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Comma, Grace

Comma, Grace

A wonderful, grammatical reflection, by Andrew Taylor-Troutman:

I was taking a mid-afternoon break at my favorite coffee shop. The brew was dark, organic, and fair trade; the scone, buttery and soft with little treasures of cranberries buried beneath the surface; and the people-watching, exquisite. Take the guy with the cryptic tattoo on the back of his neck. I was trying to crack the code when, just a couple of tables away, a young woman exclaimed to her coffee partner, “And I was like, comma, you just don’t get it!”

What exactly was not gotten I will never know, for she dropped her…

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Playing with the Enemy – Jamin Warren

This wonderful talk from our recent conference in New York City features Jamin Warren, founder of videogame arts and culture company Kill Screen. Below, Jamin speaks about how fun and games help us cross the great divide:

Playing with the Enemy – Jamin Warren from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Change is the Worst (and the Best?)

Change is the Worst (and the Best?)

The months of May and June—well a solid portion of 2018, for that matter—have been marked by a whole lot of change. My sister graduated from high school, making my parents empty nesters. Dear friends and roommates have moved away. New roommates are moving in. And that’s just the beginning.

I hate change, like really hate it. As a creature of habit and lover of routines who is severely lacking in spontaneity, change is the enemy, and I typically don’t handle it well—God bless my parents for graciously answering their phones to listen to me process it all. For the past…

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Alone Together In Our Third Places

Alone Together In Our Third Places

The following was written by Rachel Gaffin.

It’s 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Breezy pop-punk spills out of the speaker system of the coffee shop I share with thirteen other people. All but two sit in front of laptops; most are plugged into headphones. The man across from me reads a purple tome titled Theories of Truth. We avoid eye contact.

In this silent yet soundtracked space, people politely vie for real estate near the outlets, getting up only to go to the bathroom or maybe to order a second latte. In short, the perfect place for me to write. And…

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Correcting Joy in Swimming Pools and Pulpits: Do Y'all Need a Hug?

Correcting Joy in Swimming Pools and Pulpits: Do Y’all Need a Hug?

One of my least favorite parental duties is swimming lessons. They are tedious and trying and the teachers are far too patient. When I was a kid we took swim lessons everyday for two weeks. They dumped us in the pool. We gasped for air. And then we swam.

Nowadays, you take your child to a Swim School. They let the kids “acclimate to the water” as though they are encountering an alien substance. We are on lesson three and still have not put our head in the water. And by “we” I mean my daughter. But it kind of feels…

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The Golden (Arches) Rule

The Golden (Arches) Rule

This tasteful reflection was written by Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

On the first Sunday of the month, I gathered with the other middle schoolers early in the morning before church and piled into the motley assortment of cars driven by our church’s college leaders. I worshipped those undergraduates and would have gladly tagged along wherever they drove. Plus, you got to wear your t-shirt and jeans. Having arrived downtown in the shadow of tall buildings, all you had to do was help unfold tables and unload boxes of donations. When people came to look over the clothes, you smiled politely. Maybe said God…

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The Distraction of Grace

The Distraction of Grace

This reflection comes to us from Blair Kilgallen.

Our two granddaughters had been staying with us for several days while our kids took a respite in Iceland before they got too weighed down with the arrival of their third child.

Morning plans were set. My wife Rachel was working at the clinic. Arrangements were made for me to drive our granddaughters over the mountain-pass to drop them off with their other Gramma in Denver. Afterwards, a group from our local church-plant was to meet with the leadership of our oversight church.

Then things took an unexpected turn, as they often do in the mountains.

A…

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Mockingbird NYC: All Such Good Works

Mockingbird NYC: All Such Good Works

I first saw the couple waiting in line at the airport ticketing desk. I was probably standing 25 feet away. They were elderly and Indian. The wife wore a bindi on her head, the traditional marker of marriage in Hinduism and a protection from the evil eye. Neither of them looked like they’d showered in days. He faithfully pushed her through the lines in a wheelchair. I noticed that when he stepped away to get their tickets, her hand went up in the air. It seemed to be searching for him.

I very unpastorally thought to myself, “Gosh. That looks like…

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Jonah's Reluctant Obedience, and Ours

Jonah’s Reluctant Obedience, and Ours

The absurd thing that happens in the book of Jonah is not the fish swallowing a man…it is the grace Jonah receives after he basically tells God off! The fish, which consumes the prophet, serves as an indictment on how sin turns everything topsy-turvy. It reverses God’s order in the worst way. Man was made to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and in condemning the pride that prefers the creation over the creator, God does something that shows the exceedingly stupid nature of sin for what it is. Our rebellion against God is both foolish and a joke…and…

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℞ecipe for a Miserable Life: The Weight of the Law in Everyday Circumstances

℞ecipe for a Miserable Life: The Weight of the Law in Everyday Circumstances

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 

Galatians 4:4-5

We wrongly assume that the ‘law’ can fix our broken, messy lives. Jesus came into the world to show us that the law, in a sense, makes matters worse—that we cannot fix ourselves with the law. Think about it. Think about your relationships, think about your life circumstances and how even though it seems natural, logical, and common sensible to apply ‘law’…it never works. Still, something…

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Candy Cigarettes and Stubborn Grace — A Conference Breakout Preview

This NYC Conference breakout preview comes to us from Daniel Emery Price.

When I was thirteen, I was seen walking down the street “smoking cigarettes.” A woman in our church witnessed this “highly rebellious” and “brazenly defiant” act, and she immediately informed a different woman in the church who reported it back to my mother. This lady “just thought my mom should know” while informing her that I was no longer allowed to be friends with her son.

My mother was outraged. I only know about this because I walked into a room where she was firing both barrels of an all-law sermon on gossip and slander to this other mother over the phone. I was completely freaked out as I had never seen my mother this angry before. But not angry at me—angry for me.

I quickly exited the room to retrieve my backpack. While my mother proceeded to unload into the phone, I reached into my bag and pulled out the box of candy cigarettes I had been pretending to “smoke” while walking down the street. After I handed them to her, she hung up the phone with no reference to the evidence of innocence I had just provided

“Why didn’t you tell her they were candy?!” I shouted.

“Because it doesn’t matter,” she replied.

I didn’t realize until much later that my mother was not defending my innocence. She didn’t think I was innocent. She was merely defending me. She was defending my reputation and was willing to sacrifice her own reputation (as a good Christian mother) out of love for me. It seems like a small thing, but that helped shape my thoughts on grace and Christ-like-ness.

That is a short story, a parable of sorts. Jesus told a lot of those. People like short stories because our lives are made up of a long series of them.

At the Mockingbird Conference in NYC, I will be sharing a few parables of Jesus (and a few of my own) to talk about our addiction to judgment and the stubborn nature of God’s grace.

Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference!

What They Don't Show You On Fixer Upper

What They Don’t Show You On Fixer Upper

In keeping with the millennial stereotype of rustic appeal, my wife and I bought our first home this summer, a “fixer-upper” with a lot of character, wet insulation, and dead birds. We took a selfie out front, made a list of future projects, hired a contractor, personally knocked some walls out, and let some light into a house that had not been lived in for nearly ten years. We slapped a fresh coat of paint on the outside, with a green accent door, and voila! Home! Eat it, Chip and Jojo…got no time for that shiplap!

Of course, it has not…

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