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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Attending a Wedding

God loves weddings.Jesus showed up for a wedding and performed his first miracle. The host ran out of wine for the celebration, something of a crisis, and Jesus proceeded to turn water into wine, keeping the party going a bit longer.God instituted marriage at Creation, before the Fall, an idea of relationship and purpose untouched by corruption. Marriage continues today. The Old and New Testaments regard the relationship between God and his people as like the husband-and-wife relationship. The Apostle Paul famously regards Christ as husband and the Church as the Bride, something of a mystery (Ephesians 5).Therefore, God takes marriage seriously. And so should we. They are causes for celebration and sober contemplation. Our modern culture rejects God’s idea of marriage more and more, however. In our lives, we will be invited to weddings along the way. Here are five questions to ask yourself before attending a wedding.Photo Credit:©Getty Images/BrianAJackson

Did Jesus Drink Wine, and Should We?

“I don’t drink, cuss, smoke, chew, or run around with women who do.”Growing up in the local church, we used to say this line all the time, especially in Sunday School class as a teen, trying to help us kids say “no” to the culture that would tempt us with such things. As narrow and somewhat legalistic as those statements might have been, they weren’t necessarily wrong or bad. I was offered various substances by “friends” throughout high school. Fortunately for me, my church community was also loving and encouraging, and that combination helped me to be friends with others while rejecting some of their recreational activities.And I definitely tried to stay away from the girls who did that stuff.I learned that avoiding certain things didn’t keep me from having fun, probably the opposite, and kept me out of more trouble than I already got into.The Bible doesn’t say anything about smoking or chewing. Of course, there are mentions of talking and having honorable speech and whole Proverbs passages about staying away from certain kinds of women.But what about alcohol? Wine was a staple in the ancient world. Therefore, we get several occasions where the drinking of alcohol is addressed. How does the Bible speak of wine and alcohol? Important for the discussion is the example of Jesus. Wine shows up several times in the Gospel narratives. Did Jesus drink wine?Photo credit: Unsplash/kmellis

7 Signs We Are in the End Times

The sky is falling!In the old story, a type of parable, Henny Penny is a chicken and not a very intelligent one. An acorn falls on her head, and she concludes the sky must be falling, leading to hysteria.Speaking of the end times carries a certain amount of tension. The Bible speaks of the end of this world and a transition into the New Heaven and New Earth, a redemptive story where the corruption of this world is first exposed in a destructive, dramatic fashion before the next world is fully realized.Passages like Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation read like a fantasy or science fiction novel with epic visions of creatures and beasts. These dramatic scenes have led to erroneous declarations from pastors or supposed prophets about the end drawing nigh within the near future. Those dates have all passed, and we can be skeptical of ideas about the end times.Jesus tells us we won’t know the day or the hour. At the same time, he gives us specific signs the end is coming soon. In the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, he lists several and calls these birth pangs like a woman in labor with a child. Painful. Intense. Yet a promise of new life at the end.Many today look at the world around us, see the headlines, and wonder if we’re in the end times. One way or another, we’re getting closer, but we should carefully explore the words of Jesus and how events today might fit his teaching.Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Llona Pietrolongo

How to Be More Open to the Holy Spirit in Your Daily Life

Let us purposefully internalize Scripture, embracing moments of solitude and silence. Let us come together in collective prayer with fellow believers, and let us be discerning in recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit. God has spoken to us not just in occasional whispers but in numerous profound ways.

Is it Okay for Christians to Practice Yoga?

Yoga has been a controversial practice among Western Christians for a while now – mostly what to do about those pants in public :-). But recently, a Catholic church in India released a statement, rejecting the idea that Christianity and yoga are compatible at all. This question about Christians engaging in yoga is a complex one because people practice yoga in different ways and different cultural contexts. What does yoga mean for Hindus, Christians in the U.S., and Christians in India? And what does the word yoga even mean?We will dive into these questions, consulting experts along the way.
Photo credit: iStock/Getty Images Plus/littlehenrabi

5 Simple Ways to Stop People from Sucking the Life Out of You

All of us have been there–we are spending time with someone who is overly talkative, needy, and selfish, and without them knowing it, are frankly just sucking all of the life out of us. It can feel at times that they are a vampire, draining all of our energy away.If you have found yourself in this position before, know that you are not alone. Most of us know at least one person in our life who does this.The best way one could imagine ending this would be to stop talking with the person, but most times, it is not that simple. Sometimes the people who drain us the most are the people we have to encounter every day, such as coworkers, a difficult family member, or the judgmental lady neighbor you see all the time at the grocery store.All of these people are unavoidable, therefore, we have no option but to have to interact with them. If you have many people in your life who drain you, know that there are many things you can do to prevent them from draining your energy any longer.Through going to therapy and studying the Bible, I have learned that there will be people who will be unintentionally toxic and burdensome, but it doesn't mean that we have to let them rule our lives. Instead of allowing them to drain every ounce of hope out of our bones, we can take our stand and do things to help ourselves.These things can take time and work, but they are worth it. Anything good is worth working for, and this is no exception.The individuals who are draining you probably aren't just doing it to you. They are probably fatiguing many other people and causing them to feel overwhelmed. And while this doesn't solve your problem, it can help you feel less alone.Many of the people we encounter every day deplete us with just a simple word, remark, or facial expression, but we don't need to give them that much power in our lives. If you are tired of people sucking the life out of you, here are five ways to keep people from doing it.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/MarioGuti

