racism

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      Sunday Regulars are Happier and Healthier: Kate Shellnut shares the findings of a recent Pew Research Center report, " Whatever the explanation may be, more than one-third describe themselves as very happy, compared with just a quarter of both inactive and unaffiliated Americans."

2.      Move Over Sex and Drugs, Ease is the New Vice: Jen Pollock Michel with a sharp insight, "The decline in sexual activity and cereal sales hardly seem correlated, but both seem to point to one of the most seductive promises of a technological age: that ours should be an unbothered life. As our lives (at least in the developed world) get easier, we are increasingly formed by the desire for ease."

3.      Why Are you Hiding? This is written specifically for pastors, but it applies to many of us. Chuck DeGroat asks us why we keep our real selves hidden and why that might be our destruction: "The 17th-century Presbyterian clergyman John Flavel wrote in Keeping the Heart, 'There are some men and women who have lived forty or fifty years in the world and have had scarcely one hour’s discourse with their hearts all the while.' I’ve found this to be true of many people in ministry... They’re lost pastors, lonely and busy and empty and radically disconnected from any kind of inner conversation with their hearts and with the God who is more near to them than their very breath."

4.      They Really Did Come From Nothing: Lucia Tai, the daughter of immigrants reports on her journey back to her parents' birth home in Vietnam and how that reshaped her perception of them and undermined her ingratitude. She says, " I’ve come to see that my parents have spent the majority of their lives trying to assimilate into a new culture and to fit a mould that they were not born into...The experience also helped me to further reject internalised racism and to appreciate my heritage more. After experiencing my family’s truth, all the values that had been drilled into me from young started to make sense: the undying work ethic, the need to save every penny, the call to be grateful and to make sacrifices for the family."

5.      4 Traits of a Good Small Group Question: Lynn Pryor with great advice for leading any discussion group. Her four traits of a good question are:"1. They don’t call for a single right answer; 2. They don’t have an obvious answer; 3. They don’t call for a short answer; 4. They call for a personal response or answer."

7 Ways to Fight Well

7 Ways to Fight Well

We all have conflict in our lives. Have you ever slammed a door or punched a wall? Have you ever hung up on someone? Have you ever sent off an email or a text with the jab of an angry finger?

We walk through conflict every day: we have disagreements with our spouses, with our parents, with our children, with our co-workers, and with our neighbors. But how do we navigate conflict and come out the other side in one piece? How do we not become the worst version of ourselves in the midst of conflict? What if conflict actually provided an opportunity for us to grow as people, but also to glorify God?

There’s a passage in the Bible that shows just how well conflict can go when we respond out of humility instead of pride.

There’s a massive conflict that is brewing in the early church that has the possibility of destroying the church.

This Father's Day Week Recs

This Father's Day Week Recs

1.      What Works, and Doesn't Work in Raising Up Your Children in the Faith: Trevin Wax reflects on new Lifeway Research, "The biggest factor was Bible reading. Children who regularly read the Bible while they were growing up were more likely to have a vibrant spiritual life once they became adults... Two more factors follow close behind: prayer and service in church."

2.      How Do You Talk to Your Child About Transgender Issues? Andrew Walker offers this practical and balanced guide. He concludes, "Don't run away from important questions about sexual and gender identity just because your pre-pubescent child, or pubescent teen, is asking hard and awkward questions... In the home, as much as in the church, we each bend toward harsh "truth" or untruthful "love"—and we need to be aware of this in our parenting...Communicate confidently, but not arrogantly. Communicate compassionately, not harshly. Communicate honestly, not simplistically or tritely."

3.      Racism in America: What We Agree and Disagree On: Kevin DeYoung lays out eleven areas of agreement and disagreement. One of those areas is systemic injustice. He says, "We agree that sin is not just a matter of individual responsibility. It is possible for systems and structures to be unjust even when the people inhabiting those systems and structures may not have personal animus in their hearts. We do not agree on whether disparities themselves indicate systemic and structural injustice (see above). Likewise, we do not agree on the best remedies for institutional racism where it exists."

4.      How Podcasting Hurts Preaching: Mercer Schuchardt's take here is bold and certainly could be called Luddite (and he's not even addressing newer technologies like live-streaming). I still think that it is worth us utilizing technologies as much as possible for the cause of the gospel, but his cautions ring very true. What do you think? He says, "Sermon podcasting reveals a utilitarian misunderstanding of how our messages create a sense of meaning. The sermon is not an interchangeable part that can be removed from the context of worship while still maintaining its power, its authority, and its efficacy. It retains at most one of these, diluting or eliminating the other two... For churchgoers to perceive value, churches have to maintain the scarcity of the once-a-week, in-real-life sermon experience. When pastors push their sermons far and wide via podcast, they unintentionally devalue the message they have worked hard to create and communicate. They remove the sermon from the time, context, and body of the liturgy where it belongs."

5.      12 Year Old Boy Solves 3 Rubik's Cubes While Juggling Them: This is delightfully absurd. In other news of the fantastic: I've been known to grind coffee while I make scrambled eggs.

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.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Safety is Not the Antidote to Fear: A brief video by Gary Haugen that shakes our expectations of what God wants to do in the midst of our fears.

2.    Learning About the Wolves: Kevin DeYoung reflects on who are wolves in the church and how we should respond to them.

3.    How Our Churches Can Grow in Diversity: We have so far to go in this. I'm grateful for Greg Morse presenting not just the seriousness of the issue: "The father of lies devours minority souls, barring them from the gospel of grace and eternal life, simply by whispering, 'Christianity isn’t for you. Whites only.' When Christianity is whitewashed, when the church becomes associated with suburban country clubs, when our celebrated leaders and theologians throughout time have almost exclusively white faces... minority souls close their ears to the gospel and die in their sins." Morse also calls us forward. Among his admonitions he asks us to re-evaluate our stance on justice issues: " Social justice is not the gospel — but it is a result of the true gospel, and can be instrumental in directing souls to the true gospel." 

4.     Why the End of Marriage in Eternity is Good News: John Piper shares hard to believes news, " If the age to come is not only an improvement over the worst of this world, but over the best, then the end of marriage is spectacularly good news. Do you see this? Marriage in this age, at its best, offers some of life’s most intense pleasures, and sweetest intimacies. If you have ever tasted these, or have ever dreamed of tasting them, then you can feel the astonishing force of the promise that marriage will be no more because it was too weak to carry God’s best eternal pleasures."

5.     Match Made in Marrow: Radiolab is one of my favorite podcasts, it is also done from a secular scientific worldview that is atheistic in slant. I was shocked when they made the story of a man who came to faith in God because of his atheist bone marrow donor the centerpiece of their podcast last week. It is a fantastic listen.

6.       Penguins Don’t Belong in Antactica: Kellen Erskine is too funny: “Have you ever seen the way penguins walk? They walk the same way you would, if you were wearing cold, wet pants.”