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When something that we consider bad happens to us or others, we may focus on the problem’s cause, not only in order to try to change the situation but maybe also to assign blame, perhaps even to God. In at least one case, however, God challenges us to focus less on the past cause and more on the future purpose for which He can use the particular suffering or affliction.

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The 86th Texas legislative session ended this past Monday with the House’s passing but the Senate’s not voting on a bill related to decriminalizing some possession of marijuana. My News Herald colleague Rev. Will Wilson argued for the bill in his May 12th column, which teased my different perspective that now follows.

The headline on a Barna Group report out this past April (based on interviews conducted between April and August of 2018) was “1 in 4 Practicing Christians Struggles to Forgive Someone”. The details of that report indicated that 23% of practicing Christians (defined as those Christians who said that their faith is very important in their lives and who had attended a worship service in the preceding month) reported that they could identify someone whom they could not forgive, and of those only 28% said that they wished they could forgive that person.

God spoke the following promise through Isaiah: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24 ESV). That promised behavior of God contrasts sharply to the prior behavior of the Israelites that a few verses earlier God judged for the following reasons: “because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen” (Isaiah 65:12 ESV).

At time of writing, the Texas legislature is considering a bill that would take steps toward decriminalizing possession of marijuana. If the bill passes, those caught with less than an ounce would have to pay a $500 fine instead of being arrested and incarcerated. I want to express my support for this bill from a theological perspective. In fact, I believe that no one should be criminalized at all for mere possession.

Aside from its being the Third Sunday of Easter and other things, tomorrow also is Cinco de Mayo: not Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain, as that is September 16 (1810), but the 1862 date of the outnumbered Mexican army’s victory over French forces, a victory that arguably affected not onl…

The Easter lilies and chocolate eggs at the grocery store have now gone back to the discount rack. The Easter egg hunt and egg roll will not happen again until next year. Your families have now gone back home. There will be plenty of parking spaces left when you show up to Church tomorrow morning, and the same pews that are usually sparse or empty will be so again, just like most other Sundays. The Sunday after Easter is often called “low” Sunday, the other being the Sunday after Christmas. It’s called “low” because the attendance on this day is usually a fraction of what it was the week before.

”We teach people to be solemn and quiet in church. You also gotta get out and celebrate – it’s a great victory.” Minister of First Baptist Church of Kilgore, the Rev. Glenn Young was happy to look out over the controlled chaos in Driller Park Saturday morning.

First Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Will Wilson and Elder Mike Sechrist drape a black cloth across the cross following the traditional Stripping of the Chancel during Maundy Thursday services. The black draping of the cross ahead of Good Friday represents Jesus Christ’s death for the sins of Hi…

“A blood donor saved my life; you can save lives, too,” that is what is on the front of the T-shirt that the Blood Center of East Texas will be giving away on Saturday, April 27, at the 23rd Quarterly Kilgore Community Blooddrive cosponsored by the Kilgore Rotary Club and our congregation.

While in seminary, I took a class on a theologian by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. More than a theologian, Bonhoeffer was a pastor, teacher of pastors, a prophet, and finally, a martyr.  Having grown up in Germany, Bonhoeffer played an active role in the resistance movement against Hitler…

The season of Lent is quickly coming to an end, and the Easter Season will soon begin. Amid all the special services connected with the historical events of Jesus's death and resurrection, we might easily lose sight of why they occurred, namely, that Jesus's death and resurrection were for you!

The headline read “Church as we know it is over. Article author Dave Adamson, a “social media pastor, claimed the “location-centric “physical attendance model is “dead and recommended an “audience-centric model, both physical and “omni-channel digital, likened to a lane-less swimming pool.

I've had my share of doctor's office visits. Back in 2005, I had an over-night heart procedure at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. My heart has been ticking just fine ever since, and I continue to maintain an active cardio work-out routine. Now, fourteen years later, I am able to live…

As a Presbyterian, I adhere to certain doctrinal confessions and creeds, just as the Southern Baptists might affirm the Baptist Faith and Message. One of the documents to which I am confessionaly bound is called the Scots Confession. This Confession claims that the true Church is known by th…

Listening to U2's 2009 song “Magnificent, I am repeatedly struck by the following lyric: “From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise. Although the authors apparently did not intend it, I think of God's creating each human life, ultimately for the purpose of making a joyful noise prais…

The 86th Texas legislative session ended this past Monday with the House’s passing but the Senate’s not voting on a bill related to decriminalizing some possession of marijuana. My News Herald colleague Rev. Will Wilson argued for the bill in his May 12th column, which teased my different perspective that now follows.

