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So far Christina Fox has created 743 blog entries.

The Blessings That Come With Forgiveness

LEAH JONES | GUEST “Birds fly. Fish swim. Christians forgive.” My husband made this statement in a sermon on forgiveness a few weeks ago and it resonated with me. With all the authority and confidence that could only be rooted in Scripture, he proceeded to explain how forgiveness is as necessary to the Christian as breathing. If forgiveness is free, good, and necessary, then we should be quick to forgive. There should be no withholding it. In The Miracle of Forgiveness, C.S. Lewis speaks of forgiveness as mortifying our resentment. It’s a practice we have to set on repeat. In fact, we may have to walk the same path of forgiveness 490 times (see Matt. 18-21). Forgiveness is a journey with many steps along the way—so we may as well get started. As I’ve studied and meditated on forgiveness, here are four things I’ve learned: #1: Forgiveness is Mandatory We must forgive. It is never optional. A lack of forgiveness settles in and festers. Bitterness takes root and anger turns to rage; hurt morphs into hatred. We begin to only see the difficulty in life and miss God’s goodness. Hebrews warns us to remember the grace of God, “lest the root of bitterness rise up” and cause great destruction (Heb. 12:15). These ramifications never stay isolated to one relationship. They creep in unnoticed and wreak havoc throughout our relational landscape...

The Blessings That Come With Forgiveness2023-09-23T13:21:26+00:00

Treasure in Jars of Clay

KIM CHURCH | GUEST It was science experiment day. My kids were buzzing with excitement about what they would get to do and see for this week’s experiment. As we opened our garage door that morning, we were welcomed by the equatorial sun and heat of the dry season in Uganda. With too many helping hands, we got our experiment ready to go. I made sure everyone’s eyes were on the set-up because we had one shot at this. I didn’t have extra supplies, and we didn’t have the ability to get more. I counted down… three, two, one. Just as I let go of the clip that would set the reaction in motion, there was loud banging and shouting at the gate to our compound. We all instinctively looked out the garage door to see my neighbor happily banging on my gate as she greeted us. Almost as quickly as we looked away, we looked back at the experiment to see that we had missed the entire split-second reaction. I instantly felt anger rising from deep within me towards my neighbor. I struggled to find the patience I needed to navigate my three crying children because they didn’t really understand why I couldn’t just do it again so they could see it. My neighbor continued banging on my gate expecting me to come let her in so she could visit. Again. Just like she had done the day before. And the day before that. And most days for the past 2 months. I went to the gate and begrudgingly let her in without properly greeting her because I was fuming, and I wanted her to know how much she inconvenienced me that morning. I went to get my husband to entertain her because I still had a garage of disappointed children that needed my attention. My husband, unaware of the science experiment mishap, warmly greeted her and welcomed her into our home. My anger was just about to explode like a pressure cooker that ran out of water, and I knew I needed to get out of there. I made a beeline for my bedroom at the back of the house and somehow managed to not slam my door and throw things around like I so desperately felt like doing. Like the self-controlled adult I tried to convince myself I was, I took deep breaths for several minutes as I regained my composure. When I felt like I had released enough pressure, I went back out to the front of the house where my husband and my neighbor were freely bantering back and forth. I sat down like a pouting child and refused to participate in the conversation. Sensing my frustration, my husband skillfully brought the visit to an end a short time later...

