The Essential Pronouns of Christmas
by Dale A. Van Dyke
As you undoubtedly know, pronouns are big news today. The humble pronoun has found itself dragged to the front lines of a raging contest regarding ultimate questions of identity, authority, and meaning. Few of us could have imagined the current cultural clamor over such simple words as “he” and “she.”
But here we are—and what a joy, then, to open the Scriptures and find those same simple words bursting with the glory of gospel truth! Read more
Twenty-Two Years of Youth Ministry
by Mike Dempsey
“Okay, boys, grab your jackets; it’s time to go!” Church was starting in thirty minutes, and this morning was the annual Christmas play. My job as a Los Angeles firefighter required that I work three Sundays in a row followed by six off. The three Sundays that I worked were difficult for my wife, Diane. She felt very much alone dropping the kids off at Sunday school and then walking by herself into our non-denominational church’s large auditorium filled with strangers. So, instead, she and our three children would attend Faith Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, California, during my three working Sundays. There, in the church of her youth, she felt more at home with friends and family around her.
But because they were in Long Beach three Sundays straight, our boys had missed a Christmas play rehearsal. Read more
The Problem with People-Pleasing
by Jonathan L. Cruse
In an episode of his hit podcast, Revisionist History, journalist Malcolm Gladwell provocatively claims that we could all improve our lives if we were more disagreeable. His theory, drawing from psychological research, is that success in life is inversely proportional to one’s level of agreeableness: the less agreeable you are, the more successful you will be. By “disagreeable,” Gladwell doesn’t mean being obnoxious but rather “not being dependent on or particularly interested in the approval of others.” He demonstrates how this quality can be extremely valuable. For example, mathematicians claim that the losing team in hockey would have a far greater chance of a comeback victory if coaches would simply pull the goalie earlier and more often. But coaches don’t, because they are afraid that their fans will think that they are crazy and quit buying tickets. They are too agreeable.
I think Christians could learn a lot from this secular observation of agreeableness—not in order to be more “successful,” but in order to grow and mature in our faith. How many setbacks do we face in our Christian living that stem from being too agreeable, from craving approval, from equating our purpose or identity with what others think of us? Read more
You Are Not What You Eat
by Ken B. Montgomery
“You are what you eat.” This saying was coined by German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach who claimed that humans are material beings and no more. Today, our obsession with food—its source, ingredients, preparation, and presentation—exposes a hunger for meaningfulness even in the material.
According to an article in New York Magazine, “food is now viewed as a legitimate option for a hobby, a topic of endless discussion, a playground for one-upmanship, and a measuring stick of cool” (March 25, 2012). As one food critic quips, “the unexamined meal is not worth eating.” Read more