One of my granddaughters got in the car after the half-day of school. I asked how the morning had gone.

“We had the puberty lesson, today.” She lifted a plastic bag containing the “kit” she received for me to see. It was a bit scary but exciting too.

She stands on the threshold of a new chapter in life. Not in the experience yet–but knowing about the experience. A page has turned in its time. Turning the pages from youth to adulthood can be hard to get right. Turn too fast or turn the wrong way, and you can rip a page. You can get hurt.

To everything there is a season. Continue Reading…

“We are going to need America’s children to rise to their best in the years to come, because a nation of adult-children cannot be a nation of self-governing people.

“A plea for self-discipline and self-control is the one and only dignified alternative to discipline and control from without. For in this broken world of lawless souls, there will be control; there will be government. Order-seeking and security-seeking people, as well as those in search of power for their own purposes, will invariably seek to hold back the chaos of the world. The question is whether people will control themselves or submit to the control of others.” Ben Sasse

When I was a college student in my thirties, I found a couple simple ways for dealing with stress. And not to brag, but my stress was significant.

I had a part-time job as a bank teller, and yes, that’s a stressful job. I was a single mother dealing with the aftermath of an antagonistic divorce, a leaky roof, and a car that somehow seemed invisible to other drivers who would periodically hit it with their cars.

Stress-relief 101 included a more than once a week walk through the grocery store. These trips were not the weekly restocking of my larder, in which my five children typically participated thereby generally ensuring the opposite of stress relief. My solo store visits were brief times at the end of classes. They included listening to benign music and unwinding while making a few small purchases mostly involving comfort foods.  Continue Reading…

Mother’s Day

May 13, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

When they were little, it was picnics with a tennis ball and whiffle ball bat.

This weekend, it’s meatball sandwiches at my daughter’s house.

Family, memories, hope, love.

So blessed and thankful. Continue Reading…

A Boatload of Hope

May 12, 2017 — 2 Comments

Work is not primarily a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God. Dorothy Sayers

He was not a student I expected to see years later sitting across the desk in my university adjunct office. When I was a brand new teacher, he, like many middle school boys, had not been a highly motivated student.

Back then, I held little hope that he might simply fulfill his potential.

But here he sat.

So he told me his story. Continue Reading…

“[Pagan] critics argued that Rome fell after it embraced Christianity and lost the protection of the gods. Augustine argued that the pagan critics were defining goodness on the basis of the satisfaction of their own desires, rather than the true definition which sees that the ultimate good is found in God alone.” Justin Taylor

It was the ultimate post-mortem, the Monday morning dissection of a lost civilization.

The unthinkable had happened. Rome had fallen. And the blame could only lie at the feet of one entity–either the old civilization of Rome–or the new civilization of the Church.

Augustine was an eye-witness to Rome’s fall. He wrote to answer the question we so often ask of God when bad things happen: Why? His answer presented two distinct cities–pagan Rome and Christian Rome–two cities intertwined since the first century, no matter which one held power. Continue Reading…

“Silence allows man to place himself joyfully at God’s disposal. It enables him to overcome the arrogant attitude that would claim that God is at the disposal of his children.” (Sarah 121 [230])

The battle is ongoing and almost universal.

We live noisy lives. And most of us don’t know how to find quiet contemplation–or even why we should try.

We dwell with noise all around us–and more importantly without internal silence.

The kind of silence that lets us connect to God. Continue Reading…

A New Way

May 2, 2017 — 3 Comments

It’s the unusual messages of life that we remember. The typical ones we hear and forget. But an unusual message gives new insight. Our thinking moves in a new direction.

To pick up your cross is to pick up the instrument of your own death.

That was the unusual message I received at Johnson University Commencement on Saturday. Dr. Kenneth L. Mahanes’s topic was “Safety Last”–another unusual way of saying, “Follow God wherever He leads, even into the face of danger. Continue Reading…

Changing Church

April 26, 2017 — 4 Comments

I am a former Catholic–one of the fallen away, to my Catholic friends. And I go to an evangelical church with some who are also former Catholics.

But today, many attend Catholic and Orthodox churches who once called evangelical churches home.

Many American Christians have switched from one Christian tradition to another. It’s important to look at why. It’s also important to consider our respective responses when someone leaves.

The recent conversion of Hank Hanegraaff from evangelicalism to Greek Orthodoxy provides a public glimpse of what is now an everyday occurrence in America.

The new congregation welcomes the newcomer with open arms. The former congregation may work to conceal the sting of loss. Sometimes, they don’t work so hard at it. Still, others try to take an objective look at the reasons some depart. Continue Reading…

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa

Some Christian traditions–or just individual Christians–emphasize prayer and contemplation along with Christian action. Others emphasize action along with prayer and contemplation.

In no tradition–and I would hope, with no individual Christian–is either mode of expressing our faith exclusive. It’s a matter of emphasis.

I was struck by this point while reading Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option. In the chapter about the monks of Norcia, Dreher talks about how their days are structured around prayer, then work. Continue Reading…

“While there are many secondary issues genuine believers will continue to debate this side of eternity, I have and will always champion what C.S. Lewis called mere Christianity. ‘In essentials unity, non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.'”  Hank Hanegraaff

Hank Hanegraaff recently joined the Greek Orthodox Church. His change of congregation has caused a great gasp in some corners of evangelical Christianity. A voice of evangelicalism through a syndicated apologetics radio program, Hanegraaff and his wife on Palm Sunday were accepted into the Greek Orthodox Church.

He’s walked away from Christianity! He’s gone from grace to works! That’s the view many have of anyone who moves from evangelicalism to a liturgical tradition–especially to Catholicism or Orthodoxy.

But lately, many have changed pews, some, like Hanegraaf, moving from evangelical to liturgical and others from liturgical traditions to under the steeples of evangelicalism.

My two favorite authors illustrate this point. Eric Metaxas came to evangelical Christianity from Greek Orthodoxy. And Rod Dreher came to Eastern Orthodoxy from Methodism.

Now Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, has followed Dreher’s route–to Orthodoxy. And some are horrified. Continue Reading…