The Weekend Wanderer: 26 February 2022

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


274810155_245611617777589_5201497153106588650_n-750x375“Ecumenical Patriarch condemned unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine” – Orthodox Times: “Shocked by the invasion of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of the Republic of Ukraine [on Thursday], the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew telephoned Metropolitan Epifaniy of Ukraine, expressing his deep sorrow at this blatant violation of any notion of international legitimacy, as well as his support to the fighting Ukrainian people and to the families of innocent victims. The Ecumenical Patriarch condemned this unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state of Europe, as well as the violation of human rights and the brutal violence against our fellow humans and, above all, against civilians. He prayed to the God of love and peace to enlighten the leadership of the Russian Federation, in order to understand the tragic consequences of its decisions and actions, which can be the trigger for even a world war.”


Ukraine war“To Stay and Serve: Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine” – Vasyl Ostryi from Ukraine at The Gospel Coalition: “In recent days, the events from the book of Esther have become real to us in Ukraine. It’s as if the decree is signed, and Haman has the license to destroy an entire nation. The gallows are ready. Ukraine is simply waiting. Can you imagine the mood in a society when gradually, day after day for months, the world’s media has been saying that war is inevitable? That much blood will be shed? In recent weeks, nearly all the missionaries have been told to leave Ukraine. Western nations evacuated their embassies and citizens. Traffic in the capital of Kyiv is disappearing. Where did the people go? Oligarchs, businessmen, and those who can afford it are leaving, saving their families from potential war. Should we do the same?”


man-at-work-unhappy“Reconnecting Worship and Work” – Matthew Kaemingk in Comment: “They feel it in their bones. Most Christian workers living in the modern West experience a deep chasm between their Sunday worship and their Monday work. Their daily labors in the world and their Sunday liturgies in the sanctuary feel as if they are a million miles apart.
Most pastors and worship leaders sincerely hope that Sunday morning worship meaningfully connects with Monday morning work. But are their hopes realized? Walking into the sanctuary, many workers feel as if they’re visiting another country, a ‘sacred’ world quite detached from a world of work that they call ‘secular.’ Some workers have resigned themselves to this growing chasm between work and worship. Some even appreciate it. They’re grateful for a Sunday escape from work, a chance to forget the weekly pressures and pains of their careers – even if just for a moment. In the sanctuary they’ve found a spiritual haven, an oasis far from the cares of troublesome bosses, deadlines, and reports. Other workers are deeply bothered by the divorce between their worship and work: they’re haunted by a gnawing sense that the sanctuary is increasingly irrelevant to their daily lives in the world – incapable of speaking to the vocational struggles, questions, and issues they face in the workplace. The chasm eats at them. They long for things to connect.”


madaba_map_Jerusalem“Madaba: The World’s Oldest Holy Land Map” – Nathan Steinmeyer at Bible History Daily: “In 1884, the local community in Madaba, Jordan, made an incredible discovery, the oldest Holy Land map in the world. The now-famous Madaba Map, however, is not found on a piece of paper but rather is part of an intricately designed mosaic floor, now part of the Church of St. George. The map was constructed in the second half of the sixth century C.E. and originally depicted the entire Holy Land and neighboring regions. Although older maps have been discovered, the Madaba Map is by far the oldest Holy Land map. It is not the map’s age that makes it remarkable, however, but rather its extreme accuracy and detail. The preserved portions of the map depict much of the biblical world, with the Jordan River and the Dead Sea in the center of the floor. The Holy Land map stretches from the area of modern Lebanon in the north to Egypt’s Nile Delta in the south, with the Mediterranean Sea as its western border and the Jordan desert as its eastern border. Using at least eight different colors, the Madaba Map portrays the cities, landscapes, flora, and fauna of the region.”


21farmer-haiti2-superJumbo.jpg“Paul Farmer, Pioneer of Global Health, Dies at 62” – Obituary in The New York Times: “Paul Farmer, a physician, anthropologist and humanitarian who gained global acclaim for his work delivering high-quality health care to some of the world’s poorest people, died on Monday on the grounds of a hospital and university he had helped establish in Butaro, Rwanda. He was 62. Partners in Health, the global public health organization that Dr. Farmer helped found, announced his death in a statement that did not specify the cause. Dr. Farmer attracted public renown with Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, a 2003 book by Tracy Kidder that described the extraordinary efforts he would make to care for patients, sometimes walking hours to their homes to ensure they were taking their medication. He was a practitioner of ‘social medicine,’ arguing there was no point in treating patients for diseases only to send them back into the desperate circumstances that contributed to them in the first place. Illness, he said, has social roots and must be addressed through social structures.”


