Mary said yes. What about us?

Mary said yes

Many modern Christians have misgivings about Mary, but what if we checked those misgivings for a moment? There's a powerful lesson for us in the life and example of this woman, a lesson about humility, obedience, and putting faith into action. And it all starts with a yes.As the evangelist Luke gives the account, the angel Gabriel wings into view and tells Mary, then an unwed teenager, that she will conceive a child. And not just any child. This would be Jesus, the son of David, the "Son of … [Read more...]

Making grace stick

Sandpaper

Sometimes we face problems in life that really rub us wrong, abrasive and hurtful experiences that we would never characterize as good. Like everyone, I have come through many of these episodes; in hindsight some of them even make sense. I'd go so far as to say that I'm grateful for them.Here's one way to think about these situations. … [Read more...]

Hippies, monks, and Lent

Hippies, monks, and Lent

Here we are in the middle of Lent and I'm stuck on hippies.I've always been fascinated by the 1960s. These were wild and momentous years, populated by colorful and absurd characters whose impact far outstripped their usefulness. But drop the whole psychedelic mess into the period of the Great Fast and a compelling comparison of cultures emerges, one that might change how we see ourselves. … [Read more...]

Fighting Downton Abbey passions

Matthew and Mary

At the dawn of the surprise-hit series Downton Abbey Mary Crawley has a momentary and tragic fling with a guest staying at her family's estate. Opportunity presents in the form of the dashing Turkish envoy, Kemal Pamuk. Lust prevails, and her moral failure and the threat of its scandalous exposure form a good bit of the dramatic pulse that drives the story forward … [Read more...]

Grace and the blame game

Working with God

There’s a view of God’s sovereignty that can leave us with nothing to do. Since God provides for all our needs, it seems as if there is little to do but wait for him to act and accept everything that comes. But such a view smacks more of fatalism than providence.We've all encountered this view, and probably have believed it in one way or another ourselves. … [Read more...]

Stepping upon Christ’s back

stepping upon Christ's back

Getting your theology from pop lyrics is usually a poor idea, but there are wonderful exceptions. Take Terry Taylor's 1998 solo album, John Wayne. Known better for raucous numbers like "Hide the Beer, the Pastor's Here" and "Darn Floor, Big Bite," Taylor has also written many quiet and meditative songs over the years. … [Read more...]

Why we don’t bear fruit

Parable of the sower

One of Jesus' many well-known parables is the parable of the sower, which imagines a man with a bag of seed, casting the kernels this way and that. The seed, which represents the gospel, lands on different types of soil, which represent human hearts, human lives.We often think of this parable as speaking primarily about evangelism. The sower is the evangelist, spreading the Word. But that's only the most basic dimension. … [Read more...]


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