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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019  (Read 994 times)

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Bladerunner

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2019, 03:00:44 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/june/summer-travel-how-road-trips-teach-me-trust-jesus.html






How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus




As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.

 
My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the road around Southern California. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in a Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.






Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com








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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2019, 02:20:06 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/pastors-worship-and-god-said-more-sermon-puns-more-parties.html







And God Said to Pastors: Use More Sermon Puns and Plan More Parties




Three reasons to practice levity and humor in public worship.

 
When I was a student at Regent College, I once impersonated J. I. Packer in a chapel service. I pretended he was C-3PO from Star Wars. He laughed, I laughed, people laughed. We laughed, I’d like to think, because the impression fit the man: Both J. I. and C-3PO are tall, lanky creatures, all joints and sockets. They’re both British, über-rational, uncommonly smart beings possessed of photographic memories that lead them on occasion to boast of this particular ability. They’re also both catch-you-by-surprise funny.

As Packer’s teaching assistant for three years, I had the privilege of watching him up close. The point of comparing him to C-3PO was not to stress Packer’s ostensibly robotic appearance or preoccupation with etiquette but rather to highlight certain quirky details of Packer’s wonderfully idiosyncratic self. It was, if you will, an act of testimony. To bear witness to Packer in this context was to bear witness to the grace of God in his life, quirks and all.

This moment of witness also reflected an oft-forgotten aspect of Christian worship: the call to joy, levity, and humor.

“Seriousness is not a virtue,” G. K. Chesterton states in his marvelous book Orthodoxy. “It would be a heresy,” he continues, “but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally, but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.”

If Chesterton is right, that a certain form of seriousness is a vice rather than a virtue, then it is a vice for everybody—one that tempts both the plumber and the prime minister, the homemaker and the priest, the academic and the artist. It is a vice that especially tempts folks who belong to my own tribe of liturgical scholars. Although C. S. Lewis believed that “joy is the serious business of heaven,” liturgists would have us believe the inverse—that seriousness is the serious business of heaven and of worship, not joy.

Yes, our public worship begins and ends with the Father’s glory and is centered on the work of Christ and the Spirit. Yes, a primary purpose of our liturgical gathering is the praise of God and the sanctification of his people. And, yes, idolatry, superstition, hypocrisy, irreverence, formalism, and all other heretical “isms” are serious matters. But does it follow that corporate worship is fundamentally a deadly serious affair? If Lewis is right about the nature of joy, can’t the church’s liturgy also be a fundamentally joy-filled affair, marked by festivity, laughter, and perhaps even a dash of humor?

Allow me to suggest three theological reasons for why we should treat corporate worship as “playful business”: the grace of God, the future of God, and the comedy of God’s work.

First, a sense of humor is required of the people of God at worship because the grace of God requires it. The world that God made is marked by hyper-abundance. There is more in creation than human beings need or could ever make good use of in multiple lifetimes. Birdsong, tuneful to the human ear, exceeds our need for aural pleasure. The flavors in our foods, from chicken korma to Krispy Kreme doughnuts, go beyond what any individual deserves. In creation, there is wonderful excess—of light and texture, goodness and beauty—and it is all a grace.

There is nothing needful about this divine act. Nothing outside of God’s character compels him to make a world in which not just one kind of apple exists but rather 7,500 cultivars of apple, from Aceymac to York Imperial. As Karl Barth says, it gives God a “sporting joy” to make such a world possible to “its very depths.” It is a world made in grace and for grace. Accordingly, we are freed from an anxious need to feel only “useful” or “productive.” We are freed to revel in creation’s excess. We get to; we don’t just have to.

In the context of our common worship, we get to make our church architecture playful, like Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, with its whimsical colors and its fantastical vision of a world renewed by Christ. We get to include puns in our sermons, like Jesus did. We get to shout for joy, like the mountains continually do (Isa. 49:13). We get to laugh in the Spirit; we get to participate in a joyous dance; we get to do so because it is God’s everlasting pleasure to make worship possible.

