The Weekend Wanderer: 12 October 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.

Kurds Syria Trump“Christian Leaders Say Turkish Invasion Of Syria Raises Risk Of ‘Genocide'” – Some of my good friends and partners in ministry are from Syria. Walking with them through the challenges of having to flee their war-torn homeland has helped me see and hear international news even more differently than I did before. With the happenings in our politics, it is sometimes hard to remember that there are real people on the ground in Syria, and that many of them are our Christian brothers and sisters. There has already been a subtle excavation of Christian presence from the Middle East and we need to pay attention. This is more than a foreign policy issue for followers of Jesus.

 

Amman city view, in Jordan“Jordanian Evangelicals Push for Official Recognition” – As we begin our annual MissionsFest at Eastbrook Church, we’re privileged to have one of our long-time partners in ministry from Jordan, Rev. Yousef Hashweh, join us to preach during our first weekend. The church in Jordan is strong, but shrinking because of economic and political challenges. Their voice has been valued by King Abdullah, but they struggle at time to maintain that voice in the changing tides of culture. I was interested to read on Thursday about this latest move in Jordan for evangelical churches representing five denominations (Baptists, Assemblies of God, Evangelical Free, Nazarene, and Christian & Missionary Alliance) to come together to form a new Jordanian Evangelical Council.

 

J D Greear“SBC President: We Failed to Heed Victims’ Voices” – Perhaps one of the most notable issues in the North American church has been attention given to sexual abuse claims within the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the USA.  There are cases of coverups and deaf ears, leaving a dark history of regrettably unChristian behavior within the SBC.  In the midst of such darkness, I do think it is important to at least recognize that the current SBC President, J. D. Greear, appears to be trying to deal with this directly, even as there is still much work to be done.

 

92300“‘I’m a Pastor IRL'” – I may be dating myself, but I still remember when Facebook hit the scene in the midst of my years of working as a College Pastor. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but adopted it right away first as a means of communicating with students and later attempted to utilize it as a platform for ministry. It was during that same time that I began my blog here. All of these were experiments for me in utilizing new technologies as avenues for ministry to people. Some of it worked, while other parts didn’t work as well. I haven’t been on Facebook for several years now, but that’s another story. Here’s Glenn Packiam, associate senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, reflecting on some pretty significant questions. “Is there a way for us as pastors to bear God’s image in online interactions, to be a kind of icon of Christ? Let me suggest three areas to consider: identity and self (who are we?), presence and place (where are we?), and authority and power (what are we capable of?). These questions will guide us even as specific apps and devices change in the years ahead.”

 

DiklalaorEve“Israeli Photographer Brings Female Biblical Figures to Life with Magnificent Images” – “The bible has for centuries been a source of inspiration and influence for art in all its forms. The canonical collection of texts sacred to Abrahamic religions has indeed inspired some of the world’s greatest known works of art. Israeli photographer Dikla Laor has worked for six years to bring the stories of female biblical figures to life through the camera lens, embarking on a unique project to imagine these characters’ appearances, dress, and demeanor against breathtaking backdrops. Her “Biblical Women Series” includes the “first woman,” Eve, the Jewish matriarchs – Sarah, Rivka (Rebecca), Leah and Rachel – Lot’s wife, the Queen of Sheba, the prophetess Deborah, and Jezebel, among over 40 such photographs.”

 

52.large“Pluralism, Difference, and the Dynamics of Trust” – Do you ever read the news and wonder if there is any way out of the cultural divides and distrust? I do. On my more hopeful days, I believe that there are ways toward living out Christ’s kingdom in the midst of a pluralistic society that could restore hope, joy, truth, and love in peoples’ lives and the broader society. In my less hopeful days, I try not to get cynical. Underlying significant portions of this is the need for restoration of public trust. I enjoyed reading this 2017 dialogue between John Inazu, Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University, and James K. A. Smith when he was still editor at Comment. Inazu’s Confident Pluralism is on my “to read” list, and this interview encouraged me to get to it sometime soon.

 

92385“Supreme Court Cases Challenge LGBT Rights-Religious Liberty Balancing Act” – Speaking of difference and the dynamics of trust, the Supreme Court has been giving attention to the most significant case at the nexus of sexual rights and religious liberty since the 2015 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. “The United States Supreme Court was debating the meaning of the word sex on Tuesday when Chief Justice John Roberts brought up religion. He called it ‘that other concern’—religious liberty. Roberts asked: How can the government protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees in the workplace and the rights of religious groups to employ people who agree on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity?”

 

N T Wright“Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology and New Creation” – Anytime N. T. Wright is publishes a new book, I take interest. Wright is an amazing scholar of the New Testament and Christian history. When I heard about his forthcoming book, History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology, it caught my attention because of the interesting combination of ideas. I wondered what it was about, and then I discovered that this book is drawn from Wright’s eight Gifford lectures in 2018, which are available online for viewing. If you have more time than I do, you may enjoy watching all of them.

 

Music: Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno, “An Ending (Ascent),” from Apollo – Atmospheres & Soundtracks.

[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: 18 August 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.

 

83122“Evangelical Ethiopian Helps End Orthodox Schism” – “Ending 27 years of schism, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians in their homeland and in America reunited the two feuding branches of one of the world’s oldest churches. Ironically, the push came from the Horn of Africa nation’s new evangelical prime minister.”