Treasure in Jars of Clay2023-09-07T13:48:08+00:00

A Bible Study for Mature Audiences

SUSAN TYNER|CONTRIBUTOR What do cannibalism, child sacrifice, and church people all have in common? To answer, open the Book of Kings. Strange to combine those three in the same sentence, yet the writer of 1 & 2 Kings shows how God’s people can sink into the worst kinds of sin. But how can a family of four sitting in the pew every Sunday possibly be in the same category as Hannibal Lector? Find out by grabbing some friends to study Kings. Between Moses’s burning bush and the Christmas angels’ song, you’ll discover stories of kings and prophets, miracles and murder, and a tragedy on display for all who care to read it. But why would such a shocking book make a good Bible study? How can Israel’s degeneration impact one’s spiritual walk today?  I offer three ways they’ve helped me in mine. You see how sin creeps in. Kings starts off so well. As King David passed his scepter to his son Solomon, Israel was poised for greatness. She thrived under Solomon’s rule. However, underneath all the gold and glitter, the crown was cracking. Nine hundred wives plus three hundred concubines can do that to a man. Did they bring a lot of credit card debt into the marriage? Maybe PMS on a grand scale? No, they brought their false gods. And, by the end of Solomon’s life, his heart had fallen out of love with the LORD and in love with their foreign gods. Lesson? Close associations can steer your heart. Choose ones who have the same soul-spirations as you do. Solomon wasn’t the only king who was disloyal to the LORD. We see this sort of creep in—marrying those outside their faith, welcoming other faith traditions, and living a life less in line with God’s law and more in line with the world—all along the way in Kings. This flirtation with sin happened back then—and now. You see where sin can take you. By the end of 2 Kings, we meet Manasseh. During his rule, Jerusalem, God’s favorite city—the place where He put His name—was overrun by foreign religions. In God’s own temple stood an Asherah pole and in His court were altars ready for astral worship. This is tantamount to a husband inviting his mistress into his wife’s bedroom to wear her lingerie, try out her perfume, and sleep in her bed. In this case, God is the one betrayed. Ezekiel 6:9 states plainly how that made their God feel, “how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols.” Whoring? Can we say that word in a Bible study? We need to because we may be as guilty as Israel was then. Kings challenges us to ask, who are our Asherahs, our Molechs, and our Baals today? We may not bow down to the sun, but do we bow before people’s opinions? Do we overcommit to please family or to impress co-workers? A church leader may not offer child sacrifices but would she drive her daughter to get an abortion to cover up a teenage pregnancy, serving the god of her reputation? While an Asherah pole isn’t front and center in our living room, do we look at our bank balance or God’s word more?...

A Bible Study for Mature Audiences2023-09-14T21:16:09+00:00

Engaging with Christian Community

JAMYE DOERFLER | GUEST On July 1, 2017, our family of five pulled up to our new home in a new city with a 27-foot U-Haul and two cars packed to the max. Within an hour, five adults were helping us unload the truck. Mind you, we’d met most of these people only once before. One man, we’d never even seen in person—we’d only had a single Skype conversation. Yet here they were, near-strangers sweating and struggling to carry our heavy furniture and boxes of books. The night before, when we’d loaded the truck four hours east, about 15 people had helped—some inside the truck packing it tightly, others carrying the boxes and furniture, and still others cleaning the house. The week prior, women had helped me pack up the kitchen and dining room. Once the kitchen was packed and cooking became difficult, various friends provided dinner for us every night as we visited and said goodbye to those with whom we’d spent the last eleven years. As I walked through that week, I was struck by God’s wisdom in putting Christians in community with one another. All of these people who served us in such a tangible way? They were our church family, our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’d spent a decade with some of them; others, we had only just met—but we were already bound by the fellowship of the Church. Created for Community I have met Christians for whom church attendance and participation is considered optional. “I can be a Christian but not go to church all the time,” they reason. Or, “I just like to go on Sundays and get in and out,” as though church is like a stop at the dry cleaners. This isn’t what God intended for Christians. Consider these Scriptures: Hebrews 10:24-25: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." 1 Thessalonians 5:11: "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." Galatians 6:2: "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." On June 30 and July 1 of 2107, our brothers and sisters were quite literally bearing our burdens...

Engaging with Christian Community2023-08-28T15:45:32+00:00

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide

NEYSA NOVAK | GUEST Have you ever felt like the pressure from life has pushed you to a breaking point? As women, we tend to have a lot on our plate. Many of us care deeply for those around us. We raise children, work hard, and are involved in our communities. Balancing all these demands can be hard, but if you add in strained relationships, it can feel impossible. Outside of Eden, the struggle is real. I once found myself in what felt like a hopeless situation and chose my own way. On the Run from God I'm a public high school guidance counselor and work stress was taking a toll on me. In addition, my three kids played on three different sport teams, I'm a pastor's wife, and a women's ministry leader. One Saturday evening, my husband and I got into an argument—it’s classic spiritual warfare before the Sunday sermon. But I took the bait and came out of the argument feeling like he didn't appreciate my efforts at church. The next morning, I woke up early before the rest of my family and instead of praying, decided to go to a coffee shop to do some work. I know that willful disobedience to God never goes well, so I don't know why I found working on the Sabbath so appealing. I thought that if I could just get one hour of work in, I would feel better about my situation. I soon discovered that the entire student information system was shut down. This never happens without notice. My plans to work were thwarted, so I decided to go to a park instead. I thought it would be peaceful to sit in the car and shut my eyes for a few minutes of quiet. I heard worship music and realized I had parked near an outdoor worship service. Psalm 139:7 says, "Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?" God reminded me that I can't escape Him. I should have repented and headed home to ride with my family to Sunday School, but I was frustrated and didn't want to give in; I found myself in a battle of my will...

