It was difficult to narrow the list down, but here are my 12 1/2 favorites of the year.
We do plenty of counting this time of year. Moms and Dads count how many days they have left to swipe their Visa for gift purchases. Children count how many of those presents lie colorfully wrapped beneath the evergreen tree. Stores count profits. And surveying the hams, pecan pies, and oceans of eggnog lavished before us, we all try not to count calories.
In these weeks leading up to December 25, our ears ring with the same worn-out words: presents and trees; decorations and Santa; and, of course, Visa and Amazon Prime. They’re all part of our common cultural vocabulary. We know the definitions and connotations. There’s no need to unwrap them.
Consider yourself warned: if you plan a party for God—tidy up the house, frost the cake, and send out RSVPs—you’re in for a rude awakening. He won’t show up. Or rather, he will, but it’ll be a week or a month or even a year after the scheduled date. The leftover cake will be molding in the trash, the balloons wrinkled like old skin, and the guests gone about their business, long before the Almighty raps his knuckles on your front door.
Of all the questions God might ask me, one in particular fills me with dread. It’s important. It’s crucial. In fact, it might be the most penetrating, vital question of all. But because my potential answer reveals so much about me, because it makes me feel naked emotionally and psychologically and spiritually, I’m afraid to respond. And, I suspect, you are too.
He was 30 years old. A good head on his shoulders. A fine education under his belt. He was what we today might call a millennial with a Master’s degree and upward mobility. He paid the bills as a highly gifted public speaker who kept his audience on the edge of their seats.
In the Halloween dusk, our front porch began to swarm with heroes and heroines. Captain America stood proud, resplendent in red, white, and blue. Spiderman dropped by. And an adorable little Wonder Woman graced us, too.
In churches that celebrate the Reformation, we usually hear this verse thrown about at the annual religious shindig: “The righteous shall live by faith.” It’s a compact little creed. A good word.
If our prayers were hooked up to a polygraph during certain seasons of our lives, we’d be revealed as liars.
We cannot rush through sorrow. Walking through pain and loss and grief is like walking through water—slow, hard, and exhausting. It takes time. And it takes a toll on us. We feel trapped in confusion, surrounded by chaos.
At twenty minutes till nine, on the day she was to be married, Miss Havisham received a letter from her fiancé that hijacked the rest of her life. He was standing her up at the altar. And, in that moment, she chained herself to the past.
If we make a list of the moments in our lives that have shaped us as individuals, our list will comprise good and bad things we’ve done. On the “Good List” might be getting married, having children, earning a degree. On the “Bad List” might be going through a divorce, betraying a friend, getting a DWI. Things we do, actions we take, alter the course of our lives. They shape us (and sometimes warp us) into the people we’ve become.
We tend to forget that man’s very first action was not to build a house, plant a garden, or even worship God. His first responsibility was to interact with animals. God formed ravens and eagles, elephants and dogs, every living creature, paraded them before Adam, and gave him the authority to name them.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of my children sat down next to Matthew McConaughey on a flight from San Antonio to L.A. There they were, a regular gal and the Hollywood heartthrob, inches away.
When we invite people into our lives, we show them the architecture of our hearts. We take them on a tour of our bedrooms of love, kitchens of pleasure, and family rooms of joy. They are sunlit and smiling places. We’re not ashamed to show them off.
In 1907, when young Adolf was sipping a cup of coffee outside a corner shop in Vienna, he wasn’t plotting how he could murder six million Jews. He was pondering his next watercolor painting, dreaming about becoming an artist.
My friend, Tullian Tchividjian, and I co-wrote the following article, which was posted on his website yesterday (August 16, 2018). Here's the introduction, followed by a link to the full article.
If we’re going to raise well-adjusted children who have a shot at doing well in the world, having healthy relationships, and avoiding the toxic temptations of this life, then a good first step is to stop trying to boost their self-esteem.
In today’s list of rules for relationships, “Don’t Settle” ranks close to #1. A quick search will yield thousands of articles, books, and (of course) memes that warn against this pitfall. “4 Reasons Not to Settle in a Relationship.” “9 Signs You’re Settling in a Relationship.” They all beat the same drum.