Satan’s Sifter: Why Judging Others Is Always Wrong

"Simon, Simon, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat." I find those words some of the most troubling in all scripture. I know what happened next. The night of Christ's execution was the night of Peter's sifting. The overconfident man whose passion for Christ was so strong he proclaimed that … Continue reading Satan’s Sifter: Why Judging Others Is Always Wrong

Aslan, Ashes and Jonah: the Incredible Opportunity of a Lenten Prophetic Witness

One of my favorite moments in The Chronicles of Narnia occurs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Aslan, the golden-lion Christ figure, breathes life into creatures who had been turned to stone by the White Witch. Having released the statue-captives from bondage, Aslan immediately prepares them for battle: The stone lion Aslan … Continue reading Aslan, Ashes and Jonah: the Incredible Opportunity of a Lenten Prophetic Witness

Christ’s Naked Humility vs. All Our Cloaks and Crowns

When Jesus looked at lilies, He saw beauties fit for contemplation. “They don't toil or spin,” He pointed out, “but even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these.” One greater than Solomon had spoken. From eternity, He was “clothed in light as with a garment,” yet the Virgin's fiat gave … Continue reading Christ’s Naked Humility vs. All Our Cloaks and Crowns

Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

If there was a scripture haunting the protagonist of Flannery O'Connor's "Greenleaf," it was Romans 14:10. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Religious without humility, Mrs. May--a widow intent on protecting her land--would offer a resolute, "I've worked, I have not wallowed" in the presence of her Judge. Then there's … Continue reading Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

When James and John, the "Sons of Thunder," left their nets to follow Christ, their dad stood in the boat and watched them walk away. I've often wondered whether old Zebedee thundered or stood thunderstruck as James and John left the family business, choosing an uncertain future with the Fisher of Men over the inheritance … Continue reading Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

Beyond the Résumé and the Eulogy: Virtue, the Little Way

It was almost 20 years ago when I entered the small-town high school gym and found a seat with a good view. The seniors waited in cap and gown for a slightly off-key band to begin "Pomp and Circumstance." And the banner above the platform proudly proclaimed, "The question isn't are we ready for the … Continue reading Beyond the Résumé and the Eulogy: Virtue, the Little Way

Screwtape’s Diabolical Tips for Advancing in Pride: Be Smug, Superior and Politically Divisive

"In the early days of World War II, an odd book appeared in England and America," Thomas Howard writes in his introduction to the fiction of C.S. Lewis.  "It seemed to be a collection of letters from an old devil to a younger one, telling him how to handle a man who had been assigned … Continue reading Screwtape’s Diabolical Tips for Advancing in Pride: Be Smug, Superior and Politically Divisive

Mary Oliver’s Thirst: A Humble Heart Revealed

Poet Mary Oliver evokes the paradoxical quality of living in the "now" and the "not yet." She draws us into a humble yearning. Oliver's spot-on specificity reveals an attentive, light-but-longing heart (see Morning Glories, Beside the Waterfall, and The Hermit Crab). The poet meets us on human dignity's common ground. We listen to the heart of … Continue reading Mary Oliver’s Thirst: A Humble Heart Revealed

Holy Saturday: Harrowing the Hell in Our Hearts

It was on a Holy Saturday about ten years back that I first saw an image of the "Harrowing of Hell," a depiction of Christ entering the realm of the dead and releasing the souls imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:19). We proclaim it in the Apostle's Creed:  Jesus Christ "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, … Continue reading Holy Saturday: Harrowing the Hell in Our Hearts