 

maxresdefault“Report details sexual abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church” – In a news report that will not only make your stomach turn but possibly leave you with nightmares, a grand jury released a voluminous report about sexual abuse in Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. CNN reports: “A new grand jury report says that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 ‘predator priests’ have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.” We cannot turn aside from this crisis within churches related to sexual abuse.

 

GrahamsAfter reading that, you may need some recovery. Why not read Bob Russell’s reflective essay “These Pastors’ Stories Won’t Make The New York Times.” While I wish that Bob could point us to more than white males, I appreciate what he’s trying to do by sharing stories of everyday pastors who lived with integrity in the midst of their ministry.  If you enjoy this essay, you might also want to check out Bob’s helpful book written after a flourishing pastoral ministry: After 50 Years of Ministry 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same.

 

9780226365459“Why I’m Still Confident about ‘Confident Pluralism” – John Inazu writes: “Two years ago, I published a book called Confident Pluralism. In it, I argue that living together across our differences in this country must begin by acknowledging the depth of those differences. And our differences are indeed deep…The past two years have affirmed, if not magnified, these claims.” Read Inazu’s rationale for still standing favorably by his central thesis and claims in that book. [Thanks to Andy Cornett for this link.]

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-13 at 11.29.31 AM“God at the Margins (Part 2 of 3)” – Here is part 2 of  the story of my friends, Michal and John Chabo. The brothers delve deeply into God’s faithfulness in the midst of their challenging departure from Syria. Don’t miss this amazing story. While you’re at it, stop by their website in order to discover more about their work with Chabros Music.

 

download.jpeg“CoWo-NoGrow” Kevin Martin offers his reflections upon liturgical faithfulness, contemporary worship practices, and the failure of many prevailing ministry models in this article over at First Things. “I remember a scorching article Richard Neuhaus wrote when he edited the old Forum Letter before he started First Things, in which he ripped contemporary worship as a betrayal of the gospel and called for getting the worship right because then the doctrine and the practice will fall into line. I believe he was right then and is still right on this today.”

 

Madeleine-L_Engle-c-2000-screenshot-of-HistoryChannel.com-photo-by-Everett“How Fiction Fueled Madeleine L’Engle’s Faith” – Sarah Arthur provides a wonderful look at the way in which Madeleine L’Engle was shaped in her moral formation by good literature. “Her engagement with these books—Scripture included—was deeply formative. They nourished ‘the same hunger in me, the hunger for the truth that is beyond fact, the hunger for courage and hope in a difficult world, the hunger for something more than ordinary vision.'”

 

_102875847_15607--xiazhi-china“In pictures: World Architecture Festival 2018 shortlist” – If you love architecture or simply enjoy good photography, make a brief visit to the BBC’s website to peruse projects from 81 countries have been shortlisted in the World Architecture Festival Awards 2018. A sampling includes a research centre in Riyadh, a village lounge in rural China and a mosque without a minaret in Iran.

[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.]

Is Jesus Really the Source of Truth? (discussion questions)

3 Questions Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Is Jesus Really the Source of Truth?,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the second part of our series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” where we are digging into Jesus’ provocative statement: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you learn something that changed your life, whether as a child or as an adult? What happened?
  1. This week we enter the second part of a three-week series entitled “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus.” In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Before you begin this study, ask God to reveal His truth to you as you read His word.
  1. The theme of truth is particularly important in the Gospel of John. Read the following verses which mention ‘truth’ and reflect on what they tell us about God, Jesus, and truth:
  • John 1:14, 17
  • John 3:21
  • John 4:23-24
  • John 7:18
  • John 8:31-32
  • John 8:40, 45
  • John 16:13
  • John 17:17
  • John 18:23
  • John 18:37-38
  1. Given everything you just read, what do you think is important about Jesus including ‘truth’ in His statement to the disciples in John 14:6? Why do you think it is important that Jesus includes this?
  1. How have you wrestled with questions about the truth in your own life? Has your knowledge of Jesus resolved those questions? How?
  1. Jesus is described as coming from God the Father “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17). Many times Christians are criticized for being arrogant in their claims to truth or in the way they talk about the truth. Do you think these criticisms are valid? Why or why not? What do you think it looks like to be full of grace and truth?
  1. In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Based on the surrounding verses in John 8 and your own reflections, what do you think it means to be set free by the truth of Jesus?
  1. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study about the truth of God found in Jesus? How will that shape your life in the coming week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Response: Throughout this series, we will be looking at tough questions about Jesus. There may be some questions you wish someone would answer about Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Send us your questions either by emailing them to info@eastbrook.org, writing them on a connect card, or visiting the Eastbrook Church Facebook page.]

Is Jesus Really the Source of Truth?

Does it really matter that Jesus claims to be the truth?

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I continued our series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” addressing that very question. Looking at Jesus’ statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6), I explored just what Jesus means by saying He is the truth. In the midst of walking through themes of truth in John’s gospel, we also touched on the distinctive belief that God reveals Himself to humanity, the exclusive nature of truth, the framework of ‘worldview’, and how to assess truth statements of conflicting worldviews.

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

You may also be interested in last weekend’s message, “Is Jesus Really the Only Way?

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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