When you hear the word "grace," what comes to mind?
The grandmother of Somalian Ayaan Hirsi Ali had her young granddaughter genitally mutilated at the age of 5. Her father, an intelligent dissident and outspoken critic of the backward tradition, was imprisoned during this time and her grandmother took charge. From that moment on, Ali knew there was something wrong with her culture's view of women.
Emily Perl Kingsley had a child with Down syndrome. She was often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability. In 1987, she wrote the following:
It's easy to get out of the habit of attending church.
As a professor and advisor at Armstrong, students often come into my office struggling with a variety of academic and life problems. On many occasions, it is the student's dating life that is most confusing to them when considering their future.
The 135th annual convention of the Sunday School Association of Effingham County will be held May 4 at 10 a.m. with participating Sunday schools ready to march under the tabernacle at 9:45 a.m. The convention will be held again at the historic Effingham County Methodist Campground.
Turkey Branch United Methodist Church in Springfield will hold revival May 4-7.
You know the experience.
Everyone loves Christmas. Trees, lights, presents, songs, parties, and meals make Christmas a very special time every winter. But for Christians, Christmas is really only significant in light of Easter. The manger reflects its glory only in the witness of the empty tomb.
It's a good bet that church pews will be more packed than usual these next two Sundays. Local congregants and pastors will likely struggle to remember the names of those who come to pray and sing next to them on Palm Sunday and Easter Day. Once again, it is time for the CEO ("Christmas and Easter Only") crowd to emerge. My perspective on such folks is perhaps unique, stemming from a conversation I had years ago.
Among the many revelations I've had over the past decade in my ministerial experiences in Effingham County are the following truths: (1) there are many people with real needs in our community, and (2) I am incapable of discerning exactly who they are.
In Christianity, hell is often characterized as a realm in which God or love is completely absent. The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky may not have been far off when he said, "I am convinced that the only hell which exists is the inability to love."
As my wife and I close in on 30 years of marriage, I suppose we will naturally look back and thank God for His care in our life together.
Can't you imagine the following conversation with a local youngster?
A few months ago, my teenage son Alex was competing in a national weightlifting competition outside St. Louis. The morning of his competition, I decided to forego the predictable hotel breakfast for fresh-cooked food at an omelet joint within walking distance.
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "When Christ calls us, he bids us come and die." Bonhoeffer, citing the words of Jesus, bid Christians to count the cost of discipleship. For Bonhoeffer, this death was literal; for most other Christians we are called to die to our former selves.
The bizarre and horrible renditions notwithstanding (i.e., Roseanne Barr, Michael Bolton), most people can at least sing the national anthem. Or, I should say, they can sing what they believe is the national anthem. After all, most folks have been to enough civic events and ballgames to have memorized it.
I've got to wonder if Sherriff McDuffie, just as his head hits the pillow at night and he's about to drift off to sleep, ever reviews the events of the day and just busts out with laughter. It's got to happen on occasion.
Anyone familiar with Effingham County sports knows well the friendly but passionate rivalry between Effingham County High School and South Effingham High School in many sports. On grass fields, hardwood courts, clay diamonds, wrestling mats, dirt running trails, and asphalt courts the best of Effingham's teenage athletes battle for the title of county champs.
You've bet your life, and right now you are playing out your hand. In fact, with every day that passes you "up the ante," having invested another 24 hours in your wager. The problem is that the bet is for your spiritual and eternal life.
I have certainly heard the lament of Christian leaders who assert that we are living in a "post-Christian" era. That may be. But what I am seeing is more "Christian-phobia" than anything suggesting Christian beliefs, morals, and values are obsolete. The latest installment comes from Pennsylvania.
If you've been in Effingham more than a few decades, you've likely heard the refrain of long-time residents: "We gotta keep all those folks from Chatham from coming up here and messin' up our county." Crime and crowding are often key flashpoints in the conversation. On the other side are new residents who ask for a little grace, given the fact that they are paying taxes and increasing the property values of those long-time residents and landowners.
Even in a place as ordinary as Larry's Deli in Rincon can eternal truths be spoken.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
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