Archives For Christian Life

When recruiting people for the Water for Life mission in Haiti, I often say, “This is your chance to change the world.” It’s a bold statement, and some will disagree. Short-term missions has more than a few critics.

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They do have a point or two in their favor. These intensive, whirlwind experiences are supposed to produce a positive result, but even some proponents admit they can be disastrous.

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The Grand Canyon State has been in the news because the legislature recently voted to amend a law with the effect that business owners can decline to serve gay people if doing would violate their religious beliefs. The bill is now awaiting action by Arizona governor Jan Brewer.

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Presumably this change in Arizona law was occasioned by some notable cases where people, including a baker and a photographer, declined to offer their services for gay weddings.

If the governor signs the bill, which is opposed by LGBT rights advocates, any person could refuse to serve another if motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, and if doing so would substantially burden the exercise of that belief.

The idea seems to be that religious people should not be compelled to violate their conscience by state law.

As a conservative Christian myself, I’m all for that.

I knew a hotel manager who politely refused to staff the hotel bar because he objected to the consumption of alcohol. And I’ve known many medical people who declined to dispense birth control or perform abortions because of their religious convictions.

Certainly we need legal protection for people of conscience.

Yet if I were a baker, I would sell cake to anyone.

Here’s why.

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People of faith find themselves in an odd situation these days. For most of our lives, we have been surrounded by people who believe in God also, so explanations of faith were unnecessary. Yet as our culture more deeply embraces rationalism as the sole arbiter of truth, many wonder why any thoughtful person would believe in God—or even what that means.

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What we once took for granted—the meaning of faith—now calls for an explanation, even to ourselves.

So here goes. When I say I believe in God, this is what I mean.

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North Americans are action-oriented people. When something happens anywhere in the world, we want to say or do something about it. We know the power of words and actions.

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That makes it hard to do nothing, particularly when we think we have a better idea.

Yet word power isn’t always a good thing, and the things we do aren’t always helpful either. Increasingly, people don’t know how to be nice.

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Christmas Eve is one of the three days unchurched people are most likely to come to church. (The other two are Easter and Mother’s Day.)

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This is a prime opportunity to bring newcomers into your church and engage those who come, but most people miss this opportunity because they’re unsure whom to invite or how to go about it.

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I returned from Haiti this weekend after a seven-day mission to help install a water filtration system at a church and school in the village of Papette. Our team of 10 from Fall Creek Wesleyan Church was stretched pretty good, but we accomplished the goal.

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Some 1,200 gallons per day of purified water is not available to the people in that community.

In a country where one in five children dies from water-borne disease, that feels like a huge thing. In a country of 9 million people, most of them living without access to a clean water source, it seems incredibly small.

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A frenemy is someone who appears to be a friend but is really an enemy, and frenemies can exist in nearly any social context. Frenemies are easy to identify if you know the signs.

When you determine that you have a frenemy, it’s time to take action. But dealing with frenemies takes wisdom, tact, and a good deal of self-confidence.

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I learned that the hard way.

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