From Maternity to Puberty: Why Salvation Is Always Going to Be Something of a Mess

If salvation can be compared to birth and puberty, then salvation is always going to be something of a mess.

I was a skeptic once, although not about religion. God wasn’t a mystery just yet, but girls certainly were. In the third grade, I became convinced that those long-haired aliens must have crashed into earth’s orbit from a galaxy far, far away.

I then heard the most absurd thing in Sunday School: God created Eve to be a helper! This was entirely contrary to my experience, because none of the girls I knew were at all helpful. They even refused to join in our daily burping contest at recess, calling it gross.

And so I struggled with my first bout of agnosticism. Maybe God had made a mistake. “Helper? Not in a million years!”

My skepticism lasted until the sixth grade, when, ironically, my incredulity was instantly transformed into idolatry. It was befuddling. I learned that a 10-year-old boy was no match for the power of puberty even though I had a greenbelt in karate.

I, who had once scoffed at the very idea of love, was now at its altar. My sweltering agnosticism turned into Jell-O-pudding and I found myself undone. From then on, my whole reason-for-being was split into two simple functions: (1) getting a girlfriend, and (2) everything else.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I learned that my assumptions in third grade said more about my ignorance than about the laws of human nature. This is how I went from being a skeptic to a worshipper.

Likewise, many in our culture today are going through a similar voyage in their faith journey. We might call it a “passage through spiritual puberty,” except they just don’t know it yet. Jesus said on one occasion that we must be born again spiritually to enter the kingdom of heaven, and on another, he said that we must become like little children.

This is …

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Here's how to avoid long lines at Sun Devil Stadium for Michigan State-ASU game

ASU’s first game in its newly renovated Sun Devil Stadium saw fans complaining of long lines and missed kickoffs. Here’s how to avoid the rush.

      

 

 

Phoenix community has big plans for Horse Lovers Park

Community groups hope to renovate and improve Horse Lovers Park, the 50-acre equestrian park in northeast Phoenix.

      

 

 

In the Beginning Is Silence

Why Christian activity should start with non-activity.

In his 1983 Templeton Prize address, Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said, “If I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.” This reality, of course, has bled into the 21st century, and we even see bloodstains in the church.

Christians have not forgotten God as much as set him on a shelf while we attend to more urgent business, like growing churches or preaching hope or fighting injustice. These are all righteous in their own way, of course—except when knowing and loving God becomes an afterthought or a means to an end.

This is not a new temptation. Paul talked about it in relation to the love of neighbor. But it applies even more to our love of God: We might speak in miraculous tongues or with prophetic truth to power, we might have the faith to move the culture, we might sacrificially serve the poorest of the poor—but if we don’t love God, it is nothing (1 Cor. 13:1–4). Why did Paul bring this up if the Christians of his day weren’t so tempted?

Fall is the activity season. As the school year gets underway, families put all sorts of plans and routines in play. Churches gear up their manifold programs. And this being an election year, activists set campaigns into motion. It’s our time of year.

It’s long been recognized that a distinctive feature of American Christianity, and evangelical Christianity in particular, is our activism. Certainly, there is the activism of deeds—opening food pantries, starting Bible studies, joining political interest groups. But words are deeds as well, and as such, we …

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Anne Graham Lotz: My Breast Cancer Is ‘Fuel for the Fire’

Diagnosed on anniversary of her husband’s death, Billy Graham’s daughter responds with prayer of famous missionary to India, Amy Carmichael.

“What fuel has the Refiner added to the fire as He works to reveal Jesus in and through you? He has recently stoked the fire under me!”

So began yesterday’s revelation by Anne Graham Lotz, the “best preacher in the family” of Billy Graham (according to her late father himself), that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The popular evangelist and author received the news “three years to the day … at the very same time of day” as her husband Danny Lotz’s death by drowning in 2015.

“When I realized the strange ‘coincidence’ of the timing, I came to the chilling conclusion that it was an assignment from the enemy,” wrote Lotz on her AnGeL Ministries website. “But just as that thought was forming, I heard the soft, gentle whisper of the Spirit, reminding me that it was on a Friday, during that very same time … between 3:00 and 3:30 in the afternoon … that God’s Passover Lamb was sacrificed.

