I’ll be honest. It’s been years since I’ve been able to find a way to regularly read the Bible that sticks and works for me. To be frank, readings plans usually don’t work for me because I get bored. Depending on the plan, you’re either stuck in the same book for long stretches of time or you’re jumping around so much that you lose the sense of the whole.
This year, I think I’ve started a regimen that is clicking: the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan. At any given time, I’m going through four completely different part of Scripture and for me, this is keeping me really engaged. As I’ve gone on through the plan these past couple of months, I started highlighting and writing up little notes on random verses here and there. Lots of them. And I’d like to share them with you.
Well, it’s been a good long while since I’ve posted a Reading List for you all to enjoy–too long, in fact. These were some of my favorite things I read this week. What were some of yours?
In defense of creationists | The Week
Michael Brendan Dougherty
I referenced this at the end of my post yesterday, but this is a stunningly beautiful piece that wrestles with humanizing those that frustrate us the most in the Christian family. A must-read for sure.
Don’t overlook this piece too quickly. It is an incredibly powerful piece that speaks to how all of us–married, single, gay, straight–engage our sexuality in this world. It showed me how having celibate unmarried people in the world is necessary for healthy marriages, as well as how masturbation ruins even good friendships.
While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
Nice. I love that.
If you’re just looking for the mixtape, click here for the official Epiphany Mixtape page.
From now until Lent, the Church Calendar is in the season of Epiphany.
Basically, this season seems like it’s sort of a Church Calendar “junk drawer” to meditate and celebrate on all the other parts of Jesus’ life that happened between his Advent/Birth and his Death.
And don’t misread that. In describing it that way, I hope that doesn’t diminish this season for anyone.
Perhaps the most precious doctrine of the Christian faith for me is that of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness. That’s a fancy way of saying that Jesus lived out a righteous life, and his very own righteousness is given to me as my own. And so, with a complete and perfect righteousness in hand, I don’t have to bear the weight of shame or condemnation. This is so beautiful to me.
But this Righteousness in which I am dressed was not created out of thin air, nor was it created by Christ at the Cross, or even at his Resurrection. It was built throughout his life of obedience to His Father, as the light of his character and life grew brighter and brighter in the midst of our darkened world. It’s this part of his life that we celebrate and meditate upon in this season.
And this is amazing. As I’ve written before, if Herod had been successful in killing the infant Jesus, there would be an essential aspect of our salvation that’s missing. This is why Epiphany is so important.
And so, to try and help me spend some time meditating on this season, the best way I knew to think deeply about all this was to re-post Epiphany mixtape I first posted last year.
To read more about the specifics of Epiphany, the mixtape, and to listen/download it yourself, you can either read below or just go to the official Epiphany Mixtape page.
Perusing around, I ran across this response to an article by Dana Milbank from 2003 on the anniversary of 9/11. The article originally appeared in The Washongton Post, but I could only find it at this odd site. Here, the commenter offers a summary of the article and an opinion:
This article is about recent comments President Bush made recently on expanding the Patriot Act of 2001. These are surprising comments due to the fact that the Patriot Act is already one of the most controversial Acts ever passed by Congress. The act extremely expanded federal police powers by severely restricting the civil liberties of terrorism suspects. Under the act, federal officers need less than ever before to find “just cause” in apprehending, detaining, and punishing those accused of terrorist acts. The “Patriot 2” as it has been dubbed, would contain clauses allowing for the issuance of subpoenas without grand juries, holding of suspects without bail, and the pursuance of the death penalty in a broader spectrum of cases, still involving murder. Many politicians are telling the media that the Bush administration is trying to fight sudden “Anti-Patriot Act” feelings by going on the offensive: Talking of expanding the original Patriot Act.
In my opinion, the comments made by Bush were so logical and fair. As a strong supporter of the original Patriot Act, I see nothing wrong with Bush asking Congress to give federal officers the exact same powers to apprehend terror suspects as they do to apprehend embezzlers or drug traffickers. Many of the politicians are also putting these negative feelings on John Ashcroft, when he has apparently been doing an incredible job. Ever since September 11th, there has not been a single other terrorist attack on American soil. In my opinion, he needs to be given the ability to continue whatever he is doing.
The person that wrote this was me. I wrote it over 10 years ago as an assignment for my High School AP Government class, where we had to read and respond to current event articles.
If you have ever stumbled on any political post on this blog (after 2007 or so), you know that I am not of this same mind at all. In fact, this was my “one-issue” that determined my Presidential vote this year. (Hopefully, you can also see that my writing has somewhat improved–yikes!). Shortly after this was written, I sat deciding on whether to go to a large urban university or Liberty University. My decision was made when my dad told me that he thought I “grew better in thorny soil”. That’s where I went, and that’s what molded me.
So let this be an encouragement that neither the environment you’re raised in nor the zeal with which you hold an opinion can close you off from change and growth. Always keep your mind open, pursue knowledge, and doubt your doubts. And spend some time in thorny soil. Happy New Year!
A friend emailed me yesterday asking if I had ever written a post on Halloween and how Christians should relate to it. This was my reply to him. Also, in honor of Halloween, I’m posting this picture of the best Halloween costume I ever had. Can’t figure it out? The answer is at the bottom of the post:
Sorry to be anti-climactic, but I don’t really have any strong opinions on the matter either way. I’ll probably stay home Halloween, work on school work, and hand out candy to kids.
