The Weekend Wanderer: 8 February 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.

The Course - Jessica Bruah“The Cancer Chair: Is suffering meaningless?” – Christian Wiman, American poet and Professor of the Practice of Religion and Literature at Yale Divinity School, writes about his journey with cancer and questions about the meaning of suffering. Always an astute craftsman of words (if you haven’t read My Bright Abyss, do yourself a favor and read it sometime soon!), Wiman brings together reflections on his own cancer, the book of Job, Friedrich Nietzsche, Simone Weil, Albert Camus, and the Cross of Christ.

 

0_DydTubCNbDSFL-mb“From the Abundance of the Heart” – Alan Jacobs shares an essay on a topic that more of us should think about, particularly in the social media era: the power of our words. Relating an experience of giving a lecture based on an essay he had written but not yet published, Jacobs encountered the sourness of his words as they came out of his mouth, bringing a sense of conviction about the fact that these were both his words and words of which he did not approve at the same. There are some interesting insights here about the words of Jesus: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

 

Vector picture of Human Evolution“What If We Don’t Have to Choose Between Evolution and Adam and Eve?” – When I was working as a college pastor in the early 2000s, we conducted a teaching series called “Hot Topics,” where we engaged with controversial issues facing students in relation to faith. One of those topics that continues to be hotly debated in certain circles is the relationship between creation and evolution. Just this past year, S. Joshua Swamidass, a computational biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, published The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry in an attempt to change the terms of the debate. His book is up for a Reader’s Choice Award at InterVarsity Press. Here’s an interview with Swamidass about his book and his thought-provoking claims.

 

Dorothy Sayer mystery“‘No Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition or Mumbo Jumbo’: Dorothy L Sayers and the Detection Club” – Dorothy Sayers, one of the most incisive writers and thinkers of her era, is perhaps known best today for her connection to the Inklings, a group of writer including J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Christians may know her for her radio play, The Man Born to Be King, or The Mind of the Maker, but Sayers was well-known for her mystery-writing with the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. Sayers founded the Detection Club to support mystery writing, and it apparently still exists today. Who knew?

 

rohr_edit“Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe” – These days I cannot seem to take more than a few steps within Christian circles without someone mentioning Richard Rohr. He is one of those authors whose influence looms large for those who are seeking to reengage with faith and spirituality in an ecclesially disillusioned age. There are certain impulses about Rohr that I appreciate, some theological moves that deeply concern me, and a few other things about him that just drive me nuts. Love him or hate him, you have to reckon with Richard Rohr in discussions of faith today. Back in July, I shared Matthew Milliner’s helpful “field guide” to Rohr, and just this week Eliza Griswold offered a more personal look Rohr and his influence in North America today.

 

Steve Gillen“Willow Creek’s interim pastor to step down as church drops top candidates to fill Hybels’ shoes” – Speaking of ecclesial disillusionment, Willow Creek continues to reel after the leadership crisis surrounding misconduct accusations against former Senior Pastor Bill Hybels. After the top two candidates for filling the Senior Pastor role were released by Willow Creek, Steve Gillen, Willow’s acting senior pastor, tendered his resignation effective March 17 because of the protracted nature of the search. Looming in the background are recent accusations that Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, an influential founder of Willow Creek and mentor to Bill Hybels, has also been accused of sexual harassment and misconduct both at Willow Creek and during his time at Wheaton College. May God purify His church and have mercy upon His people.

 

Music: Asgeir, “Until Daybreak,” from Bury the Moon

[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.]

Redemption in the Darkness (discussion questions)

Featured Image -- 6321Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Redemption in the Darkness,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the sixth and final part of our series, “Finding God in the Darkness,” from the book of Job. This week we looked at Job 42:7-17.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever experienced something being taken away but later restored? What happened and what did you feel afterwards?
  2. This weekend we conclude our series, “Finding God in the Darkness,” by looking at Job 42:7-17. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer, and then read that portion of Job aloud.
  3. As the book of Job draws to a conclusion, God brings restoration to Job from his great losses. However, it is not a simplistic restoration. The first section of this restoration involves Job’s three friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. What is God’s accusation against them in verse 7 and what is God’s plan for restoration for them in verse 8?
  4. Battered, bruised and covered with boils, Job is approached by his friends with humility and repentance. What do you think is significant about Job’s prayer as it depicts Job’s relationship with God and his relationship with his friends?
  5. The next phase of Job’s restoration is more personal, covering his relationships, his material possessions, his children, and his years. What catches your attention from these different restorative works of God in verses 10-17?
  6. There are various different views on God’s restoration of Job’s life. Some see it as actually reinforcing the retribution principle of Job’s friends (that those who suffer have done wrong and those who have wealth have done right). Some see it as reflecting Job’s reward for praying for his friends. Others see it as simply God’s gracious gift in Job’s life. How do you view this restoration?
  7. Job has often been seen as a ‘type’ of Christ; that is, a biblical character who pictures forth what Jesus would be like and do. How do you think this is true?
  8. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this specific study, but also through this series on Job? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and then take extended time to pray about what you share. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Redemption in the Darkness