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide2023-09-02T16:59:54+00:00

Work: Is it More Than Boney Fingers?

TARA GIBBS | CONTRIBUTOR Work, what is it good for? Dolly Parton sings of the drudgery in “9-5.” “Tumble out of bed, and I stumble to the kitchen. Pour myself a cup of ambition, and yawn and stretch and try to come to life. Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin'. Out on the street, the traffic starts jumpin' with folks like me on the job from 9 to 5.” Hoyt Axton expresses it even more succinctly in his 1974 hit Boney Fingers. “Work your fingers to the bone; what do you get? Boney Fingers. Boney Fingers!” Henry Wordsworth Longfellow provides a noble counter-point of view in The Blacksmith, … Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,      Onward through life he goes; Each morning sees some task begin,      Each evening sees it close; Something attempted, something done,      Has earned a night's repose. Songs about the drudgery of work and boney fingers tell my heart one story about work while Longfellow tells another. This Labor Day I cannot help but wonder, “What story does God tell me about work, and how much are my thoughts about work shaped by His story?” God Works and God Gave Us Work The story God tells about work begins in Genesis 1, and guess who is doing the very first work? God. Is work good? God worked. Not only that, while still in the Bible’s first chapter, we see God crafting image bearers to serve as His working ambassadors. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” (Gen. 1:28). God made birds and fish and animals and plants, and then He made us and charged us to take care of all He had crafted. Genesis 2:15 goes on, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it,” and we see God bringing every creature to the man to be named “and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name,” (Gen. 2:19b). When you and I work as God’s image-bearing ambassadors to His creation, we are doing what He created us to do. Our work is dignifying to us, glorifying to God, and a blessing to this world.  When things got all messed up in Genesis 3, and work became something we had to fight thorns and thistles to do, it did not remove the foundational goodness of work...

Work: Is it More Than Boney Fingers?2023-08-30T14:54:38+00:00

What We Were Made For

MELANIE COGDILL|GUEST Editor's note: This article contains spoilers for the film Barbie. The film Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig, is a juggernaut having earned more than 1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office. In a pivotal scene near the end of the movie, over a montage of everyday women and their mothers, the character of Ruth Handler, the creator of the Barbie doll (played by Rhea Pearlman) delivers a speech and says, “We mothers stand still, so our daughters can look back to see how far they’ve come.” As she speaks, the haunting melody of the film’s main song is playing as Billie Eilish sings, “What was I made for? Think I forgot how to be happy. Somethin' I'm not, but somethin' I can be. Somethin' I wait for. Somethin' I'm made for.” As this scene played in the theater, the grandmother sitting next to me with her daughter and granddaughters openly sobbed. A Message to Women Much has been written in the media about this film. Is it a film about feminism? Is it a film satirizing the “patriarchy”? "Is it a film that references a secular worldview regarding what the world considers women’s "reproductive rights?" Yes to all of that and yet in this “you do you boo” ethos of the film brought about by Barbie’s existential crisis of the purpose for her life and her sudden anxiety about death, this film puts into words what almost all women are wondering (if you read the comment sections of film reviews and YouTube videos of Billie Eilish’s song)—what does it mean to be a woman? Why do we exist? What happens when we die? Who does the culture say women are? This film is less an agenda piece and more of an cultural artifact that asks deep questions of the audience. And this makes it the ideal springboard to have a conversation with both Christian and non-Christian women about the gospel...

