Showing posts from December, 2012

All Is Well

When circumstances threaten my expectations of hope and well-being, it is easy to balk at the encouragement that “everything will turn out all right.” Or, to put it in the vernacular of hymnody, when “all around my soul gives way,” I can be quick to dismiss the notion that “it is well with my soul.” Last week is a case in point. A particular trial caused me to look to the future with anxiety and dread. Unsure of the outcome of my struggles, I found myself on a disorienting emotional rollercoaster. The peace and joy of my Christmas vacation time seemed to teeter on the precipice of destruction. But God showed me once again how able and willing He is to work on behalf of His children. He gave me grace to face the trial and then He graciously and speedily resolved the trial, leaving me basking in His merciful love. If it were possible for me to re-enter that trial with the knowledge of its resolution, I would probably have responded much better. But I don’t have that kind of foresight


When director Frank Darabont decided to film The Green Mile , a prison story based on a serial novel by Stephen King, he willingly invited the world to hold him to a high standard. Having already garnered acclaim for The Shawshank Redemption , itself based on a prison-themed novella by Stephen King, could Darabont live up to the high standard he had raised for himself? Similarly, when George Lucas decided to create Star Wars prequels, expectations couldn’t have been higher. After all, the original trilogy was wildly successful and revered by fans worldwide. Would this new set of films live up to the quality of the original movies? In a hybrid of the above two scenarios, Peter Jackson faced a daunting task: return to Tolkien-penned source material in an effort to create a prequel trilogy to his enormously lauded Lord of the Rings films. Whereas Darabont largely succeeded at his task, and Lucas largely failed at his, Jackson has done the impossible. The Hobbit may have the

Reading the Instructions

Our company recently acquired some updated audio & video equipment. Along with these new toys came a small book of instructions. The first page began with a list of important bullet points. I found the first three to be humorous: Read this instruction manual. Keep this instruction manual. Heed all the warnings and follow all instructions in this instruction manual. The reason such an emphasis on the instruction manual exists is because people are prone to ignore instruction manuals. I know I am. When I receive a new piece of merchandise, the last thing I want to do is sit down and work through dozens of pages of directions. I’d prefer to figure how the item works on my own. Only if I get truly stuck do I see what the instructions have to say. Isn’t that why we have the phrase, “When all else fails, read the instructions”? This attitude can affect our view of the Bible as well. We don’t read it as often as we should. We don’t keep the Bible close at hand—primarily by hav

A Scandalous Righteousness

I recently read through Genesis 15, where God reassures Abram, who is currently childless, that he will have numerous descendants (which God had initially promised in Genesis 12:1-3). Abram’s response leads to something amazing: “And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). Commenting on this verse, Martin Luther says, “Righteousness is nothing else than believing God when He makes a promise.” The anti-intuitive nature of this statement struck me forcefully. You see, I am unconsciously inclined to think that my striving hard to do well is the kind of righteousness that pleases God. When I obey a particular law, do a good deed, or reject a temptation, then I have earned at least a small degree of God’s favor. But that is not how it works. God definitely blesses our faith-inspired efforts, but such efforts are…well, based on faith—that is, confidence in God’s promise to pardon and accept me through Christ’s atoning work. If I attempt