What My Daughter is Teaching me about Life and Joy

We are here at the hospital for the birth of our daughter, Naomi Hannah Ortlund. She was born safely at 1:06 PM on Monday afternoon, 7 lbs, 19.5 inches. She is beautiful and tiny and precious. She is tough. She is gentle. She is curious. She is fun to hold. I love her! These words still feel great: “my daughter.” Wow. Bringing a helpless baby girl into a fallen world is a vulnerable feeling. You feel such love and protectiveness for this little person that the thought of them being damaged by the world is the darkest and most terrible…

7 Principles of Sabbath Rest

Life has been busy lately. Our daughter is due soon, I am taking my comprehensive finals next month for my PhD, I’m writing/editing stuff, and I’ve taken on expanded responsibilities at our church. I’m sensitive to the danger of taking on too much, and I’ve continually had to surrender my schedule to the Lord and ask for wisdom. But for this season, I honestly feel the Lord has called me to all these things, and I’m enjoying them all and learning so much in the process. I have, however, had to reflect a great deal about the importance of setting…

What Kind of a Thing is the Bible? 6 Theses

Sometimes it’s helpful to state the obvious—to step back and remind ourselves of the forest so that we don’t get lost in all the trees. Within academia, hyper-specialization and the tyranny of the pedantic often obscure the obvious; within our everyday life, routine and the tyranny of the mundane often veil the obvious. So we need continual reminders of the obvious—not only in our relationships and everyday life, and also in our theology and spiritual life. Here I list 6 evangelical theses about the Bible in the spirit of “naming the obvious,” with an implication for each one for how…

What Amazed Me This Year About Christmas

Somewhere amidst all the Christmas music and advent readings over the last several weeks the story of the shepherds in Luke 2:8-20 has gotten lodged in my mind. We hear this story every year, so we tend to take it for granted (think about all the Christmas hymns that reference angels appearing to shepherds … its a ton when you think about it). But this year it struck me: why do shepherds need to be involved at all? Christ’s birth narrative has a lot of drama already—angelic visits (Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 19), Herod’s threat (2:3, 16), the journey to Bethlehem…

On C.S. Lewis, Humility, and Marketing

The 1973 MacMillan edition of C.S. The Great Divorce quotes Lewis in large font on the back cover of the book as claiming: “Blake wrote of the marriage of Heaven and Hell. . . . I have written of their Divorce.” This sounds like a bold claim, a challenge to the great poet William Blake—and its not hard to imagine how such a tagline could be advantageous from the publisher’s standpoint for marketing purposes. But the publishers take Lewis’ statement out of context. What Lewis actually wrote (in the preface) was this: “Blake wrote of the Marriage of Heaven and…

5 Ways to Make it Through a Difficult Season

Institutions, like the weather, have different seasons. There are springtime harvests, summer droughts, autumn wanings, and winter freezes. They have “a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:3-4). Sometimes God calls us to be a part of an institution when it is passing through a season of extraordinary difficulty, decline, or dysfunction. It could be, for example, a family with several young children trying to make ends meet when both parents are working; or a church that is growing so rapidly that its infrastructure can’t keep…

Struggle, then Resolution

In the past year or so I have had a few moments where I wondered how I would be able to make it through my PhD. Trying to get through both my languages and my coursework while fulfilling all of my other life responsibilities in life and ministry has felt like scaling a mountain, and at times I have felt overwhelmed. But each time, I find, the feeling of being overwhelmed does not last. It comes—and then it passes. And once it is past, I am able to move forward with new energy and vitality. What I’ve learned through this…