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People wear Samsung Gear VR devices as they attend the launching ceremony of the new Samsung S7 and S7 edge smartphones during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX27XXM

What Is News (And What Isn’t)

A lot of people were talking about Facebook last week. Besides Chewbacca Woman, its Trending News platform was, well, trending. Despite the fact that, in the epoch of FoxNews and HuffPo, news like this should never be news to anyone, the ‘news’ was leaked that Facebook uses hired editors over their algorithms to select which news articles are “Trending.” Now, I know, it may seem strange to you that human editors would be behind the scenes of a news organization instead of using what editors have always used—algorithms. (What is an algorithm?) Facebook, the world’s largest news distributor, was accused…

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More Thoughts on Hodor: Felix Culpa and the Identity of God in Game of Thrones

More Thoughts on Hodor: Felix Culpa and the Identity of God in Game of Thrones

Will McDavid wrote the definitive summary, critical review and reflection on last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Door.” If you haven’t read it go directly there now. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 hundred dollars. The short reflection that follows on the revelation of Hodor’s raison d’ etre is indebted to and dependent on Will’s insights. He did most of the heavy lifting already.

In his Poetics Aristotle observes that we will forgive a good story told badly, but never a bad story wrapped up in even the best of prose. For Aristotle plot is everything. The story…

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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.

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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Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Human being is storied being. We find meaning in our present according to where we’ve been and where we’re going. This is why a condition like PTSD is so devastating. By making the traumatic past ever present it robs a person of the ability to narrate their own story or even sometimes to have much of one.

A recent little piece by theologian Peter Leithart reminded me just how central the tug forward is for us if we’re to live anything like a meaningful life. Leithart points out the curious fact that, at the end of the book of Revelation, the heavenly city…

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Vulnerability, Judgement and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds Turns 50!

Vulnerability, Judgement and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds Turns 50!

Half a century is pretty “outta sight” if you ask me. To celebrate, here’s the two main Pet Sounds portions of The Beach Boys essay in Mess of Help. We’ve posted portions before but never all of it. Catch a wave: 

Brian Wilson was the original heart-on-your-sleeve auteur. Young men had been vulnerable on record before, but usually in the service of garnering swoons rather than expressing actual warts-and-all weakness. Brian’s was not the attractive kind of vulnerability; it was the awkward kind. In the song, his girl’s devotion even makes him “want to cry”. The Beach Boys sang about teenage male tears more than…

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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.

Free to be Guilty

Free to be Guilty

Alexis Bloomer is impressive. She’s had her own shows on Sirius XM radio and television. She interned under the direct supervision of Dan Rather, and in her “About” section on Facebook, there’s even a quote from his recommendation letter. She’s a go-getter and a God-and-country Texan.

Now, she can add another achievement to her résumé: a viral video. In the video, she says that she took it upon herself to evaluate what’s so wrong with her own millennial generation. Her top-line observation is that “[millennials are] just existing; we’re not really contributing anything to society.”

According to Bloomer, millennials are crass, ill-mannered, lazy,…

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A Law & Gospel Study Guide!

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For all you sinners (and saints) who can’t get enough of Mockingbird’s soon-to-be classic Law & Gospel, we offer up this free downloadable companion, written by Bryan Jarrell and developed in consultation with the book’s authors. Broken up into six easily digestible lessons, this guide was conceived as an aid in small group discussions and large group teaching series. But it’s also well-suited for individuals seeking deeper interaction with the material.

Find the Law & Gospel study guide here.

The study guide also includes leader’s notes, with additional questions, tips and ideas, to help facilitate discussions.

Find the Law & Gospel leader’s notes here.

And, for additional resources on L&G, check out St. Francis of the Fields’ recordings of their Law & Gospel reading group here.

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Had the whole David and Goliath showdown happened in the age of Twitter, David may not have won. Here’s how it could have gone down today:

Goliath, after voicing his threats for weeks to the nation of Israel, finally finds his less-than-worthy opponent strut to the battlefield, slingshot in hand, nothing but his ruddy good looks and youthful optimism girding him. He says to Goliath, “I come to you in the Lord of hosts…the Lord will deliver you to my hand and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” Goliath, while not the brightest of the bunch, understands…

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