Second, a sense of humor is required of the Christian at worship because of God’s good future.

“In God’s Home,” Saint Augustine remarks, “there is an everlasting party.” And what is celebrated there, he explains, is not a passing moment or an occasional feast. No, he writes, “the choirs of angels keep eternal festival, for the eternally present face of God is joy never diminished.” Eastern Orthodox Christians understand well how the church’s worship on earth is a simultaneous participation in the worship that takes place in heaven. And because it is heavenly in its orientation, our earthly worship belongs to God’s future.

As the Episcopal priest Robert Farrar Capon once imagined it, the Trinity makes the world a kind of “wild party,” full of joyful shouts and shared laughter. “And forever and ever they told old jokes,” Capon writes, “and the Father and the Son drank their wine in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and they all threw ripe olives and pickled mushrooms at each other per omnia saecula saeculorum, Amen.”

Capon readily grants the crassness of the image. But he also argues rightly, I believe, that its crassness tells the truth better than most books of theology and treatises on worship. Put simply: We joyfully laugh now in our praise of God because it’s our way to participate in the joyful laughter that the Host of Heaven enjoys forevermore before the face of God.

Third, a good sense of humor is required in our practices of public worship because comedy, not tragedy, will have the final word in God’s work. In his book, Telling the Truth, Frederick Buechner says that comedy is at the center of God’s redemptive work in Christ, from birth to resurrection and beyond. “It all happened not of necessity,” he writes, “not inevitably, but gratuitously, freely, hilariously. And what was astonishing, gratuitous, hilarious was, of course, the grace of God. What could they do but laugh at the preposterousness of it, and they laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks.”

If a fundamental purpose of corporate worship is to proclaim and enact the gospel, then surely, I would like to believe, our practices of proclamation and enactment would somehow point to the astonishing, gratuitous, even hilarious nature of the Good News. Using humor to draw attention to this “gratuitous grace” binds us more deeply to Jesus and humbles us more thoroughly because we have found that grace, not sin, has the last word in our life—preposterously so.

These three invitations are easier said than done, of course. There is an appropriate way to be humorous in worship, but it’s all a matter of context and timing. A sermon that includes a joke is one thing; a jokey sermon is another. Levity of spirit should not be confused with misguided attempts to be “hip,” nor should liturgical festivity ever devolve to liturgical flippancy.

By way of a healthy model, we might look to the idea of play. In play, children revel in the sheer gratuity of life. In play, the universe comes into being as an expression of God’s sheer delight in being. And in play, Christians enter into a fundamental aspect of worship—as an act of wonderment and delight in the “grace that is piled on top of grace,” as Eugene Peterson translates John 1:16.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) once remarked that for children, play is a rehearsal for later life, without its burdens and gravity: “On this analogy, the liturgy would be a reminder that we are all children.” If Ratzinger is right, then the church at worship does well to rehearse the playful delight of God’s children in the eternal liturgy of heaven. We, like the saints before us, have been raised by force of grace to a life that fills our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts for joy.






W. David O. Taylor is assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. His book Glimpses of the New Creation: Worship and the Formative Power of the Arts is due out with Eerdmans in 2019 and his book Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life is due out with Thomas Nelson in 2020. He tweets at @wdavidotaylor.

This piece was adapted from an essay published in “Divine Comedy,” the November 2018 issue of Regent World, a publication of Regent College. Published with permission from Regent College.





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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2019, 03:43:26 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/beating-guns-shane-claiborne-michael-martin.html






Are Guns Inherently Evil?










Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin envision a future without firearms. Should believers rally to their cause?

 
Someone, somewhere in America will be the victim of gun violence today. Mass shootings have become part of our routine national experience. What should be done with guns? That, essentially, is the question animating a new book from Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin, Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violence.

Claiborne and Martin argue that that guns should be destroyed and refashioned. Their argument runs like this: Guns are violent, violence is antithetical to peace, and because Christians must be committed to peace, they should oppose guns. No Christian who cares about peace is energized for violence.

