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Before God Formed You In the Womb

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations—that’s what I had in mind for you." So said God to a young prophet named Jeremiah once (Jeremiah 1:5 MSG). While these words were spoken in a particular context to a particular person, there are powerful principles we can draw out for a deeper understanding of God and His purposes. God is God, and I am not. I'm limited by time and space, …

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Everybody Needs Encouragement

We live in rather uncivil times. We're a divided nation in a divided world. In times like these, the world needs a volunteer army of encouragers. It's one of the best ways to show love. Paul said, "So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT) Encouragement isn't empty flattery. Being fake helps no one. Speaking words of affirmation isn't about the needs of the encourager but about the encouraged. Encouragement …

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Rekindle the Flame of Love by Paying Attention Again

We don't fall out of love. We stop choosing to do things that are loving. So the way back to love is to do the loving things we did early in our relationship. And that often starts with the simple step of paying attention again. Paul challenged the believers in Philippi, "Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too." (Philippians 2:3-4 …

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When You’ve Fallen Out of Love

We don't actually "fall" in love. We choose to act lovingly. Attraction might be instant, but love is cultivated over time. And since we don't fall in love, we don't actually fall out of love either. We stop choosing to act lovingly. And when we're not cultivating a relationship lovingly, things get cold. Jesus once wrote to a church that was guilty of losing its love for Him. They were going through the motions, holding to the truth, and behaving like a church, but they …

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The Life Plan of a Courageous Man

Men! In western society today, we've typecast men as unable to be responsible, intelligent, or relationally healthy. Boys will be boys. Men just can't control themselves. Girls rule. Boys drool. We aren't doing our boys any favors by hold up this particular caricature. Equally dangerous is the other extreme, embraced in various generations of history in which men are domineering overlords of the weaker sex. Between and beyond these two models is the model of a godly …

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Big News… Grace Hills Is Pregnant! We’re Expecting a Daughter Church!

Church planting is absolutely essential to doing all we can to fulfill the Great Commission in our generation. That's why we planted Grace Hills with the philosophy of being a teaching hospital. From day one, our desire has been to plant other churches out of ourselves. This is the DNA of churches that have poured into us as well. Local churches bear the weight of the work of church planting and we wanted to be born pregnant, ready to give birth to a daughter church before it …

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Diversity Was God’s Idea to Begin With

Diversity and equality have been hot topics in the last decade of American life. We're in the midst of various shifts in our culture surrounding these concepts, especially in relation to ethnicity and gender, and some of these shifts are good. When my family lived in southern California, we were ethnically not in the majority in our neighborhood, and we appreciated it greatly. Our church was home to people from dozens of ethnic backgrounds, and we loved that even more. All …

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Justice Is the Pursuit of People Who Belong to God

God will make it all right! We live in world turned upside down at present. It's an unjust place, an unholy place, and a place where the oppressed cry out to the Creator night and day. And we who belong to Jesus are agents of His Kingdom and its values, which include justice and peace. Our primary means of bringing peace and justice to the world around us is by way of telling the good news of Jesus who died to level the playing field and make salvation and redemption possible …

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Loving People You Don’t Like Is Really Love

Loving people you like is easy. Loving people who are easy to love is a cinch. But loving your enemies? That's a challenge. But it's a challenge given by Jesus when He said, "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you." (Luke 6:27-28 NLT) The basic minimum requirement that the world expects of us is that we be loving when it's easy, but Jesus' new Kingdom ethic is far …

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How Will People Know You Love Them?

Saying "I love you" matters a great deal. It's a missing ingredient in too many family stories. We all need to receive that basic verbal affirmation, and we all need to be giving it as well. But verbal affirmations of love only go so far. What we need is love through deeds, love in action. We show our love in both simple and complex ways, from random acts of kindness to great acts of sacrifice. 1 John 3:18 says, "Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; …

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