Slaying Monsters in Church: Why Baptism Should be Rated R for Violence

Slaying Monsters in Church: Why Baptism Should be Rated R for Violence

If we had eyes to see what really happens in a baptism, we’d treat them as R-rated acts of violence. Not only is a person about to be killed. Not only are we about to witness a drowning. Horrific monsters writhe in the water. Dragons of the sea lurk therein. And a bloody battle, with crushed heads and butchered bodies is about to go down. To treat baptism as cute or sentimental or symbolic is a lie. Abandon all such foolish notions. Every baptism is war.

Three Ways to Fail Well in 2019

Three Ways to Fail Well in 2019

We will all be failures in 2019. We don’t need prophets or crystal balls to reveal this to us. Just stand in front of a mirror. Is the image staring back the same image that’s always been there? Well, there’s the evidence. New year, same you. The same you that’s failed, in ways big and small, your entire life.

The Number 666 and God's Christmas Math

The Number 666 and God's Christmas Math

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.

Unwrapping Four Hebrew Words Before Christmas

Unwrapping Four Hebrew Words Before Christmas

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.

Why You Should Never Throw a Party for God

Why You Should Never Throw a Party for God

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.

The Most Frightening Question God Can Ask Us

The Most Frightening Question God Can Ask Us

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.

Our Fingerprints Are All Over the Crimes of the World

Our Fingerprints Are All Over the Crimes of the World

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.

For God So Loved the Animals

For God So Loved the Animals

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.

Our Retribution Shrines: Why Forgiving Others Hurts Like Religion

Our Retribution Shrines: Why Forgiving Others Hurts Like Religion

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.