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Christian life

The Problem of Happiness

Rachel Chimits
May 21, 2019

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy, and at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 ESV).

In her 2011 book, Ellen DeGeneres said, "…the key to happiness is being happy by yourself and for yourself. Happiness comes from within. You have the power to change your own mindset so that all the negative, horrible thoughts that try to invade your psyche are replaced with happy, positive, wonderful thoughts."

This advice sounds very catchy and pleasant. In some limited ways, it’s correct; we do have control over our reactions to bad circumstances. We come up against the limits of positive thinking rather quickly, however.

The Courage of Vulnerability

Rachel Chimits
April 29, 2019

In an age of social media confessions and “tell-all” memoirs, we must ask ourselves what true vulnerability is and why it’s important.

In the opening lines of the Beatitudes, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

People at the end of their rope are blessed? This passage begs the question of why God focuses on broken hearts and humble, mild-mannered nobodies.

These three opening categories are each vulnerable and—dare we say it?—weak.

A Leap of Faith

Rachel Chimits
May 6, 2019

When we’re making major life decisions or are faced with a huge change, planning our next move can be challenging.

David Brinkley is credited with having once said, “She took a leap of faith and grew her wings on the way down.”

This advice seems in the same vein as popular “empowering” messages that Western media figures, celebrities and even some Christians toss around, pointing to the wild success stories of a few and neatly sidestepping all the shattered dreams of many others who inexplicably didn’t manage to sprout feathers.

The dark side of this saying is its implication that whoever doesn’t achieve their goals is at fault for the failure.

No pressure.  

A Question of Forgiveness

Rachel Chimits
May 10, 2019

"Are there any circumstances, do you feel, where one can be a good Christian and yet not forgive?" —Queen Elizabeth II to Billy Graham, The Crown

recent article about mental wellness advocated several appealing strategies for letting go of past hurts and creating healthier relationships: look for the positive in the situation, cultivate empathy for the other side and just move on.

It sounds very nice, but how many people are actually able to do this?

The real heart of the problem is that God was nowhere in this polite mix of pop-psychology and secular counciling.

Preparing for Easter

Rachel Chimits
April 16, 2019

Some of the great symbols of our faith have been sadly misused in history, but this doesn’t make them any less important.

My mother observed Lent and always wore all black to church on Good Friday. One time, shortly before we left the house, I asked her why. 

“Today is kind of like remembering Jesus’ funeral. Of course, we know he’s alive and waiting for us in heaven, but first he had to die.”

As a child who’d already attended several family funerals, the connection of the dark clothes and those memories made a stark impression on me of the early disciples’ emotions and seriousness of Jesus’ sacrifice.  

The Passover Controversy

Rachel Chimits
April 19, 2019

One of the biggest holidays surrounding Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection is polarizing people.

Whether you’re settling in to watch Ten Commandments or Prince of Egypt with the family to kick off this pre-Easter weekend, the part of the story most likely to invoke questions among children or just generally inquisitive viewers is the angel of death and the Passover feast.

What is this ritual of covering the door lintels with blood and eating a very specific meal that one night? 

Passover as a Symbol

If you’re a Christian who has had the opportunity to join a Seder meal—the traditional night of celebration on Passover—or a messianic Jew, then you are no doubt well aware of the wealth of symbolism pointing toward Christ and his sacrifice.