Archives For Christian Life

To a wide-eyed Midwesterner like me, the current spate of ethnic or religiously motivated conflicts in the world is stupefying. Here in the middle of this vast country, we are surrounded by people who look and think pretty much as we do. There are minority populations of course, but we’ve managed to melt into one big pot of suburban blandness.

Palestinian Rally.

Seeing people forced from their homes under threat of death because of their faith, others murdered over perceived blasphemies, and civil wars fought over what language to speak is both puzzling and terrifying.

I realize those descriptions reduce conflicts of Byzantine complexity to mere tweets. But that’s how they appear to an outsider: surreal.

After hundreds, even thousands, of years of conflict, we have to wonder: Is there any way out of these conflicts?

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Everybody wants to change some aspect of their life. Whether it’s finances or career, marriage or education, we all want to be different tomorrow than we were yesterday.

Most of the time, we look for easy changes, quick fixes, or dramatic solutions that will produce instant results. But here’s the news: those things don’t exist.

Portrait of lovely girl drawing with colorful pencils

To produce lasting change you must take incremental action over time. Yes, that might begin with a big transition like going to rehab, getting married, or finding a new job.

But permanent change—true spiritual growth—comes by harnessing the power of simple, incremental actions repeated over time.

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Most people think the best way to change the world is to do something grand or spectacular, like cure cancer or put an end to human trafficking.

Those are needed and noble pursuits, no doubt, but you’re probably not the one to do them.

Eating ice cream. Asian girls sharing an ice cream. Beautiful ch

I seriously doubt that you will ever become president, start a worldwide movement, or make a great scientific discovery.

But you can still change the world if you want to. And you can do it today.

Here’s how.

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I am a huge fan of social media. In fact, I started blogging before there was blogging, circulating a weekly e-mail “post” to a few hundred subscribers back in the mid-1990s. I use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every day.

Social media has flattened the world, making it easier for anyone to connect with everyone. As a pastor, whose job is communicating good news, I love that.

Businessman yelling at female colleague through tin can phone ag

However, as a reader and editor who thinks words have real power to do good or evil in the world, I have concerns. Sometimes it seems we have simply forgotten how to be nice.

Social media is like a power tool. With it you can build a beautiful platform—or make a big mistake really fast.

And these are not harmless errors. They are gross abuses of the power of speech, virtual literary sins. They harm not only you but those who read them.

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The first question I hear from every newcomer to Fall Creek Wesleyan Church is the same: “What does Wesleyan mean?”

We have a proud history, so I never mind the question. It’s just cumbersome to explain.

  • Connected to the great revivals led by John and Charles Wesley that transformed England and America.
  • Historic leaders in social justice causes such as the abolition, women’s rights, temperance, the pro-life movement, and anti-trafficking.
  • Ordaining the first woman in America.
  • Believers in the Bible but not fundamentalists.
  • Evangelical with a small “e.”
  • Founders of Indiana Wesleyan University and five other institutions of higher learning.

How do you reduce 250 years of evangelism and social action to a single sound byte?

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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.

cutting the wedding cake, focus on hands

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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