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So far Christina Fox has created 692 blog entries.

The One Thing You Have to Get Right

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR You can get a lot of things wrong in life. You can go to the wrong school. You can give the wrong gift. You can wear the wrong outfit to a business presentation. You can buy the wrong house. You can marry the wrong man. But there is one thing you absolutely cannot get wrong in life: who Jesus is and what his time on earth was all about. Who is Jesus? If you want to know who Jesus is, ask Him. He isn’t shy. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus declares in John 10:30. Jesus is God. Let that thought linger for a moment. Sit with it awhile. Jesus is God. Meditate on it. Ponder all the implications that statement carries with it. Jesus is God. Evaluate your reaction to his identity claim. Wrestle with any discomfort you may feel as the form Jesus has taken in your imagination morphs into the identity Jesus claims about Himself. Jesus is God. What was Jesus’ ministry all about? Jesus did many great things during His three-year ministry. He miraculously fed thousands of people, but those same people were hungry the next day. He healed numerous physical ailments and raised some people from the dead; however, those same people eventually died at the end of their time. If Jesus’ miracles didn’t “stick,” then what was the purpose of them? Why feed people tonight who will only need to eat again tomorrow morning? Why raise someone from the dead now when they will only die again at some future date? Again, let’s ask Jesus the “why” behind the miracles. He is transparent about them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,” Jesus explains in John 10:25. The miracles are proof that Jesus is God. Jesus is God who took on the flesh of mankind to do what exactly? If the miracles aren’t the mission, if the easing of suffering is not the mission, then why, Jesus, are you here? “I am here to suffer, to be humiliated, and die,” Jesus proclaims to His followers. “I won’t stay dead. I will rise from the dead on the third day” (Matt. 16:21, Mk. 8:31, Lk. 9:22, paraphrased). Jesus is God. Jesus entered the world as a man so that He could die. Having divine power allows Jesus to fight death and rise again...

The One Thing You Have to Get Right2023-03-24T17:19:46+00:00

The Lament of Jesus

LISA WALLOVER|GUEST Christians are Resurrection People. We truly are. Every Easter morn, pastors around the world declare, “He is risen!” And all God’s people say, “He is risen, indeed!” Truly, every Sunday is that celebration! We serve a risen Savior. The tomb is empty. Life is full. Death, where is your sting? Except. Except that life still stings, sometimes. Maybe more than sometimes. Our hearts can be heavy. We are weary from the lingering weight of sin—around us, and within. To lament is to express to God that sadness that sits in our souls. I wonder if we are sometimes hesitant to lament because it somehow seems “unfaithful” to admit that sorrow can feel bigger than we are. Perhaps it even feels bigger than God. Is it possible that it is in this sorrow where we might meet God most closely? That He is there, waiting, because He deeply understands? That in our grief over sin and its effect, we may actually reflect God’s design and God’s heart? That in the midst of our sorrow we are “conformed to the image of His Son”? Isaiah wrote a description of the coming Messiah that sounds more like defeat than deliverance: He was to be “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53:3). And yet, this is the way of the gospel. The path toward the joy and victory of the empty tomb goes through the grief of Gethsemane and pain of Golgotha. It travels through our own grief and pain as well. Our God understands sadness. The sorrow that Jesus felt, He felt perfectly. Completely. How grateful we can be that the Gospel writers share His lament. Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus...

The Lament of Jesus2023-03-24T17:19:50+00:00

When Downslide is a Downside for People with Down Syndrome

STEPHANIE HUBACH|CONTRIBUTOR STEPHANIE HUBACH|CONTRIBUTOR Upon picking my son Tim up from work one night, enclosed with his paycheck was a paper reminding employees of the company dress code at the grocery store where he works. (In his role there, we affectionately refer to him as “Cart Man.”) As I perused it, Tim asked me what it said. Reading it out loud, I quoted, “Hair of male employees shall be neatly trimmed and groomed.” To which Tim blurted out, in his jovial way, “What am I? A PET??” This type of wry humor has been characteristic of Tim for most of his teen and adult life. But not all of it. Have you ever seen the film Where Hope Grows, or do you watch Born This Way, or do you remember the TV series Life Goes On? If so, you likely have a positive picture of people with Down syndrome and their quality of life in the world. I am really thankful for that. I am deeply grateful for advocates in the generations before and during my son’s lifetime who have invested to create a more open society, a better public education system, and improved living conditions for people with Down syndrome (DS). A lot of social progress has been made for people with DS in the last several decades. If you are blessed enough to know someone with DS personally, you likely also have been embraced by a person who is frequently open-hearted to others, forgives easily, laughs heartily, worships joyfully, and dances freely. The ways in which many people with Down syndrome excel in life as image-bearers of the Living God can take my breath away at times. Many of them reflect God’s character into the world in stunning ways. My 31-year-old son Tim, who has Down syndrome, can be like that. But if we only characterize people by the successes we have made as a society on their behalf, or the ways in which their functioning is admirable, we miss the fuller picture of who they—and we—are as human beings. The Functional and Social Dimensions of Disability Disability can be characterized as having both a functional aspect and a social aspect. The functional aspect is the part of the body that doesn’t work the way we expect it to. In DS, this involves possessing an extra copy of the twenty-first chromosome. (Hence the medical name for Down syndrome: Trisomy 21.) This extra bit of chromosomal material creates a vast array of complications in learning, in communication, in the immune system, in heart health, and in digestive health—to name a few. The functional aspects of disability cry out for merciful engagement  from others. I like to rely on the definition of mercy that was posited by St. Gregory of Nyssa—that “mercy is a voluntary sorrow which enjoins itself with the suffering of another.” While most people with DS would not describe their lives as being characterized by suffering, in my personal experience, most people I know with Down syndrome would acknowledge that their extra chromosome does present genuine challenges in their daily functioning in the world...

