The Weekend Wanderer: 21 March 2020

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.


Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars“Coronavirus Resource Center” – Please take a look at this resource from Harvard Medical School, which provides answers to important questions that many of us have about the nature of COVID-19. One of the most important things to read on this relates to the spread of the virus. “A recent study found that the COVID-19 coronavirus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The researchers also found that this virus can hang out as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall. But most often they will fall more quickly.” We should be aware of these facts and adjust appropriately, not just for our own sake but out of love for our neighbor.


1_lwPg8Ugu1wPz6XFcOpSgyA“Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization Is Now a Startup” – Andy Crouch, Kurt Keilhacker, and Dave Blanchard offer a sober look at how the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a blizzard we can wait out, but a potential ice age that will deeply affect the nature of all that we do for the next 12-18 months. I strongly encourage you to read this article. “In any case, responsible leaders have no choice, today, but to assume that the winter is upon us, and an ice age of unknown duration is before us. We are playing a game no one now living has ever played before. We are, for reasons only God knows, on the front line, on the starting team. Let us act boldly, today, to build as best we can, for the love of our neighbor and the glory of God.”


Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine“Spiritual Rhythms for Quarantine” – If you’re not familiar with Justin Earley’s book, The Common Rule, I would highly recommend if you have free time now to give it a read. However, if you do not have capacity to read the entire book, I would strongly recommend that you take a look at this resource for individuals and groups adapted for the situation of quarantine related to COVID-19.


cs-lewis_at_desk“C.S. Lewis on Times of Fear” – Thanks to Chase Replogle of Pastor Writer for posting this extended quotation from C. S. Lewis on facing fears, followed by an extended reflection on Psalm 91. Writing from the context of post-World War II and the growing threats of the atomic age, Lewis’ words are bracing for us in this day. “In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. ‘How are we to live in an atomic age?’ I am tempted to reply: ‘Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.'”


116063“20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic” – Jen Pollock Michel writes: “In recent days, as COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic and countries have taken urgent measures to stem the spread of infection, I wish I could say that my first impulse has been to pray. It’s probably more honest to say that I’ve obsessively refreshed my feeds….With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 20 prayers to pray during this pandemic. Each one addresses the specific needs of a specific community.”


article_5e6edf554f658“The Time of the Virus – Ephraim Radner offers this insightful look at the life of the church in what he terms “the time of the virus.” He looks at the calling to quarantine through the lens of jubilee, which may give us a new way of reflecting on this. He also sees the church’s struggle with the virus to actually be a challenge—a provocation—to be the church and engage the culture in new ways that we have missed in recent days.


fear not“Preaching in the Wake of COVID-19” – Preaching Today quickly pulled together a number of resources for pastors who are trying to figure out how to pivot the ministry of preaching to meet the changes of this day and time. Resources include Jeremy McKeen’s sermon “Christians and the Coronavirus” from Matthew 6, Max Lucado on “Facing Fears” as a preacher, Darrell Johnson on “Preaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic” with reference to Romans 8, Lee Eclov on “Preaching God’s Unfathomable Comfort,” Scott Gibson’s “Preaching and Panic,” and my own article “The Ministry of Preaching in the Time of COVID-19.” Thanks to the editors for the invitation to contribute and for so quickly pulling this resource together.


church cancelled“Places of worship need immediate government support, too” – Sean Speer and Brian Dijkema call for government attention to the supports that churches will need financially and in other ways as a result of the pandemic. Writing from Canada, they call public officials to recognize the needs of this moment not just in terms of social, economic, educational, and medical spheres, but also in the sphere of spiritual care and support for people.


_111334288_kids_976alamy“Coronavirus: Should you let your children play with other children?” – I found this practical guidance from the BBC about social distancing and children helpful as many of us navigate having children home due to school cancellations: 1) Follow guidance of local health authority on what’s safe; 2) Avoid playgrounds or other high-touch areas; 3) Go outside!; 4) Interact with friends and family over the internet or video chat. I also saw that Crossway Publishers is offering free e-resources during this time.


