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How Does the Gospel Work?

How Does the Gospel Work?

“Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates…” – Martin Luther “About a quarter before nine, while [Luther’s commentary] was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, […]

Adam Smith and the Nature of Heaven

Adam Smith and the Nature of Heaven

This one comes to us from David Clay. Adam Smith, widely acknowledged as the father of modern economics, was first and foremost a moral philosopher by trade. Nearly two decades before Wealth of Nations (1776) revolutionized the world’s understanding of economics, Smith had established his philosophical reputation throughout Europe with The Theory of Moral Sentiments […]

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm Chapter Thirty-Four Verse Eighteen

This morning’s devotion was written by David Zahl in The Mockingbird Devotional. (Note, if you haven’t read David’s guest column in The Washington Post from this past weekend, visit here to do so.)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

There are many, many great songs about broken hearts. One of the greatest has to be Jimmy Ruffin’s 1966 hit, “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?” The record is as close to perfection as pop music can get: a powerful lyric married to an irresistible melody, delivered with feeling in just under three minutes. Pure Motown gold.

The song captures something powerful in its vivid description of brokenheartedness: “I walk in shadows, searching for light, cold and alone, no comfort in sight, hoping and praying for someone to care, always moving and going nowhere”. Most of us can point to a time when these words felt true for us, when we were hurt so badly that we thought we would never heal. The end of a romantic relationship is the most common culprit, but there are plenty of others. The death of a loved one, the disappointment of a dream, even the wrong candidate winning an election—and the list goes on.

Sadly, heartbreaking experiences tend to be definitive. They leave their mark whether we like it or not. I am reminded of a friend who broke up with his college sweetheart almost ten years ago. He confessed to me recently that he still thinks about it every day and wonders if the majority of his subsequent relationships have been an attempt to mitigate that pain. He can’t seem to “get over it” because he cannot mend his own heart.

A broken heart is characterized by need. The psalmist reminds us here that God meets us in that place of need. He does not shun people who have been hurt. He does not reject those who have been rejected or disappoint those who have been disappointed. Thanks be to God, He is close to them and saves them.

The Living Christ and the Principle of Grace

The Living Christ and the Principle of Grace

An astute reflection by Jared Jones: There is a bustling market for “principles” in the world today. “Timeless truths to live your life by.” “7 Principles of Health.” “376 Different Things to Try in Bed that You’ll Try to Remember for the Next Time You’re in a Relationship Because the Only People Who Pick Up […]

Hopelessly Devoted: Nehemiah Chapter Six Verses Eight and Nine

This devotion was written by Simeon Zahl, from The Mockingbird Devotional.

Then I sent to him, saying, “No such things as you say have been done, for you are inventing them out of your own mind.” For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands. (Nehemiah 6:8-9, ESV)

The mind is a master illusionist. It is possible to spend our whole lives shadowboxing with unrealities we have “invented out of our own minds.” Nothing seems more real than the rejection we perceive in an oddly raised eyebrow, an inopportune yawn, the scowl of a stranger. The mind can spin an epic tale of misunderstanding and betrayal out of the smallest and most meaningless experience. In that sense it is immensely creative. But it is a dull sort of creativity, because it so often manufactures the same boring story of our fears, our aspirations, and our anxieties. There is no reality here. “No such things as you say have been done.” Our heart races—“Did she look at me? Or is she avoiding me?”—but only because our minds have fooled our bodies into thinking something real is happening.

True work of our hands is an antidote to such projection. There is freedom in performing the task that has been given each day. The picture of Nehemiah building a very un-illusory wall is a picture of freedom. It is a freedom that can only be granted from without, but it is a true freedom.

Lord, strengthen our hands, and save us from our unrealities.

Another Week Ends: Hipster Conformity, Mononucleosis, Greek Basketball Coaching, Curated Imperfection, and The Secular Work Ethic

Another Week Ends: Hipster Conformity, Mononucleosis, Greek Basketball Coaching, Curated Imperfection, and The Secular Work Ethic

1. Tis the season for sickness. B.D. McClay over at The Hedgehog Review got mono, and while the short term result was a bout of feverish nightmares, excruciatingly painful swallowing, thundering headaches, and seemingly unending fatigue, the long term result was this marvelous essay: “The Ills That Flesh Is Heir to.” Her essay is a […]

Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Nine Verses Fourteen Through Twenty-Nine

Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Nine Verses Fourteen Through Twenty-Nine

This morning’s devotion, “An Honest Prayer for Faith,” was written by Larry Parsley. It’s taken from his new devotional, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, available through Mockingbird’s online bookstore and Amazon. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do […]

Mercy Fights for Losers (Mark 2:13-17)

Mercy Fights for Losers (Mark 2:13-17)

This morning’s devotion comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, a slim devotional on the Gospel of Mark: An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel, by conference chaplain Larry Parsley. This resource is available for purchase through our online store and on Amazon. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the […]

Reading Proverbs Wisely

Reading Proverbs Wisely

Yes, you read the title correctly — I wrote “reading Proverbs.” Stay with me for a bit, it’ll be fine. I know many a Mockingbird reader has read Proverbs before, but if you’re reading the Bible with anything like a (Lutheran) Law/Gospel hermeneutic, then it’s fair to say that Proverbs isn’t exactly at the top […]

Gospel Band of Brothers (Mark 1:16-20)

Gospel Band of Brothers (Mark 1:16-20)

The following devotion comes from the latest Mockingbird publication, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley (who will also be our chaplain at the upcoming Mockingbird conference in NYC)!  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17) So here’s the way […]

The Time Has Come

The Time Has Come

From heightened expectations to regrets about past failures, the turn of the year offers plenty of unique difficulties. So for those of us who remain not-very-skilled at New Year’s resolutions (and other time-sensitive things), here’s a *timely* devotion from An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley. Take heart, and happy […]

Why You Should Spend Whatever You Like Buying Friends and Loved Ones Gifts They Don’t Expect (and Don’t Deserve)

Why You Should Spend Whatever You Like Buying Friends and Loved Ones Gifts They Don’t Expect (and Don’t Deserve)

This one comes to us from our friend Jason Micheli. I’ve grown wary of the Christmas “tradition” of bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas in our culture.  Too often, we begin Advent not with Isaiah’s laments or John the Baptist’s words of judgment but our own words of lament and judgment, criticizing others for being so […]