Thinking Out Loud

August 18, 2018

On the Passing of Aretha Franklin

Filed under: Christianity, music — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:11 pm

So much is available for you to read online. I only want to make three observations:

♪ The first is a bit tangential, I admit, but it was refreshing to see an inspirational remembrance of the Queen of Soul displace Washington politics from the top of the network news agenda, both in Canada and the United States. NBC Nightly News devoted the first ten minutes to Aretha Franklin and this can be considered a measurement of her impact on music listeners and musicians alike. The orange man dominates the news rundown on far too many nights.

♪ I didn’t realize that Aretha’s first gospel album was her all-time bestseller. I believe the one at right (or above if you’re reading this on your phone) is the one I saw pictured on screen in one of the reports. It’s a double album, which I believe is the same song selection as the ones listed on the later-released CD version, shown below. Another example of how gospel music (and we can infer also, the Gospel itself) carried African Americans through the Civil Rights years. (There have been many other gospel collections by her in the years since.)

♪ The story, part of the next day’s reporting at NBC News on Aretha filling in for Pavarotti at the 1998 Grammy Awards is so inspiring. The show director didn’t know the opera star would be a no-show until 10 minutes into the broadcast. Aretha had performed the song as a tribute two days before at a tribute for Luciano, but this was a different arrangement, in a different key, with a large choir. She listened to a cassette in her dressing room for a few minutes, then went onstage to do her own number with The Blues Brothers, then went back to relearn the arrangement, and walked onstage saying, “This is going to be fun.” You can read the director’s story here — a related video is missing but you can watch that on YouTube.


Kick back with some Aretha gospel! This video begins a playlist of 16 songs.

 

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August 17, 2018

Christian Publisher’s Book Riding High on Mainstream Charts

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 2:05 pm

This article appeared earlier in the week at Christian Book Shop Talk

When my Saturday edition of The Toronto Star arrives, I always make a point of checking their bestseller lists, not because I’m necessarily familiar with (or even interested) in the books named there, but because I’m a book guy who has a nerd-like interest to see how the major publishing houses are faring.

This time around, a Thomas Nelson title, released in February caught my eye. The book is Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis which was #3 on the Self-Help list for Canadian sales. I knew the book had been doing well, but I was surprised to see it on a list for that country.

At Publisher’s Weekly, it was listed a few days ago as:

  • #2 overall
  • #1 for religious non-fiction
  • #2 for hardcover non-fiction

On The New York Times lists, it is

  • #1 for advice/how-to/miscellaneous (where The Five Love Languages is #6 in its 254th week on the list; and Everybody Always by Bob Goff is #8)

Here’s some of the publisher description:

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

About the author:

Lifestyle expert Rachel Hollis is the founder of the popular website TheChicSite.com and is the CEO of Chic Media. She is a regular contributor for HuffPost and PopSugar, and she has appeared on Today, Rachael, The Talk, Extra, and many other programs. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and four children.

A review at CBD answered one of my main questions about the book:

…While not scripturally based, Girl, Wash Your Face tackles the lies that hold us back from physical, mental, and spiritual health. The principles that Rachel Hollis uncovers point the reader to a better understanding of who we are created in Christ. Furthermore, she writes in a very down to earth style, making her quite relatable. This book stands out in the Christian world for the author’s willingness to write on hard topics and not hold back in some brutal truths…


9781400201655 | Released 2018-02-06 | 240 pages | $22.99 US

August 16, 2018

Differentiating The NIV Zondervan Study Bible from the other NIV Study Bible

I wouldn’t normally expect to repeat a book review, but this is an important product, and one having a name which, three years later, leaves people very confused. I was sent a beautiful bonded leather edition, but it was regular size print and with all the helpful notes and other materials it had to offer, I really wanted the larger print, so I traded it for the Large Print in hardcover. You can decided if that was wise, given that the first one was leather.

