The Weekend Wanderer: 17 October 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.


IDOP“International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians” – There is occasional conversation about persecution of Christians within the United States. While I agree that there is opposition to Christianity in North America, I usually turn my attention elsewhere to see true persecution. Sunday, November 1, is the international day of prayer for persecuted Christians, and I would encourage you to get involved with this important time of awareness and intercessory prayer, as well as continue to be engaged in an ongoing manner with this important cause.


Villados book review“The Antidote to Spiritual Shallowness Isn’t ‘Believing Harder,’ but Going Deeper” – I’ve been looking forward to reading Rich Villodas’ new book, The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus. Villodas is the Lead Pastor at New Life Fellowship in New York, where Pete Scazzero was the former Lead Pastor, and has brought together spiritual formation practices within a multi-ethnic urban church in ways that I admire. As I wait to get to Villodas’ book in my to-read pile, here is a helpful review of the book by Rebecca Toscano for Christianity Today.


C Beha - index“Cracks of faith in the secular self” – Speaking of my to-read pile, here is a review by Joshua Hren of another book, Christopher Beha’s The Index of Self-Destructive Acts. Beha’s book was long-listed for the National Book Award for fiction, and it has been recommended to me by a number of people from various places. I look forward to reading it even more after reading this review.


fracture in the stonewall“A Fracture in the Stonewall” – Carl R. Trueman in First Things: “As Best hints in the article, the addition of the T to the LGB was not a natural marriage for precisely the reason he now finds Stonewall’s stance to be problematic. Trans groups rejected the importance of biological sex. It was not a positive philosophy that brought them into the coalition but rather a shared opposition to heteronormativity. The same also applies to the Q. The LGBTQ+ alliance is thus an alliance forged on the belief that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”


C S Lewis“C.S. Lewis, ‘Transposition’, and the philosophy of mind” – C. S. Lewis is one of the most beloved authors of the 20th century for his wide-ranging work from children’s fiction to Christian apologetics. Lewis is more than that, though. He was a poet and an expert on medieval and renaissance literature. Here in The Critic, Sean Walsh makes a case for recovering Lewis’ work as a philosopher as well.


Sergey Gorshkov - Hugging Tiger“Hidden camera’s hugging tiger wins wildlife photo award” – Perhaps this is something for the lighter side of things, but I appreciate the way these award-winning photographers display the wonders of creation that many of us rarely see. Take a moment to peruse these photos and thank God for the wonderful and intricate beauty of His glorious world.


Music: Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge, “Bone Collector,” Mount Royal.

[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.]

The Weekend Wanderer: 19 January 2019

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.

china“In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture” – Lily Kuo writes this piece in The Guardian, highlighting the intensifying pressure on religious groups in China. While the crackdown involves religious minorities and ethnic minorities, Kuo focuses particularly upon Christians for this piece, which is well worth the read. One pastor quoted in this article says of the government persecution: “In this war, in Xinjiang, in Shanghai, in Beijing, in Chengdu, the rulers have chosen an enemy that can never be imprisoned – the soul of man. Therefore they are doomed to lose this war.”

 

egypt church“Militants kidnap Christian man in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula” – From The Washington Post: “Islamic militants on Thursday kidnapped a Christian man traveling in a communal taxi in the turbulent north of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, according to security officials, an incident that raises the specter of renewed attacks on minority Christians in the region after a two-year lull. The officials did not identify the man, but said police pursued the kidnappers into the desert to which they fled after the incident, killing one of them and wounding two others in a firefight, but could not free the hostage. Two policemen were also wounded in the firefight, said the officials.”

 

world watch list 2019Open Doors World Watch List 2019 – Every year, Open Doors publishes their “World Watch List,” which tracks persecution of Christians around the world. They released the 2019 World Watch List this past week, and it is interesting to find out more information about what is happening in the world related to challenges to religious freedom.

 

Martin Luther King Jr.

“Neighbors of the Dream” – I am happy to participate in The Milwaukee Declaration event this coming Monday night, January 21, entitled “Neighbors of the Dream.” This is a chance for churches around our great city of Milwaukee to stand together across racial divides in the name of Christ and for the glory of God in the unity of His church. Join us at 6:30 PM at Eastbrook for this city-wide event.

 

james macdonald“James MacDonald Takes ‘Indefinite Sabbatical’ from Harvest Bible Chapel” – Well, here is another chapter in the latest leadership challenges facing non-denominational, evangelical churches. I’ve posted about this challenge to James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel before at The Weekend Wanderer. While it’s not clear exactly what this means about MacDonald’s willingness to admit culpability, it is an expression that leadership of the family of churches sees it is time to make some change.

 

jacques_ellul“Ten Social Critics that Christians Should Be Reading” – The Englewood Review of Books offers some helpful reading suggestions, from Jacques Ellul to bell Hooks, Wendell Berry to Neil Postman, and more. “The work of social critics is vital for the health and flourishing of the church, because they remind us of the brokenness of the world and challenge us to imagine new and more healthy ways of sharing life together. Here are ten social critics whose work has been particularly helpful for me in trying to discern how to live faithfully in the twenty-first century. With each critic, I’ve included an excerpt that will serve as an introduction to that writer’s work.”