What We Were Made For2023-08-31T15:53:53+00:00

A Subtle Attack Against Motherhood

MARYBETH MCGEE|GUEST “But how do I find joy in the middle of the cracker crumbs and dirty diapers? When will it ever get better?” she asked. The woman asking the question had five children under the age of five, and four of them came two-by-two. Her circumstances were challenging, to say the least. Tired but eager to learn, she sat at a folding table in our small Bible study room among women of many generations and walks of life, who had all likely asked a similar question. It Can’t Get Better; It’s Already Good As we dug back into God’s Word, the discussion led us to conclude that it can’t really get any better. God has ordained or allowed every circumstance that we will face. And those circumstances? They are for our good and His glory. How could it get any better than that? Romans 11:36 tells us that all things are “from him and through him and to him.” And this compels Paul’s response—the one we can all echo— “To him be the glory forever. Amen.” Our frustration in the daily challenges of motherhood comes when we confuse the idea of things “getting better” with what we truly desire: joy. But how do we find joy in the Lord in a world that seems to call us in a different direction? The Source of Our Joy There is a trend in social media that makes it seem as though we are fighting our way through the torture of raising children, as if they are like an enemy. Culture tells us that their needs are a burden, their inexperience in life is something to make fun of, and their emotional meltdowns are viral content for entertainment. In many ways, the world would have us believe that challenging seasons of parenting are a bad thing that we have to trudge through until we get to the “better” thing. In the meantime, we can find temporary relief from these frustrations by enjoying the never-ending stream of humorous memes and video clips. But there is a sinister underlying message in this trend of “mommy humor.” My sweet friend, just under the surface of that humor is a lie. It whispers that motherhood should make us happy—eventually. But motherhood can never produce what we will only ever find in the Lord...

A Subtle Attack Against Motherhood2023-08-17T14:27:51+00:00

Navigating Conflict in Relationships

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR Claire and Jen were those young moms that spent more time together than sisters. From school choice to playdates to daily phone calls, the friends were inseparable. At least they were until Jen refused to speak to Claire at church one Sunday. Claire attempted to restore the relationship every way she knew how. Fifteen years later, the kids are grown, and Claire still doesn’t know what she did to hurt the woman who used to be her best friend. At the local middle school, Jordyn isn’t faring much better. Her lunch time is spent trying to find a place to eat in peace. What started as a fallout between two friends, has now morphed into a drama that has the entire school taking sides. Jordyn bites into her apple while longingly watching the table where she used to be part of the group. Would things have been different if the injured classmate had been as open with Jordyn as she had with the other girls? Relationships are messy. As sinful creatures, we often make mistakes and hurt one another whether intentionally or accidentally. Fortunately, we serve a God that does not abandon us to the messes our sinful natures create. He walks with us, teaches us, and gives us the power to do hard things. Jesus teaches His followers how to manage relationships in the book of Matthew. Though the teachings of Christ might make us squirm, Scripture is incredibly clear as to how we are to navigate the struggles that come our way...

Navigating Conflict in Relationships2023-08-17T14:20:25+00:00

Steadfast Hope for a New Semester of Ministry

BECKY KIERN|CONTRIBUTOR It’s that time of year again. Everywhere I look there are advertisements for kids clothing, backpacks, and notebooks. My inbox is full of email correspondences for fall teaching engagements. My social media pages are filling up with photos reminiscing about last-summer adventures. And friends are preparing to drop their kids off on the new adventure of kindergarten and college. All of this adds up to the truth that another summer is ending and a new fall semester is upon us. Some of us are entering into this new semester with excited energy. We are ready to roll out the new ministry programs we’ve developed or Bible studies we’ve prepared to teach. But some of us find this semester approaching and the best we can do right now is limp along. We are unable to fathom where we might get the energy for this new semester. We are still recovering from, or in the middle of, a painful ministry season. Paul’s words of hope to the Romans, can offer us a chance to pause and reflect upon the simple, yet profound foundational truth of the gospel message. His encouragement to the early church was to remember their peace, their relationship with God, and their steadfast hope. And his words of encouragement can offer us the same hope as we enter our ministry work in this new semester.  Romans 5:1–5: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us...

Steadfast Hope for a New Semester of Ministry2023-08-15T13:13:52+00:00
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