The following is a brief article from Kristen O Neal about the role of the arts in Christianity. Christians making bad art (i.e. music, movies, church murals, etc.) has become a popular joke in recent years, and for good reason. Somewhere along the way we stopped making great art for the glory of God and began using art as a means of communication for whatever message we were trying to get across. This article argues that great art, even if it’s “safe for the whole family” can point to God and create a space for people to meet with him.
Here’s the article: Continue reading
This past week our pastor encouraged us to spend “significant time in the word,” meaning that if we want to know God we must know him through the gospel, which is recorded in the collection of writings we call The Bible. The gospel is the “good news” that Jesus gave his life for ours, to save us from our sins and restore us with a right relationship with God. Sounds great, right? But, I think if we’re honest we will admit that it’s no easy task. After all, the Bible was written thousands of years ago in a language radically different than ours and it’s difficult to understand.
And its also not helpful that all the books out there about how to have “quiet time with God” are written by men and women who have schedules that allow them to get up at 5am and “spend an hour with God.” If you’re anything like me, that’s almost impossible!
This might sound weird coming from a pastor, but bible study has been overrated in some circles. Please here me out. I love the Bible. I love studying the Bible (I once memorized the entire book of Romans!). I love teaching people about the Bible. But Bible study alone has never built me up in the faith. In fact, it has often had the opposite effect. There have been times where my knowledge of the Bible has simply built up my own pride and distracted me from doing real ministry.
We need more than Bible knowledge. Our Bible study must lead us to knowledge of the gospel, not just knowledge of the Bible. It’s the gospel that is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12, ESV), not “the Bible.”
The following article by Ann Swindell points out ways that those of us who are not biblical scholars can relate to God through the gospel knowing the basics of what the Scripture says about the gospel, namely that God is the great creator of all things, desires a relationship with his creation and demands that we exist in relationship with him and our fellow creatures. Continue reading
King Solomon once said,
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him” (Prov. 14:31, ESV).
For the majority of my life I have been poor. I didn’t always know it, but I was. At least according to the way our society reckons poverty, I was. I grew up in a house in central Louisiana that my mom and dad built with their own hands. They used recycled lumber from condemned houses that had been donated to them. They first had to tear down the old houses, then haul the usable materials to the build site and then, with the help of a few friends erect a structure that would provide an adequate amount of shelter for our family.
Don’t get me wrong . . . it wasn’t without its charm. My mom had french doors that opened up into the kitchen, which often didn’t have running water in the sink. Water costs money. I can still remember, just like it was yesterday helping my mother carry water from the creek behind our house in jugs so that we could boil it in order to have clean water for our home. I remember boiling water on the stove so I could have a hot bath in the winter.
Remember the “outhouse” from Little House On The Prairie? Yep, my family had one of those too! We struggled to keep running water, electricity, phone, propane, and other things turned on that most of us consider being essentials. My sister and I wore hand-me-down clothes and when we grew out of our shoes or our clothes it was often the next school year before we got new ones (I can still remember what it was like to wear “high water jeans” and shoes with holes in them). And I can remember what I felt like when I was picked on for it by other kids my age.
Needless to say I was embarrassed to bring friends over to my house, and most of them didn’t want to come anyway. “It’s weird not being able to take a shower,” they would say.
My parents lived paycheck to paycheck, and was never able to shake a posture of mere survival. And when I graduated from high school in 1995 I went to work for whomever would hire me to do whatever and I began a lifetime of proliferating the same process that had been modeled by my parents since I was able to remember. Survival.
I’m not sure of the exact reason we lived the way we did, and looking back I’d rather not speculate. Continue reading
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