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In Genesis we are told the story of Adam and Eve being evicted from the Garden of Eden. It is the end of what has historically been called “the fall of man.” It is not called that in the Bible unless one has a doctrinal predisposition toward it and then searches for supporting texts. It is a…

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The “what if” question can be one of the worst questions you could ever ask — or it could be one of the best. It all depends upon whether you are referring to past events that actually occurred or if you are referring to the present as you look forward to the future and the possibilities tha…

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It is back to work for state legislators. The first week of the legislature has been very busy. While criticizing politicians is a national activity and a form of amusement for many, the truth is that most of these folks are good people, working hard, and trying to do the right thing for our…

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There is an idiom advising us “don’t put the cart before the horse,” which means getting ahead of ourselves or doing things that are in the reverse order of a commonly effective sequence. Hopefully, in this instance I am putting the cart before the horse. Hopefully, you haven’t already begun…

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A young adult lady in Johnson County, Kentucky was recently faithfully working her convenient store register job. She had a line of patrons buying drinks and paying for gasoline. Someone asked her how much money she made? “Nine dollars an hour,” she said. “I’ve worked here over two years and…

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Sitting in front of our gas fireplace, opera music playing on my phone in the background, I am wondering how much longer we will have to go without power. Like most of Sevier County, we lost our power at 6 a.m. on Monday. We thought it would come back in less than five hours, so we had cold …

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Vaccines are very much in the news. They have names and levels of effectiveness. Many people have trusted in their viability to decrease the chance of serious hospitalization. There are some who have other points of view and have not taken that shot in the arm.

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All over the world people celebrate the New Year. In Spain, they wolf down a dozen grapes at midnight believing whoever eats their 12 grapes as the bells chime (one for each of the twelve chimes) will have a lucky and prosperous year.

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I initially wrote about “Good Riddance Day” when I learned of it in 2014. This year, the 15th annual event took place on Tuesday, Dec. 28, between 12-1 p.m., kicking off the annual Times Square New Year’s festivities, down-sized again due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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This Christmas give somebody the gift of mercy and forgiveness. Be broad with your giving and generous. We all need a lot of both. For such a joyful holiday of cheer, giving and yuletide merriment there is much to be stressed about.

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One of the wonderful things about being human is our ability to tell and listen to stories. There are plenty of stories that are written to demonstrate a moral or make a political or social statement. We call these novels, and they are one of the ways that we can approach truth.

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A kindergarten teacher was leading her class in a lesson about owls. She explained such things as how owls can swivel their heads far in either direction, appearing to be able to turn them completely around, and how they are nocturnal creatures with huge, highly-developed eyes for night-time…

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The people of the night are special. We depend on them to keep the things of the world tuned and running after everyone else is home in bed or in front of the TV. They are committed. They stand in the gap for us while we sleep. They are the night shift.

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I suspect that I am not the only person for whom Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday. Most other national holidays (Christmas excepted) are, for me, straightforward. There may be family traditions or expectations around the others, but they do not seem nearly as freighted as those around t…

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Thanksgiving can be a very difficult time for many people who have had great losses in their lives. Financial loss, marital and relationship failures, and the stress “to be happy” seems to be compounded by holidays. Parents who have lost a child to death, or those who have an unfulfilled des…

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Those who follow the pericopes (balanced diet of lessons from the Bible) are aware of the possible disconnect with the rest of Scripture. Pastor Andy from Our Savior Lutheran Church of Gatlinburg bridged that lack recently as he bridged the texts from two consecutive Sundays.

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Congress has just passed a huge infrastructure bill to improve the systems that make it possible for us to move goods and information as efficiently as possible. Anyone who has driven more than a few hundred miles knows how important it is to have good roads and bridges. Being without power …

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Known to church-goers through the years as ‘The Doxology,’ the lyrics are “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below; Praise Him above ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

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I recently took a break from social media for a couple of weeks. I missed a couple of events in the lives of people I care about. I did not miss the relentless torrent of facts that are mindlessly spread around in service to one faction or another. What I truly do not understand is the numbe…

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We have observed a much-needed salute to all veterans who have served America and those who are serving now. The Halloween knickknacks have been replaced by Thanksgiving decorations, and daily we are receiving print and online ads with suggestions for Christmas gifts and ways to celebrate th…

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Baseball caps are either earned, demanding, or aspirational. Sometimes they look forward in anticipation, as in wearing a team’s hat to a football game, or one given as a gift at the beginning of a project or career. Sometimes they look back. They may be well-worn and covered with the grime …

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During this 60th anniversary of our ordination into the Holy Ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (actually a predecessor body), it has been my privilege to be in touch with most of my classmates.

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During the pandemic, we have become familiar with the term “essential worker,” which begs the question, “What deems one essential in the workplace?” This query came to the forefront in our Sunday school class last week when we studied I Corinthians chapter 12: Just as a body, though one, has…

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I wasn’t a fan of The Doors, nor their 1967 hit record “Light My Fire,” which had multiple underlying meanings. But as I began to write this column, that title came to mind. I was in graduate school at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary back then, as well as youth director for the New …

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Everything, along with every person and every organization, has its pros and cons, its strengths and weaknesses, its positives and negatives. This holds true for October, my long-time favorite month. In the Great Smoky Mountains you can step outside in the morning and see the sun rising over…

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I pulled from my files this week an article from several years ago regarding how seriously the people of Uganda reacted to weather predictions broadcast on the radio. When some citizens heard the forecasts, they assumed the predictions were government edicts and that the weather would confor…

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A Seminary classmate inspired this as I experienced from afar his loving devotion for his wife who dealt with several serious life diminishing issues. This not only touched my thought process but went 18 inches down and reached my heart. He is one of many loving caregivers who deserves but n…

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Like everything else, it started in the garden. “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” Humanity had everything it needed — food, safety, and relationships with God…

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Diseases once considered eradicated in the United States, like pertussis, tuberculosis, measles, and mumps, have re-emerged in the past several years.

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We would occasionally play a game at the dinner table. I would pick up a bottle of ketchup (for example) and ask, “How many people did it take to get this ketchup to us?”

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We all may have some issues with the past. Past problems, past mistakes, past sins, past decisions and past ignorance. We live and we learn if we are fortunate enough to live. Sadly, too many obituaries are of young adults who were barely starting life. Some young adults don’t think that muc…

What kind of world would it be if we allowed 12-year-old children to drive without training, or operate power tools without practice?

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Life would be more comfortable for all of us if we could agree on everything — probably not. I cannot imagine living in such a world. It would be a wretched place to live. We understand this when is comes to jobs and vocations. Not everyone is built to be a plumber, professor, or personal tr…

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What inspires you? Think about it. Inspire means “to breathe life into, excite or encourage.” Inspire derives from the Latin word “inspirare” or “spirare,” which means “to blow into or inflame.” When you inspire someone or something, it is as if you are blowing air over a low flame to make i…

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I am part of the Holy Christian Church because of who I am and whose I am. I am created in the image of God. I am His through creation and redemption. I am redeemed from sin for loving service and the bonus is a relationship with God made available through Jesus Christ that has the possibili…

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Exhausted. Worn out. Fed up. Tired of all this. And it seems that some people just never stop poking the sores. Some are no doubt well-meaning, but others seem to be intent on making the rest of us just as miserable as they are. I believe that there are a few of us that have the luxury of be…

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Over the past several years, I’ve come to believe more than ever that adults never really outgrow “childish ways.” I would say all of us retain childhood characteristics to some degree, but obviously some adults mimic their childish ways more than others. In fact, they may act more like chil…