Prayer in Quiet and in Crisis

For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1:4 The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king. – Nehemiah 2:4-5 Nehemiah was both a man of prayer and a man of action. The...

Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and the Family of God

In what may be a futile effort to convince myself that spring has arrived, I’ve lately been watching Ken Burns’ heralded 1994 PBS documentary Baseball. Its archival photos and film footage, period music, and priceless anecdotes evoke summers past, and make it an easy...

On Not Always Paying Attention to All the News

Considering the difficulty of keeping up with the news, John Stott commends, in his book Between Two Worlds, his own practice: “for many years now I have found a thorough reading of a weekly much more profitable than the cursory scanning of a daily” (193). How times...

An “Indispensable” Part: Frances Whitehead

The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the hand cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable." - 1 Cor. 12:21-22 History is full of significant figures. In the second...

Secrets

"Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.'" - John 4:39 Life is laden with secrets. From people on the outside, we keep our family secrets. From people who might ridicule us, we make a...

Powerful Name(s) – Notes on Matthew 1:18-25

When the angel Gabriel met Joseph, a sigh of relief wasn’t the meeting’s only outcome. Joseph had discovered not only the origin of his betrothed wife Mary's baby, but also the significance of the One to come. The angel instructed Joseph to name the baby Jesus because...

Merton on the Pharisee

This past Sunday we looked at the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, Jesus' story of two people who approached God in prayer with vastly different postures. The Pharisee was proud and self-exalting, the tax collector humble and self-effacing. Here are some...

We Are Not Alone: Reflections for All Saints’ Day

We are not alone. Those words are likely to summon up thoughts of stargazing, of E.T., and of episodes of Star Trek and The X-Files. And while SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) is apparently an ongoing pursuit, for now we can probably safely proceed...

Is Prayer Pointless?

If God knows everything—including all that will take place in the future—and if he is in charge of everything, a simple but powerful question might arise: is prayer pointless? Unless God is somehow not sure of what he should do tomorrow, and needs us to twist his arm,...

Obscurity

On an episode of the television show The Office, Dunder Mifflin Paper Company branch manager Michael Scott approaches the receptionist Pam to ask what is wrong with a plant in the office which is wilting and withering. “Would you like me to ask the night cleaning crew...