While our nation faces its toughest financial crisis since the Great Depression, the church is wandering in a wilderness of disturbing uncertainty. Ministries that enjoyed success two years ago are announcing layoffs. Some churches have been squeezed to a breaking point because donations are down.
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Don't keep wandering in yesterday's wilderness as this new year begins. It's time to challenge your giants and claim new territory.
I spent the last couple of months of 2008 buried in the book of Joshua. Casual readers might dismiss the narrative as nothing more than a description of military conquests, but when I delve into its pages I discover the revelation of Jesus Christ—our "Joshua"—who invites us to engage in a spiritual adventure beyond our wildest dreams.
The birth of Jesus was not about pine needles, eggnog, apple cider or cinnamon candles.
I associate Christmas with sensory overload: Colored lights twinkle, sleigh bells jingle and snow makes cheeks rosy, except here in Florida where we generate that frosty winter feeling with air conditioners. Then there are the holiday smells: Pine needles, cinnamon candles, spiced apple cider, eggnog, roast turkey and that musty smell of boxed ornaments that come out of the attic only once a year. Plus my favorite: White Christmas coffee, a strong brew with a tinge of coconut.
In its Dec. 15 cover story, the magazine tried to rewrite the Bible. Don’t believe the lies.
If awards were given for shock journalism, Newsweek would win the prize for its provocative Dec. 15 cover story. The headline, hanging above a simple black Bible with a rainbow-striped ribbon sticking out of it, reads: “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage.” With one big kaboom, writer Lisa Miller dropped a literary bomb on 2,000 years of Christian scholarship by suggesting that Jesus would have been OK with Matthew marrying Mark and Luke marrying John.
This has not been an easy year. On the national front we’ve endured a divisive presidential campaign, a mortgage crisis, soaring gas prices, low consumer confidence, renewed tensions with Russia, bank failures, layoffs, selloffs, buyouts, bailouts and meltdowns—plus a storm that almost wiped Galveston off the map.
It has also been a tough year spiritually. Moral failures and divorces among Christian leaders have left many disillusioned. Politics has bitterly divided the church. Ministries have had to cut back because of the economic downturn. Some of my friends are joking about buying “I SURVIVED 2008” T-shirts.