Our ordinary, fascinating lives

Our ordinary lives, fascinating and wild

The Scripture says that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." The psalmist uses the phrase to talk about our origins, how we were "skillfully" formed by God. I think we can view the sentiment as more than that, however. I think we can take it as an invitation to view all of a person's life as fearful and wonderful."Marvelous are Your works," says the psalmist, and that includes us, not only our conception but our whole lives. God not only makes us but also sustains us. Our development … [Read more...]

To see and know, first obey

To see and know, first obey

In C.S. Lewis's Narnia novel, Prince Caspian, the four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, are lost. Walking through the woods, they cannot make their way safely and are uncertain about the right course.Lucy catches a glimpse of the great lion Aslan and knows that they should walk toward where she spotted him. The others disbelieve, however, and think they have a better idea. They don't and after going their own way nearly get killed. Aslan appears again and directs Lucy to … [Read more...]

The romance of commitment

The romance of commitment

Men are justifiably famous for lacking commitment, enjoying irresponsibility and freedom as long as we can reasonably stretch it, and oftentimes several yards past that.One manifestation of this artful dodge is that marriage ages have gone up and up in recent decades along with the cohabitation stats. … [Read more...]

Hope that does not disappoint

Hope that does not disappoint

Our days are marked by trouble. Illness in the family, perhaps dire, a child struggling with unbelief, a bad job situation, turmoil in a close relationship -- the list is as long and varied as you want to make it. We're all facing something, a unique trial, a particular pain. And it's not surprising."Beloved," says Peter in his first letter, "do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you...." … [Read more...]

Christians making a difference

How Christians can make a difference

Whether it's the political activism of the eighties and nineties or the social activism of today, Christians want to make a difference in the world. But are we starting in the right place?Often we see a crisis or a need and jump to fix it. We raise funds, join a movement, buy a T-shirt, send our tithe, blog, campaign, distribute voters guides, do all kinds of things -- many of them good. But they're not enough. All those things are externally focused, which is only half the picture."The … [Read more...]

How marriage works on you

How Marriage Works on You

I've written in the past about the mystery of marriage, how it transforms its participants. That's part of its very purpose, to conform us to the image of Christ and deepen our communion with God.I've still got a long way to go and, as they say, results may vary, but here are three positive ways that marriage to Megan has begun to change me.1. Learning to love betterThe more circumstances require you to love like Christ, the more like Christ you become. That's the hope at least … [Read more...]

A life of fervent prayer

Icon of Elijah, Wikimedia Commons

Today Orthodox Christians celebrate the life of the Prophet Elijah, and what a life: He challenged two kings and a queen to their faces, spoke with angels, called down fire from heaven, multiplied flour and oil for a starving widow, raised her boy from the dead, caused rain to come and go by his prayers, and was finally swept up to heaven in a fiery chariot before being present at the Transfiguration of Christ. Because of his powerful ministry he's remembered in Orthodox hymnody as "an angel in … [Read more...]

Less happiness, more joy

Less happiness and more joy

There has been a lot of serious psychological and neurobiological research on happiness in recent years, sussing out and measuring its elusive components. The findings are occasionally popularized for lifestyle magazines and newspapers; though if you desire to really stay abreast you can subscribe to peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journals on the field.I’m sure some of this works is quite good and helpful, but I’m also pretty sure that we’re too focused on happiness, particularly at the popu … [Read more...]

The starting point of praise

The starting point of praise

One of the best ways to understand our position in God and how we approach him is to look to upraised hands. Worship tells us a lot about our relationship to God, where we fit in, and how. You don't praise what's not present, and you can't give thanks for what has not been given.There was a Greek monk named Symeon (he's called "the New Theologian" even though he lived a thousand years ago) who wrote a collection of hymns. At the start of the collection is a prayer that says at one point, … [Read more...]

The books you come back to

The books you come back to

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about books you come back to, books you re-read, books that become as familiar as old jeans. For him it was Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. You could hear the joy in his voice as he talked. He said I should read it and offered to buy the copy from me if I didn't like it -- sort of a money-back guarantee. … [Read more...]

Our true identity in Christ and the momentum of holiness

Our true identity and the momentum of holiness

What can Paul Gauguin and Paul the Apostle teach us about our identity in Christ?Born in France and raised partially in Peru, Paul Gauguin's early years were marked by the death of his father, domestic upheaval, and sweeping cultural shifts. After returning to France to live with his grandfather, he joined the merchant marines, served a stint in the navy, took work as a stockbroker, married, and had several kids. His tumultuous life could have settled into middle-class ease, but then Gauguin … [Read more...]

How to wreck your life

How to wreck your life

If you’re looking to get off on the wrong foot this week, start with ingratitude. It’s easy, really. Everything we have is a gift from God. The trick to ingratitude is to be unthankful for it. The job, the spouse, the bills, the house, the kids, the coworkers, the car—all you have to do is grumble and complain about them.If you’re new to this little trick, don’t overdo it. Start with little gripes about small disturbances. But if you’re well practiced, you might as well jump into one of the m … [Read more...]


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