I loved school when I was a kid. The first day was almost as big as Christmas to me. There were fresh, new school supplies perfectly organized inside the pencil bag stored within my very cool TrapperKeeper. For those that didn’t grow up in the 80’s a Trapper Keeper is basically an accordion-pocket filing system with velcro and, in my case, unicorns. It was a must-have for kids who thought they may be asked to clerk for a judge in addition to their math assignments that day. Read More
About Val Hamilton
Poet Mary Oliver writes, “The real prayers are not the words, but the attention that comes first.” Philosopher Walter Benjamin expresses a similar sentiment. “Attention,” he says, “is the natural prayer of the soul.” Either the poet or the philosopher may sound scandalous, but they raise valid points. How often are prayers spoken by rote? How many times has God seemed distant or absent? Could the issue be, not the words spoken to God—although those are important—but the attention given to Him? Read More
It’s a good bet that 2021 is the most eagerly-anticipated year in this young century. I don’t know a single person who is sad to see 2020 become a memory. It was a hard year, and I daresay none of us want to relive it. But as the calendar changes and we enter a new year, we must face the challenge of moving beyond 2020 and stepping into 2021 with a renewed sense of hope, faith, and purpose. I’d like to suggest three steps that may help us prepare for the coming year. Read More
Political tension in America is not new. Polarization, anger, and hostility have, to some extent, been part of our politics and culture for centuries. In the presidential election of 1800, for example, Thomas Jefferson’s supporters accused John Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” Adam’s advocates responded just as vulgarly, calling Jefferson a “mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” However, the state of our public discourse seems particularly poor today. Overwhelmed by social media and the 24/7 news cycle, many Americans—including some Christians—aren’t sure how they should navigate the treacherous political waters of our time. This begs the question: What does Christlike political engagement look like? How can we dialogue with others in a way that honors God? Read More
As I type this, my teenage sons are in the next room, and I can hear them laughing and talking. They are on Zoom calls with their youth group from our church. In the midst of this Coronavirus pandemic, they are finding a way to connect, to hear the Word of God, to be discipled together. I am wiping away tears from my eyes, but I don’t quite know why. Partly it’s because this reality is unbelievably sad. And partly it’s because the despite-of-it-all nature of the church is unbelievably beautiful.
As a Black person, working alongside a majority white staff at a majority white church with a white supervisor can sometimes be extremely difficult. This can be due to a number of things, including a general lack of awareness about the Black experience in America or neglecting to ask for Black people’s perspectives. There are also personal pressures—the cranking out of excellent work in a season of collective trauma for the Black community can be exhausting.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
When we talk about Christian leadership, we look to Jesus, specifically, His example of servant leadership. He did not lord His authority over others; He served, washing feet, feeding the hungry, and healing the sick. We also turn to Paul, who teaches us that Christians ought to “count others more significant” than themselves. Read More
“Dad, what is 365 times 8 times 24?” my oldest son asked from the backseat of our car, about as nonchalantly as if he were asking for the time of day or what was on the menu for dinner.
“I don’t know buddy, let me see,” I replied as I reached for my phone/calculator.
“Looks like 70,080. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, just curious how many minutes I have been alive. Dad, how many minutes have you been alive?”
“Ugh, a lot more, buddy … (punching numbers in the calculator) … looks like 324,120 minutes.”
“Dad! That is a lot of minutes. What are you going to do with the rest of them?”
God, give me the courage to walk through this. Give me the faith to rely on you. I can’t do this on my own. I need you.
Those words appeared in my journal almost eight years ago today. I am also certain I prayed these same words yesterday, as I cried out to God for the umpteenth time during this coronavirus quarantine.
In many Christian circles, conversations about the sanctity of life wend toward abortion and the pro-life movement. That application of the sanctity of life isn’t wrong. God cares about all life, including the lives of the unborn. It is, however, limited. Sanctity of life refers to more than the unborn. It covers the expanse of human life, from the baby arriving in four months time to the woman with dementia. It concerns men and women, young and old, Muslim and Christian, White and Black. Sanctity of life includes every human, because every human receives inherent dignity and worth from being made in the image of God. His image sanctifies life, every heartbreaking and heart-lifting moment of it.