God

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       What Do Americans Really Think About God? Pew's recent polling is revealing. Christianity Today reports, "Even in an era where more of the nation doesn’t ascribe to a higher power at all (10%) or believes in some sort of higher power or spiritual force (33%), a slim majority of Americans (56%) still believe in God “as described in the Bible,” according to the Pew report."

2.       Just How Christian Are the Wealthiest Zip Codes in the US? Not very, it appears. "Both communities also have fewer evangelical Protestants than the national average, data from TheARDA.com shows. Evangelicals account for less than 11 percent of the population in Miami-Dade County, Florida, and a scant 3.4 percent in San Mateo County, California—well below the national average of 16.2 percent."

3.       Children's Crusades: Alan Jacobs takes a cultural phenomenon head-on, "One clever little speciality of adult humans works like this: You very carefully (and, if you’re smart, very subtly) instruct children in the moral stances you’d like them to hold. Then, when they start to repeat what you’ve taught them, you cry “Out of the mouths of babes! And a little child shall lead them!” And you very delicately maneuver the children to the front of your procession, so that they appear to be leading it — but of course you make sure all along that you’re steering them in the way that they should go."

4.       Can a True Christian Have Depression? Jeremy Pierre's answer is excellent. He concludes, "The promise 'the Lord is my light' is most precious from a place of darkness."

5.       Beauty from AboveIncredible shots of America's beautiful landscape.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       Always Looking, Never Wanting to Find: Mark Loughridge considers a reality for us in our cultural moment, "It’s cool to search for God, but uncool to find him. People talk about wanting to find spiritual reality and deeper meaning, about wanting to get in touch with God. The idea of looking for him sounds good—the search, the journey—but the reality of actually finding him is too much."

2.       Ordinary Beauty: Melissa Edgington shares an ordinary story of God's grace, "At the cash register stood a young girl with a nose ring. Her hair was pulled back, but long blonde ringlets framed her face. There is no telling how many hours she had been on her feet in that store, but still she smiled and asked how my night was going. And then, while I fished in my gigantic black hole of a purse for my wallet, she told me that I look pretty tonight. Just like that. She handed me that grace. That generous gift to a tired mama who almost certainly doesn’t look pretty tonight. And I was surprised by how shocked I was."

3.       Accept Your Leadership: Tim Challies with a call to men, "Your family needs to be led. Your wife and children need you to be the leader God calls you to be. He calls you to lead in love, to study the life and character of Jesus Christ, and to imitate him. Do that and God will be pleased. Do that and your family will be blessed. Run to win by accepting and embracing your leadership."

4.    When Should a Church Address a Current Event: In light of the recent outbreak of racist events, Trevin Wax processes whether or not a church ought to publicly address a given issue. He begins by sharing the online response from a certain quarter regarding the Charlottesville protest, "On social media, multiple people counseled churches on how to respond the next morning. Some called for condemning white supremacy and Neo-Nazis by name. Others offered prayer for pastors who were revising their sermons or penning statements to read before the church. This sentiment popped up a few times: If your church doesn't address this tomorrow, find another congregation. The social media fever implied that failing to speak on the issue indicated you were taking the side of white supremacists."

5.       Is that Hate Speech? I encourage you to take this New York Times baffling quiz on what and what does not qualify as hate speech on Facebook.

The Anti-Hero's Final Lesson: Love

The Anti-Hero's Final Lesson: Love

Do you know Jonah’s last words in the Bible?

“Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”[i]

Those are not words motivated by suffering or grief. Those are words that come straight out of the hateful heart of our anti-hero, a prophet who cannot bear that God would have compassion on a city he deemed worthy of destruction and upset that the God who provided a plant for shade for him would allow it to wither.

The compassion of God knows no bounds. He orchestrates the salvation of a city that every Jew would have longed to see the destruction of. A city that was not only a military threat to the Israelites, but whose pagan worship was a stench to those loyal to the one true God.

It is the Hero who has the final say in Jonah. These final words reveal God’s love and call us to this deep compassion:

Lessons from an Anti-Hero: Go

Lessons from an Anti-Hero: Go

Jonah was the only prophet called to people out of Israel.[i] That fact makes it easier to sympathize with Jonah’s resistance to God’s call to go to Nineveh. “I didn’t sign up for this,” Jonah must have thought. “No one else has ever been asked to do this!”

In his own book, Jonah is the anti-hero, a reminder of what we are not to do. God gives Jonah four directives in his book and Jonah (initially at least) rejects all four. The first two calls are coupled together. “Arise and go!” God twice tells Jonah. Last week we examined God’s call for Jonah and us to arise and we reflected just how difficult it is to swim against the cultural current and arise. But arise we must.

And Go. We must go into the mess. We’re called to step into the entanglements of lives around us. It’s easier to keep the lids on the trash cans, but you can’t get into the lives of those around you unless you start taking off some lids.

Why Don’t You Preach More About…?!

Why Don’t You Preach More About…?!

What topics does your pastor avoid? When was the last time you heard sermon dealing with depression? Sexuality? Race? Immigration? I’ve been part of more than a few conversations with congregants who have complained either that we don’t preach enough on a particular topic (ironically, this often occurs right after we preach on that topic), or that they hope we will not be like their old church that never preached on a particular topic.

Christianity Today puts out periodic issues which focus on particular issues. In those issues, they often have polls where they report how often respondents say their pastors speak about that particular issue. Unsurprisingly, the polls always show severe neglect of the given topic. I’m grateful for Christianity Today—they do great work and I benefit from their excellent writing and reporting. But I’m wary of the criticism that pastors don’t preach often enough about any given issue for a few reasons: