Archive by Author

An Image, an Idol, and an Irritated Iguana

lizard, iguana, made in the image of GodOur journey toward understanding the image of God continues, something that we’ve been exploring in our series on “What Is an Image and Why Should I Care?“ But this time, it’s happening on another site. Here’s the beginning of my latest post over at Christianity.com. And it’s also a new excerpt from my book Good News for the Living Dead: A Fresh Take on the Gospel Story.

So go check it out. And if you can click the “like” button a few times while you’re there, that would be great.

When you meet someone for the first time, you form some opinion of them. You can’t help it. How they look, what they say, when they laugh, it all shapes your inner picture of them.

The same is true in stories. The first time an author introduces a new character, pay attention. They’ll often give you little clues about that character’s personality and how they fit into the story. And sometimes, they just skip the clues and come right out and tell you something important.

“Let us create man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). There it is. The very first thing the Bible tells us about the human person. That’s our first impression.

But what does it mean? What is an “image”? How can an invisible God have an image anyway? And why don’t the other creatures get to be images? I think iguanas are pretty cool. And I certainly don’t want to tell them that they’re not good enough to be one of God’s image bearers in the world. The last thing I want is an irritated iguana in my house.

Read the rest here.

More Human, Less Human: Images of God in a Broken World

She’d like to walk in on her own. She’s tired of being treated like a child. Even if you have to hold onto someone’s arm, people treat you differently when you’re standing on your own two feet. But she can’t. After ninety-two years, nothing works the way it used to.

images of God even in our old ageAnd that’s just the problem. On a good day, she knows who she is, remembers her family, the close relatives anyway, and can help a little when people are trying to take care of her. She hates that part, but even on a good day, she needs help. So she lets them do it. Otherwise, the good days aren’t too bad.

She doesn’t get very many good days anymore.

And that’s why she’s rolling into the lawyer’s office in her wheelchair, propelled by hands that she raised toward a destiny she doesn’t want.

But she understands. She’s become a burden, a drain on the family. She wishes it could be different, but it’s not. The time has come.

Shaking hands wrinkled by too many hours spent washing dishes, drying tears, and holding sweaty, anxious palms, she takes the pen, hesitates, and signs.

It’s done.

At least now she won’t be alone so much. Death has some perks.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (9/24)

The Evolution of Gollum (via Imgur)

Good Reads

  • Life’s Too Short for So Much E-mail: This month alone, I received more than 6,000 e-mails….I have no desire to respond to even a fraction of them. I can just picture my tombstone: Here lies Nick Bilton, who responded to thousands of e-mails a month. May he rest in peace.
  • Beyond the Brain: In the 1990s, scientists declared that schizophrenia and other psychiatric illnesses were pure brain disorders that would eventually yield to drugs. Now they are recognizing that social factors are among the causes, and must be part of the cure.
  • The Tyranny of Algorithms: Do we want a world where a software program picks the next pop-music star and legal systems run on opaque pieces of code?

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What Have You Been Reading Lately?

little child reading a bookI always have a stack of books waiting to be read. To be completely honest, it’s usually several stacks. But sometimes I still have a hard time finding something that I want to read. I know I should read something from the stack. But I don’t want to.

So I’d like to hear what you’ve been reading and what you think about it.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and stumble on something that sounds good.

To keep it simple, here’s what I’d like you to do. Just list the last three books. And, after each, indicate if you liked it (yes, no, kind of). You can make an additional comment if you want, but you don’t need to.

I’ll start things off:

  1. The Liberating Image: The Imago Dei in Genesis 1 - yes
  2. Psychology and Christianity: Five Views – kind of (the “5 views” books can get tedious)
  3. Shadowheart - not really (the last book in a series that should have been much shorter)

What have you been reading lately?

A Prayer for Sunday (George MacDonald)

Scottish author, pastor, and poet George MacDonald died on September 18, 1905. In his life, MacDonald produced an amazing body of literature including fantasy novels, poems, and theological writings. But he is probably best known for his influence on people like C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkein, and G. K. Chesterton, all of whom cite MacDonald as someone who shaped their thought and writing in important ways. In honor of his passing, we’re using one of his poems for today’s prayer. Enjoy.

