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Month: May 2015

Souls for Cheap

Prices rise, but not for souls, which sell now more cheaply than ever. At least Adam got a half-eaten fruit for his – and ours. We gain nothing in the exchange for other gods and their lying promises.  Trading the imperishable for dust, we ignore the highest bidder.  

Hope’s Coffins

“The coffin of every hope is the cradle of a new beginning.” (Florence Nightingale) God creates from nothing. He can recycle our disappointed hopes and discarded dreams. But we must surrender them this way: “I confess to Almighty God and you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my fault… in what I have failed to do…” God turns endings into new beginnings.

The Preacher’s Lament

“Surely I have labored in vain and spent my strength for nothing…” (Isaiah 49:4) Luther calls this the “preacher’s lament.” When God called Isaiah He gave him the hard job of hardening. God told him at the outset that telling the truth would have the effect of blinding and deafening his own people. “See and see and not perceive, hear and hear and not understand.” (Isaiah 6:9) Isaiah’s youthful response to that call was, “Here am I Lord, send me,” but after decades of work, in effect, Isaiah asks, “Did I really say that? What was I thinking? When God called, why didn’t I just hang up?” Isaiah, great prophet though he was, faltered in self-doubt. He had nourished the hope of…

Died Still Climbing

The Christian story is not one watershed experience (or two for Wesleyans) (or three for some Pentecostals) followed by coasting downhill to the grave. Father Angelus Shaughnessy tells a story of the monks (inventors of the St. Bernard rescue dog) who guard the dangerous St. Bernard Pass through the Alps between Italy and Switzerland. The monks once discovered a traveler frozen in the snow with one leg raised as though still climbing. With no other identification, the monks buried him, with the epitaph “died still climbing.” Often I hear this term of dismissal applied to churches, “it was all old people,” as though old people are useless and expendable. (The mentality that terminates unwanted life in the womb, should be…

“Make your home in the land and be secure…” (Psalm 37:3)

Author Wendell Berry writes about the difference between “movers and stickers”. The challenges of pioneering pale compared to homesteading in the same way that starting something is always easier than seeing something through. Anybody could stake a claim out west. It took grit to hold on long enough, and make enough improvements, to satisfy the homestead law and keep the land. The cowboy life of big ranches and open range was always more romantic, but according to that former-cowboy-turned-president, Teddy Roosevelt, the homesteaders won the West.  “… the homesteaders, the permanent settlers, the men who took up each his own farm on which he lived and brought up his family, these represented from the national standpoint the most desirable of…