The headline on a Barna Group report out this past April (based on interviews conducted between April and August of 2018) was “1 in 4 Practicing Christians Struggles to Forgive Someone”. The details of that report indicated that 23% of practicing Christians (defined as those Christians who said that their faith is very important in their lives and who had attended a worship service in the preceding month) reported that they could identify someone whom they could not forgive, and of those only 28% said that they wished they could forgive that person.

God spoke the following promise through Isaiah: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24 ESV). That promised behavior of God contrasts sharply to the prior behavior of the Israelites that a few verses earlier God judged for the following reasons: “because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen” (Isaiah 65:12 ESV).

At time of writing, the Texas legislature is considering a bill that would take steps toward decriminalizing possession of marijuana. If the bill passes, those caught with less than an ounce would have to pay a $500 fine instead of being arrested and incarcerated. I want to express my support for this bill from a theological perspective. In fact, I believe that no one should be criminalized at all for mere possession.

Aside from its being the Third Sunday of Easter and other things, tomorrow also is Cinco de Mayo: not Mexico’s Independence Day from Spain, as that is September 16 (1810), but the 1862 date of the outnumbered Mexican army’s victory over French forces, a victory that arguably affected not onl…

The Easter lilies and chocolate eggs at the grocery store have now gone back to the discount rack. The Easter egg hunt and egg roll will not happen again until next year. Your families have now gone back home. There will be plenty of parking spaces left when you show up to Church tomorrow morning, and the same pews that are usually sparse or empty will be so again, just like most other Sundays. The Sunday after Easter is often called “low” Sunday, the other being the Sunday after Christmas. It’s called “low” because the attendance on this day is usually a fraction of what it was the week before.

”We teach people to be solemn and quiet in church. You also gotta get out and celebrate – it’s a great victory.” Minister of First Baptist Church of Kilgore, the Rev. Glenn Young was happy to look out over the controlled chaos in Driller Park Saturday morning.

First Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Will Wilson and Elder Mike Sechrist drape a black cloth across the cross following the traditional Stripping of the Chancel during Maundy Thursday services. The black draping of the cross ahead of Good Friday represents Jesus Christ’s death for the sins of Hi…

“A blood donor saved my life; you can save lives, too,” that is what is on the front of the T-shirt that the Blood Center of East Texas will be giving away on Saturday, April 27, at the 23rd Quarterly Kilgore Community Blooddrive cosponsored by the Kilgore Rotary Club and our congregation.

While in seminary, I took a class on a theologian by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. More than a theologian, Bonhoeffer was a pastor, teacher of pastors, a prophet, and finally, a martyr.  Having grown up in Germany, Bonhoeffer played an active role in the resistance movement against Hitler…

The season of Lent is quickly coming to an end, and the Easter Season will soon begin. Amid all the special services connected with the historical events of Jesus's death and resurrection, we might easily lose sight of why they occurred, namely, that Jesus's death and resurrection were for you!

The headline read “Church as we know it is over. Article author Dave Adamson, a “social media pastor, claimed the “location-centric “physical attendance model is “dead and recommended an “audience-centric model, both physical and “omni-channel digital, likened to a lane-less swimming pool.

I've had my share of doctor's office visits. Back in 2005, I had an over-night heart procedure at Duke University Hospital in Durham, NC. My heart has been ticking just fine ever since, and I continue to maintain an active cardio work-out routine. Now, fourteen years later, I am able to live…

As a Presbyterian, I adhere to certain doctrinal confessions and creeds, just as the Southern Baptists might affirm the Baptist Faith and Message. One of the documents to which I am confessionaly bound is called the Scots Confession. This Confession claims that the true Church is known by th…

Listening to U2's 2009 song “Magnificent, I am repeatedly struck by the following lyric: “From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise. Although the authors apparently did not intend it, I think of God's creating each human life, ultimately for the purpose of making a joyful noise prais…

I recently heard a BBC broadcast in which the hosts were discussing the German word schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is the combination of two other German words: schaden (harm) and freude (joy). Put together, the word means to derive pleasure from someone else's pain. I am not aware of any equi…

When leaving my mom's home recently, I drove by a church in her community whose sign listed both “traditional and “casual worship services. Struck by what I thought an unusual contrast (“casual instead of “contemporary, for example), as I drove home I reflected on the words' etymologies.

