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By Jim Carnett | March 3, 2014
Sacred spaces. Do they exist on planet Earth? Are there spaces - natural or man-made - that bring us closer to the divine than, say, a supermarket checkout counter or a bus station washroom? Do spiritual vortexes exist where the holy can intersect with the ordinary and be deeply quaffed? I don't know the answers to those questions and, frankly, I'm not losing sleep over them. But I must say that as my life advances along its largely mundane and occasionally perilous track, this evangelical believer is frequently stirred by the sacred.
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By Mark Davis | February 28, 2014
Lent, a religious season that is about so much more than avoiding chocolate, is drawing near. For many in the Christian faith, Lent is a time to reflect on the awful journey toward death that led to Jesus' crucifixion. One question that arises often on that journey is, "Why did Jesus have to die?" The most common answer to this persistent question was articulated by Anselm, the 11th-century Archbishop of Canterbury. He referenced God's justice and love. In keeping with the practices of his day, Anselm argued that it would have been an offense against God's honor for human sin to go unpunished.
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By Rabbi Marc Gellman | February 28, 2014
Q: If God created the heavens, the Earth, all creatures and man in seven days, where do the dinosaurs fit in? We know from the fossil record that man and dinosaurs were segregated by millennia.— K., via cyberspace A: I've wanted to write about evolution, creationism and intelligent design for some time, so thank you for your abiding interest in the Bible and dinosaurs that offers me this opportunity. Young-Earth creationists believe that the world was, indeed, created in just seven days some 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. This falls 4.5 billion years short of the actual age of the Earth, and 65 million years short of the actual age of the dinosaurs.
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By Billy Graham | February 21, 2014
Q: I can't get around very easily because of some physical disabilities. They've gotten worse recently, and now I've had to stop going to my church because it isn't handicapped accessible. Will God understand why I don't go anymore? — Mrs. A.B. A: I want to assure you that God understands your situation, and he doesn't look down on you because you can't do everything you once did. The Bible says, "For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses" (Hebrews 4:15)
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By Rabbi Marc Gellman | February 21, 2014
Some time ago, I asked readers to share with me the one question they would ask God. I personally would ask: "Was I a good man?" I'd want to know how much of our goodness is credited by God, how much of our evil is forgiven by God, and how much God simply overlooks as the residue of our broken human-ness. Christians generally believe that we are justified only by faith — saved by what we believe. Judaism believes that we are justified by our works — saved by what we do. I think both beliefs are right and wrong.
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By Rabbi Marc Gellman | February 14, 2014
Q: How do you define "love"? I know it's more than an overwhelming emotional response or being charmed, but I'm not sure what an appropriate definition would be. Can you help me out? — J., Raleigh, N.C. * A: This is a wonderful Valentine's Day/Beatles 50th Ed Sullivan anniversary question. My favorite wordless definition of romantic love is what I look for when I interview brides and grooms in advance of the wedding day. If they touch and laugh, I know they are truly in love.
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By Billy Graham | February 14, 2014
Q: My nephew says he plans to have fun in life and not bother with God right now, because he knows God will forgive him if he asks him to, even if it's at the last minute. I told him he's being foolish, but am I right? — Mrs. F.P.L. * A: Yes, you are right, and I sincerely hope your nephew will stop and think again about the path he's taking. The Bible warns, "There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25). Does this mean God won't forgive us if we've lived a life of sin, but then sincerely repent and turn to Christ just before we die?
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By Billy Graham | February 7, 2014
Q: I'm really scared because I'm due to get out of jail in a couple of months, and I know I don't have what it takes to stay out of trouble. I know I'll just end up here again, like I have before. Please pray for me. — S.J. A: It may surprise you to learn that you've already taken the first step toward a new life by admitting you're weak and need help. The person who's in the greatest danger is the one who thinks he or she is strong enough and doesn't need help from anyone, including God. Now, take the next step by actually turning to God, telling him that you know you're weak and need his help.
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By Rabbi Marc Gellman | February 7, 2014
Q: I'm a member of the United States Power Squadrons, and every year we hold a nonsectarian memorial service in a church for members who died the previous year. The doxology is sung after the offering. This response refers to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. While I am a Christian, I think this is disrespectful to Jews and other non-Christians attending the service. Wouldn't it be better to use a response that refers simply to "The Lord thy God"? — C., via godsquadquestion@aol.com A: The first question I'd ask you is whether by "nonsectarian" you mean a nonreligious service or an interfaith service.
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By Rabbi Marc Gellman | January 31, 2014
Q: You, along with many other religious leaders, use the words, "God wants us to... " Please tell me how you know what a supernatural being wants? — M., via godsquadquestion@aol.com A: Good question. The differences between the teachings of faith and the teachings of just anyone who thinks he or she has a direct line to God are clear and important. The first way we know what God wants is through our sacred scriptures. Holy Writ represents, for believers, the trustworthy content of God's revelation.
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