The Weekend Wanderer: 1 September 2018

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.


83267“Many Churchgoers Want Sunday Morning Segregated” – At Christianity Today, Bob Smietana reports on a recent Lifeway Research survey about the desire and tendency for Protestant Christians to worship with others like them. “More than half (57%) of Protestant churchgoers under 50 say they prefer to go to church with people who share their political views. And few adult Protestant churchgoers say they attend services with people of a different political persuasion.” So much for the one new humanity of Ephesians 2


Griswold-The-Block-ChurchAnd in other, yet related, news: “Millennial Evangelicals Diverge from Their Parents’ Beliefs.” In The New Yorker, Eliza Griswold charts the recent changes in evangelicalism in terms of socio-political issues, concluding that evangelicalism is in a state of flux in terms of its social engagement on issues such as abortion, immigration, and more, particularly along generational lines. “The result is that younger evangelicals are speaking out on issues like family separation at the border, climate change, police brutality, and immigration reform­­––causes not typically associated with the evangelical movement. In the continuing moral outrage at the border, which includes nearly six hundred children still displaced in New York City alone, many see the faces of themselves and their families.” While I have strong aversions to generational theory, this should come as no surprise, given that the very idea of ‘evangelicalism’ as a monolithic theological, political, or sociological movement is fiercely debated today.


aretha“Here is the Aretha Franklin funeral program, and it’s epic” – The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, passed away this week (read the obituary). As with many of her generation of soul and R&B, she began her career by singing in church, including the church where her father was the pastor, New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. CNN has gathered together some quick facts on her life here. Although I had heard her music before, I hate to say that as a kid my introduction to Aretha came through her appearance with the song “Think” in The Blues Brotherswhich I saw in an edited-for-television version at an early age,  You might want a deeper dive into some of her greatest songs of all time here.


Lt. Comdr. John S. McCain is interviewed after the Vietnam War“John McCain Would Have Passed the Anne Frank Test” – After the passing of John McCain last weekend, there have been many reflections on his life and work. I particularly enjoyed this reflection by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic related to McCain’s integrity and willingness to stand up for the right in difficult situations and in the face of difficult people. The Anne Frank test: “something I learned from a Holocaust survivor almost 40 years ago, is actually a single question: Which non-Jewish friends would risk their lives to hide us should the Nazis ever return?”


Hybels“Randy Alcorn on Evangelical Sex Scandals: Bad Pastors Just Reappear at New Churches, Repeat Sins” Randy Alcorn, famous as a pastor and Christian author made veiled references to the Bill Hybels/Willow Creek saga, with some reflections on how the evangelical church grapples with leadership and integrity. In light of the systemic leadership coverup of the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal, Alcorn’s words feel more poignant: “Countless churches have hired a pastor who ends up in immorality, only to find out that he had been guilty of the same in his previous church, which they had failed to ask about his character, morality and reputation.”


inside out“Outside In: What do we see when we look at ourselves?” – You really do not want to miss Alan Jacobs’ astute exploration of the human condition and the contemporary suggestions of what it means to be a self (or not to believe in a self at all). Touching on St. Paul, Charles Taylor, the Invisibilia podcast, Rebecca West, Pokémon, Friederich Nietzsche, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and Inside Out, you will be delightfully provoked to thought.


ubang“Uban: The Nigerian Village Where Men and Women Speak Different Languages” – Just when you thought you had a difficult time communicating with someone else, a friend shared this fascinating piece about the village of Ubang in Nigeria, where men and women speak in different languages that are still understandable to one another. “In Ubang, a farming community in southern Nigeria, men and women say they speak different languages. They view this unique difference as ‘a blessing from God’, but as more young people leave for greener pastures and the English language becomes more popular, there are concerns it won’t survive.”“Australia’s New Prime Minister Is an Evangelical Christian” –  I’m not sure what evangelical means anymore, particularly when used by new agencies, but this was in the news this week. “Australia’s newest prime minister is a church-going evangelical Christian who isn’t afraid to stand up for his faith in a country largely viewed as secular. Scott Morrison became prime minister Friday when the Liberal Party voted him in as its leader after ousting Malcolm Turnbull, the former prime minister and party leader. The Liberals are a center-right party in Australia, while the Labor Party is more center-left. Morrison is a member of Horizon Church, a Pentecostal congregation in Sydney where he and his family are involved in ministries.”


