have been made to the North Tower.

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The Divisive Jesus

Luke 12:49-56

Jesus said once, "I have come to seek and to save those who are lost." But that's not what he says in this text.

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Moving Past the Password

Psalm 71:1-6

Some techno-geeks who live in an alternative, digital cloud-world of bytes, ones, zeros and algorithms say that our online passwords are not too effective against a determined hacker.

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Heaven's for Real

Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5

When neurosurgeon Eben Alexander found himself in a coma, he experienced what he never thought possible -- a journey to the afterlife.

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The Geography of Joy

Acts 16:16-34

A writer travels around the world studying the geographical areas where people seem to be the happiest.

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Divine Design

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b

Microsoft is one of the most successful companies in history, but it has had some major design flops. That can't happen to us when we're "designed by the Spirit."

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What's Your Handicap?

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Why would anyone lie about their golf handicap?

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Virtual Healing

Luke 7:1-10

Can virtual reality therapy help bring healing to people who suffer with PTSD?

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The Wrong Gospel

Galatians 1:1-12

Homiletics looks at the problem of the "wrong gospel." Not all "gospels" proclaim the "gospel truth."

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Just How Much Is a "Year's Supply?"

1 Kings 17: 8-16 (17-24)

If you are promised a year's supply of ice cream, how much ice cream will you really get?

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The Art of Godliness

Proverbs 3:1-12

On Father's Day we take a look at what it means to be manly -- and godly.

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Open Outcry

Psalm 5:1-8

In some trading pits of stock exchanges, trading is not done via an electronic means, but rather through voice and hand gestures, a system called "open outcry."

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The Deceleration Dilemma

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a

Learning how to slow down. It can be a huge problem.

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A Letter That Changed History

Galatians 3:23-29

Can a mere letter (i.e. correspondence) change history? We'll offer some examples, including a biblical one.

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The Nones, the Nons and the Buts

Luke 9:51-62

The current Congress has more "nones" than ever before; the Church, on the other hand, has more "buts."

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The Lost Art of Waiting

Luke 13:1-9

NASA scientists had to wait more than eight months before their rover landed on Mars last summer.

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Health Coach Suggests Bread and Water

Isaiah 55:1-9

To help keep down the rising costs of obesity and other medical problems, some insurance companies are offering health coaching.

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Facebook Nostalgia

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Facebook people are posting nostalgic images and asking friends if they remember the Mercurochrome or potato mashers once used long ago.

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FOMO Christians

Isaiah 43:16-21

The choices are FOMO, FLOP or FOMO. Check it out. You’ll see what we mean.

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It Is imPOSSIBLE

Luke 19:28-40

An old fable gets the film treatment in a movie that comes out just before Holy Week.

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100 Years of "The Old Rugged Cross"

John 18:1-19:42

Special Installment: Good Friday
One of the most well-known hymns of the church -- ever -- is 100 years old this year. What better time to take a closer look than on Good Friday?

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A Fallen World; A Risen Christ

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

A police officer is shot, and dies. A Savior is killed, and lives.

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Letter from a Jerusalem Jail

Acts 5:27-32

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter from a Birmingham jail. It resonates strongly with what the apostles said to their Jerusalem jailers.

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Sacred Wakefulness

Psalm 30

The invention of the light bulb changed the concept of "night" and "darkness." What did people do when the nights were long, dark and forbidding?

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Flash-Mob Messiah

Revelation 5:11-14

Read this text and it sounds like a flash mob has gathered in heaven to sing Handel's Messiah.

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Sewing and Reaping

Acts 9:36-43

The American Sewing Guide has a Sewing Hall of Fame. We think that the Dorcas of our text should be a sort of honorary founding member.

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Marching Off the Map

Acts 11:1-18

Remember the free maps you used to be able to get at gas stations? Well, they're not free any more, and it's becoming harder to find them.

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Adoration of the Magi

Matthew 2:1-12

One of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works was never finished.

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Why I Am ...

Ephesians 3:1-12

Go online and you can read thousands of manifestos which proclaim "Why I am ... a vegan," or a socialist, atheist, separatist, etc. In this text, Paul explains why he is an apostle.

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Tightrope Tips

Isaiah 43:1-7

Nik Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls last year on a tightrope, successfully passing over the waters. Our text gives us some help for when we must pass through the waters.

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The Hangover: Jesus Edition

John 2:1-11

Hollywood is fascinated with weddings. Brace yourself for another Hangover movie coming in a few months, which reminds us of when Jesus kept a party going ....

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Bible Time Capsule

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10

Time capsules buried in the 50s and 60s are "coming due" these days. In this text, the people of God have a "time-capsule" moment as they hear the word of God as though it were for the first time.

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The Nazareth Syndrome

Luke 4:21-30

Some tourists or pilgrims have strange reactions when visiting the Holy Land -- they develop a Messiah Complex.

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The Case for Face to Face

Exodus 34:29-35

Skype, Apple's FaceTime and technology for virtual business meetings are not going away. But a recent study reveals that most people prefer face-to-face communication.

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Don't Claim Your Baggage

Psalm 51:1-17

Special Installment: Ash Wednesday
We don't like it when an airline loses our bags, but what does the airline do when passengers don't pick up their bags? Perhaps leaving our baggage is a good thing.

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App-ing Toward Holiness

Luke 4:1-13

More than 500,000 apps are out there to help people conduct business, lose weight or play games. There's even an app that will help us with our spiritual formation.

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Tithing and Lent

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Think giving is hard? Maybe it is. But people who give discover an amazing truth: Giving makes them happy!

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The Desolate House

Luke 13:31-35

Hundreds of thousands of homes have foreclosed in recent years. We've read the stories. In this text, Jesus also laments the imminent foreclosure of a "house."

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Two Kinds of People

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

You hear it or read it frequently: A pundit, raconteur or comedian will say, "There are two kinds of people in the world --." Is this Genesis text suggesting the same thing?

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Five Thoughts for November 6

Psalm 146

The nation goes to the polls on Tuesday. Here are some helpful ideas that come from a surprising source: an ancient composer of songs.

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Get Up and Go

Ruth 1:1-18

We're a country of go-getters. Yet, recent studies show that getting and going anywhere is becoming a thing of the past.

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The Value of Tragedy

Hebrews 9:24-28

We don't want to go through a tragedy ourselves, but we delight in watching other people's crises on TV or in the movies. How come?

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Waiting to Cash In

Mark 12:38-44

If you have some pre-1982 pennies, you are probably hanging on to them and waiting until the United States gets rid of the penny and they can be melted down for their copper.

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Falling Stones

Mark 13:1-8

The Washington Monument and the Temple of Herod. What do these two structures have in common?

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How to Write Your Memoirs

2 Samuel 23:1-7

Presidents do it. So do writers, actors and business leaders. They write memoirs. What would be in your story?

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Apocalypse Now?

Luke 21:25-36

The Mayan calendar comes to an end this month and dire predictions are raining down upon us. What did Jesus have to say about the end of the world?

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John the Outlier

Luke 3:1-6

In the 400 years before Jesus was born, there were no prophets thundering in Judah. Then, suddenly, there were three of them, including John the Baptist.

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The Forget-It-All Pill

Philippians 4:4-7

A pill will be on the market in the not-so-distant future that will target certain memories and erase them, while not damaging other memories. But is this a good idea?

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Thin Places

Micah 5:2-5a

The ancients often believed that heaven and Earth were separated by mere feet, and that it was advantageous to discover places where the two almost met. Such places were thin places, and perhaps Bethlehem was one.

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Away from the Manger

Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

Special Installment: Christmas Eve
There's been a rash of Nativity scene thefts lately. People are stealing baby Jesus. Now a company has offered to give churches GPS tracking devices in order to get Jesus back.

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Paul the Wardrobe Guy

Colossians 3:12-17

Once a year, a gallery in Los Angeles puts on its annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibition. Looking at the work of movie costume and wardrobe people for some reason reminds us of the apostle Paul and this text.

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Am I Ugly?

James 1:17-27

If we want to know if we're pretty or ugly, whom do we ask? Tweeners ask strangers on YouTube. The apostle James has a different suggestion.

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Truly Kosher

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

A rabbi has recently published a book about Jesus, reminding us that Jesus was a Jew. Perhaps Jesus has some unconventional ideas about what it means to be truly kosher.

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The Neophilia Problem

Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9,22-23

Got to have the latest gadget? Got to be doing something different all the time? Always falling in love with some new idea, proposal, toy? You, good friend, are a neophiliac.

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Getting in the Habit

James 2:1-10, 11-13, 14-17

We're creatures of habit, and always will be. We need to be careful that our habits are good ones.

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Friendly Words

James 3:1-12

Words With Friends is a hot new word game, famously promoted in a backhanded way by actor Alec Baldwin. The epistle lesson today discusses the value of a well-chosen word.

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Two Kinds of Smart

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

The conventional wisdom is that we use only 10 percent of our brains. It's a myth. In this lesson, we listen as the apostle James talks about two kinds of smart.

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The Mobster of Mesopotamia

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22

A mobster museum has opened in ... Las Vegas. For some reason, it reminded us of a bad guy in the OT reading for today.

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The Most Elite Club in the World

Mark 9:38-50

Some of the disciples were upset that there were some people not in their clique who were doing some pretty amazing things. Do we ever feel the same way?

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What Is So Difficult About Relationships?

Mark 10:2-16

We just found a new, long word that's incredibly hard to pronounce. Could it be that there are some shorter words just as hard to say?

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The Surgical Scriptures

Hebrews 4:12-16

Brian Dettmer approaches a book like a surgeon. And -- using the tools of a surgeon -- he cuts them up, creating amazing works of art you need to see to believe. Our text refers to the Word, not as an object to be cut, but as a tool that does the cutting.

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The Greatest

Mark 10:35-45

Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great, Ramses the Great, et al. History is full of people deemed "great." Even the disciples wanted to be known as great. So what makes a person truly great?

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Taking Back Halloween

Psalm 34:1-8, (19-22)

Is it time to take back Halloween?

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Christians With a Patina

Psalm 130

The experts who restore art are now using a form of bacteria to help in the process.

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The Amazing Jesus-Man

Mark 5:21-43

The amazing Peter Parker is at it again in the latest installment of the Spider-Man movie franchise that opens this week.

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Putting On to Fit In

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Teen girls are mimicking certain vocal tones they've been exposed to in pop music and television. It's a vocal affectation they use to fit in, and according to speech pathologists, they don't know they're doing it.

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Persecution Complex

Mark 6:14-29

In our text, John the Baptist loses his head. Today, persecution of Christians is still very much a reality. But, is religious persecution something we face in the United States?

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Olympic Peace

Ephesians 2:11-22

The Olympics open this week as the nations of the world come together to play nice for at least a couple of weeks.

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Uncanny Valley

Psalm 14

We like robots that are like us humans. But we don't like them if they are too much like us humans. That's a little too creepy.

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Ant Raft, or Body-surfing Re-imagined

Ephesians 4:1-16

Fire ants hit by a flash flood will grab, claw and bite eat other to form a raft to save themselves.

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10,000 Hours

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Virtuosos in any field make it look easy. But the skills they possess didn't just happen. It's not magic.

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The Samoan Skip

Ephesians 5:15-20

The tiny island nation of Samoa switched driving directions a few years ago. Now, they've opted to lose an entire day, to skip to the other side of the international date line.

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Leaving the Kitchen

John 6:51-58

We spend thousands of dollars on cool kitchen appliances and gadgets, but really -- how time do we actually spend in the kitchen?

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Discredited Substances

John 6:56-69

Ever hear of phlogiston? Or miasma, orgone, and luminiferous ether? Didn't think so. These once highly-touted substances are no longer highly touted.

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A Suitable Suit

Ephesians 6:10-20

The Olympics are over, and chances are that the gold medal swimmers were wearing a very hi-tech body suit.

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Love Lessons

1 John 4:7-21

"God is love." Not everyone agrees.

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The Illuminated Scripture

Acts 8:26-40

Donald Jackson is a calligrapher and holds the title of Senior Scribe to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's Crown Office at the House of Lords. He's just completed a handcopied version of the Bible.

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The Coaching Voice

1 John 5:1-6

Athletes train so hard off the field and so closely with their coach, that when competing in the actual contest, they have what some are calling a "coaching voice" in their heads.

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Friends for Hire

John 15:9-17

At RentAFriend.com you can find someone to keep you company at a movie. It's all on the "up-and-up." But what did Jesus mean when he said, "I have called you friends?"

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That Should Work

Luke 24:44-53

We assume that if there's a button to push, it's going to work. Like those cross-the-street buttons or elevator buttons. Sometimes, what we think will work, doesn't.

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Highly Charged

Romans 8:22-27

The biggest obstacle to getting electric cars on the road is the batteries -- they require frequent recharging. Which brings us to Pentecost and the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Your Spirit-Guide

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

Now we have computers that can write stories on their own without human help. On Pentecost Sunday, we remember that the Holy Spirit came not to remove the human element, but empower it.

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Vox Dei

Psalm 29

If cancer takes away your ability to speak, technology may be able to help you, as in the case of film critic Roger Ebert. This raises the question again: How does God speak today?

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Optimism and Your Brain

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

A recent article in Nature Neuroscience suggests that human optimism may be the result of the brain's failure to code certain functions.

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Image Isn't Everything

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

An entire cottage industry has sprung up catering to people who want to look like a million bucks even though they don't have a million bucks.

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Beyond the Valley of Elah

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

David faced Goliath in the Valley of Elah. But Goliath wasn't the only giant he faced in his life. We, too, will face giants when we move beyond the Valley of Elah.

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The Counter-Culture Christian

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Not to whine or anything, but some Hollywood celebrities are now stating the obvious: Being an openly observant Christian can be tough on a career.

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What Would You Grab?

Romans 4:13-25

If your house were burning to the ground and you had only seconds to act, what would you scramble to find and take with you?

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Jesus Puts Business Out of Business

John 2:13-22

Ten years ago, there were good companies and great companies, as business guru, Jim Collins, pointed out. Now many of those "great" companies have closed their doors.

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Stink Bugs and Serpents

Numbers 21:4-9

Most nations, including the U.S., have strict rules about bringing animals and fruit into the country. You don't want a foreign pest taking over and upsetting the ecosystem.

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All-In Christians

John 3:14-21

So what's with all the John 3:16 signs that pop up on TV? Or the small Christian messages on shopping bags? Do they make a difference?

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Perseus and Jesus Save the World

Hebrews 5:5-10

Wrath of the Titans, the order of Melchizedek, Perseus the son of Zeus and Jesus the Son of God. That's what we're talking about.

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The Navel of Our World

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

What do Israel, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Colombia, Faroe Islands, Thailand and Russia have in common? They all have locations in their country which claim to be the "Navel of the World."

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Last Meal Before Redemption

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14

Special Installment: Maundy Thursday
Used to be that a convict on death row could order a nice last meal. Not any more. At least not in Texas.

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Jesus Didn't Die a Digital Death

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

What happens to all the digital stuff, like blogs, websites, etc., when a person dies?

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Empty Is Everything

Mark 16:1-8

Being empty is generally not a good thing. A gas tank that's empty is not a good thing. But a tomb that's empty -- well, that's a good thing.

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A Titanic Lie

1 John 1:1-2:2

One hundred years ago today, the Titanic went down, thus exposing a titanic lie.

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How Many People Can God Love?

1 John 3:1-7

Facebook users have "friends." Some have hundreds of friends. How many friends, real friends, can a person have?

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Road Maps

Acts 4:5-12

The text says that there's "no other name" under heaven whereby a person can be saved. What does that mean?

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Putting on Heirs

Galatians 4:4-7

Max Melitzer was homeless, living on the streets of Salt Lake City until his long-lost brother died and left him his entire estate. Suddenly, the pauper is a prince.

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God's First Words

Genesis 1:1-5

The first words posted on Twitter? First words sent by e-mail? What about God's first words?

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Wigle Room

John 1:43-51

Jesus describes Nathanael using a word that takes us to an Old English word, the basis for the contemporary translation.

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36,722 Years

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

What happens when you put together a nave full of couples who have been married 40 years or longer?

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Seriously Single

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Some Christians think that if you're still single at 25, you'd better get cracking, and get smart. That aisle that leads to matrimony ain't getting any shorter and you ain't getting younger.

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When There's Tension in the Church

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

To get at how a church might deal with tension and discord, we turn to "the potato problem."

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How Much Is Your Church Worth?

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

When a research team from the University of Pennsylvania tackled the question of how much a dozen area churches were worth to the local economy, what monetary figure do you suppose they came up with?

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The Unweary Runner

Isaiah 40:21-31

Does God promise that if we "wait upon the LORD" we will have energy like someone hopped up on Red Bull?

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Primary Lessons

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

The New Hampshire primary is on Valentine's Day. Who's going to be feeling the love?

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Elijah and His Personal Flying Machine

2 Kings 2:1-12

NASA's "Highway in the Skies" technology may make it possible for any of us to lift our chariots off the highways to the skyways when we need to go to the office, the mall or a restaurant.

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God to Mortals: Really?!

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Special Installment: Ash Wednesday
The latest trendy putdown comes in the form of a question. It's a question that God might use in conversation with us.

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To Hell and Back

1 Peter 3:18-22

Did Jesus go to hell? If so, why? And knowing this today helps us how?

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Murphy's Law Inverted

Matthew 25:1-13

We've heard about Murphy's Law, i.e. that immutable natural law about things going wrong. But did you know there's a way to get around it?

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Servant Eyes

Psalm 123

Our ancient ancestors developed eyes that enabled them to detect and avoid their most dangerous predators; The psalmist leads us to a discussion of how to develop eyes to see — not our predators but our Protector.

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How Not to Shorten Your Life

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

All things considered, we'd prefer to live as long as possible. Then, why do we do things that are guaranteed to shorten our lives?

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In the Fold With Sheep and Goats

Matthew 25:31-46

Are you a sheep-person or a goat-person?

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The 170-foot Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24

If you live Swiebodzin, Poland, in the shadow of a 170-foot concrete Jesus, you're just praying that Jesus doesn't topple over and crush you while you're shopping for groceries at the Tesco supermarket.

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Restore Us, O God: Hope

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

The first of four of an Advent series based on the Psalm readings and linked to the four candles of the Advent wreath.

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Restore Us, O God: Peace

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

The second of four of an Advent series based on the Psalm readings and linked to the four candles of the Advent wreath.

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Restore Us, O God: Joy

Psalm 126

The third of four of an Advent series based on the Psalm readings and linked to the four candles of the Advent wreath.

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The Boy With No Tattoo

Romans 16:25-27

The late Stieg Larsson's international best-seller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is released as a movie in the U.S. (a Swedish version has already been made) this week.

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Restore Us, O God: Love

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

The fourth of four of an Advent series based on the Psalm readings and linked to the four candles of the Advent wreath.

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What Not to Miss at Christmas

Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20

Special Installment: Christmas Eve
Christmas means many things to different people. What is it about Christmas that you just don't want to miss?

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The Cost of Christmas

John 1:1-14

If you were to actually buy all the items in the famous carol about the 12 days of Christmas, the spending spree would set you back at least a hundred grand. But is there another cost associated with Christmas?

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Living in a Paved World

Romans 13:8-14

Find out why Edward Glaeser, a Harvard economist, calls cities our greatest invention. And then, consider the advice the apostle had for Christians living in arguably the biggest and most influential city in the then-known world.

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The Pillar of Fire Cloud

Exodus 14:19-31

On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Homiletics offers some guidance for the proclamation of the Word.

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You May Die!

Philippians 1:21-30

In the 2011 Death Race, competitors were asked to sign waivers on which were written only three words.

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Jesus -- a Tiger Parent?

Matthew 21:23-32

We've heard all about the Yale professor-cum-"Tiger Mom." Today's text is a story Jesus tells about a dad and his two sons.

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No SlumLord

Matthew 21:33-46

New York City has launched a watch list for its worst landlords. The parable in today's text is not about an absentee landlord, but wicked tenants.

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Confession: There's an App for That!

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Is the confessional a thing of the past for Catholics? Perhaps. But confession is good for the soul.

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It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time ....

Exodus 32:1-14

The 20th-century was huge in terms of inventions. But not all ideas are created equal. The one the Israelites had while encamped on the Sinaitic plains was not such a hot idea, either.

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Weddings, Inc.

Matthew 22:1-14

Say YES to the Dress, Cake Boss, Bridezillas, Engaged and Underage, and My Fair Wedding are evidence that weddings are big business -- big television business. Too bad the father of the bride in this parable had such a hard time attracting guests.

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Two Little Words

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Most people understand the importance of a well-timed "thank you." But Corporate America is learning that these two little words are also good business.

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The Peace Corps of God

Philippians 4:1-9

Special Installment: Laity Sunday
For the first time, Homiletics provides the building blocks for the observance of Laity Sunday, and begins by recalling the Peace Corps, which this year celebrates its 50th birthday.

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Whatever Happened to Moses?

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Ever wonder what happened to a celebrity you saw on a rerun of some sitcom? There's a website devoted to tracking what happened to people who used to be famous.

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Roll, Jordan, Roll

Joshua 3:7-17

Gospel music legend, Mahalia Jackson, would have been 100 this week. Perhaps her signature song was "Roll, Jordan, Roll". In this tribute, we also open the Joshua text to consider what happened when Joshua prayed that the Jordan would, indeed, roll.

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To Ban or Not to Ban

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

In the Song of Solomon, the sensual and the spiritual come together.

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Not 4 Sale

Genesis 25:19-34

Craigslist, eBay and the classifieds. People are selling goods like crazy these days. Is there anything you wouldn't be willing to put up for sale?

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Christ in the Hallows

Romans 8:1-11

The final movie of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, contains a spectacular battle between the good and evil forces of the wizarding world.

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Wheat, Not Weeds

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Pulling up weeds, according to Jesus, is not part of our job description. The farmer will take care of the weeds.

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The Pain/Gain Correlation

Romans 8:12-25

Some people scoff at the "no pain, no gain" mantra of physical fitness gurus. Not the apostle Paul.

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Jesus Loves a Good Deal

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Jesus loves eBay. Jesus is all about the joy that comes from discovering something priceless while perusing the ordinary.

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The Isaiah Budget

Isaiah 55:1-5

According to the 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average family could save $6,372 per year if they didn't have to eat.

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The Frenemy Factor

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

He or she is your friend. But he or she is also your enemy. You have a frenemy.

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Losing Control

Genesis 45:1-15

Today's text says Joseph lost control. Usually we think of losing control as a bad thing. What happened here?

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Don't Change Your God Job!

Romans 12:1-8

According to a poll conducted late last year of some 1,400 North American workers, 84 percent intend to look for a new position in 2011.

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Dealing With the Devil

Matthew 16:21-28

Want to get rich quick? Want to play a wicked guitar? You might need to make a deal with the devil. If you don't know how, just look up the eHow article on the subject.

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Sandals of Skepticism

Exodus 3:1-15

When President Obama visited India last year, one place he didn't visit was the Golden Temple, one of India's most popular tourist attractions. The reason? He knew the feet of Americans are shod with the sandals of skepticism.

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The Problem with Boundary Lines

Psalm 16

God gives us "boundaries," but some people have a harder time living with those boundaries than others do.

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400 Years of King James

Psalm 119:9-16

Happy birthday to the most popular and powerful book in the English language.

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The Long Walk

Luke 24:13-35

A former British army captain completes a perilous 4,200-mile walk across the length of the Amazon River, reminding us that discipleship is a journey of discovery.
In this text, Paul is acting like a stay-at-home dad trying to figure out feeding patterns and sending kids to time out.

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Driving in the Valley of Death

Psalm 23

When South Korean automaker Kia puts out a new model, the first thing it does is take the vehicle to Death Valley. That's where it finds out what the car is really made of.

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Feed the Heart

John 14:1-14

According to the Mayo Clinic, to minimize heart trouble, there's one meal you shouldn't skip.

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An Eight-Word Mission Statement

John 14:15-21

Kevin Starr, director of the Mulago Foundation, has some advice to companies that seek funding: They must express their mission in no more than eight words. He also requires they follow this format: "verb, target, outcome."

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Abandonment? No Way!

Acts 1:6-14

Eminent scientist, Stephen Hawking, says that if humans are to have a future, they just might have to abandon the planet Earth. Perhaps that's how the disciples felt when Jesus disappeared. Abandoned.

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The Geometry of Christianity

Psalm 104: 1-9, 24, 35c

Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who died last October, was hailed for his work with fractals. He noticed that in nature, small parts often resemble the whole. Therein lies the lesson for the day.

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Just One Drop

John 7:37-39

In Rwanda and elsewhere in the Third World, children die for lack of clean water. On Pentecost Sunday, this text reminds us that living water is a metaphor for the reviving, transformative power of the Holy Spirit.

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Roundabout Peace

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Love 'em or hate 'em, roundabouts - which have been around for a long time - are now being built at a record pace in cities across America. They teach us about playing nice.

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Lucky Abraham

Genesis 22:1-14

Better to be lucky than good? A Web site now tries to teach us how to attract luck. One morning long, long ago, it appeared that Abraham got really lucky.

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Dangerous Domain

Romans 6:12-23

The worldwide village we call the Internet has some dangerous neighborhoods. Visit these domains, and you increase your chances of getting cyber-mugged. The apostle Paul talks about dangerous domains, as well.

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The Power of Sonlight

Matthew 17:1-9

LightSail-1, a spacecraft that will be powered by sunlight, is getting ready for launch.

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Free to Fall

Genesis 2:15-17;3:1-7

In The Adjustment Bureau, a new Matt Damon movie, some people make sure things go according to plan.

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Recall The Call

Genesis 12:1-4a

Why is the burnout rate so high among clergy? What does this say to congregations as they consider their own vocations?

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Pitch Patience

Exodus 17:1-7

You know nothing about patience until you hear about this lab experiment that started in 1927.

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TMI

Ephesians 5:8-14

We have YouTube, Skype and more. But what if your life were on screen 24/7 via live-streaming video?

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Bones

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Forensic anthropologists look at bones for answers about cause of death. God sees bones and has other ideas.

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The Emoticon Gospel

John 11:1-45

We know Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. But emotions were running high that entire week.

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The Greatest Teacher Ever

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Jesus wasn’t just a teacher, but what a teacher he was!

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The Meal

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Special Installment: Maundy Thursday
In its first treatment of this text, Homiletics looks at Paul’s words about “the Lord’s supper.”

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Perversion of Justice

Isaiah 52:13–53:12

Special Installment: Good Friday
The title for this installment comes right out of the text: What happened here was horrible — a perversion, a miscarriage, of justice.

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The Experts were wrong

Matthew 28:1-10

A recently published book details alarming accounts of when the experts didn't have a clue.

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Coffin Academy

John 20:1-18

How about this for therapy? Take a lie-down inside your coffin for a while, just to get a feel for what death is like.

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Jesus Christ

John 1:1-9, 10-18

How can Jesus be both human and divine? The Council of Chalcedon came up with a suggestion 1,660 years ago. What does it mean for us today?

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Civil Servants

Isaiah 42:1-9

Exactly 150 years ago, the U.S. Civil War broke out, and everyone — in both the North and the South — believed God was on their side.

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A Dangerous Baptism

Matthew 3:13-17

Today the Jordan River isn’t just a muddy river; it’s a polluted river. But if you were to be baptized in the Jordan, it isn’t the pollution that would make your baptism dangerous.

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Rethinking Retirement

John 1:29-42

The first wave of baby boomers turns 65 in 2011, and they’re preparing for retirement — sort of.

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God of the Snowflakes

Psalm 27:1, 4-9

A man who has photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes gives us an insight into God’s care for his own.

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God’s Tent Rules

Psalm 15

In the future, if you go camping, your tent might feature carbon nanotube poles, a HEPA filter, ultra hydrophobic rain fly, a hydrogen fuel cell to power everything and more.

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Falsified Faithfulness

Psalm 112:1-9, (10)

People who falsify their personal history — such as claiming they’ve received a Purple Heart, for example — are no doubt very unhappy with their lives.

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The SAHD Apostle

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

In this text, Paul is acting like a stay-at-home dad trying to figure out feeding patterns and sending kids to time out.

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Christopunks

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

Edupunk is an anti-institutional approach in which ordinary people take education into their own hands using new tools such as wikis, free online videos, blogs, open-source textbooks and experiential learning. So what’s Christopunk?

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A Bloodless Bullfight

Matthew 5:38-48

People are always going to be in conflict, so we need to learn to squabble without causing injury. To learn how, perhaps we should go to Las Vegas.

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Judging the Judges

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Have you noticed how many judges are on television? It isn’t just the Judge Judy shows but reality shows featuring kids who want to win a race or be singers, dancers, models and so on. And tonight we have the Oscars. What’s with all the judges?

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A Sustainable Life

Matthew 6:24-34

Sustainability is a hot new buzzword in the green movement.

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The Haggai Complaint

Haggai 1:15b-2:9

The prophet complains that people are more willing to build their own houses than a house for God. Is this still true today?

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Situational Awareness

Luke 21:5-19

What do successful athletes, fighter pilots and even moms have in common?

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Religious Slacktivism

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Want to be a social activist, pushing for justice and fighting oppression and abuse? Now you can — with only a mouse click or two. Simple. Easy.

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How to Make Your Christ Wish List

Colossians 1:11-20

The hot toys of the ’60s were the Spirograph, G.I. Joe, Lite-Brite and Hot Wheels race cars. So what do you want this year?

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God Gadgets

Isaiah 2:1-5

There are some weird gadgets on the market these days that combine two products to make a new one, such as the bikini that can recharge your iPod.

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Morals by Magnet

Romans 15:4-13

Can our moral compass be altered simply by waving a magnet over our heads? It’s a strange question with an even stranger answer.

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The Waters of Narnia

Matthew 3:1-12

Another installment of the C.S. Lewis fantasy is hitting the silver screen, and Homiletics takes a closer look.

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The Stuff Crisis

Luke 1:46b-55

Our insatiable desire for stuff is trashing the planet, insists Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff.

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How to Avoid Post-Traumatic Embitterment Disorder

James 5:7-10

A new disorder is emerging as people wait out the recession.

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The Neon Nativity

Isaiah 7:10-16

It’s been 100 years since the neon light was invented, and sign-making has never been the same.

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The God Who Sleeps Over

Matthew 1:18-25

What if God decided to stop by and have a sleepover?

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Have Yourself a Happy Twitter New Year

Hebrews 2:10-18

The Library of Congress is now preserving tweets. What Scriptures would we preserve if we had to choose a few?

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The Towers of Jesus

Luke 14:25-33

Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona, Spain, has been under construction for 125 years. Now it’s ready to hold its first service.

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Why Church? Reason One: Community

Luke 15:1-10

First in a four-part series that looks into why we go to church.

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Why Church? Reason Two: Real People

Luke 16:1-13

Second in a four-part series on why we go to church: because we’re bound to meet some hypocrites just like us.

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Jeremiah's Honest Optimism

Jeremiah 8:18–9:1

Author Barbara Ehrenreich says most Americans are "Bright-Sided," and she doesn't think that's necessarily a good thing.

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Why Church? Reason Three: Money Matters

1 Timothy 6:6-19

Third in a series on why we go to church: because the church is always asking for money.

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Living Dangerously

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

A best-selling book argues that parents are too protective of their children. A little danger can be a good thing, the author says.

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Why Church? Reason Four: Mentors

2 Timothy 1:1-14

The fourth and last in a series on why we go to church: because we need spiritual mentoring.

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Unnecessary Chatter

2 Timothy 2:8-15

When pilots start chatting in the cockpit, they’re not only breaking the rules, but could be putting the safety of passengers at risk.

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Soul Scanner

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Full-body scanners are gradually being installed at major airports around the country, allowing Transportation Security Administration officials to see just about everything — and we do mean everything.

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Chosen Hope

Joel 2:23-32

We know behaviors are learned. But can attitudes and mind-sets be learned as well?

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The Panoramic Vision of God

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

One of the most famous “panoramas” or cycloramas in the world is the “Panorama Mesdag” which is housed in The Mesdag Museum in the Netherlands. Standing in the center of this panorama, one is able to see a world in 360 degrees.

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Hey, Leo! It’s Me, Martin!

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Four hundred and ninety-three years ago today, an unknown monk in an obscure German village tacked a list of grievances on the community bulletin board — which happened to be the church door. In so doing, he started a movement that’s still visible today.

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Viral Church

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

To catch a virus isn’t a good thing, and to have one in your computer isn’t a good thing. But for the church to “go viral” is definitely a good thing.

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Fifty Years of 50 Stars

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

It’s Independence Day, and we’re 234 years old. We’ve gotta celebrate, but how?

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The Bad Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

We love and value people who risk life, limb and a few bucks to help others. But, believe it or not, someday we might run into a bad Samaritan.

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The PiiUS Sensor

Psalm 52

A new little device that sticks onto your chest like a Band-Aid monitors your vital signs and sends the data to a clinic.

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The Angst of Being French

Colossians 2:6-15, 16-19

The president of France recently initiated what’s been called the grand debate: What does it mean to be French?

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A Field Guide to Narcissism

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

The cynical writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us what isn’t important in life.

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The Fly in the Ointment

Colossians 3:1-11

The “personal metrics” movement is gaining traction as tools to easily collect data become more common. But there’s a problem.

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Twit-Schatology

Luke 12:32-40

What if you had to reduce Hamlet or Dante’s Inferno or the Bible to 140 characters?

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Gouty Christians

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Gout, the so-called disease of kings or disease of the rich, is becoming more common.

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Awe-ful Worship

Hebrews 12:18-29

Retailers sell more than $4 billion of “Christian” products annually. Most of it is junk.

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Mal-ads Damage the Church

Luke 13:10-17

Some people are like walking, living mal-ads, infecting the church with deceit and hypocrisy.

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In Prison and You Visited Me

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

The Hebrews text has this one little uncomfortable duty we’re supposed to faithfully fulfill. What is it?

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The Maundatum Mission

John 13:31-35

Too many mission statements, according to experts in corporate America, are “jargony, quasi-poetry.” The church can’t do better than going back to John 13.

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Better City, Better Life

Revelation 21:1-6

The theme for World Expo 2010 is “Better City, Better Life.” It’s exactly the vision of the writer in Revelation 21.

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How She’s Made

Proverbs 31:10-31

Special Installment: Mother’s Day
The hit TV show How It’s Made never tackled the subject of Proverbs 31.

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Stick-On Love

John 14:23-29

The advertising and marketing industry today works hard to develop what it calls “stick-on emotions.” You might not know why you’re buying this deodorant, but buying it makes you feel good about yourself.

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Supercharged Friendship

Acts 16:16-34

According to American Grace: How Religion Is Reshaping Our Civic and Political Lives, religious people are three to four times more likely to be involved in their community than nonreligious people are. How come?

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Clean and Green Power

Acts 2:1-21

Methane bricks and solar panels are only two ideas of hundreds that scientists are considering to bring power to the earth’s inhabitants. Harnessing power is thesubject of today’s text.

