Creation and Embodied Sexuality

Love Sex Body Series GFX-05I continued our series, “Love-Sex-Body: Toward a Biblical Theology of Embodied Sexuality,” this past weekend at at Eastbrook Church

This weekend, I turned our attention to the first chapter of God’s Good Story: Creation. The message draws upon many Scripture passages, but finds its footing in Genesis 1 and 2. My main point was basically that our bodies our good, our sexuality is good, and love is the good that holds that all together. In the midst of the message, I spent some time discussing the image of God in humanity, the nature of biological sex and gender, as well as some reflections on singleness and marriage.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

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The Weekend Wanderer: 13 October 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.

 

1536560855288“Chinese officials burn bibles, close churches, force Christian to denounce faith amid ‘escalating’ crackdown” – This was shared with me by a friend directly connected to the situation of the house church in China. President Qi has increasingly put pressure on religious groups, particularly the underground church, as he seeks to reestablish a more pure communist agenda in China. What is new here is the aggressive measures being taken, including against the “Three-Self Church,” which is the government-approved church.

 

LX7EOIGOEQI6RI7GITNKHU263Y“October 12 Update on the Release of Pastor Andrew Brunson” – On Friday international news reports indicated that a Turkish court ruled today to release Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained for the past two years and has been remanded to house arrest since July due to health concerns. Following this case over the past two years, it is clear that Brunson has been a pawn used in the midst of political tensions between Turkey and the United States. Throughout his detainment, he has claimed he is innocent of the charges that he is somehow connected to organizations working against the Turkish government.

 

83523“A Dying Child and a Living Hope” – When Kelly and I went through the painful experience of a miscarriage, I pulled a book off my shelf that a friend had once bought for me called The Shaming of the Strong by Dr. Sarah Williams, a professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. A couple of days ago, I read on Christianity Today that Dr. Williams has released a new book, which looks to be either a revision of the earlier book or a reappraisal of her own journey through carrying a child, Cerian, whom doctors told her would die upon birth. Aaron Cobb reviews that new book by Sarah Williams, Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian, showing the grace and insight that Williams brings in the valley of the shadow of death as she reflects on what it means to be human.

 

_103770368_20171028_123422“The young Americans who are bucking the divorce trend” – This should catch your attention: between 2008 and 2016 the divorce rate in the US fell by 18%, according to a study by the University of Maryland. Of course, the related fact is that marriage rates have also dropped, with millennials three times less likely to get married than their grandparents’ generation. The abstract of the study concludes with this line: “The U.S. is progressing toward a system in which marriage is rarer, and more stable, than it was in the past, representing an increasingly central component of the structure of social inequality.” Looking at five couples that span the spectrum of modern marriage relationships, a BBC reporter highlights reasons why this may be the case, including a rare, fair-minded look at Christian marriage in couple #5.

 

alan jacobs“Christianity and Resistance: An Interview with Alan Jacobs” – The Los Angeles Review of Books has a wonderful interview with Alan Jacobs about his recent book The Year of Our Lord 1943: Christian Humanism in an Age of Crisis. It’s no secret that I have a great admiration for Jacobs’ writing and thinking, and this interview only adds to that admiration. Setting up the interview, the interviewer writes, “That mid-20th-century moment when civilization looked into the abyss — and large portions of humanity plunged into it — seems to resonate strongly for a lot of writers and thinkers these days, and not only because of Trumpism’s neo-fascist and ‘Christian’ nationalist tendencies.”  [Thanks to Wesley Hill for sharing this article.]

 

trump-with-evangelical-leaders“‘Evangelical’ has become too political and needs to be ‘reclaimed’, says WEA head” – The ongoing debate about what the word ‘evangelical’ means and whether it is still a helpful term rose to the surface in recent comments by the General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, Bishop Efraim Tendero. This dovetails with a recent report that nearly 40 evangelical leaders came out with a statement against Donald Trump and the Alt-Right, in light of many contested surveys that say 80% of white evangelical voters supported Donald Trump. A wide-ranging group of authors wrestled with that question in the book Still Evangelical?: Insiders Reconsider Political, Social, and Theological Meaning, published by InterVarsity Press.

