Worthwhile

Worthwhile January 3, 2020

For all the celebration and time off we have arrived here. 2020. Of the opportunities. Of the anxiety of it all! Whatever comes, let’s determine to run to Jesus and trust in him.

To kick off the year four bits worth reading as we shape what we will look like as the calendar unfolds.


First up, prayer. John Starke, a pastor in NYC, wrote a piece for The Washington Post on adding the daily routine of prayer for all of us looking for self-worth and satisfaction. His words are a good invitation to what we should take up.

Here is his conclusion: “There is much to learn about prayer, but it’s easy to get started. Begin by reading Psalms in the Bible and see how believers have prayed and what they’ve prayed for. Read a book on prayer. Find a community of faith and see how they pray and what they seek.”

“Christians often come to prayer not knowing what to say, whether because of suffering, weariness or feeling distant from God. That’s okay. God, who is our help, invites us just to be present. He tells us not to expect to be received for our many words but because we are loved.”

Read the whole thing here.


Following that, there is an older piece from Mike Brooks on For The Church on “A Revolutionary Prayer Life.” It is actually more simple than we think.

A problem many of us face in the moment we’re praying is that, if we were to pay close attention, we’d likely catch ourselves mentally processing our joys and frustrations, rather than remaining present in prayer and sharing these things with God, praising him for his faithfulness and asking him to reveal the ways in which we aren’t trusting him as we ought.

Give it a read here and let’s start using the “Dear God” more often!


Now we move into how we can work differently. Oriented toward redemptive things versus the normative increase of money or accolades.

Molly Worthen penned an essay in The New York Times early in December to process thoughts on justice and inequality finding fruitfulness in the faith and work movement afoot. It is worth looking in on and pondering how we live and work.

“Today, a different cast of evangelicals — who are more likely to be pastors, academics and small-scale entrepreneurs than titans of the business establishment — are leading the faith and work movement in new directions, because they take more seriously all the ways the Bible challenges the exploitations of our new Gilded Age. They have built a network of businesses, ministries, media organizations, conference programs, websites and more than a dozen research centers in every region of the country that focus on how Christians can turn the workplace into “a sign and foretaste of God’s coming kingdom…”

Check out Worthen’s thorough look at the faith and work movement here.


To close out the week then is a great example of this type of work. 1951 Coffee is a roaster and coffeehouse that employs refugees giving them work experience and skills as they learn life in the U.S..

“1951 Coffee Company, founded in 2015, is a non-profit specialty coffee organization that promotes the well-being of the refugee community in the United States by providing job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues.”

It seems to be a great model and rumor has it we will soon see one in San Diego. Check them out online.


Whether you are still struggling with resolutions or just living free, may 2020 be a grand experience of the grace of Christ. Onward!

Worthwhile

Worthwhile December 27, 2019

The end of the year is here. I didn’t quite reach my reading goal. My weight isn’t what I would prefer. I haven’t scaled unconquerable mountains. But we persist. Trusting in Jesus. His purpose prevails.

A couple of reminders of that truth for your weekend reading.


First up the real abundant life. Rankin Wilbourne wrote for TGC on suffering as an experience of abundant life. It is quite the opposite of what you might here from many religious leaders, but I think he is right.

“Jesus, the perfect image of God and the perfect human being, shows us that a fully human life must include suffering, and that we can only become the man or woman God intends us to be through suffering. Jesus, who was without sin and never did anything to deserve his Father’s displeasure, was made “perfect through suffering” (Heb. 2:10). The author of Hebrews dares to say that Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8), and that this is part of what makes him our compassionate high priest (Heb. 4:15), able to help us in our time of need. If Jesus, the perfect child, had to learn how to trust and obey through suffering, how much more necessary is it for you and me?”

It takes a long time to be familiar with suffering, and maybe longer to see it as part of the maturing process in Christ. May we be quick to see it in the new year.

Read the whole thing here.


And maybe a few days late but nevertheless important, let’s not neglect the genealogies.

