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Joe LaGuardia

Stories by Joe

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JOE LAGUARDIA: We cannot domesticate God with our theology

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of talking theology with a Christian who is in the Reformed tradition. Actually, he asked me questions pertaining to theology, and I tried to keep up the best I could by fumbling through answers and trying to remember what I learned in seminary.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Spread the Gospel as if every day is the last before God's return

Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have been catching up on the classic “Back to the Future” trilogy. We haven’t seen the movies for quite some time, and its been a real treat to see how that DeLorean time machine brings all kind of trouble.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: When you meet a pastor, just be your imperfect self

When I heard the call to ministry in my teenage years, I wanted everyone to know that I wanted to be a pastor.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Spiritual hero didn’t take sides in ministering to those on both sides of the racial divide

One of the greatest pieces of advice I received in seminary came from a veteran pastor who told us to have some good heroes and mentors. He knew that vocational ministers get lonely at times and that we need people to look up to who understand our profession.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: We are seeds of God, sown to spread the message of His Kingdom

We Baptists love our sermons. In our churches, the pulpit takes center stage. We spend lots of money paying good preachers; and, for many churches, the sermons keep getting longer.

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LAGUARDIA: Rejoice in the confidence that God has a purpose for your life

Rejoice in the confidence that God has a purpose for your life. Have you ever confronted a Scripture verse that makes you wonder how to live up to God's Word?

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Too many of us busy ourselves to keep from experiencing God's love

In last week's column, I mentioned that a team of us from Trinity Baptist went to New York for a mission trip.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: God will lead you down the right path if you trust Him

Trust God, he'll lead you to the right path. Proverbs states, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding" (3:5).

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Discomfort of change necessary to grow closer with God

I am not a fan of change. I like my routine, and I like the predictable, boring and mundane.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Retiring St. Pius pastor Father John Kieran leaves legacy of integrity, devotion to community

Retiring St. Pius pastor Kieran leaves legacy of integrity, devotion. Psalm 133 joyfully declares, "How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!"

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JOE LAGUARDIA: We can show our devotion to God in many ways

Like so many churches in the South, our church still has a time of invitation after the sermon every Sunday.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Amidst stress of daily schedules, deadlines, remember that love is patient

Paul's first letter to the Corinthians informs us that love is patient (1 Cor. 13:4).

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Sometimes we must put aside our 'rights' to minister to others

A few weeks ago when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the youngest brother of two suspects, was captured for bombing the Boston Marathon, a public debate erupted about the type of rights he was afforded.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Pets provide comfort, encouragement not unlike a pastor

Pets provide comfort, encouragement not unlike a pastor.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Every person deserves some recognition of his life when he dies

Everyone's life deserves some recognition when it's ended. What seems like a boring list to us was very meaningful to the ancients. Even the lists of ancestral names in the New Testament -- like those found in the gospels recording Jesus' ancestry -- carried great meaning.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Christianity implores us to fight for social justice

This April marks the 50th anniversary of one of the best treatises written during the Civil Rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter from the Birmingham jail.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Easter allows us to clothe ourselves in the love of the Lord

Easter clothes us in the love of the Lord. Like most ministers, I look forward to Easter every year at church.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Be more than a fair-weather friend to Jesus

This weekend many churches will observe Palm Sunday and sing the classic hymn, "Glory, Laud, and Honor," penned by Theodulf of Orleans. It is a high-church, soaring hymn that lifts hearts heavenward and voices aloft.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Pastors must maintain delicate balance of leader, friend

Several months ago, an article by M. Craig Barnes in The Christian Century caused a stir when he asserted that it is impossible for pastors to befriend parishioners.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Cleaning a church can be prayerful, meditative experience

I am convinced that every pastor needs to do the custodial duties in his or her church for a few weeks.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Following Jesus' example of the putting the least first might save some marriages

Putting the least first like Jesus might save some marriages. One of the most controversial issues in church and culture is that of divorce.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Women play vital role in church leadership

Every February, Baptist Women in Ministry encourages churches to celebrate women ministers and invite women clergy to preach. It is a time to recognize that women and men alike, equal in partnership, are critical in spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Lent brings the promise of light at the end of the tunnel

Lent began this week in the life of the church. It is a time of preparation and penitence, a time for deep reflection in the depth of winter's cold.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Closing of Christian bookstore robs us of avenue to faith-building