OnBeing_JohnODonohue_Social_1200x628_FBTWWEB_EpArtwork-768x402“John O’Donohue – The Inner Landscape of Beauty” – Krista Tippett interviews John O’Donohue at On Being before his death in 2008: “No conversation we’ve ever done has been more beloved than this one. The Irish poet, theologian, and philosopher insisted on beauty as a human calling. He had a very Celtic, lifelong fascination with the inner landscape of our lives and with what he called “the invisible world” that is constantly intertwining what we can know and see. This was one of the last interviews he gave before his unexpected death in 2008. But John O’Donohue’s voice and writings continue to bring ancient mystical wisdom to modern confusions and longings.”


John Perkins change“Why John Perkins Didn’t Want More White Christians like Jonathan Edwards” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “John Perkins stood up at a planning meeting for a Billy Graham crusade in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1975. The Black pastor and civil rights activist was invited to the meeting, along with a group of African American clergy from the area, because Graham himself had insisted the evangelistic event would be desegregated. Black and white Mississippians would hear the gospel together. Perkins loved Graham and his powerful gospel message, and he was excited to hear that the world’s leading evangelist was taking practical steps to end segregation in the church. So he went to the Holiday Inn in Jackson and sat down on the Black side of the conference room, with all the Black pastors, and looked over at the white side, with all the white pastors. Then he stood up. He asked the white pastors whether their churches were committed to accepting new converts from the crusade into their congregations if the born-again brothers and sisters were Black. He didn’t think they were ready for that in Mississippi. And if they weren’t ready, he didn’t know whether he was either. ‘I don’t know whether or not I want to participate,’ Perkins said, ‘in making the same kind of white Christians that we’ve had in the past.'”


Music: Gene Eugene, “Marvelous Light,” from City on a Hill

The Weekend Wanderer: 19 February 2022

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


pastor trauma

“I’ve Reached My Breaking Point as a Pastor” – Peter Chin in CT Pastors: “A new Barna study discovered that 38 percent of pastors have given real, serious consideration to quitting the ministry in the past year. I am one of that 38 percent. Even in the best of times, pastoral ministry has always felt like a broad and heavy calling. But the events of the past few years have made it a crushing one. The presidential election. Unrest around racial injustice. A global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 800,000 Americans. Never before had I considered health protocols in the context of the church. But today, being too strict with health guidelines might damage the well-being of the church, while being too lax might take the life of a congregant. Pastors like me have to deal with the never-ending conversation about in-person versus online services—and how to serve churchgoers without leaving behind the immunocompromised or disabled. All of this has injected a paralyzing degree of complexity and controversy into every single situation I face, every decision I make. And to make things worse, it feels as if everyone is on a hair trigger, ready to walk away at the merest hint that the church does not line up with their political or personal perspectives. Normally, pastors might rely on their personal relationships to navigate such fraught dynamics. But COVID-19 has taken that away as well, forcing us to rely on phone calls and video screens—which are no substitutes for physical presence.”


Tim Keller“Scraps of Thoughts on Daily Prayer” – Tim Keller at his blog: “There are three kinds of prayer I try to find time for every day – meditation (or contemplation), petition, and repentance. I concentrate on the first two every morning and do the last one in the evening. Meditation is actually a middle ground or blend of Bible reading and prayer. I like to use Luther’s contemplative method that he outlines in his famous letter on prayer that he wrote to his barber. The basic method is this – to take a Scriptural truth and ask three questions of it. How does this show me something about God to praise? How does this show me something about myself to confess? How does this show me something I need to ask God for? Adoration, confession, and supplication. Luther proposes that we keep meditating like this until our hearts begin to warm and melt under a sense of the reality of God. Often that doesn’t happen. Fine. We aren’t ultimately praying in order to get good feelings or answers, but in order to honor God for who he is in himself.”