 

John-Lennox“Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?” is a lecture given as part of the “Trending Questions” series of the Zacharias Institute by Dr. John Lennox, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford. Lennox digs into some of the most pertinent questions related to AI today, touching upon the domains of science, philosophy, ethics, and theology. This is a long video, but you can skip ahead of the introduction to Dr. Lennox’s lecture directly at 18′ 23″. [Thanks to Jeff Davis for sharing this link with me.]

 

he held radical light.jpgHe Held Radical Light – Image Journal, in their latest email update, reviews Christian Wiman’s latest book. “This slim new volume of essays on art, death, and eternity, demands to be read with a level of focused attention that is hard for me to come by these days, but it repays the effort. Picking up where My Bright Abyss left off, it’s a chain of essays about contemporary poets, including A.R. Ammons, Denise Levertov, Seamus Heaney, Susan Howe, Donald Hall, and many others, in which Wiman probes his own youthful desire to write ‘a poem that would live forever’—a wish intensified by his battle with cancer. That goal might seem ludicrous, if Wiman were not so self-aware, so sincere, and such a thirsty reader of poems. As it is, the idea of such a poem, possible or not, feels worthy of every attention.”

 

Orlean-LibrariesAnd since we’re on the topic of books, why not travel through memory and the stacks of the public library with Susan Orlean in her wonderfully written essay, “Growing Up in the Library,” over at The New Yorker. As a chronic reader who spends time at our local library every week, and as one taken to the library as a child by my parents who continues that legacy with my own children, I resonate with Orlean’s first lines: “I grew up in libraries, or at least it feels that way.” [Thanks to Micah Mattix for sharing this in the Daily Prufrock.]

[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.]

Five Themes of Resilient Ministry

fullsizeoutput_abeThis week, I am spending time in reflection about what it means to be a pastor, what ministry is all about, and what it means to be the church. Earlier this week I shared some insights from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together about the church and from Dallas Willard on the nature of ministry in a consumer society. Today, I want to turn my attention toward pastoral ministry.

In their book Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving, Bob Burns, Tasha Chapman and Donald Guthrie outline five themes of resilient ministry that I have found valuable as I reflect on what is most meaningful in my life as a pastor. They write:

After seven years of studying our [pastoral] summit participants (including their marriages, families and ministries), we learned a lot about what it takes to survive and thrive in ministry. Five themes, each with multiple factors, stood out as the keys for pastors to remain resilient in fruitful ministry for a lifetime.

In chapter two, the authors introduce those five themes, so here they are in summary form.

Theme One: Spiritual Formation

The study reveals that focus on personal spiritual formation within the life of the pastor is incredibly important to pastoral resilience. “In our work with pastors, we have come to define spiritual formation as the ongoing process of maturing as a Christian, both personally and interpersonally” (19, italics mine). This is not something that has been attained, but is an ongoing process in which leaders give attention, as any disciple of Christ should, to their ongoing growth with God. Along with this, the authors emphasize that pastoral resilience arises when this emphasis on spiritual formation is not only persona, but interpersonal. That is, spiritual formation must involve others and, though this can be a problem for pastors to find, must involve safe places for vulnerable disclosure.  They quote Diane Langberg, who says “Before you were called to be a shepherd, you were called to be a lamb” (21).

Theme Two: Self-Care

As pastors take steps to live out self-denial with intentional spiritual growth, they must also give attention to appropriate self-care. “The idea of self-care involves the pursuit of physical, mental and emotional health” (21). The work of ministry is very demanding in terms of time, life issues, and the sense that it is a 24-7 role. However, in the midst of those stresses, we cannot lose sight of taking care of ourselves through meaningful physical exercise, good sleep and eating, activities outside of the church, and some life-giving hobbies. As someone once said to me, “The best thing you have to offer to the church as a pastor is a healthy you.”

Theme Three: Emotional and Cultural IntelligenceRead More »

Righteous Relationships (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Righteous Relationships,” which is part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 3:1-12.

