No Strings Attached

My historical hero Martin Luther once said that “To be convinced in our hearts that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing.” It’s the hardest thing because we are strings attached people living in a strings attached world with other strings attached people. Everything is conditional…

One Way We Avoid Ourselves

One effective way to avoid our own dark shadows is to hide behind the bright and obvious faults of someone else. The following transparent and honest illustration from Dan Allender in his article, Loving Our Enemies: A Look at Why We Wrongly Love Our Enemies (1995), reveals the ways and reasons we unite with one another…

Forgiven People Forgive

Remember Riley Cooper? In 2013, Cooper, a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, used a racial slur (yes, that racial slur) while claiming that he wanted to fight all of the Black people at a Kenny Chesney concert. Cooper is White. And the entire tirade was caught on video. Cooper apologized—immediately…

God is Always Holding On

In 1738, literary giant Samuel Johnson wrote in his diary: “O Lord, enable me … to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.” Nineteen years later, he wrote, “Almighty God, enable me to shake off sloth, and to redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin, by a diligent application of the days yet remaining.” Every few years…

God Meets You Where You Are

We all suffer. Pain is unavoidable. It’s not a question of “if” but “when.” It can take the form of a sudden catastrophe, such as the news of a brain tumor or an affair or the death of a child. Or it can be something more ordinary like a strained relationship that never seems to get easier, dragging on in a kind of dull ache…

Life Without God

Believe it or not, when people ask me which book of the Bible they should read first, I often answer, “Ecclesiastes.” It is unlike any other. Smack dab in the middle of the Old Testament sits a bombshell of diagnostic brilliance, capable of cutting through our avoidances and suppressions, and returning us to reality…

The Forgiveness Business

The church is not in the world to teach sinners how to straighten up and fly right. That’s the world’s business; and on the whole it does a fairly competent—even gleefully aggressive—job of it. The church is supposed to be in the forgiveness business. Its job in filling pulpits is to find derelict nobodies…

A Tale of Two Lunches

I was sixteen when my parents kicked me out of the house. What started out as run-of-the-mill adolescent rebellion in my early teens had, over the course of a few short years, blossomed into a black hole of disrespect and self-centeredness that was consuming the entire family. I would lie when…

Broken Christmas

Growing up, I loved Christmas. It was, by far, my favorite time of year. I loved the presents and the music and the lights and the chaos and the traditions and the decorations and the shopping and the Christmas movies and the food. I loved it all. But more than anything, I loved being with my…

It’s OK to Admit that You’re Not OK

If you’ve made a mess of your life (like I have), then you probably struggle with a lot of guilt, shame, and regret (like I do). And if you’re a parent (like I am) and the mess you’ve made has hurt your kids (like mine did), then the guilt, shame, and regret you probably feel is often paralyzing (like mine is)…