NIV Zondervan Study Bible open

Opening the pages of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, it occurred to me that in another era, this was the type of product that a family would order by mail, wait weeks for, and upon its arrival the family would gather around the dining room table to check out the different features. It deserves a party!

This is very much an encyclopedic Bible taking the existing NIV Study Bible — which will continue to remain in print — and combining it with ideas such as the supplementary articles seen in the ESV Study Bible and the use of charts seen in the Life Application Study Bible, and the use of full color, in-text pictures first used in the NIV Archaeological Study Bible (the latter being now officially out of print.)

As you would expect, there are detailed introductions for each book, but also to each section of Biblical literature. However, the bulk of the supplementary articles are placed at the back, and these are topical but also tied to elements of systematic theology, though I’ve noticed the publisher prefers the term Biblical theology. There are many maps at the back; I also noted a full-page map embedded in the middle as well. A variety of scholars contributed to the project which was headed by D. A. Carson. The print version also includes a free digital download.

At 2880 pages this is a Bible packed with features. As such, I wish the font chosen for the notes was a little clearer, but I might upgrade to the large print edition. This may not be your take-to-church Bible edition, but it offers some great helps for both the new Christian who wants background information, and the veteran Christ follower.

Below is the original article posted here in anticipation of this significant Bible release…


NIV Zondervan Study Bible

Opinions here are those of the author; this is not a sponsored post.

While the title may confuse some, you have to assume the publishers already sorted out that potential confusion and went ahead with the name anyway. The NIV Zondervan Study Bible is certain to get mixed up with the classic NIV Study Bible which has been with us for several decades. The latter isn’t going anywhere.

At a major online Christian retail site, we read:

The NIV Study Bible will remain in print. With over 10 million copies sold over 30 years, this bestselling study Bible will continue to help readers come to a deeper understanding of God’s Word.

And then it offers this chart which outlines the differences:

NIV Study Bibles compared

Looking closely at the author list above, methinks that that Zondervan is going after the same market as purchased the popular ESV Study Bible. Clearly, to some extent, the Reformed community is in view. However, by virtue of its weight, the ESV product attracted a broader audience containing features which had not heretofore seen in study Bibles. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the ESV Study did contain elements worth emulating.

Zondervan is quick to point out that this new project was not adapted from the present study edition, but was “built from the ground up.”

Bonus: For those of you who’ve read this far, here’s a look at some of the extras in this Bible below which is a clue to where the advance peek treasure is buried:

NIV Zondervan Study Bible ArticlesClick the image above, and then click the “preview” tab to see the full table of contents and many of the introductory articles.

August 15, 2018

Wednesday Connect

When in Holland, be sure to pick up the latest copy of “Nun of the Month” magazine.

Welcome to Wednesday Connect.

I wonder, when you stage a Lethargy Festival, does anyone bother to show up?

Breaking: Trinity Western University in Vancouver announced yesterday that it has dropped its controversial mandatory student covenant prohibiting sex outside of heterosexual marriage, effective with the 2018/2019 school year. The covenant was the major issue in a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision which blocked the school from establishing a School of Law. The covenant remains in effect for staff and faculty. In June the court “ruled that provincial law societies have the power to refuse accreditation for the school, saying the covenant would deter LGBTQ students from attending.” At issue is the idea that students entering that profession with such a perspective cannot practice law unbiased. (Statement: From the University President.)

♦ The Pipester Strikes Again! This time around adding verses to the hymn Great Is They Faithfulness, “he may have undermined the original writer’s intention. Thomas Chisholm, who wrote the hymn, was Methodist, meaning he probably held Wesleyan-Arminian views. Piper, famously, adheres to the more Calvinistic brand of Reformed theology.”  (The article doesn’t mention that The Gospel Coalition’s music superstar, Bob Kauflin, is on record as being opposed to congregations making lyrical adaptations to existing material.)

♦ The Museum of the Bible will return a manuscript to Greece which was deemed to have been stolen, after already paying a $3M fine for illegal importation of items from Iraq.