Music: Mahalia Jackson, “I Know It Was the Blood

[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 Weekend Wanderer: 6 July 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.

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This past week, I was in the beautiful north woods of Wisconsin with my family at Fort Wilderness, where I had the privilege of serving as a speaker for one of their family camps. It was a wonderful time with others from various parts of the country, enjoying God’s stunning creation, building relationships, and walking through the book of Ruth. Hopefully you could visit Fort Wilderness sometime. I don’t think you would be disappointed. In the midst of a full week, with spotty internet connection (thankfully!), I had less opportunity to read online and, because of that, “The Weekend Wanderer” is a bit shorter this week.

 

6-classical-“6 Works of Classical Music Every Christian Should Know”Jeremy Begbie, professor of theology at Duke and specialist on the interface between theology and the arts, offers a primer on classical music for Christians. “Music can be a remarkable index of the profoundest impulses and stirrings of a culture—impulses and stirrings that are often theologically charged. What, then, of classical music in particular? Strictly speaking, ‘classical music’ is the music of a fairly brief era (roughly, the second half of the 18th century), but the term is commonly used to refer to the whole stream of music associated with European concert and operatic culture, emerging around 1600. Sometimes called ‘art music,’ it’s generally regarded as there to be listened to, not just heard….And the Christian can ask a further question: ‘What might I learn theologically from what’s going on here?'”

 

authentic“Authenticity under Fire: Researchers are calling into question authenticity as a scientifically viable concept” – Everyone wants to be “real.” What does it mean, however, to be “real” or “authentic,” and is it a concept that can actually be measured? Scott Barry Kaufman reports on recent research calling into question the concept of authenticity. “Authenticity is one of the most valued characteristics in our society. As children we are taught to just ‘be ourselves’, and as adults we can choose from a large number of self-help books that will tell us how important it is to get in touch with our ‘real self’. It’s taken as a given by everyone that authenticity is a real thing and that it is worth cultivating. Even the science of authenticity has surged in recent years, with hundreds of journal articles, conferences, and workshops. However, the more that researchers have put authenticity under the microscope, the more muddied the waters of authenticity have become. Many common ideas about authenticity are being overturned. Turns out, authenticity is a real mess.”

 

US-MEXICO-BORDER-IMMIGRATION-MIGRANTS“Christ in the Camps: Migrant children are suffering. Christians need to help.” – “I humbly reach out to the only faction of Americans I know of who have the ear of the administration and who care about children: my brothers and sisters in Christ who attend evangelical churches. It seems clear that we are in the midst of a profound humanitarian crisis and that children are being forced to suffer in terrible ways. Maybe it was never supposed to be this way; maybe the system just got overwhelmed. But this is a disaster. Children are programmed to think that any separation from a parent or a caregiver is a life-or-death situation. I keep imagining one of these children having a dream that he’s home, with his mother and brothers and sisters, but then waking up to see he’s still in a terrible place. If evangelical Christians stood up for these children, things could change in the camps very quickly.”

 

5758.social“Citizens Aren’t Just Born. They’re Formed” Kevin den Dulk at Comment: “My university (yes: by press time Calvin College will be a university) recently crafted an ‘educational framework.’ Its purpose, as I understand it, is to ‘operationalize’ our primary mission. Three of its four categories of goals—’faith,’ ‘learning,’ and ‘vocation’—are standard fare for an institution of both higher learning and Christian persuasion. While the fourth category—’citizenship’—has a less obvious connection to mission, the thrust of the other three lead in its direction. A Christian university committed to learning and vocation ought to educate for citizenship, a calling none of us can escape. At least that’s my reading as a civic educator.”

Aleksandr_Solzhenitsyn_1974b“Solzhenitsyn: Politics and the Ascent of the Soul” – I have returned to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn again and again in the past few years. His insights are poignant and soulful in a secular age. Here’s Daniel J. Mahoney reflecting on the enduring legacy of Solzhenitsyn.  “As we rapidly move along in the twenty-first century, [Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn, chronicler of the fate of the soul under both ideological despotism and, increasingly, a soft and relativistic democracy, very much remains our contemporary: a true friend of ‘liberty and human dignity,’ as Tocqueville put it, and a partisan of the human soul imparted to us by a just and merciful God.”

