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 …

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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 …

Post the Strongest Soldiers at the Weakest Gate

The bridge was drawn, the gates were barred, the watchmen were posted to the walls. From their vantage point they observed the enemy armies draw close, they watched as the officers divided their force into ranks and regiments. They heard the great shout and looked on in trepidation as the enemy units surged forward. And now that the great battle was at hand, the order was shouted from on high and passed from man to man: “Post the strongest soldiers …

Whatever Is Not Christ

It is said of Michelangelo that when he was carving his best-known masterpiece he began with a block of marble and simply removed whatever was not David. This is the task of any sculptor—to begin with raw material and to work with it until nothing is left but the subject itself. Under the hand of a skilled artist, each rough blow of mallet on pitching tool, each gentle tap of hammer on chisel, each precise stroke of rasp and riffler, …

Why Do We Add To Our Trouble?

The road is narrow. The path is long. The way is rough. Yet God has called each one of us to run the race of the Christian life. Our every step in this great race is taken in the presence of deadly enemies, our every stride opposed by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The devil’s fiery darts always threaten to harm us, the heart’s evil longings to distract us, the world’s glittering enticements to persuade us to drop …

Which Christian Best Portrays Christ?

An elderly man, bedridden through a long and terminal illness, wished to see the Rocky Mountains before he died. Unable to travel, yet being a man of some means, he hired a number of skilled artists and dispatched them to the West. To each he gave orders to bring him a painting that would display the beauty of the Rockies. One painter made his way to Banff National Park, to the rise above Morant’s Curve, where he captured a scene …

Only the Christian Faith Begins At the Top

Though few tools are simpler than a plumb line, few are more effective at their task. A plumb line is simply a pointed weight—a plumb bob, or plummet, if you prefer—that has been suspended from a cord. The bob dangles from the cord and, through the consistent downward pull of gravity, establishes a vertical reference. Since time immemorial—ancient Egypt at least—a plumb line has been used to establish verticality for walls, towers, castles, and other structures. If you make a …