Four (videos) for Friday

April 20, 2012 Leave a comment

This week’s installment of Four for Friday is all videos. As is becoming more and more my custom – minimal comments, just the goods.

I like it.

Your new favorite musician.

So very good.

In the words of Ian Cron, “How are humans not extinct?

The New Conversion

April 19, 2012 Leave a comment

A few months ago, I mentioned that one of the best books I read last year was Gordon Smith’s Transforming Conversion. While the book was fairly in depth, his main idea was simple enough to grasp… we – especially those who identify in some way with evangelical Christianity in North America – should give some serious thought to what it means for a person to come to faith. The way we talk about conversion is lopsided at best, and at times can even be detrimental for a person’s spiritual development and self-understanding.

I could share various examples of what I mean, but I mainly wanted to point you to an article by Smith that recently appeared on Christianity Today’s website. It is entitled “The New Conversion,” and as you might guess it is more of the same. The benefit for you is that it is article-length versus book-length.

It [would] not be an overstatement to say that evangelicals are experiencing a “sea change”—a paradigm shift—in their understanding of conversion and redemption, a shift that includes the way in which they think about the salvation of God, the nature and mission of the church, and the character of religious experience. Although there is no one word to capture where evangelicals are going in this regard, there is a word that captures what they are leaving behind: revivalism.

Read it all HERE.

Four (Good Things) for Friday

April 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Remember when Martha Stewart used to share little tidbits of advice called “Good Things?”

Yeah, me neither.

In honor of Good Friday, four Good things for your enjoyment.

1) A Good Song // Just found out this week that I like Bombay Bicycle Club. Who knew?

Bombay Bicycle Club – How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep

2) A Good Video // My Good friend, Jacob, shared a video that I thought was fascinating. I love watching people do stuff they both love and are Good at. Predictably, they chose the most provocative image from the video to “sell” it.

3) A Good Book // I’ve mentioned once or twice that there is a something of a controversy surrounding the Christian doctrine of justification. I’m pretty certain not many of you (nor myself for that matter) are losing any sleep over this, but some might say that “justification” lies pretty close to the heart of the Christian message. Therefore, tinkering around with it, or having the appearance of playing fast and loose with it, does tend to ruffle some feathers.

I’ve been reading a book entitled, Justification: Five Views, and it is Good. The title couldn’t be more clear… Five different views on justification. Each view is written up by an “expert” representing that view. And every other contributor writes a response to the essay. It is as close to a theological cage-match as you’re going to find. In the introduction, the editors do a fine job of mapping the current landscape of the debate. Of course, a book on this fundamental doctrine couldn’t be more appropriate for Good Friday.

4) A Good Maundy Thursday Service // Yesterday, our church had four brief services to commemorate the Last Supper and point us towards Resurrection Sunday.

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@fellowshipnorth

My Good friend, Sarabeth, shares some of what went down at those services. This has been a rich Lenten season for me, and I couldn’t be more ready to celebrate our risen Lord.

civilized vices

April 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Excerpted from “The Cross and the Cellar” by Morton T. Kelsey (as found in Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter)

Let us look at some of the people who brought Jesus of Nazareth to crucifixion. They were not monsters, but ordinary men and women like you and me.

Pilate receives most of the blame for Jesus’ death, and yet Pilate didn’t want to crucify the man. Why did Pilate condemn Jesus? Because Pilate was a coward. He cared more about his comfortable position than he did about justice. He didn’t have the courage to stand for what he knew was right. It was because of this relatively small flaw in Pilate’s character that Jesus died on a cross. Whenever you and are willing to sacrifice someone else for our own benefit, whenever we don’t have the courage to stand up for what we see is right, we step into the same course that Pilate took.

And Caiaphas, was he such a monster? Far from it. He was the admired and revered religious leader of the most religious people in that ancient world. He was the High Priest. His personal habits were impeccable. He was a devout and sincerely religious man. Why did he seek to have Jesus condemned? He did it for the simple reason that he was too rigid. He thought that he had to protect God from this man, thought he had to protect the Jewish faith, and so he said: “It is good for one man to die instead of a nation being destroyed.” Caiaphas’s essential flaw was that he thought he had the whole truth. People who have fought religious wars, those who have persecuted in the name of religion, have followed in his footsteps. Those who put their creeds above mercy and kindness and love, walk there even now.