 

return to shire alan lee“Unscoured”Alan Jacobs wrote an alternative ending to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which he shared at his blog. It is, well…worth reading.

 

Music: Asgeir, “Underneath It,” from Afterglow.

[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.]

G. K. Chesterton on the Joy of God

G K ChestertonIn his marvelous book Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton writes one of the most powerful paragraphs on the joy of God. I shared this excerpt in the opening of my message this weekend at Eastbrook, “Multiplied Joy,” which was the final message in our series “Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances.”

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

If you have never read anything by Chesterton, you really should do so. He was a strong influence on C. S. Lewis and many other well-known writers, such as Graham Greene, Dorothy Sayers, Ernest Hemingway and T. S. Eliot. A good place to start would be either Orthodoxy or The Everlasting Man.

God of the Little Ones

This past weekend, we continued our series, “God in Blank Spaces,” at Eastbrook Church by looking at Matthew 19:13-15 on Jesus and the little children.  In a world where 353,00 babies are born every day and one new child is born every 8 seconds in our country, how is God at work?

In Jesus’ day and time, children were one of the most uncounted and unvalued people in society, yet Jesus did not treat them this way.  Because the love of God is at the heart of who He is, Jesus shows us the heart of God for children, even children living in the midst of the blank spaces of our world.

Here is the video and sermon outline of the first message of this series, “God of the Little Ones.”

You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

 

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Children as a Symbol of Hope

stanley-hauerwasAs I prepared for my message from this past weekend, “God of the Little Ones,” I read a lot of different material. In returning to Stanley Hauerwas’ A Community of Character, I was seized by the power of his comments on children, not only in relation to parents but also in terms of the broader community around them:

Having children is one of he most morally charged things any community of people does, as nothing else says more about who they are and what they think life is about.

In particular, a community’s willingness to encourage children is a sign of its confidence in itself and its people. For children are a community’s sing to the future that life, in spite of its hardship and tedium, is worthwhile.  Also, children are symbols of our hope — please not that they are not the object of our hope — which sustains us in our day-to-day existence. Life may be hard, but it can be lived. Indeed, it can be lived with zest and interest to the extent that we have the confidence to introduce others to it.

More profoundly, children signal a community’s confidence because they are bound to change our society and their existence fortells inevitable challenge. Our stories and traditions are never inherited unchanged. Indeed, the very power and truth of a tradition depends on its adaptation by each new generation. Thus, children represent a community’s confidence that its tradition is not without merit and is strong enough to meet the challenge of a new generation.

(Stanley Hauerwas, A Community of Character, p. 209)

5 Practices to Jumpstart Your Family (pt 2)

This continues the post from yesterday “5 Practices to Jumpstart Your Family.”

Practice 4: Worship together on the weekend.

Now it may seem unnecessary to even say this, but a practical way to encourage your children to know God is to come to worship in community every week.

If you want your kids to learn about Math, English, History, and the basics of Western education, you help them engage in a setting where they will learn, like a school.

If you want your kids to learn about a sport, you sign them up for the sport and help them get involved in practices to learn.

The same is true for helping them learn to live for God. Get them to the place and community where they can learn about living for Him. That’s called the church. Gather here as a family on Sundays.

Show them by worshipping God yourself during the services of worship. But also bring them to a place where they can see that in others and learn what it is all about by example, experience, and education.

Practice 5: Love your children.

Paul says in another of his letters “and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:14). Along with the other things I’ve mentioned, love your children.

Take time to build a real relationship with them.

Take time to listen to them and have two-way conversations with them.

In the midst of all that there is to do in your lives, take time to do special things just with your children, whether taking them out on dates or having a family night.

Take time to understand their world, their friends, their difficulties, their joys.

Take time to see how God has uniquely made them and help them develop into people who can make a unique contribution to this world.

Loving your children well is what will tie all the other practices together into a meaningful way of helping them learn to live for God.

