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I Believe...

This week started off for me with a question from the Monday morning women's Bible study. It's always a little unsettling to hear, "Can you come here? We have a question." But it was a good question, and we had a good time discussing it. The question had to do with the Nicene Creed, which we recently recited together on a Sunday morning. Our church does not have a long his...

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One Whom God Helps

It's been used to rebuke the rich, defend salvation by poverty, teach about the afterlife, condemn antebellum slavery, and even promote women's suffrage. The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus certainly raises a series of questions. Can heaven be seen from hell? Does wealth make the difference between the two? Are those in heaven aware of (and indifferent to) the sufferin...

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The Even Better Good King

Note: to help with my own preparation for this Sunday's sermon, I decided to write out the basic points in the shortest, simplest way I could think of. That turned out to be a children's story. Here it is, as this week's article: Once upon a time, there was a good king. His name was Josiah. One cool thing about Josiah is that he was only eight years old when he became k...

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Jesus' Hardest Parable

After six weeks of exploring perhaps the best-known parable Jesus told, we come now to his hardest parablethe Parable of the Unjust Steward, found in Luke 16:1-13. I was planning to skip this parable and go straight to the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. But over lunch someone (OK, it was Richard) asked if I would be tackling the Parable of the Unjust Steward. It's a ...

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What Shame

The prodigal son comes home. But the elder son does not care that his brother is home, "safe and sound." What a shame. He doesn't even care that there is a celebration. Actually, he does care. He hates it. He despises it. He resents it. Yet, custom requires his presence. The older son has a responsibility. He should work alongside his father as the host. He should be at th...

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In or Out?

When our children were younger, we used to listen to audio recordings of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, the pen name of Daniel Handler. Snicket likes to poke fun at our culture's fascination with what is "in" and what is "out." Esme Squalor, one of the more colorful characters in the series, has her heart set on being the "inest" person in town. She is f...

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Finish the Story

Kerra (my wife), is an English teacher who also teaches several other subjects. But at heart, she is an English teacher. Recently she assigned her class to read an incomplete short story. That was part of the assignment. The other part of the assignment was to write an ending to the story. This is essentially what Jesus is doing with those who are listening to the Parable ...

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Is Sin Basically Breaking the Rules of God or Breaking the Heart of God?

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus speaks to the relationship problems we have with God. For some of us, it is obvious that we are deeply alienated from God. But for others, our estrangement from God is much more subtle. It's not only the "younger brother" types who are alienated from God; "elder brother" types are too. The parable of the Prodigal Son is a dramatic...

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Wastefully Extravagant

Charles Dickens called it "the finest short story ever written." We know it as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a story that is deeply embedded with Western Culture. But have we really understood what Jesus was speaking of when he told the story of the parable? Maybe not. The fact that we call the story "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" suggests that we have not unde...

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Lost and Found

I lost my glasses the other day. I do that often. I put them down somewhere, then forget where I put them. I sometimes I do the same thing with my keys. My glasses are important to me. So are my keys. So, when I lose something of vital importance to me, I search diligently for that which was lost until I have found it. This week we begin a new sermon series titled, Lost...

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