Many readers will be familiar with Claiborne’s previous books on Christian nonviolence. He has been admirably consistent: Christians who take the teachings of Jesus seriously must forsake violence and pursue what makes for peace. In Claiborne’s case, this has meant a recurring emphasis on aiding the poor, sheltering the homeless, and advocacy against capital punishment. Martin, for his part, is the founder and director of RAWtools, Inc., a nonprofit that turns guns into gardening tools. Together, they want to beat guns, figuratively and literally.

Surprising Statistics

Beating Guns offers a useful historical overview of gun markets in the US and an instructive statistical analysis of American gun violence. The book is at its strongest when accounting for the scale of firearm ownership and use in the United States. Many of Claiborne and Martin’s findings are indeed quite alarming. Most people are aware, for example, that Americans own more guns and experience more gun violence than any other nation in the world. But did you know that Americans own half of all firearms globally, even though the US accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population? Did you know that of the 38,000-plus gun-related killings in America each year, more than half are the result of suicide? Even the statistical caveats offered are instructive. For example, 65 percent of guns are owned by 20 percent of gun owners, and of that latter group a mere 3 percent own half of all firearms!

Claiborne and Martin cite other statistics that might come as a surprise to readers. Even among gun owners largely committed to Second Amendment values, there is surprisingly broad consensus favoring specific regulatory policies. Around 85 percent support universal background checks covering private sales and gun shows, and somewhere around 65–68 percent support banning assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.

In a related chapter on “myth-busting,” Claiborne and Martin helpfully push back against some of the more popular arguments made about the utility and indispensability of guns. The belief that “guns keep us safe” has a certain intuitive logic. Surely they make their owners at least feel safer. But it turns out that “for every one gun used in self-defense, six more are used to commit a crime,” and at least one study has shown that a gun kept in the home is 12 times more likely to be involved in death or injury to a family member than to stop an intruder. Mace is often an equally effective deterrent.

When it comes to the history of the gun in the US, Claiborne and Martin are not interested so much in the technological chronology as they are in the development of the firearm market. They worry (understandably) about the mass production and marketing of firearms, connecting the economic development of munitions to stages of militarization, particularly defense contracts. The history of gun manufacturing, on their telling, is one of war, opportunism, busts, and ultimately commodification. As they put it, “Gun production went from a specialized skill to a corporate enterprise.” To this day guns remain icons of our national self-understanding.

From their statistical and historical insights, Claiborne and Martin build toward the theological argument of the book, one plainly in keeping with the authors’ longstanding commitment to Christian pacifism: Following Jesus means taking him at this word that his kingdom is a kingdom of peace. Guns, therefore, are false idols to be rejected. Christians cannot, as Claiborne and Martin argue, “carry a cross in one hand and a weapon in the other.” Being conformed to the image of the Son must involve rejecting violence, a violence Jesus helps his disciples “unlearn.”

Abolitionist Spirit
Beating Guns is in many ways an interesting and timely book. It offers an illuminating overview of our contemporary experience with firearms and situates that experience historically. That said, let me offer a few reasons why I’m not convinced that the book achieves its aims.

The chief problem is the authors’ insistence on condemning all firearms categorically. For Claiborne and Martin, the intrinsic purpose of a particular firearm is of little consequence. They are simply evil. The problem with this approach, however, is that proper moral assessment of firearms really does require differentiation by type and purpose. A 12-gauge shotgun, for instance, has an intrinsically different purpose than an AR-15 or a .22-caliber rifle. Some guns are designed for hunting, some for sport shooting, and some for self-defense. Is there really nothing to be said for the responsible hunter or sport shooter?

Taking a more realist approach to firearm regulation and to the church’s practices would have strengthened the moral force of the book considerably. Everyone is weary of violence, but a significant percentage of the weary do not find their shotguns or hunting rifles particularly threatening to themselves or to others. They are unlikely to catch the vision for how beating their rifles into gardening hoes makes the world less violent. One reason is that Claiborne and Martin never establish a firm Christian ethical argument for why firearms are inherently evil. Instead, the claim is implicit in their larger commitment to pacifism—a commitment that not every believer will share. Which means that a strength of the book—its emphasis on peacemaking—is also a weakness, in that its constructive proposals are unlikely to convince Christians who aren’t already pacifists.

