The other day, I was just minding my own business, trying to get to work, when a woman in a black Lexus brought out the worst in me. I was trying to park in a garage in downtown Washington, D.C., which is a challenge. I have little time to get to the garage after dropping off my daughter at school, and if I’m a minute late, the price goes up from $14 to $21. Time is of the essence.
Here’s a tough memory verse for all of us social media users: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). “Worthless.” Whoa.
I spent a lot of my early Christian walk hiding the areas of brokenness of which I was most ashamed. It was like I believed the worst stuff would go away if I simply didn’t acknowledge it. All it did, however, was cover up the symptoms until my issues bubbled to the surface, causing me to sink into shame. But over the years, the Lord spoke a lot of comfort to me with this Bible story about a man who was seen as unapproachable.
Most of my life, I’ve resented Barrabas, the criminal who got released on Good Friday instead of Jesus, who was sent off to be tortured to death. Now, I’m grateful for his example.
Some of the people I most admire love themselves really well. They’re not hard on themselves. They give themselves room to grow and figure things out. They like themselves. I find it easy to be around those folks. There’s something special going on with them.
Yesterday, my wife called me at work and told me there was an animal of some kind in the chimney. “How do you know?” I asked. “There are little pieces of leaves and cotton falling down into the fireplace, and I can hear scratching noises.”
Last week, I wrote an op-ed for Fox News Opinion called, “How to Know the Moment When You Really Got Saved.” I have never written something that provoked so many comments, personal emails, or Facebook messages. Fortunately, most of the responses were filled with awe at how completely God saved us through the blood of His Son, Jesus. And one of those messages, in particular, touched me.
I grew up in the Deep South, an area heavily influenced by the evangelical Christian faith. For many of us southern believers, the best articulation of our theology of salvation was the phrase, “Once saved, always saved.” The idea basically boils down to this: Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and once you say the “sinner’s prayer,” you are forever saved, and it can’t be undone, no matter what you do.
Last weekend, I got out our trusty, old fake Christmas tree and put it together. But when I plugged it in, I discovered that half of the lights in the middle section were dead.
I know this was stupid, but last weekend, I did two hours of yard work, despite the fact that I had a severe sinus infection. It all happened because my wife was outside planting bulbs, and I just couldn’t handle the fact that she was laboring in the yard while I sat inside and rested (which was exactly what I needed to be doing).
I was the senior class president of Petal High School in 1997, and one of my duties was to make a trip to the middle school to talk about sexual abstinence with the eighth graders.
A couple of weeks ago, there was an unexpected turn of events in my life that knocked the wind out of me. At first, it agitated me; then agitation turned into anxiety, and anxiety turned into a low-grade feeling of panic. I didn’t have a lot of control over the circumstances, and every moment I left things unresolved, it weighed on me more heavily.
“Margaritas, everyone!” said the worship leader from my new church as she filled plastic cups for the partygoers in her home. I was mortified, and I figured God was too. Then I walked outside where I found our Austrian pastor making conversation and smoking a cigarette. All I could do was put on my best fake smile, bid farewell, and ease away from the party in confusion.
Back in college, I was a high maintenance friend. As I’ve described in my article, “Facing Insecurity, Finding Friendship,” “I always needed a prompt reply to my phone call or email, an enthusiastic ‘yes’ to my invitations. I needed to be coddled and comforted and assured that I was liked. If someone neglected to call back, it couldn’t be because they forgot — no way, it had to be because they were ignoring me and my all-important need for affirmation.”
I know I’m supposed to like the whole Bible – especially anything Jesus said. But there are a few parts that get under my skin. One in particular is this passage from Luke 17:3-4: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”