Featured Image -- 6321
Wow! What a journey over this season of Lent through the book of Job here with our series, “Finding God in the Darkness,” at Eastbrook. I concluded this series on Palm Sunday, doing my best to pull together our entire  journey with Job and Jesus’ journey to the Cross.

You can watch the message here, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

God’s Grace in Loss (Job 42:7-17)

God’s grace in restored friendships (42:7-9)

God’s grace in relationships (42:10-11)

God’s grace with possessions (42:12)

God’s grace with the next generation (42:13-15)

God’s grace through the years (42:16-17)

 

Redemption and the Innocent Sufferer (James 5:11)

Job as a picture of Jesus (James 5:11)

Suffering in the cosmic drama (1 John 3:8)

Suffering though innocent (1 Peter 3:18)

Suffering as a revelation of wisdom (Colossians 2:2-3)

Suffering as a pathway to God’s grace (1 Peter 5:10-11)

Hearing God in the Darkness

Featured Image -- 6321
I continued our series on the book of Job, “Finding God in the Darkness,” this past weekend at Eastbrook. This was the fifth message in this six-part series that takes us through the traditional season of Lent with an accompanying daily devotional.

You can watch the message here, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »

Wisdom in the Darkness (discussion questions)

Featured Image -- 6321Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Wisdom in the Darkness,” on Job 28 from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third part of our six-part series “Finding God in the Darkness.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. We continue our series “Finding God in the Darkness” this weekend with a look at Job, chapter 28. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer, and then read that chapter aloud.
  2. Background: Job chapter 28 is a unique portion of the book of Job. In one sense, it is an extended proverb or reflection on wisdom itself. Some Bible scholars believe this chapter comes from Job’s mouth in his dialogue with his friends while others view it as a sort of reflective intermission by the author. Either way, the central theme of this passage is where true wisdom is found.
  3. Verses 1-12 use an extended metaphor of mining for jewels to lead into a discussion of wisdom. Verse 12 is the ultimate driving question. How do you think this picture of mining compares to searching for wisdom?
  4. When have you felt like you deeply needed wisdom in your life? What did you do to gain it or pursue it?
  5. Verses 13-20 take us into the pursuit of wisdom. What sources within nature are put forward for finding wisdom?
  6. Multiple times the author talks about the fact that wisdom cannot be purchased. Why do you think this is true?
  7. Verses 21-28 reflect on the search for wisdom and our inability to find it anywhere else but in God. Why do you think it’s important that wisdom, in a sense, is concealed from us? Why do you think it’s important that finding wisdom takes a focused pursuit?
  8. The final verse of the chapter focuses on the ‘fear of the Lord’ as the way of wisdom. What do you think this means? You may want to take a look at Proverbs 1:7; 9:10; 10:27; 14:27; Exodus 14:31; Deuteronomy 31:12; Psalm 33:18; 36:1 for other insights.
  9. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and then take extended time to pray about what you share. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

Wisdom in the Darkness

Featured Image -- 6321
I continued our series on Job, “Finding God in the Darkness,” this past weekend at Eastbrook with a message from Job 28 entitled “Wisdom in the Darkness.” This message is the centerpoint of the book of Job, focusing on the heart of wisdom that we develop with an appropriate fear of the Lord. This is the third message in a six-part series on the book of Job that takes us through the traditional season of Lent with an accompanying daily devotional.

You can watch the message here, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »

Wrestling Lessons with Job

In Shakespeare’s powerful drama King Lear there is a moving scene where King Lear, bereft of the daughter he loves most, Cordelia, and being controlled by his two other self-serving daughters, Goneril and Regan, rushes out into a tempestuous storm.[1]

As the dark storm rages about him, Lear rages about his own suffering and loss. He calls upon the wild thunder and lightning to destroy him and the grief-filled world as he wanders wildly through the darkness around him. Eventually, King Lear goes mad with grief and confusion in this episode. He calls out for justice, meaning, and resolution, but finds none in the isolation of the storm.

In some ways, King Lear’s struggle parallels that of Job. They are both looking for meaning in their suffering.Read More »