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The Book of Ruth as “The Book of Naomi”

Ruth is one of my favorite books, but I have a serious problem with it. The problem is the name. Now, I know that the Jews also called the book “Ruth” and that I should respect that, but honestly I just can’t bring myself to do it. The...
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Justice Seeker vs. Sinner Winner

Two realities confront us a Christians. The first is that, as loving members of our own communities, it is unthinkable that we do not do all that is in our power to secure the safety and prosperity general of that community. We are to pray for and participate...
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An Unwelcomed Gift

Consequences, pain, suffering and loss are unwelcomed gifts from a loving creator to wayward creatures. Only discomfiture drives change. Only a sense of dissatisfaction with the world causes one to look up from his or her preoccupation with it, to consider what lies beyond it. Those who strive...
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Spirituality is Not a Personality Trait

I’ve had some interesting discussions this week about various churches’ perception of “Spirituality, Love & Humility,” My ministry is non-denominational and I travel around a bit so I encounter all kinds of interesting perceptions of these matters. In the movie Joyful Noise the choir director struggles with her...
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The Idolatry of the Modern Mind

When I was a child, I spent a lot of time irritating my teachers. I had the tendency to say, “What does that mean?” and “What am I supposed to do with that?” or “Why does this matter?” I was more practical back then than I am now...
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Nazarenes, Rednecks, and Other Well-meaning Slurs

I love puzzles, always have. Growing up, I saw puzzles of all kinds as a natural exercise of my desire to be a detective someday, tracing out subtle clues to help me zero in on bad guys. Becoming a biblical scholar, then, has always seemed right on target...
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Weirdo Fixations and the Heart of True Religion

During my recent convalescence after surgery I received a disturbing letter from an earnest young man who was understandably distraught over his shunning from a congregation for whom he felt deep familial attachments. I know I joke around a lot, but I intend no jest here. His church...
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