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Posts tagged "Law and Gospel"


Mission: Difficult

The following was excerpted from Nick Lannon’s fantastic new book Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News—a fundamental distillation of the law and the gospel in everyday life. This comes from the third chapter “Mission: Difficult.” I have heard the Christian life described in many different ways. Some have compared it to a race, or […]

Announcing: Life Is Impossible (And That’s Good News), by Nick Lannon!

Well, no one ever said life would be easy…

Pleased to announce our latest book publication, by longtime Mockingbird contributor Nick Lannon. Available next FRIDAY MARCH 15, 2019. You can pre-order TODAY through our online bookstore and Amazon.

Many of us will admit that, at times, life is hard. We buckle down, put our noses to the grindstone…and all too often wind up exhausted or burned out. But the problem isn’t that life is hard. The problem is that life is impossible! Fortunately, what sounds like bad news is merely the beginning of the Good News in this concise, gospel-centered book about God’s abundant mercy and love. With wisdom, humor, and compassion, Nick Lannon casts life’s painful realities in the light of Jesus, the One who achieves the unachievable.

“A short, accessible classic.” – Paul F. M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice

“Masterfully clear and imminently practical, this book puts flesh on theology, roots it in daily life, and demonstrates over and over that when we run into the brick wall of the impossible, we are actually at the very door that opens to Christ’s saving work.” – Chad Bird, author of Night Driving and Your God Is Too Glorious

…a real, earthy, honest book that will set you free to admit that you can’t do it. But he doesn’t leave you there. Nick points beautifully and creatively to the One who did it for you.” – Tullian Tchividjian, author of One Way Love

“Good news, told and illustrated well.” – Zac Hicks, author of The Worship Pastor

“…like the finger of John the Baptist, [Life Is Impossible] points away from our life as it points to the lamb, the saviour who takes away the sins of the world.” – Dr. Jonathan A. Linebaugh, editor of God’s Two Words

PRE-ORDER LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE TODAY!

It’s Not Up to You

You have to believe me when I say that it’s not my intent to carry on eviscerating children’s television. I’m only in my late-twenties but I fear my online persona at times comes across too curmudgeonly. Nevertheless, the vocals from my 2-year-old’s favorite Disney Junior show recently assaulted my eardrums…and my theology. I’m no stranger […]

A Discussion on Law and Gospel – Jady Koch and Steven Paulson

Another one of our favorite talks from the OKC conference in the fall. “What we want to do more than anything is help equip you to go into the world to be … these people who can actually have their burdens relieved and then, by extension, help relieve other people of these burdens.” Just about as classic as it comes.

A Discussion on Law and Gospel — Jady Koch and Steven Paulson from Mockingbird on Vimeo

God’s Two Words: An Introduction

Very pleased to share the following introduction to the new collection edited by our friend Dr. Jono Linebaugh, God’s Two Words—which hit shelves last week. On October 4, 1529, Martin Luther wrote a letter to his wife. He was in Marburg at the urging of Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who had brought together several leading […]

Lex Semper Accusat

The following is excerpted from Mockingbird’s Law & Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints).  If the law were simply a matter of doing or not doing, commission or omission, we might reasonably imagine we have a shot at keeping it. And sometimes the echoes of law we hear in society are strictly behavioral. Not […]

The Key That Unlocks Divine Favor

Been a little while since we posted an excerpt from Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints). Here’s what we’ve been told is one of the more controversial passages, taken from the Forgiveness section:  In those places where the Gospel speaks loudest we often find ourselves grasping most desperately for the law. How […]

A Fatal Attraction: The Law As Means of Control

One of passages from our Law & Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints) that we hear about most often: If no one fulfills the law, the question naturally arises: Why should we care about it? If it accuses and condemns us—two things that no one likes—why do we pay it such mind? Why does […]

It’s Gospel Law the Way Down

I woke up yesterday morning feeling like I had time traveled 10 years back into the wonderful world of mockingbird.blogspot.com. Back then, a group of us were invited by David Zahl to start up a blog dedicated to the exposition of justification by faith alone as understood through the hermeneutical lens of the distinction between […]

The Law, the Gospel, and Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

I probably heard the gospel many times during my childhood, but it didn’t register until I was a junior in college. When it finally grabbed my attention one fall night outside Gorin’s ice cream shop in the Five Points South neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama, I saw my need to be rescued from my sin. I […]

Performance, Death, and Grace in Sing

Buster Moon desperately wants to save his theater… and himself. When he was a young koala, his parents took him to see a stage production in which a sensational Suffolk sheep named Nana Noodleman (voiced by Jennifer Hudson) sang about ‘finding a way home’ and ‘carrying a weight’ as she gracefully performed an operatic rendition […]

A Gracious Misdirection: Humor as a Fruit of the Gospel

The following is excerpted from the “Fruits of the Gospel” chapter in Mockingbird’s Law & Gospel: A Theology for Sinners and Saints, available on Amazon or through our own store, here

trying-to-keep-it-together-on-the-californians

If the Gospel is ever experienced for the ridiculous good news that it is, then laughter is soon to follow it. And this is mostly because humor is, in part, an expression of relief. Steve Brown describes it perfectly in his story about a woman who, after years of hiding a moment of infidelity from her husband, suddenly feels the (spontaneous!) need to admit it to him. Though nervous, she decides to do it.

“I saw her the next day, and she looked fifteen years younger. ‘What happened?’ I asked. ‘When I told him,’ she exclaimed, ‘he replied that he had known about the incident for twenty years and was just waiting for me to tell him so he could tell me how much he loved me!’ And then she started to laugh. ‘He forgave me twenty years ago, and I’ve been needlessly carrying all this guilt for all these years!’ Perhaps you are like this woman who had been forgiven and didn’t know it.”[1]

Her laughter is the laughter of the forgiven. It stems from a simultaneous flood of relief (“He forgave me twenty years ago!”) and a corresponding lack of self-seriousness (“How ridiculous that I carried this around for so long?”). A sense of humor comes from the ridiculousness of your happy outcome, and the fact that it had nothing to do with you.

Humor and hyperbole are, then, delicate ministers of God’s good relief. In various ways, either through satire or self-deprecation, humor is a way of uncoupling the truth from its sting. It is a way of including oneself on the wrong side of the righteousness equation. It is a delightful willingness to be wrong, because you can afford to be. It also allows us the privilege of disarming the stings against us, to find humor in things around us that might have offended or wounded us before.

Humor can also be used as a form of gracious misdirection. It is a chance for the forgiven to put on a clown suit in love, for the sake of deflecting another’s judgment. This is precisely what Christ does for the woman caught in adultery, lining out a distracting drawing in the sand for her team of accusers (Jn 8:6). If we are so lucky, we experience the same willingness to play the fool, to feel the great pricelessness of God’s wonderful gift, and thus to ham it up at no cost to anyone.

In the realm of the Law, we must keep face. In the realm of the Gospel, we can laugh at our own faces in the mirror. In the realm of the Law, we must tediously craft emails with the right balance of seriousness and brevity. In the realm of the Gospel, we’re free to say precisely the ridiculous thing that comes to mind, without fear of what brand of trouble our words may bring. While the Law incites us to point our fingers at others in blame, the Gospel provokes us to return the pointing finger back to our chest, and shrug our shoulders, and laugh at the absurdity.[2]

[1] “The Laughter of God,” When Being Good Isn’t Good Enough (Keylife, 2014).

[2] Surely humor is part of what is meant by the meaning of pure love “casting out fear” (1 Jn 4:18). When we are out of the realm of fear, we are into the realm where self-ridicule is easy.

Buy your copy of Law & Gospel here!