A Winter Prayer

Come through the gloom of clouded skies,
The slow dim rain and fog athwart;
Through east winds keen with wrong and lies
Come and lift up my hopeless heart.

Come through the sickness and the pain,
The sore unrest that tosses still;
Through aching dark that hides the gain
Come and arouse my fainting will.

Come through the prate of foolish words,
The science with no God behind;
Through all the pangs of untuned chords
Speak wisdom to my shaken mind.

Through all the fears that spirits bow
Of what hath been, or may befall,
Come down and talk with me, for thou
Canst tell me all about them all.

Hear, hear my sad lone heart entreat,
Heart of all joy, below, above!
Come near and let me kiss thy feet,
And name the names of those I love!

Another Lost Gospel Fragment (kind of)

Saturday Morning Fun…Famous Last Words

This one’s been around for a while, but it’s still fun.

The Great Porn Experiment and the Resurrection of Guys

Last week I posted a summary of Philip Zimbardo’s TED Talk on “The Demise of Guys,” in which he raised concerns about “arousal addictions” and the impact that they’re having on young men today. In a follow-up video, psychologist Gary Wilson takes a closer look at some of the brain research surrounding porn use and argues that we should also celebrate “The Resurrection of Guys.”

porn addiction pornography internet addiction

Before he goes too far, though, he has to admit that the data on how porn impacts a person’s brain is rather limited. And this is for three reasons:

  1. Researchers have a hard time finding young men who aren’t using porn to serve as the control group.
  2. Porn addiction has many of the same symptoms as conditions like OCD and ADHD. So doctors often misdiagnose porn addiction and medicate for these other conditions.
  3. People have a hard time believing that sex and porn can really be addictive.

Nonetheless, Wilson gives a great summary of what we can know from the curent state of the research about how porn use affects the brain. It’s worth watching for the summary alone.

Continue Reading…

Flotsam and jetsam (9/21)

Good Reads

  • Oh, Behave! Conduct Worthy of the Gospel in Corporate Worship: We love to blame our neighbor, or the worship leader, for our inability to engage in corporate worship. But the deeper problem usually belongs to the one who is distracted. Few things are more hypocritical than showing up to a worship gathering of the Friend of Sinners and bellyaching that other sinners showed up too.
  • Feed Your Mind a Balanced Diet: Too often we feed our minds with rubbish – intellectual donuts and coke. This might be pulp novels, gossip magazines, reality television shows, shock-comedy, poorly written or argued works, or simply those books and articles that propagate untruth. When we consume this type of material in quantity our minds become fat and sluggish.
  • Ten Rules for Writers: Etgar sent us these 10 rules for writers, but they’re not really rules. They’re not things anyone else ever tells you about writing. They’re like his stories—not what you’re used to hearing and not the usual lessons, and you can’t stop thinking about them afterwards.
  • Life Expectancy Shrinks for Less-Educated Whites in US: For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.

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A Job That Matters: Taking the Image of God to Work

Four years. That’s how long I’d been preparing for ministry. Countless hours wrestling with theology, meditating on God’s word, and developing my ministry skills. Now I was almost done with my degree, and I was ready for some real ministry. Preaching the gospel, changing lives. Something significant.

image of God at work

Instead I was working forty hours a week at Office Depot. And I hated it.

Every morning I’d roll over, hit snooze as many times as possible, and dream about what life would be like when I finally had a job that mattered.

I’m a bit of an introvert. That means I’m usually happiest when I’m sitting alone in my office with just my books to keep me company. It’s not that I don’t like people, it’s just that I like them better when they’re somewhere else. And that can be a problem if you’re working at an office supplies store. According to my manager, not only did I have to speak to the customers, but I had to do it a lot. And, to make matters worse, I had to be nice as well. Talk about draining. I’d eagerly wait for my lunch break just so I could go off by myself for a few minutes.

But the worst was knowing that none of this really mattered. Who cares if the staplers are lined up properly? And does helping a person find the right box of pens have any eternal significance? There was real ministry waiting to be done, and I just spent the last hour hauling boxes from the back room to make sure the paper shelves were fully stocked.

I needed the paycheck. But I wanted more. I wanted a job that mattered.

Continue Reading…