I recently read and recommended How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman , not only for what it says but how it says it. The book focuses on faith and politics, though in the conversations many other significant hot-button issues get brought up. The book not only helps us root our thinking about politics in the Bible (the what of the book), but I recommend the book because it also teaches us how to engage tough topics as Christians. With 2020 promising to be a heated and divisive year in our country, this book will be a timely read.
“The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us” (John Piper)
Life shakes us up. It smacks us with wind and waves. It might be a trial, suffering, a personal temptation, dealing with guilt and shame, struggling with something like anxiety or fear, or the discouraging howls of an extended spiritual wilderness. When these storms blow hard, what keeps us upright? What sustains and steadies us?
Most of us love the Christmas season. Yeah, it’s over-commercialized and stressful, but there are so many things to enjoy: delicious desserts, classic movies and songs, gatherings with family and friends, fresh snow, giving and receiving gifts, festive décor inside and outside the house, family traditions, new memories, and a host of local activities. I love Christmas, and so despite some cautions I might give in this blog, I’m more like Buddy the Elf than the Grinch.
But despite the joys making the season bright, can we be honest and admit there are also sorrows and trials at times making the season dim? Some years your Christmas might be memorable while others it’s forgettable. Sometimes the Christmas season disappoints. Haven’t you felt like Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas? Maybe in that year, or in a string of years, it feels like Christmas just doesn’t work for you. Maybe while everyone else is enjoying the season and dancing to jingle bells it all rings hollow to you.
When we really think about the Incarnation (God taking on flesh), it should stir wonder in us. In The God Who Became Human, Graham Cole summarizes his hope for the reader.
The Bible says a lot about prayer. You don’t have to know all these things to start praying, but they can help us better pray in line with God’s will and desire. Below are condensed, summary statements on prayer in the Bible. This list is a taken from a Group Study Guide on Spiritual Disciplines. This might help us know ways to pray, what to pray about, how to approach God, or why some things might not be answered. Hopefully the list frees us up as we see how different praying can look and how God is at work in and through our praying.
The superhero film genre shows no signs of slowing down. Every month a new DC or Marvel film tries to quench our thirst for heroes. We were made for heroes. We need them. The problem is we lack authentic, relatable, real-life heroes who show us what a life of passion, love, virtue, courage looks like in a flesh-and-blood human being. Superman and Wonder Woman might leave us looking for someone to save us, but they are so fundamentally unlike us that they fail to provide fallen human heroes we can emulate. Continue reading Steal Away Home
Lecrae’s newest album is his most controversial. Some suggest a transition beyond “Christian music” (a label Lecrae himself rejects). Mainstream musicians such as Ty Dolla Sign and Tori Kelly collaborate on several songs. He vocalizes frustrations with evangelicals—among others—wanting him to be a “religious puppet.” He raises issues of social justice. Lecrae questions his faith, admits his depression and doubt, and confesses his sins. Does this album reflect the same values, theology, skill, and expression of biblical faith that drew so many Christians (including white evangelicals)?
I just finished Thomas Hooker’s (1586-1647) The Poor Doubting Christian Drawn to Christ. The book was published in 1629 while Hooker was still in England, where he remained until 1633 when he came to the Bay area of Boston. Hooker’s known not only for his preaching and theology, but also for being the founder of Hartford, CT and has been called “the father of democracy” by many. Hooker was one of the eminent first-generation Puritan American theologians and this book reflects typical Puritan pastoral counseling. The book is in many ways very similar to The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes, published only a year later in 1630. Whereas The Bruised Reed focuses more on the issue of assurance The Poor Doubting Christian deals a little more with what keeps us from coming to Christ in faith, both before and after conversion. Hooker spends the entire book dismantling the doubts and fears a person might have that would keep them from running whole-heartedly into the free grace held out to us by Christ. It was an excellent read and one very helpful in the struggles of conscience that keep the unbeliever and the believer from coming to Christ without holding back. Hooker again and again holds out the preciousness of God’s promises, and how these promises scattered all throughout the Bible are as the ships that take us to the shore (Jesus). All of our fears, our remaining sin, our failures in duties, our laziness in spiritual disciplines, and even our doubts should not keep us from grasping the promises of God nor should we think we have to improve in these areas in order to receive those promises. Instead, we go to the promises, meaning we go to Christ, which are the means by which God then helps our faith, helps us fight sin, and helps brings peace.