126914“Learning to Love Your Limits” – An interview with Kelly M. Kapic by Erin Straza for Christianity Today: “Being human can be very frustrating. We’re always long on demands but short on time and energy. And so we redouble our efforts, searching for the magical time-management hack that will allow us to cram more life into our waking hours so that we can live the most efficient and productive life possible. Yet even as we strain against our natural limits, ultimately they cannot (and should not) be overcome, because God designed them for our good. That’s the premise underlying Covenant College theologian Kelly M. Kapic’s latest book, You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News. Persuasion podcast cohost Erin Straza spoke with Kapic about the beauty of our human limits and the freedom that comes when we learn to embrace God’s design for a meaningful life.”


roots“Can You Go Home Again?” – Bill Kauffman reviews Grace Olmstead’s Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind in Modern Age: “Uprooted is the young, Idaho-bred, D.C.-area journalist Grace Olmstead’s book-length grappling with the question ‘Will I move back?’ It’s a good and thoughtful and searching book, comprising equal parts family memoir, meditation on the cause and cost and consequences of uprooting, and reportage on her native ground’s besiegement by ‘economic consolidation, suburban development, and brain drain.’ The only member of her clan who departed the Mountain Time Zone, Olmstead is acutely aware of the place she left behind, in that self-conscious way of the expatriate. Lord Acton said that exile is the nursery of nationalism, but in Uprooted Olmstead is a clear-eyed and analytical guide to her home state, oozing neither treacle nor bile.”


post-traumatic“When Jesus Doubted God: Perspectives from Calvin on Post-Traumatic Faith” – Preston Hill in The Other Journal: “The willingness to witness trauma is often autobiographical. This is true of me in my role as a professor of theology who is active in our university’s Institute of Trauma and Recovery. During my postgraduate education, I tried to stay in one lane and focus solely on Reformation theology and history. That would have been clean and tidy—theology in the academy, and trauma in the real world. But trauma and recovery has pursued me and refused to let go. No one starts from nowhere. We all carry stories that frame our daily professions and relationships. So how did I end up teaching integration of theology and psychology to trauma therapists after completing postgraduate research in John Calvin? I am still not sure. But I do know that these thought worlds, separate as they might seem, are deeply integrated in me, the person; that we cannot help but be who we are; and that there is a clear reward to integrating our professional lives with our lived experiences. A person-centered, holistic approach to life may just be what the world, divided as it is today by endless abstract classifications, is hungry for. What we may need is to encounter reality fresh and face-to-face, whether that reality is violent or beautiful.  As a professor of theology and pastoral counselor, I have had the privilege of witnessing countless students and friends share stories of surviving violence. I have also had the privilege of sharing my story with them. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I live daily with the symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) that affect every aspect of my life. Recovery has been slow and steady. The journey is long, but the friends on the road are more numerous than I had assumed, even in the academy. Indeed, it has been a privilege to research trauma with fellow survivors and witnesses who are keen to explore how theology can be reimagined in our ‘east of Eden’ world.”


The Russell Moore Show 0 David Brooks“David Brooks Wants to Save Evangelicalism” – Russell Moore interviews New York Times columnist David Brooks on The Russell Moore Show: “‘Are the times we’re living in really as crazy as they seem?’ This is the first question that Russell Moore has for David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist, author, and commentator. Brooks’s recent column “The Dissenters Trying to Save Evangelicalism From Itself” details some of the unsettling, disheartening events within evangelicalism over the past few years and highlights several individuals who are trying to forge a different path. On this episode of The Russell Moore Show, Brooks and Moore discuss many types of people that ‘evangelical’ can describe. They talk about the difficulties of resisting the climate of the times. And they talk about what politics are meant to do and be.”


Music: Jon Foreman, “The House of God Forever,” from Spring and Summer

Praying Toward Unity: a simple resource for prayer on our own or with others

Over the past few days, I preached and then have written (here and here) about living as a unified church in divided days. Talking about unity is great, but my sense at this time is that we need more than talk…we need to take a step. And so, I’d like to encourage us to pray about unity. I’m offering a brief reflective prayer tool below that you could use on your own or with others. It is built around a series of questions that could lead you to reflective confession and intercession. But first, I think it is important to just take a moment to be still. So why don’t you take a minute or two (you may even want to set a timer) to still ourselves before God.


