By Cindy Koch

Whole faith systems are built to keep you away. Churches and teachers go over and over the roads of escape. Narrow paths are forged. Gated communities are constructed. Actions, music, words, and deeds are scrubbed crystal clean so that you might be protected. When someone starts to slip back into the pit of darkness, you have to fix them up quickly. When you begin to lose your seemingly solid foothold, it just might be too late.

By Paul Koch

We all do it. We all assume things. We assume things about our friends and family, about strangers and perceived enemies. Assumptions function as a sort of lazy shortcut so that we don’t have to do the hard work of actually engaging in the details of an argument or the context of a statement. It’s easier to assume things are written or spoken with a particular agenda in mind and then speed to our judgment.

By Bob Hiller

The waiting is the hardest part. 

Every day you see one more card. 

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart. 

The waiting is the hardest part.

Tom Petty died this week. After suffering from cardiac arrest on Sunday night, he was taken to the hospital, where he was put on life support. It was removed Monday morning, and though he was reported dead, Petty held on to life for a number of hours. He died later that night. He was 66. He was one of the great ones.

By Joel A. Hess

Recently, our former president, with good intentions I’m sure, tweeted a Nelson Mandela quote, “No one is born hating another person because of his race, background, or religion….” It has quickly become one of the most liked tweets of all time. At first glance, it’s easy to like and retweet. Just look at a cute baby! They don’t know anything about race or hate. Just ask them! 

By Cindy Koch

I know I’m not the only one. We’ve all done it at one time or another. It usually surfaces when we are at a crossroad, important decision, or uncomfortable spot. Sometimes it is in response to something really terrible—a death, loss, or extreme sin we find within. It flashes through the mind of almost everyone who loves our Creator, Redeemer, and Preserver. We take a reflective step back and ask, “What is God’s will for my life?”

By Cindy Koch

There she sits in church. Her flawless makeup glows in the morning sunlight, but you can barely see the bronze boundary line hidden under her chin, exposing that fragile shell of beauty she wears on the outside. She smiles, but a tension at the crease of her lips hints at the mechanical show she must again perform this morning. Her words are careful, considerate, guarded. Her voice is so unnaturally calm. In fact, one might suspect a screaming demon is held captive just behind her next breath. But there she sits, confident that she belongs there.

By Joel A. Hess

Today we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of a country free from foreign rule. Many of us would say we simply celebrate freedom. For sure, people are freer in this country than most others. Praise God, I suppose. However, we also laugh at our brave founding fathers who simultaneously fought for freedom and held slaves. Sure, many a stubborn conservative will throw out a million excuses for the hypocrisy, but no excuse covers the disgusting blemish of slavery. How could someone speak eloquently about freedom and also enslave their neighbor!?

By Cindy Koch

It was early in the morning; the pain was still dull and distant. I looked up at a quiet, blank celling considering the severity of this discomfort, but I knew it had only begun. Taking one last look around the dark and familiar room, I soaked in a moment of rest before it started up again. Inhale… exhale… Ouch. That tiny, soft sting took my breath away one more time. I gasped for a little more air as I felt something like a white-hot rock pressing harder and harder into my lower abdomen. Only two minutes had gone by. It was time to do something about this. 

By Tim Winterstein

I want documentaries to document. I want tension between viewpoints, in the progression of the story, and between the filmmakers and subjects. Propaganda may be interesting for any number of reasons, but not because of its tension. It has a single-minded purpose and a tunnel-vision perspective. It consciously excludes anything that argues against the obvious purpose. But human beings and the events they observe are complicated. So, if there’s no tension, I’m not interested. And I appreciate it when documentaries can document that tension without turning into propaganda.