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The Upward Call

20
Apr

Are the Thorns Growing In Our Hearts?

Posted by on in The Upward Call
Rose-with-thorns
I was recently rereading the parable of the sower that Jesus told in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 and I really began to do what he asks of us, “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matt. 13:9). In this week’s blog I want to concentrate on what Jesus tells us about the soil that tries to develop with thorns in it.   As someone who does some yard work on the weekends as most of us do, I have noticed that sometimes the most beautiful plants in my garden have thorns. Of course, roses produce a beautiful flower and many of them...
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06
Apr

Mercy Not Sacrifice

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mercy triumphs over judgement
It is tough once we have a little bit of righteousness in our lives to figure out to handle it. We begin to feel like we are better than we probably are, yet we are not as bad as we used to be. However, this little bit of cleansing can have a detrimental effect like it did on the Pharisees if we let it.   Jesus was reclining at the table of a house with many tax collectors and sinners and the Pharisees saw this and began to hurl stones at Jesus in the form of this type of statement,...
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28
Mar

Why Did God Leave Us Responsible for His Plan?

Posted by on in The Upward Call
responsibility1
One of the really interesting ideas of Scripture is when Jesus goes back to heaven and has left 12 men responsible for carrying on a plan that was conceived from many, many years ago. Jesus has accomplished his work, but how are human beings going to do taking the message of his resurrection and teachings to the rest of the world?   Almost 2,000 years later, we would have to conclude that God knew what he was doing. The message has survived, and it is continuing to be shared among people of every nation. Has it gone as God wanted? We...
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09
Mar

A Fitbit for the Spirit

Posted by on in The Upward Call
Fitbit image
One of the hottest new trends is the Fitbit.  In fact, my daughter Mikayla got one for Christmas and I decided to get one to be able to challenge her in making her daily goals.    The way the Fitbit works is that it is intended to increase your awareness about how much you move/exercise, and how many calories (how much food) you consume, resulting in the ability to track information and allow you to adjust these measurements in order to become healthier.  For example, since I got my Fitbit, I know about how many steps I take a day which results in...
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24
Feb

A Firm Center with Soft Edges

Posted by on in The Upward Call
jam-doughnut 1603342c
Recently as I was reading, a writer introduced me to a phrase that caught my attention. He was talking about being able to have conversations with others who disagree with us and he used the term “firm center with soft edges” to describe our attitude with others. This is the opposite of the jelly-filled doughnut that has a firm edge with a squishy center. However, I am afraid, as Christians, many of us operate like the jelly-filled doughnut rather than the other way around.   What does it mean to have a firm center with soft edges when dealing with...
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21
Feb

Bk and Han First Report from South Korea

Posted by on in The Upward Call
Hyun BKHanDavid
rom I am going to take a break from my normal type of blog to share an email with you that came from the young couple who spent the last 18 months with us at North MacArthur church of Christ working as interns.  Their names are BK and Han.  They came to us from a completely Korean speaking church because they wanted to worship as the Bible instructed, but they were very nervous about their English speaking abilities.  Over several years with us they became very beloved, and we were able to give them an opportunity to learn about ministry through...
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17
Feb

Answering the Call

Posted by on in The Upward Call
coexist symbol
I have been doing more and more research lately over what is happening with Christian involvement in our culture over the past decade, and it is startling.  There are some books like David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyon's Good Faith are beginning to help us see how much Christians are being considered irrelevant and extreme.    We are seen as irrelevant because we have removed ourselves from the mainstream, therefore, our Christian ideas are getting very little publicity in our culture.  People are believing that Christians are not necessary or even beneficial to our society anymore.  What have they contributed that has been positive...
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02
Feb

Obedience Learned Through Suffering

Posted by on in The Upward Call
obedience 4
When I begin to think about the things about Jesus that I appreciate the most, one of the first things I think about is that he understands my struggles and showed me how to finish the race without giving in to them.  Many times as I talk to people, they begin to talk about how much they have sacrificed for God, but when you begin to question them about the will of God as recorded in the Bible, they begin to show ignorance of God's commands.  For example, people will repeat arguments they have heard about instrumental music from others who...
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05
Jan

Needs

Posted by on in The Upward Call
Assessing-Needs-590x4001
The next time you are in Walmart, listen to some conversations between parents and their children. Here is part of what you may hear, “But dad I need this!” When you focus on what the child is holding, it may be the latest toy based on a movie or a video game. We understand that this is a characteristic in children that we call immature or childish, yet it is not just a trait that appears in young people.   If you saw the news around Christmas this year, you saw an incident where the police had to be called...
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29
Dec

Making a Change in the New Year that Lasts

Posted by on in The Upward Call
God-center-plan1
All of us want to change something about ourselves.  Some of us want to do better in a role of responsibility we have--perhaps to be a better father or mother, or spouse.  Some of us want physical things to change--perhaps to lose wait, change how we eat, or to exercise more to be in better shape.  A lot of these changes that are made as New Year's resolutions are short-lived; in fact, research shows that most resolutions die by the end of January or early February.  The year gets back to its old pace quickly and the motivation to change dies a fairly rapid death. ...
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