The Character of Love

In our time of overwhelming media input, it’s easy to get confused about love. C.S. Lewis bemoaned the deficiencies of  the English language with it’s single word for love, whereas the Greek language offers four separate words! We are fortunately gifted with the life of Christ and the beautiful words of Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians 13 to help us, but sometimes what we grow familiar with no longer impacts us as it should. This is where the God-ordained power of story steps in to give us a new perspective. For this reason I am very grateful for Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Set in post-revolutionary France, this story focuses on the tragic and beautiful life of Jean Valjean who fleshes out a picture of sacrificial and responsive love.

Click here for the rest on Christian Courier.

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Feeling as a Step to Seeking Forgiveness

Our country is reeling in the aftermath of several horrific events–some spanning back several years and some just a few days ago.  Regardless of the timeline, we all will to some extent struggle with what to do with the offenders. Should there be forgiveness or justice?  And, even more perplexing, what do we do when it is a believer who has sinned?

In an excellent article titled “Why repentant pastors should be forgiven but not restored to the pulpit”, Jonathan Freeman deftly summarizes this difficulty within the church when he states, “Christians struggle with this question because Christianity centers on the idea of forgiveness. Step one in becoming a Christian is acknowledging that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness.When the pastor is exposed, some push the message of forgiveness. “Who of us is without sin?” they might say, drawing from Jesus in John 8. Meanwhile, others object: “But how can we trust this guy?””

What does it mean to show forgiveness to those who have harmed us?  Freeman goes on to argue, as stated in his title, that pastors who have sinned and repented should be welcomed back into membership but not into a role of leadership.  There should still be consequences to their sin.

For the rest, click here.

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Literature as a Gospel Forerunner

In middle school, my family was broken and worn out. And so was I. My mother, who was diagnosed as bipolar, had been unable to give us a peaceful home, despite her love for us. The death of her father triggered a lostness in her that put her in an institution and my sister and me in foster care. We ended up living with my grandparents, which brought stability but not peace. My sixth-grade science teacher knew I needed something to dream about. So she introduced me to the world of Madeleine L’Engle, and I’ve never been the same.

L’Engle’s best-known work, A Wrinkle in Time, comes out as a movie this week. It promises to be a star-studded cinematic marvel. Yet, regardless of whatever wonders they bring to the screen, I cannot hope that it will compare to the wonder the book created in my heart. At a time when I most needed it, A Wrinkle in Time gave me hope.

Read the rest in Fathom Magazine here.

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The Hope of Eternity

The house I’m living in was built by a sweet couple almost forty years ago. After her husband died, the wife moved north to be with family. With no one interested in purchasing the home, it sat abandoned before falling into a dilapidated state. On more than one occasion, neighbors confided that they secretly planned to burn this house down because of how terrible it looked. It sat like this for several years until an investor purchased it for a small amount. He made huge alterations, bringing back its former beauty.

It is at this point that we enter the story. For me, it was love at first sight: stone facing, a huge yard, mature trees with branches arching grandly over the house, a fireplace (yes, in Florida), and large bedrooms. We’ve been living here for over two years now and have begun some of our own improvements that an aging house needs. It is delightful to dream and invest and make memories in this house, but I cannot escape the truth that I will never really own this home.

One day, whether we move or pass away, this home will belong to someone else for them to make memories in and to alter according to their own desires. Nevertheless, even they can make no permanent claim. Because, though a stream of owners could each own and make their imprint on this home, this house will last beyond our short, physical lives.

This impermanence is humbling—particularly as we do the hard work of life and pursuing our purpose.

Read the rest here.

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Tired As a Check

Tired is a check on my ambition. On any given day, I have a mental list of all the tasks I want to accomplish. These tasks are varied–from chores, to creative works, to appointments I need to make. Sticky notes and digital lists permeate my life.

Though my list is extensive, tired often says no.

It says I can do so much, but then I must stop. Tired reminds me that I am human; I am weak and need rest. Tired keeps me close to God, reminding me that I cannot do it all. I need help and, specifically, guidance to focus on what is essential.

I have often wondered why there was such an emphasis on physical healing in Jesus’s ministry. Obviously their lack of modern medical care made people’s lives physically uncomfortable. It was this discomfort that reminded them of their need for a healer.

Today with Tylenol available for the slightest ache, the best reminder of my weakness is my tiredness. Despite my aversion to this, it is so very needed.

Can we imagine what our lives would be like without the check tiredness brings? How frantic would it be? How busy? We would measure success even more stringently by our to-do lists. We would be imprisoned within the confines of our own schedule.

Tired is our safe guard, keeping us dependent on our God who provides.

*Linking up with five minute Friday’s prompt this week.

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