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Big History

Psalm 8

In terms of the cosmic clock, human beings have been on Earth for mere seconds. The psalmist is interested in Big History, and it brings him to his knees in shock and awe.

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All I Got Is a Little Spam

1 Kings 17: 8-16 (17-24)

When Elijah asked the widow for some food, she threw up her hands in despair and said, “All I got is this here Spam.”

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Creative Repurposing

Galatians 2:15-21

Americans throw away 21 billion pounds of clothing every year. Fortunately, a lot of it is repurposed.

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How to Survive (Almost) Anything

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a

It’s best to avoid low-probability, high-impact events.

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A Cure for Deployment Depression

Psalms 42 and 43

The emotion cycle of military personnel during the deployment process is a model for helping us understand the ups and downs of our feelings.

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The Candle or the Mirror?

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

There are two ways to spread light: Be the candle. Or be the mirror.

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Skill Building

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

The WorldSkills Competition is a sort of blue-collar olympiad. It’s great if you can run a mile in less than four minutes, but can you break down a carburetor?

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No More Glamping in Gilgal

Joshua 5:9-12

Love the outdoors but don’t want to go camping? Then go glamping — and take your hair dryer with you.

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Post Your Failure

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

The prodigal son might have been a frequent visitor to failblog.org.

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Limping to the Line

Philippians 3:4b-14

A paraplegic vet enters a marathon and finishes —in 13 days.

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The Power of Waste

John 12:1-8

Can being wasteful be a good thing? Judas didn’t think so when Mary dumped a jar of Shalom No. 5 over Jesus’ feet.

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Donkey One

Luke 19:28-40

Transporting the president of the United States involves a fleet of aircraft and a small army of obsequious staffers. So what’s it going to take to get the King of Kings to Jerusalem?

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No Safety for a Savior

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Special Installment: Maundy Thursday
A “death map” reveals some places in the United States where it just isn’t too healthy to live.

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Live Longer, Live Better

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Japan has more than 36,000 centenarians — that’s about 61 per 100,000 people. In the United States, the rate is about 10 centenarians per 100,000. So what’s the secret to living longer and better?

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Faith Creation

John 20:19-31

If you want to be healthy, you create a healthy lifestyle. Why can’t we do that for our spiritual health?

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The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

John 21:1-19

Homiletics offers a “first-person” narrative from the mouth of “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

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Saintly Sinners

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)

Some of the greatest Christian art has been produced by really lousy Christians.

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Getting Past Tilt

Revelation 7:9-17

In troubled times, what can help keep us from shutting down and losing hope?

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World-Changing Words

John 1:1-9, 10-18

Words are only linguistic symbols. But spoken or written, words can be powerful. Just think of Charles Dickens or Sinclair Lewis. Or Allen Carr, Peter Kramer, Randy Shilts, Barbara Ehrenreich or — Jesus.

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Lord of the Seas

Isaiah 43:1-7

“When you pass through the waters,” perhaps you’d like to be in a ship that’s bigger than an aircraft carrier, stands taller than a 20-story building and carries 8,000 people.

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The Model Church and the Modeler God

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Michael Chesko builds model cities, and his models are used to study urban planning.

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Me and My Band

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Kaitlyn DiBenedetto is a kid who can do it all. She’s in a band in which she sings and plays all the musical instruments. How does that work?

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U Before I

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Grammar rules are changing. But love rules are still the same.

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Did You Mean … ?

Jeremiah 1:4-10

If you do an Internet search and misspell a term, your search engine probably will ask you some questions and suggest alternative searches.

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Scouting the Deep Water

Luke 5:1-11

It’s the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.

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Thank You for Me

Psalm 138

Do we have control over our own happiness? The author of The How of Happiness says, “Yes!”

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Chains of Love

2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2

Young couples in love are wrapping chains around some bridge posts in Italy, locking the chain and throwing away the key. On Valentine’s Day, we investigate.

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The Confession Gadget

Psalm 51:1-17

Special Installment: Ash Wednesday
A new book about interesting gadgets has nothing to offer about a gadget that might get rid of the peskiest stain ever.

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Thou Shalt Not Live by Street Food Alone

Luke 4:1-13

How can you visit New York City and not sample the street food?

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The Five-Question Quiz

Philippians 3:17-4:1

If you’re on Facebook — and about a billion people are, it seems — you’ve noticed those five-question quizzes. What sort of narcissism would compel us to complete those silly things?

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Moving the Chains

Mark 12:28-34

Pro football is high-tech, with radio receivers in quarterback helmets, for example. But to measure forward progress, the NFL still uses two sticks and a chain.

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Finding Tomorrow

Revelation 21:1-6a

Special Installment: All Saints’ Sunday
If you’re going to visit Morrow, Ohio, the question is: Do you want to go to Morrow tomorrow or to Morrow today?

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Red Light, Green Light

Hebrews 9:24-28

Some cities may have second thoughts about timing traffic lights so drivers can hit greens. Why would cities prefer a stoplight instead of a “go” light?

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MiteShares

Mark 12:38 44

More than one community in these hard economic times is minting its own money. What the widow gave, however, was real, legal and all she had.

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Yes!

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah’s triumphant song is a huge shout of joy that springs from God’s affirmation of her deepest desire.

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The Unchanging Christ

Revelation 1:4b-8

Like the years before it, 2009 has been a year of important change. For example, there were changes to the board games Clue and Monopoly, plus changes to M&M’s. Horrors! What’s next?!

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The Anxiety Machine

Luke 21:25-36

New emotion-sensing technology will help us spot terrorists — assuming they’re sweating and nervous about blowing themselves up.

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The Human Factor

Luke 1:68-79

A new movie starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela tells the story of the Springboks of South Africa.

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Give Me a Sign!

Zephaniah 3:14-20

India has been looking for a sign for its money, the rupee. America has the $ and the United Kingdom has the £, but India has nothing.

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An Iconoclastic Christmas

Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

By seeing things differently, iconoclasts do what others say cannot be done.

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Friending Jesus

Isaiah 9:2-7

Special Installment: Christmas Eve
If your surname is Pancake, Beer, Yoda or Batman, don’t expect to get a Facebook account. It
might happen, but it won’t be easy.

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Genius Jesus

Luke 2:41-52

Geniuses are rare, but fortunately we still have a few of them. In fact, a new generation of visionaries is discovering how to grow organs, peer into black holes, cure plagues and help blind people see.

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My Paparazzo Profile

Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9,22-23

You can hire someone to take photos of you all day long. It’s a vanity thing. So what would your portfolio look like?

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Good Gossip

James 3:1-12

There’s no such thing as good gossip, right? Not according to one sociologist.

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Oaths and Offices

Mark 8:27-38

The swearing-in last January of President Obama had a few minor problems. Peter’s confession of the Christ is likewise flawed.

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One With the Son

Mark 9:30-37

The 1980 Oscar-winning movie Fame is being released September 25. But this time, nearly 30 years later, it’s a new version with a new cast.

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Safe Surrender

Psalm 124

When law-enforcement officials developed a program that encouraged nonviolent fugitives to turn themselves in, they asked local churches if they’d be willing to offer a place of safe surrender.

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Any Among You Sick?

James 5:13-20

Homiletics offers a service of healing.

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The Christ Who Names Us

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

We’re not making this up. It’s the udder truth: Cows give more milk when their handlers call them by name and treat them nicely.

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The Bulls of Bashan

Psalm 22:1-15

The psalmist feels surrounded by bulls. For many people these days, it’s a familiar feeling.

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The Sword of the Lord

Hebrews 4:12-16

In case you haven’t noticed, middle-school boys, high- school boys, college boys and many males in the 24 to 45 demographic love swords, and many of them are sword collectors.

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The Hoarder

Mark 10:17-31

When a man in the U.K. died recently, authorities found his house so full of trash that the only way to get around was through an elaborate series of tunnels that ran through the filth.

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Job, the Submission Wrestler

Job 38:1-7 (34-41)

Submission wrestling is actually a specific genre of the sport. It might involve kicking, screaming, grappling and hooking, but when all is sweated and done, someone submits.

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Three Cups of Humble Tea

Mark 10:35-45

Greg Mortenson’s best-selling book is the basis of this discussion of what constitutes greatness.

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The Problem of Presbyopia

Mark 10:46-52

Nearsightedness isn’t a new problem. But now there’s a new solution. It’s the application of light. What a concept!

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Calvin at 500

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

John Calvin, the Genevan reformer, is having a birthday on July 9, and he’s 500 years old! Um, so what?

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Shall We Dance?

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance? are only two signs that there’s a renewed interest in dancing right now. Perhaps this will help us understand King David’s new dancing style.

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G-Force

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Three guinea pigs, a fly and a mole. Together they’re the G-Force in Jerry Bruckheimer’s new movie.

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Where’s the Typo?

Ephesians 3:14-21

Writers and editors always struggle with typos. Did Paul misspeak in this passage? There’s got to be a typo here, right?

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The Bread of Life: What Are You Hungry For?

John 6:1-21

Jesus didn’t come to help people get what they want. No, he came to be what we want.

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The Bread of Life (2): The Message in the Munchies

John 6:24-35

Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, says that what you munch sends a message.

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Genes and Grace

Ephesians 4:1-16

Sharing genes makes for a biological connection; sharing grace makes for a spiritual connection.

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The Bread of Life (3): Jesus Is Good 4U

John 6:35, 41-51

The number one and two nonfiction best sellers over the years have been cookbooks and diet books. Go figure.

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Waiting for Redemption

Psalm 130

Each of the three CSI TV shows is filmed through a very specific color filter. And the filters all tend to be dark.

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Seeking God in Real Time

Ephesians 5:15-20

Kairos. It’s in this text. But new discoveries in the field of chronobiology — the study of the effects of time and rhythmical phenomena on life processes — suggest that perhaps we should slow down and take another look.

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The Liquid Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-20

A new mixture of polyethylene glycol imbued with bits of purified silica takes battlefield armor to a new level.

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The Compliment Machine

James 1:17-27

A “Compliment Machine” in Washington, D.C., is stopping people in their tracks. There may be a lesson here for us to learn.

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The Kirk of Jesus Christ

Acts 4:5-12

A new Star Trek movie hits the theaters this week, and it’s an origins film — it goes back to the time when James T. Kirk was a young man. It’s a film we use to discuss origins — the origin of the church.

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How to Be a Branch

John 15:1-8

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” So, what does it mean to be a “branch”?

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Pinky Love

John 15:9-17

A college football player cuts off a broken pinky finger so he won’t miss playing time. It’s an uncomfortable story, but is it more uncomfortable than Jesus laying down his life on a cross?

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Smile Unto the Lord a New Smile

Psalm 98

The creator of www.SmileMyDay.com wanted to help the world be a happier place. The Creator of the world also understands the value of smiles … of praise … of rejoicing.

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After the Tomb, the Table

Luke 24:44-53

In his book, In Praise of Nepotism, Adam Bellow says that “self-made men” were really nothing of the kind. In fact, they were family-made men and women.

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Is the Fire Going Out?

Acts 2:1-21

Step out into a summer night in the next few weeks, and chances are you will not see what used to be a common sight: fireflies or lightning bugs. Biologists say that the fire is going out.

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What Is a Second Life?

John 3:1-17

Go to www.SecondLife.com and you can begin a second life. It’s a virtual life, of course, and nothing like the new life that Jesus had in mind when he said, “You must be born again.”

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Cheating Death

2 Corinthians 5:6-10, 14-17

It’s NASCAR season, and most Sundays we can catch a race which features drivers in stock cars making left turns at a high rate of speed passing by the doors of death before death can catch them — most of the time.

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The Samuel Bias

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

We want to believe what we want to believe, whether it’s about movies, herbal remedies, stocks and bonds — or people.

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A Choir for the Complaining

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Complaint choirs have formed in Australia, Germany, Canada, Korea, Singapore, Finland, Russia and other places. All over the world, people are gathering to sing about their frustrations.

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The Power of SMALL

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

David and Goliath. It’s classic. It’s a story that teaches us the power of small.

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The Apostle Paul Asks for Money

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Forbes estimates that there are 1,125 billionaires in the world. Some of them were born rich; others came into this life with nothing, but managed to acquire a stunning fortune. And often, these new billionaires don’t mind giving away their money.

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The Performance Art of God

Genesis 9:8-17

Some artists are fond of generating art not with paint, but with performance — something visual and spectacular, and perhaps controversial. But no one can outperform God as the greatest “Performance Artist” of all time.

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Suffer or Skedaddle?

Mark 8:31-38

The prosecution of a war usually results in new vocabulary. Jesus here refuses to go to war with his enemies, but he does introduce an ugly new word into the lexicon of discipleship.

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The Flagpole Fixation

Psalm 19

The Western world has all but conceded the skyscraper contests to the Pacific Rim countries. But, hey! What about the world’s biggest flagpole? Humans have a need to be awe-inspired. God answers that need.

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The Visibility Cloak

Ephesians 2:1-10

Scientists say that an invisibility cloak is now possible. This is nothing new. Paul fears that Christians tend to be invisible; time, he says, for Christians to be visible.

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Deep Reading John 3:16

John 3:14-21

Is Google making us stupid? That’s what Nicholas Carr asserts. Is it becoming harder for us to read carefully, thoughtfully and “deeply”?

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J.I.T. Grace

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Companies that rely on huge inventories don’t like to keep it all on hand. They want to deliver product “Just in Time.” So does God.

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Jesus Trends

Mark 11:1-11

Google has a program that allows us to compare two search terms to see how they match up in traditional media and Internet media. On Palm Sunday, Jesus is trending really high.

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Did Jesus Play the Blame Game?

Psalm 22

Special Installment: Good Friday
In his book Credit and Blame, Charles Tilly argues that the need to place blame on others or external factors is a common human tendency, and a useful one. But did Jesus play this game?

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Extended Ending

Mark 16:1-8

The gospel of Mark concludes at chapter 16 — with not just one, but perhaps two alternative endings. It’s a metaphor for Easter, in that the resurrection helps us write out a new ending and beginning for our own lives.

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The Big Empty

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Astronomers have found a massive void in the universe. Huge. Bigger than the mind can comprehend. About as hard to grasp as the massive void discovered on a Sunday morning long ago.

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Life Is Good

Acts 4:32-35

A couple of guys, barely making ends meet, discover a new slogan, and transform it into a new philosophy of life, and market it, and now, for them, life is truly good.

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Dead Man Down Under

Luke 24:36b-48

A remarkable story comes to us from the UK about a man who goes on vacation without telling anyone, and returns in time to attend his own funeral. Sound familiar?

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The J Factor

John 1:1-9, 10-18

We know that a person’s name may be reflective of a person’s personality. But what about initials? Some are saying that even initials carry psychological weight.

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The Best Lemonade Stand Ever!

Ephesians 1:3-14

Inc. magazine loves the entrepreneurial spirit of the cul-de-sac lemonade stand so much that they started a contest a few years back to honor “The Best Lemonade Stand in America.” At the beginning of the new year, Paul helps us build a life that’s really special.

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The Memory of Baptism

Mark 1:4-11

Research has uncovered that people are not much happier on Fridays than they are on Mondays. They think they are, but they aren’t. Why? It has to do with how we attach meaning.

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Are We Called to Be … Mirror Twins of Jesus?

John 1:43-51

Almost one-quarter of identical twins are “mirror” twins. This means that the twins appear to be reflections of one another, the “mirror” image. Is this what we’re called to be: mirror twins of Jesus?

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A Little Help From Friends

Mark 1:14-20

If you’re a business owner, says Rich Mintzer of Entrepreneur magazine, there are four types of friends you’re going to need.

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Seasoned With Love

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Last summer, archaeologists found a 2,400-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Greece. One jar held olive oil infused with fragrant herbs. The ship sank 400 years before Paul was talking about the “seasoning of love.”

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Still We Rise

Isaiah 40:21-31

February 12 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP — the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It’s an event that happens to echo some of the themes from Isaiah 40.

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When Christians Are Out of the Caves

Mark 1:29-39

Archaeologists have found a cave considered to be the oldest known Christian church anywhere in the world — possibly the first Christian church as such. It provides a new look at the early Christian community.

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A Conversion Conversation

Mark 1:40-45

Tuesday, February 17, is D-Day: Digital Day. Ready or not.

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The Poetry Prescription

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Call it poetic justice if you will: When some rowdy teens broke into an empty summer house in a bout of drinking and partying, it didn’t take them long to trash it. And it didn’t take the judge long to sentence them: to the reading of poetry.

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Is the Gospel Sinking?

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

The Republic of Kiribati is an island nation near New Zealand comprised of 32 coral islands, many of which are inhabited by the nation’s 97,000 citizens. Problem is: The islands are sinking.

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Bill Me Later

2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:10

Special Installment: Ash Wednesday
Billmelater.com is a Web site that lets consumers buy now, pay later. Purchasing, while postponing payment, is a consumer ploy that we’ve turned into an art — if not a science.

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The Height of Humility

Matthew 23:1-12

It might be better for us to be average rather than exceptional, because ordinary people can move through life with humility and accomplish some truly extraordinary things. What’s more, our attempts to be exceptional can actually cause us to be unhappy.

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The Joshua Imperative

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

One hundred years ago, a few men started putting Bibles in hotel rooms. Since then, thousands of people have obeyed the Joshua Imperative.

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As Those Who Have Hope

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

What might happen to the world in general if all people were to suddenly disappear? That’s the question posed by Alan Weisman in his book, The World Without Us.

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Non-Drowsy Discipleship

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Ever get sleepy on a late-night driving run? Now there’s a device to help you stay awake.

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The Advent Conspiracy

Matthew 25:14-30

The Advent Conspiracy is an international, inter-church movement that is “restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption.” The idea is to combine first-century Advent orthodoxy with 21st-century Advent orthopraxy.

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License-Plate Christianity

Ephesians 1:15-23

A few states in the union think it’s a good idea to offer specialty license plates that read: “I BELIEVE.” As far as we know, none are offering “I DON’T BELIEVE.”

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The Last Lecture of Jesus Christ

Mark 13:24-37

Keep awake. That’s one way to summarize the last lecture of Randy Pausch, who was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

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The Day the Earth Stood Still

2 Peter 3:8-15a

This week, 20th Century Fox is scheduled to release a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still.

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The Least-Reinforcing Scenario

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

In her book What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage, Amy Sutherland tells about coming to the realization that wild animal behavior-modification techniques are also applicable to training human animals like lazy husbands or crazy bosses.

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The Knockoff Jesus

Luke 1:26-38

Why pay $300 for designer jeans if you can get something similar for $30? Why follow Jesus when you can hug a knockoff version instead?

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The Bethlehem Wall

Titus 2:11-14

Special Installment: Christmas Eve
Tawfiq Salsaa is a woodcarver in the city of Bethlehem. Tawfiq’s scenes of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and the wise men are arranged in a familiar tableau. But there’s one glaring difference: In Salsaa’s scenes there’s a wall between Jesus and the magi.

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What Moves Your Rock?

Psalm 148

In California’s Death Valley, a giant dry lake bed known as Racetrack Playa is the site of an interesting natural phenomenon. Giant rocks that dot the lake bed are sliding around the perfectly flat valley — and no one knows how it’s happening!

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Calendar Confusion

Exodus 12:1-14

In 1752, colonists who went to bed on the evening of September 2 woke up the morning of September 14. What happened? Could such a thing happen to us?

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Dirty Jobs

Matthew 18:21-35

The good news for Mike Rowe is that he’s the star of a hit television show. The bad news? It’s a cable TV show, Dirty Jobs.

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Wilhelm Scream

Jonah 3:10-4:11

Ever need to scream? Jonah certainly did. Film the story of Jonah today and you’d likely hear the Wilhelm Scream through most of the action.

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The Habits of a High-Impact Church

Philippians 2:1-13

Authors Crutchfield and Grant researched the 12 most powerful nonprofits of the last decade and then wrote a book about it: Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

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Moses vs. Big Mac

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

A study proves it: More Americans know more aboutthe Big Mac than they do about the Big Ten.

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Pressing On

Philippians 3:4b-14

The Nobel Prize winners may be announced during this week. Getting the prize sometimes involves more than mere achievement. What does the apostle say about winning the prize?

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The Parable of the Blackest Stuff on Earth

Matthew 21:33-46

Scientists have recently created the darkest thing on Earth, a super-black material of interconnected, light-devouring tubes made of a carbon mesh that’s only one atom thick. It’s black — no doubt. Homiletics’ first treatment of this text. Check it out.

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Rejoice in the Cubs Always

Philippians 4:1-9

It’s now been 100 years: On October 14, 1908, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series by defeating the Detroit Tigers. This was their second World Series Championship win in a row. It was also their last.

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The Meaning of Money

Matthew 22:15-22

What did Jesus mean when he said, “Show me the money”?

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The Doomsday Church

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Last spring, on a remote island near the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian government opened a vast underground crypt, more than 425 feet inside a frozen mountain: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a deep-cold storage cavern with room to hold some 4.5 million distinct seed samples.

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The Leviticus Lesson

Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18

A Homiletics first: the treatment of this alternative text that gives us a basic lesson on what true holiness is all about.

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The Art of Root

Psalm 1

Who ever thought roots were beautiful? One artist, at least. He takes tree roots and transforms them into works of art.

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Clam Chowder Christians

Romans 7:15-25a

Scientists last year discovered the world’s oldest living animal — over 400 years old. Then they accidentally killed it. Oops.

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The Steward in the Square

Romans 8:1-11

If you’re expecting to visit holy places in Europe this summer, don’t be surprised if guards or stewards ask you to cover it up or tone it down.

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The Natural Man (and Woman) at Prayer

Genesis 28:10-19a

Jacob and the Vision of the Ladder. What’s it all about?

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Bad Beginnings: How to Overcome Them

Genesis 29:15-28

An HBO show called Big Love is about a modern family in Utah, a family populated by three wives. In Genesis, Jacob had four, if you count Leah’s and Rachel’s maids. That’s a handful.

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Jesus and the Venus Rosewater Dish

Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

It’s one of the most famous trophies in all of sports. Now you know its name.

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The Feeding of the 5,000,000

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus and the disciples had two loaves and five fish with which to feed 5,000. At the Olympics, the Beijing committee is going to need more bread and more seafood than that to feed the crowd that’s going to be in town in August.

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Fourth and One

Genesis 32:22-31

An economist for the University of California says that football coaches should go for it on fourth down. Which leads us to wonder what kind of nerves of steel Jacob had when he decided to go for and dive into a wrestling match with God.

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2K Paul

Romans 10:5-15

The year 2008 has been designated as the Jubilee of St. Paul. This is a good time to examine Paul’s influence on Christianity.

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The Irrevocables

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

In a throwaway, disposable culture, is there anything that is “irrevocable”? The question is raised because the apostle Paul uses this word in his letter to the Romans.

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The Moses Footprint

Exodus 1:8–2:10

Mothers today have a myriad of resources to keep track of new baby’s amazing achievements. Moses’ mother almost missed the chance to see her baby boy grow out of diapers.

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The ConLang Confession

Matthew 16:13-20

Hundreds of languages are invented every year. So what kind of language was used when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ?

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Pay-What-You-Can Christianity

Romans 12:9-21

A growing number of cafes allow patrons to set their own prices or to barter goods and services for food. Is this the way it works in the church, the body of Christ?

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Woo Wonder

Acts 1:6-14

Jesus is gone. What to do? Time to learn the art of woo.

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Catching the Wind

Acts 2:1-21

Wind farms are nothing new. But one team of researchers says that there’s a better way to catch the wind.

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Crystal Commission

Matthew 28:16-20

Indiana Jones is in the theaters again for yet a fourth time!

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Add to Your Span

Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus told his disciples that fretting about their height wasn’t going to make them taller. We’re interested in what Jesus didn’t say.

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The Kilogram Shift

Psalm 46

Most laws of nature are immutable. And in terms of weights and measures, there are reasons why world-wide standards exist. But the kilogram is shifting.

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Ultramarathon Faith

Genesis 12:1-9

Running a marathon is one thing — a hard thing to be sure. But running across the country?

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Entourage Energy

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

Many of the great leaders of history had an entourage, or team, that helped make a difference. Maybe you didn’t know this, but you’re part of one.

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Under-bearing Fathers

Genesis 22:1-14

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: FATHER’S DAY
Some dads are giving fatherhood a bad name, and therein lies a lesson for all of us.

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Ballast in the Bottom

Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17

One of the major problems robotic engineers face is to design a technology to help robots get back on their “feet” again. To address this, they’ve turned to the lowly tortoise to see if the turtle technique might provide some clues.

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Cold Nest Mothers

Genesis 21:8-21

Kids are leaving for college, and for some mothers, the nest is feeling really cold. In this Genesis text, Hagar has an even bigger problem.

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The People v. God

Psalm 13

A lawsuit was filed — by a politician — in a Nebraska courtroom, naming God as the defendant. It’s not the first time it’s happened and won’t be the last.

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Living Literally

Matthew 10:40-42

A.J. Jacobs, who once read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and lived to write a book about it, has taken on another project: trying to obey or fulfill all the commandments in the Bible. He spent a year at it and then wrote The Year of Living Biblically.

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Diamonds in the Rough

Ephesians 5:8-14

Socialites are wearing huge rocks on their ring fingers these days. Really. They’re wearing rocks.

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Legos and Bones

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Certified Lego consultants now offer “Serious Play” to corporations interested in making their tired bones come to life.

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High-Ceiling Thinking

John 11:1-45

Think about your work space. Studies show that if your ceiling is fairly high, you’re more likely to be creative. If it’s low, you better be an accountant.

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@ the Name of Jesus

Philippians 2:5-11

A couple in China wants to name their baby @. What’s next? You having an unexpected child? A surprise, as it were? You could call the child *.

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Thursday Theology

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: MAUNDY THURSDAY
Homiletics offers some creative ideas to help make thisspecial time of worship a meaningful event.

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Being Jesus

John 20:1-18

Les Cheveldayoff works in a Holy Land theme park in Florida. His job? He’s Jesus, and he gets crucified every day. Good news? He gets a resurrection every day, too!

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This Might Hurt

1 Peter 1:3-9

One of the nation’s largest retailers of office supplies has a big red button on which (is written the word “easy.”) That’s not what Jesus says.

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Colony Collapse Disorder

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Beehives and their bees are disappearing in alarming numbers. What causes a colony to collapse?

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Following Jesus — for Real

1 Peter 2:19-25

Irritated by the loud TV blaring in the restaurant where you’re eating? Bugged by the guy yakking on his cell phone a few feet away? Thanks to new technologies you don’t have to suffer any more.

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Three Signs of an Abundant Life

John 10:1-10

You might be in a miserable job and not know it. That’s why Patrick Lencioni has written a best-selling book called The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.

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Hot Faith, Cool Faith

Acts 7:55-60

Some notable, famous figure gets himself or herself into trouble, and it’s often the kind of trouble you’d never expect. What were they thinking? They get in trouble because they have hot emotions, not cool emotions, according to one writer.

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eHowHope

1 Peter 3:13-22

Go to www.eHow.com and you can find out how to do just about anything. Except …

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The Re-Solution

Ephesians 3:1-12

We’ve done resolutions. Time to re-solution our lives. Epiphany Sunday is a perfect time to start! We’ve put together a complete Re-Solution service for use on this, the first Sunday of the new year!

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Richistanis

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Robert Frank’s book, Richistan, is an engaging discussion of the people who live in Richistan. It leads us to some thoughts about performance philanthropy.

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What Isaiah Got Right

Isaiah 42:1-9

Psychics and prophets love to predict the future. Sometimes, like shotgun pellets, they catch something right. More often than not, they’re wrong. But Isaiah, he got a lot of stuff right.

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Soundtrack for Living

Psalm 40:1-11

Threshold choirs are choral groups who minister to the dying. They gather at deathbeds and sing a soul into eternity.

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Las Vegas Lazy

Matthew 4:12-23

In Vegas, if you can’t run from one slot to another quickly enough, you can now rent a mobility scooter to get you around.

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Take Two Tablets

Exodus 24:12-18

The Answer: “Take Two Tablets.” The Question: “What did God say to Moses on Mount Sinai?”

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The Divine Hero

Matthew 17:1-9

Discovery Channel’s Animal Planet has a “Hero of the Year” award, started in 2006. We love heroes. NBC has a television show about heroes who will save the world. Hero worship: It’s in our DNA.

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An Invitation to Take

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: ASH WEDNESDAY
Some suggestions for developing a creative approach to the observance of Ash Wednesday.

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The Will to Pill

Psalm 32

There’s a new medical syndrome or illness appearing in television commercials every day and a pill to go with it. On a spiritual level, there’s no pill for what ails us. We need will, not a pill.

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Faith Trips

Genesis 12:1-4a

Millions of Christians make trips every year to so-called “faith destinations.”

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God So Googled the Cosmos

John 3:1-17

Both God and Google make strong claims about the earth, the world and the planet. God’s mission statement is found in this text.

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Captcha

Exodus 17:1-7

If you’re trying to get into a blog site or a Web site, you may have to prove you’re a human being.

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How to Deal with Ego Emissions

Luke 19:1-10

Volkswagen says that everything and everyone exudes ego. What do you do if your ego emissions are too high?

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Santo Subito

Ephesians 1:11-23

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: ALL SAINTS’ SUNDAY
Italians know a saint when they see one. Do we?

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Semi Church

Haggai 1:15b-2:9

Sacred space might be a tent, a temple or a truck. What matters is who is there.

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What Happened to Lunch?

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

We love lunch. So why are our lunch breaks shrinking?And why does the apostle Paul say, “No work, no food”?

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Jesus Is Not All I Need

John 6:25-35

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: THANKSGIVING DAY
Bread is really important to our diets, and Jesus did say that he was the “bread” of life. But don’t we need more than bread to live on?

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Un-Zero

Colossians 1:11-20

Coke now has a new soft drink that has absolutely no redeeming nutritional value. No wonder they’re calling it Zero.

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Counterfeit Clergy

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Father Fred baptized, married, and presided at the Eucharist. But he was a phony.

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The Wilber Force

Romans 13:11-14

We can learn a lot from a man who lived 200 years ago.

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My Faves

Romans 15:4-13

A major mobile phone company now lets you choose your favorite tele-friends. And they’re going to cut you a break on the cost of calling them.

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The Authentic Messiah

Matthew 11:2-11

Problem: Juan Valdez, the cultivador de café, is getting old. Too old, say some marketing gurus. But Juan isn’t going anywhere.

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A Boy Named Jesus

Matthew 1:18-25

Give your boy a name like Kelsie, and he just might have something to prove.

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The Word of the Year

Hebrews 2:10-18

One year it was “truthiness.” Last year it was “plutoed.” What is the Word of the Year for 2007?

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E-Day

Jeremiah 2:4-13

Fifty years ago, Ford Motor Company launched a new product on what came to be known as E-Day, a car model that ended up as one of the biggest disasters in automotive history. Cover photo courtesy of http://tiraudan.com.

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D1NT

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

Mondays are tough, no doubt about it. But they might be easier to take if we became nice-oholics.

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Grunting Allowed

Luke 14:25-33

If you’re working too hard in the local gym, be careful! The Lunk Alarm might go off!

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Only in the Gospel

Luke 15:1-10

Notice how easy it is in the movies for the thief to pick a lock, or how a car will always explode when hit by a single bullet, or how any Tom, Dick or Mary can land a Boeing 777?

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Smooth Operator

Luke 16:1-13

Kids these days can use Internet search engines to find out how much their parents are worth, and they’re using the information to their advantage.

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It’s No Secret

1 Timothy 6:6-19

The Secret is the latest cultural fad — publishing phenomenon — that’s tapping into our thirst for more knowledge about how the universe can be leveraged and cajoled to work for us and not against us.

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Small Steps

Luke 17:5-10

Scientists are working on a way to transfer the small steps crowds make in places like Grand Central Station or Victoria Station in London to usable energy.

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Convert Vision

Luke 17:11-19

Ten lepers are healed; one returns to give thanks to Jesus. That person has what we call “convert vision.”

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Basking in Reflected Glory

Luke 18:1-8

Call them groupies or name-droppers. They’re people who know the value of being connected to the right people at the right time and in the right place.

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Putting the Protest Back in Protestant

Romans 3:19-28

On Reformation Sunday, we offer a small primer on what those reformers were protesting.

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Deferred Success

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

“Failure” is such a nasty, negative word. Surely there is some way to modify the concept.

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My Bad

Luke 18:9-14

Oops! We take a look at some of the colossal blunders of history for a lesson on humility and repentance.

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Janus and Jesus

Philippians 3:4b-14

Beyond the Lectionary

Janus, the god of Roman mythology for whom January is named, is usually depicted as having two faces — one looking to the past and one to the future. It is this aspect of Janus that gives us an opening to talk about the new year, new opportunities and how Jesus, not Janus, can help us.

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Epiphany Glory: It's Good for You

Isaiah 60:1-6

The research is clear: Being a sports fan can be a good thing. Perhaps this is why we get an upbeat feeling when we encounter the words "arise, shine, light" and "glory" in this text.

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God Didn’t Say That!

Isaiah 43:1-7

Abraham Lincoln did not say that “the problem about quotes on the Internet is that no one can confirm their authenticity.” And you’d be surprised to read what people erroneously believe God has said.

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Steadfastlove

Psalm 36:5-10

Compound words in German, such as Weltanschauung, Weltschmerz and Kühlschrank, inspire both awe and fear in students learning German for the first time. And then there’s the English compound word “lovingkindness.”

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Disaster Maps

Luke 4:14-21

Facebook has a feature called Disaster Maps and Safety Check. Does the church need to do a better job of targeting disasters and responding to them?

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Fake News and Fake in the Pews

Luke 4:21-30

So much spurious information is afloat on the seas of social media these days, that it’s sometimes hard to know who and what to believe.

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No Paid Leave

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Thousands of federal and state employees are on paid leave pending some sort of investigation. The apostle Paul discovers that in God’s government, there is no such thing as administrative paid leave.

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Side Hustle

Luke 5:1-11

Meet a Millennial, and chances are that he or she has a side hustle going. Maybe more than one. No wonder. This demographic is staring at $1 trillion of student loan debt. When Jesus invites some fisherman to follow him, is this what he’s offering? A side hustle?

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Flash Nonfiction

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Flash fiction is short, short story — a tale told in just a few words. For example: “If Christ has not been raised, our faith is futile.”

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Your Cheatin' Heart

Jeremiah 17:5-10

God knows all about our cheatin’ hearts and offers help.

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Incidental Discovery

Genesis 45:3-11, 15

The greatest aviation mystery in the history of flying is the disappearance of Malaysia Flight MH370 in March 2014. Although the search for this plane has been unsuccessful, some interesting discoveries have occurred incidental to the main quest. So it is in our life journey as we seek to know God.

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Visiting the Death Café

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

Death Cafés are springing up around the world — centers or gathering points for discussions about death.

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The Divine Improv

Philippians 3:17-4:1

During a small jam session in New York City, jazz great, Wynton Marsalis, was doing just fine until a cell phone went off, totally destroying the mood. What happened next is a lesson for all of us who would like to learn how to improvise when life doesn’t go according to plan.