For the last two weeks, I've spent a significant amount of time at the Cokesbury Christian bookstore in Decatur.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Paying attention is an active spiritual discipline

Paying attention is a spiritual discipline. When my wife, her family and I lived in South Florida, we teased my mother-in-law about the fact that she claimed to have seen "white goats" at the nearby on-ramp to Interstate 95.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: For the sake of the Gospel, we should treat each other as brothers and sisters

In 1942, the Second World War was raging throughout Europe. During that time, the villagers of a little town of Le Chambone, France, decided to re-define who their neighbors were and save Jewish refugees from Nazi genocide.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: When depression hits, remember God is always present

I've been writing columns on spiritual disciplines this month.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: The new year offers a chance to confess regrets to God

The Bible assures us that, "If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Resolve to make compassion more widespread than condemnation in 2013

Last autumn, I held a respectful yet heated email and snail mail debate with a family member who saw the importance of taking a stand on certain divisive social issues relevant to the election season.

JOE LAGUARDIA: Only God knows when the end of the world will come

I hope that you're reading this. If so, that means that the end of the world didn't happen after all.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Lyrics of 'Away in a Manger' might need adjustments

Last Sunday, Trinity began its annual Christmas liturgy, which includes Christmas music and sermons related to Advent and Christmas.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: God remains our source of empowerment, no matter who wins the election

At the writing of this column -- on the eve of the election -- I do not have any clue who will win the presidential race.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Be faithful to God and you will rise with Christ

Be faithful to God and you will rise with Jesus Christ.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Whether worship is traditional or contemporary, your relationship with God is most important

It seems that a church's worship style determines congregational attendance these days.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: The church can be a source of support to breast cancer survivors

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is a good time for advocacy, support, education, and remembrances of survivors and victims of breast cancer.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Use talents to inspire new ways of seeing the world, God and one another

Aside from some of my favorite times during the Christian year, such as Pentecost and Advent, we here at my church practice another event that has become a favorite: Christival.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: When explaining theology to children, keep it simple

In last week's column, I mentioned a question my daughter asked before her great-grandmother's funeral.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Funerals offer opportunities to share our grief with God

Several weeks ago I had the honor of officiating a memorial service for a dearly beloved friend and churchgoer.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Amish exemplify how simple living leaves more time for God

If you were to ask me what religious denomination is growing in the United States, I would have guessed the Pentecostals.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: God works miracles through the most unlikely of people

There once was a guy named Jairus. He was a real faithful churchgoer and leader in his community.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: The church should combat modern-day malaise with imaginative hope

When was the last time you hosted a tea party and invited a bunny, a doll, a witch, stuffed bears, and your younger brother?

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Crisis can allow us to grow in our faith, mature in our understanding of God

Every now and then I find myself in the office listening to a person who has just passed through a crisis of faith.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Finding the right church takes time

Trying to find a new church can be a daunting, overwhelming, and exhausting task. Whether a person is new to the area or simply searching for a new place to worship, finding that "perfect" community takes time and prayer.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: A child's education is part of God's plan

Rockdale readers: My guess is that not many young people from the middle and high school crowd read the newspaper, so I need to ask you a favor -- please pass this along to a young person nearest you.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Homeless, schools, local businesses, arts need our support too

Last week, many communities in the South saw droves of people turn out for Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Rather than seek revenge, make room for God to work inside of us

Throughout the school year, I order my life around the Christian calender. That calendar begins with Advent and ends with Holy Trinity Sunday.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: In our weakness, we move beyond words and the world and look to God

Although parents get tired of hearing it, a child's cry is a miraculous way God helps us figure out what he or she wants.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Churches can be haunted by the ghostly baggage of past conflict

When I was trying to think of something patriotic to write about for the Fourth of July week, I couldn't think of anything specific.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: God has a calling on us, even when our body is fragile with age

In the shadow of some recent deaths of important figures in Christendom, such as theologian John Hick and prisoner-turned-prison reformer Chuck Colson, some seasoned saints have been writing about what God has in store for those who are facing the second half of their life's ministries.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Take risks to further God's kingdom

For those who follow the Christian calendar, this day stands between Ascension Sunday (Acts 1:1-11) and Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21). It is a time of anticipation and change, a moment between the old life in Jerusalem and the new Commission to go to the ends of the earth.