As a result, the segments of the population that most need persuading are also the segments least likely to engage the book. Gun owners interested in discrete, measurable firearm regulations will be put off by its abolitionist spirit, since they are made out to be complicit in wrongdoing simply by owning firearms. That is the posture Claiborne and Martin believe necessary. A better method, I think, would have been to show how gun enthusiasts of different stripes could begin to understand peacemaking as limiting the violence guns can inflict. Help readers see clearly how specific firearms make our world more violent, and you’ll stand a better chance of drawing them to a moral vision of a more peaceful existence.

In articulating their goal of seeing all firearms repurposed as garden tools, Claiborne and Martin, of course, lean heavily on Isaiah 2:4, one of the Bible’s best-known prophetic passages, which speaks of a time when people will “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” If God has promised this reality, the authors say, then we should be doing our utmost to live into it today.

But there’s no escaping the deeply eschatological nature of this passage, which also speaks of how God “will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.” The reign of peace that God promises depends upon his final triumph over every form of sin and injustice. That triumph was announced and achieved at the cross, but in this period before Christ returns, we still await its full consummation.

Of course, none of this forces us into some fatalist resignation toward gun violence. Nor does it preclude taking prudent measures in the arena of public policy. But it does emphasize that our deepest hope for peace is not rooted in restricting or even abolishing weapons. We put our ultimate trust, instead, in the One who appoints those who bear the sword (Rom. 13), who has defeated death, and who reigns forever as the Prince of Peace, “having disarmed the powers and authorities” and “triumph[ed] over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15). As Christ’s servants, we participate in his redemptive work, bringing the gospel of peace wherever we go.



Claiborne and Martin’s vision for how to beat guns may not be compelling in every respect, but their vivid portrayal of how guns are beating us makes the book well worth reading.



Matthew Arbo is assistant professor of theological studies and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Oklahoma Baptist University.
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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2019, 11:48:29 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/june/prayer-polarization-pray-together-sunday.html






Prayer & Polarization












Amid societal polarization, American churches are dedicated July 7th to pray for the country.

 
Polarization has been trending for a long time. Especially in politics, but also in education, religion, economics, race, and more.

Even suggesting a place in the lonely middle-of-the-road can spark accusations of compromise and capitulation. Like the North Pole and the South Pole, polarization is about opposites that never meet and can’t even see each other. When it’s summer in the northern Arctic, it’s winter in the southern Antarctic.

Introduce a big What If.

What if Christians could set aside the cultural categories and extremes of our generation to center on the faith we all share in Jesus Christ? What if we could do something that demonstrated our Christian hope more than popular despair? What if together we made Jesus the winner rather than seeking victories for our sides of the lines that are dividing so many?

The proposal straight out of Washington, D.C.: Pray Together Sunday. It wasn’t my idea, but I was there when a staff member of the National Association of Evangelicals who is trained as a lawyer proposed a very Christian and biblical antidote to divisive polarization. She suggested choosing a summer Sunday for churches across our nation to pray together for God’s blessing in America.

Good idea with lots of reasons to say no. Of course it’s a good idea for churches to pray. No true Christian should object, but it’s easy to come up with a quick list of why it won’t work:

1. The idea is already taken. We already have a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May.
2. Prayer is already part of every weekend church service. Asking churches to pray is like asking dogs to bark — it’s what they already do.
3. Getting lots of churches to do anything together is tough to coordinate. Most churches like to make their own decisions, do what they are already doing and value independence over cooperation.