When Downslide is a Downside for People with Down Syndrome2023-03-24T17:20:04+00:00

The Lord Who Heals

RACHEL CRADDOCK|CONTRIBUTOR A few weeks ago, both my family of six and my fifth-grade homeroom were hit with a stomach bug. As I washed sheets, held buckets, and disinfected desktops, I couldn’t help but beg the Lord for healing from this common, modern-day plague. In my prayers, I called on Yahweh Rapha, the Hebrew name for God which means, The Lord Who Heals You. In The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I find the statement to be heart-wrenchingly true. When our knowledge of who God is limited, our faith is limited, and our prayers become limited. Discovering the multi-faced character of God through the study of His names has invited me to know Him more deeply, come to Him more boldly, and wait for His answers to my prayers more expectantly. As I prayed for my family and my students during our mini-plague, I could pray with confidence and surety because I know God is The Lord Who Heals...

The Lord Who Heals2023-03-24T17:20:18+00:00

Love Letters of Scripture

SHARON ROCKWELL|CONTRIBUTOR The letter finally arrived. Acceptance to a Christian university along with a scholarship for tuition and housing. I was on cloud nine! As I read the details of the scholarship requirements, I recognized the expected minimum grade point average. But there was another requirement and this one was not expected. The scholarship I was awarded came from an anonymous donor who simply requested that I send her a letter after each semester, updating her on my academic progress and personal goals. With a grateful heart, I looked forward to sending those letters at the end of each semester. I would tell her how much I wanted to live up to her expectations, and that was doing my best. I proudly sent her a copy of my grades so that she could see the results of her investment. Though I never met the woman, I grew to think of her as a confidant and friend as I shared my academic progress, spiritual growth, details about happenings in my family, and about the boyfriend I fell in love with and then married the week after graduation. All possible because of the generous gift from a woman I never met. I continued to send letters after college so that she would know I put my degree in chemistry to good use. Love Letters to the Church I love letters – both sent and received. Last year my Bible study read through Acts, which records the establishment of the early church through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Its author, Luke, detailed the missionary journeys of Paul in establishing local churches and giving direction to their work, worship, and organization. Acts 1:8 provides a summary of what was to come for those charged to be witnesses to the Lord Jesus Christ: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When our Bible study ended in the spring, I wanted to know more details about what happened next. The answer comes in the form of letters. Paul wrote letters to the churches he planted and hoped to visit again, and through those letters Paul gives practical definition to the Christian faith. How thankful we can be to God who preserved Paul’s letters for our edification. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4). I usually do my personal Bible study by reading a chapter and then using a commentary for further understanding. But I changed my study this summer to reading the entire letter sent to one of the churches or one of Paul’s spiritual sons, at one sitting. Reading the letters this way gave me a whole new perspective. Paul’s letters are really love letters. He never fails to communicate his love for the church and his intense desire to see both Jews and Gentiles come to know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He also wrote to convey a plan for organizing and managing the church...

Love Letters of Scripture2023-03-24T17:20:35+00:00

How Team-Based Ministry Shapes Us

JANET LAROCQUE|GUEST When you think of leadership in the church, how often do you think of team-based leadership? We often think of leadership as an individual exercise. Perhaps someone who is specially trained in leadership who runs and manages everything. Or maybe someone who is the go-getter, who gets everything done. But team-based ministry is how God created us to serve the Body of Christ. In working as a team, we not only accomplish what God has called us to, but He shapes us in the process. Teams Are My Testimony I love team-based ministry. Currently, I serve on the PCA’s National Women’s Ministry Team as Regional Advisor to the churches in mid-America. In my local church, I serve on our women’s ministry Servant Team in the area of Titus 2 discipleship. But let me back up to explain how I got here. I grew up in a liturgical, works-based denomination, fully believing I was a Christian because I had checked all the boxes. There is a beautiful story about that for another day, but around my 40th birthday the Lord decided it was time. He placed a number of people in my path and a greater number of questions in my mind. That all led me to my very first Bible study at Naperville PCA, taught by Karen Hodge, and I’ve never left. As a “made-new believer” in my 40’s I was hungry to know the Lord, devouring theology. Thankfully, the preaching and shepherding I received was solid, well-communicated, and true-to-the-Scriptures. But in my mind, I was making up for lost time and this gnostic quest to know Jesus became kind of a solo-act. At that time, my team was often just Jesus and me—the vertical without the horizontal. Enter God’s grace again, and He began moving me toward less “doing” and more “watching.” So I watched—how women at my church served together on teams—quite joyfully. And I watched—Care Teams, Prayer Teams, small group co-leader teams, teaching teams, and the women’s ministry Servant Team. Then zooming out I watched my pastor and his wife serving together, modeling was a team looks like. Next, I watched our session, a plurality of elders, leading our church—all serving together. All these teams reflect the Godhead—the ultimate team of three persons in one being, eternally serving and pouring into each other. And the best part is, we are invited into that union! As Jesus prayed in John 17: “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (vv.22-23)...

