Lent 2020 Reading & Fasting Guide

“Lent invites us into practices where the Gospel is felt in our bodies—in hunger, in longings that go unsatisfied, in wants deferred. And these aren’t just “intellectual” realizations. My growling belly has stories to tell me about who I am and who I’m made for.” James K.A. Smith

The season of Lent (starting Wednesday 2/26/20) in the Liturgical Calendar aims to prepare our hearts for Good Friday and Easter. It can be a dedicated time of seeking the Lord through Word, prayer, and related rhythms such as fasting. This year, our church put together a six-week reading guide called Rebuilding & Resting.

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Scripture Sheds Light on Scripture: Hebrews 3-4, John 10, and Psalm 95

This weekend we did a painting project in our home. Though we had the room’s lights on and could see most things, it wasn’t until we turned on additional floor-lamp that the shadowy corners were illuminated. We didn’t need that extra light to see the biggest things, but it does help us notice things we might have otherwise missed (like where the wall needed a second coat).

Scripture sheds light on Scripture. Sometimes the link is explicit, either through a quotation or a direct allusion, while other times connections are present but without immediately standing out. As you dive deeper and look at important themes and words, you see the overlap. Reading Scripture as one book that’s unified and cohesive allows Scripture to not only interpret Scripture but to give further insight or clarity to itself. Reading a passage with related themes can be like turning on the additional light in the room. It might just help you see something otherwise hidden with an “aha” moment.

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Gospel: Narrowly and Broadly Used

One of the areas of disagreement in the in-person and online wider Christian world (often a very scary and even unChristian place), is what is actually “gospel work.” Are effects of the gospel part of the gospel? Are things Christians work towards and cultivate in their church, community, and family connected to the gospel, or is “the gospel” only the message of how sinners become right with God? It’s a good question, when really asked rather than thrown out as a smoke-screen to avoid allowing the gospel to do its deep work in our lives.

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A Case for Female Deacons

(Below is a summary of the key issues involved in the debate about whether the Bible supports female deacons or not, as well as a few key arguments for why I think it does. You can read a PDF version of this blog here.)

Complementarians[1] (those who affirm distinct but complementary roles for men and women) can disagree on the question of whether or not the Bible supports female deacons, or deaconesses. Neither side believes the Bible is explicit in its clarity, nor that it is an issue worth splitting or dividing over. While both interpretations seek to do justice to Scripture and can put forward a reasonable defense of their position, I (and the majority of complementarian theologians and commentators today) find the evidence more compelling for a biblical case leaving the office/role of deacon open to both men and women.

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Prioritizing Reflection in an Age of Distraction

“Men talk to me about their mental and emotional exhaustion, and all through the conversations, their phones are lighting up with a distracting blizzard of sounds and images. And they wonder why their brains feel fried! They’re giving themselves continual mental whiplash as they pour stimuli and data into their brains from every direction.” David Murray, Reset

We are busy. Our schedules fill up with many things—often good things—leaving us little down time. Many view margin as either an act of unfaithfulness and waste or proof of a less than fulfilling life.

Busyness leads to a hurried, rushed, and frantic lifestyle. We rush from place to place, event to event, and rarely enjoy what we’re doing because we’re thinking about where we came from and where we’re headed. What feels urgent and pressing leaves us stressed, but also guilty because of how many other balls in our life get dropped.

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Favorite Books Read in 2019

“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Jane Austen

“Reading is a gift, but only if the words are taken into the soul—eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight.” Eugene Peterson

I love books. Give me a good library or an hour at your used book store and I’m a happy man. There are a lot of things that make a book good, let alone enjoyable, so my list is admittedly subjective. But to add to the chorus of top books read in 2019, here’s my top-ten list. My criteria was reading them in 2019, not publication date, though most were printed in 2019. In no particular order…

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HOW IS JESUS OUR IMMANUEL (GOD WITH US)?

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:21-23)

Each Christmas, or Advent season, we sing about Jesus our Immanuel. God with us. We find comfort in the incarnation behind Christmas. God’s stepping down to Earth to be with us by becoming one of us in Jesus. But how is Jesus really God with us?

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