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7 Tests to See if Your Worship Is Truly Christian or Pagan

“To be human is to worship.” Those are the opening words of Daniel Block’s excellent new book on worship, For the Glory of God. Men and women are inveterate worshippers. Paul makes this clear in Romans 1. Even those who reject the plain knowledge of God which can be perceived within the created order do not cease worshiping. Rather they simply begin worshipping created things instead of the Creator (Rom 1:18ff). Given that we all worship and that our hearts tend to be deceptive, it is vital that our worship be shaped by what God has made clear in His Word rather than by personal opinions, past experiences, or intuitions. While not an exhaustive list, the following 7 points help us think more biblically about worship:

10 Things We Got Right in 50 Years of Marriage

(Note: This is a follow-up to an earlier post, Our Top 10 Mistakes in 50 Years of Marriage). Our previous blog told of ten mistakes Margaret and I made over a half-century of marital bliss. (I'm putting that word in there just for her, to give her a smile. There were blissful moments, to be sure, but so many of the bad moments, the times when you're so miserable you don't know what to do except throw yourself on the mercy of God and love each other by faith.) I told a friend yesterday that, in retrospect, the good times in our marriage were like the Smoky Mountains, and the bad times like the Rockies. That is, the good were nice and pleasant, green and verdant and sweet. But it's the jagged outcrops of granite that seem to loom above everything else, causing us to remember those more than the other. The first article was about the Rockies. This one is about the Smokies. So, as promised, here are ten things we got right in a half-century of marriage. And so you won't wonder, Margaret and I made the list last night over supper. It's a joint project: Photo Credit:©Thinkstock/Don Mason)

10 Movies to Watch This Easter

As we approach Easter, we are once again confronted by the wonder of Christ’s resurrection. The knowledge that an all-powerful Savior came to earth as a man, then gave himself to be crucified, is staggering to consider. The Easter celebration is a time when we look to the promises of the gospel, recounting its message of hope, joy, mercy, and profound love. So when the Sunday services are over, and the family is relaxing after a good meal, consider revisiting these lessons in the form of a movie.While not the most expansive of holidays, Easter still has several terrific films to its name. Are you looking to witness the last trials of Jesus? Perhaps you’d prefer something lighter for the children?Either way, here are the top 10 movies for Christians to watch this Easter!Photo Credit: Icon Entertainment

7 Connections to Draw between the Garden, Nativity, and Cross as You Prepare for Easter

The Easter holiday felt a bit like Christmas when I was a child. It promised a new dress and bonnet for church, the Easter egg hunt, and, of course, those wonderful chocolate eggs. I knew the celebration centered around Jesus’ death and resurrection, but honestly, I looked forward to the holiday more for what I got from it than what Jesus had given to me.Now, when I look to the season of Easter, my focus centers much more on the enormity of Christ’s death and resurrection. And the greater panorama I see, the more I realize I’ve only begun to scratch its magnificent surface. I can’t celebrate this holiday apart from other Biblical events because they are all connected.The good news of Jesus’ sacrifice goes much farther back than the season we celebrate in springtime. It was foreordained in the garden of Eden, unveiled in the nativity, and fulfilled in the triumph of the cross. A look at their connections helps prepare us for a meaningful Easter celebration.What connections exist between the garden of Eden, the nativity, and Christ’s death on the cross?Photo Credit:©GettyImages/Boonyachoat