Undoubtedly, the list could go on with ways we could help our children grow to know and live for God. You may have some meaningful practices that you have as a part of your parenting. Share it with people around you so that we can all learn. If so, post your response here so that we can all learn from you.

As your children grow older, you will need to launch them out to make these decisions on your own.

Faithfulness, not ‘Success’

It must be said that there is no fail-safe way to make your children own their faith and live for God. At some point, they have to make their own decisions and we cannot control them in that. In fact, during my days as the college pastor at Elmbrook Church I saw that trying to control a child is one of the most counter-productive methods of helping them own their faith.

As parents, we should not aim for controlling our children so that we can wear the blue-ribbon of success as parents. I know too many great parents whose children have not followed the Lord or who have lots of problems in their life.

Success is not our aim. We cannot guarantee that.But what we should aim for is faithfulness. We should be faithful in doing all in our power – with the mighty power of God at work with us in prayer – so that we have done our part in raising our children ‘in the training and instruction of the Lord.’

[To listen to the message from which these thoughts are drawn, visit the Brooklife Church messages page.]

5 Practices to Jumpstart Your Family (Pt 1)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4

If there is one thing that should you do for your children it is this: help them to know God and become followers of Christ. That is the bottom line.

This is an incredibly exciting task for us as parents. We have a unique opportunity to shape our world by helping our children get to know God and live for Him. In Proverbs 22:6 it says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

That is what we have before us as parents, regardless of the age of our children: help them to know God and become followers of Christ.

But what does this really mean? What does it really look like to help our children know God and become followers of Christ? How do we do practically do this?

Over the next two posts, I’d like to suggest five practices that we could put in place in our personal and family lives to help this happen. These thoughts are drawn from my message this past Sunday at Brooklife Church, “Jumpstart Your Family.”

Practice 1: Live for God ourselves.

There is an old saying that you cannot take someone to a place you have not been yourself. As parents, the most foundational way that we can raise our children in the instruction of the Lord is to live for God ourselves.

We have to start this discussion of godly parenting by aiming to live fully for God ourselves – filled up and controlled by His Spirit and nothing else. That’s what Paul meant when he said: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

How are we at daily living for God? Here are a couple of things to consider?

Do you pray regularly?

Do you read the Bible regularly?

Do you serve others around you regularly?

Are you living with a moment-by-moment awareness of God?

If so, you are on the way toward modeling for your children what living for God is all about.

Practice 2: Pray for our children.

When Kelly and I were newly married without children we were friends with a couple in our church who had six children. They were an outstanding family whose children had begun to really grab ahold of living for God.

Once, when we were visiting with them, Kelly and I asked what their secret formula was for raising their children. We were hoping for a five-step game-plan for perfect children. We didn’t really get that. Instead, along with some helpful advice on discipline and other things, we were given some simple advice: pray together for your children.

That is the advice that I would like to pass along to everyone here. If you really want to see your children live for God then pray for them. Your best efforts will only go so far. But when you pray, you begin to unleash God’s power into the lives of your children.

Pray that God would get ahold of their hearts at an early age.

Pray that God would protect them from the temptations of this world, the flesh, and the devil.

Pray that God would give you wisdom beyond yourself to parent them.

Practice 3: Pray and read the Bible as a family.

Take time to read the Bible together and pray. If you want your children to learn about God, you will need to introduce them to God.

One of the best ways to introduce your children to God is by reading the Bible out loud and praying together about what was read.

There are many different ways to do this as a family. Praying together before meals is a simple way to do this together. It is a chance for us to actually recognize that the simple gift of food comes to us from God.

Another way is to read the Bible together at a set time in the day. When our kids were younger, we would do this before heading out to work and school in the morning. As time has gone on, that has become unrealistic for our schedule.

At this stage of our lives, we read a story from an age-appropriate Bible each night after dinner and pray briefly about it.

Some families like to do this at the end of the day. Find a time to do this that fits your schedule, your children’s schedule, and your stage of life.

It will likely look different at different times.

[Visit the Renovate blog tomorrow for the second half of this post.]