The Weekend Wanderer: 8 June 2019

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like.

Platt TrumpTrump stops by evangelical church to pray for victims of Virginia Beach massacre – President Trump made a surprise visit to McLean Bible Church last weekend, where David Platt , author of Radical and Counter Culture, serves as pastor. Of course, this created a Twitter firestorm about whether Platt should or should not have prayed for Trump, whether it should have been on the main platform or in a back office, and many other things. You can read Platt’s written response in The Washington Post, “‘My aim was in no way to endorse the president’: Pastor explains why he prayed for Trump.” I also appreciated the comments by John Fea, a Christian historian who is not a Trump supporter, agreeing with Ed Stetzer on the difficult predicament Platt found himself in as a pastor in that moment. Also, here is Ruth Graham at Slate talking about Platt’s “assiduously non-partisan” ministry, while also wrestling with Platt inviting Trump on platform.

 

 

Desmond-Percy-FD-Suicide“Prophets for Our Age of Suicide”Jessica Hooten Wilson reviews John F. Desmond’s recent book, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Walker Percy, and the Age of Suicide. “Every age needs prophets—whether or not they heed their cautions—because prophets stand out of and often against the current. They can reveal to those caught in its tide that we ought to chart another direction towards a more fitting destination. For Dostoevsky and Percy, their audience required them to create extreme characters and situations to see the unfortunate end we were all heading towards.”

 

11 reasons smartphone“11 reasons to stop looking at your smartphone” – Believe it or not, this article is from Mashable, a resource site for tech, digital culture and entertainment content. I have a love-hate relationship with my smartphone and have been taking the summer to turn my smartphone into a dumbphone. More on that later, but you should definitely read this list of reasons to stop looking at your smartphone, which run from relational to physical to mental and more.

 

Trump“What a Clash Between Conservatives Reveals” – Alan Jacobs on a recent conservative clash of cultures, specifically between David French and Sohrab Ahmari. “It’s important to note that Ahmari sees the differences between him and French as rooted, ultimately, in their different Christian traditions: Catholicism for Ahmari—who recently published a memoir of his conversion—and evangelical Protestantism. But whether this is indeed the heart of the matter, the dispute so far hasn’t fallen out that way. Some Catholics are with French, some Protestants with Ahmari. And in any case, I’m more interested in the ways this dispute illuminates questions that all Christians involved in public life need to reckon with than in choosing sides. How Christians choose to reckon with these questions will have consequences for all Americans, whether religious or not.”

 

Frederick Douglass.jpeg“Frederick Douglass Is Not Dead!” – Allis Radosh reflecting on three new books about Frederick Douglass and the contest to define his legacy. “The effort to pigeonhole Douglass is nothing new. A giant in the 19th century, Douglass’s stature was receding in the 20th. It was black writers like Booker T. Washington, who wrote his biography in 1906, and Benjamin Quarles, who published one in 1948, who kept his story alive. This changed when the Left claimed Douglass as a hero, concentrating on his antebellum abolitionist activities. American Communists of the 1930s and 1940s argued that Douglass was their predecessor, while historian Eric Foner claimed that his uncle Philip S. Foner rescued him from “undeserved obscurity” when in the 1950s he edited four volumes of his speeches and writings. More recently, he has been claimed by Republicans, libertarians, and conservatives. When a statue of Douglass was unveiled at the U.S. Capitol in 2013, GOP attendees proudly wore buttons that read ‘Frederick Douglass was a Republican.’  All of these claims on Douglass have some grounding in reality. But if Frederick Douglass can be all things to all people, it is paradoxically because his life was so complex—and his full legacy so impossible to circumscribe.”

 

BGC“Billy Graham Archives Begin Move from Wheaton to Charlotte” – Maybe this is just of interest to a few people, like me, who have a connection to Wheaton College or the Billy Graham Center. However, it does seem like big news that the Billy Graham Center on Wheaton’s campus is no longer host to the Billy Graham Archives, which are on their way to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) in Charlotte, North Carolina, Graham’s hometown.

