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Death

Walking Away from a Murder

Walking Away from a Murder

His girlfriend had recently got back together with him. He’d have been better off without her. But tell that to an eighteen year old who’s in love. She was all he had, and all he wanted. So when he lost her, he thought he lost everything. And when he got her back, he thought he regained everything.

Loneliness creates vacuums in the souls of men that they often fill with women who make them even lonelier.

But Tom, drunk on misplaced hopes, only felt the intoxication of happiness. Finally, after years of “family life” where there was little family and no life,…

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The Weight of Masculinity, Toxic or Otherwise

The Weight of Masculinity, Toxic or Otherwise

In our house, emotions were embraced. I was never told that “boys don’t cry;” it was never implied that men hide their emotions. When your dad is a professional opera-singing pastor-psychologist, and your mother a high-powered hospital executive, you get different messages about gender norms than most. As if you needed proof: my parents let me dress in a bathrobe and red heeled slippers and pretend to be Wendy from Peter Pan until I was four. If Peter Pan is a woman (the incredible Mary Martin), why can’t Wendy be a man?

That freedom was cut short. “Boys can’t play with…

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Jonah's Reluctant Obedience, and Ours

Jonah’s Reluctant Obedience, and Ours

The absurd thing that happens in the book of Jonah is not the fish swallowing a man…it is the grace Jonah receives after he basically tells God off! The fish, which consumes the prophet, serves as an indictment on how sin turns everything topsy-turvy. It reverses God’s order in the worst way. Man was made to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and in condemning the pride that prefers the creation over the creator, God does something that shows the exceedingly stupid nature of sin for what it is. Our rebellion against God is both foolish and a joke…and…

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For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

My all-time favorite YouTube comment has to be this one, left underneath a clip of the penultimate scene from 1982’s film, Blade Runner. Taking place immediately after an epic battle between Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, we are witness to a self-delivered eulogy:

boxerking1000
Best…Death…EVER!!! I sometimes sit down in the shower naked and quote this line as the water falls down my face…I’m not allowed at 24 hour fitness anymore…sigh.

Legos make everything better, don’t they?

Comedian Jimmy Pardo is fond of saying, “You know me, I’m an open book — but, I have secrets.” I’ve kept something from you, dear readers;…

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The Trauma of our Empty Hands

The Trauma of our Empty Hands

During Lent, we ponder our sins. We begin with a reminder of being but dust. We sing in minor keys, which stirs in us lament and grief. We remember our desperate need to repent. We look to what Christ endured and grieve the passion of our Lord. And it is meet and right so to do.

But, as we come careening toward Maundy Thursday every year, it is not only the unjust suffering of Jesus or even lament over our sin that throws us to the ground. There is something else — something just beyond. This week, I have actually taken…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty Seven Verses Three Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty Seven Verses Three Through Five

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself (Mt 27:3-5).

At the risk of impertinence, I’m just going to assume that everyone reading this (myself included) has already betrayed Jesus today. At least a few times. So I’d like to focus less on…

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"Three Billboards" - A Prologue to a Road Trip

“Three Billboards” – A Prologue to a Road Trip

The older I get, the more I’m learning how much I love “origin stories.” How did Captain America come to be? How did the new friend I just made come to be so delightful and gregarious, and awesome? Why does my next door neighbor always draw the shades and act so reclusive? Whether it’s a Marvel superhero, or real life people who God seems to have put in my life at this moment, I’m finding that it’s fascinating to learn how we got to now. How did we get to “this present,” in this story? …and even if “now” is…

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The Climactic Unveiling of the Glory of God

One of many insightful excerpts from Chad Bird’s latest book, Your God Is Too Glorious: Finding God in the Most Unexpected Places:

“These Old Testament stories that illustrate God’s backward ways of engaging us in the world—then and now—are all preambles to the Lord’s ultimate revelation. Genesis to Malachi is one long drumroll that summons the cosmos to stand at attention before the climactic unveiling of the glory of God.