Jennie Pollock exhorts us to read and hear and be encouraged.

“Why on earth would God want to start the New Testament, the story of the new covenant, the bit that most people nowadays are likely to start with, if they’re going to read a Bible at all, with a genealogy? Who wants to read a long stream of unpronounceable names of total strangers before the story starts? Is it like the title cards at the beginning of old movies? Important information to those concerned, but just an opportunity to make yourself comfortable and arrange your snacks for the rest of us? …When those scriptures were read out, for hundreds of years, the descendants of those individuals would have been listening eagerly for their family names, feeling an intimate connection to the story.”

Oh friend you are tied to the story!

“For Christians then, the New Testament starts not with echoes of Genesis, not with the breaking of a 400 year silence, not with the fulfillment of prophecies, but with us. It sets us right in the narrative, reminding us of who we are and where we fit, rooting us in the story, and the story in us.”

Read the whole thing.


Thank you for checking in one last time in 2019. In the new year I am planning some more sharing of great ideas and efforts to be a redemptive expression in our world. If you come across any, send them my way!

May you be blessed as we turn the calendar and may you see more of Jesus in 2020!

Worthwhile

Worthwhile December 20, 2019

Oh my you can almost taste it. Christmas is so close. The presents round the tree. The warm family time together. The singing. The laughing. May it be so.

Tomorrow I have the pleasure of adding another year under my belt, 42 I shall be. Let’s begin celebrating now shall we?!

A couple of items today since I know your weekend is busy…


First up is the ruckus coming from our friends in Northern California at a little church named Bethel. You may not be aware, but this last week the daughter of a worship-leading couple passed away unexpectedly. In light of this the church has been holding several days of resurrection meetings calling on little Olive to wake up.

Erik Reed, whose son recently passed away, has a pastoral response to the events.

“The pain this family and church feel over the loss of Olive punches you in the stomach and leaves you cleaving for air. The death of a child hurts. It shatters your heart in a million pieces and prompts your mind to replay endless scenes of times with your child. The permanence of it is heavy. Each day is a reminder that their laugh, their smile, their touch, and their smell are gone.”

“My heart aches for this family. I grieve about how badly they are hurting. It’s terrible.”

“But the pain Olive’s death has brought this family and church will soon lead to another one. It is the pain and confusion that bad theology ushers in. Their response is only compounding the pain. Disillusionment awaits those who pray now for something God has not promised.”

God can absolutely resurrect whom he chooses, but the danger is in the demanding of it. Read his whole post here.


Keeping in the light-hearted tone of today’s articles… Sorry I don’t mean to be a downer… We turn to impeachment.

It is historical, it happened, and we should think about it. Sadly, as has always been the case, impeachment of a president is a rancorous, partisan affair. No one looks good through the process and regular folks like you and I just become more entrenched in our party or perspective.

But there is also something else going on here. Those of you who know me have experienced my displeasure with the current political environment and what I think is a significant failure of those professing faith in Christ making decisions in the public sphere that align with that profession. But I won’t convince you, the dragon goes too deep.

Enter Christianity Today. Neither the most influential instrument in the Christian world nor an entity that can be ignored. The magazine’s editorial board, being consistent with the calls they made twenty years ago for Bill Clinton to be removed from office, have called for President Trump to likewise be removed.

Their article is measured, reasoned, and thoroughly Christian. The problem is, those that could benefit from the dialogue simple won’t read it. We will keep getting our news from narrow sources and only listen to influencers that echo what we already believe. That is terribly unChristian.

So I put it before you, be bold, take up and read. Pray and wrestle. What would Jesus have us do?

If you are hesitant to to click the link, maybe just engage with this paragraph from the piece:

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come? Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?”

May we prayerfully walk out our faith and life before a watching world. Read it here.


That’s it for today. Enough really. I do hope you will come back! And please enjoy the wonderful Christmas holiday. Be reminded that Jesus came for a wretch like you and the light he brings changes everything.