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Giving the Gift of a Blessing

When I was a fairly young believer, my father-in-law (who was also my Pastor) led us in a study of Gary Smalley and John Trent's The Gift Of The Blessing. We talked then about how frivolously we throw around the words "blessed" and "blessing." We even follow up a sneeze with "Bless you." But in Scripture, the idea of a "blessing" was filled with meaning. God said that all who treated Abraham and his descendants well would be blessed. The patriarchs reserved the "blessing" …

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Sin Within: Why We Do What We Do

At some point in my adolescent years, I experienced the 1959 Vincent Price classic, The Tingler. Ever seen it? For its time, it's creepy. Mr. Price plays Dr. Warren Chapin who has a theory that the emotion of terror is actually caused by a creature living within us that is kept tiny only by our screams. When he performs the autopsy of a lady who was deaf and mute, he discovers the tingler, which happens to escape and run around a movie theater for a while like a giant …

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Living Under the Rule and Reign of Grace

There's a long, straight stretch of newly paved road in Bentonville near my home. It was gravel, and now it's asphalt, and it's a quick way to cut over to Rogers. Except it isn't quick because as soon as it was paved, a 30mph speed limit was placed on it. Personally, I think 30mph is a dumb rule on a long, empty, straight, newly paved road (I'm thinking 45-ish). But I'm technically bound to obey this law, and I may or may not have a tendency to exceed this limit and break the …

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Just How Big Is Your Vision?

If you've seen the recent Tom Hanks movie Saving Mr. Banks, you know that the classic movie Mary Poppins wasn't about a Nanny come to save the children. It was about a Nanny come to save Mr. Banks. And why would he need saving? According to Mary Poppins, he couldn't see past the "end of his nose." He lived for the next dollar while emotionally neglecting his kids until he eventually lost his job and found his joy flying a kite with Jane and Michael. We do that, don't we? …

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Whom God Saves, God Seals

In the year 2000, Angie and I bought our first home. It was sweet! We took one day with the realtor. About the fifth or sixth and final house we looked at that day was the perfect fit. We headed to the realtor's office and filled out an offer form and included with it our earnest money - a whopping $500 (big money for us at the time)! Had we backed out of the deal, we would have lost that money. Further, it might have demonstrated some flaw in our character, hence the …

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Healthy Churches Grow by the Power of God

The church shouldn't work. It doesn't make any organizational sense. It's unlike any corporate structure on earth. So how in the world has the church, as an institution, managed to survive for two thousand years? It must be the power of God. Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, argues that we absolutely must "work and struggle" hard in our effort to grow God's kingdom. God doesn't empower laziness. At the same time, he also argues that it is God and God alone who …

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Life Is About More than Keeping Our Lists

I have lots of lists. And you probably do too. We have lists of the things we are supposed to do right, the things we aren't supposed to do wrong, and of course the list of ways we've failed to keep the other two lists. But life is about way more than keeping lists. Somewhere along the way, we've been taught rules, and rules are good. Rules and commandments are like boundaries for a life lived in wisdom and safety. And even though God gave us plenty of rules, He never …

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From Condemnation to Confidence

Are you confident? God wants you to be. He doesn't want you to be arrogant or self-reliant, but He does want you to wake up each morning and face the day with a sense of spiritual confidence, rooted in your relationship with Him. He even went to the trouble of speaking rather clearly through His word about all the reasons we get to be so confident. In Paul's letter to the Romans, he outlines a multitude of reasons why everything is different once we place our faith in …

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On the Cross, Jesus Won

Sometimes, the story of Jesus is depicted in odd ways. In various on-screen or onstage representations of the gospel, we see Satan enjoying a momentary victory when Jesus was crucified, only to have his gloating spoiled by the resurrection. But I don't think for a second Satan believed the cross was his own victory. In fact, I believe Satan worked extremely hard to prevent the cross from ever happening. He understood redemption better than anyone, and would do anything to …

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Defining Spiritual Maturity

How is it that some people can be born again, faithful church members for many decades and act so immaturely under pressure or in conflict while others who have been believers such a short time seem to reflect Christ so well? It's because spiritual maturity isn't defined chronologically. It doesn't matter so much how long you've been a Christian. It matters whether you've been growing while a Christian. I love the way Tony Evans states it his book Time To Get …

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