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With Independence Day almost upon us once again, a good question to ask as disciples of Jesus, as those whose minds are wonderfully being renewed by God's grace (Romans 12:2), is this: "How should we think biblically about patriotism?"

From one perspective, our Sunday morning gatherings seem to only involve a handful of people in those formal and familiar positions that allow them to build others up (for example, someone praying up front, the worship leader, the pastor, etc.). And yet, acknowledging these examples, we should also ask, "What might 'building up' look like for everyone else?"

For the majority of Western readers, these verses (about women covering their heads) are likely to inspire images of sisters in a separated, Amish community or wives in a far-off, Islamic nation. But that's not the only challenge with this text. One obstacle to addressing this cultural disconnect, to helping modern readers understand the relevance of these words, is the complexity of Paul's argument in this passage. So how might we make sense of these Spirit-inspired words?

In a world that regularly preaches about doing whatever "feels good" or "feels right" sexually, a world that ferociously advocates for sex/sexuality as a 'judgment-free zone', the Corinthians' flawed reasoning might sound to many like ancient wisdom to be celebrated. But many who rightly speak of sexuality as a beautiful, natural part of human existence wrongly assume that our sexuality is not also tainted by the ugly, me-centeredness that lies behind so much of our suffering.

When John writes in the book of Revelation that at the opening of the "sixth seal... the sun became black as sackcloth" (6:12), was he witnessing some future solar eclipse that heralded the end of the world? Or when Jesus spoke about the sun being "darkened" before his second coming (cf. Mark 13:24), was he calling us to watch the skies for signs like an eclipse?

As Ephesians 4:11-12 remind us, Christ has given to his church “the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. This has always been true, in each century of the Church's existence. We pray you're encouraged by three of these teachers, one from the 2nd century, and two from the 4th century, as they proclaim the power, purpose, hope, and wonder of Jesus' resurrection.

Paul makes two prayer requests in Romans 15:30-32. First, he asks these Christians in Rome to pray that he would "be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea" during his upcoming trip to Jerusalem. Second... that his "service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints".

Though positive examples abound throughout church history, over the centuries, Christians have also (and often) struggled with the biblical concept of "good works"... To understand these not-so-good pitfalls regarding "good works"... Consider three pitfalls related to Paul's teaching in Ephesians

While Thanksgiving may be (for most people--including most of us) an occasion for traveling, gathering, and eating, for God's people, the season is also a great opportunity for worship and as a reminder of the grateful posture we should have all year long.

As horrific and heartbreaking images flow from the Middle East, images of terrorism, war, and the profound human suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians, many within the Church have rightly been driven to prayer. But such difficult times also generate conversations among believers about the people and places involved in today's news headlines, and specifically how all of this is connected to God's word and work.