♦ Something-to-Think-About Post of the Week: The Assumption (Catholic) or Dormition (Orthodox) of Mary beyond it’s primary purpose, serves to keep her eternally young. Is there a connection between this and today’s modern church emphasis on attracting youth? Several things going on at once in this article; worth reading.

♦ So what about the notion that “Everything happens for a reason?” Greg Boyd refutes that and notes a distinction in the Greek text of the story of the man born blind which translators seem to ignore.

♦ Congratulations to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Community Church in California which at some point this weekend crossed the 50,000 baptisms mark.

♦ Warning: Content may be graphic. (Actually, that’s a pun.) Sojourners looks at artists using the comic book or graphic novel format to tell the Christianity story.

♦ Canada Corner: When churches close society overall takes a hit. “…it’s just not religious people who benefit from churches and other places of worship. A lot of what we take for granted in Canada depends on them, too. Take charitable giving, for example…as church membership and attendance falls, fewer people will get those reminders—or not have an opportunity to put money in the offering plate…Nor will just charities feel the pain as churches and other places of worship close. The changes will also affect how people learn to be engaged citizens.

♦ The Summit Summarized: As he does each year, Joshua Reich offers 232 quotes from this year’s Global Leadership Summit.

♦ Should I stay or should I go? Stay home that is. Or go to church. Pew Research learns that 76% of Evangelicals identify the sermon as a key reason for going, while only 36% of Catholics share that view. This and many other stats on why people go and why others stay home.

♦ Is the canon of scripture open to new additions? Greg Koukl deals with this and two other topics in the 4-minutes-or-less Stand to Reason Ask podcast. (18 min. total)

♦ Worship Workshop 1: Have you ever sung a song containing a part where you’re expected to just go “Oooh…?” Can the “Ooohs” be considered worship? The worship perspective on songs which appear to missing some of the words.

♦ Worship Workshop 2: “A richness in the simplicity.” A keyboard technique which even some guitar players can perform on piano. “Hover Chording” is not to be confused with “Hover-boarding” which is a different extreme sport.

The Ark Encounter recently broke its previous attendance record, with over 8,500 guests.

♦ This beautiful song was posted back in April, but I heard it on the weekend for the first time. The title is Sails, performed by Pat Barrett featuring Steffany Gretzinger & Amanda Cook. ♫

♦ For the teenager in your house: We like to encourage young writers. She’s 13, calls herself Bible Blogger Girl and her site is titled Teen, Meet God

♦ At the Movies, One Year from Now: The Kendrick Brothers next feature is titled Overcomer, about a basketball coach. Scheduled for August 23, 2019.

♦ There’s never, ever, ever, ever been a show like Veggie Tales. It’s time for Veggie Tales: The Remix.

♦ Finally, God as Rust Remover: Kenneth Copeland lays hands on his airplane and its corrosion is healed.


The Newsboys (the originals, long before Michael Tait) appear in a story about journalism at a Catholic website. “Christopher Dawson once remarked that, had we read the Jerusalem Post or the Roman Daily News on the morning after the Crucifixion, we would find hardly any mention of it, other than perhaps a note that three bandits had been executed under Pontius Pilate. The ‘bad news’ of the Crucifixion turned out for the Christians to be a felix culpa, a happy fault – good news.” Click the image to read in full. (Library of Congress photo)


Follow Up: Many of you have wondered what happened to this documentary film; this update is from early last month. Click to bookmark their Facebook page.


Your Word of the Week

August 14, 2018

Diary of an Anne Frank Tourist

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:33 am

 

I have not read the book. My wife had, and before leaving for Amsterdam, she purchased tickets for us to tour the memorial site and the actual house where Anne Frank and her family lived before being discovered and then transferred to concentration camps.

For my wife, an unusual revelation was that the original diary is plaid, something she just never pictured, as captured in the cover for this, as well as the 60th Anniversary Edition.

