Clear your schedules

Sep 24, 2018 by

I can’t agree with Hillary Watson, who says it’s OK Sunday school is dying (Gathering the Stones, Sept. 10). We have a responsibility to clear our schedules of all that doesn’t contribute to growing...

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Watson: Sunday school is dying

Sep 10, 2018 by

Sunday school is dying. And that’s OK. Technically, the whole church is dying in the Western world. Few expect the church to actually die, however. Religion remains a uniquely powerful force in human...

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Fostering faith beyond Sunday school

Feb 21, 2017 by

Nurturing and building Christian foundations is paramount for being able to create a long-lasting successful spiritual walk once a child hits adulthood. Yet too many parents fail to see the importance of...

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Bible: Sabbath-keeping, empire-breaking

Nov 23, 2015 by

I’ve never been very good at keeping the Sabbath. To my knowledge, this is the only case where public admission of habitual commandment-breaking might actually get one a raise. We moderns have a term for...

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Scripture versus experience

Oct 26, 2015 by

Our next three lessons cover large developments in the Jerusalem church and beyond. In Acts 12 we find Peter in prison guarded by four squads of soldiers. King Herod Agrippa, after beheading the apostle James,...

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Peter’s vision shakes the foundation

Oct 12, 2015 by

While Saul is stowed away in his native Tarsus, the action moves back to the cities of Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea in Palestine, along the Mediterranean seacoast. Peter is now center-stage. He heals Aeneas, a...

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God’s power is not for sale

Sep 28, 2015 by

Stephen’s impassioned sermon from our last lesson incited such blood-lust in his listeners that he was immediately stoned to death. In praying for forgiveness for his killers, Stephen imitates Jesus on the...

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Birth pangs of the Jerusalem church

Aug 31, 2015 by

If we were reading this narrative as Luke intended, we would not start halfway through Acts 4. So let’s first get situated. Acts is Luke’s second volume and follows directly after his account of Jesus’...

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Refiner’s fire, heaven’s floodgates

Aug 17, 2015 by

Zechariah continues the prophetic theme. Israel has been hypocritical in its religious practices. It has fasted and feasted for selfish purposes. Through Zechariah, God calls for heart integrity and right...

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Don’t blame your parents

Aug 3, 2015 by

“The parents have eaten sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge.” Biblical scholars think this proverb was a complaint by the exiles in Babylon. They were not responsible for their...

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Adders’ eggs and spiders’ webs

Jul 20, 2015 by

What is the relationship between humans “be­getting iniquity” and God as a driving force in the world? Why do saints suffer and sinners prosper? The psalmist nearly lost his faith over that one. Who can...

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The two parts of true religion

Jul 7, 2015 by

Israel is a mess, says God via Micah. One has to search the opening chapters to find the cause of his exasperation. In 3:8-12, he mentions rulers who hate justice, pervert fairness and build their realms with...

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Howling like a jackal

Jun 22, 2015 by

I’ve not heard jackals howl in the wild, but I listened on YouTube. Try it to get in a mood to study Micah. They are more shrill and annoying than the hyenas I heard when teaching in Ethiopia. The prophet...

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Sleeping on a bed of ivory

Jun 8, 2015 by

Economic inequality has grown in the United States since the 1970s. It will be an issue in the next political cycle. How shall we deal with the word of a prophet from the working class who heaps condemnation...

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Love controls the spiritual gifts

May 11, 2015 by

May 24 is Pentecost Sunday in the Christian calendar and the Festival of Weeks in the Jewish calendar. It is the second of the three pilgrimage festivals stipulated in Ex. 23:13-17, celebrating the early...

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God’s love shines

May 11, 2015 by

I am grateful for wonderful teachers like Esther Kratzer Koontz who catch the essence and vision of the Shine curriculum (“Sunday School Shines,” April 13). Thank you to Esther for sharing her testimony....

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Gifts for the common good

Apr 27, 2015 by

I hate to tell you this, but the Johannine communities of our previous lessons were not the only Christians who had church fights. Some 40 or 50 years earlier, the Apostle Paul wrote the letter we call 1...

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Short letters about church fights

Apr 13, 2015 by

When did you last read 2 John? The shortest document in our New Testament begins in the typical form of a Greco-Roman letter: the sender, the receiver and the greeting. However, the greeting is specifically...

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Testimony: Sunday school shines

Apr 13, 2015 by

MennoMedia’s new Shine Sunday school curriculum for children is praiseworthy: easy to plan, easy to teach and committed to deep and simple truths that stick with me all week long. I commute 45 minutes to...

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Jesus didn’t just look human

Mar 30, 2015 by

When I taught Bible at Messiah College, I often had students from fundamentalist churches. They certainly knew their fundamentals, one of which was “Jesus is God.” As we studied the Gospels, they never...

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Street theater, physical resurrection

Mar 16, 2015 by

When we watch a play, we focus only on the stage. We do not think of the weeks of planning or the jumble of costumes and props behind the curtains. Good choreography and good acting bring us right into the...

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Wide-eyed for angels

Dec 8, 2014 by

I teach the preschool Sunday school class at Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship in North Carolina, and every year I am amazed by what they teach me about the Bible stories I share with them — stories I’ve...

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Voice of Wisdom and Word

Nov 24, 2014 by

Hebrews opens with a contrast: God spoke in the past, but now God speaks in a new way. Even as the author of Hebrews draws our attention to the present, the text traces a thread between the God of Israel’s...

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The healing river rises

Nov 10, 2014 by

Our quarter ends with three passages that articulate the prophetic hope for healing. All three are full of metaphorical images that defy explanation if taken too literally. The Book of Ezekiel concludes with a...

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Sunday school and tough questions

Oct 29, 2014 by

I recently had the privilege of witnessing four Sunday School teacher training events for Shine sponsored by Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. It is inspiring to see the dedication, creativity and love...

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