But, what if it works? Start with yes instead of no:

1. The National Day of Prayer is mostly about individuals praying rather than Sunday church praying. Multiple congregations praying together across traditions and geography on the same Sunday is an expression of the biblical Body of Christ.
2. Joining our prayer voices in solidarity with other churches beyond our usual network is a powerful expansion of our usual Sunday intercession as a congregation (dogs barking may be common but different breeds barking together across America on the same day would be a news story!).

It doesn’t take every Christian or every church to join in something for it to be spiritually significant and supernaturally powerful. Many churches have already proved it can be done since Pray Together Sunday was launched in July 2016.

3. Give it a try. Pray Together Sunday is scheduled for July 7, 2019. The date is part of the Independence Day holiday weekend — a good addition to celebrating our nation’s birthday; a date when most churches have space for an extra prayer in the order of worship—and probably not a high attendance weekend except in resort areas.

Propose to your pastor or church board that your church join Pray Together Sunday on July 7th. (Basic information and invitation is available at NAE.net/praytogether.)

Sign-up, simple and free, at NAE.net/praytogether to indicate that your church is in with others and not just an independent prayer site. (Sign-up is not required but good to do.)

Use free materials. Also simple and free: bulletin inserts, wording for church screens or printed bulletins.

Include time in the July 7 church service for one person or several persons to pray around the theme “Love God. Love Others.” Tell everyone that your congregation is joining in a special national prayer time with other churches across America.

WWJT = “What Would Jesus Think?” What would Jesus think of each of our churches praying for America at the same time in his name? What would Jesus think of our solidarity in obeying his command to love God and love our neighbors (Matt. 22:37-38)? I believe Jesus would like it.





Leith Anderson is head of the National Association of Evangelicals.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2019, 07:23:47 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2019/june/summer-travel-how-road-trips-teach-me-trust-jesus.html






How Road Trips Teach Me to Trust Jesus




As I approach this season of pilgrimage, Scripture offers me a theology of travel.

 
My husband, Daryl, experiences more wanderlust than I do. He grew up in Southern California, traveling across the valley for high school basketball games, taking class field trips up the coastline, and loading up the church van for missions to Tijuana. On our family Sabbath, it’s Daryl who takes us out on the road around Southern California. When I ask where we’re headed, he smiles and nearly always says, “I’m not sure. Let’s just have an adventure.”

In particular, our trips to visit extended family bring out the differences in our travel methods. I plan ahead while Daryl enjoys serendipity; I prepare for every eventuality while he prefers to throw a few diapers and a bag of tortilla chips in the car and hope for the best. But since my husband’s side of the family lives in a Los Angeles—a thriving metropolis with all manner of convenience stores and restaurants—I’m learning to hang loose on these local treks.

As these drives to LA become more common, God is faithfully teaching me that my rigid, planned-up-to-the-minute travel method isn’t always the best one. In fact, the biblical model for following Jesus is much more Spirit-led than plotted in advance. It isn’t that preparation isn’t necessary or helpful, it’s that openness to the Spirit of God is more important still. “The wind blows where it wills,” Jesus tells Nicodemus in John’s gospel.

Paul’s journeys were continually interrupted by storms, bandits, imprisonments, and mobs, and once, when he made it all the way to the outskirts of the province of Asia, the Spirit of God turned him away at the last minute. Perhaps that’s why when God speaks to individuals in Scripture, his first call is often for them to step out in faith, to follow a new and previously unsought path. Much of the time God doesn’t even give the destination. The command is simple (and, if you’re a homebody like me, perhaps a little unsettling): “Go,” he says. “Go.”

God uses this word with Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. “Go,” he says to Jonah. Simeon is “moved by the Spirit” to go to the temple, where he welcomes and blesses the infant Jesus. “Get up,” an angel says to Joseph in a dream, warning him to flee from King Herod’s murderous rage and go to Egypt.

As pilgrim people, we, too, are called to travel with our eyes open to the work of the Lord in the world around us. As N. T. Wright puts it, “A pilgrim is someone who goes on a journey in the hope of encountering God or meeting him in a new way.” Whether we fly across the country or simply drive an hour to visit a friend, travel provides us with a unique opportunity to experience God anew by approaching our journey not just as travelers but pilgrims—people on the lookout for God at work and opportunities to join him.

