The Weekend Wanderer: 27 November 2021

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 linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


gratitude science“Research Roundup: 6 Takeaways on the Goodness of Gratitude” – Stefani McDade in Christianity Today offers a reflection on six scholarly articles related to gratitude. Here’s one: “Da Jiang, Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Psychological Sciencesand Social Sciences, December 2020 – ‘Numerous studies have shown that gratitude can improve the mental health of people facing stressful events. However, most studies in this area have been based on laboratory experiments and retrospective surveys, rather than actual situations in which people are experiencing stress.’ ‘This study attempted to fill these gaps by examining the benefits of feeling gratitude every day during the COVID-19 outbreak. … These findings demonstrate the benefits of gratitude in a naturalistic situation that induced stress and anxiety.'”


Turning Points“The Great Commission’s Greatest Hits” – Jay Riley Case interviews Alice T. Ott at Christianity Today: “When Jesus delivered the Great Commission to a small band of disciples, they might have wondered how they were supposed to carry his gospel to the ends of the earth. Yet across the nations it spread, winning converts and planting churches everywhere it went. Alice T. Ott, a missions and world Christianity professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, surveys the pivotal moments of this journey in Turning Points in the Expansion of Christianity: From Pentecost to the Present. Jay Riley Case, a historian of missions at Malone University, spoke with Ott about the big picture and the smaller details of Christianity’s global advance. Q: What got you interested in the history of the expansion of Christianity? A: My interest is an outgrowth of my own experiences. I have loved history ever since I was a teenager. I spent 21 years of my adult life as a missionary in Germany. After my husband and I returned to the United States, I earned my PhD and started teaching courses on the history of mission and Christianity in the non-Western world. The book grew out of my research for these courses, as well as from my teaching and interacting with students.”


Haiti kidnapping“Two Kidnapped Missionaries Freed in Haiti” – From the Editors of Christianity Today: “Two members of a missionary group kidnapped in Haiti a month ago have finally been freed, leaving 15 Christians still in captivity. ‘The two hostages who were released are safe, in good spirits, and being cared for,’ stated Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) on its website. The Ohio-based group said it ‘cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location. We encourage you to continue to pray for the full resolution of this situation,’ stated CAM. ‘While we rejoice at this release, our hearts are with the 15 people who are still being held. Continue to lift up the remaining hostages before the Lord.'”


Austin Kleon - gratitude zine“A gratitude zine: Exercises to help you feel thankful” – Austin Kleon put together this “Gratitude Zine,” which some helpful exercises for gratitude: “‘I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.’—G.K. Chesterton  It’s Thanksgiving week here in Texas, and I wanted to share with y’all another little zineI made that you can download and print out. (If you’re having dinner guests, feel free to print out enough to leave one at everyone’s place setting!) Gratitude is something I have struggled with in the past. In fact, it’s been at times in my life when I should have felt more thankful than ever that I’ve had the hardest time feeling thankful.”


harvest-wheat-farmer-hand“Agricultural Metaphors for the Christian Life” – Matthew Barrett in Tabletalk: “At the center of the Christian faith is a fundamental belief: there is no one like God. He is not the creature but the Creator, the One Isaiah says is high and lifted up (Isa. 6:1). How amazing it is, then, that this God would stoop down and make Himself known to finite and sinful creatures like us. John Calvin loved to say that God is like a nurse who bends low to lisp to a newborn. When we read the Bible, we see this accommodation whenever God uses metaphors to convey His saving message to us in a way that we can understand. These metaphors help us know God and live the Christian life coram Deo, before the face of God. For example, out of the many ways God could have communicated with Israel, He chose agricultural metaphors. Israel was a people whose existence depended on the soil. Israel was liberated from Egypt to enter the land God promised to her father Abraham. Yet notice how this land is described: it is a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex. 3:8). Agriculture was not only a way of life for Israel; it was a sign of God’s covenant blessing. To enjoy the fruit of the land was a sure indication that God had fulfilled His promises to Abraham.”


Myanmar fires“Army Attacks Continue in Myanmar’s Most Christian State” – Grant Peck in APNews: “More than 160 buildings in a town in northwestern Myanmar, including at least two churches, have been destroyed by fires caused by shelling by government troops, local media and activists reported Saturday. The destruction of parts of the town of Thantlang in Chin state appeared to be another escalation in the ongoing struggle between Myanmar’s military-installed government and forces opposed to it. The army seized power in February from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, but has failed to quell the widespread resistance. A government spokesman denied ‘nonsense allegations being reported in the country-destroying media,’ and blamed insurgents for instigating the fighting and setting the fires.”


Music: Jpk. (feat. Young Dre Flaco), “scars”

Thanksgiving 2021 at Eastbrook Church

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)

Thanksgiving is a day for family to gather and give thanks for what God has done (and is doing). Join us this year for a time of worship, story-telling, and giving thanks with your Eastbrook family. This year, we will be both gathering in person for the Thanksgiving Service, and also live-streaming the service online at Eastbrook at Home.

You can give online towards the Thanksgiving Offering at eastbrook.org/giving or by texting EBCgive to 94000.

What are 5 things you’re thankful for this year?

We all have reasons to be thankful. Throughout Scripture, we are encouraged to remember and rehearse together the reasons we have to give thanks to God. The Psalms reverberate with this charge:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 106:1)

The Apostle Paul encourages believers in local churches to do this together:

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

He also reminds us that our ultimate reason for giving thanks is found in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose in victory over sin and death for us:

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)

Even though we should give thanks at any time, it helps to have a season of year where we give special attention to remembering and rehearsing with others the reasons we are thankful.

One of our practices as a family is to give thanks for five things everyday together. So, what are five things you are thankful for today or this year?

Thanksgiving 2020 at Eastbrook Church

Thanksgiving Ads_Lobby
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1)
Thanksgiving is a day for family to gather and give thanks for what God has done (and is doing). This year, we will both gather in person for the Thanksgiving Service, and also live-stream the service online at Eastbrook at Home. We will have two services, at 9 and 10:30 am.

As part of our Thanksgiving celebration, we welcome contributions to our annual Thanksgiving offering, which goes to support our partners in mission around the world. In the current pandemic, we have stayed in touch with our friends and workers around the world, and a particularly significant need has emerged. Our friends in North Africa and Eastern Europe were already experiencing persecution prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic, political unrest, and armed conflict have amplified their needs. Churches have been closed, pastors are going without pay, buildings and materials being seized, and missionaries are being displaced. Our 2020 Thanksgiving offering is dedicated to providing for the financial needs of these dear friends as they live out Paul’s call to find the joy in sharing in Christ’s suffering through persecution. Please join us in this offering by visiting eastbrook.org/giving

What Are You Thankful For?

thankful

Giving thanks and showing gratitude to God is an act of worship. This is why we read in Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

But it is not just for the material goods or obvious blessings that we are to be thankful for. In fact, the Apostle Paul, writing to a fledgling church in Philippi while he is imprisoned, urges believers toward gratitude in the face of worry. He writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Even more strongly, in another letter, Paul calls Christians to give thanks as part of fulfilling the will of God: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

This year may be a tough one for us to practice gratitude, but there is always something somewhere to be thankful for, even in the most difficult of circumstances. So, as part of your worship this Thanksgiving holiday, what are some things you thankful for?