Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Other Easter-Weekend Resurrection

I have yet to see a church sign that says, "Believe our message, and you may be killed for that belief someday." Nor have I have seen "We take a collection at every service" or "The things you may come to believe will make you wildly unpopular at work." All of these statements are true, of course (though the last one may depend on where you work), but we don't advertise these things. Instead, we point to the those elements that will resonate with people where they are right now. Everyone wants community, everyone wants hope, and everyone wants to be set free—so we highlight these.

I suspect something like this is taking place when we read the Good Friday and Easter narratives in the four Gospels. Matthew includes an event that the other evangelists leave out:
At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people (Matthew 27:51-53, NIV).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

When God Stops the Rain

I have a love/hate relationship with rain. On a Monday morning, rain is my enemy. Wet roads and lower visibility extend my already uncomfortable commute. Like a perfectly ordered line of ants disrupted from above by a small child with a cup of water, rain brings an extra level of chaos to the highways of Atlanta. But on a Sunday morning, when I'm sitting at home with a cup of coffee and my Bible, the sound of rain falling outside is a welcome visitor.

Jesus says that God the Father "causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45, NET). God's world is not a world of karma but of grace. And grace is both wonderful and dangerous.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Needed Post About Parenting and the Bible That's Actually About Neither

A disclaimer: This was going to be a post about religious freedom, a foray into the national conversation about gay weddings and florists and conscience and who Jesus would or would not bake a cake for, but this is not that post. This might also have been a post about what goodness truly looks like—whether it's possible to experience things that are truly good apart from God. But this is not that post either.

This is, instead, the post I was led to write after wrestling with both of those things, and it's the result of the conviction I felt after hearing Andy Stanley speak earlier this week. He said a couple of things that have stirred my heart since I heard them. I've been told they're things he says fairly regularly, so forgive me if you've heard them before.

The first thing Andy said that got me thinking was this: "Our goal is to have the kind of relationship with our kids so that, when we no longer have to be a family, everyone will still want to be a family." (That may not be the exact way he put it, but that's the idea.) Since Laurin and I don't have kids yet (our first baby is due in July!), I feel like I have a perfect record as a parent. No complaints. No dysfunction. I am acing this whole parenting thing. And when our baby is born, that will be my goal—to keep our family relationship strong. Think about it: No other goal we have for our families will matter if we miss this one. No matter how much we want our kids to love Jesus, succeed in life, or become contributing members of society who love their fellow man, we'll have no opportunities to speak into their lives if they don't want to be around us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Day Atlanta Stopped

Last Tuesday, I ate a bowl of butternut squash soup as I peered out the window of the dining room at my office. When the light was just right, and I squinted at the bushes, I could make out a few flakes. The moment I had been waiting for all season long had begun. It was finally snowing.

People had told me that this sometimes happens in Atlanta, but in my three winters in Georgia, I had yet to see anything more than a passing flurry. I'm from New England, so snow doesn't bother me, doesn't cause me to drive erratically, and doesn't inspire me to purchase a three-week supply of milk, bread, and toilet paper. Instead, I find it beautiful—a pristine white blanket over creation. And I find it exciting. As the intensity of the snow showers increased, and I hurried to finish my lunch, I was just slightly more restrained than a kid about to find out he has a snow day home from school.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Unexpected Reminder of the Renewal of All Good Things

I feel terrible. Absolutely horrible.

I am notorious for being a little clumsy, a little oblivious, and at times a little like a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a room full of irreplaceable ancient manuscripts. (The bull in the china shop is forgivable compared to my atrocities.) I've broken things, I've hurt myself, and I've made loud, embarrassing noises. But tonight I did my worst.

Tonight, while opening a box for Laurin, I put it back down on our coffee table and accidentally crushed something very important to her—and to me: the rose I had given her on our very first date.

I had brought Laurin a rose and Timothy Keller's The Prodigal God when I came to pick her up for our first date. The Tim Keller book was because she had told me the Parable of the Prodigal Son was one of her favorite passages of Scripture, and the pink rose was because I wanted her to know how much I liked her already. (I thought red might seem too serious, too soon and scare her off.)

Laurin, the sentimental soul that she is, hung the rose upside-down and dried it out to preserve it. But now it's more like half a rose next to a small pile of potpourri that's lost its scent. When she walked into the room and saw what I had inadvertently done, she was upset. When I looked down and saw the rose fragments, I was upset. She was mad that I had crushed the rose. I was mad that she had placed the box so close to the rose in the first place. Doesn't she know I don't do well with not destroying things? Hadn't she learned from Beauty and the Beast that all important roses should be kept under glass?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Changes Everything

I wouldn't have thought it possible unless I wrote it, but here's an article that has nothing whatsoever to do with Phil Robertson or the War on Christmas, and it's not even an end-of-the-year countdown of the top anything. It is, however, a shamelessly sneaky way for me to write about Laurin at Christmastime. You've been warned. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Importance of Truthiness

“So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf” (Exodus 32:24, esv). The next time Hollywood attempts the story of the Ten Commandments, I hope they cast Jon Lovitz as Aaron. His pathological liar character would work perfectly. Just end this verse with “Yeah, that’s the ticket” and the outlandishness of Aaron’s claim would be at home in a familiar Saturday Night Live skit.

Aaron’s answer to Moses is ridiculous, but what makes it more tragic is its timing. Moses has just returned from spending 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. As God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments and detailed instructions about the Tabernacle and how the priests were to be set apart for the Lord’s service, Aaron—God’s choice for High Priest—was busy leading the people into idolatry. God was taking steps closer to His people. Aaron was taking steps further away from the Lord. God was bringing truth, and Aaron countered with a lie—and a ludicrous one at that.