Christianity in One Word

Christianity in One Word

Denominations. Cultures. Traditional vs. contemporary. Grace vs. good works. Community. Just love everyone. What is Christianity really about anyway?

Controversy has been a part of Christianity ever since Jesus ascended back to heaven. It took some time for Jewish and Gentile believers to work through what was essential and what wasn’t. Persecution pressed the believers to carry the good news farther and farther until the then-known world was turned upside down. (Acts 17:6) Even so, nothing could stop them.

What was it about having been with Jesus that so changed the first believers? What was it that so burned in their souls? What was it that continued to compel the gospel forward in the face of both internal conflict and external opposition?

If you had to sum up Christianity in one word, what would it be?

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How to Say “I’m Sorry”

How to Say “I’m Sorry”

SorryI’m not proud of it. I gave someone I didn’t know a difficult time, and I had to say “I’m sorry”

I was on call for a small hospital, and staying in a hotel nearby. Things went fine until the third morning. I rely heavily on a reliable internet connection wherever I am, but this particular morning I was unable to connect regardless of what I tried. My laptop, my smart phone, my tablet, my husband’s smart phone – the connection which had been just fine yesterday simply wasn’t working today.

I called the front desk and asked for assistance. I was told to take some steps to fix the problem. They didn’t work. The clerk came up to my room and tried to connect my smart phone to the internet using a process I knew wouldn’t work. My frustration was growing by the moment, and I became louder and ruder as time went on, letting her know how wrong the steps she suggested had been.

A short time later the front desk called again. The clerk had contacted IT support, and together they resolved the problem. I thanked her. The problem was on her end, not mine. I had been right all along!

And I had also been wrong.

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Six Things I’d Say To My Younger Self

Six Things I’d Say To My Younger Self

Advice-for-my-younger-selfI just had a birthday. At my age that’s both good news and bad news. I’m glad I’m still here. (As someone said, it sure beats the alternative!) But it does give an opportunity to look both backward and forward, and think about what I wish I had known when I was younger.

You can probably look back and see some things you wish you had known also. The purpose of looking back isn’t to be filled with regrets, but to let past experiences, mistakes, and pain become valuable for the future. In God’s economy nothing need be lost. Every problem, every missed opportunity, every negative experience, every bad choice can provide fuel to learn and grow. That’s just plain common sense, and it’s also the message of the gospel. In God’s hands all our problems can be transformed into character and beauty.

Here are some things I’d say to my younger self if I could:

  • Don’t worry about what other people think.
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Who Will Be Around You On Your Deathbed?

Who Will Be Around You On Your Deathbed?

Holding sick person's handNo one wants to die alone. It may feel a bit morbid, but thinking about your last earthly days is one of the most clarifying questions any one of us can ask.

The truth is there are only a very few people who are likely to be there when you take your last breath. And unless you don’t want anyone around at all, wouldn’t it be wise to invest most now in the people who are likely to be there at the end? Who will be around you on your deathbed?

For many years I worried a great deal about what everybody else thought of me: teachers, employers, classmates, coworkers, patients, friends, and business contacts. It’s right to treat all these people well, kindly, and with respect. But almost all of them are only in your life for a short time. And that’s OK.

Recognizing how temporary most relationships are is both freeing and sobering.

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Why Do Religious Teens Have Unprotected Sex?

Why Do Religious Teens Have Unprotected Sex?

Why do religious teens have unprotected sex? Parents, teachers, pastors, and more would love to know.

Ask the average teenager going to a conservative Christian church to name the most important messages their church gives to teens. You’re almost certain to hear, “Don’t have sex until you’re married.” It may not be the most common message, but it’s certain to be high on the list. And many of them would probably say that’s the same message they get from their parents.

Of course that’s very different from the messages they get from most media, most schools, and most peers.

I will always remember a 15 year-old girl and her very unhappy mother who came to see me a few years ago. Jasmine (not her real name) had just found out she was pregnant. It was clear from the conversation with them that getting pregnant at 15 was deeply frowned upon in their family and their church. And an abortion wasn’t even a consideration.

I pieced the story together over the following months. Jasmine wasn’t “supposed” to be having sex at all. She hadn’t told her mother when she and her boyfriend became sexually involved, and she didn’t use contraception, thinking she wouldn’t get pregnant. Jasmine felt a lot of shame about what she had done, knowing it was “against the rules.”

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