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On November 13, I had the honor of joining pastor A. J. Sherrill at Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grandville, MI in delivering a message on Psalm 13 and lament. Mars Hill is in the midst of a teaching series on the Psalms and the Stars -- encountering the Psalms anew, with wonder. Pastor Sherrill begins with a stunning portrait of "black holes," and the way in which Psalms of lament provide a way to pray to the Lord of the universe when our lives seem to implode.  He unpacks how Psalm 13 reaches us in the "black holes" of abandonment, betrayal, agony, depression, shame, waiting, and mortality. To view Pastor Sherrill's teaching and our discussion on video, or download the audio, click here. I join Pastor Sherrill at the 16 minute-point in the video/audio. I came to see Psalm 13 in new ways through this teaching time -- I hope that you...

What does it mean to live as mortal creatures? It is a timeless question, but the answers will vary greatly depending upon the era and place in which you live. Atul Gawande gives an extremely illuminating account of the contemporary opportunities and challenges for living as mortal creatures in his book, Being Mortal. I wrote an engagement with the book in Comment Magazine -- you can read from it below, or click here for the full article:   Why is the experiment of turning dying into a medical experience failing? When medicine becomes the heroic master over human life rather than its servant, it crowds out the space otherwise filled by family and faith communities. Gawande contrasts our current practice of dying in institutions with the practices in India as his grandfather faced death. His grandfather displayed the characteristic Indian pattern of dying: he lived with his extended family as an elder—seen as a source...

This summer, between chasing around my kiddos, going to numerous doctor's appointments, and continuing with regular faculty work, I've have the privilege to write on one of my favorite topics: theology of the Lord's Supper. I've published some articles and chapters on the subject in the past. And I'm working on a book on the Lord's Supper and the gospel for Eerdmans press: exploring the way in which a renewed theology and practice of the Lord's Supper can move congregations into a deeper embrace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While working on the book, I agreed to write a chapter in a wonderful new book of essays: Christian Dogmatics: Reformed Theology for the Church Catholic, edited by Michael Allen and Scott Swain. It was recently released by Baker Academic press. I'm honored to join Kevin Vanhoozer, the late John Webster, and other stellar theologians in this volume. In my own chapter, I...

I've been reflecting a lot on lament and racism, particularly in light of the current events that have plagued this country. We live in an age animated by social media -- social media which generates and spreads outrage and anger at extraordinary speeds. Exasperating our already polarized society, social media creates echo-chambers and demonizes any missteps of the “enemy” ideology. This polarized society has far reaches which have spread broadly, even in our public personas. For Christians, there is good can come from this, as it can awaken us from our slumber, reminding us that we live in the “already, but not yet.” Be it outrage that stems from the Planned Parenthood videos or the racism protested by Black Lives Matter, our world is filled with open wounds of sin and injustice. In a recent article I wrote for Relevant Magazine, I explore how within our 'twitter-world' learning how to lament "opens up a...

In January, I participated in a conversation with Chris C. J. Kingdom Grier, Mark Charles, and Mary Hulst about lament, cancer, and cancerous racism at the Calvin Symposium on Worship in Grand Rapids, MI. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship collected our remarks from the panel and our written responses all in one place and I am grateful to share a part of this conversation here: "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, Nobody knows but Jesus, Nobody knows the trouble I've seen, Glory, hallelujah! Like the psalmist, the singer of this African American spiritual comes before the Lord and readily names the open wound of grief. “Nobody knows” expresses the gathered people’s alienating and unspeakable grief and anger over injustice—of a husband whose wife and children were sold away in slavery, of governments that repeatedly fail in promises that guarantee the freedom of black Americans, of yet another black youth killed by police brutality. And yet, Christ...

Last week, Christianity Today released my review article of Paul Kalanithi's amazing book, When Breath Becomes Air. He was a Stanford neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer when he was 35. In the midst of the shadow of death placed upon him, he found his life invigorated in new and profound ways. Most reviews of his book have not highlighted his faith. But when you look for it, the book portrays a renewal and rediscovery of Christian hope. From the review: "With story after story, Kalanithi shows how our ambitions to 'save the world' run up against sharp limits. Our responses to shocking pain and evil are never enough, and we are likely to lose family, vocation, and perhaps even the desire to live if we do not honestly face our creaturely limits. Yet Kalanithi goes further, pointing to the One who can face the problem of death. Though 'raised in a devout Christian...

As Christians in the modern West, we often minimize our resurrection hope when we minimize the profound loss in death. Resurrection hope is radically good news. But we miss its power when push the reality of our mortality to the sidelines. I recall a recent conversation with a pastor who serves in a church made up exclusively of persons in their 20s and 30s. He emphasized, rightly, that the Kingdom of God has come among us, and we are to be involved in the Kingdom of God now. But he realized that after several years at the church, they had never talked about death, or life after death -- it's "here and now" rather than "life after death." If that is the case, what is our "resurrection hope" besides a call to be involved in the Kingdom in the present? That is good as far as it goes. As long as one...

In our suffering, we find comfort in God's impassibility Note: This last week, First Things Magazine opened an article of mine for non-subscribers that was published in December of 2014. It includes material that was adapted from chapter nine of Rejoicing in Lament. I focus upon Christ's lament on the cross as the culmination of all biblical laments. In the end, I make that case that a commonly misunderstood doctrine -- divine impassibility -- can provide deep comfort to the suffering. This is a section from that article. When Christ on the cross laments with the Psalmist, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” his desolation means that when we pray this ourselves, we are not in a free fall, even when it feels that way. We can utter a cry of unspeakable anguish and yet maintain a profound hope, because, in Christ, God himself has taken on our human suffering, including our alienation...

The Church’s Witness in the Midst of Dying and Death Often Christians inhabit a theological vision guided by instrumental outcomes – a growth in the evangelistic and social outreach of the church, a revitalization of community and discipleship. But what happens to the church’s witness when all of our grand plans and visions for change stop short against the brick wall of death? In this lecture, I reflect upon the way in which death, although the last enemy to be destroyed through Christ, also has the possibility of exposing the nature of a Christian hope which goes beyond trusting in our own efforts and plans. https://vimeo.com/156274041 I delivered the lecture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the "Theology and Ministry" lecture series, dedicated to Carl Henry. It includes many of my recent reflections since the publication of Rejoicing of Lament. In particular, I revisit the significance of the Old Testament witness to human mortality in light of...

As Christians, we often pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the hospital. This is as it should be. But how do we pray? And how do we pray when we are in the hospital bed ourselves? I've reflected a lot on these questions since my cancer diagnosis 3.5 years ago. It has not been in the abstract, but has related to my own praying, and praying for others. In the fall, Leadership Journal asked for me to address the question of how to pray for those with incurable conditions, in particular. You can find my article in response here. This last week, I published a book review of a small book which takes on the question in a more general sense: how God meets us in the hospital, and how to pray in that context. The book is John Piper's newest, Lessons from a Hospital Bed. On the one hand,...