4 Toxic-Mom Types to Avoid on Social Media

Ahh, the back-and-forth battle of social media. It never ceases, does it? One minute you are drawn in by that all too familiar ding that declares you have a notification, and then all bets are off, and you find yourself scrolling mindlessly for the next two hours. Grrr!Let the time warp begin!Here's the thing… Sure, social media has its advantages. After all, you get to connect with Sally Sou across the country and send those hysterical cat memes to your sister at 2 a.m. when you can’t seem to catch a wink. I mean who doesn’t love that? However, on the flip side, these platforms are meant (and designed) to pull you in, snag your attention (dang all those cute puppy reels), and keep it until you are ready to throw your phone down and say, “Enough!”So, here's where I was met with “Enough!” I am a mom of three daughters. Many days are rough around here. Not gonna lie. If you have kids maybe you can relate. Okay, that was meant to be funny, kind of. But in all honesty, the past two years have been quite bumpy between losing my mom suddenly and then raising two teenagers. Now, I'm losing my mind. That said, any post pertaining to grief or how to raise daughters, especially teens, grabs not only my attention but also my heart.Yet, after a while, I noticed between the overflowing flood of posts and endless (ruthless) comments, I was getting sucked into a type of “mom culture” that seemed, well, off. You know how social media “suggests” others for you to follow? Well, I went down that rabbit hole.Can we just be real and honest about motherhood for a hot minute? Being a mom is sometimes lonely. It is sometimes really, painfully, and brutally hard. It generally brings about more emotions than you ever thought possible. It makes you question – everything. This is why we are continually searching for answers. You know, to the important questions in life like: How long should my baby sleep at this age? Does my ten-year-old need to eat more veggies? How can I clean my house in twenty minutes? How can I get my teen to actually talk to me without all the eye rolls?Sometimes, other social media moms have those answers. They have wisdom because they have been there and done that. And it’s great! After all, we are better together.Unfortunately, there is another side to social media. A side that has given way to an unsettling trend that I truly believe is hurting us as moms. It’s a place that breeds belittling, shaming, condemning, and chastising. It’s a place that stokes fear, anger, confusion, and comparisons. This is the place where toxicity runs rampant, and we need to stay away at all costs.The bottom line is this: If a mom on social media isn’t helping you be a better form of yourself or, better yet, helping you grow closer to Christ, like the sweet friendships that are mentioned in Proverbs 27:9, then it may be time to sever ties.Beware of these four toxic-mom types you should avoid on social media:Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/grinvalds

The 10 Most Overlooked People in Your Church

People should feel comfortable in church. They should feel valued and included, but sometimes people feel overlooked. And the very groups created for community might serve as painful reminders of another place people feel invisible.When Jesus walked the earth, He ministered to everyone; not one person was overlooked. Whether we’re talking about the woman with the issue of blood, the lame, the poor, or even those with leprosy, it is certain that nobody was invisible to Jesus.As Christ-Followers, we are to look around. If we prayerfully reach out in whatever circles we find ourselves, maybe no one will be overlooked. So who are the people who might feel forgotten?Here are the ten most overlooked people in your church.Photo credit: ©Thinkstock

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Attending a Wedding

God loves weddings.Jesus showed up for a wedding and performed his first miracle. The host ran out of wine for the celebration, something of a crisis, and Jesus proceeded to turn water into wine, keeping the party going a bit longer.God instituted marriage at Creation, before the Fall, an idea of relationship and purpose untouched by corruption. Marriage continues today. The Old and New Testaments regard the relationship between God and his people as like the husband-and-wife relationship. The Apostle Paul famously regards Christ as husband and the Church as the Bride, something of a mystery (Ephesians 5).Therefore, God takes marriage seriously. And so should we. They are causes for celebration and sober contemplation. Our modern culture rejects God’s idea of marriage more and more, however. In our lives, we will be invited to weddings along the way. Here are five questions to ask yourself before attending a wedding.Photo Credit:©Getty Images/BrianAJackson