 

spaghetti westerns“Quentin Tarantino on how spaghetti westerns shaped modern cinema” – Well, this one isn’t really about faith and art, but as a great lover of the works of Sergio Leone, I couldn’t help but share this piece by Quentin Tarantino. “When Elvis Mitchell [the critic, scholar and broadcaster] shows a film to his young students — this movie from the 1950s, this movie from the 1960s, this movie from the 1940s — it’s only when he shows them a Sergio Leone, if they haven’t seen it before, that they pick up. That’s when they start recognising the elements. That’s when they’re not just ‘I’m looking at an older movie now.’ It’s the use of music, the use of the set piece, the ironic sense of humour. They appreciate the surrealism, the craziness, and they appreciate the cutting to music. So it is the true beginning of what filmmaking had evolved to by the 1990s. You don’t go past Leone, you start with Leone.”

 

Envy - Kleon“An enemy of envy” – Here’s Austin Kleon reflecting on Jerry Saltz’s words, “You’ve got to make an enemy of envy.” “I agree with him: it will eat you alive if you keep it inside. I think one thing you can do is spit it out, cut it out, or get it out by whatever means available — write it down or draw it out on paper — and take a hard look at it so it might actually teach you something.” This is good advice for artists, but for all of us. After all, there might be a reason that envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

 

Music: Ali Farka Touré and Ry Cooder, “Ai Du,” from Talking Timbuktu.

[I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.]

The Pastor and Evangelism: Six Freeing Approaches to Fulfilling our Evangelistic Calling

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It’s a pleasure to be a regular contributor to The Gospel Life blog. sponsored by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. My latest post dropped today: “The Pastor and Evangelism: Six Freeing Approaches to Fulfilling Our Evangelistic Calling.” Here’s an excerpt, but you can read the entire post here.

If we are honest as pastors, there are often times when we talk more about aspects of our faith than we actually live them out.

One of the areas we may feel most guilty about in our lives is the practice of evangelism. We hear the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist,” and many of us may feel the guilt of failing that calling in the midst of our many responsibilities, including sermon preparation, pastoral care visits, board meetings, staff leadership, and so much more.

While we must not ignore our calling to “do the work of an evangelist,” I’d like to offer us to consider six ways in which we of how we might fulfill our calling to evangelism within our ministry as pastors. I hope you find these as freeing as I did when I began to gain a bigger perspective on fulfilling my evangelistic calling…

[Read the entire post here.]

Witnesses to Hope

Over the past couple of years, I have participated in the Gospel Life blog hosted by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.

In my post there today I write about the need for us as Christians to become witnesses to hope. This post came out of a lot of my own conversations and reflections upon the present moment in our world and what it looks like to be a voice and presence of hope in the time in which we live. As hopelessness rises up, we must also rise up with hopefulness.

This past year has brought wave after wave of discouraging news. Many people I encounter feel overwhelmed by increasing political incoherence, racial injustice, and global chaos, not to mention their own personal challenges. Despair rises up around us like hunger in the stomach of a famine-wracked child. If I could pick one word to encapsulate the current tone of our society it would be hopelessness.

As followers of Jesus we are called to be people of hope, and this calling is even more important in light of the entangling hopelessness of our day. In fact, our witness as Christians at this present hour will remain inadequate if we do not recapture the hope inherent in the gospel…

[Continue reading the article here.]

Patience and Personal Discipleship

Over the past couple of years, I have written for the Gospel Life blog hosted by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.

My most recent post, “Patience and Personal Discipleship,” is part of a reflection on character traits, or fruit of the Spirit, and discipleship in our lives.  I was asked to write about patience, which, to be honest, would not have been my optimal character trait to write about. This is mostly because I am not naturally a patient person. I have a lot of ways I need to let God work in my life in the area of patience. But I do believe that what I wrote near the end of the piece is a truth we all need to grasp: “Perhaps now is a time to disconnect from the impatient pulse of a technologized angst in order to reconnect with the patient journey of discipleship with God.” Here’s a section from the middle of the article, which you can read in its entirety over at the Gospel Life blog.