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Drop-in Discipleship

Isaiah 55:1-9

Why do cable companies keep showing the same movies on television all the time? It’s because they know that viewers don’t always want to watch the whole movie; they just want to “drop in” on or “stop by” favorite scenes. Do these movie habits mirror the way we practice our faith?

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Soft Temptations

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Most of us — but not all — don’t have any trouble fending off the hard-core temptations like drugs, alcohol, sex and gambling. So we’re home free, right?

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Makeover Madness

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Trading Spaces is a hot new television show where neighbors redecorate a room in each other’s houses. There are great scenes of amazement and joy at the final revelation. But is everyone happy with the results?

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3179 Dilatant Compound

Psalm 32

Number 3179 Dilatant Compound used to be on the market in egg-shaped plastic containers and was a source of goofy happiness to youngsters a generation ago. Now it’s back, bigger than ever, popular with stress-heavy workaholics who need an outlet for their unhappiness.

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The Miracle Mile

Philippians 3:4b-14

Fifty years ago this spring, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile — a feat many said could never be done. The apostle Paul had his own 4-minute mile to break, and he gives us some tips on how he did it, and how we can, too.

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The God of Quantum Dots

Isaiah 43:16-21

Soon, nano-machines may revolutionize computing, telecommunications and medicine, allowing trillions of bits of information to fit on the size of a pinhead. The future is in small, not big. That’s why it’s comforting to know that we have a big — and a small — God!

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Palm Branches and Red Carpets

Luke 19:28-40

Jerusalem gave Jesus the red carpet, palm branch treatment at the Sunday pre-show when he entered town from the east. But the superstar Christ quickly lost his celebrity status.

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What Not to Wear

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

The BBC America show, What Not to Wear, helps people dress better by showing them what to avoid. Is there a lesson here for Christians whose wardrobe choices are observed every day by friends, neighbors — and God?

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The Resurrection Sleep Number

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

You’ve seen the ads. Find your right sleep number, and you can rest assured that you’ll never be lacking a good night of sleep again. But there was no sleep number that could keep Jesus asleep in the grave, and the resurrection is our call to awake to the light of a new day!

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Binky Belief

John 20:19-31

No parent wants his or her kid to suffer through a trip to the orthodontist because of a malocclusion overbite brought on by prolonged use of a pacifier. But some say the comfort it provides is worth it. Can Christians be guilty of too much faith thumb-sucking?

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Feed, Tend, Feed

John 21:1-19

More than 29,000 Chinese bathtub toys are now adrift in the North Atlantic, although their voyage began in the central Pacific 13 years ago! They travel wherever the winds and currents take them, and therein lies a cautionary tale for the disciple who would follow Jesus.

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Dish Eyes

Isaiah 60:1-6

One of the wonders of the world is that there is light all around us, but only a fraction of all this radiance is visible to us. Our human eye is designed to detect only visible light. To see anything more, we’d need new and different eyes. Perhaps this is what Isaiah had in mind when he says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come!”

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Premature Obituary

Isaiah 43:1-7

If you were surfing the Web last spring, you might have discovered what no one else knew — that a number of world-famous VIPs had succumbed to death. CNN accidentally posted premature death notices, obits they keep on file for quick retrieval. Isaiah has a different problem: His countrymen have already written themselves off as good as dead.

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Vegas Vows

John 2:1-11

Used to be that if you got married, you got married in a church. Not anymore. Garbage dumps, 7-Elevens, suspension bridges — you name it — will do just fine. The wedding at Cana, however, was distinctive, not for its location, but for what happened once the wedding began.

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Mr. Goodwrench and Mr. McDonald

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

Advertising execs consider corporate icons to be the most important component of the company’s relationship with its customers. That why General Motors and McDonald’s spend so much time crafting the public persona of their corporate ambassadors. The church has its ambassadors, too. But there is a crucial difference in how the church does its business.

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Heroes and Zeros

Luke 4:21-30

The American Film Institute published recently its list of the top 100 heroes and villains in American cinema for the 20th century. Bad guys and good guys are usually easy to spot. So why did the people of Nazareth get so confused — and angry — about Jesus?

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Inflatable Church

Luke 5:1-11

Some would call him a wacky rector, but Fr. Michael Elfred of Tadworth, Surrey, England, did not hesitate to commission a new church, even though it has to be blown up — literally — before one can worship in it. The inflatable church poses some interesting questions for a people of God who too often find themselves anchored to the past.

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Owls, Oaks and Graveyards

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Biologists are discovering that cemeteries, protected from development and human activity, are frequently home to rare species of life. This is good news for everyone, including those who find themselves going through a “cemetery” time of life.

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Heirloom Seeds

Psalm 1

Heirloom seeds are planted by people who want to enjoy fruits and vegetables that are “a taste of the past.” These seed savers know that many varieties of crops have been lost in recent years because fewer and fewer people save seed from year to year. The psalmist was a seed saver himself, and he suggests what we can do to raise up a few righteous trees “which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.”

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God’s Area Code

Exodus 34:29-35

So many people would love to have Manhattan’s area code, 212, that a company has now devised a way to give it to them — without the burden and expense of actually having to live there! Not unlike some Christians who would love to have God’s area code, without the burden of actually having to listen and obey the voice of God.

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The Upside of Downside

Isaiah 58:1-12

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: ASH WEDNESDAY
These days redemption is cheap, and disgrace is a ticket to fame and financial success. If you don't think so, just ask Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Liz Grubman or Mike Barnicle. So whatever happened to sackcloth and ashes?

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Leaping Years

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

The last time we worshiped on a Sunday, February 29, Gerald Ford was hitting golf balls into spectators who were wearing leisure suits, and we were about to celebrate the country’s bicentennial. The next time, in 2032, nanobots will be used in surgery and instead of laptops, we’ll have paper computers we can roll up like a newspaper. But are there any timeless truths that leap across these generations that are still worth remembering?

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The Chicken Catcher

Luke 4:1-13

The new PH2000 is a chicken catcher that is much improved on the old vacuums that sucked the flapping fowls into a tube and shot them into a cage. The PH2000 is a kind and gentle contraption that corrals chickens better than anything tried before. On this first Sunday of Lent, think of temptations as chickens scurrying about — quite unwilling to be caged. Whatcha going to do? Who you going to call?

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The List

Hebrews 9:11-14

Korean War veteran, Johnnie Johnson endured and survived a forced march over 120 miles of snowy, mountainous terrain. While doing so, he kept a list — a list of the dead. God keeps a list, too. A list of the living.

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The Odor Judge

Mark 12:38 44

Out of work? You might consider some of the odd — as in quirky — jobs that are out there. Like open manhole watcher, symphonic page turner, earthworm farmer or foot model. Jesus assumes the role of odor judge, and he smells something fishy.

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SERE Saints

Mark 13:1-8

Jesus has selected a small band of special forces agents, but before they’re ready to go on mission, they need, like every one of us, a unique program of training and preparation.

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Childless Chic

1 Samuel 1:4-20; 2:1-10

More couples today are choosing to be child-free, preferring a lifestyle unencumbered by children. The biblical Hannah, however, was not child-free; she was childless, and it was a profound source of suffering.

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The Hardest Thing

John 18:33-37

Hitting a fastball thrown at 90 mph may be the hardest thing to do in sports. You have 1/1000th of a second to decide whether to swing, and where to swing. But is it the hardest thing to do in life?

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Leper No. 10

Luke 17:11-19

The group of lepers whom Jesus healed did precisely what he asked them to do. But one fellow, of a different race, region and religion, went beyond obedience to an entirely new level of living and in so doing found healing not just for his body, but for his soul.

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Baby-sitting Blues

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Teenagers are not as interested in baby-sitting as they were a generation ago, and what’s more, there are fewer of them to go around. What are parents to do? The apostle Paul reminds us that soul-sitting new believers is one of the most important things the church can do.

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Return of the King

Luke 21:25-36

J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is at the Cineplex again in the third installment of the fantasy trilogy. It’s a parable for all of us who live in a time of conflict and chaos, who struggle, as Jesus put it, “to stand up and raise our heads.”

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Snowballs Into the Fire

Philippians 1:3-11

He didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting out, but a man in the flames of disaster got out because someone kept throwing snowballs in the fire.

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Orville, Wilbur and John

Luke 3:7-18

One hundred years ago this week, people started to think differently when exposed to a new reality, a reality Bill Gates called the first World Wide Web. Could anything with a similar impact on the world have occurred about 2,000 years ago?

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The Other Side of the Tray

Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

Those who study the restaurant business say there are two kinds of people in the world: those on the customer side of the tray, and those on the waitress side of the tray. Mary was no waitress, but she was on the other side of the tray.

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Average Joe

Matthew 1:16, 18-25

Reality TV producers know that it is one thing for a bevy of beauties to vie for the attentions of a rich guy; what happens when it’s a average Joe instead? Yet, one day long ago, God hand-picked a Joe who wasn’t so average and entrusted a young Jewish girl and her unborn child to his care and protection.

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When Third Place Is the Right Place

Colossians 3:12-17

When Third Place Is the Right Place
Home is where the heart is. Most of the time, anyway. When we’re not at home, we’re often at work. So is that it? Home or work? Is there a third place we can go for connection and community? Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, thinks so.

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Nice Guy Conundrum

Proverbs 22:1-2,8-9,22-23

Single nice guys are wondering what it takes to get a young woman’s attention these days. Seems as though they prefer bad boys. That may not be true, but in any case, the writer of Proverbs has some advice to those who want to polish up their reputations.

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Kisses on Wheels

Mark 8:27-38

The Goldfish Mobile, Mr. Peanut’s Hot Rod and the Kissmobile are now rolling the roads of America creating good will and good advertising. These odd autos raise the question of how one best advertises the faith.

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Picabo’s Problem

James 3:1-12

Picabo Street, world-class skier, is the subject of an interesting rumor. It’s hard to resist the temptation to spread a good story, even when it isn’t true.

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Invisibility or Flight?

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

Ever think you could do a better job at running the world than God? So what would you do if you could be God for a week? What divine powers would you use to make the world a better place? Or would you even try? The apostle James thinks we should try and has an intriguing suggestion.

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Space Junk

Mark 9:38-50

Preliminary studies of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster suggested that the spacecraft was struck by a piece of orbital junk. While that theory has now been abandoned, there is a lot of deadly detritus floating about in space — and in our personal lives as well.

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Job’s Cold Shoulder

Job 1:1; 2:1-10

You can give someone the cold shoulder, bring home the bacon and stew in your own juices. But do you have the patience of Job? No problem; he didn’t either.

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Despair Repair

Psalm 22:1-15

Happy faces have given way to frownies in a depressed world of plunging stocks, terrorism and massive layoffs. Is there any way to repair our despair?

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Conflict Commodities

Mark 10:17-31

Cell phones and other consumer luxuries are fueling violent warfare in developing countries. It’s a problem that deserves our attention, not to speak of the conflict commodities that afflict our spiritual lives.

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EZ-Pass

Mark 10:35-45

If you’re tired of traffic trauma, you can avoid stop-and-go gridlock by heading for the toll road and zipping past the toll-booths with a transponder EZ-Pass. When the disciples James and John suggested that Jesus give them a similar pass to the front of the line, they didn’t get the response they’d hoped for.

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Is Your HappyLite On?

Job 38:1-7 (34-41)

As we head into the dark of winter, many of us will grab for a full-spectrum fluorescent lamp to give us a balanced, glare-free bright light, thereby cheering us during those long winter days. Not a bad idea. Most of us, like Job, could use a little more light in our lives.

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Revirginization

Hebrews 7:23-28

Increasing numbers of couples engaged to be married are opting out of shared living arrangements in an attempt to restore a sense of purity to the relationship. It�s a practice known as �secondary virginity,� and it�s catching on. Now, if only there were a way to become un-sinners!

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Here I Stand

Mark 10:46-52

When Martin Luther, the great reformer of the 16th century, was put on trial, he made his case and concluded, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.” With those words the Reformation was on. For this occasion we offer a special worship experience that involves the “Here I Stand” witnesses of members of your congregation.

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T3

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Arnold is back in T3: Rise of the Machines reinforcing the message that power comes from strength. But Paul is also back in 2 Corinthians reminding us that true power comes in our weakness.

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Hummer Holiness

Mark 6:1-13

What would Jesus drive? He’d probably hop into a Hummer H2 Adventure Series SUV to help him get to the rugged, remote corners of the world. We should catch a ride with him.

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When the Ark Got Parked

2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19

When David moved the ark of the covenant from Philistia to Jerusalem, he taught us some important lessons on how to welcome and celebrate the presence of God.

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Every 11 Seconds

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

A wildfire is raging and it’s wiping people out at a rate of 6,500 people every day — one human life gone every 11 seconds. It’s enough to make you sick to the stomach. And that’s precisely how Jesus felt when he saw the suffering masses.

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The Seven Convention-al Sins

2 Samuel 11:1-15

There isn’t a sin, vice or addiction that doesn’t have some convention to which devotees cannot attend to fuel their addiction. The attempt to rehabilitate sin has forgotten one important concept: repentance.

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The Trinity Tornado

Ephesians 3:14-21

A farmer in Kansas has invented a tornado in a can capable of crushing rocks, diapers, chicken offal, wood chips and more into dust. This is one powerful contraption, but doesn’t begin to approach what the apostle Paul attempts to describe when he talks about the power that works within us!

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MYOB

2 samuel 11:26-12:13a

David had a problem, and he certainly didn’t want anyone pointing it out. It took a fearless prophet to confront the king, telling a tale that trapped the sinner in his sin.

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Tiffany Living

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Louis Comfort Tiffany of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company was a genius at his work. The discovery of the lost Alcuin and Charlemagne window bears this out, and is a parable for the importance of reflecting and transmitting light wherever we are.

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Vey Iz Mir!

1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14

Albert Einstein probably did more to add to our store of knowledge in the 20th century than any other human being. Yet a cloud of woe descended on this Person of the Century when he realized how wisdom can sometimes turn into folly.

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Sand Sculptors

Ephesians 5:15-20

Artists who create sculptures in the sand don’t have long to appreciate their work. The tide washes it away within hours. They’ve discovered the meaning of living in the moment — of redeeming the time.

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The Artisan BreadChurch

John 6:56-69

When Jesus said that he was the bread of life, the bread to which he was referring wasn’t anything special — not at all like the variety of designer breads we love to enjoy these days. But the bread he was talking about was different in one important way — to eat this bread was to partake in eternal life.

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Inherent Vice

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Things tend to decay. It’s a law of life. In the art world, however, it can be a serious problem, especially for those works of art that are made of organic material. Such works present a serious challenge for the art restorer. Jesus faced this same problem: how to restore those whose lives were in serious decay.

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Charlemagne’s Children

1 John 3:1-7

A researcher at Yale believes that nearly everyone in the United States can trace his or her ancestry through Charlemagne. The apostle John easily tops that assertion: Children of faith, he asserts, not only are children of God, but resemble their heavenly Father.

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Pi and a Tiger

Acts 4:5-12

In his novel, The Life of Pi, which won the 2002 Booker Prize, Yann Martel tells the tale of a kid stranded in a lifeboat with a tiger. It’s a tale of fear and faith that is resolved much as the apostle Peter faced both his fear and his faith when threatened with persecution.

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Your Family: How It Works

Luke 2:41-52

Special Installment: Mother’s Day
How do mothers do it? Juggling the work and school schedules for the entire family, she seems to do the impossible. Mary, mother of Jesus, didn’t always have it together and one day faced a mother’s worst nightmare.

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Neo Jesus

Acts 8:26-40

The second Matrix film, The Matrix Reloaded is due out this weekend, revisiting again a story rife with images of salvation and redemption, complete with a Trinity and a Christ figure.

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Canopy Management

John 15:1-8

Vines with huge canopies — thick shoots, branches and large and bushy leaves — may look healthy, but in fact they are in need of serious pruning. A lush canopy can actually result in poor fruit and bad wine.

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Logos and Logos

Acts 10:44-48

When Nike produced its Air Jordan shoes, they were such a success that it didn’t seem possible that someday, the product could lose its luster. But, in fact, that’s precisely what happened, and the company had a hard time letting go of a past winner. The apostle Peter, too, had a hard time letting go and is given a multimedia demonstration of what God has planned for the future.

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No Way Jesus

Acts 1:1-11

Hans Rey does such incredible things with his little bike in competitions that his friends call him “No Way Rey” — as in “There’s no way you can do that.” Then he does it. Just like Jesus. The crowds would say, “No way you can do that,” and then he’d do it.

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Friendly Fire

Acts 2:1-21

We’ve been taught that fires and forests don’t mix. Smokey the Bear has taught the lesson well. But some experts are now saying that friendly fires can actually help the forests stay healthy. There’s a lesson here for those of us who’d like to live with fire in our lives.

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Synesthesia Spirituality

Isaiah 6:1-8

Synesthetes are people whose five senses are not only intact, but interact. These people see sounds, smell colors and taste shapes. Must have been the kind of experience Isaiah thought he was having one day in the temple.

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The Dirt on David

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Michelangelo’s magnificent David, now in a museum in Florence, once stood in a public square for over 350 years. Although moved to more sheltered quarters, there’s a lot of dirt on David, and specialists have been called in to remove it. It’s a reminder that perhaps we, too, need a strong moral and spiritual scrubbing.

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Jump the Shark

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

Television shows, singers and bands can sustain their popularity for only so long. There’s usually a definable moment when the show begins its downhill slide. The apostle Paul often found himself in difficulty but he insists turning to Christ was the best thing he’d done in his life.

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FlexChurch

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Live in the big city and don’t have — or want — a car? In some cities there is now a program where a dozen or more people can share a car for just a few bucks a month. Called a Flexcar, this program saw a need and found a way to invent and create a way to meet it.

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Heaven for Twenty Mil

2 Kings 2:1-12a

Lance Bass of ‘N Sync struck out in his quest to ride a Russian rocket into the heavens. There’s got to be a cheaper and better way to get to heaven than what Bass attempted and Elijah with fiery chariots and whirlwind accomplished.

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Joe Christian

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

TV reality shows like Joe Millionaire and The Bachlorette tell us that making a first impression is crucial for gaining love and acceptance. Christians, however, can be thankful that the only impression that counts is the Cross-impression made for us by Jesus Christ!

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The Dow Is Not the Tao

Genesis 9:8-17

We’ve been mired in a post-dotcom economic slump for two years now. It’s a bear market on Wall Street. Stock portfolios, once fat and happy, are now thin and sour. That’s why it is important to remember that — to recall a phrase — the Dow is not the Tao. It was a lesson Noah learned firsthand.

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Creative Insecurity

Mark 8:31-38

A conversion shop in Pennsylvania is turning out custom SUVs for the security-conscious. Each vehicle is equipped with a laser-guided gun mounted on a hidden platform. There’s more. Is this the way to feel safe? Jesus has another idea.

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SlamBall Jesus

John 2:13-22

Professional basketball is dazzling — what with the lob passes, no-look passes and behind-the-back dribbling. For the A.D.D. generation, however, there’s a new game coming to town playing on a court that has four trampolines embedded in the floor. It’s a new game, and a new player — exactly the message Jesus sent when he walked onto the temple court only days before his death.

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Nit-picking

Exodus 20:1-17

Abigail Rosenfeld’s biggest client is the New York City Public Schools, where she does nothing but examine heads. She’s a nit-picker. Her job is important — no doubt about it. But some of the nit-picking busybodies we’ve met in life often leave us wondering what the fuss is all about. Even God can get on our nerves.

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Snake On a Stake

Numbers 21:4-9

We’re in the Golden Age of Hoaxes, proclaims one national magazine. As a result, we have a national population both of skeptics and the gullible. Now open your Bibles to the story of a brass snake with healing powers. What do you think? Fame or shame?

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The New Deal

Jeremiah 31:31-34

It’s been 70 years since Franklin Delano Roosevelt first sat down in front of a radio microphone to host his famous Fireside Chats. It would be a medium through which he would make a case for his New Deal. But the New Deal has been around for a long time. Jeremiah explains.

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The Towel of Jesus

John 12:12-16

For 2,000 years, creative people have suggested in icon, fresco, sculpture and painting their concept of the True Likeness of Jesus. One story involves a towel.

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Famous Last Words

John 18:1-19:42

You’d think that when someone famous is about to expire, they’d offer the world some profound words that would stay with future generations. In fact, most deathbed utterances are profoundly banal. Jesus’ last words, however, are laced with meaning and hold the key to eternal life.

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Jesus on Ice

John 20:1-18

Cryogenics has been all over the news this past year, largely because of the controversy surrounding the freezing of the mortal remains of baseball superstar, Ted Williams. Truth is, too many Christians are content with the Cryogenic Christ — thawing him out a couple times a year, but most of the time keeping him on ice.

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Roomba

1 John 1:1-2:2

Perhaps for the first time, a practical, but cute, little robot is on the market for household use — and the cost is only a couple hundred bucks. The little fella can only do one thing — clean carpets — but he does it rather well.

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Communes No Longer Commune

Acts 4:32-35

The ‘60s are fading fast, and so are communes to which so many of the ‘60s dropouts fled in a post-Bohemian search for meaning. Today, we’re much more independent or self-sufficient. Or are we? Perhaps our souls were made for sharing.

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Ignoring the FAQs

John 1:1-9, 10-18

Call customer service with a question about your new espresso machine, and chances are the question is already answered in the owner’s manual. But frankly, reading through the manual takes too much time in our turbo-charged, ramped-up culture. Sort of the same attitude we have toward the Word of God.

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Shredding the Past

Ephesians 1:3-14

So many reams of documents are being shredded these days that it would be no surprise if “corporate shredder” became a permanent position, complete with job description. Mechanical shredders are easy to use, but it’s not easy to get rid of emotional and spiritual evidence — that’s a job for Jesus Christ.

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The Oregon Project

Mark 1:4-11

American long-distance runners have been falling behind the pack in global competition. That’s why Nike is funding a secret project to reengineer a marathon man who can out-distance the best. It hasn’t happened yet, but they’re saying that soon, someone will come who will leave his competitors in the dust. John the Baptist, too, pointed to someone who would outshine and outrun everyone else.

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If I Had Sneezed

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

Most of us are generally aware of the time Dr. King spent in a Birmingham jail, and of the abuse he suffered throughout his short life in his struggle to bring justice and equal rights for black Americans. We are also aware of the tragic events surrounding his death. We may not be aware, however, of another attempt on his life — an experience from which Dr. King drew a valuable lesson.

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Sex for Life

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

With teachers and clergy hitting the front pages in sex scandals these days, and television, movies and the Internet awash with sexual content, it’s time to speak frankly from the pulpit and affirm biblical values that promote integrity and purity.

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Jonah and the Purple Lady

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

What's your passion, or obsession? Some people collect Indochinese military medals, or miniature Noah's arks, or antique postcards. One man wants to eat in every McDonald's in the United States, while a lady in Tennessee lives in a world of purple. Jonah, to, had an obsession and it almost destroyed him.

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Eye Gel in the Minibar

Mark 1:14-20

Hotel management is beginning to understand the importance of sleep. You’d think that would be a no-brainer. But now, hotels are offering new amenities to help their patrons enjoy a night of rest including lavender-scented eye pillows, dream sachets, CDs that include selections of wind breezes and rain — and more. The secret for sound sleep at night, however, may be the way we live during the day.

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The Nocebo Effect

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

It’s no news to report that many people, when given a placebo pill, respond positively because they believe they’re being treated appropriately for their illness and that, of course, they’ll now get better. And they do. Research now shows, however, that those who think they’re sick when they’re not, can often become sick. This is precisely the type of negativity Paul faces with the church at Corinth.

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The Tipping Point

Mark 1:29-39

An idea or a product may languish for months, even years, before suddenly everyone is noticing. How does that happen? How does a novel, a movie or even chitlins, reach that tipping point? That’s a question even Christians would like to have the answer to when they feel like they’re spinning their wheels and getting nowhere.

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Instant God

2 Kings 5:1-14

Given a choice of whipping up some oatmeal for the kids before school — that is, measuring out the oats, boiling the water, waiting for it to cook, cooling it off, serving it with milk — and sliding Kellogg’s “Breakfast Mates,” a cereal with its own milk, bowl, and spoon in front of the kids while you get dressed for work, what would you do? Generally, we prefer the “instant” approach, even in our spirituality.

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Jesus, Lewis, and Clark

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

It’s the bicentennial year of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and their transcontinental experience provides a number of insights into our own adventure of Christian living.

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Don't Wait for the Brick

Mark 2:1-12

The touching story of how a busy exec learned what real life is all about teaches us to slow down our life before our life slows us down.

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Burdened Vessels

Matthew 23:1-12

Put a powerboat and a sailboat on the same lake and one of them will need to yield to the other. In nautical lingo, one is burdened, the other is privileged. Jesus reminds us that, in life, it's pretty much the same.

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Coram Deo

Revelation 7:9-17

As members of the global family, we thought we were connected by no more than "six degrees of separation." Now we're learning that this is all a myth. When we face God, however, what we really want is no degree of separation!

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Layoff Lust

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

In the downturn of the economy, no one wants to lose a job. At least that's the conventional thinking. Surprisingly, many Americans secretly wish that they would be laid off, given a nice little severance package and given some time to relax and enjoy life. It's not an option we're ever going to get from God.

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Proximity Peril

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

When you're flying, you can never be safe enough. If aerospace engineers can develop systems that enable pilots to see through the fog, read the ground like a Nintendo action video game, more power to them. Now if we could just come up with a guidance system that would help us navigate our spiritual airspace.

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Thanks for Nothing!

Ephesians 1:15-23

We are accustomed to giving thanks for the things that we have - or have been given. But what if we have little or nothing? For what are we to then give thanks? Can we give thanks for nothing?

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SoulPrints

Isaiah 64:1-9

Forensic scientists continue to clamor for a foolproof way of telling whether a suspect is telling the truth. Now a new technology has arrived called Brain Fingerprinting, that is more accurate than the fabled polygraph. But while humans are looking at our brains for the truth, God is looking for a print in the soul.

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S.A.U.L.

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Last year, after Vice President Cheney had become the Waldo of the political world, with pundits frequently trying to figure out where he was, it became clear that in times of emergency our country had - and still has - safe havens for its political leaders. Peter alludes to this tendency to flee from the trouble to come, but offers another plan.

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Ecclesia Irritans

Mark 1:1-8

Corporations have a tendency to function either as clumsy elephants, or agile fleas, says one leading observer of business life in America. The church is much the same. John the Baptist, himself a flea in the hair of the religious establishment, urges us to discover our inner flea-ness.

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Two Babes in a Manger

John 1:6-8, 19-28

In a Russian orphanage, little children hear the story of Jesus' birth for the first time. But one child gives the manger scene a unique twist and in the process tells us something about what it means to commit our lives to Jesus.

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How to Fix the World

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

It's easy enough to complain about what's wrong with the world, much harder to come up with creative ideas to do something about it. GlobalIdeasBank.org is a clearinghouse for fresh approaches to the world's ills, but Isaiah's vision trumps them all.

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Refusing Joy

Luke 1:26-38

In a weight - and health - conscious culture, the stress of trying to be healthy might be more damaging to our long-term health than the health dangers we try to avoid. Perhaps we should embrace the joy of life - including the joy of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

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The 150-year-old Child

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Biogeneticists are playing in the gene pool to construct life spans that may be lengthened to 150-180 years. Some say that an infant alive today may still be living in 2150. Isaiah warns us, however, that living life is much more than living long.

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A Googlewhack God

Exodus 3:1-15

Uniqueness is hard to find these days, but when Moses ventured into the wilderness, God showed him some googlewhacks he would never forget.

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Love in Seven Minutes

Romans 13:8-14

Speed Dating. It started out as a way to assist harried young professionals to find their life's companion. So, when you're in a rush to know someone, what are the core essentials that you're looking for? The apostle Paul has some suggestions for what we should look for in other people, and, more importantly, in ourselves.

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Remembering our Affliction

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

The Scriptures repeatedly call us to remember, to revisit our suffering, the cause of it, and the One to whom we turn for comfort and deliverance. On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Homiletics offers a service of remembrance to help us remember those who perished, and to renew our commitment to follow in the paths of righteousness.

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No Way but Yahweh

Exodus 14:19-31

We react in awe to the stories of intrepid adventurers who set sail in small crafts across the Atlantic, or in kayaks across the Pacific. The fear, fright and thrill of those voyagers were no less than those experienced by the Israelites when facing a sea crossing of their own. And, to make matters worse, there appeared to be no craft of salvation that would get them to the other side.

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jLife

Philippians 1:21-30

When mLife first hit the public consciousness during the Super Bowl last February, no one knew what it was all about. Then details began to gradually emerge: It was a new wireless fidelity technology that promised to make life easier for us. Writing from prison, Paul talks about a different kind of fidelity that not only makes life, but even death, take on new meaning.

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Kinko Church

Matthew 20:1-16

The ubiquitous copy store prides itself on its customer service, and even refers to its personnel as the "coworkers" of the clients who patronize the store. In other words, they are a part of our team; they're on our side. Isn't this a model for the church?

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The Daffodil Principle

Philippians 2:1-13

When a daughter insists that her mother accompany her to visit a field of daffodils, the mother at first resists. But when she sees a golden field of glorious blooms, she realizes that she has missed out on the "daffodil principle." It's a lesson worth learning, and Paul has a version of it in his famous description of Christ and his obedience to death -the death of the cross.

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Sneaky Sneakers

Matthew 21:23-32

It looks like a sneaker, it squeaks like a sneaker, it feels like a sneaker - but this is no ordinary shoe. It's a shoe with a wheel, and now school principals and security personnel at our nation's malls don't know whether it's a shoe or a skate. Sometimes - as Jesus observes in his parable of the two sons - it can be difficult to know who is truly a Christ-follower and who is not.

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The G-Suit

Philippians 3:4b-14

Scientists are developing a new suit for military use that when worn would allow its wearer to perform almost super-human feats of strength and endurance. Wouldn't it be great if we had a spiritual counterpart, that when worn would render us impervious to temptation and allow us to live perfectly obedient lives?

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Be My Guest

Matthew 22:1-14

We're fascinated by the weddings of the rich and famous, and - when we're asked to foot the bill for our children's wedding - we're aghast at the expense. Yet, what could be worse than planning an elaborate and expensive wedding, only to discover that no one cared, and no one came! Jesus explains.

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Faith Compression

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

You'd think that 10-year-old little girls would count their Barbie dolls as among their prized possessions. Used to be the case. Yet now, 10-year-olds are far too sophisticated to play with Barbies. Dolls are for the 6 and under set. Our culture is experiencing age compression and Paul hopes that this phenomenon does not extend to our faith.

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High-Tech Hatred

Matthew 22:34-46

Video games have tended to feature violence, weapons and mayhem. Now, however, comes a new series of games that are unabashedly racist, anti-Semitic and full of hate. Jesus reminds us that the cure for man's inhumanity to man is to remember the Great Commandment.

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Walking Back the Cat

Romans 7:15-25a

We live in a culture of warning. We expect to have advance warning of every possible catastrophe. When something intrudes in our lives without warning, we want to know the reason why. That's what the apostle Paul is up to in this Romans text: Why is this happening to me?

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A Reason to Live

Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67

Almost 30 years ago, Black September shocked the world at the Munich Olympics, but then they disappeared from view. The reason why will surprise you. The answer links to the story of how God providentially brought together Isaac and his bride.

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The Secret of the Bristlecone Pine

Isaiah 55:10-13

The Bristlecone pine is among the most ancient living organisms in the world. Some of these trees began their lives before the pyramids were built. So what is the secret to the longevity of the Bristlecone pine and does this secret offer hope to us today?

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Gizmos for the Journey

Romans 8:1-11

The family vacation you take today is nothing like the one you took with your parents. For one thing, your kids have cool, hi-tech toys to keep them entertained while on the road. Paul argues that the Christian life is also a journey - a journey that must be undertaken by minding the things of the Spirit and not of the flesh.

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An Uninterrupted Eden

Romans 8:12-25

Some scientists argue that the Earth may have been periodically pounded millions of years ago by asteroids that plunged the developing "Eden" back to square one, a cycle, they suggest, that happened many times over. It's just a theory, but there's no denying the fact that it can be very discouraging when we can't seem to make headway when suffering comes into our lives.

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God Spotting

Romans 8:26-39

Train spotting and plane spotting are among the most obscure of hobbies. Now, in our terror-conscious world, we're likely to be leery of anyone perched on a roof peering at planes through binoculars. Sometimes, too, it seems hard to spot what Luther called "the hidden God," but Paul tells us that God is not hard to find.

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Pain at Peniel

Genesis 32:22-31

Jacob wrestled with an assailant at Peniel in a transforming moment that left him with a new identity, a gimp with a limp. Like many people who suffer from chronic pain, he was never the same.

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R.O.I.

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus asked his disciples to feed the 5,000. They thought that was his job. Jesus wanted to know how much they had to invest, and what kind of return they could expect on their investment.

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Defensive Pessimism

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Forget the power of positive thinking. That's only going to produce inflated expectations and fear of failure. Better to be realistically pessimistic and prepare a strategy for success. Here's a story of how Joseph journeyed from the bottom of the well to the top of the world.

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The Guilt Glut

Romans 10:5-15

Today it seems you can't water the lawn, cut the grass, get into your car or park your car without some government regulation telling you what to do, when to do it and how to do it. As a result, some say, Americans are awash with guilt. The apostle Paul says, guilt and righteousness have nothing to do with our ability to obey the law.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm

Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

You'd like to buy a Harley, kick-start the Hog and head for the open road. But Harley-Davidson knows that you might hesitate to do so because Harley riders can be so enthusiastic about their bikes and the bike culture that it scares you and other potential riders away. So they're trying to curb their enthusiasm and attract more buyers. The disciples of Jesus faced a similar problem when they wandered outside the national borders and encountered a woman who would not be put off.

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Outsourced Spirituality

Romans 12:1-8

If you find it hard to stay in a spiritual fitness program, you might consider hooking up with a spiritual director. The movement is booming. While this might be a good thing, the apostle Paul says God has given each person individually, and the church collectively, all the gifts necessary for strong spiritual health.

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What We Can Learn from Dogs

John 14:15-21

Dog and cat lovers have been arguing the merits of both species for years. While that argument may not be easily resolved, canine pet partners are working miracles in homes and hospitals across the country. Perhaps we love dogs and find them so helpful because they are obedient, loyal and provide companionship. These are values Jesus readily understood as he prepared to leave his disciples

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Pure Paradise

John 17:1-11

You probably don't want to know how much dust, pollen, pesticides, lead, dander and fibers you breathe in on a daily basis. The dust around us, and the dust to which we all return, is a daily reminder that we are clearly a part of this earthly world, even though, as Jesus reminds us, we are citizens of another world.

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Confirmation Costs

Matthew 16:24-28

Parents of prom queens and teens know how much it costs to foot the bill for one evening of entertainment. By the time the bill is paid on the dress, tux, flowers, jewelry, manicure, photographs and pompadour, you've taken out a second mortgage. Compare this, however, to the cost of being a disciple.

