This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...
Three great soundbites that make terrible theology
Punchy sound bites are great—they’re memorable and help us get some things clear in our head. Jesus often used punchy sentences without any nuance: “If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out.” Yet most of us recognize that if we turned that sentence of great preaching into an absolute statement, then there would be a lot of Christians stumbling around without any eyes.
There are other very helpful sound bites that often get used in church. They are good preaching and make a helpful impression upon us. But, again, we don’t want to turn them into absolute statements or our faith will similarly stumble. Let me mention three common ones related to sin…
Ever wonder what your worship team sees?
My View from the Worship Team –Ryan Higginbottom
I’m on the worship team at church, so when it’s time to sing, I’m looking out at the congregation. I see it all—the joy, the struggles, and the boredom. I’m reminded how Jesus welcomes all of us, that his body is made up of all sorts of different people…
Set aside a little time for this one. It is worth every second…
A Necessary Pairing: The Theology of Marriage and of Compassion –Wesley Hill
I tell you friends, when I read that – when I encountered that way of thinking about things … that my calling was to see how God might want to take … this thing in my life that feels so central and so confusing, that God might want to take that and use it as the thing that would lead me to give myself away in love to my community – that was a paradigm shift for me. It caused me to begin to ask the question: What could a future look like as an intentionally celibate Christian, who wasn’t just living in an apartment off by himself eating frozen pizzas on Friday night, but who was devoting himself to a community, devoting himself to friendship, forming thick bonds of kinship with fellow Christians?
That was a revolution in my thinking – that my calling might not be to spend the next 20 years of my life in therapy trying to find the childhood moment where things went wrong. But my calling was instead to find that certain social role that only I can play…
… this is the challenge for you, to cast a vision – and it doesn’t have to be one vision; I think there are 100 different models that this could take for your students – but to cast a vision [for your students]: “This is what a hopeful future looks like for you. If you’re same-sex attracted, and you’ve tried everything, and you haven’t experienced one iota of change in your same-sex attraction, and you’re wanting to give your life to God in celibacy, that does not have to equal loneliness. That does not have to equal isolation. … There’s a life for you. There’s a future for you that doesn’t simply look like alienation from your fellow believers in the church who seem to be so fixated on the nuclear family.”
How does the church move the world? –Mindy Belz
Dawlat Abouna is a deacon in St. George’s Church [in Baghdad, Iraq]. He had a library in his home where he kept documents tracing his Christian ancestry in Iraq to A.D. 1117. … I asked: How is your family? With so much turmoil, are worship services continuing?
Dawlat answered: “Oh yes! We have started two new groups here at the church—one to pray for our persecuted brothers in the north, and one to pray for our enemies.”
At St. George’s over the years, Islamic militants aimed crippling bomb attacks. The church built blast walls, planted hedges over them, and continues to hold services and to serve the community. Hundreds of mostly Muslim women line up to collect food parcels every month as part of one program.
In the United States we live in a time of political upheaval, social fracturing, and racial strife. Calling out one’s enemies has become high art. Checking into social media requires dodging a barrage of insults and ire. How many of us pause to pray before we post? How many of us pray for those who make our lives hard, whether they live nearby or far away? …
Over and over in the book of Acts we see the early church praying boldly, suffering mightily, thanking its persecutors for scattering its people, and doing it all over again. It may look as if the church is being pushed around, but in reality it’s how the church moves the world.
I’ve often wondered about this guy…
…here’s what yesterday was like for me.
9:00 – Got out of bed. I woke up earlier but my wife told me to sleep in because she had everything covered. I have so much confidence in her I just had to roll over and go back to sleep…
This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...
Three Mother’s Day articles I thought were worthwhile…
Don’t Call Me the Best Mom Ever –Courtney Reissig
“It’s a Supermom contest or a Mom Fail contest on the one day a year we should be loved for simply being a mom. The hashtag craze on Mother’s Day, and every day, comes from our own hyperbolic culture.