And there it is, in a dying man. Soldiers gamble for his clothing. His closest friends have skulked away. His fiercest enemies spit insults in his face. Even a fellow condemned man mocks him. There is nothing, not one iota, of obvious God stuff going on here. It looks like hell. No one would walk outside Jerusalem to this spot of public execution, stand at the foot of this man’s cross, look up, and say, “There is the glory of the Almighty. There is the unveiling of who God is, how God woks, how he comes to us.” The opposite would be said. “Looks like the devil’s work. There is the shame of failure.” (23)

Peace/Love/Elvis: The Death of Ambition, and Also of Denis Johnson

Peace/Love/Elvis: The Death of Ambition, and Also of Denis Johnson

It’s hard to say exactly when the plummet of Elvis Presley began. Some say in the late 60s, some say the early 70s. Some might say as early as 1958, when he was drafted into the Army. In any case, there’s no denying the devilish phase of physical and mental deterioration which carried him to his death, at age 42, in 1977. The last thing the King saw in this world was the cold tile, probably, of his bathroom wall.

During the height of his career, Elvis seemed a different man, if even a man he was. I need not say…

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The Gift of Fork and Knife Earrings (from Ruth and Billy Graham, RIP)

Sad but also not-sad to hear of Billy Graham’s death this morning – if ever there was someone who had “the sting” in perspective… Feels like the right time to post this wonderful anecdote from his grandson Tullian Tchividjian’s One Way Love:

One-way love is often what distinguishes a warm household from a cold one. Children often move across the country to get away from a toxic home life where two-way conditionality has come to rule the roost via the judgments of parents and other siblings. A house full of conditions feels like a prison. Rules are one thing—take out the trash; don’t hit your brother. They govern the day-to-day and protect us from one another. Conditions are different and more emotional in nature. “If you really loved us, then you wouldn’t spend so much time with those people.” “We will approve of whatever career choice you make, provided it’s between medicine, law, and business.” “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Even small differences between family members can be the source of tremendous friction. Yet grace has the power to bind generations together.

I am fortunate to have experienced the power of one-way love not just from my parents but my grandparents as well. In fact, whenever people learn that I was kicked out of the house at sixteen, they invariably ask how my grandparents responded. What they usually mean is “How did Billy and Ruth Graham respond to actual sin in their midst?” People looked up to them, not just as spiritual leaders, but as role models for how to raise godly children and grandchildren. “Weren’t you shaming the family name?” The truth is, my grandparents never said a single word to me about getting my act together. They never pulled me aside at a family gathering and told me about how I needed to submit myself to Jesus, etc. Never. Only God knows what they were thinking or feeling, but I never picked up on a shred of judgment from them. They treated me exactly the opposite as how I deserved to be treated.

For example, I wore earrings back in those days. One in the left, and one in the right. It used to drive my parents nuts. Every time my grandmother—Ruth Graham—came down to visit, she would bring me a fresh set of earrings to wear! They were always funny. At Christmastime, she would bring me ornament earrings and make me put them in and take a picture. At Thanksgiving, she brought fork and knife earrings, and she took a picture. She made light of it. She wasn’t making fun of me. She was saying, “This isn’t that big of a deal. He’s going to grow out of it.” It may sound pretty trivial, but it meant the world to me. Everyone else was on my case, and instead of giving me one more thing to rebel against, my grandparents drew me in closer. (pg 151-52)

See also: Carrie’s post about The Crown from last week. And this momentous meeting of the minds in 1968. And bubblegum maestro Tommy James’ jaw-dropping testimony about the man’s influence on his hit “Sweet Cherry Wine.”

The Very Intersection of Love and Death: An Ash Wednesday Sermon

The Very Intersection of Love and Death: An Ash Wednesday Sermon

Grateful to share this Ash Wednesday sermon, by our friend Sam Bush:

Well, in a beautiful twist of irony, this is the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have coincided. It’s such a bad pairing for a hybrid holiday that it makes you wonder if someone screwed up. The ultimate day of fasting — the day we are reminded that we are sinners and that we are going to die — on the same day we give each other cute cards and chocolate? Thanks a lot, Ash Wednesday. Thanks for spoiling our Valentine’s Day party.

At first glance,…

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PZ's Podcast: Urgent

PZ’s Podcast: Urgent

EPISODE 241

People are so good at minimizing the human situation. I’ve encountered this throughout Mary’s and my ministry, right from the very start, in Silver Spring, MD.

The religious “professionals” detested my message, that the world was in incomparable conflict with itself, and that each human being experiences comparable conflict inwardly. People would say, your message is too “down”, and I just don’t like it. It’s too dark, or depressing, or gloomy.

But what actually happened is that a majority of the people listening tuned in fast! And then they started inviting their friends.

It’s not that the human condition is hopeless. With…

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