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.]

Jesus: God’s Secret Revealed (discussion questions)

Jesus at the Center Series Gfx_App SquareHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Jesus: God’s Secret Revealed,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the first part of our series, “Jesus at the Center,” from the book of Colossians. This week we looked at Colossians 1:24-2:25.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Answer one of these:
    • What has been one the biggest surprises you have ever experienced in your life? What happened and how did you respond?
    • Have you ever carried a secret with you that you were finally able to share with someone? What did it feel like to share the secret?
  2. As we carry forward with our series from Colossians, “Jesus at the Center,” we are looking at Colossians 1:24-2:5. Whether you are on your own or with a small group, begin your study in prayer, asking God to speak to you through His word, and then read that portion aloud.
  3. In verses 24-25, Paul begins this section by highlighting his own work for the church, including his suffering for the sake of Christ and the church. Why do you think Paul emphasizes his own role here? What does this communicate to the believers in Colossae? (You may want to read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 for a sense of some of Paul’s sufferings.)
  4. Paul takes it a step further, saying: “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions.” It’s likely that the second half of verse 25 helps us understand how Paul’s ministry fills in the as of yet incomplete reach of God’s message around the nations that is tied in with the sufferings before the end of the age. What do you think this phrase means?
  5. The word ‘mystery’ appears three times in this passage (1:26, 27; 2:2). What is this mystery, according to these three references?
  6. Why do you think it is a big deal that the ‘Gentiles’ (literally ‘nations’; that is, non-Jews) are involved in God’s work in Christ?
  7. What does it mean to you that the hope of glory is a part of your life because of Jesus? How does this change the way you think about your daily life and your eternal destiny?
  8. According to verses 28-29, what is Paul’s goal in his teaching of the believers? Why is this important?
  9. It’s likely that 2:1-5 connects with the difficulties in the midst of the Colossian church, which is talked about later in chapter 2:16-23. Because of Paul’s emphasis on Jesus as the full revelation of God’s treasures of wisdom (vs 3), what do you think he might be combatting in the minds and hearts of the believers?
  10. What is one significant thing that God is speaking to you through this study? If you are on your own, you may want to write it down, pray about it, and then share it with someone later. If you are with a small group, share these things with one another and then pray for one another about these things.

Memorize: This week we continue our memorization of Colossians 1:15-20 by focusing on Colossians 1:16. Read the verse through multiple times a day this week. Consider some of our other recommended helps for Bible memorization here:

Jesus: God’s Secret Revealed

Jesus at the Center Series Gfx_App Wide
This past weekend at Eastbrook I continued our series, “Jesus at the Center,” by looking at Colossians 1:24-2:5. A key concept in this passage is the ‘mystery’ of God found in Christ. It may not be what you expected. So, we have to ask ourselves: are we ready for this secret?

You can watch the message here, and follow along with the outline below (although I sort of left it behind this weekend). You can also follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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