The Weekend Wanderer: 17 July 2021

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. Disclaimer: 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.


“One million hours of prayer for Olympic host Japan” – Emily Anderson in Eternity: “Christians in Japan are asking the world for one million hours of prayer for their nation throughout the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. Japan 1 Million is led by the Japan international Sports Partnership (JiSP) and Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA). They are calling on churches, individuals and families across the world to unite in prayer for Japan as it takes centre stage from the Opening Ceremony on Friday, 23 July. ‘What a gift to Japan from the global Church – one million hours of prayer for God’s Glory to fall upon our land,’ said JiSP leader Pastor Keishi Ikeda. When it comes to the good news of Christianity being spread, Japan is the second largest un-reached people group in the world. Less than one per cent of its 126 million population attend church.”


Rene Magritte - The Lovers (detail)“Why We Confess: From Augustine to Oprah” – Elizabeth Bruenig in The Hedgehog Review: “Confession, once rooted in religious practice, has assumed a secular importance that can be difficult to describe. Certainly, confessional literature is everywhere: in drive-by tweets hashtagged #confessanunpopularopinion, therapeutic reality-television settings, tell-all celebrity memoirs, and blogs brimming with lurid detail set to endless scroll. Public confession has become both self-forming and culture-forming: Although in some sense we know less about each other than ever, almost every piece of information we do learn is an act of intentional or performative disclosure. It’s easy to chalk up this love of confessional literature to the seemingly modern impulse to overshare, but public confession itself has an ancient history.”


Jesus-Way“Truth, Justice, and the Jesus Way” – This is an older post from Eugene Peterson at the Renovare blog: “Jesus’ metaphor, kingdom of God, defines the world in which we live. We live in a world where Christ is king. If Christ is king, every thing, quite literally, every thing and every one, has to be re-imagined, re-configured, re-oriented to a way of life that consists in an obedient following of Jesus. A total renovation of our imagination, our way of looking at things — what Jesus commanded in his no-nonsense imperative, ‘Repent!’ — is required. We can — we must! — take responsibility for the way we live and work in our homes and neighborhoods, workplaces and public squares. We can refuse to permit the culture to dictate the way we go about our lives.”


“In Kenya, faith groups work to resettle youth returning from al-Shabab” – Fredrick Nzwili in Religion News Service: “In Kenya’s coastal region, interfaith efforts to slow down or end youth recruitment into the militant Islamist group al-Shabab are gaining progress, with some recruits abandoning the extremist group’s training grounds in Southern Somalia to return home. The group — al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa — had stepped up secret recruitments in the coastal and northeastern regions since 2011, when the East African nation’s military entered southern Somalia. The radicalized youth, many of them younger than 30, were often sent across the border to train as jihadists. But now, the activity has slowed down, partly due to efforts by the interfaith groups. More than 300 such youths who had traveled to Somalia for training as jihadists had been rescued and brought back to the country.”


Henri, Vincent and Me“Henri, Vincent, and Living in the World with Kindness” – Joseph Johnson in Englewood Review of Books: “Carol Berry first met Henri Nouwen in the bookstore at Yale Divinity School back in the 1970’s. As she recounts in her moving (and brief) book, Learning from Henri Nouwen and Vincent van Gogh, he initially appeared like “a man dressed in a well-worn, baggy, moth-eaten sweater with a woolen scarf around his neck” (4). Though Nouwen may have looked like a disheveled, older student, he was actually teaching at Yale at the time, and Berry was deeply moved while sitting in on Nouwen’s lecture on Vincent van Gogh and the nature of the compassionate life. Nouwen is known by many as a deeply kind Catholic spiritual writer, and for me, his writings—and especially letters—have been a real gift. Nouwen felt a deep connection with van Gogh as a fellow wounded healer who desired to connect with other and provide them with comfort, and he worked hard to share this connection with his students (8). As Berry puts it, the hope was that, “Through Vincent’s story, through the parable of his life, we were to come closer to an understanding of what it meant to be a consoling presence” (52). Her book aims for a similar purpose.”


“Sierra Leonean evangelicals approach death penalty abolition process with caution” – Jonatán Soriano in Evangelical Focus: “Pressure from the international community and, above all, NGOs has led to a massive process of abolition of the death penalty in Africa. In 2016, Guinea took this step, joining Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Togo. In 2018 it was Burkina Faso. In 2019 Equatorial Guinea announced an abolitionist bill, and in 2020 Chad removed capital punishment from its legal system. This year Malawi declared it unconstitutional. As among several sectors of society, within the evangelical sphere in Sierra Leone, abolition is viewed differently.”


Music: Vigilantes of Love, “Skin,” from Blister Soul.

A Unified Church in Divided Days

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we took a pause from our current series, “The Messiah’s Mission,” in order to talk about what it means to live as a unified church in divided days. The grounding text for this message was Ephesians 4:1-6.

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view our current series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)

A Prisoner for the Lord (Ephesians 4:1)

  • The situation and calling of Paul the Apostle
  • The calling of every Christian
  • It’s all about Jesus

Learning to Uphold Unity in Love (Ephesians 4:2-3)

  • Putting on the character of Christ
  • Learning love
  • Making every effort for unity

Keeping First Things First (Ephesians 4:4-6)

  • The oneness of the Triune God in the life of the church
  • “In necessary things unity; in uncertain things liberty; in all things charity.”