  1. In which of your relationships do you find it most easy to share your faith in Jesus? In which relationships do you find it harder to do that?
  1. As we continue our series, “Exiles,” this weekend, we are turning to 1 Peter 3:1-12. Begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak to you through the Bible, and then read the passage aloud.
  1. Continuing from the previous section, 1 Peter 2:18-25, Peter now focuses attention on husband-wife relationships. He addresses them both, saying “in the same way” (3:1, 7). This brings us back to 1 Peter 2:18, where Peter addresses the household servants. What is “the same way” that Peter is talking about?
  1. According to verses 1 and 2, what reason does Peter give for the submission he commends for wives?
  1. Peter offers a contrast between inner and outer beauty. This is a hot topic in our own culture, where some companies are campaigning for “real beauty.” What sort of beauty is Peter upholding and how do you think the church can reflect this?
  1. Verse 7 is a brief but pointed instruction for husbands. What does Peter exhort husbands to do and what is the reason for it?
  1. Do you think it’s easy or hard to live out Peter’s instructions for husbands and wives? Why do you say that?
  1. Speaking more generally in verses 8-12, Peter calls all followers of Jesus into a different sort of character. How would you briefly describe each phrase offered in verse 8?
  1. Behind 1 Peter 3:9 is Jesus’ statement in Luke 6:27-28. Read those verses. What do you think it practically looks like to bless those who intend evil for us?
  1. Verses 10-12 are drawn from Psalm 34, which Peter also references in 1 Peter 2:3. Why do you think Peter uses these verses here at the end of his section on relationships?
  1. What is one specific thing you sense God is speaking to you through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about what you share together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

[Next week: We continue our “Exiles” series by looking at 1Peter 3: 13-22 with a conversation around “Persecution.” Read ahead with us!]

Righteous Relationships

Exiles Series Gfx_Web Header

What does apple pie, fresh fruit, and exile faith have in common?

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series, “Exiles: A Study of 1 Peter,” looking at our relationships from 1 Peter 3:1-12: wives, husbands, and the community of God.

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

If you’re interested in getting to know us more at Eastbrook, please take a moment to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo. You could also join our community by downloading the Eastbrook app.

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Sexuality and Marriage (discussion questions)

HS 4Here are the discussion questions that accompany the message that Kelly and I delivered this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, “Sexuality and Marriage.” This was the fourth and final part of our series, “Holy Sexuality.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was your view of marriage growing up?
  2. This week we conclude our series, “Holy Sexuality,” with a focus on sexuality and marriage. We will look at various passages in this study. Before you begin, take some time to pray, asking God to speak to you and transform you through this study.
  3. Whether you are studying alone or with a group, read Genesis 2:20-25 aloud. What level of commitment do you see in these verses about the marriage relationship before God?
  4. How is this similar to or different from the view of marriage in our world today?
  5. Now read Song of Songs 8:4-14 aloud. This passage is a richly poetic and almost surprising expression of the joys of love in marriage. What are the different aspects of love that you see in these verses?
  6. How does the community celebrate and guard love in this passage?
  7. What are one or two ways in which the example of the lovers in Song of Songs is helpful to you right now?
  8. Next we want to look at the challenges to married sexuality from Proverbs 5:1-23. Read that passage aloud and identify a few of the main challenges to holy sexuality in marriage.
  9. What antidotes to these challenges are presented in these verses?
  10. After looking at the challenges, it is clear that we cannot live this out from our own resources. What are some of the keys to committed sexuality in marriage from Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33?
  11. What is the “profound mystery” that Paul connects to the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5:31-33? Why is this important?
  12. What is one major takeaway you have from this week’s study? If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone this week. If you are in a group, take time to pray for one another about these things.

Sexuality and Marriage

HS 4My wife, Kelly, and I concluded the “Holy Sexuality” series this past weekend at Eastbrook Church by talking about sexuality and marriage. I was so glad to have Kelly join me for preparation and delivery of the message. She is such a gifted pastor and woman of God, and working together on this made the message so much better.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can also listen to the message via our audio podcast here.

As always, I’d like to invite you to connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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