6 Calming Reminders When Your Anxiety Turns to Panic

If you battle with bouts of anxiety that can ramp up and lead to panic or panic attacks, you are not alone. It may be oddly comforting to know that ten percent of American adults suffer from a panic attack at least once a year. That's one in ten people. Maybe that strikes a different chord with you as it does for me. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety, which leads to panic, is not only very common but treatable.While that may be comforting to know if you feel a bit consumed in a season of darkness, I also realize that hearing statistics doesn't automatically promote a cure. I get that it can be just about as helpful as a well-meaning person saying, "Calm down," in the middle of an attack. Argh!So, besides statistics, let's touch on how anxiety is affecting you. Let's get personal because, after all, anxiety is personal. It often storms in without warning and smothers areas in your life that are specific to you. It targets your worst fears, knocks you down when you are already weak, feeds your stress and anger, and brings on endless distractions. Anxiety and panic attacks don't always come on quietly, either. While it may creep in suspiciously, it generally brings that resounding declaration that nobody understands and that you are to suffer through your worries, stress, fears, and traumatic situations – alone.While the statistics are to address that you are not alone, on a more personal level, I want to remind you that you are not made up of what your anxiety so boldly tries to declare over you. Sure, you may grow faint, and your spirit may waver. You may succumb to some of the lies or divisive thoughts it brings. Your faith may even be tested. But you aren't in this battle alone. Anxiety may try to control your life and take you under, but thankfully, we serve a personal God who knows us intimately and can (and will) fight on our behalf!The truth is that God knew you (and I) would fight these battles. He knew anxiety would not only be prevalent but personal, which is why so many verses command us not to fear or be anxious about anything (Joshua 1:9 and Philippians 4:6). In other words, God gives us a pathway to preserve and prevail.Friend, if you are struggling today, please join me in discovering some helpful ways to cope, along with some calming reminders when anxiety rises and panic sets in. Because this may be a battle for our minds, but God won't allow it to take us under – that's a promise!The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes

7 Signs We Are in the End Times

The sky is falling!In the old story, a type of parable, Henny Penny is a chicken and not a very intelligent one. An acorn falls on her head, and she concludes the sky must be falling, leading to hysteria.Speaking of the end times carries a certain amount of tension. The Bible speaks of the end of this world and a transition into the New Heaven and New Earth, a redemptive story where the corruption of this world is first exposed in a destructive, dramatic fashion before the next world is fully realized.Passages like Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation read like a fantasy or science fiction novel with epic visions of creatures and beasts. These dramatic scenes have led to erroneous declarations from pastors or supposed prophets about the end drawing nigh within the near future. Those dates have all passed, and we can be skeptical of ideas about the end times.Jesus tells us we won’t know the day or the hour. At the same time, he gives us specific signs the end is coming soon. In the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, he lists several and calls these birth pangs like a woman in labor with a child. Painful. Intense. Yet a promise of new life at the end.Many today look at the world around us, see the headlines, and wonder if we’re in the end times. One way or another, we’re getting closer, but we should carefully explore the words of Jesus and how events today might fit his teaching.Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Llona Pietrolongo

7 Biblical Ways to Prevent Conflict Before it Starts

Conflict is a part of life. It's the less enjoyable part of life but is, nonetheless, part of life. However, we don't have to give ourselves over to it. And it doesn't need to define us or our days. As Christians, we are called to fight the beautiful fight (1 Timothy 6:12). Yet discerningly, leave the ugly, unfruitful conflicts behind, undetonated, as best as we can.Paul tells us to live at peace with all men as far as it is up to us (Romans 12:18). So while I would never want to leave a reader with a sense that Christians are not called to battle for justice and right, we are simultaneously called to live in peace because we belong to the Prince of Peace.Here are seven Scriptural insights to ease unnecessary conflicts out of your life.
Photo credit: © Getty Images/Antonio Guillem

8 Life-Giving Reminders for Christian Parents

"I'm your follower!" announced my preschooler in a sing-song voice as she tagged along at my heels. I smiled at her candor, enjoying her company.Then, the profound truth of her words settled into my soul. My follower. My shadow. A nearly inseparable part of my being during this life season. She watches and continually learns from me (as do her older siblings).Our children are, quite literally, our followers. Like little disciples, they instinctively look to us as examples, teachers, and leaders. What a privilege! We have the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus, live out the gospel, and model faith in daily life.And yet, what a sobering responsibility. I don't know about you, but sometimes this strikes fear in my heart. What if I get it wrong? What about all the times I fall short of being the perfect parent I long to be?In moments of worry and doubt, we need God to speak truth to our souls. Here are eight reminders that can equip us to live well as Christian parents:
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/The Good Brigade