the good lifeI’m thankful Micah Mattix highlighted Karen Swallow Prior‘s new book On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great BooksHere is an excerpt: “Reading great literature well has the power to cultivate virtue. Great literature increases knowledge of and desire for the good life by showing readers what virtue looks like and where vice leads. It is not just what one reads but how one reads that cultivates virtue. Reading good literature well requires one to practice numerous virtues, such as patience, diligence, and prudence. And learning to judge wisely a character in a book, in turn, forms the reader’s own character. Acclaimed author Karen Swallow Prior takes readers on a guided tour through works of great literature both ancient and modern, exploring twelve virtues that philosophers and theologians throughout history have identified as most essential for good character and the good life. In reintroducing ancient virtues that are as relevant and essential today as ever, Prior draws on the best classical and Christian thinkers, including Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine. Covering authors from Henry Fielding to Cormac McCarthy, Jane Austen to George Saunders, and Flannery O’Connor to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Prior explores some of the most compelling universal themes found in the pages of classic books, helping readers learn to love life, literature, and God through their encounters with great writing. In examining works by these authors and more, Prior shows why virtues such as prudence, temperance, humility, and patience are still necessary for human flourishing and civil society.”


o-PARIS-facebook“Gorgeous Photos of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries” – Because you need some inspiration as the school year starts, why not imagine that you are completing your studies in an environment like this. Or maybe, like me, you just needed a new desktop image to keep you feeling like you’re part of something bigger than our computer-laden world.


JohnM-502x630Makoto Fujimura, “The Four Holy Gospels” – Take a moment to enjoy the wondrous artistry of Makoto Fujimura’s work commissioned for an edition of the four canonical Gospels in the English Standard Version, published in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version (KJV) Bible in 1611. More info here.


[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 Gospel of the Kingdom

Throughout our Crossroads series here at Eastbrook Church we have investigated what it means that Jesus has come to a crossroads moment in His ministry and human history within Jerusalem immediately before His crucifixion. We have explored Jesus as Lord of the Sabbath, the Sent Son, the New Temple, Lord of the Cast Off, and so much more. I’m a visual thinker so I find it helpful to see this explained and I have not encountered such a powerful means for that as exemplified in The Bible Project. I hope you enjoy their thematic video “The Gospel of the Kingdom” as much as I did.

Free to Live (discussion questions)

We continued our series, “Free: A Study on Galatians,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church look at what it means to live in light of new life in Jesus Christ from Galatians 6. Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Free to Live,” which is the sixth and final part of our series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. This week we conclude our series Free: A Study on Galatians by looking at Galatians, chapter 6. Before you begin, pray that God would speak to you through your study of the Scripture. Next, read Galatians 6 out loud.
  2. The first part of Galatians 6, verses 1-10, continues Pauls train of thought begun in Galatians 5:13 about living by the Spirit. How does Paul practically instruct the Galatian believers about life in the Holy Spirit in verses 1-7? 
  3. Why do you think Paul brings together the ideas of carrying anothers burden and taking pride in ourselves in these verses?
  4. Have you ever struggled with pride when confronted with anothers sin or difficulties? What did you do?
  5. With verses 8-10, Paul confronts the tendency to take advantage of freedom in Christ for acts of the flesh (5:19). What does Paul call the believers toward in these verses? 
  6. Why do you think Paul includes phrases like let us not become weary or if we do not give up in the context of doing good deeds?
  7. How would you describe what it practically looks like to sow to please the Spirit (6:8) in our lives?
  8. In the second part of Galatians 6, verses 11-18, Paul summarizes and concludes the letter. He emphasizes  see what large letters(6:11)  the contrast between him and his opponents. What is that contrast and why is it important?
  9. What would you say Paul means by his strong statement in verse 14? What does that truth mean for you in your life?
  10. What is your biggest take-away from this study or the entire series on Galatians. If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone this week.