I really think it’s up to the individual Christian’s conscience, though there are obvious things that might be “unwise”. For one, don’t get wrapped in the sexuality that seems to have pervaded Halloween. Second, if you do a costume, try not to be exploitative (grown-ups dressing like little kid-sort of things and sexualizing them, acting gay as a joke, mocking others, or I heard of one couple of white friends who went as a dead Trayvon Martin and a George Zimmermamn, with the Trayvon guy wearing black-face).
Importantly, though, I don’t encourage myself or other Christians to be “weird” about it.
In my research for this on-going series on Women and the Church, I ran across this picture above. And for this Friday, I wanted to throw it out there to get people’s reactions.
If you agree with the overall point, do you appreciate the representation? Do you think this is a helpful representation? How would you present your perspective differently, in visual form?
If you don’t agree with it, what would you say to the designers of this picture? How would you counter this use of this verse? What bothers you the most about the picture? Is there any core of truth to this picture?
I’m writing this long paper on the ancient Christian Practice of Discernment. In my research, I pulled out some Karl Barth, my favorite theologian (hands down), and got to soak in the beauty of these words, and I wanted to share them. Now, for people that don’t read “real” and “proper” theology, this is it. It’s circular, it repeats itself, and it’s unnecessarily complicated and unclear. I know. I get that. But I promise, if you can spend a few minutes, quiet yourself, and focus, I promise the pay-off is huge. This guy stands as a tower over all of modern theology and deserves more attention than he gets. I’ve done slight edits to some of the wording and paragraph breaks for clarity. Enjoy.
* * * * * * * *
God’s direction is an all-powerful decision, His own divine act of lordship. By this means, too, God vindicates His honor and maintains His glory. By this means, too, He exercises authority….
God’s direction is the directing of humans into the freedom of His children. It is this which has taken place in Jesus Christ no less uniquely than the once-for-all fulfillment of the divine sentence on all humanity. In suffering in our stead the death of the old nature, and bringing in by His resurrection the life of the new, He has made room for the being of all humanity to be at peace with God.
On the basis of what we are and is not by virtue of the divine sentence passed and revealed in Jesus Christ… we have no other place but this—the kingdom in which God can be at peace with us and us at peace with God. Jesus Christ…is the all-powerful direction of God to us to occupy this place, to live in this kingdom. If we are told in Him who we are and are not, we are also told in Him where we belong, where we have to be and live.
Crescent ring under porcelain smooth
___stain the wood-stained finish.
______(It is finished.)
___Marked with muddy water;
___mark the merry day; to
___marry the murdered man.
Floral notes in blackened waves
___crash the shore of trembled lips.
Choral bright, in darkest night,
___wake the tone of trebled kiss.
Younger tastes left open-wide; older eyes made
Mark the wood: complex simplicity.
Pierce my heart: storied infinity.
[read my other Holy Week poetry here]
“Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it and making it a truly Christian beverage.”
–Pope Clement VIII upon tasting coffee for the first time. I’m happy to say the Church has heeded his call.
A couple of days ago, I dropped my phone twice in one day. Now, I’ve dropped my phone before, and there have been no problems, save for a scratch here or there. But this time, something happened, and I couldn’t click the power button in. I spent hours Googling solutions. I ended up being able to download apps to let me put the phone to sleep, and even use my volume buttons to wake the phone. But, if my phone ever died or otherwise turned off, there was absolutely no way to turn it back on.
I checked into getting it repaired professionally, but between price and time, that wasn’t a realistic option. I slowly began to realize I only had two options: start looking for a new phone (when this one still isn’t paid off), or take it apart myself and see if I could fix it.
I’ll admit it: I really like my phone. It’s a (take a deep breath) Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD. (What a terrible name.) I got it off Ebay for full price so I could keep my unlimited data. It has a great screen, amazing battery life, and it still running smoothly after a year or so of pretty intense usage.
Last week, I put up a post asking for some help. For the past few years, I’ve had a terrible Twitter user name. I told the story of this previous name, and asked for some feedback on getting a new one. Well, that was a real help, because most people confirmed that using my full name (or some mixture thereof) was certainly the best, and I had totally forgotten than Twitter accepts underscores (“_”) (thanks, Jake Belder). So here is my new Twitter handle:
Profound, I know.
Anyway, for some reason, i end up posting more on Twitter than I do other places (and being a little bit more honest and blunt than in other venues). So let’s follow each other and become best friends, 160 characters at a time.
Oh, and if you notice any of my other sites that I haven’t updated to this new user name, please let me know. Thanks!
The other night, my church small group held our second annual Wine Tasting party. It was such a beautiful evening of great wine and great food (there was even Chardonnay paired with Chicken and Waffles–and it worked really well!).
Similarly, this year, my inner nerd-dom drove me to come up with a whole presentation around my attempt at another odd pairing. I wrote up some notes to guide me, and I thought I’d post them here to guide you on your own wine experiments this weekend, especially if you want a great pairing on a budget.
This is a different kind of tasting. It’s not so much about bringing out certain flavors as it is experiencing an unexpected reaction between the two items. It’s going to take some focus, so prepare your taste buds. But first, a story.