I am not the best mom ever. Not close. Still, I absolutely believe I am the mom my kids need and, Lord-willing, a good parent to them. For me, being called the best feels like padding my ego on a good day and a downright lie on a bad one.”
A Happy Mother’s Day Tribute to the Mother Who Has No Children –Ron Edmondson
“I’ve always been sensitive this time of year to the mothers without children.
You know the ones.
They never had children.
For whatever reason.
Some never tried.
Some never could.
Some tried, could, and lost their child.
And, for many it’s a hidden pain they carry deeply. Deeper than any wound. Deeper than most people ever understand. (Certainly deeper than I can understand.)”
Let mom down from the pedestal: in praise of the messy, imperfect, authentic mother –Danielle Teller
“The image our society projects about mothers is that they are wholesome, kind, wise, and self-sacrificing. The image of children is that they are irreproachable blank slates waiting to be written upon by the hands of doting parents…
…This image does not map very well to reality. Women don’t leave behind their desires or their problems when they have kids. They continue to represent the full messy spectrum of humanity with their cravings and ambitions, talents, and flaws. Children also represent that same spectrum; they are clever, dull, generous, mean, funny, spiteful, and charismatic in about the same proportion as adults. Relationships between mothers and children have some unique aspects, but they are not monolithic—they are as varied and multilayered as any relationship between two complex individuals. And just like any other human relationship, they may give rise to many emotions besides happiness.”
American Christians, You Might Need to Start Living Like Missionaries –Amy Medina
“I live in a country that is not mine. But I am living in Tanzania as a long-term resident, so I care about what happens here. I prayed during the election. I follow the news. I rejoice with their successes and hurt for their losses. But this is not my country. I don’t expect that my political opinion matters much. I am not surprised if I experience animosity. I don’t expect to have many rights. I do expect to feel like an outsider….
…It means that if I see things happening in Tanzania that I don’t like, I’m not going to be angry that my rights have been violated. This country has never existed for my sake. I might be sad, or frustrated, or I might be angry at the injustice others are experiencing. But this country doesn’t owe me anything...
…I’m not looking for what I can get out of this country; I am looking for what I can give. I don’t expect businesses and government agencies to value the same things I do. I might be limited in the kind of work I can do here because my values are different. But that’s okay, because my goal isn’t to get rich, or to be safe, or to build my career. My goal is to further the gospel.”
Crisis In American Democracy –Albert Mohler
“This fundamental redefinition of the American political landscape requires Christians to think carefully about their political responsibility. Make no mistake; we cannot avoid that responsibility. Even refusing to vote is itself a vote because it privileges those who do vote and increases the value of each ballot. In truth, we bear a political responsibility that cannot be dismissed or delegated to others. Every Christian must be ready to responsibly steward his or her vote at the polls.”
If you only read one of today’s links, read this one…
A White Church No More –Russell Moore
“The thriving churches of American Christianity are multigenerational, theologically robust, ethnically diverse and connected to the global church. If Jesus is alive — and I believe that he is — he will keep his promise and build his church. But he never promises to do that solely with white, suburban institutional evangelicalism.
The question is whether evangelicals will be on the right side of Jesus. That will mean standing up for the church’s future leaders, and for our mission, especially when they are politically powerless. American Christianity faces a test of whether we will identify as Christians first. Majorities come and majorities go. And sometimes a silent majority is too silent for its own good.
The Bible calls on Christians to bear one another’s burdens. White American Christians who respond to cultural tumult with nostalgia fail to do this. They are blinding themselves to the injustices faced by their black and brown brothers and sisters in the supposedly idyllic Mayberry of white Christian America. That world was murder, sometimes literally, for minority evangelicals.
This has gospel implications not only for minorities and immigrants but for the so-called silent majority. A vast majority of Christians, on earth and in heaven, are not white and have never spoken English. A white American Christian who disregards nativist language is in for a shock. The man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking “foreigner” who is probably not all that impressed by chants of “Make America great again.”