Archives For God

Last week I posted about the imaginary critics and how, thanks to them, I found myself shelling out my hard earned cash for a subscription to Eharmony.com. And it was all true, but it was only part of the story. God, as he likes to do, had his hand in the mix too. Thankfully, while I was spiting the world and spending my money to prove the imaginary critics wrong, God wasn’t critiquing my lack of faith or my failure to ask his opinion before I signed-up for online dating again. Instead, he was concocting a new dose of grace.  

 

About a month into my Eharmony subscription I met a man who has turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. A man who, when reading my article on the imaginary critics, pointed out how I failed to mention the end of the story, the part about meeting the love of my life.

 

This is one of the challenges of being a writer. You pick out one aspect of life and hold it under the microscope to get a really good look at it, to try to crack it open and see why exactly you let things like imaginary critics influence you. You can’t always tell the whole story, it would distract from the point you’re trying to make. I told this to my man, Jay-Michael from Colorado, but I’m not sure I convinced him. 

 

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Over this past week, though, it did seemed like I ought to tell you the other half of the story, if only for practical reasons. Since meeting Jay-Michael, the days have unravelled into a wonderful mess of months in which I find that having a love life is rather unproductive. My perfectly manicured schedule, with just enough time to see a day’s worth of patients at the office, finish my eschatology homework, and go for a run, has gotten all hob-jobbled by late night conversations, daydreaming, and spending more time than I like to admit looking at pictures of our last weekend together Continue Reading…

Thanks to Kate Knapp, LMHC, for contributing to my Finding God at Work series on how she experiences God through her work as a therapist. Check out her free counseling videos or follow her on Facebook.  

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Although I’m therapist, sometimes I feel in danger of being the bull in the china shop. I can see the damage in my clients’ lives, the hurt, and the likely reasons for it all, and I want to tell them where they went wrong and how to fix it. But even if I can diagnose the situation accurately, I can’t repair it. That’s not my job—not the job I’m paid for or the one God calls me to.

 

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Hank and I sat down for our eleventh session. We’d spent the first ten wading through the issues he’d presented for while I waited for the real issue to surface. We’d talked about his faith, low level depression, and pending life choices. We discussed doctoral programs and his wife’s thoughts about what he should do. Then, during that eleventh session, out of no where—whamoo—an affair. For the past 6 months. His wife found out when a friend saw Hank with the other woman, who was a part of his education circle. His doctoral options were now looking limited and, more importantly, his marriage was a mess Continue Reading…

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had days where work makes us angry. Thanks to Chris Dortch for being honest about it for the Finding God at Work series. 

 

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Blasted crape myrtles. I know most people wouldn’t describe them so, but their pretty, pink posies fall in droves, faster than my net can skim them off the water. I know I should enjoy the hot sun on my back, the cool breeze fighting back against the warmth, and the freedom for my mind to wander—from Aslan’s bright shore beyond the Great Sea all the way to the bloody streets of Victor Hugo’s French Revolution, from the emeralds of Oz to the dark stage haunted by the Phantom.


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The strong smell of chlorine wrenches me from the worlds whispered into my ears, and I have to step back before the fumes overpower me. I really should pay more attention to my job. This daydreaming landed me in the pool last summer. I pull out my headphones and focus on the plague of pink that has now consumed the pool. How is this even possible? There are more flowers now than when I got here half an hour ago Continue Reading…

Thanks to Mikaela McIntosh for this guest post in the Finding God at Work series on how she discovered God in a job she never wanted.

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Growing up, my brother and I promised each other that we would never work at a restaurant or in retail. I’m zero for two now, so when I got hired as a sales associate, all of my pride had to take the back seat.

 

It’s funny how thankful I was when God gave me the job, grateful that I could pay my bills, but after I’d worked there for a while it got boring. And that’s what retail has been for me—mundane—checking out customers, taking phone calls, stocking shelves. It feels like going in circles. But I’ve found that God can be present even in midst of boring jobs…


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During one an afternoon shift, a woman checked out with her daughter. The girl gripped a white capital letter A. She examined it, ran her finger along it’s side, and then placed it flat on the counter. The mother piled up her purchases in front of me and reached into her purse.

 

As I began to check them out, the mother pushed the letter A to the side and told me she would not be purchasing it Continue Reading…

My friend felt guilty. A grad student and barely able to pay rent, he didn’t have enough money to tithe and worried that he was disappointing God. As I listened to the strain in his voice, it struck me that Jesus never taught about tithing.

 

Jesus’ silence on the subject is startling considering that money was one of his favorite topics. His voice fills the gospels with financial advice, stories about bosses, investors, and trust fund babies gone wrong. He admonished a rich businessman, commended a poor widow, and sent Peter to find their tax money in the mouth of a fish.