Why did Judas betray his master? He wasn’t interested in the thirty pieces of silver, at least not primarily. Judas had wanted Jesus to call upon heavenly powers, to take control of the situation and throw the Romans out of Palestine. When he failed to do this, Judas no longer wanted anything to do with him. Judas’ fault was that he couldn’t wait. When we can’t wait and want to push things through, when we think we can accomplish a noble end by human means, we are just like Judas.

Then there was the nameless carpenter who made the cross. He was a skilled workmen. He knew full well what the purpose of that cross was. If you questioned him he probably would have said: “But I am a poor man who must make a living. If other men use it for ill, is it my fault?” So say all of us who pursue jobs which add nothing to human welfare or which hurt some people. Does the work I do aid or hinder human beings? Are we cross makers for our modern world? There are many, many of them.

These were the things that crucified Jesus on Friday in Passover week A.D. 29. They were not wild viciousness or sadistic brutality or naked hate, but the civilized vices of cowardice, bigotry, impatience, timidity, falsehood, indifference – vices all of us share, the very vices which crucify human beings today.

Poem for Friday

March 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the past couple days, I had the opportunity to attend a summit on “Racial Healing and Equity in the American South” hosted by the Clinton School‘s Center on Community Philanthropy. While there is much that could be shared from my experience there, I’m simply including a poem that I heard for the first time today. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that poetry isn’t on my short list of things that I tend to appreciate, but something about this one struck a chord.

“Poem for the Young White Man Who Asked Me How I, an Intelligent, Well-Read Person Could Believe in the War Between Races” by Lorna Dee Cervantes

In my land there are no distinctions.
The barbed wire politics of oppression
have been torn down long ago. The only reminder
of past battles, lost or won, is a slight
rutting in the fertile fields.

In my land
people write poems about love,
full of nothing but contented childlike syllables.
Everyone reads Russian short stories and weeps.
There are no boundaries.
There is no hunger, no
complicated famine or greed.

I am not a revolutionary.
I don’t even like political poems.
Do you think I can believe in a war between races?
I can deny it. I can forget about it
when I’m safe,
living on my own continent of harmony
and home, but I am not
there.

I believe in revolution
because everywhere the crosses are burning,
sharp-shooting goose-steppers round every corner,
there are snipers in the schools…
(I know you don’t believe this.
You think this is nothing
but faddish exaggeration. But they
are not shooting at you.)

I’m marked by the color of my skin.
The bullets are discrete and designed to kill slowly.
They are aiming at my children.
These are facts.

Let me show you my wounds: my stumbling mind, my
“excuse me” tongue, and this
nagging preoccupation
with the feeling of not being good enough.

These bullets bury deeper than logic.
Racism is not intellectual.
I cannot reason these scars away.
Outside my door
there is a real enemy
who hates me.

I am a poet
who yearns to dance on rooftops,
to whisper delicate lines about joy
and the blessings of human understanding.

I try. I go to my land, my tower of words and
bolt the door, but the typewriter doesn’t fade out
the sounds of blasting and muffled outrage.
My own days bring me slaps on the face.

Every day I am deluged with reminders
that this is not
my land
and this is my land.

I do not believe in the war between races
but in this country
there is war.

Four (quick picks) for Friday

March 16, 2012 1 comment

Four (from around the web) for Friday

March 9, 2012 1 comment

Today’s edition of Four for Friday is a little gathering up of some stuff from around the intranets…

1) In about a week, I’ll be heading west with eighty friends for a little organized madness in God’s country. This video is inspiring me to keep my skis on the snow as much as possible.

2) Jonas David – Let Me Live // Time to get my mellow on.

3) As you are listening to the above song, take a moment to read some thoughts on a “sanctified imagination” by Kevin Vanhoozer.

My concern is that many Evangelicals are suffering from malnourished imaginations.

Reading is a kind of strength-training that flexes the muscles of our imagination.

I need a sanctified imagination as I seek each day to improvise my life to the glory of God.

Of course, the whole piece is worth reading.

4) You probably remember the magazine National Geographic. I used to love flipping through the pages and looking at all of the stunning photographs.

As all of life has been shifting toward digital, there is a chance that this venerable publication has become something of yesteryear. I don’t know how the magazine is fairing (I haven’t seen one in years), but they seem to have found their niche online. They are still doing what they have always done well… putting incredible photographs out there for the world. My favorite feature they have is their “Photo of the Day.”

Bonus…

For those of you who came looking for tunes, I feel a little bad about short-changing you. Here’s a little extra something.

Tim Fite – Joyriding