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Bug Buildup

Acts 2:1-21

Wind farms are sprouting up all over the West, providing an efficient, alternative source of energy for thousands of communities. But there's a problem that reduces the efficiency of these wind-powered turbines: Bugs. So what are the bugs that deplete the power of Pentecost in our lives?

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Special Ops

Matthew 28:16-20

Delta Force, Navy SEALS, Green Berets, Army Rangers are special operations personnel sometimes referred to as snake eaters and night stalkers. They are clandestine commandos on a special mission - a scenario that quickly comes to mind as Jesus gathers his disciples for the last time to give them their marching orders.

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Tidilick

Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19

Research on ancient floods is turning up some astounding discoveries, including the myth of a giant frog who one day got very, very thirsty. The giant frog of the Australian Outback tells us a lot about the flood myth of the Aborigines, but the giant faith of Noah tells us even more about a loving and beneficent God.

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Jacob and the Jedi

Psalm 46

In fantasy, like the Star Wars movie, Attack of the Clones, for example, we are assured that "the Force will be with you." In real life, when "nations are in an uproar," and "kingdoms totter," how can we believe that "the LORD of hosts is with us, a very present help in trouble?"

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Faith Rhythms

Genesis 12:1-9

You live in Singapore, but you're doing business in New York City. You better set your clock to EST if you hope to succeed. That's the same principle Abraham applied: He knew how to set his faith clock to divine time.

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Custom Harvesters

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

Every summer, like ancient nomads, crews of harvesters with giant John Deere combines ply the highways of the United States en route to another contract harvest job in the wheat fields of the West. Jesus, too, saw fields ready for harvest, but few custom harvesters to work in them.

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Face Recognition

Matthew 10:24-39

New technology is using the science of biometrics to scan faces for security purposes. Noting within nanoseconds up to 80 "landmarks" of the human face, a match of 15-20 is enough to confirm identity. Christians, however, have always been comforted by the knowledge that God not only recognizes them, but has numbered the hairs on their heads.

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Against Type

Genesis 22:1-14

Are Hollywood stars bored, looking for new challenges? That's what some are saying of the new trend that has stars like Denzel Washington, Bruce Willis and Gwyneth Paltrow playing "out of character" roles. You get that same feeling about God and Abraham: What's going on here?

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Banned in Georgia

Romans 6:12-23

Some communities in our country are dealing with the criminal element among them by inviting - no demanding - that the felons move out of the area. They're free to go anywhere, as long as they get out of town. Too bad we can't deal with the "sin element" as easily.

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SuperPlague

Exodus 17:1-7

New buff and bad bugs are traveling around the world so fast they qualify for frequent flyer upgrades. They are causing havoc wherever they appear. Not that deadly germs are anything new: The Israelites were infected with a virus, and it almost wiped them out in the wilderness.

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Ambient Ads

Romans 5:1-11

A New Jersey-based ad company has a new idea."Beach 'N Billboards" has a special, steamrollerlike machine that imprints advertising on the sand.

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Looking for Godzilla

1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Japanese are marketing a new food line they hope will make consumers feel strong -- in a stamping, smashing, stomping sort of way. In the text, Samuel's looking for a new king with the same type of attitude, but gets a lesson in the qualifications of leadership instead.

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Good and Evil in Aisle 7

Ephesians 5:8-14

Lawsuits are more familiar to Wal-Mart these days than the bright yellow smiley faces adorning their special displays.

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New World Syndrome

John 11:1-45

The people of Micronesia, in the western Pacific Ocean, are getting fat from eating Spam and potato chips and turkey tails. They are turning into what might be called "MACRO-nesians," and the change is killing them.

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Terminal Velocity

Philippians 2:5-11

Space-divers are shattering records by free-falling from 130,000 feet, jumps every bit as perilous as the plunge Jesus took when he entered human life. Are we willing to take a similar leap of faith from the heights of selfishness and egocentrism?

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Tragic Victory

Luke 23:33-43

Generations can be shaped by a defining moment -- 12/7, or 9/11 for example. Have we allowed ourselves to be shaped by Good Friday, a tragic death that became a transforming victory?

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Bone Collectors

Matthew 28:1-10

Archaeologists occasionally unearth remains that they say belong to Jesus. But this can't be -- our Lord left no bones, and no body. So why do we feel a nagging sense of doubt?

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Seeing Isn't Believing

John 20:19-31

Thanks to a new "eye opening" technology, a 63-year-old man who went blind in the 1960s can once again view the world around him. The patient, identified only as "Jerry," is one of the first people to receive an experimental seeing device that restores sight by artificially stimulating the brain.

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Parachute People

1 Peter 1:17-23

When encountering turbulence, it's a good idea to have a parachute at the ready. It's even more important to know who packed the chute.

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Wabi-Sabi Savior

1 Peter 2:19-25

Emerging in 15th-century Japan as a reaction to lavishness and ornamentation, wabi-sabi is the art of revering authenticity and finding profundity in earthiness. Our Suffering Savior was ahead of his time.

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World Changers

Acts 7:55-60

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The Rocking Chair Church

Isaiah 60:1-6

Experts in the health-care industry are reminding us of what we already sensed intuitively:The rocking motion, whether in a cradle or a chair,has a soothing and calming effect on both infants and the infirm.But perhaps we need to stop rocking, and start rockin'.

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The Monarch Mystery

Ephesians 3:1-12

Every year, millions of butterflies arrive at the same handful of sites in Mexico and although they've never been there before. It's a flight of faith that reminds us of our own journey as Spirit-guided Christians.

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The Smell Organ (and Other Cool Ideas)

Acts 10:34-43

Cool stuff comes and goes. It has a momentary ascination for us until the next new thing comes
along. Even God comes up with some cool ideas and ideas that have eternal staying power.

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Opryland Discipleship

John 1:29-42

When Americans travel, they like to stay in commodious surroundings in hotels with all the
amenities. But when we travel with Jesus, we're not always going to get the five-star treatment.

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Presenting the Fly

Matthew 4:12-23

Fly-fishing strategies have a lot to teach us and not just about catching trout, but about landing even bigger fish.

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The Cross Stem

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Scientists are scrambling to find an alternative to embryonic tissue in order to do research on stem cells. Now a new source of stem cells has emerged from the most unlikely place: human fat.

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The Stuffless Soul

Micah 6:1-8

People who lose everything they own due to fire or natural disaster gain a sudden, fresh perspective
on what's really important in life. It's a lesson the prophet is trying to teach us as well.

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Olympic Christians

Matthew 17:1-9

They weren't packing skis when they trudged up snow-capped Mt. Hermon, but when Olympic wannabees,Peter, James and John, got to the top, they saw three winners on the dais, and they wondered what it all meant.

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Have a Lachrymose Lent

Joel 2:1-2,12-17

Legend has it that tears have a powerful healing quality so valuable that they were often caught
in lachrymatories for later use. The prophet, however, says that itís been too long since we've cried
tears of repentance. It's time, he says, to fill up our tear bottles.

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The Slackitude Temptation

Matthew 4:1-11

Diligent laziness is a concept whereby you lag behind, take a breather, call time-out in order to
get ahead. Jesus discovers that it is also a sound strategy for staying spiritually strong.

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The Kukuse Problem

Psalm 32

Native Americans on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota are holding their noses and objecting to a plan that would introduce up to a million large, stinking animals, as their neighbors. At least they recognize when there's a stench in the neighborhood.

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Bleed Time

John 3:1-17

The biggest threat to human life on the battlefield is not bullets, but blood and the loss of blood, that is. Until there's a way to quickly stop the bleeding, more soldiers, car accident and gunshot victims will die from bleeding. That's the moral dilemma we face when wounded by sin: How can we stop the bleeding?

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Hands-on God

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

In the aftermath of 9/11, many people have been wondering where God was in all of this. Habukkuk had a similar question, and he wasn't afraid to ask it.

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Marriage in the Now

Luke 20:27-38

The Sadducees were talking marriage, but were more interested in trapping Jesus into an embarrassing if not incorrect response. Perhaps they'd have been better off to talk about what makes a good marriage here on earth than what makes a marriage in heaven.

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Sneaking the Schmaltz

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

The irony of the ‘90s may not be gone, but romanticism and sentimentality are definitely making an unapologetic comeback. Just another reason to reaffirm the ancient traditions of our faith.

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The Anti-Worry Warning

Luke 21:5-19

The apocalypse isn’t now, but sometimes it looks as though the world is going from worse to worser, giving Christians reason to wonder what’s going to happen next. Jesus has an antidote for our fear.

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Safe in Sterile Playgrounds

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Those who think they know what’s best for children are neutering the nation’s playgrounds, taking the fun and risk out of childhood. There’s some of this play-it-safe mentality in the church, too.

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Dead Men's Cathedrals

Psalm 95

Visit the cathedrals of Europe as a tourist, and you’ll be among thousands. Go to worship, and you’re likely to be alone. Have we forgotten something? SomeOne?

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Assisted Living

Colossians 1:11-20

The growing geriatric population is turning to assisted living facilities in increasing numbers. The elderly, however, are not the only ones who need a helping hand.

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Choke Points

Romans 13:11-14

There are thousands of airplanes in the skies over America at any one time. So many, in fact, that in crowded regional centers the air traffic has become heavy; communication sometimes is difficult if not impossible.

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Pet Cemetery or Peaceable Kingdom?

Isaiah 11:1-10

There are signs, however feeble, that peace is breaking out around the world. Are we standing at the dawn of a new era of peace?

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Half-Wall World

Isaiah 35:1-10

When God broke into human history at Bethlehem, his intention was a complete breaking down of the walls that separate us from himself as well as from others. Why, then, do we seem to have so little time at Christmas for either God or our neighbors?

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Lord of the Kings

Matthew 1:18-25

The blockbuster movie of the Christmas season is out, and it stars the Christ-figure, Frodo, who saves the world from itself. Sounds like a variation on a familiar tune.

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Exposure to Venom

Hebrews 2:10-18

It’s an odd way to develop an immune system, but some people can resist the effects of poison only by taking some of the venom in small doses.

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Drawing Lines

Luke 16:19-31

The chasm between heaven and hell is a line that has been crossed by the cross of Christ, a line that has been turned into a circle by our risen and regnant Lord.

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Fan the Flames

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Paul offers a three-fold methodology for rekindling the spark into a roaring fire of faith and faithfulness.

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The Dailyness of Healing Measures

Luke 17:11-19

Thank God for the daily gift of health - physical and spiritual health - and for the surgeries and healing measures that keep us well.

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Learn Your ABCs

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Once we open the Scriptures, the sluices of heaven open and we get drenched ... in showers of blessings and downpours of strength.

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Life's Two Pockets

Luke 18:9-14

Every one of us needs to be reminded constantly of our smallness and our greatness.

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Jesus' Bad Manners

Luke 19:1-10

Jesus didn''t wait for an invitation. He came and got people, even people who were hiding like Zacchaeus, even people who were lost.

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The Five Adjectives of a Noun Christian

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

In a world of rapid change, the elementary becomes the elemental. What exactly is a "Christian?" What does that word really mean? It is time to make Christianity Christian again.

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Do Not Grow Weary in Well-Doing

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

At the same time Christians are called to rest and not grow weary, we are called to strain for the mark of our high calling and labor for the reign of God on earth as in heaven. In sum, the church is called to be at the same time a rest stop and a rescue shop.

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Home Improvement

Jeremiah 23:1-6



God has given us a spiritual home in which to live. When will we move in? When will we appreciate the home we''ve been given?

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On Time

Matthew 24:36-44

Advent challenges us to develop and deepen our sense of timing.

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Enemies of Promise

Matthew 3:1-12

What are the enemies of promise that keep us from becoming the persons God made us to be?

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What Jesus Wants for Chrismas (Part 1)

Isaiah 35:1-10

What might we consider giving to Jesus at Christmas?

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What Jesus Wants for Christmas (Part 2)

Matthew 1:18-25

We should consider giving ourselves to God at Christmas

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Dream Reality

Matthew 2:13-23

In a world that dreams nightmares, let''s begin the new year with some God-powered, God-sized daydreams.

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Just Say Know

Philippians 3:4b-14

We are living in a world of informational overload and relational anorexia. The call of the church must be to "know Christ" and to "make Christ known." Thus, "Just Say Know" may be a better addiction strategy than "Just Say No."

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Heads Down, Thumbs Up

Philippians 2:5-11

The old adage, "Pray as if everything depended on God; work as if everything depended on you," can be translated into body language: Heads Down, Thumbs Up. On Palm Sunday, Jesus gave a thumbs up to the bowed down.

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Easter Dreams

Luke 24:1-12

In a world of Good Friday nightmares, it is time for Easter Dreams.

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The Devil's I

Acts 5:27-32

Happiness is not a fundamental category for the Christian. Joy is.

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Third Time's a Charm

John 21:1-19



It''s not enough to say "I love you" once. We must say it over and over and over again. Both the speaker and the hearer don''t understand the implications of the words "I love you" until they are said and heard over and over again.

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The Six Longest Short Verses in the Bible

Psalm 23

God has promised to turn our "thoughs" into "throughs."

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An Action-Packed Faith

John 13:31-35

Love is less what you feel than what you do.

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The S-factor

John 14:23-29

It is not as the world gives that Christ gives to us. The Holy Spirit is the difference that makes all the difference in the world.

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On Being a Hot-Fudge-Sunday Church

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

There is an old Southern gospel song "There Ain''t No Middle Ground." It is time the church gave up trying to find safety in big middles and risked ministry on the edges.

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One Breathwork, Many Bodyworks

Acts 2:1-21

The world is becoming more global while at the same time more tribal. Pentecost gives us the key to living in a world that is becoming more different and more alike at the same time.

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Fingerprints of the Soul

Romans 5:1-5

Unlike "fingerprints," which everyone is born with, we die with soulprints. How deep those soulprints go depends on the depth of our moral character and virtue.

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A-wake or A-live

Galatians 2:15-21


We are called, less to follow in the wake of Christ than to make new waves for Christ, or more precisely, to allow Christ to make new waves through us.

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Heirs of the Promise

Galatians 3:23-29



As heirs of the promise of abundant life, we are Promise Makers, Promise Keepers and Promise Trusters.


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The First M: MARRIAGE The Four Secrets of Enduring Love

Mark 10:2-16

There are four keys to a lasting marriage, the most important of which is to Stop Flooding.

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The Second M: MONEY The One Who Bounces the Last Check Wins

Mark 10:17-31

In a world where "The One Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins," the Bible presents another witness: "The One Who Bounces the Last Check Wins." Jesus calls us to give it all away.

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The Third M: MISSION How Do You Make A Circle?

Mark 10:35-45

People who are not mentally well are focused and fixated on themselves. It is the same with churches who are not spiritually well. Missionary disciples make different circles.

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The Fourth M: MIRACLE Miracle Workers

Mark 10:46-52

Do you believe in miracles?

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Wouldn't It Be Great!?

Mark 12:28-34

Wouldn''t it be great if we were to love the Lord our God with all our heart (all our emotions), our soul (all our spirit), our mind (all our reason), and our strength (all our body)? And wouldn''t it be great if we had Christians that could love God with all FOUR of these?

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Prayer-Walking

Mark 12:38-44

Prayer is a way to walk the talk.

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StormQuakes

Mark 13:1-8

Jesus will not leave us to fend for ourselves when we suffer "attacks of little faith." Amid the quivers and quakes, you can fulfill your ministry and be a faithful disciple.


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The Lord of All Ages

Revelation 1:4b-8

God was God, is still God, and will always be-God

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Starborn Souls

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Advent is a time of "soul-craft" _ a time of growing a soul that can give birth to the presence of Christ in our world.


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What Are You Getting Me for Christmas

Luke 3:1-6

Christmas is a time of gift giving. What are the real gifts God gives through the Christmas story?

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The Apostolic Formula for Peace of Mind and Heart

Philippians 4:4-7

Jesus Christ enables us to be anxious in nothing, prayerful in everything, thankful in anything.


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What's on the Bottom of Your Shoe?

Micah 5:2-5a

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was always in the "midst" of life. Are you in the "midst" of your life?

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Jesus -- The Lion and the Lamb

Isaiah 9:2-7

Jesus not only is the Lion of the tribe of Judah; he is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Not only is Jesus both the Lion and the Lamb, he makes both to lie down together. The light of the world was snuffed out on the cross, but returned brighter than ever.


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Rolling Stones or Stone-Rollers

Mark 16:1-8

How do we help people out of their tombs? The resurrection calls us forth to roll away the stones that crush people''s lives. In a world filled with rolling stones, there is a desperate need for stone rollers.

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Come On, Come Out

John 20:19-31

We must believe to see.


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The Witness Principle

Luke 24:36b-48

An authentic witness requires an "authenticating second." The "authenticating second" is the church. But there is no authenticating without anointing. To be the second witness, the church NEEDS the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

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Will You Get That, Jesus?

John 10:11-18

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. It is the shepherd's job to take care of the wolf. The wolf is not the sheep's problem. The sheep''s job is to stay near the shepherd, in the shadow of his protection.

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Do You Need a SERT

Acts 8:26-40

What/Who are the guides and guards that help us stay on the right path in our journey through life?


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Love Covers

John 15:9-17

Love is something that makes us warm and secure -- and something that makes up for our coldness and insecurities. These are the two meanings of "Love Covers."

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The Real Lord's Prayer

John 17:6-19

The real "Lord''s Prayer" is the source of a theology of culture that can propel the church to claim the world for Christ.


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Fields of Dreams

Acts 2:1-21

We need to get on our knees, pour out our hearts, extend our hands and spread our wings to make churches fields of dreams once again.


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Vanity Plates, Lifting Weights and Soul Mates

John 3:1-17

Everyone is looking for salvation. It can only be found in Jesus.


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Take Heart

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1

Christians must not "lose heart" (one of Paul''s favorite expressions) but "take heart."

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Poplars, Oaks and Yews

Mark 4:26-34

"Knock on wood." But which wood? It depends on what your spiritual state is.

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Still In One Peace

Mark 4:35-41

Jesus does not promise to calm every storm in your life. Jesus does promise to calm you in every storm of life.

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Good or Bad Body Language

Mark 5:21-43

What does your church convey by its "body language"?

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Soul (Mate) on Ice

Philippians 3:4b-14

A 5,000 year-old time traveler provides five clues for helping us achieve our goals

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Are You Making a Living or Making a Dying?

Exodus 32:1-14

The disease of materialism is a socially approved addiction, America''s #1 high and favorite form of substance abuse. Too many Christians have sold their birthrights for this mess of pottage - - or this pot of message, as one wag puts it.

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You Just Don't Get It!

Matthew 22:15-22

Does your church have a learning disability? It does if it seeks to know anything above Christ.

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Angel Food Churches

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

There are angelic forces loose in the universe. We can connect with the angelic sphere of existence and integrate angelic assistance in our everyday lives.

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Just Say Boo!

Matthew 23:1-12

Let''s follow our ancestors in the early church: Rather than major in minors, bring biblical relevance and metamorphic approaches to non-Christian observances like Halloween.

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Take No for an Answer

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

God wants converts, not adherents. Conversion in the New Testament is a total turn around (metanoia). The way of the cross is conversion, not adhesion.


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Risks Create Realities

Matthew 25:14-30

Christians are called to live, not a "stay safe" life, but a "take risk" life -- risks for God and others, not risks for gadgets and lotteries. God risked everything in Jesus. We too are called to take risks for life and love.


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Living Beneath Our Means

Ephesians 1:15-23

If we seem determined to live well above our means in our physical existence, we seem all too content to live well beneath our means spiritually.

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The Great Intrusion

Mark 13:24-37

The coming of Jesus is the greatest intrusion in human history, and the greatest intrusion in your life. Jesus makes all things new.

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Goatwalking to Bethlehem

Mark 1:1-8

To follow in Christ''s footsteps, to walk in his way, to go along his road, is to do nothing, go nowhere and lose hold.


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Waiting Rooms

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Jesus calls us, not to live in waiting rooms, but to wait in living rooms. Every moment is open to God. Every moment is
charged with transcendence.

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Ordinarily Sacred

Luke 1:26-38

At Christmas we are all called to birth and cradle Christ in our own lives -- to wrap our arms around others and offer the world the miraculous power of an ordinary hug.

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Yo! Did You Sleep Late Yesterday?

Luke 2:22-40

There will be no "grownups" in heaven.


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The Unforgiven

Matthew 26:14-27:66

Judas is our brother. Indeed, Judas is our middle name. Can you receive God''s gift of forgiveness?


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Get in Angel Gear

John 20:1-18, Matthew 28:1-10

The resurrection is where Christians start speaking a different language from everyone else - the language of miracle, the litany of faith. Accepting, believing, celebrating Jesus'' resurrection as the living Christ is the cornerstone that holds the church together. If Christ be not raised, Paul said, then your faith is in vain.


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Fleas of Faith

John 20:19-31

Are your doubts worm holes in your faith, betraying its internal mushiness, or do you let your doubts act as air holes to your faith, allowing the fresh air of the Spirit to continually revitalize your conviction?


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Stop Here or Else

1 Peter 1:17-23

God, who raised Jesus from the dead, can be trusted to raise the church from its almost moribund state. But we must dare to trust God.


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On Your Mark

Acts 2:42-47

Are the marks of the earliest Christian communities still discernible in your church? Does there remain a commitment to a vital witnessing made possible through teaching-service, a koinonia fellowship, sacrificial bread-breaking and confessional prayer? Is your congregation cross-training for Christian witness?


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The Age of Rage

Acts 7:55-60

At the moment when Stephen could have hated the most, he loved the deepest. We can too, when we pass through the "gates of deepest darkness."


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The World's Saving Gesture: The Line and the Circle

Acts 17:22-31


In a world where drivers and peoples and nations and races are making threatening and obscure gestures at each other, the church must give to the world an alternative gesture, what we are calling the Saving Gesture.

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Double Dutch

Acts 1:6-14

The Ascension makes every person a contemporary of Jesus the Christ.


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God's Missionary People

Acts 2:1-21

It is time for "The Missionary Church" to come forth.


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Why Are There Only Two Sexes?

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

In a world focused on self-fulfillment and self-gratification, it is important to remember that self-denial and self-sacrifice are central to any relationship that lasts.


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Bite Your Tongue

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

Tilt your ear, not your tongue, to God, to others and to yourself.


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Higher Allegiances

Matthew 10:24-39

We live in a world where the highest allegiance goes to OURSELVES. Jesus calls us to reorder our allegiances.


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Why We Go to Church

Matthew 10:40-42

We are called to be hosts and hostesses to the divine. Are you welcoming God this morning?

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Get a Life!

2 Timothy 1:1-14

When we "Get a Life" in Christ, we get the right kind of a life, and the best kind of life we can get.


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Rags and Robes

Micah 1:2; 2:1-10

Disciples of Jesus Christ are in the business of making rags into robes. We need to clothe people with integrity (a robe) even when they are dressed in rags.

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The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

In Jesus'' prayer life, there was a codicil to every one of his prayers: "not what I will but what you will." This codicil is the solution to the problem of unanswered prayer

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FaithRace

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

There is no excuse for not running the race of life. Christians need no longer fear that their lives are going nowhere - like some kind of hamster-wheel marathon. Christians are called to join the faithrace, where the "finish" line is just the beginning of our life in Christ.

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Toys R Us. NOT!

Ephesians 1:11-23

In a "Toys ''R'' Us" world that wants the gifts without the Giver, Christians are people who ask for the Giver, not the gifts. Hope is Us. Love is Us. Faith is Us. Toys "R" Us? Not!


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Give Us a Break

2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

When was the last time you took a "breather" from all those distractions that claim to be the most important concerns in life? Take a break from the din and listen instead to the voices of biblical and church tradition - our true "sponsor" whose words we should heed, despite the cacophony of advertising that tries to dissuade us from the tradition.


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The Cost of Non-Discipleship

Luke 21:5-19


The cost of not being a disciple is so much greater than any cost discipleship itself might entail. Non-discipleship makes us nothing. Discipleship makes us something.


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Pit and Rock

Colossians 1:11-20

The Bible teaches us to praise God for everything. For everything? Really everything? Yes, everything! We are to praise and thank God constantly, "in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18), "at all times and for everything" (Ephesians 5:20), "always asking God with a thankful heart (Philippians 4:6,TEV).

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O Holy Nightmare

Matthew 24:36-44

How have we managed to transform the Christmas season from an awe-filled consideration of "O Holy Night" into an awful "O holy nightmare"? Isn''t it time we rediscovered the real Christ of Christmas, the Christ who came (as that old revival saying put it) not to "see through you," but to "see you through"?


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Christ the Apple Tree

Isaiah 11:1-10

Job 14:7 proclaims "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease." This is the season where gilded trees and gleaming hopes both move into the midst of our homes and our lives. In the midst of this celebration, remember Dominus regnavit a ligno - "The Lord reigned from a tree."


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A Star-Cross Christmas

James 5:7-10

Christmas is not a cheap thrill for our lives, nor a cheap fix for our problems. We are called to take up crosses and follow in the footsteps of Christ. While there is nothing wrong with Christmas as a star-studded celebration, for Christians, stars without crosses are as flimsy and fake as the ones perched on top of our Christmas trees.


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Welcome Home, Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph is probably the most misunderstood participant in the Christmas drama. Like comedian Rodney Dangerfield, Joseph might righteously complain, "I don''t get no respect!" This week we pay Joseph some of the respect he surely deserves, for without his gifts of hospitality, acceptance and love, the story of Christmas would have no beginning. And with these gifts, Joseph is a model for all who are called by God to serve in supportive roles.


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Three Wise Gifts

Matthew 2:13-23

Three gifts, if given this Christmastide, will do nothing less than heal the world.


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What's Your Drink?

Isaiah 43:16-21

What do we thirst for? What is our drink? Jesus offers his disciples deep drinks of "living waters." Draughts of the "Living Waters" must be our signature sip, our desired drink.


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The Seduction of the Palms

Luke 19:28-40

In the euphoria and exuberance of this morning''s celebration, the church must not be seduced into losing sight of its central mission and message: obedient service.


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Wake Up

John 20:1-18

"The best way to make your dreams come true," writes Paul Valery, "is to wake up." How can you have a dream come true if you don''t wake up? Before your dreams can come true, you must first wake up! What does it mean that Christ has risen from the dead?


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Let It Breathe...

John 20:19-31 [Genesis 2:5-24]

What does it mean to be "spiritual?" In a day when "spirituality" is in and "organized religion" is out, it behooves the church to seek a biblical definition and theology of "spiritual." To this end, breathing is more than a means of propulsion; it''s a spiritual principle.

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Terminator 3

Acts 9:1-20

The power of Christ can turn "Terminators" into "Transformers"

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Wounding Love

Psalm 23

What do you think of clergy who lived through the bubonic plague and never addressed it pastorally with their people? We are precisely in that situation today with ministry in "the AIDS era" - the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, perhaps the worst disaster to have befallen humanity since the Great Plague of 1347 to 1350, where close to one-third of the population perished.

Mother Teresa, who established an AIDS hospice in New York City and an AIDS home in San Francisco, believes that "God is speaking to us through this disease." What might God be saying?

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Healing in His Wings

Acts 14:8-18

Jesus spent his entire ministry doing three things: preaching, teaching and healing. This sermon explores the three steps to a healing ministry and healing church.


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Home Alone

Revelation 21:10, 22-27

To refer to a group of people as "homeless" one must believe in "home." Might that be part of our problem? Have we lost our concept of "home," if not our "home" itself? It is time to go home again and find that our home is in God.


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Unum Humanum

John 17:20-26

Oned in Christ is the work of the Spirit in this wonder-ful time and this one-derful world.


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Down the Up Staircase

Genesis 11:1-9

Whose life will be a staircase for God''s descent to earth?


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The Compleat Christian

Romans 5:1-5

The profile of a mature Christian is marked by suffering, endurance, character and hope.


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Thunder in the Mountains, Silence in the Soul

1 Kings 19:9-14


God is both inside and outside - in the mountains and their thunder and in the quiet caves of our souls. To Moses God spoke through the mountains with a roar. To Elijah God spoke through the cave in a still small voice. God still speaks in various ways today.

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No Excuses

Luke 9:51-62

Christianity is not an exercise of, nor does it produce experts in, excuse-making, blame-placing behavior. The life of discipleship thrusts one into the midst of all life''s turmoils and triumphs, without excuses.


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Global Warming

Genesis 2:18-24

An original twist is given the phrase "global warming," as the climate-altering effects of thinking "we" over "me" would bring healthy and health-giving atmospheric changes to people who are freezing to death in our well-heated churches and warmed-up planet.


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Sevening

Hebrews 4:1-3; 9-13

What does it mean to enter into Sabbath rest, a custom the early church sometimes called "Sevening"? Our lives have become so heavily scheduled that the whole notion of a "Sabbath" seems as foreign to us now as it did when God first introduced the Hebrew people to the concept. How can we take time/make time for a weekly, soak-in-the-Scriptures "Sevening" when so much of life threatens to "deep-six" us?

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No Green Without Red

Mark 10:35-45

If you do not live a gospel that calls you to a life of sacrifice and service, you are living a shallow, selfish, shoddy substitute that promises much and demands little.

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Be Happy!

Mark 10:46-52

"To be happy in Jesus" means to trust and obey. Simple words, but hard to live out in our world of headline catastrophes. Economists, environmentalists, educators, all give us good reason to be filled with pessimism, doubt, despair - or to become fatalistically apathetic. Sometimes we just have to get a grip and re-center our attitude on something as straightforward and basic as that old hymn, "Trust and Obey."

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LightWorks

Deuteronomy 6:1-9


Our children are our greatest resource, the hope of the world, the next generation. When we are "too busy" to explain a point of faith or theology, or are afraid they will find it "too boring," we are risking nothing less than the work and witness of all the saints who have gone before us.

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Are You a Crazy Dog?

Mark 12:38 44

The essence of the gospel is inside-out paradox and upside-down preposterousness: The way up is down, the way in is out, the way high is low. Jesus turns the world upside-down, and invites us to an upside-down way of living, an inside-out way of thinking.

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Yellow Wind

Mark 13:24-32

There is an old mountain saying that goes like this: "Nothing in this world is too bad to happen." We are indeed in "one mell of a hess" as another old saying goes. But people of the light are not afraid "even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea" (Psalm 46:2).


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Uh-Huh!

John 18:33-37

Long ago Hosea gave some advice: "Take with you words and turn to the Lord." Today we take some tragically misplaced words such as "character," "honor," and "integrity," as well as their post-modern reincarnations as the "right thing," the "right stuff," and the "right one," and once again turn to the Lord.


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Interior Decorations

Luke 21:25-36

The Advent season invites us to consider sprucing up our inner selves and souls along with our homes and offices and churches - interior decorations that will go with all our exterior decorations.


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The Crime of Christmas

Luke 3:1-6

Christmas is the Nativity of Consciousness. It is a time for us all, we who have lost touch with the tale, to rediscover the wondrous, the miraculous, the unspeakable; the wild, the odd, the strange; the impossible world of the child, the improbable faith of the believer.

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The First Christmas Card

Philippians 4:4-9

What is the Christmas message? With excessive commercialization and sentimentalization obscuring its essence, not even the church is always clear about the content of God''s first Christmas card. What should the Church put on its own Christmas greeting?


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Bethlehem's Two Roads

Hebrews 10:5-10

As we blunder through the last few days of the Christmas maze; as we confront the possessiveness and possessedness of a culture awash in guns, glamour, gadgets and household gods, we must be reminded not to lose sight of Bethlehem. For our pilgrimage to this place changes our lives. The Magi "went home a different way." They could never go home the same way again after Bethlehem. Will this year''s Christmas journey to Bethlehem change the direction of your life as well?


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Back to School

Luke 2:41-52

In November 1987, Time carried a cover story entitled "Who''s in Charge?" The magazine answered its own question with these words: "The nation calls for leadership, and there is no one home." How can the church assert leadership in the world today?


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MegaGrace

Acts 4:32-35

One of the most reassuring aspects of Christian life is the knowledge that we do not have to do everything on our own. The challenge of living a Christ-like life is made possible through the gift of great grace - megacharis - from the Spirit. Ever responsive to our needs, it appears that the more obstreperous and quarrelsome our "Christian" communities the more grace becomes available, enabling the ongoing mission of the church to survive despite itself.


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The Three Stages to Truth: A Biblical Philosophy of Education

Luke 24:35-48

Ours is an educated era. Yet we seem to be filled with facts while remaining ignorant of true understanding. In these texts the greatest teacher we have ever known, Jesus, demonstrates an educative scheme designed to fill our hearts as well as our heads, and destined to get our feet moving along with our minds.


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Don't Count Sheep

John 10:11-18

What kind of image do you associate with "the Lord is my shepherd"? Does your mind''s eye more readily identify with the identity of "sheep" or "shepherd?" What are the responsibilities of sheep and of shepherds? What is expected of us?

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The Bonds of Love

1 John 4:7-12

"God is love." How many times have we said that without really considering what "love" actually is, what love really entails? This sermon examines some of the ways the church is called to embody love, and the binding and loosing power of love.


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Faith Is the Victory

Acts 10:44-48

Through the grace of God we have been promised the incredible possibility of a real, live relationship with the divine. Our appropriate response to this relationship is one of faith. This week''s texts help us to acknowledge that our faith is a response which is utterly dependent upon God''s faithfulness for its birth and growth.


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Revitalizing the Lo-cal Church

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Prayer is "the soul''s blood" (seventeenth century poet George Herbert). What would it mean for the church to be a "house of prayer," even to become "The Lord''s Prayer?" What would it mean for believers to move from "faith in praying" to "praying in faith?"


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Stand Together or Fall Apart

Acts 2:1-21

The time is long overdue for Christians to think in terms of "We" rather than "I." The biblical focus is on the community. God''s answer to the human predicament was to create a new community, to start a family. Individuals gain their identity by belonging to the community, and the community finds fulfillment in the individual.


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Wrong!

John 3:1-17

Are things ever actually as bad as they seem? Or are things really much worse than we ever imagined? As Christians we have never been promised that life will be smooth and easy. What we have been promised is the assurance of God''s presence in our lives through good times and bad, in prosperity and poverty, in our strength and in our weakness.


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When C Is Not Average

1 Samuel 16:1-13

This world is governed by "C" people - not "the best and the brightest" only, but the committed, the consecrated, and the compassionate. In scriptures you find over and over again that "C" people also prevail. Indeed, God chooses ordinary people to achieve extraordinary tasks. The things we say we''ll never do - "It''s not in me" - become the very things God''s grace leads us into. God gives us the resources we need at the time we need them.


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Speaking the S-word

1 Samuel 16:14-23

This week's texts give you the opportunity to address aloud the S-word - Satan, the Devil, Lucifer, Evil. The church's reluctance to even admit the existence of genuine evil has usually played right into the hands of this demonic side of existence, leaving people frightened and confused when confronted by these forces in themselves and others. "Equipping the saints" for good and evil encounters, the stuff of daily life, is the focus of this week's material.

