New Here?
     
Posts tagged "grace"

Of Cubs and Humans and Good Thieves

Of Cubs and Humans and Good Thieves

Wrigley Field is one of America’s sacred spaces. Even if one prefers a different team, no morally serious person dislikes the Cubs, and thousands of Americans every year take pilgrimages to The Friendly Confines. That’s partly why stealing a ball intended for a child at Wrigley produces such outrage. For a lot of Americans, it’s desecration of the blessed sacrament.

That’s what happened last Sunday night. During the fourth inning, First Base Coach Will Venable tossed a ball to a young fan and the fan dropped it beneath the seat. Then, a self-absorbed, middle-aged cretin scooped it up, handed it off…

Read More > > >

Hopelessly Devoted: James Chapter One Verse Nineteen

Hopelessly Devoted: James Chapter One Verse Nineteen

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19 (NIV)  

In the verse we are considering this morning, we don’t ultimately have a prescription of how we must live, but rather a description of whom God has made us to be in Christ. This is in fact the good gift that faithfully comes down to us from the Father of lights. We must accept this by faith, and incidentally the trials James references at the onset of this epistle create that very tangible, down-to-earth…

Read More > > >

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none of them are explicitly prescriptive. Instead, Jamison ends up talking a lot about her experience with alcoholism, and gently exploits the memoir genre to create a case which is so intimate with her own reality that it will not leave its readers alone after they…

Read More > > >

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,…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

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…

Read More > > >

Hopelessly Devoted: ‘Grace At Work’ – James Chapter One Verse Seventeen

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

Grace is not always guaranteed to work on the horizontal plane — i.e. as we attempt to steward it in the midst of our relationships with one another. We can however be sure that grace is always at work. We don’t get to define what this has to look like. We don’t always get the privilege of discerning its results or activity. In fact, grace specializes in disappointing and confounding our every expectation of what God ‘should be’ and what His people ‘should be’.

You’re free, though you often feel like a slave. You’re forgiven, though you often feel the weight of judgment. You’re victorious, though you often feel like a chump. The gospel confronts our self-righteousness and confirms the righteousness of Jesus as being ours. We walk by faith, not by sight…yes, but rarely in an experiential or functional manner. All we have ultimately is the faithful witness (James 1:17) of the indwelling Spirit bringing us back to a ridiculous, impossible-to-believe verdict: “You are absolved.”

A New Year & A Better Immanuel...

A New Year & A Better Immanuel…

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

Immanuel, God with us, epitomizes the Christmas season and carries certain implications which we could summarize in the following respects: Firstly, God has come near us not to condemn, but rather to be condemned for our sins. We understand this as a fitting contrast to Genesis 3:8 (and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden…and they hid). As well, we can see in this a foreshadowing of the blessed future state John…

Read More > > >

Wendell Berry's Plea for Grace

Wendell Berry’s Plea for Grace

Have you ever seen your dog or cat suddenly turn its head, tense up, and stare intently into an unoccupied space? It’s quite unnerving. They obviously see something we can’t, and if the more instinctual part of our brain trusts their superior senses enough, we tense up as well. It’s an interesting cross-species bit of performance art that happens, and we, of course, have learned to harness those senses for our benefit and protection.

There are certain people throughout history that fill those roles in our own species. Martin Luther, and his namesake, Martin Luther King Jr., are obvious examples of…

Read More > > >

Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When I was a kid attending Sunday School in a very traditional Baptist church in the Midwest, we learned Bible stories… I became familiar with the regular cast of characters like Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Moses, etc. I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea; Adam and Eve ate an apple; David slew a giant (thanks to a relative who gifted me one Christmas with 12-inch David and Goliath action figures!). As a teen, I would learn that the book of Leviticus was all about how family members in the same house should not undress in the…

Read More > > >

I Still Believe: The Lost Boys’ 30th Anniversary Spectacular

I Still Believe: The Lost Boys’ 30th Anniversary Spectacular

If Georges de La Tour was a movie director, his films would probably look a lot like Joel Schumacher’s. Well, maybe…minus the nipples on the suits in Batman and Robin. I think my assertion, knowing Matt Milliner is lurking around here somewhere, holds up particularly well with Schumacher’s 1987 film, The Lost Boys, or as I like to put it, The Two Coreys’ (Haim and Feldman) Showcase.

My slightly sketchy comparison to a famous French Baroque painter aside, I’ve been reflecting on what I think about the movie, now, 30 years on. The surprising thing is that a couple of scenes…

Read More > > >

Heroin in the Hymnals

Heroin in the Hymnals

There is a moment deep into Netflix’s underrated Ozark (spoilers below), where the raising of a cross atop a church emits ripples of fear, as if recreational Missouri were ancient Rome. Whatever the show’s imperfections, I submit that restoring a sense of the scandal of the cross to America’s Bible belt is a considerable accomplishment. For the most part, the sex and violence in this show is more narrative tool than titillation – though I do wish there had been less of it. Even so, while most critics have fallen into lock-step complaint that Ozark is not Breaking Bad, I…

Read More > > >