A brick building with the word "work" on the side.
20 Sep 2019

The Work of Faith

“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NRSV). Paul’s second missionary journey began as an excursion to revisit churches planted throughout Asia Minor on his first missionary journey (Acts 15:36). Along the way, the Spirit of God gave Paul

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Image of hospital building
19 Aug 2019

Idols of Modern Society

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,     and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them,     the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals,     and offering incense to idols.” (Hosea 11:1-2 NRSV) The prophets Hosea and Amos were active during roughly the same era in the history of ancient Israel (8th century BCE). Both prophesied primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of

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A tin pail with ripe summer blueberries
23 Jul 2019

Amos’ Basket of Summer Fruit

“This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit” (Amos 8:1 NRSV). A couple summers ago we took a family vacation to the Indiana Dunes. We had a great time playing on the beach and climbing dune mountains at the local state park, while also hiking trails and observing bird life at the national lakeshore (which was recently upgraded to our nation’s newest national park). On our last morning in the area,

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24 Jun 2019

The Importance of Hospitality

The book of 3 John is both one of the shortest books in the Bible and one of the most unique. Being short, the letter is easy to read straight through, and one can easily grasp the basic themes. Being addressed directly to “the beloved Gaius,” the book is unique in that it is a personal letter (3 Jn 1). In the opening, the author, John, identifies himself as “the elder” (Gk. presbuteros). In the

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29 Apr 2019

L’Arche and Being Human

For the last five years, I have taught an introduction to humanities course at a local community college. Each semester I begin and end the semester with the same question, “What makes us human?” I ask students to think about a pet dog or higher primate like the gorilla. Certainly, we have some characteristics in common with other members of the animal kingdom. Yet, in spite of these similarities, our human intuition imagines that there

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01 Apr 2019

Thomas Merton and Why I Quit Facebook

About five years ago, I sat in a coffee shop reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. During the preceding weeks and months, I considered deleting my Facebook account on several occasions but never found the courage to follow through on my thoughts. I graduated from college in 2005. Somewhere around the second semester of my junior year, Facebook made its first appearance on my college campus. At that time, only users with a valid

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08 Mar 2019

Methodists, Global Christianity, and Human Sexuality

Over the course of four days at the end of February, delegates from the United Methodist Church (UMC) met in St. Louis for a special session of the General Conference to debate issues related to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. These topics had been debated before in the UMC at prior global church meetings, but the denomination had always voted to retain the traditional language of the Book of Disciple on matters

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08 Feb 2019

Round Table: Confession

In 1996, the independent Scottish band Belle & Sebastian released their second full-length album, If You’re Feeling Sinister. More than twenty years later, Sinister is still revered as one of the greatest albums of the 90’s—ranking alongside notable alternative rock acts such as Beck, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, and Nirvana. While the aforementioned bands were known for their use of heavily distorted electric guitars, Belle and Sebastian crafted a gentler tone, reminiscent of 60’s era folk-rock

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07 Jan 2019

Exile and Restoration

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them light has shined.” Isa 9:2 NRSV The prophet Isaiah lived at an unusual point in the history of the Israelite people. His prophetic ministry overlapped the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 BCE and their subsequent siege of Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). The beginning chapters of the book

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30 Nov 2018

The Second Exodus

“To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5b-6 NRSV).” The book of Revelation contains a series of visions meant to comfort and encourage believers under the heavy hand of persecution. When the author, John of Patmos, introduces himself in Revelation 1:9, he says that

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29 Oct 2018

The Terrifying God

Therefore I am terrified at his presence; when I consider, I am in dread of him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; if only I could vanish in darkness, and thick darkness would cover my face! (Job 23:15-17 NRSV) The book of Job opens with a description of the character of Job as a “blameless and upright” man who “feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1). In the

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01 Oct 2018

The Wisdom of Birds

God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore… He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in the Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of

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04 Sep 2018

John Muir and Biblical Literacy

John Muir’s A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf chronicles his journey, oftentimes on foot, from Indiana to Florida and finally to Cuba. His adventure begins on September 1, 1867 when he departs Indianapolis by train for Jeffersonville, Indiana on the banks of the Ohio River. The next day he crosses the Ohio River and begins walking south from Louisville with minimal provisions and an interest in collecting local plants. In his journal, Muir says, “I

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06 Aug 2018

The Mystery of the Gospel

In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:5-6 NRSV). Ephesians 3 opens with a brief description of Paul’s commission as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul begins by calling himself a

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11 Jul 2018

Round Table: Euthanasia

The 2016 film Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as an awkward young woman who needs employment to help support her poor working class family. After losing her job at a local bakery, she applies to become a caretaker for the adult son of a wealthy family. The son, played by Sam Claflin, was an active and successful young man before being injured in a motorcycle accident that left him as a quadriplegic. The two

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09 Jul 2018

The Book of Joy

The Book of Joy chronicles a series of conversations and interactions between two of the world’s great spiritual leaders. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the world’s most recognizable spiritual icons. Desmond Tutu was the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa. He won a Nobel Peace Prize and played an integral role in helping the people of South Africa move past the era of apartheid. In

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16 May 2018

The Refrain of the Kingdom

In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3 NRSV). In music, a refrain is

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20 Apr 2018

Ears to Hear: Talk Talk

This is the second article in a series of articles on music with artistic or spiritual significance. Artistically significant musical artists and bands rarely remain static in their craft. With each new album, they utilize new recording techniques, incorporate new instruments, experiment with new musical influences, and push the boundaries of their sound. Notable examples include artists such as Miles Davis who evolved his sound from cool jazz to modal jazz to jazz fusion, being

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02 Apr 2018

Round Table: Can We Be Certain Of Our Salvation?

Throughout church history, the question, “Can we be certain of our salvation?,” has troubled many believers. This question naturally arises because different Christian traditions have divergent teachings on the nature of salvation itself. How one is saved and whether or not this salvation can be subsequently lost are the subject of much discussion between believers. One noteworthy response to these questions from church history was the development of the so-called “Protestant work ethic.” This idea

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19 Mar 2018

Troubles and the Life of Faith

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins (Psalm 25:16-18; NRSV). Preachers on television constantly promise their viewers lives of health, wealth, and welfare. If you are sick, you will be healed. If you are struggling financially, a material blessing is headed your way. If

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