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In Christ, or in a Jacuzzi Jesus?

Mark 4:26-34

If there is one magic phrase in the Bible, one open sesame to transformation, it is this one: "In Christ." "In Christ" stands as one of the Bible''s simplest, yet most profound statements. Between the little preposition "in" and the name "Christ" can be found the entire meaning of the life of faith.

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A Postmodern Coat of Crayola Colors

Mark 4:35-41 2

Does our faith enable us to face forward in life - or do our doubts and fears keep us looking backwards over our shoulders, expecting the worst to befall us? This week we consider what message we send to the world when our faith is so fragile that we cannot even trust God to be with us.


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You've Got That Healin' Touch

Mark 5:21-43

God is Creator (Father) and Redeemer (Son), but God is also Sustainer (Holy Spirit). God''s sustaining nature always seeks to heal, to restore each creature and the entire creation to its original state of wholeness. Take time this week to explore with your congregation the diverse ways God has brought healing into your life together - either through other people, relationships, or the created cosmos surrounding you.

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Mazing Grace or Amazing Grace

Isaiah 42:1-9

It is the amazing grace of God that brings together God''s justice and mercy - and turns the maze of life into constant amazement.

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What Are You Looking For?

John 1:29-42

In a world where spirituality has become a consumer item, we must confess Jesus as Lord.

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A Concert of Prayer

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Christ is not and cannot be divided if the church is to stand. Yet upon that single foundation of Christ, a multitude of diverse structures may be constructed.

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Give me a C...

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

The church needs some new cheers. If we're going to boast about anything, let's boast about Christ. The boasts will sound like foolishness to the world. The Beatitudes are an example of "foolish" sounding cheers.

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Lamplight vs. Starlight

Matthew 5:13-20

Don't worry about whether you are "star material." Instead, hold up your lamplight and let it shine!

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Cut It Out!

Matthew 5:21-37

We must stop doing those things that harm us and others

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Will You Join the Jesus Team?

Exodus 24:12-18

The church must move from standing committees to moving teams

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Plaque Buildup

Romans 5:12-19

The world needs a Savior to scrape the plaque off the human heart

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The Family Ideal, Not Idol

Genesis 12:1-4a

The church must lead in protecting the family without letting "family values" become an idol

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The Well That Will Never Run Dry

Exodus 17:1-7

Each generation picks up the living water Christ offers in different containers and difference handles

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Get Real

1 Samuel 16:1-13

To "Get Real" ultimately means to "Get Spiritual"

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Would You Believe...?

John 11:1-45

It is time we started believing what we believe

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Stand Against or Walk Alongside?

Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus never "stood against" anyone. He always "walked alongside" everyone

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Easter Completes

Colossians 3:1-4

When Easter happens, our "incompletes" turn into "completes"

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Strength's Weakness

John 20:19-31

It is at the point of our strengths rather than our weaknesses that we are most vulnerable

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The Ride of Your Life

1 Peter 1:17-23

Jesus offers us a life-substance, not a lifestyle

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Self-Fulfillment Through Self-Sacrifice

1 Peter 2:19-25

We can only find self-fulfilment through self-sacrifice

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Rock-Bottom Living

1 Peter 2:2-10

Instead of "rolling stones," disciples of Jesus are called to be "living stones."

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The Longest Journey Is the Shortest Distance

Acts 17:22-31

The longest journey can be the shortest distance-the journey around and within

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The Five Habits of Highly Spiritual Leaders

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

Highly spiritual people dream, scheme, team, lean and beam

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Holy Spirit Holes

Acts 2:1-21

Holy Spirit Holes are the spaces in our lives which open us up to the Divine

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Sleep Loose

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Relax and trust God's Spirit.

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Dr. God

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

God can be a healing presence and power in your life.

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Make Disciples

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

We are called to become disciple-making churches

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Matthew 10:24-39

The Christian does not forget to offer thanks for the blessings of this life

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Onward Christian Hell-busters

Matthew 10:40-42

The church is called to offer the world a "cup of cold water" -- to douse the flames of hell with the waters of eternity.

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B.T.D.T.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

To a "weary and heavy-laden" generation who has Been There, Done That, Jesus offers something radically new: real rest!

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The Four R's

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The parable of the sower and the seed is a basic lesson in key survival skills for the 21st century

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Welcome or Warning?

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

People who try to revoke other people's tickets to heaven are those who are least likely to be allowed on the train themselves.

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Hello!?

Romans 8:26-39

When we find ourselves shrinking, shirking, shivering and sniveling in fear and doubt, God breaks through to say: "Hello!?"

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Ten Commandments of Trust

Matthew 14:13-21

Although our coins read "In God we trust," trust is a scarce commodity these days

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Day-Timers or Begging Bowls

Matthew 14:22-33

When Christ comes to us, he often appears in unrecognizable form

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A Bill of Rights

Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

A church that believes in anything and everything is standing on the brink of believing in nothing.

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What Gift Do You Have For Us?

Romans 12:1-8

God's gifts are not unchanging "possessions" that are ours forever. They are constantly being renewed and transformed.

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Do You Look Good On Wood?

Matthew 16:21-28

In a culture awash in self-hug spiritualities, it is time to take up the cross and follow Jesus

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Celebrate Your Critical Mass

Matthew 18:15-20

Where two or three are gathered together, there is no need for a standing committee.

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Anywhere Goes

Romans 14:1-12

The culture says "Anything goes." The Body of Christ goes anywhere, to anything, to anyone, at anytime.

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God Will Be God

Matthew 20:1-16

The first lesson of Spirituality 101 is that God is God ... and we are not.

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Was Jesus the First Buster?

Matthew 21:23-32

As the first, in-your-face Buster, Jesus said: "Don't listen to people's WORDS; look at their DEEDS."

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Tremendous Trifles

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Moral failure comes not from enormous misdeeds, but through lapses in
"tremendous trifles."

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Joy and Crown

Philippians 4:1-9

Life's real "crown of joy" is a life rich and deep in personal relationships.


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Paying Dues to God

Matthew 22:15-22

Our dues to God are paid when we return to God with interest what God has entrusted to us.

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Grow Old Grace-fully

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Life's second half can be life's best half.


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Rules for the Road

Joshua 3:7-17

How to cruise on the new-century
superhighway

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Just Showing Up Doesn't Get the Job Done

Matthew 25:1-13

Eight words that can change your life


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Teamwork Works!

Judges 4:1-7

We don't need to charge the barricades in our lives all by ourselves.

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Is There Room for One More?

Matthew 25:31-46

Is there room in your life for "one more" -- for the least, the lost, the lonely, the leper, the "other"?

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God Is Faithful

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

God is most attentive when God seems most absent.

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Fifty-Fourth and Lexington

Mark 1:1-8

There is no song so broken, no monotone so horrible, no voice so tremulous, that God can't take it and compose it into a beautiful symphony.

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DisArming Christmas

John 1:6-8, 19-28

There's a new arms race, and it's threatening the meaning of Christmas.

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The Secret of Living Is Giving

Luke 1:26-38

The Christmas "secret" must be put back into the Christmas "spirit."

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A Match Made in Heaven

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Whenever there is a convergence of opposites, a "manifestation" is born.


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Deep-Discount Disciples

Luke 14:25-33

Each of us, in our way, is challenged to be a full-price disciple by strengthening our faith-ties, practicing self-discipline, and showing selfless generosity.

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Have a Little Faith in Me

Jeremiah 18:1-11

No matter how in-control we believe ourselves to be, the fact is, we are still essentially clay, wholly at the mercy of the Artist's hand. Can we trust the Master Potter to make this clay into something beautiful?

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10 Things to Tell Your Kids About Bill Clinton (and the White House Mess)

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Don't make light of sin; don't spread rumors, but instead be a part of the solution are only some of the things we can tell our kids who question us about "the character issue."

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More Than Meets the Eye

Luke 16:1-13

Christians are people with tag lines, whose every action, while having authenticity in its own right, has a deeper layer of meaning and purpose, defying both conventions and conventional wisdom.

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From SAD Disorder to GLAD Delight

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Churches suffering from Spiritual Affective Disorder (SAD) have a notoriously low birthrate and lack a certain type of light in their lives. The good news is that SAD churches can be transformed into GLAD churches!

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God's Measuring Stick

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

Because God keeps score according to a different set of rules, even the most sinful and selfish human beings sometimes seem justified in crying out to God, "Unfair!" - until they've checked God's Measuring Stick.

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Thanking Ourselves to Death

Luke 17:5-10

We don't serve because we're rewarded; we're rewarded because we serve. So, if it bothers you when you find yourself serving others, surprise! That's what servants do!

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Stay in Touch

2 Timothy 1:1-14

No matter what the challenges that confront us every day, our lips can still blow the horn of praise, our fingers can still play a melody of joy, our toes can keep tapping the song of encouragement, the heart can still swing to the song of the Spirit. We in the church are touchy-feely people. Let's stay that way.

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Asperges Me, Domine

Luke 17:11-19

Traveling the highway of life, we accumulate multiple layers of crud and dirt on our souls that need cleansing if we are to be whole and well and alive to God.

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The Difficult Child

Luke 18:1-8

There are many positive qualities associated with being a difficult child. The challenge is to keep a focus on God and the abundant life God offers, and not fall victim to the galloping greedy gimmies.

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Half-Dead or Whole Life?

Jeremiah 31:27-34

Many people don't realize they are suffering from a serious heart defect: half-heartedness! Jesus transforms us from half-hearted, half-dead people, into whole-hearted, whole-life Christians.

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The Habit Whisperer

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

If we listen carefully, we can hear the voice of not only the sage habit whisperer of the text, but also the Wise Whisperer who knows us better that we know ourselves and who calls us to transcend the defective habits that render us ineffective in God's service.

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Freedom in Bondedness

Galatians 5:1, 13-25



There is a paradox at the heart of the Christian faith -- that we are most free when we are tied to Christ and surrendered to the Spirit.

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The Kingdom of God Has Come Close

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20



The Bible says there are many for whom "the Kingdom of God has come close." Close is not good enough. What is preventing us from experiencing the presence and power of God in our midst?

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What Is a Good Samaritan?

Luke 10:25-37

In a world that teaches achievement (doing), Jesus teaches us the values of aliveness (being).

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Spiritual Focus and Peripheral Vision

Luke 10:38-42

The key to achieving spiritual "focus" is peripheral vision.

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How to Stay Spiritually Fresh

Luke 11:1-13

How can we stay spiritually fresh and alive and plugged into the power of the Spirit?

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Treasure Hunters

Luke 12:13-21


We are called to lay up treasures in heaven, not possessions on earth.

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By Faith Living

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

To live "by faith" and not "by sight" means to live in the light of God''s promises in the present. To step forward in faith is to live in the victorious peace of a war already won -- whether or not the particular battle you are fighting is being "won" or "lost."

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Call the Tribe of Issachar Together

Luke 12:49-56



Christians must become members of the tribe of Issachar, a tribe which had an "understanding of the times to know what ... to do."

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Who Are You?

Hebrews 12:18-29



We are now in the midst of a "shaking of the foundations." What is it that remains when all else is shaken and taken?

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The Cream of the Crop, or The Skimmed Milk of the Earth

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Jesus expects us to open our homes and hearts to people who are not on the "A-list."

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Who Are the En-couragers?

Philemon 1-21

There are few ministries more important than the ministry of encouragement.

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Seeker-Friendly

Luke 15:1-10

Jesus came to seek and save ... those who are lost.

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The Truth of Love

Luke 16:1-13

Truth is not an ideology. Truth is a relationship; truth is a person.

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The Resolution to End All Resolutions

Luke 2:41-52



The ultimate resolution a Christian can make is to live in the light of divine intentions, not human inventions.

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Fighting Fire With Fire

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22



To put out fires in our lives and to quench the fires ravaging our world, we need the fire of the Holy Spirit burning in us, a fire which sears as it heals.

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Be an Energizer Bunny

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

To be filled with the Spirit is to keep going, and going, and going ....

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Connect the Dots

Luke 4:14-21

In us, the world sees a picture of Christ.

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The Lord Needs You

Jeremiah 1:4-10

God chooses the weak and unlikely people of this world to do God''s work.

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The Oblivious Obvious

Luke 5:1-11

There are times when it''s necessary and important to state the obvious. Such a time is now.

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Say Amen, Somebody

Psalm 1


Unless the dominant chords of your church are praise and affirmation, it may need an attitude adjustment. The first of a two-part sermon.

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And Again I Say...Amen!

Luke 6:27-38

What are the marks of an Amen discipleship? How would a Yes spirit manifest itself? The second of a two-part sermon.

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Say What?

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)



Sometimes, especially when in the Presence of the holy, we honor God best by saying nothing.

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Stone Testaments

Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Mark the milestones in your life journey.

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The Devil's Sermon

Philippians 3:17-4:1

When all about us is change, there are still some things that remain the same.

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Never Give Up

Luke 13:1-9

Because God never gives up on us, we need never give up.

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Tabloid Testaments?

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

In a world where truth has gone tabloid, it is more important than ever for the Christian community to live out an identity of integrity.

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The Sacrament of Failure

Mark 6:1-13

Christians can learn to forgive themselves and others, and not be afraid to lead "error embracing" lives.


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A 3M Church

Ephesians 1:3-14

The three clear-cut values of a "holy" church are making, marking and maturing disciples.


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No Stranger Danger Here

Ephesians 2:11-22

The church is more than a place where strangers need not feel strange. The church is a place that knows no strangers.


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Are You Able?

Ephesians 3:14-21

Our God is a God who appears and does, not just a God who is and speaks.


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Jesus, Elvis and Coca-Cola

John 6:24-35

God being who God is, life can only go successfully in one way -- God''s way of Jesus the Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life.


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Bread-of-Life Presence

John 6:35, 41-51

The feeling of presence is at the heart of the spiritual life.


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The Five Phases of a Worship Workout

Ephesians 5:15-20

The first in a two-part series on how to keep your church (this week) and each individual in it (next week) in prime spiritual shape.


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Christian MDRs

Ephesians 6:10-20

The second in a two-part series on how to keep your church (last week) and each individual person in it (this week) in prime spiritual shape.


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Just Looking

James 1:17-27

The Christian life is much more than "just looking."


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The Barney Principle

Mark 7:24-37

How "well" is your church fulfilling its "wellness" potential? A well church is one that is engaged in ministries that not everyone thinks are swell.

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Success Symbols

Mark 8:27-38

The vertical beam of that cross on which Jesus was lifted becomes the plumb line of the ages, the pole position which judges all our actions and transforms all our values.

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Four Steps to Creative Discipleship

Mark 9:30-37

If the church is to be a creative force for God in our world today, it must engender preparation, incubation, illumination and verification.

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The Power of One

Mark 9:38-50

If you want to feel the power of one, you must claim your powers and claim the power of One, the power of the divine in your life.

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January 2: Looking in Two Directions

Ephesians 1:3-14

The party''s over, and the bills have come due. "But there is hope for your future," says the Lord.

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Are You Catching?

Acts 19:1-7

When we are filled with the Spirit, we become infectious, spreading the "virus" of God''s kingdom.


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Samuel's Spiritual Swiss-Army Knife

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

When there is no "frequent vision" of the Lord in our lives, we need to stop and listen. And when the word of the Lord does come, God is seeking an answer from us, even if our response is only to question the word.


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Take a Hike!

Mark 1:14-20

Biblical faith issues in a "movement" spirituality, not an establishment religion. Hit the road, church!


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I'll Huff and I'll Puff....

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Huffing and puffing blow the house down. Serving and sacrificing build the house up.

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Mirror, Mirror on tlhe Wall

Mark 1:29-39

We all have "talking mirrors, " which reflect distorted images. Jesus can heal those who are damaged by these distortions.


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Big Foot

Mark 9:2-9

Letting go of fear, words and control allows Christ to transform us.


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Dust, Doves and Diamondhood

Mark 1:9-15

Lent contrasts corruption and grace, making grace stand out all the more brilliantly against the darkness.


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Hope Against Hope

Romans 4:13-25

Jesus did the best in the midst of the worst. The worst can produce the best.

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Hot Buttons

John 2:13-22

We need to get angry, but over things that matter.


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Hellscapes and Heaven's Gate

Ephesians 2:1-10

There are two "open sesames" for the gates of heaven: "Just stop it" and "But God."


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Deserving Our Warning Sign

John 12:20-33

The Church is to lift up Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, not the hydraulics of doctrines or dogmas or denominations, etc. God''s charge to the church is "See and Tell" before "Show and Tell."


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The Warming Yourself Syndrome

Mark 14:1-15:47

Christ calls us to spend energy on others, not just on our own comforts.

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The Best Things in Life Are...

Romans 7:15-25a

The important things in life-faith, family, fun-can easily be jeopardized.

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Spirit Description

Romans 8:1-11

Unabashedly receiving the gifts of grace presented in our lives, joyfully getting dirt under our fingernails, and publicly and prayerfully worshiping God are marks of a well-mannered mind, a Christ-dwelling spirit.


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Are You Growing Grass or Killing Weeds?

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

We spend too much time worrying about the weeds and not enough time sowing good seed. Good lawn care has much in common with good Christian "life care."


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Kingdom-L-I-K-E

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

What comparisons would Jesus use today if he started, "The kingdom of heaven is like ..."?


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God-L-I-T-E

Genesis 32:22-31

A "God-lite" religion does not address the realities of our lives. Only the true God will do that.

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The Church of Beautiful Feet

Romans 10:5-15

The Good News needs to be both spoken and acted out.


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Change Your Mind, But Keep the Change

Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

We have constant need to change our minds, but we should always keep the change, for out of that kept-change is composted the new directions for the future.


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The Choosing God

Matthew 16:13-20

God is a choosing God and calls us to be a choosing people.


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What Are You Full Of?

Romans 12:9-21

Out of the abundance of the heart, the Bible teaches, a person speaks (Matthew 12:34-35). Whatever fills the heart fuels the life.


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Love Makes the Ride Worthwhile

Romans 13:8-14

Love may not make the world go 'round. But love is what makes life worth living.

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Everything You Can Do...

Romans 14:1-12

Paul calls Christians to a compassionate acceptance of diversity within the church.

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Faith's Four Prison Positions

Philippians 1:21-30

Christ gives us the resources to handle the "prisons" of life.

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I Hate to Be Critical, BUT...

Exodus 17:1-7

The Bible shows how to transform criticism from a "stumbling block to steppingstone."

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...More...

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Are You Fit for the Dungheap?

Matthew 5:13-20

Has the church put the world on a "salt-free diet"? Are we giving the world a "religion" instead of Christ? Has the church eliminated the buzz but kept the buzzwords? Have we kept the look and feel of the real thing but gotten rid of the substance and power?

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Live the Wild Life

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Jesus was the true "wild" one who calls his disciples to live the "wild" life.


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Four Steps Down the Mountain

Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus gave his disciples a four-step method of coping with fear.


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Curvature of the Soul

Genesis 2:15-17;3:1-7

God is handicapped-accessible.


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Why Communism Collapsed

John 3:1-17

The most powerful forces in the universe are spiritual, not material. The Spirit can do what walls and tanks and weapons cannot. Communism failed because it didn''t factor in the things of the Spirit.


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The Easiest Job in the World

John 4:5-42

There is a radical new openness to the Spirit in our world today. The "fields are ripe for harvesting." Our job is sometimes to harvest. Our job is sometimes to sow. It''s the easiest, "funnest" (and sometimes funniest) job in the world.


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Nit-Pickers, Wound-Lickers, Goodness-Sakers and Arm Wavers

John 9:1-41

Each one of us decides with what kind of spirit we will go through life: critical, complaining, condemnatory, or celebrating.


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The Mother Teresa Effect

John 11:1-45

Jesus is the "all-time, undisputed, undefeated Champion of Love." How are his followers doing as "Champions of Love"? Can others look at us and say, as they said about Jesus, "see how he loved him"? Can Jesus say that ["see how she loves"] about you? About your church?


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Let's Give Jesus a Hand

Galatians 6:7-18

"What is that in your hand?" God asked of Moses as God called Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 4:2). God asks us the same question today. And God will ask us the same question at Judgment Day: "What is that in your hand?"


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Who Is the Good Samaritan?

Luke 10:25-37

Love costs.


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Help Wanted: Only Shunammites Need Apply

2 Kings 4:8-17

It is time to bring back the early Christian tradition of hospitality as expressed in the "Shunammite household."


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Healing Aerobics

2 Kings 5:1-15ab

There's healing for you today.

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Are You on the Gospel Side?

Colossians 3:1-11

The gospel is the word and Word of God, the word that points to the Word. The word of God is the Scriptures. The Word of God is Christ.


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From a Distance

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-19

Faith requires distance for it to be true faith. No distance, no faith.


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A.Y.O.R. (At Your Own Risk)

Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-17

With choices come consequences. You can choose between alternatives. You cannot choose the consequences of your choice.


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Doorkeepers, Lampkeepers and Wisdomkeepers

Luke 13:22-30

Celebrate the keepers of wisdom in your midst.


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Settle for an F

Hebrews 13:1-8

If "A" is for adultery and "F" is for faithfulness, settle for an "F." Faithfulness is central to an "I Do" marriage.

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Speak Up for Forgiveness

Philemon 1-20

The Christian faith boasts a "Six Step" Recovery Program to repair and restore broken relationships.

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Shame on You

1 Timothy 1:12-17

A sense of guilt and shame can sometimes be spiritually healthy.

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The Necessary Book

Luke 16:1-13

Spiritual well-being is the ultimate "necessary" of life.

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...More...

Luke 16:19-31

The world''s philosophy is a four-letter word: More. The church''s theology is also a four-letter word, but it often means more''s opposite: Love. Will the church be a force and a forum for love?

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Fiat Vitae: Let There Be...Life

John 1:1-9, 10-18

The purpose of existence is not simply "to live," but to "have life."

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Listening for God

Matthew 3:13-17

Much of the church today is based on speaking before listening. There are lots of policies and procedures for speaking in the church but none for listening.

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Need a Name Change?

John 1:29-42

God wants to make "all things new" (Revelation 21:5). Becoming a Christian means becoming part of these name-changing energies making "a new creation" (Galatians 6: 15), "a new heaven and a new earth" (2 Peter 3: 13), "a new human" (Colossians 3:10), and "a new Jerusalem" (Revelation 21:2).


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Wooden Surgery

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

Only the cross of Jesus Christ can heal, bind together and make whole the wounded, the wound-up, the worn-down.


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Jesus Judo

Matthew 5:1-12

The essence of the Beatitudes is expressed in Matthew 5:39 - "Do not resist evil." The Beatitudes outline a technique of Jesus Judo for dealing with attack and abuse, conflict and competition.


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Wanted: A Lasting Marriage. Only Good Chemists, Bad mathematicians, Expert Soul-O-Flexors Need Apply

Mark 10:2-16

The words "married life" need not be an oxymoron.

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When Too Much Can Be Too Little

Mark 10:17-31

True wisdom is learning how to "want what we already have."

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The Double Cross

Mark 10:35-45

Some of the disciples felt double-crossed: the more vertical their relationship with God, the more horizontal their relationship with others.

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A 24-7-365 God

Hebrews 7:23-28

God can be a 24-7-365 God because Jesus was a 1-time Savior.

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The World's Fittest Human

Mark 12:28-34

Jesus, as our spiritual fitness trainer, focuses on four areas: heart, mind, soul and strength.

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The Widow's Might

Mark 12:38-44

We can measure our life in dollars and cents, or use the spiritual scales of love, service and friendship.

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The Great Postmodern Soul Train

Mark 13:1-8

In a culture where even atheists claim to have "spirituality," it’s time for the church to soul out.

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The Riddler

John 18:33-37 (plus 38)

The answer to Pilate’s question is that truth is not merely propositional but experiential.

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An Advent Attitude

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

At Christmas time, the church needs an Advent attitude.

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A New Word for an Old World

Luke 3:1-6

Christians are Post-Resurrection people living in a Pre-Christian world.

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Hale-Bopp Comet and the Star of Bethlehem

Luke 3:7-18

The Star of Bethlehem is a celestial signal-flare telling us where to find the truth.

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Stable-Time

Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)

The messy, stable-times of our lives can become the most meaninful, stable times of our lives

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The Perfect Time to Lose Your Luggage

Colossians 3:12-17

The worst thing you can do is to carry the luggage of resentment and bitterness into the New Year.

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Soul-Scrubbing

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Humility is a kind of stack-scrubber that cleanses our smelliest selves by binding us to the power of Christ.

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The Gravity of Grace

Ephesians 1:3-14

In a zero-morality culture, the church must pump up the atmosphere with the gravity of grace.

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UpTime

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Downtime is uptime if it's God's time

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The Monster Under Megan's Bed

John 6:1-21

We need to get rid of the monsters which are threatening the world God has created.

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The Ultimate Soul Food

John 6:24-35

Jesus has two metaphors for himself: bread and water.

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Close the Loopholes

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

It is through life's cracks and loopholes that evil dynamics gain entrance.

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God's in Charge (so shut up!)

Ephesians 5:15-20

Only when we Shut Down can we Power Up!

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Armageddon Anxiety

John 6:56-69

The postmodern culture is coping with Armageddon Anxiety and catching millennial fever.

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Had-To

James 1:17-27

There shouldn't be any culture shock when we get to heaven if we bring a little bit of heaven to earth now.

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How Do You Sell A Vacuum Cleaner?

Mark 7:24-37

There is only one way to sell a vacuum cleaner: turn it on and use it.

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Quenching St. Anthony's Fire

Mark 8:27-38

The world invites us to climb ladders; the gospel invites us to lift crosses.

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Waging Wisdom

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a

While the world wages war, Christians are called to wage wisdom.

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What Makes You Cry?

Mark 9:38-50

It is okay to shed tears, but are we crying about the right things?

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A Say-so Spirituality

John 20:19-31

As God sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us

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Count Your Wows!

Luke 24:36b-48

It is time the church rid itself of its delight deficit

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The Lord Is a Shoving Leopard

John 10:11-18

There is only one Shepherd -- the rest of us are sheep. The best we can hope for is to be sheep dogs keeping the flock focused on the Shepherd.

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Desperately Seeking Something

Acts 8:26-40

The Ethiopian eunuch embodies a classic model of a spiritual seeker.


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I Love You, Man... And I Don't Want Your Beer.

John 15:9-17

Disciples of Jesus are "commanded" to build grace-based communities of joy, forgiveness and love.

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Written in Red

1 John 5:9-13

The church offers the world God's loveblood; God's love for the world is "written in red."


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Dare Care

Acts 2:1-21

If we want transformation, we must risk chaos of the chrysalis. Risk is another word for faith.


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The Hand, the Lamb and the Dove

John 3:1-17

To exist in God is to exist in trinitarian relationships with the world.


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Everyone's a Fundamentalist About Something

Mark 2:23-3:6

We are all fundamentalists about something. Jesus was a "Love Fundamentalist."


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Build a Bridge and Get Over It

Mark 3:20-35

Jesus built bridges between the divergent unities of his day

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Parable Power

Mark 4:26-34

Each one of us is in the midst of writing our own gospel-our own Good News story.

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Take an Ember Day

Mark 4:35-41

How can we regroup, catch our breath, decompress, get some rest and regain our strength?

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Soulistic Health

Mark 5:21-43

Jesus calls each of us to be whole. But what does "whole" mean?

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Keep the Faith & Keep Fit

2 Kings 5:1-14

We live in a culture that says keeping fit is keeping the faith. The gospel tells the world that keeping the faith is the key to keeping fit.

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Virtue Reality Part 1

Colossians 1:1-14

The Christ-in-you virtue of generosity, tolerance and forgiveness provide a rich environment where Christian love can thrive and grow.

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Virtue Reality Part 2

Colossians 1:15-28

The Christ-in-you virtues of fidelity, courage and restraint complete the theological scaffolding essential for a fully developed Christian life.

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Be a Little Bit Weird

Hosea 1:2-10

Jesus does not propose an easy Way, an easy Truth or an easy Life. Jesus' Way, Truth and Life are just a little bit weird.

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Not Ready For Prime Time

Luke 11:1-13

The Lord's Prayer, a prayer that invites God's kingdom to be established right in our back yard, is not an easy prayer to pray.

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Expire-ment Planning

Luke 12:13-21

Retirement planning is certainly a legitimate concern, but have we done any planning for life after retirement

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A Magnificent Obsession

Hosea 11:1-11

God's obsession with humanity has led God to mix with the rabble of the earth and the rubble of human disobedience. Perhaps it is time to make God our "magnificent obsession.

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Life Is Difficult, but...

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Faith is what enables us to experience and explore the goodness of God in the midst of life's greatest difficulties. Faith allows God to do the best of things in our life in the worst of times in our life.

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Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

Isaiah 1:1, 10-20

William Holman Hunt's picture, "The Light of the World" provides a theological insight into Jesus' call to "Come out" and be a part of what God is doing in the World

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Have a Wonder-full Life

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

There is wonder all around us, but too often we are blind to its beauty and power

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A Passion-Driven Church

Hebrews 12:18-29

God fights fire with fire. In a world ablaze in sin and suffering, God needs passion-driven people who have been fired up by a touch of the divine Passion

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Ten Simple Ways to Add Years, Not Fears, to Your Life

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

By incorporating 10 small steps into your normal routine, you can help your faith create a future that outstrips your fears.

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Can Spam Hold Water?

Jeremiah 2:4-13

The church is bombarded with "Spam" messages: that God can be found anywhere, that accepting Jesus is all we need to do, that the church is here to meet our needs. Against such unsatisfying claims, the words of Jeremiah and the gospel of Jesus are living water that gushes up to eternal life.

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Medically Unnecessary

Acts 9:36-43

HMOs and modern medicine may bring healing to the body, but only faith can bring health to the soul. Prayer has absolutely no failure rate in bridging the gap between the human and the divine; it connects us with the lord, who is the source of all health and wholeness.

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The Importance of Being Earnest

Revelation 7:9-17

Although an "earnest" is a legal term denoting a deposit made that renders a contract binding, it is also a promise. And that is precisely what the church is: a promise which brings divine light into a darkened world.

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The Gospel Truth

Revelation 21:1-6

The "gospel truth" has entered the language as a promise against lying. In fact, the genuine gospel truth is a transformational truth which proclaims that God is with us; the Beginning, Center and End of all creation!

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Godspeed!

Acts 16:9-15

When our sails are filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit, we are able to rechart the direction of our lives, even if the Spirit blows us in an unexpected direction!

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The Paul Principle

Acts 16:16-34

When we speak the truth, we may be praised or criticized. For those who understand the Paul Principle, it makes no difference. Praise, blame; it's all the same as long as God is glorified.

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The Church's Greatest Art Treasures

Romans 8:14-17

The church has many great art treasures, but we don't need to visit the Louvre, the Ufii or the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, to see them. They might be much closer to us than we realize!

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Where Wisdom

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Wisdom is not something we possess, but rather something that possesses us, coming at crucial moments in life, providing guidance, a gift delivered by the grace of God.l We don't find wisdom; wisdom finds us.

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SpiritPerfect for Dummies

John 16:12-15

Jesus promised a group of worried disciples that they would get a guide to help them use the vital truth that he had passed on tho them. This "Guide for Dummies" is the Holy Spirit, who makes the truth accessible to all believers no matter how stiff-necked, closed-minded, thin-skinned or hardhearted.

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Other People's Gardens

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14) 15-21a

When we know who we are and who we are to God, we are less likely to get mixed up in Naboth's field. Instead, we will use power as Jesus modeled its use: We get it to give it away.

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Much Love

Luke 7:36-8:3

The greater the forgiveness, the greater the love. We can be "Much Love" Christians because we are "Much Forgiven" Christians.

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Titanic Possessions

Luke 8:26-39

To escape being possessed by our possessions, we must keep a lifeboat close at hand, and that lifeboat, constructed out of the rough, splintered wood of the cross, will keep us afloat in the redemptive love of Jesus Christ.

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Walk On

Luke 9:51-62

The walk of WholeLife Discipleship involves three components: Walk along, walk away and walk on.

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Good to Go

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14

When we feel bad-to-go, or good-to-stay, God's double-dose Spirit empowers us to go beyond the nostalgia of yesterday into the opportunities of tomorrow, beyond the myth and into the reality, and beyond the old ways of doing business to new, inventive ways of faithful discipleship.

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Go There! but Don't Go There!

Luke 4:1-13

When we find ourselves disoriented in a world of glittering and confusing temptations, the scriptures offer a spiritual positioning system to help us know where to go and where not to go.

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Cross-Friendly Christians

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Paul argues that there are too many "enemies of the cross." But what does it mean to be a cross-friendly Christian?

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The 4 Rules of Soul Skiing

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

Soul-skiers, know that life at high altitudes is not rational, logical or predictable but is a counter-intuitive faith journey of both spills and thrills!

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The Greatest Story on Earth

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Although we live in a renaissance age of galactic imaginations and artistic flowerings, the old stories are still the best. They continue to engage and enthrall us because they embody truths about life that remain constant throughout the ages.

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A World of White Slippers, Purple Dresses and Pink Sneakers

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

The parable of the "prodigal son" is a reminder that the church is like a worldwide "lost and found" for all the lost souls of this life.

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Be a Spoon

Philippians 3:4b-14

Christians are like silverware. Some are knives, cutting others down to size; some are forks, grabbing and stabbing. Christ calls us to be spoons, because spoons have only one purpose: They are designed to serve.

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Don't Just Hang In There!

Isaiah 50:4-9a

The journey of life is filled with conflicts, contests and con-artists. Because Jesus "hung in there" for us, we can have our lives back and "stay and stand in there."

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First Rock from the Son

John 20:1-18

God is in the rock removal business. Why, then, do we let the rock roll back in front of an empty tomb? Why do we let it bar us from enjoying the visible evidence of God's presence in our lives?

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Church Behaving Badly

Acts 10:34-43

A church which fails to reveal the risen Christ, which is unable to be a witness and to bear a witness, is a church which is behaving badly!

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Intention Deficit Disorder

Acts 5:27-32

We have an I.D.D. problem if we are in ministry without clear intentions, or are suffering from too many good intentions. Jesus can help us have the right intentions!

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Believe It or Not!

John 20:19-31

Has Thomas been unfairly branded as a doubter? If so, why has the Christian community developed such a negative attitude toward doubt?

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Who Was That Masked Man?

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)

Our symbol as Christians is not the mask of a television crusader but the cross of the risen Christ. And although both the Masked Crusader and Jesus rescue the needy, Jesus doesn't ride off into the sunset. He stays with us throughout our life journey.

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The Christ-Files

John 21:1-19

The events in Galilee a little over a week after the death of Jesus are clearly in the realm of the paranormal, outside the range of typical human experience or empirically verifiable phenomena. They come to us from the records which in Greek are known as the "X-files" or the "Christ-files."

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Keep the Stars in Your Eyes

Ephesians 1:3-14

Stargazing might make for lousy fortune-telling, but it makes for great theology.


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Holy Hocus-Pocus!