8 Unnoticed Ways God Is Blessing Your Life

When we think of God’s blessings, our minds often conjure up happy relationships, being financially secure, enjoying vacations, or gaining favor with people in power. We might even tend to think of only those “it’s good to be alive” moments.But God can often be blessing our lives in ways we don’t even notice, like when we’re dealing with a disappointment, an unexpected diagnosis, or a financial setback.I’ve learned by now that some of God’s best gifts to us are the things He withholds. And some of our most precious blessings come in the form of suffering. We often don’t realize it immediately, but in hindsight, we find we have much to be grateful for.So that you can live out God’s will for you and be thankful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18), here are eight ways God is blessing your life that might otherwise go unnoticed:Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Daniel de la Hoz

7 Faithful Ways to Wrestle with Disappointment

Disappointment is an inevitable part of life. We all encounter moments when life doesn’t go as planned--unmet expectations,broken relationships, unexpected hardships, missed opportunities, and other disappointing situations. As Christians, we’re not immune to disappointment because we’re living in a fallen world.However, we have a loving and powerful God to help us in disappointing situations.Jesus warns us in John 16:33 that we’ll encounter disappointment in our earthly lives, but he also encourages us to rely on his help to overcome it: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”Romans 15:13 promises that when weask the Holy Spirit to help us, the Spirit will give us the hope we need: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”God never wastes hardship. When we trust God, he will bring us through disappointment and help us findpeace of mind andjoy in any circumstances.Let’s explore 7 ways Christians can wrestle with disappointment and handle it well.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Fizkes

5 Profound Reasons Why Showing Up Matters in Christianity

A famous adage says, "Half of life is just showing up." Although people may dismiss this statement, there's some truth to it. While technology tries to replace in-person church attendance, small groups, and other in-person communication, connection and intimacy can only be achieved through events that we do in groups or one-on-one. Technology cannot replace the connection and community we receive when we attend something in person. We make friends and receive strength, correction, and grace when we need it the most. Furthermore, when we attend in-person events, we not only receive encouragement from the people around us, but we give encouragement as well. Here are some reasons why showing up matters in Christianity:
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3 Incredible Things You Can Do to Reflect Christ in Dark Times

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).Many Christians believe we are currently living through theverylast of the Last Days (akaThe End of the World As We Know It). And those paying attention to the nightly news, ranting on social media, or the culture war raging around us would likely point to Paul’s prophecy of 2 Timothy 3 as proof of that belief.These verses describe the end of this age using the phraseperilous times– meaning dangerous, tense, tumultuous, emotionally difficult times. These are times dominated by a “me-centric” humanity: spiritually bankrupt, morally twisted, and lacking self-discipline.Call me crazy, but that sounds spot on to me; people today are simply in love with themselves!But beingin love withis quite different thanlovingoneself, which is entirely Scriptural:“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).Everyone should love themselves. It’s the second greatest commandment out of the lips of Jesus — second only to loving God. And it implies that I can’t love you properly unless I love me as well! That is, the way I lovemedirectly affects how I love, treat, and respectyou.If I’m not happy with me, content, at peace and secure in myself, I will project my insecurities onto you, and be jealous of you, disloyal, harsh and unforgiving, unkind, envious and inconsiderate toward you. Because, if I don’t love me, I simply can’t love you either. And how I treat you is a reflection of me, more than it is of you.When you arein love withyourself, like when you are in love with someone else, you become excessively fond, attracted, infatuated with and self-consumed.This word is literally describing a worship of one’s self.In self-worship, every situation encountered is first filtered throughhow does this affect me?It is not a matter of fairness or justice, not mercy, nor right or wrong, and not what God says in Scripture, but is entirely based on the question: what is best for me?Photo credit: Unsplash/Josh Boot

8 Things Every Christian Needs to Stop Doing Right Now

Christians are not perfect. While we get a lot of things right, there are still quite a few things we get wrong.Some of these are detrimental to our personal walk with Jesus and our testimony to the world.For this reason, here is a list of 8 things every Christian needs to stop doing now.1. Stop Neglecting Your Personal Relationship with the Lord“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”--Mark 1:35The main reason God saved you is because he wants to have a personal relationship with you. Yet sometimes we treat spending time with God as an obligation and not a privilege.Do you really understand what it means that you can spend time in God’s presence? This is the same God who spoke and the world came into existence and he wants to be in relationship with you. We need to stop neglecting this time.When Jesus walked the earth, everyone wanted his time and attention, yet he intentionally got away from people so he could pray. Not only did this maintain his relationship with his Father, but it was his source of strength to face all the challenges of the day.I know there is a lot going on in your life, but make sure you find time to spend with the Lord. You will be better for it in more ways than you realize.Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Deagreez

7 Biblical Truths to Guide Your Decision-Making

In a world filled with complex choices and moral dilemmas, we all need God’s guidance to make the best decisions.Praise be to God, the Bible features timeless truths that can help you make wise decisions in any situation.By grounding your decisions in biblical principles, you can make choices that reflect God’s will. Then you can experience the peace and joy that come from living the life God wants for you.Here are 7 biblical truths to guide your decision-making process:Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Pict Rider

6 Ways to Praise Yourself Out of a Funk

Life is hard, and circumstantial seasons of loneliness, stress, sickness, and sadness are painfully unavoidable on this side of heaven. Thankfully, one of my greatest gifts from God happens to be a freakish ability to maintain joy even during what I call the "funks" of life or those prolonged seasons of "blah-ness" where nothing seems to be going right, and we feel about as inspired as a piece of charcoal. Here are some of my best practices for getting yourself out of a funk.
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