January 1, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

I don’t write anything on my new wall calendar before January 1st. I like to see all the blank pages and squares when we first put it on the wall. Soon the pages fill up and sometimes begin to look messy with corrections and lots of entries, but for a brief time I am able to enjoy the freshness of 365 days of an uncluttered schedule. There is something exciting and refreshing about embarking upon a new year with empty calendar pages waiting to be filled. It is exciting yet also concerning as we face the start of a new year that will bring both good and bad things into our lives. There will be happiness and sorrow, pleasure and pain, good experiences and difficult ones. Sometimes we are sad to see the previous year end, and sometimes ...

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January 1, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

January is a wonderful time to chart a new path for yourself. Some call that new path new year’s resolutions or new year’s goals. I call them desires. I group my desires in 7 buckets all beginning with the letter “F”: 1. Faith, 2. Family, 3. Finances, 4. Function, 5. Fitness, 6. Friends, 7. Fun. Into each bucket I identify desires I’d like to see happen in the new year. I often come up with as many as 45 desires. Here’s the key. If I accomplish even 1 of those 45 desires, I’ve had a successful year. Desires are not the same as goals.

Neil T. Anderson, in his book, Victory Over the Darkness, defines a godly goal as “any specific result reflecting God’s purposes for your life that does ...

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January 1, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

Ever wrestled with God? Since that’s not physically possible, wrestling with God takes the form of wrestling in prayer or wrestling in your soul. Perhaps you’ve wrestled with God over taking a job or buying a house or marrying someone or a wayward child or friend. Wrestling with God is not fun or pretty. Sometimes wrestling with God happens when He asks us to do something we are afraid to do. Sometimes we fear the consequences to our reputation, finances, lifestyle, or family. Fear is a primary motivator for wrestling with God. We wrestle with Him because we’re afraid of something or someone.

That was the case with Jacob. He had fled from his brother, Esau, to live with his uncle Laban in the city of Haran. He left under ...

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January 1, 2019 @ 8:00 AM

Sandstone Evangelical Free Church in Sandstone, MN will be hosting Friday Night Fight, an event with a focus on men’s sexual purity. Dr. Irv Woolf, Director of Hopewell Counseling, will be the guest speaker. The event will take place on Friday evening, January 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm. Irv’s message is titled The Battle For Purity. The evening will begin with a meal. There is a suggested donation of $7.00 to cover the cost of the meal; however, please attend even if you can’t afford the $7.00.

The deadline to confirm that you’d like to attend is Thursday, January 17, 2019. Please call the church office by noon so an accurate count can be obtained for ordering food. The phone number for the Sandstone Evangelical Free ...

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December 1, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

The Most Wonderful Time of the Yearis a popular Christmas song written by Edward Pola and George Wyle in 1963. It was sung by Andy Williams and appeared on the Andy Williams Christmas Album that year. The lyrics are happy and cheerful but do not mention the true meaning of Christmas. Is this song celebrating the time of year without knowing or caring why?

Christmas really is a happy time of year. Christmas time has a personality all its own—whether or not people acknowledge the birth of Jesus. There are so many things to look forward to at Christmas, e.g. family and friends, gifts, parties, traditional foods and yummy treats, just to name a few. But how empty it is without the reason for the season.

For some, Christmas time is not ...

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December 1, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

It seems like we move straight from Halloween to Black Friday to Christmas. Little mention is made of Thanksgiving other than it is the precursor to Black Friday. Some call this holiday shopping frenzy “retail therapy” because shopping and buying things elevates the mood and makes us feel better. Merchants love retail therapy because for them it’s all about the money. Many merchants (as well as churches) depend on yearend sales (or giving) to finish the fiscal year in the black

Retail therapy and buying stuff (most of which we don’t need) cannot fill the hollow place in our hearts. Our hearts were made for God and nothing and no one else can fill the void. As Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote, “You have made us ...

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December 1, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

Don’t you long for public figures: politicians, Hollywood stars, athletes, and others to repent, come clean, and openly confess their sin? I long for a public figure who’s guilty of a sin to say, “Yes, I did that. I’m so sorry. Will you forgive me? I don’t ever want to do that again.” I think I’d pass out if I ever heard one of the powerful say that. What prevents them and us from doing that? The number one reason is pride. Our pride refuses to come clean. That’s not all. Fear is right up there as a reason for not publicly confessing sin. We fear the consequences if we admit to what we’ve done.

Those reasons and others are described in Genesis 3 in the Bible. After Adam and Eve ...

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December 1, 2018 @ 8:00 AM

If you’re under 40 you probably are familiar with the acronym FOMO. It’s the abbreviation for Fear Of Missing Out. It’s such a compelling fear that millennials and generation Zers stay glued to their cell phones, checking their social media accounts lest they miss out on something important in their social sphere. Americans aren’t the only ones afflicted with FOMO. When Elsie and I were in England for a wedding, British radio calls those with FOMO, “cell phone zombies.” These are young people so busy checking their social media accounts for new information that they are oblivious to their surroundings and walk into other people, light poles, even traffic. Some have died.

What’s the driving force ...

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November 1, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Another term for stress is pressure. It’s the pressure we feel when we have too much to do and too little time in which to do it. It’s the pressure of expectations to fulfill, deadlines to meet, budgets to balance. Usually pressure is directly tied to time. Time pressure causes stress. Pressure can also result from a toxic relationship, a relationship in which we walk around on eggshells never knowing what will trigger the anger of another. Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley write profoundly about stress in their premarital text, “Ready to Wed” (2015, Focus on the Family). Before I write about how to deal with stress and actually grow stronger through it, let me list all the unhealthy ways couples deal with marital stress ...

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November 1, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

In September of 1620, 102 pilgrims embarked from England aboard the Mayflower. Their intent was to establish a settlement in the Hudson River area of the recently established Virginia Colony. After a sixty-six-day journey they made landfall approximately 150 miles north of their target at the eastern tip of Cape Cod in present-day Massachusetts. They explored the area for about a month and then sailed further west to the mainland at present-day Plymouth. It was here that they decided to establish a new homeland. The pilgrims were puritans and were not in agreement with King James I and the Anglican Church of England. They were not free to worship God according to their puritan faith.1

William Bradford was a prominent member of the pilgrim ...

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