How Team-Based Ministry Shapes Us2023-03-24T17:21:04+00:00

Never Underestimate the Power of a Handwritten Note

CHRISTINA FOX|EDITOR “Look at all these notes and cards!” she proclaimed. My mother directed me to her living room. Every available table was covered with notes of sympathy for the loss of my father. Cards stood on side tables. The coffee table had cards piled in neat stacks, covering the entire surface. She picked up various cards, telling me about each person who sent it. “And they keep coming,” she remarked. I could relate, as I had a growing stack of my own at home. And each one meant the world to me. The fact that someone took the time to write a note expressing love for me and sorrow for my loss brought needed encouragement at a difficult time. They were like paper hugs, enveloping me in words of care from my brothers and sisters in Christ. We live in a day and time where life is lived digitally more than ever before. We communicate primarily through apps, texts, and emails. Businesses increasingly send advertisements, bills, and communications via email than snail mail. Even birthday cards are now sent virtually. This means, a handwritten note is a rare gift...

Never Underestimate the Power of a Handwritten Note2023-03-24T17:21:10+00:00

Whining vs. Biblical Complaint in Caregiving

MARISSA BONDURANT|GUEST When my kids wake up in the morning and complain about getting dressed for school, and the breakfast options I’ve offered, and the color of their lunch box, and the way their sister looked at them… I tell them to “stop whining.” When my own heart is dissatisfied with how my pants fit or my husband’s work schedule, or the fact that I wasn’t invited to something… I tell myself to “stop having a pity party.” But when our hearts are broken, sad, overwhelmed, and discouraged at the suffering of our loved one and the life changes required to care for them, should we still say “stop whining” to our tender hearts? Or is there another way to think about the brokenness we are experiencing? I believe there is a real difference between whining and biblically complaining. Whining is what we do when our preferences aren’t being met. Biblical complaint is when we acknowledge the disconnect between the pain of our lived-in reality, and what we know is true of God’s character and his plan for redeeming our world...

Whining vs. Biblical Complaint in Caregiving2023-03-24T17:21:15+00:00

Don’t Be A Fig Leaf

KIM BARNES|GUEST In recent years, I’ve come to terms with some parenting failures in raising my children when they were young. When I’ve shared with friends about my realized failures—when I’ve confessed sin, I’ve often gotten a response that goes something like this: “Don’t beat yourself up. Parenting is hard. You did the best you could at the time.” They’re not completely wrong. There is a sense in which I did my best. I love my children. I did not intend to harm them. I thought I was doing right at the time. But I’ve since learned that I misunderstood some of my children’s needs. I took some actions that though well-intentioned, missed the mark. And I failed to take some action that was necessary. I sinned against my children. The reason I share my failures is because I am grateful that God exposes sin and I want to proclaim God’s faithfulness to teach, guide, and forgive. I want to heed the encouragement of James 5:16...

Don’t Be A Fig Leaf2023-03-24T17:21:42+00:00

Walking With God in Motherhood

BETHANY BELUE|GUEST BETHANY BELUE|GUEST The moment I brought my little boy home from the hospital, so much in my life changed. Overnight, my whole world shifted, and I began to see life through the lens of another human being who was completely dependent upon me. My time went from things I needed to do to what the baby needed: when did he need to eat, when did he need to sleep, and why was he crying so hard? One morning, as I stood at my sink looking out at the fresh flowers in the flower box outside my kitchen window, while my baby slept in the room beside me, tears welled in my eyes. Motherhood overwhelmed me. The to-do list felt endless, the sleep felt too little, and the needs of this tiny little human felt exhausting. My need for the Lord felt great, yet my time with Him was almost nonexistent. In that moment, the voice of the Lord spoke to me, a voice of love and compassion: “My presence will be with you and I will give you rest” (Ex. 33:14). I’m not sure there could have been more needed words for a tired, anxious, first-time mother. I knew then that He was near and He saw me. He reminded me that in those days of early motherhood, He was with me, and although rest may not be found in sleep, it was found in Him...

Walking With God in Motherhood2023-03-24T17:21:47+00:00
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