First, we know that the essence of our kingdom life is focused on Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. So let’s prayerfully consider this question:

How do I need to return to the truth that life is all about Jesus and God’s Kingdom?

  • maybe something else is distracting us at this time
  • maybe we’ve become confused about what is most important
  • maybe there are ways we need to simply say again to the Lord: “it’s all about you…but I’ve lost my way”

Take several minutes to reflect on these questions and consider what you might need to ask of the Lord in your own life or in your church family.


Now, consider with me a second question that is particularly pertinent as we have walked through great seasons of difficulty. Many times we can point the finger at our circumstances or at others as the source of our problems. However, as we continue to let the Holy Spirit search through us, consider this:

What do I need to lay down at the foot of the Cross, specifically surrendering it to Jesus?

  • maybe there is a fear that has gripped our heart
  • maybe there is anger that is stewing within us
  • maybe there is bitterness that has hardened within your soul
  • Regardless of what might be there, what do we each need to lay down at the foot of the Cross during this season?

Take several minutes to reflect on these questions and consider what you might need to ask of the Lord in your own life or in your church family.


Finally, prayerfully consider this question:

How is God specifically calling me to love others and support the unity of the church during this season of time?

  • maybe there is a specific person that comes to mind that we need help loving
  • maybe there is situation or environment that is difficult for us to engage in because of past experiences or hurts
  • regardless of what is there, in this moment let us hold it up to God and ask Him to help us grow in love and unity

Close out your time with several minutes of stillness before the Lord. Let God speak to you about what you have just walked through in prayer. Thank Him for His goodness and grace in your life and ask for His power to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received in Christ.

God’s words falling into us

Emmaus Road.jpg

In his book A Hidden Wholeness, Parker Palmer relates an old Hasidic tale that examines the tension between the limitations within our current reality and the possibility of our hearts opening into a new reality.

He writes:

The pupil comes to the rebbe and asks, “Why does Torah tell us to ‘place these words upon your hearts’? Why does it not tell us to place these holy words in our hearts?” The rebbe answers, “It is because as we are, our hearts are closed, and we cannot place the holy words in our hearts. So we place them on top of our hearts. And there they stay until, one day, the heart breaks, and the words fall in.”

I find this to be so true in my life. How often there come moments where God mysteriously opens my heart to receive transformationally in new ways truths of His word that I have known intellectually for quite some time.

It is valuable to store up God’s words in our heart, but sometimes, they may merely rest on top of our hearts. May God give us grace to have hearts open to His word in such a way that His word comes into the deep places of our souls, transforming us into the fellowship of the burning heart. We may say, as the disciples did after their walk with the risen Christ along the Emmaus road, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

A Plea for Prayer

prayer3

Today we have more than enough activity but less than enough praying in the church today.

Today we have more than enough hearts distracted by many things and less than enough hearts that live with the solitary focus of approaching God in prayer.

I do not say this to make us feel guilty, but to challenge us to live the teaching of Scripture that leads to abundant life.

Prayer was one of the chief characteristics of Jesus’ life, and so it should be of our lives as well.

Prayer is the means by which Jesus faced the struggle — whether tempted in the wilderness, agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane, or in the Passion upon the Cross — and it must also be our means for staying alert in the struggles of life.

Prayer is hard work –- it requires discipline and diligence. Yet prayer is also joyful work –- it leads us into the presence of the God who loves us and holds the world.

Prayer is overwhelming –- we stand before the Holy God of the universe with the burdens of the world upon us and the onslaughts of the evil one against us. Yet prayer also brings peace -– we know that we approach a God who hears us and cares for us, who holds the world together even as we lift the world’s needs up to Him, and who has won the victory over sin, evil and death upon the cross.

Prayer is something that takes us beyond ourselves while simultaneously helps us to find ourselves in the presence of God.

Prayer takes us around the world in intercession even as we are able to “be still and know” that the Lord is God.

Prayer is something that we mature in over the course of our lives, and yet we are ever and always beginners at prayer.

Will you join me in learning to pray, even as the disciples said to Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray”?

Will you step forward in the face of the struggle in your personal lives, and with others, to learn the pathways of prayer?

Will you bring the needs the needs of the world into the presence of God through intercessory prayer, groaning with God over humanity and the entire cosmos?

Let us join Jesus’ first disciples in saying today:  Lord, teach us how to pray.