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into unity as the church in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize part or all of Ephesians 4:1-6
  • In your daily time with God, ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and reveal any ways that you have gotten off track with God during this season. If there is anger, frustration, fear, or anything else, lay it down before Jesus and ask Him to renew your heart.
  • Have an extended season of intercessory prayer for the unity of the church, using John 17 as a model for what you pray for.
  • Re-engage with our series from November 2020, “One: The Being of God in the Life of the Church”

The Messiah’s Mission – a new series at Eastbrook

This past Sunday at Eastbrook Church we begin a thirteen-week preaching series entitled “The Messiah’s Mission,” which continues our journey through the Gospel of Matthew, focusing on chapters 8-12. This is the fourth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” and “Becoming Real.”

After the Sermon on the Mount Jesus begins in earnest His mission of reaching people far from God and displaying the kingdom of God. He does the work and then invites His followers into the work.

You can join in with the daily devotional for this series online, as a downloadable PDF, via the Eastbrook app, or through a limited-run of paper copies available at our in-person worship services or by reaching out to the Eastbrook Church office.

Join us each weekend of this series in-person or via Eastbrook at Home.

Here are the weekly topics for the series:

May 9 – “The Messiah Heals” – Matthew 8:1-17

May 16 – “The Messiah’s Call” – Matthew 8:18-22

May 23 – “The Messiah’s Authority” – Matthew 8:23-9:8

May 30 – “The Messiah’s Followers” – Matthew 9:9-17

June 6 – “The Messiah Delivers – Matthew 9:18-34

June 13 – “The Messiah Sends” – Matthew 9:35-10:25

June 20 – “The Messiah Sends, part 2” – Matthew 10:26-11:1

June 27 – “The Messiah and the Forerunner” – Matthew 11:2-19

July 4 – “The Messiah’s Challenge and Invitation” – The Messiah’s Challenge and Invitation

July 11 – “The Messiah and the Sabbath” – Matthew 12:1-21

July 18 – “The Messiah and Satan” – Matthew 12:22-37

July 25 – “The Messiah’s Sign” – Matthew 12:38-45

August 1 – “The Messiah’s Family” – Matthew 12:46-50

Real Faith: worry, trust, and priorities

This past weekend at Eastbrook, as we continued our series “Becoming Real” on the Sermon on the Mount, we turned to Matthew 6:25-34.

This passage speaks right into one of our most personal and constant issues as human beings: worry. I explore what worry is and what it does and doesn’t do. I also spent time talking about the power of creation in relation to our life with worry and our life with God. Ultimately, this is one more teaching that relates to the overall good life that Jesus outlines for His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount where God is the center and life is unified around God’s kingdom and righteousness. That is summarized so powerfully in one of the most memorable verses from the entire Sermon on the Mount, which is found here:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire “Becoming Real” series here, as well as the devotional that accompanies the series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Why Worry? (6:25, 27, 28, 31, 34)

  • What is worry?
  • Why do we worry?
  • What does worry accomplish?
  • The difference between worry and work

What Preoccupies Us? (6:25)

  • Preoccupation with food and clothes (6:25-34)
  • Preoccupation with treasure (6:19-24)
  • Preoccupation with human reward (6:1-18)
  • The disciple is not preoccupied, but occupied with something else

Take a Good Look at and Learn from the Birds and Wildflowers (6:26, 28-30)

  • The well-provided birds
  • The best-dressed wildflowers
  • The care of God the Father
  • If that is true for them, then what for us?

Disciples’ Faith and Priority (6:33)

  • Living by faith in God the Father
  • Prioritizing God’s kingdom and righteousness

Making It Real

  • Perspective: the uselessness of worry and the power of faith
  • Provision: trusting God the Father for what we need Priority: living for God’s kingdom and righteousness first

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching on real spirituality in one or more of the following ways:

  • Consider memorizing Matthew 6:25 or 6:33 this week.
  • Take some time this week to go on a walk or sit outdoors. While you do that notice the beauty of creation around you, especially the birds and the wildflowers. Let your consideration of them lead you into prayer, laying your worries down and choosing to trust God with your life. Perhaps you could use Philippians 4:6-7 as a basis for your prayer.
  • Consider exploring some of these articles on themes related to this passage:

Becoming Real: The Sermon on the Mount – a new series at Eastbrook

This coming weekend at Eastbrook Church we begin a ten-week preaching series entitled “Becoming Real,” walking through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7. This is the third part of our longer journey through the Gospel of Matthew, building upon “Family Tree” and “Power in Preparation.”

This series explores Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount as a basic manual on Christian discipleship, life in the kingdom of God, and re-humanization in Jesus Christ. Jesus begins His ministry – His ministry is becoming real. He invites us to follow Him and learn from Him – discipleship is becoming real. That invitation to Christ calls us toward true humanity – in Him we are becoming real. Join us as we begin the journey with Jesus of becoming real.

You can also join in with the daily devotional for this series online, as a downloadable PDF, via the Eastbrook app, or through a limited-run of paper copies available at our in-person worship services or by reaching out to the Eastbrook Church office.

Join us each weekend of this series in-person or via Eastbrook at Home.

Here are the weekly topics for the series:

February 21 – “Real Life” – Matthew 5:1-11

February 28 – “Real Identity” – Matthew 5:12-16

March 7 – “Real Righteousness” – Matthew 5:17-48

March 14 – “Real Spirituality” – Matthew 6:1-18

March 21 – “Real Treasure” – Matthew 6:19-24

March 28 – “Real Faith” – Matthew 6:25-34

April 4 – “Real Life” – Easter Resurrection Celebration

April 11 – “Real Perspective” – Matthew 7:1-6

April 18 – “Real Prayer” – Matthew 7:7-11

April 25 – “Real Love” – Matthew 7:12

May 2 – “Real Response” – Matthew 7:13-29