Helpful Things You Can Say to Grieving Parents

It can be awkward to reach out to those who are deep in grief. It can be hard to know what to say and easy to believe that our words are more likely to offend than comfort, to make a situation worse rather than better. We sense that our words ought to be few, but also that the worst thing to say is nothing at all. I recently consulted with a few other parents who have experienced the loss of …

The Last (Melodramatic) Hymn

In her time, Marianne Farningham, who was actually named Mary Ann Hearn, was well-known for her devotional poetry, as well as some of her hymns, (though I am not aware of any of those that have really stood the test of time). While most of her poems were topical, some of them were narrative in style, including “The Last Hymn.” Though I admit this one perhaps tips into a bit of Victorian melodrama, I still quite enjoy it. Read—preferably aloud—and hear …

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Set Loose in a Mud Pit

It would be a strange thing for a mother to set her daughter loose in a mud pit, but warn her that she must not let her clothes get dirty. It would be a strange thing for a father to instruct his son to ford a river, but warn him that he must not let his feet get wet. Yet when we come to God in repentance and faith, when we joyfully surrender our lives to him, he gives us …

The More We Drink, The More We Thirst

What does your heart hunger for? What does your spirit thirst for? What is that thing that if you had it, that dream that if you achieved it, that reward that if you gained it, you’re sure you would now be satisfied, you’re sure your restless heart would finally be at peace? There are many things we hunger for, but only one so very good that Jesus promises to satisfy it: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,” …

A Pastoral Prayer for Unity Amid Pandemic

Every now and again I like to share one of the pastoral prayers from Grace Fellowship Church. This particular one was prayed by Paul Martin on a recent Sunday. The context, as is obvious from the prayer, is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and, perhaps more specifically, the vaccine mandates that are taking root in our city and country. This context provides many opportunities for Christians to disagree with one another and, therefore, to become disunited. This, then, is a prayer …

Life Is Fleeting

I draw a deep breath and put pen to paper. But the words won’t flow. Not yet. I pause for a moment to gather my thoughts. I know I need to prepare an expression of sympathy, to write out a letter of condolence to a friend who has suffered a tragic loss. I want him to know my love, my support, my comfort in this, his hardest hour. I picture the one who lived and then died, who flourished for …

A Tribute to Those of Simple Faith

God makes us to be different from one another. He makes us to have different gifts and talents, to have different dispositions and personalities. He even makes us to relate to him in different ways, so that some of us most feel God’s pleasure when we are deeply engaged in a worship service and others when we are deeply engaged in serving God by serving others. It takes many parts to make one unified, functioning body. I have observed as …

A Christian Case for Bitcoin and Blockchain

A recent article intrigued me with its assertion that it is better to understand Bitcoin as gambling than investment: “An asset that never pays a dividend but has a price that keeps rising is a bubble. An investor can believe Bitcoin is a bubble and rationally invest so long as she expects to sell out before the bubble pops. But that isn’t investing; that’s gambling, and it’s a zero-sum game.” Being largely unfamiliar with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, I wanted to think …

A Year of Sorrow, a Year of Gratitude, a Year of Grace

The grass at Glen Oaks Cemetery had already begun to fade from its bright summer green to its drab winter brown on the day we first visited. The November breeze blew cold upon us as we walked the rows of graves to choose the spot where we would bury our son. We eventually chose a plot near the end of a long row, beneath the shade of a young tree. A few days later we watched his coffin be lowered …

We Are All Cultists On the Inside

There are different ways to distinguish a church from a cult. Churches hold to a broad consensus of orthodox beliefs while cults invariably elevate a small number of uniquely unorthodox beliefs. Churches tend to foster a context in which leaders are accountable to their congregations while cults tend to foster a context in which leaders demand mindless obedience. Churches expect loyalty to the word of God while cults expect loyalty to the words of a charismatic leader. And then there …