Jesus was the ultimate pilgrim, after all, leaving his heavenly climes to not only visit with but live among humanity. He faced all the usual obstacles to comfort that plague us when we travel—difficulty in finding food and shelter, misreading the vibe of a particular place, and having to rely on the hospitality and grace of strangers, family, and friends. “Foxes have dens,” Jesus said, “and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Jesus leans into this discomfort, telling his disciples to “take nothing for the journey.” He invites us to do likewise. (Though, to be fair, none of the disciples was toting a two-year-old. Surely then even Jesus would have advised bringing an extra snack or two.) Away from our usual environment, at the mercy of the road or the airlines or the weather or the host home, we are given the opportunity to see the world with new eyes: to receive welcome, to develop compassion, to grow in faith and trust that God will care for us throughout the journey and see us safely home at its end.

In my upcoming summer travels, I want to practice Christlike pilgrimage, watching for God as our family journeys, looking for opportunities to love those in my path with the love of Christ, and doing my best to accept discomfort and even disaster as means of discipleship and grace.

I also need to seek ways to slow down and listen—something that doesn’t come naturally to me. One of the lessons God offers to us in travel is to find peace amid the storm, to leave behind the intensity of our work lives and schedules and family pandemonium and settle into the quieter days of travel. As Carlo Carretto puts it, “That is the truth we must learn through faith: to wait on God. And this attitude of mind is not easy. This ‘waiting,’ this ‘not making plans,’ this ‘searching the heavens,’ this ‘being silent’ is one of the most important things we have to learn.”

This insight comes home to me every time I visit my parents in the northern woods of Wisconsin, where I’m cut off from the busyness of my normal life. My parents’ internet is spotty; my cellphone works only intermittently; the last time I heard a siren of any kind was at the town Fourth of July parade half a decade ago.

Back home, Daryl and I often fall asleep watching The West Wing or The Office in an effort to still our ping-ponging thoughts. Here, however, any digital streaming takes literal hours to download, so we simply don’t. At night we open the windows to hear the oak and maple leaves blow in the wind, falling asleep with books on our chests. When we spend these days in the quiet of the northern forests, it’s as if Jesus stands at the helm of our proverbial boats during the storm of the usual daily grind—ministry, school, appointments, errands, household chores—and says, “Peace. Be still.”

In these pilgrimage moments, I’m ever so slowly learning to listen. I’m learning, too, that the journey, provision, and destination all belong to God.






Courtney Ellis is a pastor and speaker and the author, most recently, of Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 2019, Rose Publishing). She lives in Southern California with her husband, Daryl, and their three kids. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog.

This essay was adapted from Almost Holy Mama by Courtney Ellis. Copyright (c) 2019 by Courtney Ellis. Published by Rose Publishing, Peabody, MA. hendricksonrose.com








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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - June 2019
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2019, 09:21:34 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/june-web-only/let-womens-world-cup-get-political.html







Let the Women’s World Cup Get Political







When athletes become advocates around hot-button issues, Christians need not retreat.

 
All the reasons that we love following sporting events become even more enticing when the game is played at the highest level of competition and on a global scale.

This month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup brings the excitement and emotions of tournament play, wrapped up in the paradoxical feeling of watching games in which we act as if everything is at stake for us when in reality, very little truly is.

The US Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) has taken center stage, advancing into the quarterfinals; three more victories and the USWNT will maintain its title of best women’s soccer team in the world. Even Americans who otherwise don’t follow soccer feel a sense of pride and patriotism watching our team dominate on the field.

The players wearing the American flag on their jerseys also have distinct views about the nation they represent—what they see as the values most important to take a stand for, draw attention to, and speak out about.

Twenty-eight members of the USWNT have joined in a lawsuit arguing that the US Soccer Federation is in violation of the Equal Pay Act, since the women’s team makes a fraction of the men’s team, even though they play more games and have drawn in more viewers in recent years.

