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Joe LaGuardia

Stories by Joe

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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.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Let God lead you out of the place of broken dreams

"Graveyard Shift: A Devotional in Three Acts"

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Our search for God in the mundane makes life fulfilling

The Christian journey has its ups and downs, peaks and valleys.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: There is much work left to be done in spreading the Gospel

This year marks the bicentennial anniversary of the commissioning of North America's first missionary, Adoniram Judson, and his wife, Abigail.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Time-tested tradition of Ash Wednesday reminds us we are human in need of God's grace

The other day I went into a local Christian bookstore and asked if they carried any children's trinkets for Ash Wednesday -- things like stickers and pencils and stuff.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: When place blame, we deny forgiveness and the grief that leads to healing and hope

A wise pastor once told me to always have someone to blame. He told me that when I become pastor, always have a secretary to blame. Little did I know he told our secretary to always have a pastor to blame.. He was joking, of course. At least I think

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Preachers should use the pulpit to deliver words of healing and hope, not harm

Some preachers put the "bully" in bully pulpit. All of us can tell at least one story of a preacher who said something that went over the line simply because he thought he could say almost anything from the pulpit.. In fact, the pulpit plays such a central role in

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Jonah's story teaches us God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love

My name is Jonah, but some people call me Jonah the Cranky. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I tell people that if they don't get right with God, I'll zap them with His wrath.Did I mention I'm a prophet? Been one my whole life. Once, in third grade

JOE LAGUARDIA: Consider 'flip-flopping' a Christian virtue, rather than a weakness

I'm still confused as to why "flip-flopping," or the act of changing one's mind, is such a big deal in American politics. First it was John Kerry in 2004 who was accused of changing his mind (you remember, "I was for the war before I was against it," and so on); now it's GOP front-runner Mitt Romney who's getting all of the accusations.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: The divine encounter of communion points to eternal life, better days ahead

At worship on Sunday, during communion, I had a chance to reflect on the Great Recession and recent hardships facing Christ's Church in North America. The lousy economy, a growing atheist movement unashamedly spreading the non-gospel of unbelief, waning baptism and attendance records in churches, and weakening denominations confront Christians with various challenges.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: 'Twilight' worth examining from a Christian perspective

One would think that by now the whole "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" movie hype would have died down. After all, the movie -- about vampires and werewolves and centering on a love story involving a girl named Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) -- was released nearly two months ago.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: The Spirit works in people many different ways

I remember the first time I got a taste of the charismatic movement inspired by the Brownsville and Toronto revivals of the mid-1990s. I was walking into a family friend's healthfood store and interrupted the friend and another person in prayer. She looked up at me and said, "Hi, Joe, we're glad you're here. Come and catch my friend as I pray for her."

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Seek more of God, less of self in the coming new year

I like easy Christmases. You know, a Christmas with little or no fanfare -- simple Christmases with few bumps and issues.I knew trouble was on its way when I found out on Christmas Eve that a lasagna I was baking was the main entree for that evening's supper. To have it as the main course put undo pressure on my Italian cooking skills. It became inconvenient and a burden.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Make Christmas a time to reach your greatest potential in Christ

Embedded deep in the book of Revelation -- chapter 12 to be precise -- there is a scene that paints a very different picture of Christmas morning and the birth of Christ. John, the recipient of Jesus' revelation, records a vision in which he sees what appears to be a woman clothed with the sun. She is pregnant and about to give birth.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: As Christians, we are 'little Christs' called to spread word of God's salvation

"And they shall name him Emmanuel" (Matt. 1:23).

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JOE LAGUARDIA: As Christians, we are 'little Christs' called to spread word of God's salvation

There is something in a name. We at Trinity Baptist know a thing or two about the importance of names. Recently, we heard a rumor that Trinity was changing its name to Grace Christian Church. Although the rumor is not true, there is a church by that same name meeting in our building on Sundays after we meet for worship. Their sign on our front lawn is pretty effective, to say the least.

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Even in hard times, Advent points to the light of Christmas

In the Nov. 29 issue of The Christian Century, the Reverend Bill Goetler writes about a homeless man, Danny, whom he befriended one winter season. Bill writes about Danny's comings and goings and their random meetings in the neighborhood.. In their happenstance meetings in the neighborhood, Danny asks for things

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JOE LAGUARDIA: Ask your pastor what he wants for Christmas

Every Christmas season many parishioners go to the their local retail or book stores and wrestle with that all-important question: "What do I get my pastor?" Well, I'm glad you asked.. I can hopefully help you, dear reader, narrow down some great gift ideas for your beloved clergy