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.
Jamie Coots, pastor of a Middlesboro, Ky., church, died recently following a worship service in which he was handling snakes. I'll give you three guesses on the cause of his death.
In the book of Acts, chapter 8, we find the account of St. Peter witnessing to an Ethiopian eunuch, baptizing him and presumably sending the faith back with this new Christian to Ethiopia. Regular church-goers know the story. We can also presume that this convert was the forerunner of the Ethiopian church, which we rarely hear much about, at least not until recently.
One of my favorite radio personalities is the late Paul Harvey, who died in 2009 after 65 years in broadcasting. To me, Harvey was exceptional at getting to the heart of any matter in his topical broadcasts, called "The Rest of the Story."
Sometimes we pastors are humbled by the wisdom we find in others. We think that we, having been schooled in scripture, have a monopoly on wisdom. And then we hear someone speak on life and truth from a deeply personal experience, and we realize we have no such monopoly and our pontificating may be lacking something. Here is an example of a true account that leaves me feeling humble.
NBC's advertising of the "Today" show's Monday morning segment on prayer caught my attention. While the promotions were run continually and ad nauseum, at least they signaled a possible shift by the usually highly secular show toward an acknowledgement, if not appreciation, of things spiritual.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Rincon recently held a service of institution for its chapter of Daughters of the King.
One of the questions pastors often encounter, whether directly or indirectly, is the dilemma of innocent suffering. That is, why do bad things happen to good people?
On Sunday evenings this spring, CNN is airing a new docudrama series entitled "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, and Forgery." The series is based on the book of the same name by David Gibson and Michael McKinley.
Even if you haven't stepped in a church in years, you likely know the story of the "prodigal" son. Just in case, here's a quick refresher: A rather wealthy landowner has two sons. One asks for his inheritance early (before his father's death, which was an even greater insult when Jesus told this story than it is today). His father obliges him, and the son takes off to live a life of partying.
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15) underscores the truth that God's love can be received by people extremely late in life. Many a pastor has seen death-bed conversions; they are possible and do sincerely occur.
We are fortunate to live in a county rich with churches offering different opportunities for people to worship. Yet, we must be humble and honest enough to realize that often people who walk through our front doors see very imperfect organizations, and unfortunately that can turn them off to the whole idea of organized religion and church.
The television series "House of Cards" is an American political drama based on a BBC miniseries of the same name. The opening of season 1 set the stage for what were we to witness as the background of the political sphere. In that episode, congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) kills a suffering dog with his bare hands while telling the television audience that sometimes we must "do the unpleasant thing, yet the necessary thing." And from then on out, the audience experiences the utter ruthlessness of politics as it is portrayed behind the scenes.
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