In the closing week of December, I like to glance back through my articles from the year at this website, 1517Legacy.com, and christholdfast.org, to see what connected with people, as well as what didn't. That ultimately is up to you, of course. I put the words out there and you interact with them, comment, and pass them onto friends.
Thank you for all you do to encourage me, pray for me, and remind me of the grace of Christ which forms the foundation of all I write.
So here are my Top Ten Articles of 2016, as determined by you.
#10 What's Wrong with the World--In Two Words
Rather than Black Lives Matter, or Blue Lives, or All Lives, it's Christ’s Life that matters. It matters because in him all lives die and come to true life.
#9 The Saddest Words Ever Spoken to a Sinner
To direct a sorrowing sinner back to himself, to his own efforts, is to treat him as the priests treated Judas. To say to him, “You’re sorry? Well, okay, now it’s your responsibility to take care of that sin,” is to follow in their footsteps.
#8 Why Is God Hanging Out With the Wrong People?
Imagine if Zacchaeus posted on Jerusalem's Facebook a selfie with Jesus. The top dog among the tax-gougers with Christ at his dinner table. Oh, the outrage! Jesus ruined his reputation by not only welcoming, but actively seeking out, the wrong people.
#7 David vs. Goliath: We're Teaching the Story All Wrong
Allow me to sketch out a very different way of teaching the narrative of David and Goliath. It’s not a story about us overcoming giants; it’s a story about Christ overcoming us, killing us, and saving us.
#6 Gospel Phobia
If the devil took over a church, I suspect it would be bursting at the seams every Sunday, with smiling faces, clean noses, straight morals, conservative voting, institutional fidelity—simply a thriving, happy community of people who hear from the pulpit every Sunday a message pregnant with law but barren of Gospel.
#5 Four Reasons the Virgin Mary Deserves More Attention in Protestant Churches
Although I believe my Catholic friends say more of Mary than can be biblically justified, I also believe that many of my Protestant friends say less of Mary than the Bible demands.
#4 Dear Church: The World Needs a Cross, Not a Pacifier
Instead of offering sinners salvation, we offer victims therapy. Instead of preaching Christ as the sacrifice for our evil deeds, we preach him as a vulnerable God who offers merely affirmation, support, and compassion. In a worst case scenario, where everyone is a victim, and someone else is always to blame, we transform the cross into a pacifier.
#3 The Things We Carry to Church
We carry our heavy silence from last night's fight after the kids were tucked into bed. We carry the bladed words ripping through the one we swore to love and cherish. We carry the silence of a marriage in its death throes. We carry such things to church.
#2 What Can the Church Do in Times of Violence?
At the heart of the church is an icon of violence: the crucifix. On that cross, God cried out and bled out for the life of the world—the very world that killed him. And it is that cross that the church must carry into the Pulse nightclub, to the convenience store parking lot in Baton Rouge, inside the car of Castile, and onto the streets of Dallas.
#1 When a Dragon Tried to Eat Jesus: The Nativity Story We Don't Talk About
I'm still searching for a Christmas card with a red dragon in the nativity, lurking amidst the cows and lambs, waiting to devour the baby in the manger. None of the Gospels mention this unwelcome visitor to Bethlehem, but the Apocalypse does. John paints a seven-headed, ten-horned red dragon onto the peaceful Christmas canvas. You can read all about it in Revelation 12. It’s the nativity story we don’t talk about. A dragon trying to eat our Lord.
Thank you again for reading, commenting, and passing these along. I thank God for all of you!