In 2008, the American YWCA published a report titled “Beauty At Any Cost”: “Every woman in the United States participates in a daily beauty pageant, whether she likes it or not. Engulfed by a popular culture saturated with images of idealized, air-brushed and unattainable female physical beauty”, women are daily pressured to join in the idolatry, even as men, through coveting or lusting, propel the cycle. Continue reading
My parents believed in bringing us to funerals. So at young ages, my siblings and I saw a lot of grieving families, heard homilies, eulogies, and a couple of us even rode in the hearse with the funeral director from the church to the grave (only when Dad did the service). One of my earliest funeral memories is being in line to view a body. I was so short that my eyes were below casket level, and I did not want to be picked up. It seemed off to me that adults would stand in line to see a corpse. Continue reading
The North American shift towards the expectation of the celebration of sexual sin and brokenness is continuing unabated. So what do you do, what will you do when you are asked to celebrate it? How do you respond, how will you respond to those who argue that the pursuit of sin can be reconciled with identification with Christ? How do you, and will you minister to your family members or friends who have been captivated and persuaded of the rightness of spiritually devastating “alternative” lifestyles? How do you deal with your own struggles with sexual sin? Continue reading
“Mentoring is so American,” a friend from another country told me. We were talking about older women mentoring younger women, and she had a different take on it than most people around me. “Where I’m from, people would never do it. They just take part in the life of the church and try to be faithful in their personal lives.” What she meant was that the early 21st century American version of mentoring—more of a Evangelical, programmatic Titus 2 system—was something unique to this culture. And she is probably right: the one-on-one coffee dates, note taking, and arranged, lay shepherding isn’t exactly something that has a timeless or universal feel. Not that this “American” version of mentoring is wrong, it’s just a cultural expression of Protestant America trying to help the older women teach the younger women. Continue reading
Some wise words of scriptural wisdom from Fulgentius of Ruspe (c.467-527):
“In all good works, be careful lest you be stirred by desire for human praise. You ought to be praised in your good works, but insofar as you do them, you ought not to expect human praises. The human tongue may praise you, but desire praise from God alone. And thus it may come about that while you do not seek human praise, God may be praised in your deeds. Recall how much the Lord forbids us to do our righteous works to garner human praise, saying, ‘Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.’ Continue reading
Growth in grace is evidenced by a more habitual vigilance against besetting sins and temptations, and by greater self-denial in regard to personal indulgence.
A growing conscientiousness in regard to what may be called minor Christian duties is also a good sign. (The counterfeit of this is an over-scrupulous conscience, which sometimes haggles at the most innocent gratifications, and has led some to hesitate about taking their daily food.)
Increasing spiritual-mindedness is a sure evidence of progress in piety; and this will always be accompanied by increasing deadness to the world. Continue reading
“Sometimes it is not easy to see blessings, and yet when we think more deeply we know that there are so many that it is difficult to single them out. We take them so much for granted, not always because we are ungrateful, but because the blessings we lack fill our thoughts and discomfit our minds, so that we are unable to think of anything else and our whole outlook becomes distempered and discontented.
If you see the grace of God working in your life, and if you recognize the material blessing that have come your way as a consequence, do not forget to thank Him. It is sad when there is nothing for which we feel grateful to God, but it is serious when there is something and we fail to show gratitude, and it is tragic when we are so busy asking for more that we forget to thank Him for what we have received…
The primary reason God blesses us at all is that He may enjoy our thanksgiving and praise. Continue reading
Last month my parents were visiting us when the police called them, from their home phone. There had been a fire at their house; their youngest son, still living at home, his friend, and my mother’s father had all been hospitalized. My brother had been badly burned on his hand and foot rescuing my grandfather and trying to put out the fire. When the police called, he was on his way by ambulance to a burn unit in a larger city; surgeons would operate on him as soon as possible.
That sort of news, and its implications, is difficult to process out of the blue. It’s over the past few weeks that we’ve been able to see the situation more clearly. As we look back, some things stand out clearly—the good, the bad, and the beautiful.