“Jesus died on the very same day of the week, at the very same time of the day, crushing the head of the serpent, forever defeating the devil and death. Praise God!,” she wrote. “The cross … the blood of God’s Lamb … trumps anything the devil can throw at us or assign to us! So I am left to worship and totally trust our God who is ultimately in control. Of everything.”

In requesting the prayers of her many supporters, Lotz cited Amy Carmichael, a famous Irish missionary to India whose “eloquent and moving prayer below has given me words to express my heart’s desire.” The prayer reads:

From prayer that asks that I may beSheltered from winds that beat on Thee,From fearing when …

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APS seeks new $3-a-month rate hike from Arizona Corporation commission

APS is seeking a rate increase to cover the cost of environmental improvements at a New Mexico coal plant.

      

 

 

Nationwide pays $83 million for Scottsdale land, plans regional headquarters

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. was the top bidder at a Wednesday auction for 134 acres on the northwest corner of Hayden Road and the Loop 101.

      

 

 

Your Digital Life, Hidden with Christ

Serving the God ‘who sees in secret’ in a world where there’s pressure to post everything.

Snap, post, chat, tweet, like, send—the gestures of social media, where a stubby thumb or an index finger is mightier than the sword and pen combined. Such is the world in which we live. However, one inherent weakness of social media is its inability to understand the beauty of hiddenness. In fact, there is nothing that I can think of that is more antithetical to the hidden than the proliferation of social media.

The whole premise of social media is to reach as many people as possible, the more, the better. The frightening part about this logic is that it might be changing how we think about life. Can we enjoy a concert without capturing at least a part of it with our smartphones? Can we have a beautiful engagement without a hidden cameraman in the bushes to record the proposal? In short, without some sort of digital proof can something exist? It seems to me that it is increasingly impossible to conceive of something without footage. As the internet adage goes, “pics or it didn’t happen.” We seem to only value what can be witnessed by others or shared socially.

Love of Honor

In the midst of a world obsessed with what can be observed by others, Colossians 3:3 says something very foreign: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” These words were penned in a context not dissimilar to our own. The ancient world might not have had smartphones, but the ancients cared about their public persona. Ovid, the Roman poet, reminds us that people roamed ancient streets and venues both to see and be seen.

The Colossians were just like any modern urban dweller. In some sense, they were more concerned with public recognition than we are when we consider that the love of honor (philotimia) …

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A Letter to the Church: The Problems of Moral Failure and Misconduct Are Real and Must Be Addressed. Now.

This is a very hard season for the church in America, and frankly, a season in which many cannot yet see the end in sight.

I regularly receive notes from pastors and church members around the country on how to deal with the moral failures and abuses of so many leaders in the church today.

A few quick notes of clarification are needed here: the rash of leaders that we have seen fall within the past year and a half or so have nearly all engaged in moral failure. They have made wrong decisions regarding the proper and biblical way to act as leaders.

But, some have also abused power, which I’ve addressed quite often. There is a difference. It’s important to note this, even though my focus in this article is on how we might respond. YOu see, people are hurting in many churches, and leaders either often don’t know or aren’t responding as they ought to those who have serious questions and concerns.

This is unacceptable, and it’s time for change.

So in this article I am addressing both how to deal with moral failures, as well as how to respond when those include abuse and victimization.

I am seeing two extremes happening as a response to this continual stream of news: Camp one is placing their proverbial fingers in their ears in denial over the serious and deeply troubling condition of many in the church today and camp two is standing with one foot out the door of the church, ready to shake the dust off their feet and walk out, unable to deal with so much silent sin.

I understand both sides. This is a very hard season for many churches, and frankly, a season in which many cannot yet see the end in sight.

It’s a time of lament.

As a Christian leader who has sought to live in a way that brings honor to God (though too many times I fail), it pains me over and over as I see colleagues fall as a result of unaccountability, pride, …

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No place like home: 'Wizard of Oz' slippers found after Arizona donor offers reward

A pair of ruby slippers seen in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” were recovered after being stolen 13 years ago.