I have however read the book and seen the movie for The Hiding Place, which has many similarities (and one striking difference) to the story in Diary of a Young Girl. Were we ever to return to Amsterdam, I would consider taking the train to Haarlem to see the clock and watch shop where that story played out, not really that far from where we were.

Groups are admitted about a dozen at a time. We’re given an audio tour guide, which sometimes triggers automatically when you enter a key area, at other times you need to point it at a designated mark on the wall.

The focus is the adjacent house. The house where Anne kept her diary. The house where her family lived. The house they were unable to leave.

Everyone reacts differently, I’m sure, but for me, this was the story which never should have happened. I’m not unaware of what happened in the Holocaust — film footage shown by a first year Sociology professor quickly took care of that — but the horror is never something to which one becomes accustomed. Each story opens it up like a wound that won’t heal.

And I have no skin in this game. No relatives. No immediate friends. Just the brotherhood and sisterhood that unites all humanity and the dawning that all vestiges of humanity and decency were set aside during those war years.

But this is 2018. As I tour the facility, I am reminded that many — not all — of the Protestant establishment of the day went along with Hilter’s initiatives and I can’t disconnect this to the present-day Evangelical support for another head of state. A comparison? In the willingness of Christians to swear unlimited allegiance to a leader whose capacity to lead is at best questionable? If the shoe fits, yes. […sound of people unsubscribing…]

That’s the part that scares me. The foolhardiness of saying, “Well, at least that could never happen today.”

Who’s to say?

There is an eerie silence as people snake through the different rooms of the exhibit. Even the children are relatively hushed. At the end, the tour exits to the street, but I take a different turn, approaching a security guard who seems to be in charge and asking if people are ever physically overcome with emotion.

He’s clear that certainly for Jewish people that is the case, stopping to pray at or near the exit or in the street. There are tears. There is the shortness of breath that goes with emotional overload.

How can they not?

The guard had also worked at another Jewish memorial. The reactions are similar. So why put yourself through that? Why not enjoy your visit doing something fun?

Because people tend to forget. The Holocaust story needs to be told, and it needs to be repeated, and it needs to be repeated often.

This is what happens when a person has both the view that one race is superior to another, and the power to act on that belief.

It ends badly.


Click the individual pictures at top to view full size

 

August 13, 2018

Willow Creek: From Bad to Worse, but with Some Hope

Filed under: Christianity, Church, current events, leadership — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:07 am

Steve Gillen, interim lead pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL addresses the church’s weekend services.

Just six days ago I reported on the resignation of teaching co-lead pastor Steve Carter, incorrectly assuming perhaps that the worst was over. Instead, just days later co-lead Heather Larson resigned along with the entire Willow Board of Directors (in graduated steps to ensure some continuity in the very short term.)

I was greatly impacted by Willow in the 1980s, so for me, this is personal. While I’ve only attended 4 or 5 actual services — my wife attended an Arts conference as well — I’ve been a part of an extended Willow culture which preferred lost people over simply doing church for the benefit of the membership. Willow was a model for many of us attempting “seeker sensitive” churches, and when the needs of spiritual seekers was seen to have changed over a decade ago, Willow had the courage to change the model appropriately.

So for me it’s been a time of grieving the damage that has been done to one of the most significant movements of the last century, the loss of reputation for Bill Hybels, and the demise of the succession plan for Willow he worked for years to put into place.

I considered updating that story from last Tuesday but decided to revisit this again today.

Watching the Saturday night service live, new lead pastor Steve Gillen — previously at Willow Creek North Shore — was honest in his reluctance to accept the interim position at the main, South Barrington Campus. (You can read that here, or watch the service yourself.) But at the same time, as a seasoned preacher, he spoke with authority, while at the same time cautioning that the church is not out of the woods yet; more difficulties could follow.

Should they have chosen someone with a 20-year history in the organization or brought in someone completely fresh, from outside, to fill the position? Regrettably, time was not on their side, so they acted decisively and swiftly.

