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...]

Make room for suffering

make room for suffering

There is a strain of Christianity that promises material blessing as a sign of God's favor: cars, homes, bank accounts, etc. Given the economic downturn over the last few years, this strain should strain all credibility. Did God decide to withhold 30 to 40 percent of his favor across whole neighborhoods as their housing values plummeted? … [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...]

Testing in the Christian life

MforMarcus, Flickr

My son Fionn held up two toy cars. "Which one is faster?" he asked. I gave him my answer and he said, "No. Neither is faster. It depends on who is driving them." Trick question. I confess to being a little irritated in that moment by this answer."Then why ask me which one?" I asked.Oblivious to my irritation, Fionn answered with a question: "What's the point of a test if you don't learn something?"That's an interesting answer. We are used to thinking of tests as a way to measure what … [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...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X