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Mockingbird is devoted to connecting the Christian message with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.

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    Hopelessly Devoted: Joel Chapter Two Verses Twenty Five through Twenty Seven

    This morning’s devotion comes from the preacher himself, Paul N. Walker. 

    I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer and the cutter, my great army which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25-27, ESV)

    Everything, ultimately, comes from the hand of God: the good, the bad, and the ugly. God is sovereign, which means that He is in control of everything. The bad things in your life have not escaped God’s notice, nor do they fall outside of His sphere of influence. This means that hurt and disease and disaster and death are all under His command and authority.

    ewMost of us want to shy away from this biblical view of God. We are loath to attribute anything bad to our good God. We are more likely to say that bad things happen because of sin and the devil. God then swoops into the mess to make things right. It is true that the devil is real and threatens to undo us. It is also true that we reap our own misery because of our sin.

    God, however, is not a God on the sidelines, watching our lives unfold and rushing in to help fix what is broken. If God is omnipotent, as we say He is, then He could stop our hands from sinning and save us from our own misery. Satan, like everything and everyone else, is subject to His command. Affirming God’s sovereignty means concluding that God wields both healing and woe for His own good, yet often inscrutable, purpose.

    God’s sovereignty is clear to Joel. God refers to the devastating plague of locusts as His “great army which I sent among you.” The destroyers did real and severe damage in Israel, His chosen people; they brought years of loss built on more years of sorrow. Perhaps you have experienced what feels like years wasted in loss or sickness or suffering, or years spent idly or in vain—years you wish you could have back. The good and comforting news is that those years, and all years, come from the hand of God. And the better news is that God does not waste time—neither His time nor yours.

    He doesn’t always provide an explanation of why He does what He does. The bad in the world will remain a mystery until the end of the world as we know it. But He does give us a promise we can trust: “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.” It is His goodness and love that allows us to say in both the triumphs and trials of our lives that God “has dealt wondrously with me” and to thank Him for everything that comes from His hand.

    The Surprising Relief of Being Wrong – Ethan Richardson

    The one we’ve all been waiting for… With what may have been the single most memorable line of the event (any guess?).  Thank you again to Mark Babikow for producing!

    The Surprising Relief of Being Wrong – Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    On #Adulting and Mail-Order Food

    On #Adulting and Mail-Order Food

    This post comes to us from real-life grown-up, Ben Maddison.

    A friend of mine, a Gen-Xer if you’re into imprecise but incredibly accurate labels, asked me the other day why Millennials (myself included) have so much difficulty becoming adults.

    From Girls to Awkward to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to pretty much any media depiction of 20-somethings, Millennials seem incapable of getting their lives together. Maybe they are overly-coddled, prone to engaging in social drama, or kept in a bunker for fifteen years by a guy who claims he started the “Buy the World a Coke” advertising campaign. Whatever the reason, there seems…

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    Falling from Law

    Falling from Law

    This one was written by our fallen friend, Julian Brooks.

    A few years back I was blindsided by the Gospel of Grace. Things I had heard for years about God’s love and forgiveness started to take on flesh and become more than just recited truths; they became a living person. And that’s when the downward spiral began. I started falling away. Everyone warned me this would happen if I focused too much on God’s love and forgiveness. I just didn’t expect it to happen so fast. The world of control and manipulation around which I had built my life and identity was…

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    In the Valley of the Blind

    In the Valley of the Blind

    This post comes to us from Bobby Goodrich. 

    A general in the Athenian navy, Sophocles had seen the empire at its height, and he’d also seen it falter. He’d seen the dream that was Athens crumble under it’s own hubris as one Greek city-state, and then another, chafed under Athenian despotism and broke ranks. He watched as her people suffered under Spartan blockade and plague ravaged the city–and it was in the midst of this decline that he penned Oedipus Rex, a play that is actually not primarily about incest (Freud’s interest notwithstanding) but about human ignorance.

