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Beloved, Be Loving

"Dearly Beloved…" That's the way I started out my last wedding sermon. I know it's a little bit of a throwback. We don't call too many people "beloved" anymore, but I hope you know what I mean. Today, I want to think about why that's a perfect way to greet one another…"beloved."

September 11, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


In doubt

Doubt happens to the best of us. I know we sometimes put people on a pedestal like famous preachers, authors or even mature Christians we know and then criticize ourselves with comparisons like "I bet they are too spiritually mature to doubt like me. I wish I was more like them." But the truth is, they do have times of doubt because we all do. We have times of doubt when tragedies strike for no reason or prayers go unanswered or we get mistreated for trying to do the right thing, etc. We wonder if anyone else struggles with the ...

September 11, 2014 | William Burnham | Columnists


Blessed to serve

You call yourself a Christian, right? You do realize that just by doing that, you are taking on a very specific job description. You are now "His witnesses". You are the "light of the world" and the "salt of the earth". You are "Christ's ambassadors", a "holy priesthood" you are to be "Declaring the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light". Do I have to go on? Realize it - you have a job, whether you like it or not, you are blessed to serve. There is no such thing as a part ...

August 28, 2014 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Just a thought: The Golden Rule

Is the "Golden Rule" biblical? Yes, but not because it is a "golden rule" but rather because it is a "Kingdom principle." Many people miss the point here. They want to live by the golden rule (and that's fine), but not really according to the Kingdom rule. Ah yes, we are talking about the pickers and the choosers. Jesus asked it this way: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Lk. 6:46) In other words; "Why do you call me Lord when in reality I am not your Lord?" or, "Why ...

August 28, 2014 | William Burnham | Columnists


Get your hands dirty

The church is failing in a big way! Yes I am aware God has, and continues to use, the church to reach the lost and minister to the world in mighty ways. However, one of the greatest and most foundational tasks given to the church by Christ is one of the things the church is neglecting the most - "discipleship." I have often said, "We are outraged at the idea of someone abandoning a newborn and we should be, but yet the church does this everyday to those who are newly born again."

August 21, 2014 | William Burnham | Columnists


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Archive By Section - Columnists


Parson to Person: 2010 is here

2009 has come and gone. Many have high hopes for 2010. Perhaps we will experience a surge in the economy, the creation of new jobs to put people who lost their jobs in 2009 back to work, maybe 2010 will be the year my ship comes in.

Traditionally in preparation for the New Year people make themselves wonderful promises of how they will be different in the coming year. While perhaps sincere the vast majority of our New Year's Resolutions are quickly sacrificed on the altar of same old, same old. The truth of the matter is outward reform ...

January 01, 2010 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


Grace Notes: Get Real with Christmas

You know the artists have it wrong, don't you? I'm talking about Christmas. When you think of Christmas, do you see a cherubic baby on bed of sparkling clean hay, parents peacefully looking on - halos shining over everyone in the scene, shepherds, wise men, everyone awash in starlight, maybe even a few angels hovering over the manger? Is that what you think of when you think of Christmas?

December 25, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Parson to Person: Luke’s honest reporting

Luke 2:1-20, the account of Jesus' birth, is probably one of the most widely known passages of Scripture. During this time of year, one might hear it in the most unexpected places. Religious or not, it is nigh impossible to get through the Christmas season without at least a passing reference to this important passage.

December 18, 2009 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


Grace Notes: Joy to the World

It's amazing what a song can do, isn't it? Not that it's stopped me, but it's not politically correct anymore to say "Merry Christmas" in some places, you know. I have to admit a smile crossed my face at the store as the cashier told me to have a "Happy Holiday" even as my kids were singing along to the words of a very "Christ"mas song playing in the background of that same store.

December 18, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: Savior of the Nations, Come

I'm surprised you're taking time to read this, what with all the things you've got on your "to do" list. I'm just glad you know how important it is to take time out of the busy-ness of this month to remember what it is all about.

December 04, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Parson to Person: Christ’s message is love

There is a Christian song the chorus of which goes, "Oh, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all! Just to think that God loves me." I love that song. It carries with it some reminders that we tend to forget.

December 04, 2009 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


Grace Notes: Thanks for nothing, God

Blah blah blah... You've heard it a thousand times: "We have so much to thank God for." But it's hard to argue with that. God has protected us from so much we don't want and given us so much we do. Our standard of living, even for the poorest among us, is light years beyond the standard of living for the majority of our world's population. And now just try comparing it to the standard of living even in our country 200 years ago. We have plenty to thank God for. Even King Solomon, richest man ...

November 27, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Parson to Person: Is Christmas a Christian day?

Inevitably during this time of year, I will receive brochures and letters from well meaning people informing me that Christmas is not a Christian holiday and Christians ought not celebrate it. These letters and brochures claim (rightly so) that originally Dec. 25 was celebrated as a heathen holiday and, therefore, is not really Christian at all. Is that true? Partially yes, and partially no.

It is true that prior to 336 A.D. Dec. 25 was the time when some polytheistic religions celebrated this day as the day of the rebirth of the sun. So, yes, in perhaps its roots ...

November 27, 2009 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


Grace Notes: God's Grace to give you confidence

This Sunday is the last Sunday in the Church Year. In a few days we celebrate Thanksgiving (Check out next Friday's column for that). After that comes the season of Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of our Savior. Really it's a two-fold preparation. We prepare to witness again and celebrate his birth in that manger. And we prepare to see him when he comes back at the end of time to take us to be with him. But as we prepare, there's the question I heard still hanging in the air for some - maybe ...

November 20, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Parson to Person: The behavior of many is not "Christ-like"

When the missionary E. Stanley Jones met with Mahatma Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader who led India in its quest for Independence, he asked him, "Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"

November 20, 2009 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


Parson to Person: Christ is the only way

Recently I was having a discussion with a man from another faith. He was trying his best to convince me that, though our faiths were different, we really believed the same thing, He claimed that the only difference between us was that was the prophet we were following. Mine being simply an earlier and therefore less enlightened prophet than his. He actually made the fatal mistake that so many make, assuring me that "We (who are Monotheists) really are all related and we really believe the same things - we believe in the goodness of man, trying to better ourselves, etc ...

November 13, 2009 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


Grace Notes: Grace to face Judgment Day

Have you ever noticed how one person's big moment of absolute joy is another's worst nightmare?

November 13, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Grace Notes: God’s grace for you to reform

Quick quiz: What was last weekend? Hint: Oct. 31. My guess is that most of you were thinking of ghosts and goblins and trick-or-treat. Everyone knows that Oct. 31 is Halloween, right? What not everyone knows is that something else is celebrated that day too - Reformation.

On Oct. 31, 1517, on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany, Martin Luther posted 95 theses, 95 statements for debate and discussion among the scholars and churchmen. He wanted his church to start evaluating some of its practices in light of Scripture and not just do things because "that's what ...

November 06, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


Parson to Person: The Jesus of scripture cannot be rewritten easily

Jesus today has been the victim of deconstruction theology. In an attempt to remove the Jesus of history from the Jesus of faith, a whole lot of views have been advanced in an attempt to explain why we cannot believe in the Jesus of the Bible.

November 06, 2009 | Dr. John Pearrell | Columnists


God’s Grace in making a helper suitable

Last week, millions of people had birthdays, but when my son turned 3 and my daughter turned 6, those were special days. Why? Family. The wall at my daughter's school is full of pictures of "Students of the Month." But one is more heart-warming to me than any other. Why? Family.

October 30, 2009 | Jonathan E. Scharf | Columnists


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