Grace At The Grocery Store

IMG_5855 “Spiritual struggle” isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when I think about buying my food. But lately, I’ve noticed a lot of judgement as I work through the aisles – from other people to me and from me to other people.

Kids are a big source of this. When I see someone else’s kids screaming their heads off, I tend to feel smug that mine aren’t grabbing the candy or taking off in the produce section or hiding behind temporary displays. Mine are sitting nicely in the cart watching the bad kids. That is just pride! I feel as though I am in a position to condemn this woman’s parenting because God is graciously enabling my kids to obey. What this other mother needs are not judgmental looks, but encouragement, and maybe the gospel. Continue reading

The Sanctified Introvert

God gave us our personalities. In their sinless forms, each is perfectly suited for Kingdom use. In their fallen forms, they can be excuses for a lack of obedience in some aspect of Christian service. Extroverts can control and manipulate people; introverts avoid them. But as each personality becomes more Christ-like in sanctification, it becomes more useful to the Kingdom and a greater blessing to others. B. B. Warfield had some wise words for those of us who would rather not exert ourselves for other people:

“Self-sacrifice brought Christ into the world. And self-sacrifice will lead us, His followers, not away from, but into the midst of men. Wherever men suffer, there will we be to comfort. Wherever men fail, there will we be to uplift. Self-sacrifice means not indifference to our times and our fellows, it means absorption in them. It means forgetfulness of self in others. It means not that we should live one life, but a thousand lives—binding ourselves to a thousand souls by the filaments of so loving a sympathy that their lives become ours. Continue reading

Of Weddings and Heaven

IMG_0547 I know two young women getting married this summer. They have pretty rings, enjoyed shopping for the dress, had fun at showers, and got the bridal party all lined up. But it’s not enough for them. Pleasant as engagement has been, they want to be married. In fact, they can’t wait. If you asked them to please bump things off just a little longer, they would refuse. They’ve done all the preparations of engagement in order to make the wedding possible. They’ve been promised marriage by men they love, and they aren’t going to take anything less, any later than they have to.

So it’s the marriage that is informing how they think and live right now, not the engagement ring. That piece of jewelry is just an encouragement and symbol of what’s coming. Continue reading

Pursuing Beauty

Life_Pharmacy_Westfield_Albany_cosmetics_2013_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

Grieving Christians

IMG_7111My 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

Compassion without Compromise

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 101

1024px-Pieter_de_Hooch_-_At_the_Linen_Closet“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

What Motivates You?

Fulgentius of Ruspe

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