06 Nov 2015

Knowing What I Looked Like

Imagine you’re dead. You’re floating up through the clouds, heading for the pearly gates, and you turn for one last look at this green-and-blue planet and whatever you did with your time here. What’s going to be on your mind? If you’re reading this, you can’t give me a factual answer to that question. So guess. People will be on your mind, right? You might feel love, or grief. Or surprise [“Wait, I’m dead? Like, dead dead?”].

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29 Sep 2015

The Gift of Ceremony

The way a congregation worships is very important. It is part of their identity and serves as a public demonstration of their beliefs. The use of liturgical rites and ceremonies is one of the means by which a church makes a confession of faith, both to their members and the greater public, and it makes sense that differences in practice can fuel dissent and controversy. However, even while these rites and ceremonies set congregations apart

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14 Aug 2015

Silencing Fears

“Empty space tends to create fear. As long as our minds, hearts, and hands are occupied we can avoid confronting the painful questions, to which we never gave much attention and which we do not want to surface. ‘Being busy’ has become a status symbol, and most people keep encouraging each other to keep their body and mind in constant motion. From a distance, it appears that we try to keep each other filled with

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11 Aug 2015

Cliffs Of Identity

Classic psychotherapy . . . starts at the bottom. So, you’ll look at those unconscious desires, beliefs, and wishes, and you try to bubble them up to the top, to the surface. The CBT therapists start up at the top, the everyday events that are happening, and begin sinking down further until we get to the point where the individual has achieved his or her goals. Now, the difference there is we’ve set the goals up front,

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03 Aug 2015

Why Adam and Eve Had to Die

Genesis 1 tells a story of God creating, forming, and filling the universe, while continually delegating responsibilities to created things. Chapters 2 and 3 extend the story by showing how God begins teaching humans to see good. I argued last time1 that this process of delegation and teaching explains both why the Garden contains the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and why God is not around when the serpent appears in chapter

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10 Jun 2015

Beauty is in the Grace of the Beholder

You are ugly. I’m sorry, but it is true. I have no idea what you look like, but I can say with absolute certainty that you are an ugly human being. This is because ugliness is inherent to being human in this fallen and sinful world and is completely independent of what you look like. Your body is broken and dying. With every passing moment you grow closer to the day when you will shut

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08 Jun 2015

Calvinism on the Cross of Christ: The Good News of Particular Atonement

“It is Calvinism that understands the Scriptures in their natural, one would have thought, inescapable meaning; Calvinism that keeps to what they actually say; Calvinism that insists on taking seriously the biblical assertions that God saves, and that He saves those whom He has chosen to save, and that He saves them by grace without works, so that no man may boast, and that Christ is given to them as a perfect Saviour, and that

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01 May 2015

Life, Dreams, and Everything

When I was eighteen years old I purchased the film Waking Life, by director Richard Linklater. Its premise, plot, and production epitomize our postmodern moment. Linklater develops a story about dreams within dreams, in which a character travels seamlessly through surreal worlds while witnessing a plethora of philosophical conversations about life and death. The tagline reads, “Are we sleepwalking through our waking state, or wake-walking through our dreams?” Utilizing stunning visual effects,1 a haunting score,

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02 Apr 2015

What Day Did Jesus Die?

“When students are first introduced to the historical, as opposed to a devotional, study of the Bible, one of the first things they are forced to grapple with is that the biblical text, whether Old Testament or New Testament, is chock full of discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable…. In some cases seemingly trivial points of difference can actually have an enormous significance for the interpretation of a book or the reconstruction of the history of

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01 Apr 2015

Round Table: Resurrection

This week, Western Christians celebrate Holy Week, the last days of Jesus Christ on earth before his crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate, torturous suffering on a cross, and death. Of course, the story of Christ does not end there, but continues on Sunday with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This act—the defeat of death—became the launching point of the Christian faith, the linchpin of the Gospel: God has come to earth and he

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13 Mar 2015

Even in the Valley the Stars Still Shine

Deep red light streaked across my kitchen panes yesterday morning. In the fog of sleepiness I thought of the line, “Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning,” then rolled over for a little more precious slumber. When evening came, I honestly have no idea what colour the sky was… I only knew that the red dawn was followed by an evening call. “She’s gone.” Words I had been anticipating for a week. Words I

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06 Feb 2015

Brutality or Beatitude?

“So this is where we are. Ashes, ashes, all fall down. How could I have forgotten? Didn’t I see the heavens wiped shut just yesterday, on the road walking? Didn’t I fall from the dark of the stars to these senselit and noisome days? The great ridged granite millstone of time is illusion, for only the good is real; the great ridged granite millstone of space is illusion, for God is spirit and worlds his

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22 Dec 2014

Christmas is About the Cross

The coming of Christ, the Reformed understand, is one part in the eternal plan of God to reconcile his chosen people to himself. The Incarnation, rather than being a stand-alone celebration, proceeds from an eternal will that precedes it, and results in a death that reconciles.

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16 Dec 2014

Round Table: Incarnation

‘Tis the Christmas season. Our music, parties, concerts and plays, nativity scenes, lights, eggnog, and (if you’re lucky enough) snow tell us that Christmas comes swiftly. Gifts are being purchased. Plans to see family are being finalized. The busyness and joys of the Christmas season are pervasive, even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But why do we celebrate Christmas? The “Christmas Wars” rightfully remind us the real reason for the season: the birth of

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12 Nov 2014

Reaching Out to Christ

“And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians,

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07 Nov 2014

Wild November Choir

Silent morning—a fog like the ghost Of autumn trees and brush and leaves Rises up to the skies, a wavering host Of spirits climbing to clouds, their winter post.   Farmers are nearly done gathering sheaves And stalks stand like sentinels—grave stones— Encumbered by rooks whose coarse song weaves Harvest into winter, as Earth her life heaves   Into barns and bins. She creaks and groans From the heavy toil of summer, spent, To lie

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16 Oct 2014

Rise Up in Christ

Our life in Christ is a life of freedom and love; and because it is, we must choose this life. Not just once, but continually. This Gospel is so simple and straight forward that it becomes problematic. The Author of life encounters death and the outcome is exactly what we expect. We understand immediately what the Church is trying to teach us. We see a prefiguring of Pascha. We see that death has been overthrown;

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