 

85847“When Great Writers Wrestle with Faith” – Speaking of reading, Jessica Hooten Wilson offers this review of Richard Harries’ new book, Haunted by Christ: Modern Writers and the Struggle for Faith, in which he explores modern writers as they wrestle with faith. “On the one hand, Christ is scary, unpursued, and ephemeral, haunting writers like a ghost. In the subtitle, though, the writers are active agents wrestling with an unknown entity, like Jacob with the angel, for the prize of faith. Harries explores both types of artists in his book, those who flee religion and those who chase it.”

 

Fort WildernessFort Wilderness Family Camps – Along with a great group of other pastors, I have the opportunity to speak at one of Fort Wilderness’ week-long family camps again this summer. Join me June 29-July 5, 2019, in the north woods of Wisconsin for a wonderful time in God’s good creation and God’s Word. If that week doesn’t work for you, check out the other family camps happening at Fort all summer long. There are still some spaces open at all of them.

 

office.jpeg“Office Devotions” – Let’s close out this edition of The Weekend Wanderer with a marvelous poem by Patrick Duddy over at First Things[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.]

Prayer for Pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey

brunson2-prayer-turkeyI mentioned Pastor Andrew Brunson in my pastoral prayer this weekend. Please join me in praying for him. Here is background on his situation via Open Doors’ web-site.

Arrested in October 2016 on false charges of being involved in an Islamic terrorist organization, Pastor Andrew Brunson remains in Turkey in an Izmir prison—persecuted for his Christian faith and held as a political hostage. For 23 years, he and his family lived in Turkey, where they led a church. In late March 2018, Turkish prosecutors filed official charges and called for a life sentence of 35 years.

His trial is scheduled to begin Monday, April 16, 2018–around 10 pm EST in the United States.

In prison, Pastor Brunson has written powerful notes and letters sharing his heart and faith.

Let it be clear, I am in prison, not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am—a Christian pastor. I desperately miss my wife and children. Yet, I believe this to be true—it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ, as many have before me.”

As the trial approaches, we invite you to stand in prayer with Pastor Brunson, his wife Norine, and their family. Let them know they are not alone… We will post updates about Pastor Brunson and the trial on this page as soon as we have them.

UPDATES

April 11, 2018: A recent visit with Pastor Brunson reveals that his physical health has declined during his imprisonment. U.S. Senator Thom Tillis spent time with Pastor Brunson inside Buca Prison in Izmir. “Pastor Brunson is strengthened by his love for his family and his faith in God, but his health has deteriorated,” Tillis said in a statement following his visit. “He has lost 50 pounds and spends 24 hours a day in a cell with limited human contact.” For the full report, click here.

April 14, 2018: On their Facebook page, Norine Brunson posted that “the Lord clearly told me and another believer to pray for Andrew three times a day–morning, noon and evening.” And to pray specifically, “that the cord around Andrew would be loosened/untied.”

“Although I don’t understand this completely, the Lord gave this very clearly so I am praying it by faith,” she wrote. “Please join by faith that what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven.”

World Watch List 2015

Today, Open Doors released the World Watch List 2015, a resource developed “to track and measure the extent of persecution in the world.” Open Doors has been tracking religious persecution of Christians since the 1970s and their approach to the work is well-informed and reliable. Religious persecution affects many religious groups and not just Christians. Still, there has been widespread recognition over the past few years that religious persecution of Christians is on the rise globally (see my earlier posts on Iraq, Syria, and the trials of Christians in the MidEast).

You can see an infographic of the list below and can read the entire report here. Christianity Today also has a nice overview of the watch list today in the article, “‘Not Forgotten’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Most Difficult to be a Christian.”

Here are a few highlights within the overall trends on this year’s list:

  • “The Top 10 countries where Christians face the most pressure and violence in the reporting period of the WWL 2015 are, in order: North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea and Nigeria.”
  • North Korea continues in the #1 position, as it has for the past decade and more
  • Kenya (a majority Christian nation) and Djibouti have the highest jump in persecution ranking this year, from  positions in the 40s to the 20s
  • The impact of the group known as the Islamic State has strongly impacted the persecution levels in both Iraq and Syria. This includes a dramatic flight of Christians from these countries to other havens for safety.

World Watch List 2015

Christian Persecution in Iraq

iraqi-refugeesNBC World News had a recent feature on the impact of the Iraq war and subsequent instability on the Christian community in Iraq (“‘People turned on Christians’: Persecuted Iraqi minority reflects on life after Saddam”). This reminded me of a time about two and a half years ago when I was at a gathering in the Middle East with a variety of Christian leaders. One of the men was an Iraqi church leader who bemoaned the reality that Christians were fleeing the country in record numbers.

Read more on these topics:

We must stand with our brothers and sisters.

Here are some key quotes from the article:Read More »