    See, the real tragedy of Oedipus…

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    Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

    Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

    This one comes to us from Zac Koons:

    An Appreciation of “You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes”

    There’s a lot about Pete Holmes’s podcast that might put you off. For starters, episodes of “You Made It Weird” are long—like, Lord-of-the-Rings-long—and even more unwelcome perhaps, they’re almost entirely unedited. Its premise (comedian interviews comedian) doesn’t promise anything out of the ordinary, and he breaks almost every imaginable rule of interviewer etiquette: he indulges tangents, his research is from Wikipedia, and he constantly interrupts his guests to regale them with stories of his own. And then there’s his laugh, which is constant, lasts for…

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    Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Let’s Build-A-God!

    Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Let’s Build-A-God!

    Welcome to the third installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

    “You like your church, right?” My friend’s question came from out of the blue. “I tried bikram and meditation, then Buddhism for a while, then my own thing but none of it’s working for me. I need to try something different. Work is killing me.”

    “Do you believe in God?” I asked.

    “Well … I believe in a divine energy that unites all things in the…

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    You Take It, and You Say Thank You

    You Take It, and You Say Thank You

    This one was written by our friend, Carrie Willard.

    A few years ago, we (my husband, two young sons and I) lived in a house that was very cute, but sometimes not very practical. Our refrigerator, for example, was tiny. And the more I fed my growing family, the more I craved a little more space. I went on a search for a “garage fridge”–that ubiquitous Midwestern appliance where people keep extra beverages, garden surplus, food for parties, etc. I found that even dormitory-sized refrigerators were outrageously expensive, and so when I found a gently used refrigerator at the neighborhood garage…

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    Beyoncé, Lemonade, and the Things We Inherit

    Beyoncé, Lemonade, and the Things We Inherit

    This one comes to us from Heather Strong Moore.

    What happens when one of the most successful and influential artists of our time experiences a deep and fairly public heartbreak? She takes those lemons and makes them into Lemonade. Beyoncé’s “visual album” was released on April 23rd and already it’s made history with every track appearing on the Top 100 charts. In her hour-long film that accompanies the majority of the tracks, she tells the story of a broken relationship and the process one goes through when one’s life falls apart.

    This story appears to be about her 8-year marriage to Jay-Z and a…

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    The Uncomplicated and Stubborn Love of Ordinary Grace

    The Uncomplicated and Stubborn Love of Ordinary Grace

    This book review comes to us from our good friend and author, Jim McNeely.

    “That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”

    I recently read a novel by William Kent Kreuger called Ordinary Grace, and it set me thinking on the message of grace I so dearly love. The book is told from the perspective of Frank, who is an adult telling the story of the summer of his thirteenth year, a summer…

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    The Spiritual Life of a Justified Sinner, Pt 1 – Ted Peters

    Second talk from NYC is ready to go! Here’s part one of Ted Peters’ wonderful presentation (mild glitchiness should be resolved soon):

    Sin Boldly! The Spiritual Life of a Justified Sinner Part One – Ted Peters from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    PZ’s Podcast: Cook’d Books

    EPISODE 216

    070409_r16088a_p646-320The text is from a leading Presidential candidate, but it applies to two of them — two persons who are ideologically apart but have one main thing in common.

    That main thing is: They are exposing the Cook’d Book of life, which is designed — “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” (S. Wonder) — to sign, seal and deliver YOU over to utter captivity and soullessness.

    The New Testament is not a world-affirming document. On the contrary, it pits the human being against the world. Or rather, it posits the world as being against us. Our task, an impossible one without Help — “Help!” – The Beatles, 1965 — is to dodge the world. Kerouac wrote that we are born into this world in order to be saved from it.

    The Cook’d Book of the world is not only true of political parties. It is true of institutions generally, job environments generally, schools and universities generally (which is why youth is eternally looking for the ‘Mr. Chips’-type altruist — one in a million), you name it.

    I’m glad that Bernie and the other one are cutting to the nerve. Je repete: this is not about ideology, it’s about control. And this world’s control is not — I repeat, not — designed to enable and deliver. It is designed to suppress and captivate. LUV U!