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The Ordinary Work of Justice

Department: Author: Jonathan Nicolai-deKoningNot long ago, when I worked as a reintegration chaplain with men leaving prison, I would often talk about my work in local churches and schools. I could count on a few people to come up afterward to say, “I’m so glad you’re doing that work. It’s so impor

Me and the Black Dog

Department: Author: Theresa E. MiedemaI have chronic major depression.Sometimes it feels like depression has me. Depression does that to you: it envelops you, suffocates you, drowns you.I remind myself that I have depression, but I am not depressed. I’m not this illness, even when it has swallowed

Life Beyond Limits

Department: Author: Christina Brinks ReaAt one of the stores where I shop, there was a product display with the slogan “Life without limits.” The product was some brand of headphones; the idea was that the sound quality is so good that it gives consumers the power to hear beyond the usual human abi

The Elephant and the Grass

Department: Author: David A HoekemaWhen two elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers. The government and the LRA, of course, are the two elephants, and the people are the grass. The grass is crying out, “I am innocent! I am innocent!” And we are the voice of this grass. —Monsignor Matt

Pew or Canoe: The Unexpected Black Hole

Department: Author: Gary M. BurgeIn 2007, Chicago Tribune columnist Ross Werland raised a provocative rhetorical question in the title of an editorial: “A pew or a canoe: Not a tough choice.” He cited statistics from the Barna Group, a Christian research firm, indicating that fewer and fewer men ar

When Words Fail

Department: Author: Heidi De JongeIneffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words“Excuse my language!” This is often one of the first things people say when, in the course of conversation, they find out I am a pastor. Whether they’ve taken God’s name in vain or used barnyard e

#HerToo

Department: Author: Christina Brinks ReaA movie poster from the 1950s shows Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward starring in the film David and Bathsheba. Muscular and bare-chested, Peck stands over a scantily clad Hayward as she reclines on a pillow. Her hand is outstretched toward him as if beckoning h

Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees

Department: Author: Shiao ChongRecovering hypocrite. That’s what my student leaders had printed on T-shirts for orientation days when I was a campus pastor. The point was that all Christians are recovering hypocrites. None of us has always been consistent in following Jesus.Some disagree, arguing t

Pro-Life Discipleship

Department: Author: Matthew J. TuiningaLong ago the prophets Isaiah and Micah pointed to a future day when the nations “will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isa. 2:4; Mic. 4:3)

The Gift of Retirement

Department: Author: Judy Cook People in stressful and challenging vocations often begin to look forward to the season of life we call retirement. The thought of having the luxury to rest at will begins to appeal. Or for those whose work life is all about the paycheck, with the actual work being b

‘Son of David’

Department: Author: Rev. Leonard Vander ZeeMore than anything else, the Bible is a story. It contains other kinds of literature, of course— sermons and poems, letters and proverbs—but mostly it’s a story. There’s one grand, complex, unified story that runs like a backbone from Genesis to Revelation

God’s Garden: Pleasing to the Eye and Good for Food

Department: Author: Cody J. Zuiderveen, Grady H. ZuiderveenSince the creation of the world we have depended on plants to sustain and nourish our bodies. Given plants’ importance, we can understand why God placed humans in the first garden “to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). God recognized

Why Christianity Still Matters

Department: Author: We’re pleased to present the winners of our first-ever essay contest for college students. Our thanks to all 46 young writers who wrote deeply and honestly about their Christian faith, and to judges Deb (Van Brenk) Flaherty, who worked in daily journalism for more than two decad

Elders Are Called to a Ministry of Presence

Department: Author: Andrew BeunkIn my former life as an engineer, at the age of 26, I was asked to let my name stand on the ballot as an elder nominee. In my mind I had every reason to say no: I’m too young! I’d be doing home visits with my friend’s parents—how awkward is that? Moreover, I was at t

Prayers of the Infertile: Longing, Hope, and Solidarity

Department: Author: Cory B WillsonFor nearly two years now, my wife and I have been praying for God to give us a child. Every month we go through the repeated cycle of hope, then fear and disappointment. Two years of numerous medical appointments and tests; hope deferred 24 times. The question we d

When Words Can’t Do It Justice

Department: Author: Dr. James R. Payton JrI recently spoke with a friend who had just seen the Grand Canyon for the first time. Articulate and eloquent as she is, she recognized that what she’d beheld was so awe-inspiring, so jaw-dropping that words couldn’t begin to do it justice.To celebrate a sp

Creating Space to Serve

Department: Author: Lisa Van EngenThe film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring begins with the phrase “The world is changed.” The world is changed—and it continues to change with rapid momentum. Keeping pace while living a life reflective of Jesus is challenging. The messages young pe

Uncomfortable Conversation

Department: Author: Chuck DeGroatIt’s a Sunday evening, and my friends Bart and Katie are reading the text. They’re reading from the book I am preaching through—Song of Songs—a sacred text filled with lust and longing:How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind yo

Why Read the Bible? (And How to Do It, With a Little Help from Lila)

Department: Author: Benjamin LappengaIn Marilynne Robinson’s novel Lila, old Reverend John Ames finds himself worried by his new wife’s approach to the Bible. Ames is the son and grandson of pastors and has spent the better part of his many days reading and preaching the Bible. Lila, on the other h