When the Battlefield Goes Quiet

There are a number of childhood vacations that stand out in my mind, but none quite as clearly as our family trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I may have been 10 or 12 at the time and was a young enthusiast of all things military. I knew little of the Civil War, but did know that Gettysburg represented a turning point in the conflict, that the battle fought here had changed the course of the war and the course of American …

A Heart That Is Free, A Step That Is Light

The great general had led his troops to a hard-fought but resounding triumph on the field of battle. With the enemy army now vanquished and scattered, he rallied his regiments to press on toward the capital where they would secure the final victory. And though the men marched briskly, he urged them to still greater speed. In their haste, they began to toss aside whatever was superfluous, whatever was redundant, whatever was unnecessary. Soon the road was littered with all …

Become a Patron

The Great Challenge of Every Marriage

We’ve all heard that marriage was designed to make us holy more than to make us happy. And though it’s a bit of a trite phrase that threatens to force a false dichotomy between holiness and happiness, there is a measure of truth to it. At its best, marriage does, indeed, help us grow in holiness. It helps us in our lifelong quest to put sin to death and come alive to righteousness. Aileen and I knew this was true …

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 …

Extending the Borders and Enlarging the Territory

The Israelites had sojourned in the wilderness until the last of an entire rebellious generation had died and been buried. They had walked to the banks of the Jordan and had seen its waters before them. They had crossed the river and entered the Promised Land. And now the true work and the true challenge would begin. Though God had promised that this people would inherit this land, and though he had promised that it would be their possession, he …

We Cannot Be Faultless (But May Still Be Blameless)

A devotional writer from a bygone era believed it was crucial to carefully distinguish faultlessness from blamelessness, for while we cannot live faultlessly in this world, we may live blamelessly. Even the best deeds we do cannot be faultless when we ourselves are so very imperfect and when this world is so firmly arrayed against us. Yet we may still remain blameless before the Lord, even in light of our many imperfections. A fictional illustration may serve. Let’s suppose a …

You Want to Be a Spiritual Hero?

There is a longing in all of us—or most of us at least—to rise above obscurity and to be known for our greatness. Even Christians can long to be among the great. This is the subject of this little excerpt from Matthew Redmond’s The God of the Mundane. There are two kinds of pastors, in the main: those who speak at conferences with green rooms* (I’m not kidding; they have green rooms—with spring water, I guess) and those who want …

Dusting When the Light Is Dim

Early on a Saturday morning a young girl is told by her mother to dust the house. She dutifully goes about her chore, dusting the tables, the shelves, the mantelpieces, and all the other surfaces. Later in the day her mother inspects the work and expresses some concern. “Look at all the dust,” she says, while running her finger over a side table. The daughter immediately realizes what has happened and offers an explanation: “I dusted in the morning when …

Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health

I have been reviewing books for a long time now—long enough that some books I reviewed shortly after their release are now being re-released in anniversary editions. Such is the case with Donald Whitney’s Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health. First published in 2001, it has now been released in an updated edition for its twentieth anniversary. Whitney writes downstream of the Puritans who were commonly known as “physicians of the soul,” and says that “in our day, as …

Fruitfulness and Usefulness

Sunflower fields trampled, pumpkin patches trod under, apple orchards pillaged and wrecked. It has become a phenomenon of the Instagram era that fields ripe for harvest are also fields perfect for selfies. When the flowers are at their brightest, the pumpkins at their biggest, the apples at their reddest, word gets out, and crowds descend. One nearby farm had to close after an estimated 7,000 cars attempted to park in the streets around it. “By noon, the hordes were coming …