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In the church’s current fascination with tithing, it seems we’ve lost the breadth of God’s interest in our money. We’ve settled for an Old Testament rule, adding it to our checklist of ways to please God; but, by drawing a line around a part of our income and packing it off to the church, an orphanage in Africa, or the homeless shelter downtown, we’ve restricted the scope God’s interest in our money and, as a result, shrunk our relationship with of him Continue Reading…

Lessons from the book Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior

 

As kids, we believed that we could change the world. We wanted to fly to the moon, write novels, and save people from burning houses, but then we grew up and discovered just how much time living takes. No one told us about the hours involved in keeping the boss happy, the bills paid, and the pile of dirty shirts washed. 

 

Even if we could free up some hours every week to change the world, its problems are overwhelming — sex trafficking, ISIS, the twenty-five million North Koreans cut off from the gospel. We can start to doubt whether our lives will actually make a difference and, when that happens, we need to meet Hannah More.

 

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Since Hannah died in 1833, our best venue for meeting her is Karen Swallow Prior’s book, Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More — Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist, which introduces us to the unlikely woman who helped end the slave trade in Great Britain. Not only that, Hannah fought for female education, lobbied against animal cruelty, and taught a nation to read. 

 

How did Hannah, a single woman without wealth, family status, or access to Parliament leave her mark on the British Isles? She believed in a God who cared about the world and worked through his children to change it. 

 

Hannah’s life reveals five facts about God that we need to grasp if we want to make a difference in our world Continue Reading…

Growing up in church, I wanted the truth of God to burn in my chest, but too often it sat shelved in my brain, collecting dust. In youth group, I learned about this disease. I had a breakdown between my head and my heart. Other people had it, too. In fact, everyone seemed to be talking about it, but while they diagnosed the problem in sermons, Bible studies, and at my Christian college, no one seemed to have a cure. 

 

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You can’t cure a nagging cough without treating the underlying pneumonia, but that’s what many Christians were trying to do. The gulf between our brains and our hearts wasn’t the problem, it was only a symptom of an underlying disease, an infection that started with Modernity. 

 

The real infection was the belief that truth is ultimately a package of facts Continue Reading…

America has body-image issues — everyone knows that. But, when, I complained once to my boyfriend-at-the-time about the pressure on women to be beautiful, sexy, and the size of a Starbuck’s straw, he responded that men feel pressure, too. Since women now earn PhDs, make six figures, and head into their thirties both single and respected, it’s not enough for Mr. Darcy to be rich. He also needs a six-pack and a full head of hair.

 

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According to research, my boyfriend was right. Men claim nearly one in four cases of anorexia and bulimia. Pop culture also testifies to the growing number of men concerned about their bodies—from actor Jamie Dorian, of Fifty Shades of Grey, who admits to having “massive hang-ups” about his body to last spring’s media flurry over the virtues of having a dad-bod.

 

So, while Dove®, BuzzFeed, and MTV tackle the body-image epidemic in our country, I keep wondering when Christians will pipe in. Our story, after all, affirms the goodness of the human body from beginning to end. Consider any of the Bible’s climaxes—creation, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, or Jesus’ future return. God’s best work plays out through the human body Continue Reading…

When I first saw The Tortured Christby Brazilian sculptor Guido Rocha, it didn’t ask my permission, it just went ahead and seared itself into my subconscious. Every couple of months since then, The Tortured Christ pops up, uninvited. All of the sudden he’s there, blood splattering on the carpet of my brain and his screams ricocheting off the walls. It’s rather uncomfortable. 


I’d prefer a visit from the placid Jesus–the one who’s taking his torture like a champ, the Jesus that dangles on the end of necklaces, Jesus-asleep-on-the-cross. But, this Jesus keeps showing up–skin retracting between his ribs, muscles seizing in agony–and, honestly, when he stops by, I don’t start humming worship songs or try to gaze deeply into his eyes. I want to look away.

 

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The truth is, there’s a lot of things I’d rather look away from–not just Rocha’s Christ–11.4 million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes. Four and half million of them eke out an existence on the border of other countries, without heat in the winter or basic health care, relying on UN food coupons to keep them just beyond the grip of starvation.   

 

I’d rather not notice the man who holds a plastic cup at the intersection several blocks from my house. It gets complicated to think about the addictions that might be driving him to the streets, the shattered family he represents, or the burden of what it means for me to get involved Continue Reading…

I don’t really like confessing my sins. It’s a lot like going to the dentist, which I didn’t mind until last October. I sat in the exam chair, looking up at the X-rays and trying to process what my dentist was saying. Not me, I thought, not after thirty-two years. The tiny spot on the X-ray, though, refused to illuminate. My dental sins had found my out. After years of not flossing, I had a cavity. 

 

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The problem with confessing is that it requires us to face the decay inside. A pearly exterior doesn’t matter—how often we go to church or the amount of our charitable donations. Confession, like X-rays, looks for the evil rotting beneath the surface. 

 

Maybe we read our Bible several mornings a week and feel pretty “spiritual,” but that’s like showing up to God’s Dental with two rows of shiny teeth. He’s more concerned with what’s under the enamel. His radiographs might find that we’re rolling out of bed, not to hear from the God we love, but to manipulate him—we give up twenty minutes of our time and expect him, in return, to answer our prayers. Our devotions, held up to his light-box, might actually reveal self-centeredness Continue Reading…