7 Beautiful Things

As another week drew to a close, I found myself pondering beauty and wanting to reflect on some of the beautiful things I had encountered in the previous 7 days. Here are the ones that came to mind. 1. Fall Colors. Autumn in Ontario is almost breathtakingly beautiful during those few weeks when the leaves still remain on the trees and are turning from green to vibrant reds and yellows. Yesterday I made a long drive from the city to …

Our Understanding of Earth and Our Assumptions of Heaven

I think we are all guilty at times of importing our understanding of earth into our assumptions of heaven. We are all guilty of importing our understanding of how things work here to how they will work there. We look at the world we know and extrapolate to the one we don’t. I sometimes fear, though, that our thoughts of heaven are actually marred by our experiences of earth. I have often heard people speak of those who are in …

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Idolatry is Futility

We are all prone to idolatry. We may consider ourselves far too advanced to bow before an idol of wood or stone, to bend the knee to the image of an animal or man. But none of us is immune from bowing before the idols of our dreams and desires, before the idols of our wandering hearts. None of us can forever resist the allure of our illicit longings, of finding hope in mere riches, of finding meaning in mere …

A Late Summer Family Update (+ a few more LOTR thoughts)

We are now two weeks past the launch event for Seasons of Sorrow and one week past the official release date. Overall I think things went well. The Getty Music Sing! Conference, where we held the launch event and where I led a breakout session, was my first conference in more than two years and it was a blessing to meet so many of you there. I can’t say I really missed conferences and travel during the pandemic era, but …

Emerging From Our Trials Unscathed

It’s undoubtedly one of the most-told and best-loved stories in the entire Old Testament. It has all the hallmarks of a great tale—heroes and villains and peril and deliverance. It tells of faithful young men who faced unjust persecution, faithful young men who were sentenced to die a horrific death—to be consumed by flames in a fiery furnace. Yet it also tells how they were unexpectedly and miraculously delivered; how, though they were thrown into the flames bound hand and …

Not a Matter of Pitch or Tone

God commands us to sing. Yet while some of God’s people are gifted singers, the plain fact is that others are not. In any congregation it’s likely that some have near-perfect pitch while others are functionally tone-deaf. Those who struggle to sing may be self-conscious, tempted to stay quiet or to do no more than mumble along. Should they? Not at all, for singing is a matter of the heart before it is a matter of pitch or tone. In …

Are You a Peacemaker or a Troublemaker?

I recently spent some time studying one of the simplest verses in the New Testament: “blessed are the peacemakers.” There are no tricky words in this verse, no difficult Greek to parse. To be blessed means to be happy or to experience God’s favor; to be a peacemaker is to (wait for it!) make peace. But though the words are simple, the application takes some work. Essentially, Jesus is saying that peace with God leads us to make peace like …

On What Basis Could The Rings of Power Completely Fail?

I first encountered The Lord of the Rings during the loneliest year of my childhood. My family had moved, my friends had been left behind, and I was lonely. The one friend I did make that year was an avid fan of the books and pleaded with me to read them. I did so and quickly got swept up into a world that transported me far beyond my problems. That was the first, though certainly not the last, time I …

A Few Handfuls for Weary Little Listeners

Ray Van Neste recently appealed to pastors to ensure they don’t neglect the children in their preaching. “Preacher, don’t assume children can’t or won’t listen,” he said. “Many things will escape them, but they understand more than we give them credit for.“ Hence, “you should speak to the children in your sermons.” I very much appreciated this word of exhortation as it reflects something I have been trying to emphasize in my own preaching. Van Neste offers a few good …

So You’ve Been Told You Should Read Some Old Books…

A reader of this site recently got in touch to ask me for some book suggestions. She has been a believer for quite a long time and along the way has heard of the value of reading “Christian classics.” Yet she hasn’t been sure where to begin and asked for some guidance. I was glad to take on that challenge! In this article I will offer some suggestions that cover various eras from the early church until the late twentieth …