I tweeted that “I feel a small measure of optimism returning.”

I really do. I don’t think that all the families who have kids in Promiseland and youth programs are going to sever those relationships just yet, especially with a new school year commencing. I don’t think the people who are fixing cars and distributing food are going to just walk away from those they serve. Even in the middle of their own sorrow as a church, they rose to the occasion last week and welcomed a deluge of pastors and leaders to the annual Global Leadership Summit.

Willow isn’t the type of church where people stay away when it’s the pastor’s week off. Guest speakers have been common. That, at least, is something they built into their culture which other churches could emulate; especially those congregations in which attendance drops by 25% or more when the teaching pastor is on vacation.

Yet another investigation will commence, with Scot McKnight part of the team, though for many, what’s missing at present is an apology and confession from Bill Hybels.

Screen shot of capacity crowd at last week’s Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Community Church. Despite their internal challenges, church volunteers stepped up to serve pastors and leaders from around the world, and those watching by satellite in over 600 locations.

 

August 12, 2018

I’m Proof That IQ Tests Alone are Not a Descriptor of Intelligence

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:57 am

I’m one of those kids who skipped a grade in elementary school. Well, I effectively skipped, doing grades 3, 4 and 5 in two years. To use the term in use at the time, I was accelerated.

As early as High School I found myself questioning that process. It wasn’t just that I was surrounded by students a year older, but I was beginning to realize that IQ testing alone doesn’t prove overall intelligence. A gifted student is one thing and one thing only: Gifted at test-writing. And a certain type of test-writing at that.

As I get older, there are times I feel downright stupid, for lack of a better word. For example:

  • Organization: I can back-time things so that I get places in a timely manner, but putting the actual schedule together necessary to create those time deadlines is another matter entirely.
  • Adaptation: I am realizing that I have a tremendous capacity to be overwhelmed. Especially in unfamiliar situations.
  • Mechanics: You’ve heard of people who can take things apart, but can’t put them back together again? Well, I can’t take them apart. My made up word for my condition (which uses the 2nd word incorrectly) is “mechanical derisions.”
  • Spatial Perception: If we’re going on a long trip, it’s a given that my wife will pack the trunk of the car. I’m not avoiding work; I will do all the unpacking and carrying-in of everything; I just find placing the puzzle pieces together daunting.
  • General Perception: I can stare right at something and not see it. Maybe it’s because I was working next door to a pet food store, but the word I came up with for this was “visual dysplasia.”
  • Communication: This one, I know will astound you, given that I am writer, but perhaps in my penchant for making up words as in the two examples above, it becomes clear that at times, I have a bit of a contempt for language instead of utilizing it properly.
  • Memorization: This is an age thing, but my ability to commit things to memory is definitely on the decline. Especially peoples’ names.

So what do I get right?

People who find themselves weak in certain areas will often go out of their way to compensate. I feel that what I bring to the table are:

  • Connectivity: The ability to network people, resources and organizations, to create instant analogies which help people understand.
  • Humor: A good sense of humor will save you in all types of situations.
  • Compassion: I was advised not to go into pastoral ministry because I’m “not thick-skinned enough.” I took that as a bit of a compliment.
  • Creativity: Not everyone you meet will write a book (or start a blog), or compose a song, or paint an abstract landscape, or prepare an amazing meal.
  • Quick Thinking: The ability of think on your feet will also save you in various circumstances.
  • Faithfulness: I see this as a spiritual value above all, but sticking it out will earn you the respect of people.
  • Faith: Distinct from the above, even misplaced faith is at the very least a recognition that there are powers and forces which are transcendent, which I would argue leads to…
  • Humility: I think a humble spirit will get you further in life than arrogance.

The point is…

…we’re all not the same. Even so-called smart people can be smart in different areas, hence the idea of multiple intelligences, which I can’t mention without sharing the graphic below. But because this is long already, and it’s the weekend, we’ll leave it there!

