The Weekend Wanderer: 12 October 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.

Kurds Syria Trump“Christian Leaders Say Turkish Invasion Of Syria Raises Risk Of ‘Genocide'” – Some of my good friends and partners in ministry are from Syria. Walking with them through the challenges of having to flee their war-torn homeland has helped me see and hear international news even more differently than I did before. With the happenings in our politics, it is sometimes hard to remember that there are real people on the ground in Syria, and that many of them are our Christian brothers and sisters. There has already been a subtle excavation of Christian presence from the Middle East and we need to pay attention. This is more than a foreign policy issue for followers of Jesus.

 

Amman city view, in Jordan“Jordanian Evangelicals Push for Official Recognition” – As we begin our annual MissionsFest at Eastbrook Church, we’re privileged to have one of our long-time partners in ministry from Jordan, Rev. Yousef Hashweh, join us to preach during our first weekend. The church in Jordan is strong, but shrinking because of economic and political challenges. Their voice has been valued by King Abdullah, but they struggle at time to maintain that voice in the changing tides of culture. I was interested to read on Thursday about this latest move in Jordan for evangelical churches representing five denominations (Baptists, Assemblies of God, Evangelical Free, Nazarene, and Christian & Missionary Alliance) to come together to form a new Jordanian Evangelical Council.

 

J D Greear“SBC President: We Failed to Heed Victims’ Voices” – Perhaps one of the most notable issues in the North American church has been attention given to sexual abuse claims within the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the USA.  There are cases of coverups and deaf ears, leaving a dark history of regrettably unChristian behavior within the SBC.  In the midst of such darkness, I do think it is important to at least recognize that the current SBC President, J. D. Greear, appears to be trying to deal with this directly, even as there is still much work to be done.

 

92300“‘I’m a Pastor IRL'” – I may be dating myself, but I still remember when Facebook hit the scene in the midst of my years of working as a College Pastor. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but adopted it right away first as a means of communicating with students and later attempted to utilize it as a platform for ministry. It was during that same time that I began my blog here. All of these were experiments for me in utilizing new technologies as avenues for ministry to people. Some of it worked, while other parts didn’t work as well. I haven’t been on Facebook for several years now, but that’s another story. Here’s Glenn Packiam, associate senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, reflecting on some pretty significant questions. “Is there a way for us as pastors to bear God’s image in online interactions, to be a kind of icon of Christ? Let me suggest three areas to consider: identity and self (who are we?), presence and place (where are we?), and authority and power (what are we capable of?). These questions will guide us even as specific apps and devices change in the years ahead.”

 

DiklalaorEve“Israeli Photographer Brings Female Biblical Figures to Life with Magnificent Images” – “The bible has for centuries been a source of inspiration and influence for art in all its forms. The canonical collection of texts sacred to Abrahamic religions has indeed inspired some of the world’s greatest known works of art. Israeli photographer Dikla Laor has worked for six years to bring the stories of female biblical figures to life through the camera lens, embarking on a unique project to imagine these characters’ appearances, dress, and demeanor against breathtaking backdrops. Her “Biblical Women Series” includes the “first woman,” Eve, the Jewish matriarchs – Sarah, Rivka (Rebecca), Leah and Rachel – Lot’s wife, the Queen of Sheba, the prophetess Deborah, and Jezebel, among over 40 such photographs.”

 

52.large“Pluralism, Difference, and the Dynamics of Trust” – Do you ever read the news and wonder if there is any way out of the cultural divides and distrust? I do. On my more hopeful days, I believe that there are ways toward living out Christ’s kingdom in the midst of a pluralistic society that could restore hope, joy, truth, and love in peoples’ lives and the broader society. In my less hopeful days, I try not to get cynical. Underlying significant portions of this is the need for restoration of public trust. I enjoyed reading this 2017 dialogue between John Inazu, Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University, and James K. A. Smith when he was still editor at Comment. Inazu’s Confident Pluralism is on my “to read” list, and this interview encouraged me to get to it sometime soon.

 

92385“Supreme Court Cases Challenge LGBT Rights-Religious Liberty Balancing Act” – Speaking of difference and the dynamics of trust, the Supreme Court has been giving attention to the most significant case at the nexus of sexual rights and religious liberty since the 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. “The United States Supreme Court was debating the meaning of the word sex on Tuesday when Chief Justice John Roberts brought up religion. He called it ‘that other concern’—religious liberty. Roberts asked: How can the government protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees in the workplace and the rights of religious groups to employ people who agree on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity?”

 

N T Wright“Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology and New Creation” – Anytime N. T. Wright is publishes a new book, I take interest. Wright is an amazing scholar of the New Testament and Christian history. When I heard about his forthcoming book, History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology, it caught my attention because of the interesting combination of ideas. I wondered what it was about, and then I discovered that this book is drawn from Wright’s eight Gifford lectures in 2018, which are available online for viewing. If you have more time than I do, you may enjoy watching all of them.

 

Music: Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno, “An Ending (Ascent),” from Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks.

[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.]

Faith in God Amidst the Beasts [Daniel 7]

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series on the book of Daniel by turning our attention to chapter 7, which begins the markedly different second half of the book. Chapters 1-6 are court narratives, while chapters 7-12 are apocalyptic visions. This first vision serves as a sort of parallel to Daniel 2 and overview of where the rest of the book is going.

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »

The Ascension and Jesus’ Return (Part 3 of 3)

fullsizeoutput_93fWhat does Jesus’ ascension have to do with his eventual return? When will it happen and how should we prepare for it? In this third and final installment of my three-part reflection on Ascension Day  this week, I want to reflect today on the significance of Jesus’ return after His ascension.

After Jesus’ ascension, two heavenly beings speak to the disciples: ““Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Throughout the New Testament, many writers tell us that there will come a day when Jesus will return to establish His kingdom fully “here on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Five things we know about Jesus’ return from Scripture are:

  1. It will happen (Acts 1:8; John 14:3)
  2. It will happen in God’s time (Acts 1:6-7; Matthew 24:36)
  3. It will be recognizable to all (1 Thessalonians 4:15; Revelation 1:7-8)
  4. It will bring the fullness of Christ’s victorious kingdom over all (Revelation 19:11-16; 21:1-5)
  5. It will bring vindication for God’s people in the sight of all (1 Thessalonians 4:11-5; 1 John 3:2)

Jesus, the Ascended King, will return in glory, bringing the fullness of God’s kingdom and righteousness that will lead into the establishment of the new heaven and the new earth. So let us be encouraged by the ascension of Jesus that it will be followed by His return and the consummation of all God’s purposes and plans. Let us persevere in light of the resurrection and ascension until the day of His coming or when we see Him face-to-face, whichever arrives first.

[Read Part 1: “The Ascension and Jesus’ Enthronement” and Part 2: “The Ascension and Jesus’ Intercession”]

Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances

As we begin the new year, we also begin a new series this coming weekend at Eastbrook Church entitled “Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances.” In a world at odds with itself, how do followers of Christ live with irrepressible joy in God? In this six-week series we will journey through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians to develop a theology of joy. We want to begin the year with the fullness of God’s joy in Jesus Christ.

In preparing for this series I have been reminded of how many well-loved verses are found in Philippians. Here are a few:

  • “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).
  • “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21).
  • the hymn to Christ in 2:6-11
  • “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (2:12-13).
  • “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (2:15-16).
  • “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (3:7).
  • “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (3:12).
  • “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4).

It is that last verse which serves as a resounding theme of the letter of Philippians. Paul, writing this letter while imprisoned, illustrates through his own life that joy can exist regardless of our circumstances. Join us for this journey to joy as we begin 2018!