Ralph Northam is in the eye of a political and media hurricane because he allegedly appears in his medical school year-book in blackface. Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine, Nancy Pelosi and many other names in the democratic party, and a few republicans, are now calling for Northam's resignation. H…

One need not be a fan of the New Orleans Saints in particular, or the NFL in general, to have taken notice of the most-controversial “no call in the January 20 NFC Championship Game between the Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. As the replay showed, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman not o…

A lot of things in life have to be achieved. We need to achieve good grades in order to win the favor of our parents, and later, an admissions committee. When we enter college, we have to achieve good enough grades to graduate so that we can get the job we've always wanted. When we get the j…

Recently I watched a YouTube video in which, among other things, Amazon's Alexa defined an abortion but then said she did not know the related answer of when a fetus could survive outside a uterus. The video perhaps was entertaining enough in its own right, even if one does not ultimately fi…

An article written by Kate Shellnutt in “Christianity Today claims that African Americans are the only racial group that see the Bible as more important for the moral fabric of the nation than the constitution.

As you may know, the congregation I serve, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, co-sponsors a quarterly community blood-drive with the Kilgore Rotary Club. Not every time but regularly I mention the next drive in a column, either weeks before or the day of the drive, as I here mention the upcoming Janua…

We have just finished celebrating Christmas day, yet the season of Christmas will not end until epiphany Sunday, January 6th. What, exactly, is the theological backbone of Christmas? The birth of the messiah who will occupy David's throne forever? Yes. The coming of the true King of the eart…

A full church with flowering poinsettias illuminated by flickering candlelight, echoing with a choir singing Christmas carols. Flawlessly-wrapped perfectly-chosen presents under a tastefully-decorated symmetrical tree. A long dinner-table filled with favorite foods, surrounded by partaking l…

One thing I enjoy about being a pastor is studying God's Word as part of my “job. Sure, as a layman I studied the Bible individually and with a group, but I certainly was not as well-equipped with either knowledge of the Bible's original Hebrew and Greek or a library of scholarly resources o…

God's Commandment against murder (Exodus 20:13) curbs some violence in society (1 Timothy 1:9) but not all. Twelve people inside a California bar were killed November 7 by a gunman who posted to social media during the shooting that he had no reason for doing it, and eleven people inside a P…

I appreciate everyone who participated in and attended a Fifth Annual Symposium in Kilgore last Sunday discussing the topic “Why church? In answering that question, the main presenter, Dr. Glenn Young of First Baptist, Kilgore, helpfully distinguished between religious traditions that do and…

The Pew Research Center recently reported data about people's reasons for regularly attending or not attending religious services.

Estimates are that the artificial blood-substitutes market could be worth more than $5 billion by 2022 and more than $17 billion by 2027. A significant problem, however, is that so far there is no real artificial blood-substitute. No single blood replacement can both carry oxygen, like red b…

I once heard a minister remark, quite smugly, that Jesus' sermon on the mount tells us nothing about what we should believe but everything about how we, as Christians, should live. However, on the contrary, the Apostles creed—the minister continued—says everything about what we should believ…

School is back in session. Honestly, I'm glad those years are behind me. The routine of classes, lectures, reading, homework, projects, speeches, exams, and report cards—not to mention practice for extracurricular activities—oh, I feel anxious just thinking about it! I'll be stepping back in…

As Hurricane Florence headed toward the U.S. East Coast this past week, The Washington Post editorial board declared that President Trump is “complicit in such extreme weather by his playing down humans' role in increasing weather risks and by his continuing to dismantle efforts to address t…

Confirmation hearings should begin this Tuesday for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to be the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. If approved, Justice Kavanaugh is expected to change the Court's balance on abortion, potentially leading to more restrictions on, or even a …

Pope Francis recently declared that the death penalty is always wrong because it attacks “the inviolability and dignity of the person. Perhaps not surprisingly Lutherans and others do not any pope to be the definitive interpreter of Holy Scripture.

Although lacking a Facebook account, I know there are positive things about social media. So, I was surprised when acquaintances gave up regularly posting to Facebook because it negatively affected their face-to-face interactions.

Most Sundays right before the service begins, I teach a portion of the Catechism to children and “eavesdropping adults. This past Sunday the portion was the Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17), which not only forbids murder, and causing death by carelessness or negligence, and…

One man's trash is another man's treasure, or so the secular proverb usually goes, but apparently the reverse is also true: one person's treasure is another person's trash, or so my mother and I recently found out.

The Fourth of July can mean family fun, including food and fireworks, but the more I study history, political science, and theology, the less comfortable I am with the events of July 4, 1776.

Fourteen-year-old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, last month won the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word “koinonia. With high-tech voice-to-text, auto-correct, and spell-check, Spelling Bees might be as archaic or obsolete as their sponsoring news organizati…

A slim majority of Americans believe in God “as described in the Bible, according to a recently-released Pew Research Center study, but survey respondents differed as to how they thought the Bible describes God.

My car would not start one morning this past week, on a day that I needed to get to church early for a service and meeting with area pastors from our church body. Thankfully, a member of the congregation soon gave me a ride, and later the car started for me to drive it to my mechanic, who di…