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New Year, New You: Satisfy Your Search for Grace

I was at home this past Thursday night, scrolling through my social media feeds, when I read a post from a friend that said, “God answers prayers.” Do you know what she was referring to? She was referring to Jayme Closs. Jayme, as you may know, is the 13-year-old girl who went missing on October 15th. That’s the day deputies responded to a 911 call and found both of her parents dead inside their home, and Jayme was nowhere to be found. They sent out an Amber Alert. More than...

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New Year, New You: Satisfy Your Search for Guidance

A search for guidance… It’s what caused the Magi to look up into the sky generation after generation. Until one night, these astronomers or astrologers (they were likely one or the other) saw a star they had never seen previously. It wasn’t there the night before, nor was it there the night before that. And not only had they never seen this star, it was unlike any other star they had seen. Then they remembered some of things Belteshazzar had said over 600 years before that...

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Moses' New Year's Prayer

Have you seen those lists of famous people that died in 2018? If you haven’t here are some names that will click with many people:  Barbara Bush, George HW Bush, Aretha Franklin, Burt Reynolds, Penny Marshall, Billy Graham, John McCain, Margot Kidder (aka Lois Lane), David Ogden Stiers (aka Major Winchester on M*A*S*H), Jerry Van Dyke, Keith Jackson, baseball’s Willie McCovey, basketball’s Jo Jo White, football’s Dwight Clark, Stephan Hillenburg (creator of...

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New Year, New You: Satisfy Your Search for Growth

Erin and I celebrated Christmas with my side of the family on the 26th, this past Wednesday. In the afternoon, we were sitting around the table playing my cousin’s new Ticket To Ride board game she opened the day before. And of course, right next to the game board was just a mound of delicious Christmas treats. As I popped an eighth peanut butter ball into my mouth, I received a text. It read, “Anytime Fitness Exclusive, Join Anytime Fitness Appleton for $1 before January 11th! Call...

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God Gave Us a Light

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This...

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John's Unromantic Christmas Story

Yesterday here at Immanuel on Christmas Eve, we heard and pondered the well-known words of Luke chapter 2. As we read, listened to, pondered those words, we pictured Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem; Joseph anxiously and hurriedly trying to find a vacant room. We could picture Mary so carefully wrapping the baby Jesus in pieces of cloth and laying him down in a manger. We can almost hear the angel’s announcement and the songs of the heavenly host. We can picture how the...

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You Desert, Your Place of Safety

You probably don’t want to experience what Ricky Gilmore did in the desert. He was hitchhiking to a nearby town when a couple picked him up. As a thank you, he offered to grill them steaks but they insisted that they go for a little joy ride instead. But the joy ride turned out to be a nightmare because after an argument they kicked Ricky out of their car in the middle of the desert not close to any town. The problem was: Ricky is a paraplegic and this couple had earlier dropped off his...

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You Were Meant for Joy

Michele De Leeuw is 57 years old. This past August, she was with her husband Karl at their home in Sterling Heights, Michigan, when she suffered a heart attack. Karl called 911 immediately, but by the time the paramedics arrived, Michelle had been without oxygen for 15 minutes. The paramedics got her to the hospital, but it didn’t look good. Six days later, her family was told that she had only 5 percent brain function, 25 percent heart function, and a zero percent chance that her...

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What God Values Most

You can tell what is important to someone by the way they tell a story. What’s included? What parts of the story do they focus on? What details get the most time? This will certainly reveal what the story teller cares about most – what they see as important and value most. Read one news story from two different media outlets. It’s the exact same story. It happened only one way. The facts do not change. Yet, CNN and Fox News may tell the story in very different ways. One sees...

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God Answers Our Cry for Peace

“God isn’t fair.” One the biggest and most common criticisms of Christianity, accusations and finger pointing toward Christians from the unbelieving, secular world, is that our Big, Powerful, Good, God is not fair. He is not fair. The world points out examples of social and political injustice and it asks, “Where is your God?” They point at a community like Thousand Oaks, California. They say, “One week those residents endure one of the deadliest shootings in...

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