Mark 1:4-11

The Christian's secret weapon is much more than hocus-pocus; it is the Holy Spirit, the energy of God.


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Hear the Vision?

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

How can Sonic Spirituality help us move from eye to ear, from structure to rhythm, from vision to vibration?


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Five Steps to Takeoff

Mark 1:14-20

Jesus' call to discipleship is an invitation to get off the flight deck and into the cockpit!


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Prophets or Professionals?

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

In its quest for worldly sophistication, the church often prefers to be professional rather than prophetic.


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Chutes or Ladders

Mark 9:2-9

Jesus offers not the "Ladder of Success" but the "Chute of Service."


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The One and Only Original Sin

1 Peter 3:18-22

Sin, original or not, may be a case of bad genes. But at the cross, Jesus has restructured the spiritual DNA.


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Is Your God Big Enough

Mark 8:31-38

Extreme discipleship isn't a risk with an Extreme God!


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The Speaking Absence

John 2:13-22

God, the "Speaking Absence," transforms our empty spaces into holy places.


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The Trace of Grace

Ephesians 2:1-10

A life which displays a trace of grace is faith-based, love-laced and hope-faced.


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Pray Your Way In

John 12:20-33

Prayer is more than praying our way out of trouble; it is praying ourselves into the will of God.


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Mission Impossible

Mark 11:1-11

Prayer is more than praying our way out of trouble; it is praying ourselves into the will of God

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A Go-Ahead God

Mark 16:1-8

God goes ahead of us--even to the point of death--to roll away those stones that are blocking us from life.

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Please, Don't Eat the Snails

Ephesians 1:3-14

Like the medusa jellyfish, we sometimes feast on what appear to be beautiful, attractive "snails." But the snails turn out to be the seven deadly snails which, once they get lodged in our system, eventually consume us.

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That's So God!

Jeremiah 31:7-14

Like Jeremiah, when we get past the divinely appointed distractions of daily life, we can catch a glimpse of the big picture. And when we do, we can only exclaim, "That's soooooo God!"

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From the Communion Line to the Line of Fire

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Not much is heard about the persecution of Christians in the world today. It seems to be a well-kept secret. But it is a reminder to us that to experience God's pleasure does not mean life is all pleasure.

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Stick To Your Knitting

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

There's an expression sometimes directed at those who are meddling where they shouldn't be meddling: "They should stick to their own knitting." It is now time for the church to stick to its knitting -- knitting a web of love-relationships into the strongest structure known in the universe, a structure so strong nothing can prevail against it.

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Does Jesus Care Who Wins This Game?

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

God is not keeping score to see if we "win" or "lose" the small skirmishes that we think occupy so much of our time and energy at work and at home. But God is concerned with how we conduct ourselves in the "game." Are we able to shift our vision away from ourselves and see ourselves as part of a large "team" energized to serve God?

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Grab a Piece of the P.I.E.!

Luke 4:14-21

The church is being called to a P.I.E. ministry: outreach which is Participative, Interactive and Experiential.

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The Onlys

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Sometimes we use "But I'm only..." as an excuse to evade the call of God. But God does not dial wrong numbers. In God's infinite wisdom, God has called and chosen us, a community of "onlys," to proclaim the Good News.

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WWJD

Luke 5:1-11

Would you forfeit a fortune in fish to be a faith follower of Jesus? That's precisely what Simon Peter did. It might not always be comfortable to walk in Jesus' steps, but, like Peter, we can take the first step.

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Duck Preachers in Duck Churches

Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13)

Worship happens wherever God is radically present, and the result is unplanned, unrehearsed and uncontrollable.

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Dream On!

Luke 6:17-26

We were not put on this earth merely to "make a difference." We were put on this earth to make the world different.

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The Tunnel at the End of the Light

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

The Transfiguration does not call us to be "a light at the end of the tunnel" waiting for people lost in the dark to blunder their way toward us. The church is to take the torch of the Good News boldly into the tunnel, lurking outside our circle of light.

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What's Worth Saving?

Jeremiah 31:7-14

The 20th century is history, but a retrospective look suggests that there are some things worth keeping from this century which will soon fade from memory. Jeremiah, too. reminds us that eternal values are always worth saving.

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From Chaos to Creativity

Genesis 1:1-5

It can be difficult to balance chaos and order. With too much structure, creativity can be stifled. Too much chaos, however, seems to breed aimlessness. The church needs to find this balance which allows chaos and flexibility to inaugurate new horizons of creativity in 21C.

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The Eli Implant

1 Samuel 3:1-10(11-20)

The cochlear implant has revolutionized our ability to hear, and new technologies are in the works to enhance all of our senses. It is a reminder that too often our spiritual hearing is impaired, and like Samuel, we need an implant to hear the voice of God.

January 23, 2000

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Angling Without an Angle

Mark 1:14-20

He always loved fishing. But now Denny Brauer has gone big time with his ESPN fishing show, The Bass Class. Jesus was big on fishing, too. When Jesus takes us fishing he not only shows us where the fish are, but reminds us that it's "no limit" fishing.

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Schtucke in Schadenfreude

Jonah 3:1-5,10

Jonah's having a whale of a time in Nineveh preaching hellfire and brimstone — until the city repents, and God grants the historic enemy of Israel a reprieve. Like us, he had grown accustomed to taking perverse delight in someone else's misfortune. Perhaps it's time for us to stop working for our own self-interest and focus on the glory of God and the growth of the kingdom.

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Holiness in the Huddle

Mark 1:21-28

Many of the Super Bowl victors today will no doubt give God the credit for their success. In a little village of Galilee, Jesus was in the huddle calling the shots that gave a man his life back. He called for a two-point conversion, and a man possessed came out the winner.

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The Mulligan Moment

Mark 1:29-39

Could it actually be better for you to take in a round of golf on Sunday morning instead of worshiping in Church? Maybe. Maybe not. But some suggest that it's wise to know when to get away and find a place of peace and sanctuary. Jesus knew the importance of getting away, and he had to leave his disciples to do it.

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The Muddy Labyrinth

2 Kings 5:1-14

Labyrinths, created on ancient patterns dating back 6000 years, are a hot draw for those seeking spiritual healing. Naaman, the Syrian bureaucrat, was on a labyrinthian journey of his own which took him reluctantly from his familiar surroundings to a prophetic practitioner of alternative medicine in Israel.

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Remote Control

Psalm 41

In a culture of control, it's not surprising that the most popular tool to stay in control is a device that allows us to do it at a distance — remotely. In this prayerful psalm, we are reminded that prayer cannot be offered remotely and at a distance. It is not a power pulse for us to use when we desperately want something. Instead, it is most effective when we get up close to the poor, the needy and outcasts, and our neighbors who most need our intercession.

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The Naughty, the Nasty and the Nauseating

Mark 2:1-12

Sometimes people are remembered, not for the good they may have done, but for one glaring mistake. The nameless friends of the paralytic in today's gospel lesson, however, are remembered for the moment when they were able to think outside the house, and find an unconventional, unorthodox but stunningly successful way to get their friend into the presence of Jesus. Can we do less?

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Matthew Visits Monster.com

Mark 2:13-22

Levi wakes up on a Monday morning in a dead-end job collecting taxes for Caesar and a hefty surcharge for himself. Levi, known to us as Matthew, is ripe for a career change, and here's no bigger career changer that Jesus.

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How's My Living

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Ever cozy up to a semi on the freeway and see the invitation affixed to the rear doors inviting you to monitor the driver's highway habits? How's My Driving? it asks. Call 1 800 U CAN TELL. Some of the apostle Paul's critics have been complaining about his driving. His driving, he insists, is just fine, thank you very much. But what about ours?

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Forget Forgiveness

Psalm 50:1-6

The Bible teaches us to forgive. Psychologists tell us that failure to do so can cause bitterness and an enduring blight on our lives. But are there good reasons sometimes not to forgive?

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Filming the Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-9

Just when you think that it's safe to convert your Super 8 movies to video, they come along with DVD. Historians are having similar problems as technology advances so fast that they face the dilemma of how to store history. Peter, like us, faces the same crisis: How should we preserve the mountaintop spiritual experiences that come into our lives?

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Death in Freeze-Frame

1 Peter 3:18-22

When the public experiences a public loss, such as the death of the Challenger astronauts, Princess Di or John F. Kennedy, Jr., it goes through public mourning rituals that create a collective solidarity in a manner no other event does. Likewise, the death of Jesus marks history as a guidepost, an event that links believers to each other.

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Regis and Jesus: Same Questions, Different Answers

Mark 8:31-38

The greedstakes are on! ABC and Fox network are cashing in on millionaire mania with Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? and Greed. But Jesus has a question that might stump us all.

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When the Church Said Yes to Ethnic Cleansing

Mark 8:31-38

The Orthodox Church said too little too late in last year's war in Serbia. Why is it so easy for the church to become captive to the culture?

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Yo Quiero Church!

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Developing "Rootmaps" which help a company determine its corporate direction is the latest corporate strategy to help businesses sharpen their focus. Has the church lost its bearing? Is it time to re-map our mission in the world?

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The Stone V-Chip

Exodus 20:1-17

The V-chip is now available for parents to program so that little Hannah is not watching shows with Adult content. The chip is not unlike the stone tablets of do's and don'ts Moses brought down the mountain with him.

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The MEGO Factor

Ephesians 2:1-10

Christians are instrument flyers, not visual flyers. At the point of disorientation, the Christian pilot must rely on his instruments and not trust his senses..

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Ain't Got time to Bleed

John 12:20-33

The governor's act is wearing thin. There's a difference between being cool and candid, and being cranky and a crackpot. Jesse The Body Ventura is not even close to Jesus the Body Christ. Jesus had time to bleed.

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The Dirt on Da Vinci

Mark 14:1-15:47

It has taken two decades and $8 million to scrape 500 years of grime off of one of the world's most famous paintings. Not everyone is happy about the results. If Jesus has become a murky figure in a painting, there's a strong possibility that he's out-of-sight in our lives as well. It's time for some hard work to bring him to the foreground once again.

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Coffin Confusion

John 20:1-18

Boomers, the Me generation, are having it their way, even in death. They're choosing coffins, their tomb rooms, as a final statement about themselves. But, God was the first to issue such a statement when he showed the world an empty tomb.

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Pokemon Power

John 20:19-31

It's a stretch to compare Ash Ketchum to Jesus the Christ. But kids catch on to the strategy in a nanosecond. It takes the church millenniums. In this game, children understand that to win you need to multiply yourself.

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The Navajo Investment Club

Acts 4:32-35

A Boston firm couldn't get the Navajos to invest when he pitched investing as a strategy for the future. But when investing was pitched as a way to help our neighbors, these Southwest Native Americans got busy

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Radical Chick

1 John 3:1-7

Feral Cheryl has been called the "bastard love child of Barbie and Ken." She doesn't look at all like Barbie or Ken. That's the charge made against Christians, too. They sometimes don't at all look like God. So, then, what are Christians supposed to look like?

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When Your Roots Don't Reach the Water

Psalm 4

Even disciples run into depression, and what could be even more depressing is learning that it's not going away. But Christians mucking their way through melancholy can still be whole.

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Jesus Jolt

Acts 4:5-12

Flight attendants have them; so do at-risk heart patients. They're portable defibrillators and they are saving lives. Sounds like something the church could use when sliding into lethal lethargy.

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Bust-out Love

John 10:11-18

The NAACP has been proactive in owning domain names that hate groups might want to use. There's a lesson there for all of us: It's time to adopt a first-strike policy against injustice.

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Twisted Truth

1 John 4:7-21

If it is digital it's dangerous. No information is safe. It can be altered and twisted. But the apostle John says there is one truth that can't be twisted.

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The O Zone

John 15:9-17

Cyrano Sciences and DigiScents is putting its money where its nose is. Soon, you may have a hand-held computer that can detect pollution, spoilage and diseases. Or, how would you like to smell those French fries shown on television? Odor is important even for Christians.

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Hog Heaven

John 17:6-19

Harley Davidson almost went under until it embraced its outlaw image. Jesus, likewise, in this great prayer, hopes that his disciples will embrace the outlaw within.

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Muggles No More

Acts 2:1-21

Harry Potter knows what a Muggle is. So did Peter at Pentecost. His message promised to turn the disciples from Muggle people into miracle workers

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Begging Off of Bigelow's Ship

Isaiah 6:1-8

Congress has cleared the way for private enterprise to ferry tourists to outer space. One corporation has plans for a lunar hotel, and sightseeing excursions. But where does God want us to go? Isaiah receives a surprising, but simple answer.

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Spiritual RealAge

John 3:1-17

RealAge, say some experts, is not the age of the body, but the age of the spirit. So how can we stay young, engaged, vibrant and alive spiritually?

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High Rollers

Mark 4:35-41

Kids this summer are flocking to roller coasters: Thunderbolt, Mega Zeph, and Millennium Force. The disciples, like us, were caught rocking and rolling in a storm until Jesus came along. But can we expect life to be without its ups and downs?

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The Goliath Project

1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

The world needs Davids, not Goliaths. while eugenics hopes to build a superior race, God has given us all the moral ingredients to be first-rate giant killers

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Debriefing Grief

2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27

A battle is fought, and when the dust settles, thousands lie dead on the battlefield, including David's best friend Jonathan. In today's psychological climate, the grief brigade would descend on the scene urging David to feel it and heal it. Is this always the best approach to dealing with grief?.

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Hollywood Holiness

Mark 6:1-13

Sixpence None the Richer, dc Talk, Jars of Clay and Insyderz are Christian bands giving us Jesus punk, techno-dance, alternative rock and blue-eyed soul. We may not like the music or we may even suspect that some of these artists are using the name of Jesus to catch the wave of secular success. But we shouldn't let that obscure the fact that we are all called to be both artists and the art for an observing world.

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Go BASE!

Ephesians 1:3-14

Daredevils are jumping off of Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth to get a thrill. It's a handy metaphor for redefining our understanding of God's call to reach the world with the gospel.

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The Door Close Button

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

There's nothing more irritating than to stand around and wait. That's why there's a "Door-Close" button in the elevator. Wouldn't want to wait an extra two or three seconds for the door to close on its own. Living in a ramped-up world infected with hurry sickness, we are perhaps ready to take Jesus' advice to take a break and get some rest.


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Spa Christianity

Ephesians 3:14-21

We love to be pampered. Just consider the growing number of spas offering everything from seaweed wraps to saltglow body treatments. The apostle Paul, however, makes it clear that the church is no place to get comfortable or be reluctant to reach out to others for fear they might dirty our spa water

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Sex and the City

2 Samuel 11:1-15

The tale of Bathsheba and David sounds like an episode from HBO's Emmy award -winning series Sex and the City. but there are important differences. The bottom line, however, is that David sinned big time, and had to live with the consequences

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Fruit Flies and Biting Midges

Ephesians 4:1-16

Ever wonder how flies walk on walls without falling into your soup? That's the question scientists studying adhesives ponder. In this text, Paul looks at the spiritual zygology of the church. What holds us together?

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Build the Perfect Man

2 samuel 11:26-12:13a

Is the perfect man out there? Probably not. It certainly is not David, as the prophet Nathan points out. Yet, David responds to Nathan's condemnation — perfectly. And therein lies a lesson for all.

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The Lotus Effect

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

The Lotus blossom, the national flower of India, is famous for the sterling whiteness of its petals. What makes this remarkable is that the lotus thrives in muddy, dirty water. Not hard to spot the spiritual link here. But there's more!

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Just Say Yes to Bacon

John 6:35, 41-51

The diet wars are heating up. Some argue that heaping your plate with eggs, sausage and bacon is a good idea. Perhaps. Jesus, however, has another idea, which, if followed, will help us never to hunger or thirst again.

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The Golden Age of Kairos

Ephesians 5:15-20

The Opportunity Century is making millionaires out of kids. And the rest of us, if we're not trying to make money, are taking advantage of new technological opportunities to become beautiful and brilliant. The apostle Paul, however, weighs in with his own version of what it means to kink the kairos.

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Karate Klergy

Ephesians 6:10-20

Clergy persons are teaching kids the martial arts. It's proving to be an effective tool to reach youngsters with the "gospel of peace." Some complain, however, about the imagery of violence. How should we understand Paul's text about "putting on the whole armor of God"?

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Peekaboo Babies

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Photo radar vans monitor our speed and webcams check on school kinds, employees and pedestrians. You may not like being watched by Big Brother, but what’s it like being observed by a Big God?

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FriendShifts

James 2:1-10, 11-13, 14-17

It’s normal to want friends and to enjoy the friends we have. It’s a lot harder to keep them once we have them. That’s why it’s important to keep faith with our friends and with God.

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It's All About You

Mark 8:27-38

Awash in cultural narcissism, it’s hard not to get caught up in the it's-all-about-me mentality. The apostle Peter gets a chance to set the record straight and gives us a glimpse of who it’s all about.

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Lies My Sunday School Teacher Taught Me

James 3:1-12

If we don’t know much about geography, or history, or philosophy, we’re likely to blame our teachers. It’s even worse when we have to unlearn what we’ve been taught. The apostle James must have some good reasons for saying that not everyone should teach

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Survival in Borneo

Mark 9:30-37

CBS television has given us their “Survival” series, and the Eco-Challenge Expedition Race 2000 has just run its course. So what do these endurance contests tell us about what it means to be a winner?

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Women for Wire

Proverbs 31:10-31

Women are starting more brick-and-mortar and click-and-order companies than men. In fact, they’re everywhere – in financial planning, fitness training, clothing design and more. So is Proverbs’ portrait of a young woman hopelessly out of date?

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Rules of Engagement

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22

The military, the FBI, NATO, and even our schools have strict regulations concerning when, where and how to intervene in a crisis. Esther and Mordecai, in desperate times, are winging it in a dangerous attempt to save the lives of their people. Their experience still provides a lesson for us today.

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How to Survive a Shark Attack

Mark 10:2-16

The numbers continue to mount. Divorce seems as pandemic as ever. Perhaps we have trouble shedding our romantic fantasies of what a marriage should look like. We’re unprepared for the worse case scenario

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Addiction Affliction

Mark 10:17-31

Excuses are easier to come by when we’ve let someone down, disappointed others, or failed to keep our promises. Today it’s easier than ever to avoid responsibility by embracing the addiction du jour. Jesus doesn’t buy it. He invites us to forsake our addictions, our excuses, our whining – and to follow him.

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Listen For the Hum

Job 38:1-7 (34-41)

Suffering, by definition, is not a pleasant experience. We can understand why Job is confused, alienated and depressed. What makes it worse for both him and us is the suspicion that God is a co-conspirator in our affliction.

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A God Geek

Mark 10:35-45

Most people wouldn’t mind 15 minutes of fame. We have an aversion to being average and the mundane can quickly become mind-numbing and boring. Perhaps that’s what’s behind the disciples who wanted to be lifted above the rest. Jesus redefines what it means to be great.

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Saint Search

Mark 12:28-34

Pasta eaters have their own patron saint. So do tax collectors, beggars, seekers of lost causes, and a host of others. But just who is a saint? Jesus sets some standards to help us in our search.

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Sudden Wealth Syndrome

Mark 12:38-44

The number of millionaires in the United States has risen an astonishing 40% since 1997. Yet new evidence shows that many of the nouveau riche are uncomfortable with their wealth. Not a problem for the widow of this text.

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Witness for the Execution

Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

We’ll stop to gawk at a highway accident, and we’re likely to cheer when the mayhem breaks out at a hockey game. But witnessing the execution of a death row inmate is something else again. Some states are having a hard time finding the necessary witnesses.

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The Leipziger Organist

Psalm 100

In 1967, Walter Ulbricht, head of the Communist Party in East Germany, blew up the Universitatkirche which was home to the famous organ built by Johann Scheiber in the 18th century. Now, a new church and new organ has been built on the 250th anniversary of the death of the one organist who arguably taught the world more about praise and thanksgiving than anyone else.

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Eat Your Own Dog Food

John 18:33-37

Corporate execs are being told to eat their own dog food. What does that mean? Could the advice be something Christians should consider?

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The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak

2 Samuel 23:1-7

The national memorial for those who died in the fighting during WWII has been on the drawing boards for years. Groundbreaking was scheduled for this month. Meanwhile, WWII vets are dying at the rate of 1,000 a day. So what is a monument anyway? How will we be remembered?

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The Riddle of the Christ

Psalm 25:1-10

The Bethlehem event provides no easy answers. You’ll want to take your questions there nonetheless.

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Hazardous Holidays

Psalm 25:1-10

Some economists say that prosperity isn’t always good for us, and in fact, can have serious negative effects. Can this principle explain why during Advent we sometimes have trouble finding our way to God?

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Dry-Stone Church

Philippians 1:3-11

For dry-stone wallers, cement is a sin. A good wall without cement will last for hundreds of years. Mortar, on the other hand, requires constant attention. And therein lies a lesson for the church.

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Korsakoff's Psychosis

Luke 1:68-79

When you have large gaps in your memory, you’re likely to create a fiction to fill the gaps. No wonder Pilate asks, “What is truth?” Sadly, he preferred fiction to the truth that sets us free.

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Come Children, Die

Isaiah 12:2-6

While the world prepares to celebrate the birth of the Child, thousands of child soldiers around the world are dying every year fighting adult wars. The killing must stop.

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The Bethlehem Disconnect

Micah 5:2-5a

It was a total disconnect for Mary and Joseph when they arrived in this village. Today, many people would love to unplug and get away from phones, computers, e-mail, palm pilots and the Internet. What Bethlehem shows us, however, is how a loving God chose to reconnect with a disconnected people.

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The Big Aristotle

Colossians 3:12-17

The Big and the Little Aristotle, a Boston University professor and the Big Apostle all agree on one thing: Virtue isn’t something that happens overnight.

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Ask Mr. Manners

Luke 14:1, 7-14

Humility is an elusive virtue. We can easily spot it in others, but seeing it in ourselves is dangerous and self-serving.

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The Loyalty of Aaron Feuerstein

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

Loyalty is a quaint virtue that has all but disappeared from the moral/ethical landscape. Just when we think it's an "every person for himself" world, someone shows us otherwise.

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Gig

Romans 12:1-8

The way we toss around the word "layperson," you'd think the people of God were a bunch of amateurs. While there are many ways of earning a living, God's calling takes us to another level: vocation. Nothing amateurish about it.

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Trying Childhood

Luke 14:25-33

The time has come for minivan moms and dads to put their vehicles in park. If our kids can give childhood a try, they may not have such a trying childhood.

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Sin at the 30th Magnitude

Luke 15:1-10

The European Very Large Telescope, when completed in 2003, will enable scientists to see what they've never seen before. Telescopes keep getting bigger because of one, simple principle: the larger the mirror, the more we see.

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Prayer Chain Pain

1 Timothy 2:1-7

Your prayer request went out innocently enough in an e-mail. Within weeks, you're inundated with 10,000 responses and it seems as if the whole world knows your most intimate secrets. Is this what prayer is all about?

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Miracle at Coogan's Bluff

1 Timothy 6:6-19

The "shot heard around the world" was great for the New York Giants, but not-so-great for a lanky pitcher brought in to save a win for the Brooklyn Dodgers. How do you find peace when you're on the other side of someone else's miracle?

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Water Worries

Luke 16:19-31

In the United States, water is generally abundant. And if we're not satisfied with tap water, we've got the money to buy the bottled variety, and make our choice from among 700 brands. But what can we do to shake our spiritual thirst?

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Lamé Faith

2 Timothy 1:1-14

Biomedical technology is churning out some glitzy and funky devices to monitor our health 24/7. Smart underwear, fanny packs, and a HeartThrob brooch, for example, are only the beginning. Yet none of this digital data says anything about the strength of our faith.

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Podunk Power

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

The ancient prophet addresses a troubling question: How do the people of God respond when confronted by a culture that is often hostile to it's values? His answer corresponds surprisingly with new research about what makes a good hometown.

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The Prayer Prosthesis

Luke 18:1-8

She was found in burial chamber TT-95 in Upper Egypt. Although the 3,000 year-old mummy was remarkably well-preserved, she attracted little attention until archaeologists took a closer look at her big toe.

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The Noble Prize

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

Mairead Corrigan has one. So does Betty Williams. And Kim Dae-Jung along with Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and a number of others. And they were given it because they fought the good fight. It's an approach to life that the apostle Paul both advocated and emulated.

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Special Sermon: Independence Day - Tina's Got It Wrong

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Some may think we don't need another hero. Perhaps. But Jesus shows us what happens when ordinary people sign up for cross-bearing discipleship. The results are anything but ordinary. Some may think we don't need another hero. Perhaps. But Jesus shows us what happens when ordinary people sign up for cross-bearing discipleship. The results are anything but ordinary.

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The Excommunication of the Hamburger

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

The hamburger is responsible for tearing the fabric of human society - or so says an Italian cleric. Perhaps spiritual fast food is equally destructive to the body of Christ.

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Failure Chic

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Americans love a good success story. Well, they did until recently. The National Speakers Bureau reports that the rags-to-riches motivational speech is passé. What could be more compelling than success?

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Jurassic Bark

Amos 7:7-17

Hang on to your armrests and prepare for primal fear, toothy terror and bone-crunching horror. Jurassic Park 3 opens this week. Can't get into the movie? Check out the prophet Amos!

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Cut Flower Church

Colossians 1:1-14

The church is no potted plant. Yet, the last thing the apostle Paul wants of the Colossian church is a church that merely looks and smells pretty.

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The Mary and Martha Think-Off

Luke 10:38-42

The Great American Think-Off takes place annually in a small town in Minnesota. Some very important questions are raised in these philosophical chat-offs. A meeting in a small town in Judea has produced another question for us to ponder.

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The Darwin Awards

Hosea 1:2-10

If the Darwinian notion of natural selection — whereby only the fit survive — has any merit, then some people are doing the human gene pool a favor by ingeniously, and stupidly, removing themselves from it. Now, about Hosea ...

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Barn-Building Fools

Luke 12:13-21

The architecture of the American barn that dots our rural landscape was often inspired by European design, which itself borrowed heavily from the cathedral template. With such a rich ecclesiastical tradition in its past, barn-building can't be bad, right?

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The Scrupulosity Sufferers

Colossians 3:1-11

For many unfortunate victims, faith and religious practice have become a terrifying and compulsive-obsessive experience. This is not what the apostle had in mind when he urged the Colossians to "put to death" whatever belongs to our earthly nature.

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The Faith 500

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

The culture has become fond of lists. That's why we check out the Best Songs of the 20th Century or a list of the World's Richest People, or The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, etc. So who do you suppose made it on the list of the Bible's Most Influential People of Faith?

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To Hell and Back

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

You thought the Eco-Challenge Race was tough, or the CBS Survivor show was challenging. Check out the incredible Ironman and the Xterra triathlons! Then go to this text and take a look at the "faith-athlon" described here.

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Scripture Slam

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Kids are getting into poetry — both reading it and slamming in some stanzas of their own. Jeremiah was not sure he could get the knack of this preaching and prophesying thing. That's why he had a lot to learn about slammin' Scripture

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Your 60-Second Life

Acts 9:36-43

Dan Hurley's good. He's in demand. He's a novelist who will write your life story in a minute or less. More than 20,000 people have asked him to do it. It's a task not much different from the one the biblical writer faced when confronted with the life of a seamstress from Joppa.

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Smokejumping

John 13:31-35

In the next three months, courageous men and women will be putting out fires from Maine to Southern California and points in between. At times, Jesus calls us to leap into the flames, and when he does, it's gonna take some smokejumpin' love to pull it off.

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The Temptation Vaccination

John 14:23-29

The pharmaceutical industry is closing in on a new approach to treating addiction, one that takes the temptation out of recreational drugs by neutralizing their effect in the bloodstream. How cool is that? Or not?

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Voyager Church

John 17:20-26

Voyager of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship sailing the seas. Period. What people like about it is that they can enjoy so many options while cruising like, for example, take a walk in the park at sunset, or go out for pizza, or dine at a fancy restaurant and go dancing at an upscale club. In other words, they like a ship that's not a ship. Hmmmmmm.

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Rifters

Acts 16:16-34

Many people are gifted, but only a few are rift-gifted. Walt Disney was one. Paul and Silas were too.

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Concierge God

John 14:8-17 (25-27)

On the freeway and hankering for a double decaf latte? Push a button on your console to dial up a satellite concierge and let her know what you want. She'll direct you to the nearest café where your latte is waiting. Like having a concierge in the sky!

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How Did These Guys Get So Smart?

Acts 2:1-21

Credit cards, automobiles, buildings and all sorts of gadgets are getting smart. So why is it so hard for Christians to get smart-chipped, empowered for smart, effective ministry? What needs to happen to smart-size the church?

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Bambi Must Die

Psalm 8

Christians have often been faulted for their lax views on the environment. In a controversial new book, one author argues that suffering and death are inherent in life. In other words, sometimes Bambi must die. Does the psalm-singer agree?

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Rule-less Living

Galatians 2:15-21

You're speeding down the interstate, veer off the exit ramp and careen down the boulevard toward work. You're stopped by the local constable and given a $60 speeding ticket. You shrug. It's the cost of doing business, and even though you're a committed Christian, breaking some laws just doesn't seem to be a big deal.

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Resurrecting God the Father

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Cowardly preachers are afraid these days to use the male and fatherly metaphor as an appropriate image for God. Yes, it's true. While the abandonment of this image may not be responsible for the feminization of the church, it's time to bring back the Father. It's very un-PC, but it's also very NT, not to speak of OT.

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Brain Training

1 Kings 19:1-15a

Scientists are telling us that we can keep the brain sharp well into our golden years by doing a few simple exercises every day. These routines involve keeping all the senses alert. Perhaps this explains what God was doing to the prophet when Elijah decided to go mountain climbing.

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Restorative Justice

Galatians 3:23-29

A growing movement in the United States and Canada is clamoring for a new approach to justice that suggests the punitive philosophy of the past is not the only answer.

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The Gratification Temptation

Luke 4:1-13

Today's conventional wisdom tells us to get it while we can, however we can, and as fast as we can. Jesus shows us another way.

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The Disappearing Sample Lady

Romans 10:8b-13

Treat-dispensing sample ladies are being snapped up by Wal-Mart and Safeway, and put in new jobs with better wages. The church faces a similar situation as it searches for people willing to dole out doses of the gospel.

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The Pisa Makers

Luke 13:31-35

Engineers in Italy are working hard to tame the tilt of the world's most famous tower. Their approach to the problem reveals some important lessons for the dangerous "leanings" of our own lives.

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Building Down

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

When we're driven by temptation, it might be best to park those enticements deep in the Word of God.

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Rebreathing Lessons

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Unique breathing devices now enable us to live in totally alien environments, as though we were creatures of a different world. Sounds like something the apostle Paul said 2,000 years ago.

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Carbeque Christians

Philippians 3:4b-14

We used to melt old cars and try to reclaim the steel. Now, new "car shredders" literally chew old clunkers into bits and pieces, and magnets pull out the good from the bad.

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Tiger Jesus

Luke 19:28-40

There's incredible power in a name. If you don't think so, then why isn't Eldrick playing golf, Martha Koystra giving us home-remedy tips, and Jennifer Anistonapoulos appearing in Friends?

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Trucking the Church

Hebrews 10:16-25

For the first time in history, we'll soon be buying more trucks than cars. When these trucks first started rolling about 100 years ago, however, people didn't know what to do with them.

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A Bad Day for Grave Robbers

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

When grave robbers violate a grave, there's only one thing on their minds: treasure. Anyone attempting to pilfer a garden tomb 2,000 years ago, would've discovered that the treasure was already gone!

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Sweaty Feet and Breathing Shoes

John 20:19-31

It's a little-known fact that our feet perspire more than our armpits. How gross is that! Yet, it could be a reminder that the walk of faith can be a sweaty affair.

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Moles in the Church

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)

Moles have adapted to the darkness of life underground. It's a metamorphosis to which we, too, are accustomed. God has something far more transformational in mind.

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Deep Chairness

Isaiah 43:1-7

Bundles of cash are being dumped into research to develop a designer desk chair that pampers our posteriors. All well and good. But Isaiah reminds us that when we need deep comfort, it's time to turn to the Designer.

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Out of the Zoo and Into the Wild

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Biologists have discovered that animals raised in a zoo do not fare well when released into the wild. So what are the chances that Christians, leaving the comfort of church, are going to make it in the world?

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A Passion for Plato's Greek

Nehemiah 8:1-4a, 5-6, 8-10

Greeks finally have a software program for polytonic Greek, a variation of the language, rarely used or read, that uses six accent marks. The Greek approach to this ancient language provides a regrettable paradigm for our attitude to Scripture.

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The Asperger Church

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

This material is no longer available. Thank you for your patience. For more information, contact Timothy Merrill at: tmerrill@HomileticsOnline.com.

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The Volunteerism Blues

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Federal, state and local governments expect the private sector to step in and address many of the social problems of our day. But social agencies cannot find the volunteers to keep up with the frantic requests for their services. How come? Does the church face this problem, too?

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Playing Touch

Luke 5:1-11

We're not through with football quite yet. The Women's Professional Football League just concluded their season, as did the NFL. But the new XFL league is just starting its smash-mouth version - football with an attitude. When Jesus calls us into the discipleship game, however, don't expect to play tackle.

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Bobos for Jesus

Luke 6:17-26

There's a new elite, ruling class in the culture, but they may not be around for long. Jesus was not unfamiliar with the nattering nabobs of his own day, and you could always count on him to have a few choice words to say to those who thought they had it made. In Luke's version of the Beatitudes, Jesus is at his penetrating best.

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Hurry Up and Die

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Some hospice patients are living longer than their prognosis, and it has some government agencies concerned. But the apostle Paul has quite a different take on the situation.

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Scarless Healing

Genesis 45:3-11, 15

How do you hide a scar? That's the question scientists and surgeons are wrestling with these days. The technology they've developed is amazing, but not as incredible as what Jesus can do for wounds that run much deeper.

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Left Behind - For a Reason

1 Corinthians 15:19-26

The Left Behind books point to a future when many may be left holding the bag while Christians disappear into the clouds. But Jesus left us all behind once already. How come?

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A Flat Top Future

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

Mountaintop-removal is a mining technique designed to allow coal companies to tap directly into the coal from the top down. But the price is high. Why would anyone want to shave off the tops of their mountains?

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Fugitive Fools

Psalm 51:1-17

You'd think people had forgotten how to be fugitives. After 20-30 years underground, fugitives, many from the turbulent 60s and early 70s, are turning up and standing trial. King David might have understood. There was a time when he, too, was ready to turn himself in.

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Taking Rescue for Granted

Romans 5:1-11

In a time of global-positioning systems and cellular phones, extreme sports' aficionados and weekenders take greater risks, assuming that they can always be rescued. But too often, we leave our souls in danger by ignoring the rescue offered by Christ.

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Unexpected Evangelists

John 4:5-42

The missionaries our churches sent to Africa, Asia and Latin America were successful beyond our wildest dreams. But now the tables have turned, and immigrants are in our face with passionate spirituality. We are finding out what it's like to be on the receiving end of "missionary" work, and we're not so sure we like it.

