“These refugees are taking unimaginable risks to live their Christian faith,” says Martens, who ministers to one of Germany’s most dynamic parishes, which has grown from 200 to over 900 members in 20 years. He views the conversion of a growing number of Iranians in Germany as evidence of God’s sense of irony. “Imagine! Of all places, God chooses eastern Germany, one of the world’s most godless regions, as the stage for a spiritual awakening among Persians,” Martens exclaims. According to a recent University of Chicago study, only 13 percent of all residents of the formerly Communist part of Germany attest belief in God.
That’s the real problem: we like to think of them as parables. We like to think of David and Peter and Gideon and everyone else in the Bible as characters in stories that are told primarily for our benefit. And so we can easily fall into the trap of telling a story not to get at what’s really there, but to get at something we want to talk about; since the story doesn’t naturally convey what we want to talk about, we have to twist the story a bit, make it fit.
And so we oversimplify, and say that Gideon was too busy throwing himself a pity party to do what God asked him to do. Or we exaggerate, elevating one characteristic of a biblical character far above its proper place, because it’s easier working with caricatures than people. Or we outright fabricate and paint a picture of David that’s entirely devoid of bare-handed death matches with wild animals.
In doing so, we slowly weaken the relationship the Bible has with reality. After all, we’re apparently not worried about what actually happened in the Bible, so why should our audience be concerned? If David and Peter and everyone else are just fables, characters to be twisted for our benefit, what can we really learn from them? The Bible becomes just another story divorced from reality, not suited for consultation in our day-to-day lives. But if David was a real person who did what God required of him, if Peter and Gideon were real people placed in difficult situations–then we can learn. Then the Bible can give us hope and comfort in times of trouble. Then, and only then, the Bible is alive, “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”
A long read, but the article’s section on “motherhood in the bible’s story” was a worthwhile read:
We can also observe that motherhood is one of the
ways that God has chosen the weak things of the world
to shame the strong (1 Cor 1:27). God has ordained
praise from the mouths of babes and infants because of
his enemies, to silence them (Ps 8:2). A mother might
not seem like a military asset, but the weak and helpless
babies she brings forth are what God uses to establish
his strength and silence his adversaries—not when they
grow to be mighty warriors but when they voice their
wordless cries, when their very lives testify that God
makes life prevail over death, blessing triumph over
curse, and the infant child of the woman portends doom
to the ancient dragon.
God answers Satan’s de!ance and disobedience with
the obedient submission of a woman who does what
God made her to do, helping her husband to multiply,
!ll, and subdue the earth, and she does that by bearing
children. By means of motherhood, God answers Satan’s
boasts with the baby’s cry. God answers Satan’s pride
with the humble child.
Relative to the other ones, I struggle with the fourth general theme the most often:
Though I did not conduct a scientific study, I asked a number of leaders I respect how they deal with written criticisms. These leaders come from a wide variety of fields and professions. Some of them are publicly visible; they receive written criticisms frequently. Others are not as well known, but they still receive their share of written criticisms from various constituencies.
I also included some of my own thoughts. More than not, most of us leaders were on the same page. Nevertheless, I learned some key perspectives as I gathered the input from these leaders.
What the glass beach in Fort Bragg illustrates about our own redemptive experiences:
I’ve got experiences in life that remind me of this trash heap. Experiences of pain. Of loss. Of sin. Of mistakes. Experiences that I’ve dumped over the edge and lit fire to time and time again, hoping against hope that they’ll just disappear. But they’re not going to. Those experiences are embedded in my mind and heart until the day I die.
God’s not interested in making those things disappear. But He is interested in, over time, and with the constant pressure of the gospel applied again and again, making them into something different. Something astonishing. Something beautiful and new.
Redemption is real. It takes a while. But it’s real.
A first-hand account from a waiter:
Recently, I have dialogued with many Christian people whose argument for tipping poorly — or less than generously fair — goes something like this: “Servers understand that their job is to sell themselves to me so that I tip them well. So, if they fail to meet my dining expectations then I am not obligated to reciprocate with a fair tip after paying for the meal.” Though this may seem reasonable, it is precisely this desire to prefer the self (in this case, by preferring the dining experience) that must be crucified when it comes to tipping generously. When the patron, especially the Christian patron, prefers himself by preferring the dining experience, he fails to communicate that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a Gospel of grace, that because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ there are things that are far more significant than a pleasurable dining experience. The real heart issue when it comes to poor tipping is a lack of awareness of how great and vast the debt was that God generously and graciously forgave because he loves us.
Is #9 true?
If you like Star Wars, you’ll enjoy these photos. #15 (TK-456 Leaping Barbed Wire for Freedom) is my favorite of the bunch thus far:
“52 Weeks of Star Wars” is a weekly photo project starring various characters from the Star Wars franchise. This photo project is a continuation of sorts to my original series; 365 Days of Clones, specially my Cloned Photos mini-series.
“52 Weeks of Star Wars” began on January 1, 2012 and will be completed on December 31, 2012. As the title suggests, one new photo will be taken, edited and added to the running total every Sunday.
What an awesome cause. On the karmic scale, this cause is probably the polar opposite of this.
I can definitely relate to the article’s point. For example, losing some weight or increasing your GPA are worthwhile goals. Nevertheless, goals can be demoralizing when they became the be-all-end-all. If your critics (friends, family, colleagues, etc) will judge you only by whether or not you actually achieve specific goals, they’ll tend to overlook the strides and improvements you’ve made en route to getting closer to achieving said goals. It’s all about living in the moment while staying cognizant about the future. Oh God, I think I just subtly encouraged/defended LeBron James. I’ll stop talking now:
If this is reminding you of the classic distinction in the psychological literature between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation, you’re spot on. This is the finding that external rewards can backfire. Offer a child treats for making pretty drawings and whereas they used to scribble away for the sheer joy of it, now they’ll only put pen to paper for that candy you promised. The difference here is that Fishbach and Choi believe that our intrinsic motivation can be imperilled even without the offer of rewards from a third party. By focusing on the ultimate goals of an activity, we risk destroying our intrinsic motivation all by ourselves.
I was kind hoping there’d be a well-designed zombie survival kit:
Grace Paley, a street smart author who wrote short stories about New York life and championed the struggle of ordinary women, optimistically believed that “all that is really necessary for survival of the fittest, it seems, is an interest in life, good, bad or peculiar.” If there’s one thing that we know for certain, life is full of struggle, and sometimes it takes a little more than positive thinking to get through it. Whether you’re navigating a move, a daunting cheese board or the apocalypse, click through to check out these clever, well-designed solutions and their contents to help you prepare for the worst.