Why it’s good to remember our sins

Over the course of several books, crime novelist Philip Davison gave life to his character Harry Fielding, an operative in British intelligence tasked with undesirable jobs. A small train of colorful characters orbit through Harry's universe, including his flamboyant aunt Kate.At one point in the final Fielding outing, A Burnable Town, Kate wants her nephew to go to church."Oh God," Harry exclaims. "I don't have to contemplate my sin, do I, Kate?"She answered with "a very … [Read more...]

Want to see how un-Christlike you are? Try raising kids

If you're looking for a gauge to measure how un-Christlike you are, try raising kids. At least that works pretty well for me.In The Four Loves C.S. Lewis speaks of "the bad manners of parents to children." Ahem. Guilty.The other day I spoke harshly to my son. An hour later he was rude, and Megan corrected him. "In our home we honor each other with our words," she told him. And I had to interrupt and apologize right there, lest I make her a hypocrite. I had not honored my son in my … [Read more...]

Don’t ask God for justice

When we are wronged, do we ask God for justice? Maybe we should reconsider that impulse.After descending the mountain of the Transfiguration, Jesus sent some messengers to a village to prepare for his arrival. The villagers, however, did not want Jesus around and told the messengers to, in so many words, beat it.Jesus' disciples, James and John, were indignant."Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" they asked.You can imagine their outrage. … [Read more...]

Praying for grace instead of judging others

What if instead of judging others, we saw their failings as our own?Some years back I read Duke Ellington's autobiography, Music is My Mistress. A statement he made about withholding judgement of others really stuck with me."We should recognize that everybody is capable of making a mistake," he said, "and we should not raise any more hell about somebody else's mistakes than we expect to be raised when we make one. Who does not make mistakes? Who is not limited? Everybody but God."A … [Read more...]

The redemptive quality of a story

In her essay “The Grotesque in Southern Fiction,” Flannery O’Connor writes that readers desire and even need something uplifting in the books that they read.“There is something in us,” she says, “as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored.”At Thomas Nelson, where I work, we strive to publish stories that are in some sense redemptive. It’s a priority at the acquisitions and editor … [Read more...]

In the community of God’s love

The Trinity speaks to the interrelatedness of the Godhead, each person of the Trinity reaching into the others by an eternal bond of affection and love. That might seem abstract, but our love as Christians is supposed to mirror this love. But how, practically? It starts with charity -- less the noun and more the verb."Whenever one person helps another by word or deed," said Mark the Monk, "let both understand that this is the grace of God at work." Charity, in other words, is God's love … [Read more...]

Patched, not discarded

A soldier came upon a monk and asked him if a repentant man would be received by God. He was worried that God might reject him."Would you discard your coat if it were torn?" asked the monk."No," said the man, perhaps at that moment grasping the garment. "I'd patch it and keep wearing it.""If you would take such care of your coat," said the monk, "won't God show even greater care for his own image, which you are?"How often are we the soldier, sincere but afraid that God will … [Read more...]