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The Placebo Effect

John 9:1-41

Call it a placebo if you want, but a mud-and-spit poultice helped a blind man see. What does Jesus have to pack into our eyes to really open them up?

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To Step with Death

John 11:1-45

Kidspeak gives us a new vocabulary to describe Jesus' all-out war with the grave. He "steps" with death, and achieves a victory that is ours today.

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Saving the Beetle Cat

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Considered beyond salvage by most, she sat, forgotten and worthless, mere bones, until a restorer saw that she had a future. The saver of outcasts believed she could live again. A story of restoration hope.

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The Celebrity Christ

Matthew 21:1-11

If cameras had been around on the first Palm Sunday, the paparazzi would have been all over Jesus. CNN would have covered Jesus' entry in to Jerusalem live, and he'd have made the cover of People magazine. Every citizen with Kodak would have gotten a shot too. But Jesus let neither the adulation of his fans nor the fickle spotlight of celebrity deter him from his mission.

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Body Piercing

Philippians 2:5-11

First it was Christ's fate, now it's a contemporary fad. What do the wounds of Jesus say to the walking wounded today?

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Scream 3

Matthew 28:1-10

There were lots of terrors, blood and guts leading up to Easter. But the resurrection was a whole lot more scary. Graves opened, people long-deceased wandered into town and the tomb guards "became like dead men." But that's not the half of it ...

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Keep Your Fork

1 Peter 1:3-9

Too often "resurrection hope" is a mere rationalization for our inability to change things. Actually, resurrection hope is the clarion call for engagement with the dragons of life and a forward look to something better.

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$376.23

Luke 24:13-35

You miss a lot when you skip supper, including a visit from the Companion - the One-Who-Brings-Bread.

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The City's Green Pastures

Psalm 23

In the most hellish environments, we do not expect to find "green pastures" and "still waters." But even there, dedicated workers for Christ are discovering how to save kids. An inner-city tale with implications for everyone and everywhere

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Parking Lights and Appendixes

1 Peter 2:19-25

Despite our new life in Christ, a lot of us still carry around vestigial traces of our former loyalties, parts of us that have still to evolve. Jesus shows us how far we have yet to grow.

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Empty Calories

John 21:1-19

We have to eat. The body needs fuel. But much of what our spiritual selves are feeding on these days has about zero nutritional value. What to do?

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Intelligence for Dummies

Matthew 25: 1-13

Although the very notion of IQ is widely disputed, IQ tests are still very popular. Research continues on Emotional Intelligence (EI), and many specialists believe people have "multiple intelligences." Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now one lab accident waiting-to-happen. So, could there be such a thing as Spiritual Intelligence (SI)? What are the signs of spiritual wisdom?

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Brave Dames and Wimpettes

Judges 4: 1-7

If you think that the women in the Bible are measly wimpettes, think again. Deborah was not a wimpette; she was one bodacious brave dame. Deborah is not the only BD in the Bible; there are plenty of others, and they all remind us that even strong leaders are expected to live in obedience to God.

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The Hidden Value of Worry

Matthew 25:14-30

Everyone knows that worry usually acts as a paralyzing toxin poisoning our lives with unnecessary anxiety. What is less understood are the effects of good worry. In today's parable, three servants face the same circumstances and share the same concerns. Two make worry work for them; the third works for worry and suffers disastrous consequences.

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The Sound of Soul

Psalm 100

While physicists can reproduce the sound of a clarinet on a computer, they do not understand how a clarinet actually produces sound. They are still looking for the "soul of sound." David, however, the original soul singer, discovered that when our beings vibrate with praise, we become souls in tune with God.

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Are You an EB?

Matthew 25:31-46

You have no problem revealing to others that you believe in God, but choke when it comes to saying the J word: Jesus. You wince when identifying yourself as a Christian. You squirm when grace is said at a public restaurant. If this describes you, you might be an Embarrassed Believer.

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The Generation Lap

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

A generation lap occurs when one generation becomes more prosperous or technologically savvy that the previous generation. Boomers, for example, in many respects, have been lapped by their Buster children. The apostle Paul in this text hopes for the same thing: that we might be spiritually lapped by our children.

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Time to Build God a New Highway

Isaiah 40:1-11

Contrary to the popular perception, we are not building more and more highways in this country. The actual number of highway miles has been steadily shrinking. But we are straightening out the kinks in existing highways and making them wider. Precisely the prophetic advice in today's text.

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Letter to a Man in the Fire

2 Peter 3:8-15a

A medical student dying of cancer writes to a novelist who himself had stared down the specter of cancer asking two questions: Is there a God and does he care? The writer's response parallels Peter's concern when he comforts Christians in the crucible of suffering.

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Billboards From God

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

More than 10,000 little notes from God are showing up on billboards across the country. Two thousand years ago, Bethlehem became the site of the biggest billboard from God ever.

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Noise Makes News

Luke 1:47-55

Do we want to hear good news? We say we do, but we won't buy it. The truth is, Girl Scouts don't sell; gang-bangers do. Bethlehem can be boring—until we read Mary's impressive reminder that the God who brought us the Incarnation is a powerful God whose news for us is anything but bad—or boring.

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Go to Voice, then F2F

Luke 1:26-38

It's not like God hasn't tried to reach us. First he wrote it down, then he spoke through the prophets. Finally, he sent his Son. In techno speak, God tried a hard copy, then went to voice, and finally face to face. Welcome to the Incarnation.

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From Aught to Ought

Galatians 4:4-7

The problem : What do we call the new decade we are about to enter? For decades it's been a no-brainer: the Sixties were—well, the 60s; the Seventies, the 70s. And so on. But what about 2000 through 2009? The 2Ks, the Zeros, the Ohs, the Zips, the Ones, the Singles, the Digits? Perhaps we should call them the "Aughts."

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Stocks, Shackles and Pillory Pews

Matthew 18:15-20

In Colonial America, offenders were shamed into being ashamed; in postmodern America, offenders are ashamed of being shamed. In fact, shame seems in short supply today. but the latest research suggests that shame as as instrument of correction is an idea whose time has come again.

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Cord Blood

Exodus 12:1-14

Cord blood, harvested from the umbilical cord at birth can save your child's life. Like cord blood, cross blood generates life. Cross-blood Christians, infused with new life, are redeemed and made ready for the journey called the Christian life.

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Saving Colonel Kappler

Matthew 18:21-35

Sometimes deciding whether to grant or withhold forgiveness is a very tough decision, as this story from World War II illustrates. Right under Nazi noses, Hugh O'Flaherty, a tough Irish priest, smuggled thousands of Jews to safety, barely staying one step ahead of his archnemesis, Gestapo agent Colonel Kappler.

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Portion Distortion

Exodus 16:2-15

We think we're eating like birds, but according to the government's definition of portion sizes, that's true only if those birds are vultures. In this Old Testament story, the Israelites must live on the portions of manna that the Lord gives them, leading us to ask why are we so discontent with what the Lord provides?

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Running On G-Time

Philippians 1:21-30

There's a new way of reckoning time, a global, cyber-based measurement that breaks the 24-hour day into 1,000 "beats." Centuries ago, Paul had a clear understanding of whose time zone he was functioning in. For him, running on G-Time meant: "To live is Christ; to die is gain."

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What is your VROC?

Philippians 2:1-13

The apache Longbow is an attack helicopter with a vertical rate of climb (VROC) hampered only by such details as fuel and missiles. As Christians, we should be more concerned with our VROD (Vertical Rate of Descent). the more we humble ourselves, the more we climb into the presence of God.

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Lessons From Arabella

Psalm 19

Aboard Skylab 2, a space spider spins webs of psychedelic fancy, webs no one on Earth ever would have dreamed of but which would be put to practical use 20 years later.

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Virtual Values

Philippians 3:4b-14

America Online ($26 billion) is worth about as much a ABC, CBS and NBC combined. Other Internet stocks are sizzling as well. In this reading, the apostle Paul speaks of changing values. What the pre-Christian Saul thought valuable, the Christian Paul regards as trash.

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The Potato Vice Syndrome

Exodus 32:1-14

Voice recognition systems are not foolproof yet. Potato Vice Syndrome (PVS) is the tendency to hear what we want to hear.

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Steeple People

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Cellular communication companies are cutting deals with churches to use their steeples to serve as antennas for communication systems. But what about the people who gather beneath the steeple? What message are they broadcasting?

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The Gauss 10<sup>15</sup> God

Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17

A magnetar is a magnetic star, a chunk of real estate generated by a starquake releasing explosive energy and magnetic fields of incredible force. The gauss strength of this force would digitize you into dust from millions of miles away. But God power is greater that gauss power.

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Don't Just Sit There!

Matthew 23:1-12

A new management strategy makes staffers stand, not sit, at board meetings. Echoes of Jesus who railed at the scribes and Pharisees who SIT on Moses' seat; who "love the best SEATS in the synagogues." Followers of Christ, on the other hand, are to STAND as servants.

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Isn't It Time to Put On Your EMU?

Romans 7:15-25a

The Extravehicular Mobility Unit is a $10 million spacesuit. Without these bulky outfits, NASA couldn't build the international space station. Although the suit will protect its wearer from every outer threat, it's useless as protection against inner threats.

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The Greatest Generation

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

In his recent book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw declares the GI Generation "The Greatest." So what's that mean? That it's all downhill from there? We don't buy it. Jesus' question, "To what will I compare this generation?" needs to be answered by each generation for itself.

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No Rules!

Romans 8:1-11

Have you noticed? Television commercials are selling a rebellion. With slogans like "The world has boundaries. Ignore them," and "Rules are for breaking," television advises watchers to roar over the life signs that say "Obey." In practice, however, our efforts to escape rules only lead to new kinds of bondage.

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Four Months Pregnant

Genesis 25:19-34

The third-millennium cybertots will have as a birthright greater freedom from disease than ever and opportunities like never before. But what will they do with their birthright?

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Ab Rollers, Androstene and the Hope of Glory

Romans 8:12-25

We couldn't stick to the exercise bike, but surely we will to the Stairmaster. Yeah, right. Such body-shaping machines are a testimony to both our pursuit of fitness and our willingness to deceive ourselves. "By hope we are saved," says Paul - but only when our hope is in God.

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Judge Jesus

Matthew 13:31-33,44-52

Why are we so hooked on Judge Judy and her bombastic buddies on the bench? Could it be that we sense the innate fairness of taking what is coming to us when we've done wrong? But Jesus has Judy beat on one score: Jesus not only talks the law - he talks grace.

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Why Christians Need Birdbrains

1 Kings 3:5-12

What a birdbrain Solomon was! God made him a blank-check offer: "Ask what I should give you," and all Solomon could think to ask for was an understanding mind and the ability to discern between good and evil. Yes, he was a birdbrain, but as it turns out, that might be compliment.

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A Man in Full

Genesis 32:22-31

Like the egomaniacal good ol' boy Charlie Croker in Tom Wolfe's latest novel, Jacob considers himself " A Man in Full, " a testosterone terrorist who can control and manipulate and outthink everyone and anything. But the facade crumbles, and he gets in a brawl with a stranger on Mt. Peniel.

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Guilty As Charged

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Collective guilt is never an easy pill to swallow, but in some measure we are responsible for the actions of our country, our ancestors and others in the Christian community and in our own church. Don't believe it? If we are not collectively responsible, then for whom did Jesus die?

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The Real Size of Small Talk

Psalm 133

One negative impact of the Information Age in that social talking is being devalued. Actually, "small" talk is anything but trivial; it is the stuff on which intimacy is built. Part of God's word to us is small talk, the invitation to intimacy with him. And prayer is our vital small talk with him.

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The Diderot Effect

Romans 12:1-8

Sometimes new things make our other possessions look shabby. This is "the Diderot effect," and it's what keeps the consumer escalator moving ever upward. God calls us to discover our spiritual gifts and then resist the temptation to augment our gift just because others possess it in different measure.

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Extremophiles

Matthew 16:21-28

Extremophiles are microorganisms that thrive under conditions that would kill humans and most plants and animals. These microbes are also busy industrialists, producing enzymes that are enormously useful. We Christians, too, should be "extremophiles" - people who perform remarkable acts of discipleship even as we experience suffering, self-denial and cross-carrying.

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Are We Ready for Y2K?

Ephesians 1:3-14

One Little bug, a single, tiny , insignificant thing, when multiplied within trillions of lines of computer code, in billions of computer systems all over the world, becomes a potentially culture-destroying infestation. For the soul bugs that plague us, being "in Christ" is the anti-virus we need.

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Invisible Light

Isaiah 42:1-9

Cosmic ray photons, gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet radiation, infrared radiation, microwaves, radio waves, heat and electric current are varieties of invisible light upon which we have come to depend. But none of it can hold a candle to the invisible light of God's power.

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Homestyle Godliness

Acts 10:34-43

To be godly is not to take refuge from the pressures and potholes of daily life, nor is it to gather the family in a holy huddle every day. Biblical godliness steps out into the blinding, bleaching daylight glare of the real world and common demands and disasters of life.

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Living a Lack-Nothing Life

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

If we really lack nothing, why is it that we feel so acutely that something is missing from our lives? Our problem is not that we are lacking something; our problem is that we have something that we don't know we have.

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Top of the Charts

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

The Corinthian church knew nothing of the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Natalie Imbruglia, The Smashing Pumpkins or Hootie and the Blowfish. For them, it was Paul, Cephas and Apollos. When are we going to put Jesus Christ at the top of the charts?

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WWJHMD?

Micah 6:1-8

You may love listening to a gifted musician play beautiful music, but listening will never help you play a note. Only daily practice will transform us into musicians. That's why the WWJD fad was so fleeting: We bought into the notion that to know is to do.

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Your Call

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

God's call to us is usually not of the lifesaving, soul-scintillating, firefighting, space-walking , ballet-dancing or touchdown-scoring variety. It is a simple call to proclaim the gospel by living the "foolishness of the cross."

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Wise Guys

1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16)

Why is it that in our culture, thugs and crooks are called wise guys. Paul calls for a new kind of wisdom, a spiritual wisdom which turns topsy-turvy the world's understanding of what is wise and foolish.

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NOTHING Happens

Exodus 24:12-18

Sometimes, when you least expect it — nothing happens! A tremendous amount of life is just waiting. Being faithful when nothing much seems to be happening is what it means to "keep the faith."

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Necessary NO's

Matthew 4:1-11

We drum necessary no's in to the consciousnesses of our children because we know that some limitations and boundaries are good for them. As children of God, we're no different.

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Engineering for Eternity

John 3:1-17

Scientists are building a new potato from deadly toxins that fights diarrhea. They are also developing fortified milk that fights malaria. Jesus suggests to Nicodemus a radical, gene-shifting idea to experience eternal life that blows him away: "You must be born again."

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How Possible?

John 3:1-17

Some people are so resistant to change that the impossible never has an opportunity to become possible.

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Dying on the Way Down

1 Peter 2:2-10 (11)

Here is the intriguing story of Mount Everest climbers who ignore hard-and-fast rules and refuse to turn back within 200 feet of the top. Catching "summit fever," they throw caution to the winds, achieve the top, but as a consequence die on the way down - a modern parable of the temptation to abandon spiritual principles for a momentary desire, only to find ourselves dying on the way down.

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Hacking into Heaven

John 14:1-14

Computer hackers are no longer just 19-year old geeks having fun at the keyboard. The mature hacker is an idealistic activist, a hackitvist and cyberterrorist with an attitude and an agenda. Are we coming to prayer like these hackers with an agenda of our own, something other than the only agenda that matters? That agenda: "Thy will be done."

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The Poison That Heals

1 Peter 3:13-22

Naturally created arsenic in the water system is poisoning and disfiguring thousands in Bangladesh. But this same poison is bringing healing to others, as scientists discover new applications for a lethal compound. No surprise, then, that the text should suggest that the pain and suffering we sometimes experience, poison to some, can heal and make us spiritually strong.

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Latitudes & Attitudes

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

Don't know anything about geography? No matter. Your Rand McNally view of the United States won't help you in a nation of consumer states, of communities defined less by their geography than by the passions of their people. What we have here are latitudes and attitudes for a very distinct cultural enclave called the church. What do we look like?

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Giving Away the Store

Acts 2:1-21

ESOPs are nothing new, but some corporations are taking the practice to extremes, giving away the entire company - to their employees. Ownership invests employees in the company, empowering them with pride and initiative they never had before. In the text, the disciples, coming off a three-year mentoring program, are suddenly given the store, the whole store! Fired up and empowered with this new authorization, the disciples produce dramatic results!

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The Chipping of the Church

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

Computer chips are now so cheap, they're everywhere: car brakes, basketballs, canned goods. But chips without connectivity are worthless. This is the message of Paul: The Christ-body needs to be "chipped" and connected. When that happens, the world can never be the same!

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Detroit Door Wars

Matthew 28:16-20

Detroit is desperate for new ideas to get people into their cars. The Saturn sedan now touts a third, reverse-opening back door; and asks in its commercials "Why didn't anyone think of this before?" The church's mandate is clear: If people are unwilling to come in the front door, let's unlock the side door, or take a chain saw and cut out some new ones.

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TGIM

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans love to work, and this is not a bad thing. Our creative efforts mirror the creativity of the Lord. Thank God It's Monday

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Motion Sickness

Genesis 12:1-9

One of the casualties of our frenetic lifestyle is a loss of a sense of place. The rootlessness of America can be traced to continuing search for the promised land. But this is nothing new. Abraham, too, was called to do a postmodern hop to a new nest, but it was to gain something that really mattered. One of the lessons we need to learn from Abraham is that when we give up our sense of place, it should be for something more important that just getting more money

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A Pre-Existing Condition

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

In medical care, if you have a pre-existing condition, you may or may not get the treatment you need, and in any case, it's not likely to be covered. With Jesus, we're covered. Period.

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Let's Just Be Friends

Matthew 10:24-39

Few things are as terrifying to 16-year-old as romantic rejection. Yet, in real life and real time, rejection is common. Jesus helps us to deal with our higher-stakes fears and disarm the demons that come knocking.

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When Peace Paralyzes

Genesis 22:1-14

Sometimes, peace at all costs is not the solution; avoiding difficult decisions can actually harm our relationships and spiritual life. Abraham has to make the difficult decision, a conflicted choice that may mean sorrow and despair in his life. He chooses to throw his life into turmoil and sacrifice his immediate peace, to gain peace in the long haul. Often, as in this case, when conflict is chosen, God supplies a ram in the thicket. The results, long range, turn out well

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When You Think You're Finished, That's When God Starts

Jeremiah 31:7-14

"What hands are too strong for you?" In this past/coming year, what hands have been/will be too strong for you? Are you in God''s hands? If so, no hands are stronger than God''s hands. The texts this week talk about God''s enduring strength and give us reasons for believing in God''s absolute ability to take care of us - come what may.

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Tweed Jackets, Sweat Pants and Wet Suits

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22


The Holy Spirit was not shy about taking "bodily form" at the event of Jesus'' baptism. Can that same spirit find physical, tangible means of expression in your life, and the life of your congregation?

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Church Slugs

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Most of us subscribe to the theory that we like all types of people - as long as they are all our types. But the Church has been called to celebrate her diversity, not her conformity. There is no one right way to express the presence of Christ or the welling up of God''s Spirit in your life. E Unus Pluribum, "out of one, many," should be the joyful affirmation of a Christbody community.

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Gutsy Joy

Nehemiah 8:1-4a, 5-6, 8-10

However many your fears and failures; however many times you must pick yourself up from the hurts and pains of life and go on; however difficult it is to get through each day - the joy of the Lord can be yours.


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A Lovehope Faith

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

A nuclear explosion is the result of a high-speed collision between atomic particles. The resulting blast can erase the landscape. But these technologically orchestrated smash-ups are a pale imitation of what happens when God brings together the most powerful entities that exist and allows them to explode within our lives. This sermon arranges and argues for a collision between your people and the greatest forces in the universe: faith, hope and love.


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Has He Appeared to You?

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

How does Christ appear to you? And if Christ hasn''t appeared to you lately - why not? If you think God only visits on Sundays, maybe you need to start looking at different parts of your life, different days in your week, in order to rediscover God''s presence there.

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When a Church Should Go to Hell

Luke 6:17-26

Most of us spend considerable time and energy trying to make our lives as safe and secure as possible. We want to be able to sit back and count our blessings - such as our jobs, our homes, our net worth. Jesus turns our notion of a blessed existence upside down, finding strength in vulnerability and warning us about the dangers of contented complacency. A blessed existence involves being sent to hell.


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Grits, Grats and Gruts...Not Grunts

1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50

"Where there''s a will...." This sermon brings together the financial concept of needing to have a will with the faith concept of needing to have a willing nature, to help people see the complex interconnections between the spiritual and the material, our will and our work, our desires and our deeds. The good news is that by continually flexing our spiritual willpower we can experience redeeming acts of resurrection in our lives.


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Getting the Face We Deserve

Exodus 34:29-35

What does a Christian look like? Does your face reveal your faith?

At 50, it is said, everyone gets the face they deserve. What about you?

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Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus was unrelenting in his forward thinking. Consider how much time he spent teaching about the kingdom of God, which was both now and not-yet. What pleasures from God are being poisoned in our lives because we cannot escape a life of constant regret - the "if onlys," "wrong turns," "yes-buts," and "sour notes" of woulda/coulda/shoulda thinking?


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Aged to Perfection - The Third Age

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

What does it mean to become an elder? Our people need to develop a theology of aging, a spiritual perspective on the "third age" of life (55 and older) that addresses the hopes and dreams, fears and limitations, surmises and surprises of later adulthood.


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Scissors, Paper, Rock

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

"Tough as nails." "Hard as a rock." "Solid as a brick." Those are our metaphors for strength and sturdiness. God, however, hardly ever seems to agree. The divine preference is for security in fluidity and victory in vulnerability, defying our concrete convictions.


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Christ the Snake

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Medical science has made so many advances in treating and eradicating diseases that now when we are confronted with an illness that cannot be controlled, we are filled with suspicious rage. Likewise, we have heard the story of Jesus'' death on the cross so many times that the painful, bloody details, which made possible an incredibly miraculous cure, are lost to us. We take for granted the fact that the impossible has been achieved; we have been redeemed from death and reconciled to God through the terrible tragedy of Christ''s crucifixion.


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The Dawn's Early Light

2 Samuel 7:1-17

What makes a Christian patriot? How does an American church conduct itself? Can the church have a theology of patriotism without slipping into narrow triumphalism? In order to be an effective witness of the power and love of God, the church must be both a part of the culture and country in which it lives, without becoming part of them.


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The Christian's Walking-Stick

Mark 6:7-13

If "words are the bugles of social change" it is time for the church to trumpet a different tune than "planning" and "programming." Today''s church is called to rediscover the spirited discipline (i.e., "walking stick") of preparedness.


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Minding Your Heart

Mark 6:30-44

The church is the Body of Christ, and as such it has many organs. This week we consider how best the church can achieve a healthy balance between head, hand and heart.


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The Urge to Purge

2 Samuel 12:1-14

W. C. Fields once said, "I have spent a lot of time searching through the Bible for loopholes." Haven''t we all? Today''s Old Testament text reminds us of the urgent necessity of confronting our failures, foibles and follies, and confessing our sins before God.


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Love Is for Nothing

John 6:24-35

What does it mean to seek the bread of life only for the loaves and fishes? How often do we find ourselves thinking in terms of what Jesus can do for us instead of reflecting on what Jesus has already done for us? What are the implications of this kind of attitude for a church which is called to be a servant?


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Miss Manners and Mr. Goodwrench

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Thankfully, most of us do not deal on a daily basis with the most profound issues of morality and ethics. What we do face every day, however, are small matters of manners (should I keep my word? should I honor my commitments.) Caught up in the big newsmaking issues (murder, abortion, war) of ethics, these small matters sometimes go by the wayside. The church needs to be aware that its role is as the one "hosting the Host," and act accordingly.


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Seeing the Elephant/Hearing the Owl

2 Samuel 18:24-33

Today, as it has always, the church confronts problems that appear to dwarf both it and its abilities. In the face of issues as massive as war, global warming, the AIDS epidemic and economic recession, Christians face challenges to their personal faith so great that a kind of spiritual paralysis can set in. How can the church get people moving again and buoy up their belief that their individual attitudes and actions do make a difference?


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The Job Description of a Leader

2 Samuel 23:1-7

If the church is to make a difference in the world, every one of its members must begin to act and think like leaders. Leadership is not for the few and the special, the exception rather than the expected. Whether this mysterious thing called "leadership" comes naturally or is an acquired talent, every Christian must come to terms with it. A biblical style of leadership and language of leadership must become endemic in the church.


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The Ultimate Athlete

Ephesians 6:10-20

Vince Lombardi is often remembered for saying, "Winning isn''t everything, it''s the only thing!" Today, however, it might be more appropriate to declare with Madison Avenue that "Image isn''t everything, it''s the only thing." This week we try both to rehabilitate an old image and simultaneously deepen that image by excavating it for new depths.

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The Golden Calf and the Golden Table

James 1:17-27

Humanity continues to flex its creative muscles and invent new idols, new images of tiny gods at an impressive rate. From the moment that the ancient Hebrews began to worship only one God, people of faith have been confronted with the enticement of worshipping at the feet of many gods. What does the way of faith centered on belief in the omniscient power of one God have to offer to counter these gold-plated seductions of the spirit?


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How to Play Fair in Foul Play

Mark 8:27-38

We have all felt the sting and bite of unjust treatment and criticism. Sometimes it feels like no matter what we do, we can''t win. So why try? What''s the use! The people who are criticizing you aren''t out there on the road, spending their time and money in trying to do the right thing. They''re just sitting around, holding meetings, and backbeating one another. How can the Christian play fair amid foul play?

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Protecting Your Valuables

James 3:13-18

What is "valuable" in life? Is it the wisdom from below (we teach our children the "value of a dollar") or the wisdom from above (values as virtues)? Can we reclaim the word "value" when we attach dollar tags to everything? What people deem as "valuable" today are bargain-basement "values," real "buys," cheap "specials." Christians need to reclaim the spiritual meaning of this word, which once had a moral, not monetary or commercial connotation to it. The valuables we are to protect are listed in James 3:17.

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Outgrowing the Truth Fairy

Mark 9:38-50

When we were children, the Scriptures tell us, we thought, spoke, and felt as a child. But when we grow up in our faith, we must "put an end to childish ways." What are the childish ways of thinking, feeling and speaking that we must put away today?

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A Camel on the Roof

Matthew 2:1-12

With Epiphany comes the question, "Where does one look for God?" While two different ways of addressing this question are explored in this week''s material, both focus on the surprising, sometimes shocking, nature of God''s presence in this world.

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Beware the Crest of the Wave

Mark 1:4-11


The moment of our greatest success and achievement, when we are riding the crest of the wave, is also the moment we are most likely to be subjected to the severest temptations, gnawed by our most debilitating insecurities, and seduced into believing the most grandiose visions of our own abilities.

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Returning God's Call

1 Samuel 3:1-10



This week''s text challenges individuals and your church community to examine how they respond to the persistent voice of God in their lives.

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The Missionary Posture

Jonah 3:1-5, 10



The conditions that Christians face today beckon the church beyond a "business as usual" posture and into a constant "missionary posture" - a genuinely missionary engagement with a world (modern) and culture (western) that is increasingly resistent to the gospel. We stand today like Jonah facing Nineveh and like Nineveh facing Jonah.

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Body Sculpting and Self Shaping

Mark 1:21-28

As a society, we are obsessed with our external images. As Christians we should recognize that our energies need to focus on how we can allow Christ to shape and mold us into new beings.

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No Comment

2 Kings 2:1-12a

Sometimes it is more important to listen than to talk to God.

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Wild Beasts

Genesis 9:8-17



As Lent begins let your congregation reflect not just on the private, individual journey to the cross, but on the cosmic, communal nature of God''s redeeming activity.

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A Womb With a View

Mark 8:31-38



Lent often employs a "journey" motif, sending Jesus'' disciples towards Jerusalem and Golgotha. This week''s theme reminds us that if we faithfully intend to follow Christ, we must be willing to step outside the door. We must be willing to leave our safe sanctuaries, our "wombs with a view" and risk entering the world naked and vulnerable, clad only in our faith.

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The Outstretched Arms

John 2:13-22



This week offers the challenge of confronting the scandal of the cross head-on. In order to prepare for Easter, the Church must first recognize just how shocking Jesus'' death by crucifixion is and be able to make some theological sense out of it.

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Looking for Love in the Classifieds and All the Wrong Places

Ephesians 2:4-10

No matter how often you preach on God''s love, you will never be able to communicate completely the extravagant, superabundant nature of that love.

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Heresies of the Heart

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Un-Christ-like attitudes, not doctrinal creativity, make up the heresies gnawing at the heart of the Church today. In order to avoid complete cardiac collapse, we must address this heart disease and work to eradicate it.

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Thank You, Magic Dragon

Isaiah 50:4-9a

Christ came not to reign, but to serve. Following Christ''s example, we are all called to be servants for others, servants to the world.

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Used Tombstones

John 20:1-18

Christ's resurrection changed the world, broke all the old rules. The Church's response to the good news of resurrection should be equally unprecedented - a celebration of new life using the old images of death.

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God's Power works best in the graveyard

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

What is happening in your life? Are you ready to give up? Do you think it is too late for even God to help? Are your dreams dead and buried? Is your hope dead and buried? Get ready for goosebumps. God is about to make an appearance in your graveyard!

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Tax Reform - A.D. 30

Luke 19:1-10

If Zacchaeus in A.D. 30 and the Internal Revenue Service in A.D. 1998 can accept change, so can we! Jesus offers a proposal, a promise and a prediction to help us realize we so desperately want and need.

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Whatever it Takes

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

While the world is shrugging its shoulders and saying "yada, yada, yada," and "Whatever!" Christians are saying to the world, "Whatever it takes!"

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Betrayal Without Bitterness

Luke 21:5-19

Betrayal is not our fault. We will face betrayal and misunderstanding from all quarters, within and without the faith community. To be betrayed is by definition to be a victim. But Jesus refuses to let us be victims for long. Instead, he offers forgiveness as a way to get on with our lives.

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Big Rocks

Luke 23:33-43

There may be a lot of big rocks in our lives, but the Biggest Rock of all is the rock of Ages. If we get it right and anchor our faith to this Rock, all the other rocks will fall into place.

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Cue the son

Romans 13:11-14

Truman Burbank's day begins when Christof whispers into his headest, "Cue the sun!" God is calling all spiritual sleepyheads to wake up to the light of the Son.

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God's Animal Kingdom

Isaiah 11:1-10

Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Divine Kingdom offer competing versions of peace. Both offer a Tree of Life.

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The Christian rules of limb-climbing

Matthew 3:1-12

To get the best fruit, we need to go farther out on a limb. That takes guts without glory, but results in a faith with a future.

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Have you caught the Advent virus?

Matthew 11:2-11

If you have caught the Advent Virus, don't seek a cure! And if you haven't, watch out! It's the task of the church to infect you!

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To all God's beloved in Washington

Romans 1:1-7

To make an impact on people, it isn't necessary to be a power person who serves others, but a servant person who empowers others.

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Jesus, Prince of Egypt

Matthew 1:18-25

Jesus was a baby in the land of Egypt where he learned to walk like an Egyptian and talk like an Egyptian. In this season of Christmas, we should not forget that it was "out of Egypt" that God called his Son.

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Expensive Freedom

Matthew 2:13-23

On the eve of last year of the second millennium, the image of a hammer violently knocking down barriers to spiritual growth reminds us how many doors stand in the way.

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Capybara — It’s What’s for Dinner

Philippians 3:17-4:1

In some Catholic dioceses, believers are looking for something to eat besides fish during Lent, and in a few cases, relief has been granted. Truth is, most of us are looking for relief, and not just during Lent.

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Theophilia

Isaiah 55:1-9

Visits to our national parks have fallen off in recent years, and social scientists attribute it to a phenomenon they call “videophilia.”

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Tripping Trauma

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Studies now show that the way we walk, especially if we’re over 75, forecasts whether we’re likely to flop on our face, risking serious injury.

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Prodigal Pants

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Many young thieves and hooligans are having a hard time running from their crimes these days, and as a result they’re literally getting caught with their pants down.

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Scent of a Woman

John 12:1-8

There’s a new “Christian” perfume on the market now, “Virtuous Woman.” And there are others. We don’t think that the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in this text used it, but whatever she used, it was expensive.

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Gum Control Legislation

Philippians 3:4b-14

In the U.K., not sure about the U.S., there’s a serious gum problem. The Brits apparently expectorate a tired wad onto the sidewalks where it’s picked up by passersby causing a sticky mess. And the stuff is hard to clean up, too.

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All Shook Up

Luke 19:28-40

It’s been 50 years this month since Elvis Presley’s song, “All Shook Up” was at the top of the charts. Elvis shook up Nash-ville, and in this text, Jesus shakes up Jerusalem.

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Judas Our Hero?

John 13:21-32

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: MAUNDY THURSDAY
A recently published middle-to-late first century Gnostic text called The Gospel of Judas, was published last year. In it, Judas is made out to be some sort of hero? What gives?

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The Jesus Bulb

John 20:1-18

The light bulb of your future within the next couple of years is the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). Maybe you know it as the ice cream cone swirling bulb. You’re going to have them in your home, and at this Easter time, there’s another Light we’d like to talk about.

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What if…?

John 20:19-31

Astronomer Neil F. Comins asks, in a series of articles published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in the 90s, “What if the Moon Didn’t Exist?” Our question: “What if the Son didn’t exist?”

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Plattenbau Paul

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)

The communist culture in Germany is slowly disappearing. Some creative people are doing now something useful with the large shoe-box-shaped apartment buildings, or “plattenbau” structures.

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Tracking the Sheep

John 10:22-30

The sheep and the shepherd. It’s a romantic notion. But today’s sheep ranchers have a Bluetooth headset in the ear, a Blackberry PDA attached to a belt, a Venti Mocha perched desktop alongside a GPS receiver. He sits remote from his flock in a warm ranch house, a crook exchanged for a mouse, perhaps playing a game of Internet Spades while still on the clock.

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Godspeed Living

Isaiah 43:1-7

Four hundred years ago, the Godspeed sailed the Atlantic and founded a colony in Virginia.

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Nevaeh

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

You might call your newborn daughter Nevaeh, but would you call your son Lleh?

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Why the Church Needs NORA

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The gifts of the Spirit are valued when we understand “non-obvious relationships.”

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Bodily Functions

1 Corinthians 12:12-31a

If the apostle Paul wants to use the body as a metaphor, fine. But there’re some bodily functions in the human body you just don’t want to talk about.

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The Potter Principle

1 Corinthians 13

There’s a “Potter Principle”? Yes, and you’ll be surprised at what it is!

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A Mass-Calling Event

Jeremiah 1:4-10

When too many people are using their phones, an entire network can shut down.

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The Gennesaret Incident

Luke 5:1-11

You might be surprised to learn that Jesus isn’t looking for volunteers!