Megan Rapinoe, considered the “heart and soul” of the US squad, does not participate in the national anthem, in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Additionally, the team has offered their support of LGBT rights, with many of the USWNT players and coaches themselves belonging to LGBT communities.

Overall, the USWNT has not been shy about sharing their views—they follow a long legacy of American athletes who use their platform to address major issues. Think Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Billie Jean King.

Ali was arrested in 1966 for his refusal to be drafted into the military. But by 1996, the United States Olympic Committee chose the legendary boxer as the honorific to light the torch that commenced the Atlanta Olympics.

Runners Carlos and Smith were kicked off the 1968 Olympic team in the middle of the games for their black power demonstration, returning home to death threats. A 23-foot statue of them in San Jose now commemorates their legacy.

In tennis, Billie Jean King pioneered the battles that the USWNT still fights today—equal pay for women and LGBT rights. Seen as a radical in the 1970s, King has since been awarded numerous honors and titles, including a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In the midst of their dominating play so far, the issues many members of this USWNT stand for can be polarizing. Many Americans, and especially Christians, have followed their convictions and picked their sides on these matters.

There can be a temptation for some to bristle at the notion of “politicizing” sports in our current moment, particularly if they disagree with the team’s stances. Can’t soccer just be soccer? Can’t we have an escape from all the debate?

To complain that the USWNT has politicized the World Cup (or that Colin Kaepernick has politicized the NFL, for instance) is understandable. But the truth is that sport, like everything else, happens in a political context.

Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus and his followers pay particular attention to the political and cultural forces around them. Knowing this context becomes crucial for how they ultimately engage others, minister to them, and proclaim the gospel to them.

As Christians studying the interaction between faith and sports, we see this arena as another area where God calls us—as players, coaches, fans, and viewers—to engage with prayer and discernment.

We see a dimension to sports that gives believers a unique opportunity for ministry and a way to better understand society. (We talk about the many forms this faithful side of sports can take—ethically, philosophically, sociologically—at the Second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity, which is being held this fall at Calvin College.)

Just as Christians use their platforms to reflect their deeply held beliefs, through word or deed or sideline prayer on bended knee, Megan Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates are speaking with conviction, too. Whether or not we agree, as fans and followers of Christ, we can pay attention and listen.

By acknowledging the moral convictions in sport, we are reminded that these competitors are people, not just entertainment commodities. When we watch, we see athletes—not theologians or politicians—who come onto the field in the fullness of their humanity.

Like Ali, Carlos, Smith, and King, they have the chance to speak from the largest platform they’ll ever experience, and we have the opportunity to consider our own beliefs and views as we respond.

Would we rather just watch soccer as soccer? Probably. And for the 90-plus minutes between whistles, we usually do.

Sport gives us a chance to enjoy the pure excitement of the action and competition and also, at times, consider the social, moral, and political issues that surround it. USWNT isn’t bringing politics into soccer; they’re asking us to not ignore the politics they’ve dealt with in soccer and American society in general.

When sport and faith intersect, we could withdraw or dismiss it outright, or we could see it as an opportunity to better understand and pray for the global sporting community—one rife with the animosity that so often comes from intense competition.

Watching the FIFA Women’s World Cup reminds us how much we love the game. But it might also stir deeper appreciation when we remember the political and social context that got us here—including Title IX and the history of women fighting for their place in sports. While sports narratives are mostly told through players and the media, it is up to us how we consume them.

So, join in the fun. Enjoy the action. And rather than trying to downplay the surrounding social, moral, and political issues surrounding the games—pray for godly discernment in how we respond.





Chad Carlson is a Kinesiology professor and the director of general education at Hope College. Brian Bolt is the Dean of Education and Head Men's Golf coach at Calvin College. They are co-directors of the Second Global Congress on Sport and Christianity this coming October

Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column and (unlike an editorial) does not necessarily represent the opinion of the magazine.
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


Copyright Disclaimer: All audio and music belongs to the owner/creator. This is a non-profit. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

 

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