These days, all it takes to make my internal temperature rise is spending about five minutes on Twitter. (That’s the closest I get to news.)
Good grief, people. We need Jesus.
Drifting into the riptide of anxiety is easy when my eyes are fixed on this world—its chaos, its concerns, its leaders, its followers, its system. What’s that old saying? If you can’t beat them, join them. I can get sucked so quickly into joining in on the finger-pointing, problem-solving, emotional intoxication of it all. Allowing the culture’s fear (which is frankly inevitable apart from a fleshed-out friendship with God) to determine my attitudes and actions is as natural as submitting to the ocean’s undertow. And quite as deadly.
Imagine a lioness convinced she’s a worm. Then imagine a lioness convinced she’s a king. One a spineless slave, the other a self-appointed tyrant. Which mindset could do her family more harm? Which is a greater assault on the created order of things?
The enemy has pulled quite a number on women. “Hush, you silly chits,” he whispers with shame lacing his words so that they land like daggers. “You don’t actually matter. Everyone knows you’re just pretending to be worthwhile. They can all see right through your pathetic attempts to do anything really meaningful. Pipe down before you reveal how ridiculous you truly are.”
(This post was edited for and originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on June 24, 2019. You can find it here.)
While working with a program that prepared couples for long-term missions, I began to notice a deeply troubling disparity in the expectations and the definitions of spiritual excellence for males and females. Husbands were loaded up with classes, mentoring, books, and accountability groups – but a monthly meeting was too much to ask of their wives.
Both inside and outside the world of full-time ministry, studying the finer points of our faith is a mainly masculine enterprise. Aren’t women busy enough without diving deep into the Word? Let Pinterest catechize them. But when half the Church is spiritually deficient, the entire body walks with a limp.
(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on June 3, 2019. You can find it here.)
“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance; but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. When it comes to procrastination, I find myself on the struggle bus. It goes a little something like this:
Was anyone else fooled by the pretty bowl of pears on their great-grandmother’s dining room table? You wander in and see that delicious fruit just begging to be savored. Not one to disappoint, you pluck the ripest from the bunch and have got it almost to your antsy taste buds when your parents alert you to the fact that what you are about to consume is, in fact, fake. Anyone?
Stupid pears. This is why I have trust issues.
We’ve taken the gospel—that dazzling centerpiece of the Christian faith—and created lookalikes. Sure, the coloring seems perfect, the texture identical to what’s real. But all it takes is one bite to realize we’ve been duped.
As we conclude our jaunt of enhancing our practical gospel awareness, shocks of a deeper truth jolt us out of being a mere audience—we’re now participators, naming Christ and making Him known in the fabric of our culture.
We’re taking a few days to identify true things in popular culture (because not doing so makes it too easy to become catechized by the world). When we attune our hearts to the gospel, Hollywood is transformed from a battle zone into an armory.
The funny thing about the gospel is that it’s everywhere if you know how to look; the world can’t help but seep gospel out of its pores. Even those set most adamantly against Christ echo His song faintly. Creation, fall, redemption, restoration, grace, shame, transforming love, rebellion, community, rescue, chaos, beauty, the war between good and evil—this is the stuff of legends, pointing our hearts toward eternity. Here are three clips running with the threads of Scripture just beneath the surface.
“Though [death] come, God came first and in Christ has walked through it before us and walks through it with us. The good Shepherd who daily bears our burdens bears this burden as well: He carries us through death and into life.”
(Kimberlee Conway Ireton)
Our culture is terrified of death, so we pump ludicrous amounts of money into the industries of beauty to delude ourselves, health to stave off the inevitable, and entertainment to numb our souls in the meantime. But, friends, this is not the kingdom way.
Your fingers hold tight to the pebble you picked up in the most important moment of the life you just left. They say you can’t take anything with you, but no one ever seems to remember the rock. Bubbling with excitement, you scan the crowd and take it all in—you’d never imagined so many different shades of beauty and the mostly exotic rhythms of language swirling about you now. Grins everywhere. This is Christ’s tribe, anticipating the great billows of music which begin the ceremony. You turn your pebble over and examine its shape, color, markings, so foreign all those years ago, now as familiar as your favorite song. Jesus, who had met Peter on the beach with breakfast and forgiveness millennia before, met you there, too. He asked for your heart and gave you this smooth stone to put in your pocket.