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The Christ Capsule

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Write a message in a bottle and we know of a company that will drop it in oceans around the world.

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Dog Ugly!

Luke 6:17-26

On TV, we’ve got Ugly Betty. At California’s Sonoma-Marin Fair, we’ve got ugly dogs. What can we possibly learn?

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Breathing With God

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

Conspiracy talk never seems to go away. JFK, The Da Vinci Code, 9/11 and so on. But take another look at the word “con-spire.” What you discover is going to help you understand the transfiguration event.

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Accident Forgiveness

Psalm 51:1-17

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: ASH WEDNESDAY
Many car insurance companies are willing to forgive one little accident provided you don't make a habit of having acci-dents.

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Our Big, Fat, Hot, Polluted City

Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16

It’s bad enough to get lost. When it happens in your own city, that can’t be good.

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11 Things to Say to your Congregation About the Ted Haggard Mess

1 Peter 2:1

Special E-mail Sermon Starter

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The Greater Generation

Ruth 1:1-18

The GI generation has been called “the Greatest.” The baby boomers? Not so great. Boomers have gotten a bad rap, and here’s why.

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Wiki-Christianity

Mark 12:38 44

An online enclyclopedia has its detractors, but the basis for its effectiveness and popularity is its ability to share information.

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Karma, Baby!

Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

Some critics call it Hindu Lite — this trendy fascination with Eastern religions. It’s seen most noticeably on NBC’s hit show My Name Is Earl. Some would say not to worry: Christianity has its own version of Faith Lite.

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Perfect Moments

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

When you know you’re about to die, it produces a distinct kind of clarity.

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Mixed Signals

Luke 21:25-36

It can sometimes be hard to read the signs of the times, especially when they’re sending mixed messages.

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The Hollow Days

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Advent is a very special time of the year. Why is it that sometimes, these holidays are not such holy days?

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Donation Nation

Philippians 1:3-11

Americans are a generous people and they continue to give even when their money ends up in the wrong hands.

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The Prayer Project

Philippians 4:4-7

A new study financed by the Templeton Foundation refutes earlier studies by saying that prayer not only won’t help you when you have heart surgery, it may even complicate your chances for recovery!

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Tree Christmas O

Micah 5:2-5a

Here’s a new Christmas “tradition” that’s guaranteed to turn your holiday celebration upside down!

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The War on Christmas

Titus 3:4-7

Secular and sacred soldiers have lined up on the media battlefield. What would the Prince of Peace have to say?

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HisSpace.com

Luke 2:41-52

The popularity of social networking has exploded. People, especially kids, want others to take notice of their lives.

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The Congenial Community

Colossians 3:12-17

What happened to the Miss America Pageant?

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Pornified, Prude-ified, or Purified?

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

The subject is sex, and the sex text is the Song of Solomon.

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JesusMeister

Mark 7:24-37

At the Dutch Open Lock Picking Championship, Arthur Bühl emerged as the champion. No one picks locks as well as he does. Well, almost no one.

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Smart Stuff

Proverbs 1:20-33

Being smart is so easy these days! Need more time on your parking meter? Get on your cell and give it a call.

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Time to Talk Like a Pirate!

James 3:1-12

The third Tuesday in September is “Talk Like a Pirate Day!” Don’t we have a hard enough time talking like a Christian?

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Tall Tales

Mark 9:30-37

Medieval people were short people. That’s what we’ve been led to believe. But there’s evidence it’s not true. Which leads us to the question: “How tall are we?”

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Saint Whistleblower

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22

It’s not easy to blow the whistle on people who are doing bad things. But that’s what good people do: blow the whistle on bad people.

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Cramming for Marriage

Mark 10:2-16

A new study shows that Japanese men who retire, and who then take a retirement cruise with the wife, face a divorce as soon as she steps off the boat back home! What gives?

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The Bad Business Bureau

Job 23:1-9, 16-17

The Better Business Bureau? Fine. But what about all the businesses that aren’t better, or even good? Like, the businesses that are bad!?!

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From PDA to PAD

Hebrews 4:12-16

It’s a storage device, requires no batteries, comes only in black and fits in your pocket.

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The Lost World

Psalm 104: 1-9, 24, 35c

Less than a year ago, explorers stumbled across a primeval world that evoked images of creation as God intended it to be.

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Job Finds His IDEO

Job 42:1-6, 10-17

God to Job: “News flash — you are there; I am here!”

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The King Is Back!

Mark 10:46-52

Corporate America is turning back to familiar ad campaigns that have worked in the past.

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Grace-onomics

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Econ 101 is all about incentives. What possible incentive could there be to give someone else our hard-earned cash?

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The Trash Trail

Psalm 130

We all have junk and yes, we need to get rid of it. But where does it go?

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Post-Traumatic Growth

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

We’ve seen them come home from the battlefield and all too often they’re broken in body and spirit. But not always.

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Look-Alikes

Ephesians 1:3-14

We’re happy with the way we look, but when someone mistakes us for a celebrity, we’re flattered. Right? So what celebrity do we look like?

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The Average American

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Robert Burns is the average American. He’s 5-foot-8, and weighs 185 pounds. He has three children, and prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky.

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Jesus Doesn’t Use IVR!

John 6:1-21

We hated IVR yesterday, we hate it today, and we’ll hate it tomorrow. Good thing Jesus is no “automated attendant.”

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View Value

Ephesians 3:14-21

Open your tax assessment and you might find that your property taxes went up because you’ve got a good view. Assessors call it a “view factor.” We call it a “view tax.” What does Paul call it?

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Togethering

Ephesians 4:1-16

Since 9/11, tourists are traveling together more often, even when the trip is to an exotic location. People want to be together.

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Reinventing the Wheel

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

The church doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel. Might need to change a flat, or pump some air into the tires, but the wheels are fine.

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Gesture Theology

Ephesians 5:15-20

We saw a glimpse of it in Minority Report in 2002. Now the future is closer. Soon we’ll be managing text and graphics with a wave of our fingers; no need for keyboard and mouse.

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The Scream

Ephesians 6:10-20

Want to disperse a mob without using violence? Just yell at them.

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Dome on the Range

John 6:56-69

It’s been a year since Katrina, a year since tens of thousands were suddenly homeless.

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Get in the box

1 John 3:16-24

In our eagerness to think outside the box, we sometimes forget the box.

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Life Value

John 10:11-18

At the behest of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, Kenneth Feinberg had to decide how much human life is worth.

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The Christ Code

John 15:1-8

A blockbuster movie comes out in a few days claiming that Jesus fathered a love child. This is old news. Jesus has millions of love children, and they’re called the church!

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Super Savior

1 John 5:1-6

The erection of a 62-foot Jesus near a highway in Ohio has apparently reduced — dramatically — the number of deaths along that stretch of roadway.

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FANAFI

Acts 1:1-11

“Find a need and fill it” is a good mission statement for the church.

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The Finish Line

1 Kings 2:1-11

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: MEMORIAL DAY
At the Indianapolis 500 in 1912, Ralph DePalma wouldn’t be denied.

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The Interpreter

Acts 2:1-21

The European Union has a language problem: twenty languages and not enough translators.

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What’s the Difference?

Romans 8:12-17

Trying to understand the Trinity is about as easy as explaining the difference between bluegrass and country, AM and FM or an ale and a lager.

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Character Actors

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

In Hollywood, actors are finding out that there’s major bling associated with being an A-list character actor.

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Hotel Heaven

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (11-13), 14-17

Competition for your hotel and traveling business is intense. The amenities are downright heavenly.

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Swoopers

2 Corinthians 6:1-13

There’s a new way to risk your life these days. It’s called swooping. One bad turn can kill you.

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Uncommon Scents

Mark 4:35-41

Liquid Trust is an odorless mixture that when sprayed on your skin, will cause people to trust you. Really.

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Brain Buckets

Mark 1:9-15

Helmets used to be for bikers, and even bikers aren’t always crazy about them. Today, you’re weird if you’re not wearing a helmet.

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The Upside of Death

Mark 8:31-38

Cellular death in our bodies is absolutely necessary for us to stay alive. It’s surprising how death supports new life!

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Intelligent Design

Psalm 19

What’s the fuss? Haven’t we learned yet that the How questions are for science and the Why questions are for faith?

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Bad Breath and Smelly Feet

Numbers 21:4-9

The cure for bacteria is bacteria; the cure for snakes is a snake; the cure for death is a Death.

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Stigmatized Property

Psalm 51:1-12

What would you do — how would you feel — if you suddenly learned that your dream house was the site of a ghastly murder?

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Change or Die

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The doctor tells you to change, or die. Studies show that you’d rather die, than change.

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Mind-Defaults

Philippians 2:5-11

Your computer, toaster, TV, digital camera, car radios all have default settings. So does your mind. Question is: “What is it set on?”

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Prepare the Vidstone

John 18:1-19:42

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT Good Friday
You had to know this was coming: a video display screen for headstones.

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Happy News

Mark 16:1-8

Would you like to really have all the news that’s fit to print? Okay, then, go to HappyNews.com.

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The Secret Life of a Stiff

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Thank God for people who donate their bodies to science. Jesus donated his for an entirely different purpose.

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Post-a-Sin

1 John 1:1-2:2

Can’t get to the confessional? Need to itemize a few transgressions? As with most activities, you can bare your soul on the Internet.

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Newportance

1 John 3:1-7

You think you’re important? Fine, you may be. But newportant? That’s another story.

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The Iconic Jesus

Luke 2:22-40

Americans are very good at creating a Jesus that suits their particular perspective. So where can you find the real Jesus?

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The Mark of Mud

Mark 1:4-11

You’ve got a four-wheel drive off road vehicle that never goes off road? Slap some mud on it.

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Triple Nines

John 1:43-51

Jesus is interviewing applicants and evaluating talent. What’s he looking for?

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Franklin ben Solomon

Proverbs 25:1, 9-28

Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack is often quoted with as much authority as the Bible itself.

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SoulLift

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

The “ThreadLift” is a new, fast technique to give your face a lift. But often it’s not just the face that needs lifting.

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Killer Jobs

Jonah 3:1-5, 10

High workers’ comp? Check out the job related risks of being a prophet.

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Table Manners

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

The Brits — back in the 1600s — thought corn was pig slop. But in New England, the pilgrims developed a taste for it.

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Jesus Christ Can’t Get a Driver’s License

Mark 1:29-39

There are some things Jesus can’t do; get a driver’s license is one of them. There’s a whole more he can do, however.

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Gold Glut

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Kids today get trophies just for showing up.
“Participation” awards they’re called. The apostle Paul argues that Christians don’t get trophies for just being in the race.

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The Kursk Syndrome

Mark 2:1-12

When Russian sailors died several years ago in a submarine disaster, many blamed their deaths on the unwillingness of the government to ask for help.

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Naked Streets

Isaiah 43:18-25

Want to calm the traffic in your neighborhood? Take down the streets signs.

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Bling Bling

2 Kings 2:1-12

The Oscars are a week away, and corporate America is busy right now preparing little gift packages for the glitterati.

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The Joshua Principle

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

Tom Chappell makes toothpaste, but he will help you whiten more than just your teeth.

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Hibernating Virgins

Matthew 25:1-13

Bears are right now burrowing in for the ultimate power nap. And when they wake up, their muscle tone will be completely intact.

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Deborah’s Memoir

Judges 4: 1-7

We’ve seen a boatload of memoirs by female celebrities this year; Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Kirstie Alley, Phyllis Diller and others have all bared their chests in print.

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The Long Tail

Matthew 25:14-30

Living on the tail in the business world means offering what the customer wants.

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Fish Stick Jesus

Psalm 100

The image of Jesus is popping up everywhere — except perhaps where it’s needed most

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Cardboard Ringers

1 Corinthians 1:3-9

The Salvation Army, lacking enough volunteers, sometimes resorts to cardboard ringers to attract Christmas donations.

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Scent of a Savior

Isaiah 40:1-11

The “His Essence” candle sells for about 18 bucks. It’s supposed to smell like Jesus.

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Fake News

Mark 1:1-8

There’s no news like fake news, and Americans are loving it more than ever.

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The Great Lion of the Lord

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia has been made into a movie, and it’s in theaters this week. Watch closely and you’ll see visions of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

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Baby Boom

Luke 1:26-38

Baby boom. What baby boom? Fertility rates are down all over the globe. What if a young girl living in Nazareth had second thoughts about bringing a child into the world?

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Jesus Eyes

Isaiah 9:2-7

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: CHRISTMAS EVE
A high-biotech system called Argus is helping the blind to see.

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St. Nicholas Nicked

Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20

A small village in Turkey has taken down a statue of St. Nicholas and replaced him with a tacky plaster-of-Paris Santa Claus.

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Whatever Culture

Romans 13:8-14

In his new book, The Road to Whatever, Elliot Currie argues that middle-class kids are feeling care-less.

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9/11: In Place of God,or In God’s Place?

Genesis 50:15-21

Four years ago, America was rocked on its heels by terrorism. Since then, have we been playing God or letting God play us?

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Brain Collecting

Philippians 1:21-30

Brian Burrell’s new book, Postcards From the Brain Museum, explores the bizarre history of phrenology.

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Flavor Enhancers

Exodus 16:2-15

Senomyx, a biotech firm in La Jolla, is about to change the way we experience food — not by changing the food, but by changing us!

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Flyrock Risk

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

It’s not hard to remove a 1,200 ton boulder that’s fallen on the Interstate. Just blast away — but watch out for flying rock!

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Diamonds from Ashes

Philippians 3:4b-14

Love that antique ring from Grandma? No, that’s not Grandma’s ring; that’s Grandma!

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Pulaski’s Empty Frame

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

There’s an empty frame hanging on a wall in the Pulaski County Courthouse of Pulaski County, Kentucky. Didn’t used to be empty, but it is now.

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Surviving the Centuries

Philippians 4:1-9

Events that dominate the world stage today have only a slight chance of being considered significant 500 years from now.

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Mint Errors

Matthew 22:15-22

Check your pockets. If you have a Wisconsin quarter, this could be your lucky day.

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Helper’s High

Matthew 22:34-46

The Institute for Research into Unlimited Love (IRUL) wonders why people feel good about doing good.

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The UN, the PL and the KG

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

The United Nations celebrates its 60th birthday while the world wonders if we’re ever going to give peace a chance.

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Fat Tire Fathers

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13

With the Stokke Explorer, you’ve got great struts, shocks and fat tires. Not an SUV or a Harley Fat Boy. It’s a baby stroller and dads are drooling.

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St. Paul’s Riddle

Romans 7:15-25a

Mental_Floss recently listed the “25 most important questions in the history of the universe.” They forgot one.

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Unforced Errors

Romans 8:1-11

The Wimbledon Tennis Championships are over, and you can bet the runners-up are going to blame one stat for their lackluster performance.

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Go Help Me Sod

Psalm 119:105-112

The virtual persons talking to you in a virtual voice on your cell phone are not going to understand your every word.

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Willy Wonka’s Weeds

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In a new movie, Willy Wonka and his staff of Oompa-Loompas help us understand an enigmatic parable.

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Hyper Nike

Romans 8:26-39

Suspension bridges are built only when conventional bridges are impossible — like building a bridge from Europe to Africa over the Strait of Gibraltar.

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Sore Losers

Genesis 32:22-31

Red Auerbach once said, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.” That attitude now seems to be pervasive, not only in sports, but in life.

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Food Fight

Matthew 14:13-21

Jesus has upward of 10,000 to feed and only a boy’s lunch to do it with.

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Paper or Silk?

Romans 10:5-15

During World War II, maps were printed on silk. Today they’re returning as a fashion statement.

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Blue Ocean Strategy

Matthew 14:22-33

The church can continue to struggle in a red ocean environment of blood-letting competition, or walk on a blue ocean of new opportunities.

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Together Again

Genesis 45:1-15

No human drama is as poignant as a reunion between those who were estranged, lost or thought to be dead.

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War Drivers

Romans 12:1-8

High-tech hobbyists are cruising our neighborhoods looking for wireless networks and information.

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Hikikomori Moses

Exodus 3:1-15

In Japan, a cultural phenomenon is affecting men who can’t commit. Often suicidal, they’re withdrawing from society and shutting themselves off from the world.

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DNF

John 14:15-21

It’s a track star’s worst nightmare — the possibility of a DNF.

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Wisteria

Luke 15:1-10

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: MOTHER’S DAY
It’s a flower that can climb high, but unless controlled, it will destroy everything it clings to.

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Crucesignatus!

Acts 1:6-14

Crusaders are on the march in a new, epic film.

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The Spirit Scale

Acts 2:1-21

The Beaufort Scale is over 250 years old, but we still use it to rate the strength of wind.

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The Hug

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

A robotic pillow can now hug Grandma when you can’t.

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Are Men Done For?

Genesis 1:1-2:4a

Bryan Sykes argues in his new book, Adam’s Curse, that males are headed for extinction. You get the sense that he thinks this is a good thing.

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1-800-GOT JUNK?

Romans 1:16-17; 3:22b-28 (29-31)

1-800 numbers will get you almost anything, including autopsies, crime-scene cleanup, or junk removal.

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The Hidden Message of Water

Genesis 6:9-22; 7:24; 8:14-19

Dr. Emoto says that we should be careful about how we talk to water.

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Power Issues

Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

Who are the most powerful people who’ve walked on earth? In many lists, Jesus doesn’t come close.

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Christ and the Idiosyncrologous Culture

Matthew 9:35-10:8 (9-23)

Forget melting pot. We’re a country of Food Court Druids, Kristen Kringles and Cherohonkees.

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Fatal Fixation

Romans 6:1b-11

Perseveration (perSEVeration) is a brain condition that causes us to persist in fatally destructive behaviors.

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Escape-a-Date

Romans 6:12-23

Cingular Wireless has a service that helps us get out of unwelcome situations.

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Whiffle Rules

Ephesians 5:8-14

Kickball, dodgeball and whiffle-ball are back —among adults, not kids. The games are intense, but the rules are clear.

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Zeke’s List

Ezekiel 37:1-14

Need a friend at the last minute? Just for bowling or a movie. That’s all. There’s a Web site for you. But you have to get on the list.

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Dead Like Me

John 11:1-45

Call it a wake-up flush. In one of Showtime’s new series, Georgia gets fatally clobbered on the head by a toilet seat from the Mir space station. Her old life tanked, she gets a new chance.

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Christopher

Matthew 21:1-11

On Palm Sunday, Christopher is a name with which we should get familiar.

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CSI: Cross-Scene Investigation

Hebrews 10:16-25

What killed Jesus on that Good Friday cross? Our crime scene investigation points to a different set of causes.

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Sofas in the Streets

Matthew 28:1-10

In the Netherlands, people are throwing furniture in the streets trying to “calm” the traffic.

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The Verifier Approach

John 20:19-31

No one could decipher the 400-year-old Voynich manuscript until psychologist Gordan Rugg looked in the gaps.

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A Need for Creed

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Creeds are back! We’re writing them, writing about them, and singing them. What’s going on?

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Bonhoeffer’s Question

Matthew 16:13-20

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: A REFLECTION ON BONHOEFFER 60 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH
A brilliant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer grappled with many intriguing theological issues, but there was only one that — in the end — was ultimate.

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Txt Tlk

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Generation Txt is a generation in which 59 percent of Internet users today are “texting” when they want to send a message.

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The Effortless Present

Acts 2:42-47

To find the Sweet Spot or enter “the Zone,” athletes must practice and visualize.

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The Bislett Effect

1 Peter 2:2-10

More than 62 world track-and-field records have been broken in Oslo, Norway — more than any other venue. How come?

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Skin Deep

Ephesians 3:1-12

Shelley Jackson needed more than 2,000 volunteers to help her write her short story. Actually, she wrote it, one word at a time, one word per volunteer — on human skin! Imagine that: the word made flesh!

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DIY Religion

Acts 10:34-43

House churches. The emerging church movement. Alternative church. A lot of Christians are saying that we can do church without the help of the experts. Outrageous!

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Tuvalu Sinking

Psalm 40:1-11

The island nation of Tuvalu is gurgling, going under, leaving nothing but its valuable .tv domain name behind. The question is: Does a nation exist when the ground on which it stands disappears? What happens when we start sinking?

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The Thrill of Skill

John 1:29-42

You don’t watch a video or read a book if you really want to learn how to surf the waves of Waikiki. No harm in that, of course. But there comes a point when you’ve got to spend time with a master.

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Soft Savior

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

A social critic says “Hard” America competes, “Soft” America coddles. Hard America competes and is accountable. Soft America loves government regulation and social safety nets. So when the apostle looks at the Corinthian church, what does he see: Hard Corinth, or Soft Corinth?

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Blessed are the Placemakers

Matthew 5:1-12

Monty Python once misquoted the Beatitudes by saying, “Blessed are the cheese-makers.” That’s nothing. Read the Beatitudes and you get the feeling the whole thing is a mistake.

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My Life

Micah 6:1-8

It’s the ultimate question: “What should I do with my life?” It’s a question posed by author Po Bronson in a best-selling book by the same title, and answered by the prophet Micah.

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The Stormy Star

Matthew 17:1-9

The sun is a manic maelstrom of fire that can sometimes disrupt life on earth. But those disruptions are also sources of energy and power. Jesus is our Stormy Star, and on the Mount of the Transfiguration, the face of the Son shone like the sun.

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Calculated Repentance

Isaiah 58:1-12

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: ASH WEDNESDAY
Doctors and hospitals, like the rest of us, don’t like to admit when they’ve goofed. But when a doctor apologizes for a mistake, what is a poor malpractice attorney to do?

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Saint Expeditus

Matthew 4:1-11

He’s the patron saint of urgent causes, and we all have our urgent causes! So where is he when we need him?

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Faith, Not Fakery

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

The GAO recently discovered that more than 450 federal employees had claimed bogus degrees on their résumés. The Christians in Rome are reminded that it’s not about fakery, but about faith-ery!

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Crowd Control

Exodus 17:1-7

In his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, James Surowiecki argues that far from being mindless, crowds often possess unusual insight. Hmmm. Tell that to Moses!

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SF/HF

2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17

The “doom and gloom” scenarios won’t go away. Prophetic pundits point to killer viruses, to sudden climate changes, and suggest we pick our poison. Scripture, however, points us in another direction.

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The Broken Window Theory

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Urban sociologists have discovered that when you allow one window to stay broken in a blighted area, more broken windows follow. Christians, too, need to take care of business — one window at a time!

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The Dream Machine

Isaiah 65:17-25

The Japanese have invented a machine that promises to give us sweet dreams. Fine. What we really need, however, is something that can change our days, not our nights.

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Skipping Christmas

Jeremiah 23:1-6

Tim Allen is starring in another Christmas movie, but this time there’s no Santa Clause. Christmas with the Kranks offers an intriguing look at whether it’s possible, or even advisable, to skip Christmas. After all, what would we miss?

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The Advent Patch

Romans 13:11-14

Think your pilot has been sipping something other than coffee? Now there’s a skin patch that monitors blood alcohol levels and reports to an electronic monitor. Some think the skin patch/sin patch is a good idea. Others prefer a more positive approach.

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God in True Light

Romans 15:4-13

Victims of journalistic overkill are legion, many of them feeling that they have been portrayed in a “false light.” Eddie Bueno is one. His story is fascinating. But when Christians get careless, are we guilty of casting God in a false light?

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The InnoCentive SOULution

Isaiah 11:1-10

It’s cost-prohibitive for many cutting-edge companies to spend the R & D money necessary to solve some of the problems that arise in their research. That’s why they turn to InnoCentive.com, a Web site where they can post the problem and offer a financial reward to anyone who can solve it. Cool idea, and now there’s even a SOULution that all can take advantage of!

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The Clothesline Christ

Matthew 11:2-11

Nicols Fox hung her laundry on a clothesline instead of tossing it in the dryer, and by so doing, ignited a political firestorm. Sometimes, simple but strongly held positions will do that.

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The Immanuel Name Domain

Isaiah 7:10-16

Companies and products are jostling to find domain names for Internet markets. But the space is crowded and hotly contested. So what’s in a name? A lot. That’s what the prophet says to King Ahaz, who apparently doesn’t have a clue.

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Competing for Christ

Matthew 1:18-25

ABC ran a 20/20 segment last spring that featured five couples “competing” for a child the mother was giving up for adoption. The squirm factor is high here, but it does remind us that there’s another child, a child in a manger, who is waiting to be embraced and loved.

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The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

SPECIAL INSTALLMENT: CHRISTMAS EVE
Sir J.M. Barrie first brought the character Peter Pan to the stage 100 years ago in a play called The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. It’s about a boy trapped in his childhood, and reminds us that, truth be told, we’d prefer Jesus the same way.

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How Christmas Works

Matthew 2:13-23

The Christmas we celebrate is a mangled matrix of mistletoe; Christmas trees and shopping sprees; Peace, Paxil and parties. But did anyone ever suggest that Christmas could be dangerous?

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No Waste

Jeremiah 18:1-11

In Cuba, where an economic depression deepens, people have come up with creative ways to use discarded items. Nothing is wasted. This is a truth Jeremiah learned when he made a visit to the potter’s house.

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Is There Salt in Your Shaker?

Luke 14:25-33

Designer salt is now hitting our tables as salt use in the United States continues to grow. Jesus said that salt can lose its flavor. He obviously hadn't tasted "beach salt." What did he mean?

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Parked in Dopey

Luke 15:1-10

So many people lose their cars at Disney World that Disney employs a "parking cast" just to assist these hapless tourists. As happy as these folks are to get their cars back, they're not likely to throw a party. But, Jesus says, when the lost sheep returns to the fold, the heavens rejoice!

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The Liars’ Club

Luke 16:1-13

In his book, The Cheating Culture, David Callahan argues that cheating, once the domain of the unscrupulous, has now gone mainstream. What’s going on? Even Jesus seems to applaud the shady, middle-management steward in a cryptic story of greed and cunning.

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When Life Gives You a Red Light

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

We hate to wait, whether we’re talking ticket counters, doctors’ offices, or red lights. Now, however, there’s a traffic light switcher to help us when we’re waiting at that intersection. Just click for a green light and off you go! Too bad we can’t do that in life!

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Life Calculator

Luke 16:19-31

Dr. David Demko’s Death Device projects the date of a celebrity’s demise using lifestyle information such as smoking and exercise. Whitney Houston? 2022. Keith Richards? Should have died in‘95. But maybe it’s more important to discover when we are going to live.

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The Stewardship Paradox

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Special Installment: Stewardship Sunday
In his book, The Progress Paradox, Gregg Easterbrook argues that we've never had it so good, and we've never felt so lousy about it. How come? And what's the solution? The apostle Paul suggests it might have something to do with "hilarious" giving.

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Red Bull Buzz

Luke 17:5-10

The 21C generation is turning to buzz beverages like Piranha, Blue Ox and Wow for a quick energy boost. When his disciples ask Jesus to “increase their faith,” Jesus tells them that faith is not a matter of getting a head rush.

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Funeral Urns and Treasure Chests

Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7

When Brooklyn Gas became KeySpan, Kenny Moore held a funeral service. Not a bad idea when facing changing times that demand that we bury the old, and move forward with the new.

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Smart Pills and Wise Living

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Scientists are on the verge of introducing brain boosters that will enhance memory. The apostle Paul warns Timothy that people have a tendency to look for spiritual smart pills, when true wisdom is found in Scripture.

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The Missyplicity Project

2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18

John Sperling is interested in life-a long life, whether it's for his cat, for himself or for others. In fact, he'd like to be able to live forever. The apostle Paul knew that living forever was possible-but had no interest in doing it in his mortal body.

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Gait Analysis

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed two models to analyze the way people walk. It’s a technology that people in Homeland Security hope will help identify known terrorists. The apostle Paul thinks that gait analysis might also identify Christians who are walking with God.

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The Rock Climbing Mission of the 70

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The Rock Climbing Mission of the 70 The analogies that link the climbing of mountains to discipleship are many, not the least of which is that a good rock climber climbs in the future — today!

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Jesus, Arthur and George

John 6:1-15

The legend of King Arthur, in a movie by the same name, is recalled this summer in a blockbuster adaptation that forces us to consider again the nature of political action, the essence of true leadership and the tension between wanting to be king and the need to be a servant.

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The Stepwell Solution

2 Kings 5:1-14

The stepwells of India, until recently, widely abandoned, require one to go down below the earth to underground caverns to retrieve water. Naaman the Syrian, however, was in no mood to go down into the water, even if it could mean coming up and out of the water healed and whole.

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Rest Points

Colossians 1:1-14

The voters of one large American city were recently asked to pass a measure which would have forced the city council to enact programs and policies to reduce the stress points in the lives of its citizens. The Colossians text shows us how we can find rest points, not stress points, in our daily lives.

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Don’t Drop In

Luke 10:25-37

Being a good neighbor used to mean having the freedom to drop in on one’s neighbor unannounced, and to receive your neighbors when they did. Not any more. Not only don’t we make a practice of dropping by, we don’t want others to, either! Good thing a Samaritan, long ago, had a different view of dropping by, and staying by, his neighbor.

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A Thimbleful of Stardust

Colossians 1:15-28

Last January, a NASA spacecraft streaked headlong into the tail of Wild 2, and collected a small sample of dust which scientists believe will give them a Theory of Everything. In Colossians, Paul has his own Theory of Everything, and it is centered on Jesus Christ, who is the creator of all this and holds all things together.

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A Loss for Words

Luke 11:1-13

There are about 6,800 spoken languages throughout the world today, but many of them are being crowded into extinction by more dominant languages. The disciples of Jesus wanted to make sure that they didn’t lose a language — the language of prayer.

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The Ten Most Overpaid Jobs

Luke 12:13-21

CBS.MarketWatch.com created a list of the 10 most overpaid jobs. On the list are wedding photographers, airline pilots and mutual fund managers. The rich fool of Jesus’ parable may not have been overpaid, but he had lots of money — but there was something he had not factored in to his business plan.

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Faith Treks

Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16

Guidebooks are now being published to assist and encourage tourists who want to travel to the hot spots around the world — like Kabul, North Korea and Baghdad. Makes you wonder: Where in the world will our faith take us?

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Olympic Faith

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

The Olympic games are on — at the site where they began thousands of years ago. They invite us to reconsider what it means to “run with patience the race that is set before us.”

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The Age Tax

Jeremiah 1:4-10

When Mae Koscheski got her bill from the hospital after a recent medical emergency, she noticed a surcharge for $70 on account of her “extreme age.” She was 73 at the time. Age, whether it’s youth or maturity, can be used as an excuse or an opportunity. In God’s conversation with Jeremiah, there are lessons to be learned!

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Homeless.com

Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16

The Internet seems a long way removed from the needs and concerns of the homeless. But the Emmaus organization sees in the Internet a creative way to help the needy. Their ingenuity challenges us to actualize Jesus’ call to lift up the fallen.

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Roman or Catholic?

Acts 9:36-43

In his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill argues that there are two types of people in the world: Romans and small “c” catholics. The distinction he draws between the two is instructive, especially if we try to model our lives after that of Tabitha, the seamstress of Joppa.

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Jesus is Ovine Lingual

John 10:22-30

Thanks to a Japanese inventor, when your dog woofs “Bow wow,” vs. “Bow wow wow wow wow,” you can now determine whether he’s asking for food — pronto, or warning of imminent danger. It may be hi-tech tomfoolery, but there’s nothing bogus about the Good Shepherd’s ability to understand the bleating of his flock.

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The Telephone Pole Problem

Acts 11:1-18

About 10 months ago, the entire northeast United States was plunged into darkness, immobilized in part by the failure to trim some tree branches overhanging telephone lines. In a Wi-Fi world, do we still need telephone poles, and why is it so hard to pull them down?

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Fear and Driving in L.A.

John 13:31-35

Seong Un Joe, a radio personality in L.A., says that Koreans are the worst drivers. Maybe yes, maybe no. In any case, driving well, as a metaphor for living well, is a serious problem. What we don’t need on the journey through life is a NASCAR mentality that pushes us out of control.

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Cursive Obedience

John 14:23-29

Kids are on computers these days before they can talk. By the time they’re in first grade, they can already make their way around the Internet. The need for keyboard skills is self-evident, but cursive handwriting? A lot of schools are dropping it.

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Prophecy for Profit

Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21

Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have a new prophecy club. For $44.95 a month you can “join the club” and “be an insider.” But do we need a subscription — or Scripture — to advise us on how to live in these dangerous times?

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Jesus Presenters

John 14:8-17 (25-27)

The Association of Lincoln Presenters is a group of men and women who dress up as Abe and Mary Lincoln and go about the country spreading the gospel of the Lincoln spirit. Not hard to see where we’re going with this one, is it?

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Smart Bricks

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Bricklaying and brick-making are technologies that are 6,400 years old. Now engineers at the University of Illinois are working on “smart bricks” that can relay information to firemen and engineers about the structural integrity of a building. If bricks can be smart, with the help of what Proverbs calls “Wisdom,” so can we.

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Cleaning House

Galatians 2:15-21

AK Steel Corporation has engineered a self-cleaning house by making use of an antimicrobial compound that coats the house with a disinfecting agent that provides a germ-free environment. Too bad it’s not so easy to keep our spiritual house in order.

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The Tortoise Test

1 Kings 19:1-4 (5-7) 8-15a

The Desert Tortoise can go a year without water, but has to spend 95 percent of his life in underground burrows. It’s a life that must have seemed attractive to Elijah, who wondered if he had the resources to survive the hostility of the desert.

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Faking It

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Faking It Harvard grad becomes a cheerleader. Insurance agent becomes a stunt man. A kick boxer becomes a ballroom dancer. What’s going on? A lot of fakery by people pretending to be something they’re not — and the church is not immune to this phoniness.

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The Jesus Type

Luke 9:51-62

You’re a Harvard grad, you can cook up killer calamari, you admit to crying at the movies, and you always remember birthdays. What’s not to like about you? But the online dating service rejects your application anyway. What gives?

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Song of the Insomniac

Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 58 percent of us aren’t sleeping well. And God might be at the root of a lot of this insomnia!

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Sinful Sundays

Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Studies show that when communities repeal their “blue” laws, things really get blue.

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Haphazard Handoffs

Galatians 6:(1-6), 7-16

Formula One race drivers and top-notch surgeons have this in common: They’ve got great “handoff” teams that know how to deal with problems.

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Adlet and Blink

Luke 10:25-37

Sixty-second commercials? Unheard of these days. One-second TV spots are becoming commonplace.

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Messy Mary

Luke 10:38-42

Sales of organizing systems continue to soar, but there’s a new movement afoot that urges us to say yes to mess: “Bless this mess, O Lord, we pray.”

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Hosea’s Mug Shots

Hosea 1:2-10

Ever look at the mug shots in the post office? Now you can buy a book of them. Mug shots as art.

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Nothing to Do

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

In a culture as fast-paced as ours, you’d think that boredom would be the last thing to plague us. Wrong!

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Rich Fools

Luke 12:13-21

The U.S. Census Bureau, recently released a 1,300-page report that reveals that here in America, we live a “Super-Size Me” life.

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