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Grace in Practice

Walking Away from a Murder

Walking Away from a Murder

His girlfriend had recently got back together with him. He’d have been better off without her. But tell that to an eighteen year old who’s in love. She was all he had, and all he wanted. So when he lost her, he thought he lost everything. And when he got her back, he thought he regained everything.

Loneliness creates vacuums in the souls of men that they often fill with women who make them even lonelier.

But Tom, drunk on misplaced hopes, only felt the intoxication of happiness. Finally, after years of “family life” where there was little family and no life,…

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The Revolutionary Message of Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The Revolutionary Message of Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Grateful for this write-up on the new Fred Rogers documentary, opening in theaters this month! By our friend Mike Cosper:

One of the achievements of Morgan Neville’s new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, is the profound contrast he’s able to demonstrate between the world of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and the rest of children’s entertainment.

We’re shown clowns being pounded in the face with pies, gun-wielding Transformers and grenade-throwing GI Joes, and (perhaps the most serious offenders) Ren and Stimpy committing various acts of violence upon one another. Then we see Fred Rogers, speaking gently and slowly into the camera, entertaining with…

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There's a Wideness in God's Mercy

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

My husband is the rector, or head pastor, of a church in Houston, and we live in a rectory, which is a house owned and maintained by the church. You might know it as a parsonage or a manse. In our fifteen years of marriage, we’ve lived in four different houses, but this is our first stint in a rectory. We chose to live in this house for a variety of reasons: we’d been burned on some harsh real estate transactions in the couple of years prior to the move, and we knew we couldn’t otherwise afford to live in…

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Sharing Hospital Joy and Misery

Sharing Hospital Joy and Misery

This one comes to us from Bryant Trinh.

I often find myself in the humor and satire section of The New Yorker. I absolutely love a good laugh and am usually labelled as the troll in one of my circles of friends. However, as I was perusing, I ran across a piece that was delivered as a commencement address earlier this month at UCLA’s Medical School by Atul Gawande — a surgeon, public-health researcher, and author of the best-seller Being Mortal.

Growing up in an Asian-American household, it isn’t surprising that at one point or another I was aspiring to…

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A Terrifying Act of Clemency

A Terrifying Act of Clemency

A certain sometimes-Presbyterian WWE enthusiast and former game-show host from Queens, preternatural in the ancient American art of getting attention, has commanded the usual furor of late — but for reasons that, even by his own standard, count as unusual. While the handshake in Singapore with Kim the 3rd is startling enough (for good, we can yet hope), I don’t mean that. Instead, the President has made a bit of a show of his Constitutionally granted pardon power, and displeased more than a few people in the process.

Whenever the concept of “pardon” is discussed in public, we should take note…

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Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Our friend/favorite/conference speaker John Newton’s newest book Reckless Love: The Scandal of Grace in a Performance-Driven World puts at odds the reality of the grace we receive daily with the ways we think grace is supposed to work. Instead of something given in return for our own goodness, grace can cause outrage by the abundance with which God gives it and in the way that he “refuses to love selectively.”

Read an excerpt below:

The tax collector and all the other disreputable types in the Gospels loved Jesus’s program of forgiveness. It was the religious establishment that gave Jesus pushback. Forgiveness struck…

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Judged by a Jury of Peers: How Much Repentance Is Enough?

Judged by a Jury of Peers: How Much Repentance Is Enough?

Depends who you ask, of course. But truth be told, no one really asks this question. Repentance just isn’t thought of as a quality which has shades of meaning; either one repents or one doesn’t, and there is nothing in-between. If there is a debate about repentance, it has to do with its definition. Is it a change of mind, as the etymology of the Greek might indicate (μετά-νοια, after-thought)? Or is it an abrupt and radical break with one’s past, a conscious walking in a new direction entirely? When has “hearty repentance and true faith” occurred? Is it real repentance…

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PZ's Podcast: Sanctification (Is Making Me Late)

PZ’s Podcast: Sanctification (Is Making Me Late)

EPISODE 249

Ellis Brazeal recently pointed out a clear-and-present fact about what we call “sanctification”. Ellis observed that the moment we begin to think we have it, or have made it, it is completely nullified. In other words, the only actual sanctification at which one ever arrives is un-self-conscious.

Another way of putting this would be to say that no amount of or “espece de” virtue-signalling will ever cut it. The moment you draw attention to your “growth” or “discipleship”, at that exact moment it gets disqualified as evidence of moral improvement. The only material sanctification is, to the evincer of it,…

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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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Summer Bucket Lists and Taking a Seat at the Table

Summer Bucket Lists and Taking a Seat at the Table

I ended the school year a few days ago by high-fiving my seniors au-revoir at their graduation and have now set about making lists of #allthethings I hope to do with my girls this summer. Enter: the Summer Bucket List. In sharing my ideas with friends and building said list, I was motivated by two things.

An authentic hope for my girls to have a fun summer, one characterized by laziness and rest as well as active play, adventure, and unstructured time with Mama and Dada.
A tangible way for me to literally check things off and accumulate motherhood points to win…

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J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

This is the first in an ongoing series of original short stories featuring the Rev. J.B. Roane.

Thornton bought me a cup of coffee at the same Dairy Queen where he found my business card the previous day, pinned up a little crooked on a bulletin board next to the men’s room.

J.B. Roane – Pastor for Hire.

Available for odd jobs of a spiritual nature.

Thornton’s coveralls looked like they’d seen more than a few errant drips of coffee and splashes of ketchup. The small talk we tried to make was awkward. He struck me as a direct man, momentarily at a…

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PZ's Podcast: Dead Reckoning

PZ’s Podcast: Dead Reckoning

EPISODE 248

Pastoral experience in hospital pre-op units provides abundant evidence for the existence of the soul. I first saw this evidence in Birmingham years ago, when someone we knew and loved was having to go into the operating room twice the same day, because the first “pass” that morning had failed. The situation was in fact do-or-die, and I had never before seen the look of fear which had come over the patient’s face as she was being prepared for her second procedure.

Then another time, in Washington, as the gurney was being wheeled out to surgery, a kind of fluttering…

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