Spiritual Freedom (discussion questions)

As we continued our series, “Free: A Study on Galatians,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church we looked at the power of spiritual freedom in Jesus Christ from Galatians 5. Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Spiritual Freedom,” which is the fifth part of our series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. We continue our series on freedom in Christ this weekend as we make our way into Galatians, chapter 5. Before you begin, pray that God would speak to you through your study of the Scripture. Next, read Galatians 5 out loud.
  2. Galatians 5 is built around two major declarations by Paul related to our freedom, found in verses 1 and 13. Verses 1-12 carry forward themes Paul has discussed throughout the letter so far. What would you say is Paul’s main point or points in this first section of Galatians 5?
  3. Once again, Paul makes some fairly dramatic statements about those who rely on legalism or religious performance to make themselves right with God, particularly in verses 4 and 12. Why do you think Paul get so upset by this situation?
  4. With verse 13, Paul begins talking about the everyday way we relate to others as Christians, commonly called ethics. In verses 13-18, Paul contrasts the way of the flesh with the way of freedom. What characterizes the way of the flesh and what characterizes the way of freedom?
  5. Do you resonate with Paul’s description of the conflict between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit? How do you deal with that conflict in your own life?
  6. Paul outlines the ‘acts of the flesh’ in verses 19-21, saying “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” How do you think this relates to Paul’s strong words that “a person is not justified by the works of the law” (2:16)?
  7. Paul’s words on the fruit of the Spirit in verses 22-26 are well-known. Look over chapter 55 and see how Paul talks about the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. What does it mean to truly by led by, walk with, and live by the Spirit?
  8. What is one practical way you need to surrender more to the influence of the Holy Spirit and less to the acts of the flesh this week? If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. If you are alone, share that with someone this week. Close in prayer.

Spiritual Freedom

Free Series Gfx_FacebookThis past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series “Free,” as we looked at Paul’s version of “Two Truths and a Lie” in Galatians, chapter 5.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. All the messages from the “Free” series can be viewed here. Comment on the series on social media using the hashtag #ebcfree.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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Together in Christ: Race, the Gospel and God’s People

On Monday, January 26, 2015,  Eastbrook Church was honored to host Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God for a conversation and time of prayer on the topic of race and the Gospel here in the city of Milwaukee. We opened a lot of points of discussion, did not address everything, perhaps raised more questions than we answered, but it was a great opportunity to press in deeper as the people of God together.

You can watch the video of the whole session below and access our recommended next steps here.

Four times a year we gather as a church to discuss key topics to help us move forward together. This year, we begin our Leadership Forum series with by addressing the challenging topic of how the gospel transforms racial divisions in our world and city. In a city known as one of the most segregated cities in the United States, we want to live into the dream of God for a multiethnic people rooted in the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next Steps from Leadership Forum, 26 January 2015

Four times a year we gather in a Leadership Forum at Eastbrook Church to discuss key topics to help us move forward together in ministry. This year, we begin our Leadership Forum series with by addressing the challenging topic of how the gospel transforms racial divisions in our world and city. In a city known as one of the most segregated cities in the United States, we want to live into the dream of God for a multi-ethnic people rooted in the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

It was a gift to have Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God join us for this discussion. At the end of the night we recommended a series of next steps and I wanted to make those available to a wider audience via my blog.

Next Steps: What Do I Do Now?

#1 Get with God
• Acknowledge and repent of any sin (see Psalm 51; Daniel 9:4-19)
• Lament over our nation (see Lamentations)
• Pray as Christ prayed (see John 17)

#2 Know and Apply what the Bible Teaches
• Read Genesis 12:1-3 in light of God’s multiethnic mission
• Read Ephesians with attention to chapter 2 on the new humanity in Jesus of Jews and Gentiles brought together
• Read Galatians in light of the situation that Paul describes in chapters 1 and 2

#3 Understand the BackgroundRead More »