for your sake he became poor

Greed is subtle. It knows how to hide in our hearts, lurking in the shadows where it can destroy us, undetected. We should realize this, yet we don’t. Consider: Virtually everyone agrees that greed and materialism are real problems in the world. On top of that, Christians recognize that Jesus talked openly and often about greed, saying things like this to warn us against it: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness” (Luke 12:15a). Yet virtually no one considers himself to be a greedy person. That doesn’t add up!

We should assume that greed is, or easily can be, a problem for us. And we should fight greed in our own lives. But how?

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the irony of God’s character

Last Thursday, for what felt like the umpteenth time this winter, the city of Lincoln experienced a winter “snow event.” My wife and I awoke on Thursday morning to the sounds of our local school district canceling all classes for the day. Outside, a fresh blanket of white powder covered the already-existing layers of snow and ice. Soon, the sounds of snow blowers and shovels rang through the air in my neighborhood, while my wife scrambled to adjust her agenda knowing that she now had four children to supervise all day.

I was frustrated.

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why does God answer my prayers?

If, like a computer or smartphone, the human heart had an operating system, that operating system would run on self-justification. Self-justification is the default wiring of the human heart. We innately believe that we are, more or less, pretty good, and that our faults are, more or less, not that bad. While we are quick to point to the sins of others, we are slow to recognize our own. All of this is a reflection of our self-justifying ways.

One helpful way to diagnose this in your own life is to answer the question: why do I think God will answer my prayers? Any answer you give to that question reveals what you are looking to for justification. And every answer – save one – ultimately reveals self-justification.

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what we miss when we don’t gather

Like most churches in our area, we at Capitol City were forced to cancel our services last weekend due to the snowstorm that unleashed its fury upon us. Instead of gathering to sing with, pray with, and encourage one another, we were left to shovel our driveways and pine for warmer weather. The whole experience led me to think about what we missed by not gathering. The answers might seem obvious, but in a day when more and more people are attending “church” only online (or even via app), those answers are still necessary to consider.

So let’s do that. What do we miss when we don’t gather together as the people of God on the Lord’s day?

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imperishable beauty

Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious (1 Peter 3:3-4).

Our culture tells us that if you want to win influence, external adornment is the key. This is why I don’t have to teach my six-year-old daughter to play “dress up.” She knows, instinctively, that there is value in external beauty. Our culture follows suit. In 2007, Americans spent $39 billion on cosmetic products. When we add cosmetic procedures to the mix, the math gets even crazier. While Americans account for only about 4% of the world’s population, we account for roughly 20% of the world’s cosmetic procedures. Clearly we’re eager, as a culture, to go under the knife or needle in our pursuit of external beauty. (more…)