Spiritual transformation only comes via “a long obedience in the right direction.” Paul the Apostle describes our growth as Christians as a process of growth and maturing, moving from spiritual infancy to nature adulthood, “so that the body of Christ may be built up…and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13).

We understand this physically, expecting babies to grow to toddlers and on to teenagers before becoming adults. Yet, somehow, we forget that this same process of growth applies to the spiritual life of discipleship. It is not something that comes quickly, but must go through a similar process of growth and maturing over time. Spiritual growth does not happen overnight, let alone in 60 seconds; instead, it must happen over a lifetime.

There is no more valuable, nor more difficult, character trait necessary in the Christian life in this regard than patience. Scripture shows both that patience is invaluable in our own lives (Prov. 19:11; Ecc. 7:8; James 5:7) and in our relationships with others (Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 3:10). Our discipleship, as a matter of fact, is a growth in which God shows forth His patience with us from start to finish (Rom. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:16). If we want to grow with God, following Jesus as our leader and Savior, then we must commit to the patient journey of discipleship over the long haul.

Within the Bible, one of the clearest pictures of this is seen in the Psalms of Ascent. This little collection of psalms was utilized for prayer and worship on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Groups of believers would journey together, caring for one another and building one another up, as they prepared to meet with God and His people in worship.

The pilgrimage journey of the Psalms of Ascent provides us with a soundtrack for the patient journey of discipleship. We need songs in our mouths and hearts, we need others to journey with, and we need lives that move steadily closer to God.

This patient journey of discipleship, and the place that patience begins to have in our lives, is often seen as a key to seeing change in the life of others (Prov. 25:15; 2 Tim. 4:2). In a culture of anxious impatience, where many have misplaced hopes of relief, a patient, peaceful community of people living daily life with God speaks louder than all sorts of religious activity.

[Read the whole blog post here.]

The Power of the Gospel to Sustain Unity

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Over the past couple of years, I have participated in the Gospel Life blog hosted by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.

In my most recent post, I reflected on the intrinsic value of unity for the gospel mission of God’s people. For those who are a part of the Eastbrook Church, you will not be surprised to see some reflections on Revelation 7:9-10 work into my writing here. I firmly believe that the unity of people from every tribe, tongue and nation is both a reflection of God’s mission and an aim of God’s mission. Without this unifying power of the gospel, our mission itself loses power and becomes less effective.

In Revelation 7:9-10, we read about the heavenly scenes of worship:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

This is a picture of the end of all things, where people from around the world and every echelon of society come together around God’s throne through the saving work of Jesus Christ. As God’s people, both individually and corporately, that is the aim we must have. We should, in a sense, become a snapshot of that multiethnic Revelation 7 community here on earth. We should seek to become a 7.

But what does it mean to become a 7 as the Christian community here on earth? If Revelation 7:9-10 is a heavenly vision, then we will likely not attain it fully on earth. However, we should pursue it as if that is the end toward which we are growing.

We must be intentional about this because we will arrive at an end goal one way or another. We are either intentionally moving toward something, or unintentionally sliding toward something else. I would rather intentionally pursue becoming the heavenly vision of God.

Let me suggest three aspects of the vision of Revelation 7:0-10 that are essential for God’s unified community to live our mission and identity.

[Read the whole blog post here.]

Where the Light Shines the Brightest

where the light shines the brightest (2).pngOver the past couple of years, I have participated in the Gospel Life blog hosted by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College. Every year the BGCE pulls together a resource on sharing our faith to help individuals and churches prepare for Christmas during the season of Advent. I was privileged to write for that devotional this year, and I’d encourage you to check it out here.