4 Things Christian Marriage Requires of Us Beyond Love

I used to think all that was needed to ensure a healthy marriage was love. And then I got married and quickly realized as Don Henley and Patty Smyth sang in their 90’s hit song, “Baby, sometimes love just ain’t enough.” Love is our highest aim; it’s as the apostle Paul describes in I Corinthians 13, “the greatest of these.” So, I’m not negating the necessity for love in marriage, I’m challenging the notion that love is all you need to make a marriage thrive.The Beatles sang “All You Need is Love,” but interestingly, Paul McCartney has been married three times, and John Lennon was married twice. Before his death, he confessed to having more than 300 affairs while married to his first wife and multiple affairs while married to his second. If these are the people Americans look to as “idols,” it’s no wonder we have a faulty understanding of how love works in marriage.Love is foundational. It’s like flour to a cake. Your marriage rises and falls depending on how much love is present. However, just as a cake needs other essential ingredients to be palatable and sustainable, so does marriage.Photo Credit: ©Pexels/Nghia Trinh

4 Vital Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage against Satan’s Attacks

Before I got hitched, I used to hear church folk rehash the warning that the devil is after marriages. It left me wondering whether the devil wasn't being accorded more credit than he deserved. But now, having been knee-deep in marriage for 12 years, I get it. Totally. The enemy is indeed in hot pursuit after marriage. He will grab any chance he has to tear a marriage apart. He has a track record of stealing, killing, and destroying, after all.God ordained marriage to reflect the relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul asks wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord whereas husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. Marriage is also where God's instruction for man to multiply and fill the earth is fulfilled.The enemy doesn't take marriage lightly and will do all it takes to sabotage it. When he spots a loophole, he will use it as a launching pad for his attacks. Paul warns us against offering the devil a foothold:“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,and do not give the devil a foothold.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)The Collins dictionary describes a foothold as a strong or favorable position from which further advances or progress may be made. We may be oblivious of the footholds lurking in our marriages but the devil is not. He is extremely swift at spotting them. He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).Here are some things you can do to seal the loopholes in your marriage.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/dragana991

4 Fun Activities to Do with Your Grandkids

These days grandparents have a lot of competition for the grandchildren's attention. If it's not sports, dance, or other activities that keep the kids occupied, then often, they're glued to their tablets or video games with little time for anything else.But let's face it. Sometimes everyone needs some Grandma or Grandpa time, but finding fun and creative things to do together can be challenging. Children have a litany of interests that vary from personality to personality, but usually, there is something you can find to do. Sometimes you just need a list of suggestions to get you started. I've compiled some tried and true fun activities to do with your grandkids that don't cost an arm and a leg, encourage imagination, and, best of all, help grow relationships.Photo credit: ©GettyImages/DuxX

7 Essential Things the Bible Says about Sex in Marriage

Too often in our culture, the images and portrayals of sex that we see are unhealthy and not in alignment with God’s plan for sex. If we are not careful, we can put too much emphasis on these negative portrayals of sex and miss the beauty of the sexual relationship that God has designed for marriage.Whether you are married, dating, or single, it is crucial to have a proper and healthy view of sex. The truth is God is not a prude, nor is he uptight about talking about sex. He wants us to practice it within the bounds of marriage, which is how He designed it.To help you develop the right mindset about sex, it helps to understand what the Bible says about sex in marriage. Getting this right will go a long way in helping you develop a healthy sex life within your marriage if you are married or will get married, and it will help you understand God’s plan for his people even if you remain unmarried.Here are seven things the Bible says about sex in marriage:Photo Credit: © Getty Images/OJO_Images


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