Image: Source

August 11, 2018

The Biebs Focuses Attention on a 2011 Tim Keller Marriage Book

Filed under: books, Christianity, marriage — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:50 am

A publisher couldn’t ask for a larger amount of publicity, especially for a title about to turn seven years old. This past week, The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller got an unusual amount of attention after Justin Bieber was seen carrying the book around following an intense emotional time with fiancée Hailey Baldwin, which caught the attention of the paparazzi and had the tabloids buzzing.

At DailyMail.co.uk it was the story lede:

Justin Bieber revealed he has turned to an incredibly conservative Christian self-help book for relationship guidance in the wake of his tearful public exchange with fiancee Hailey Baldwin.

The 24-year-old Canadian pop star, who was pictured crying while comforting an equally-emotional Hailey, 21, earlier this week, was seen carrying the religious book about marriage while out and about in New York on Wednesday

Justin seemed to credit the book with helping him to overcome ‘bad days’ as he spoke to photographers outside of Hailey’s Brooklyn apartment building – however it is unclear whether he is following all of the advice in the tome, which also tells men and women to abstain from sex before marriage, suggests that wives should submit to their husbands, and depicts the Bible’s view of marriage as being monogamous and heterosexual.

Justin did seem to suggest that he is leaning on the book heavily for guidance as he and Hailey navigate their relationship ahead of marriage, holding it up and showing it to photographers and fans when they asked about how he and his fiancee are doing after their emotional display on Tuesday…

The lengthy article is more about the book than about the couple.

Then in a sidebar, there is further description:

…In addition to discussing the relationship between a couple, and the importance of their bond with God, Keller’s book… has more than 1,000 five-star reviews, also suggests that wives must submit to their husbands, and advises men and women to abstain from sex before marriage.

Through his writing, he aims to show everyone – ‘Christians, skeptics, singles, longtime married couples, and those about to be engaged’ – what the Bible’s view of marriage really is which, according to Keller, is monogamous and heterosexual…

The article concludes,

The couple are devout Christians and have been going to church together since rekindling their romance.

But then, just when you think you know everything there is to know about the book, the same website published yet another article with the endless headline, “Inside the conservative Christian self-help book Justin Bieber is using to navigate his relationship with Hailey Baldwin – which suggests wives should submit to their husbands and warns against sex before marriage.” Yes, that was all headline for the article.

The précis in the article seems to have borrowed much material from a chapter summary by Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition and from Tim Keller’s blog.

…’Men and women each have distinct glories and we need one another. Marriage is the primary (though not only) place where those glories are blended and we are profoundly enriched.’

One chapter in the book, written by Keller’s wife, is about the different roles men and women play in marriage.

According to The Gospel Coalition, it discusses the Christian teaching that marriage is a place ‘where the two sexes accept each other as differently gendered and learn and grow through it’

Keller and his wife seem to believe that men and women are fundamentally different, and take on different responsibilities in a partnership.

It’s unclear how well that particular passage resonates with Hailey Baldwin. While the model hasn’t spoken out about feminism, she does count several feminist among her friends…

Many online publications and news sites connected with the book this week including Cosmopolitan, Billboard and a brief mention at CNN. It will be interesting to learn to what degree all this publicity has impacted sales.

 

August 10, 2018

Man-Made Lights in the Nighttime Sky

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:39 am

Some of you know that while I’m not writing on a number of online platforms, I spend a few days a week at a Christian bookstore which we own. The shop is named “Searchlight” and it’s registered as a business although we don’t draw a salary. Some years it makes money, and some years it loses.

So what was I thinking when I named the company?

On one level, I was probably thinking of a song by Christian artist Nancy Honeytree from the 1970s. (It’s posted below.)

On a higher level however, I had in mind the two definitions of the word.

The first type of searchlight is the type you see mounted on the back of a large truck. The lens is at least a meter across and the light pivots, pointed to the nighttime sky to attract people from a wide area to see what’s happening, whether it’s the opening of a new store or restaurant or the premiere of a new movie.

It’s saying, “There’s something happening here.”

The Apostle Paul is standing before Governor Festus…

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.
Acts 26:24-26 NIV

The Passion Translation states the last phrase as, “After all, it’s not like it was a secret! while The Message renders it as, “You must realize that this wasn’t done behind the scenes.

There’s something happening here. The Good News is changing hearts and lives. The message of Jesus is raising people to new life.

The prophet Habakkuk is told to write God’s message in a way that no one can miss it:

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. – Habakkuk 2:2 ESV

I love how The Living Bible (the predecessor of today’s NLT) renders this:

And the Lord said to me, “Write my answer on a billboard, large and clear, so that anyone can read it at a glance and rush to tell the others.

The word of the Lord is larger than life; not done in a remote corner, and certainly not about something distant, or ‘a long time ago in a galaxy far away.’

This is the best news ever.

The second type of searchlight is smaller, but much more important. It’s the type of light is mounted on a vehicle, a boat or a small plane.

It’s saying, “Someone out there is lost.”

It’s meant not to draw people in to a location, but rather to go out from a location to look for a missing person or persons.

Jesus is concluding his meeting with Zacchaeus:

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9-10 NIV

(Jesus says the same words in Matthew 18:11, in a different context.)

This mirrors Ezekiel 34:11-12:

“For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. – NLT

This has led many to refer to “The God who pursues.”

Part one of the Gospel is “come and see” and part two is “go and tell.”

Something is happening that compels us; draws us; then like Andrew (who on meeting Jesus went to get his brother Peter) we go out and search out more who need to hear.


It turns out I mentioned Searchlight once before at Christianity 201 in this August, 2015 article.


The meaning of Searchlight in the Honeytree song is different yet again, asking God to shine his light into our hearts and souls.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. – Psalm 139: 23-24 NLT

August 9, 2018

Reflections on Bible Reading is Truly Inspired

A Review of Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson)

Sometimes you find a term online which helps you describe something for which you didn’t know there was a word. In this case, the word is memoirist. A quick check this morning revealed that I’ve actually read all of Rachel Held Evans’ output, and I can’t help but notice in this personal, subjective approach to the Bible there is a striking similarity to the writing of Philip Yancey. If you know how I feel about Yancey, you know this is high praise indeed.

Inspired is, at least ostensibly, a look at the different genres in our scriptures. Anyone familiar with The Bible Project videos is aware that we need to read each of these genres differently and interpret them — both in terms of original meaning and present-day application — in terms of the rules for that type of literature.

Or maybe not. In Inspired, Rachel Held Evans suggests that they are all narrative, even to the point of labeling the poetic books as “wisdom stories,” existing alongside “war stories,” “deliverance stories,” “gospel stories,” “origin stories,” and yes, in a category by themselves, “fish stories.”

A gifted writer who grew up in church and researches well, she doesn’t begin to annotate all the background material which went into each chapter. If you did grow up in church, as with her other works, there is a sense in which her story is your story. I found that many of her own experiences resonated with my own.

But there’s also a sense in which this book is aimed at potentially new Bible readers; seekers and recent converts alike who are trying to find the common threads which knit the 66 books in the Protestant canon into a unified, single story. A strength of her classification methodology is that it allows her to blend First Testament and Second Testament material seamlessly.

In between chapters there are some almost whimsical narratives of her own. One places Job in a modern context with his ‘friends’ discussing his recent hardships in a cafeteria. This one deserves becoming a short film.

Rachel Held Evans is viewed as a progressive, and there are certainly some indications of this at a few junctures in her book, but for the most part, it’s about her conservative roots and the reading perspective on the Bible those roots handed her.

I invite you to see for yourself, there are excerpts from the book here (resistance stories, including their similarity to American’s Civil Rights Movement) and here (war stories, including the so-called ‘texts of terror.’)

 

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