Love Kindness, Barry H. Corey, Tyndale, 2016
“We need to keep remembering that we don’t beat an idea by beating a person.” (Barry H. Corey)
There is a deep polarization in Christianity today. Thankfully, it is not around the doctrine that Jesus Christ is Lord. It mostly centers around social issues, and how we respond to them. Barry Corey, the president of Biola University, has a suggestion: Love kindness.
He writes in his Introduction:
In today’s polarized culture, we are often pulled toward one extreme or the other, soft centers or hard edges. I’m proposing a different approach, a third way. Rather than the harshness of firm centers and hard edges, and rather than the weakness of spongy centers and soft edges, why don’t we start with kindness? Kindness is the way of firm centers and soft edges.
I recently learned about a new project to get a study Bible in the hands of Africans with commentary and notes from African pastors and scholars. It is called the Africa Study Bible.
Imagine using a study Bible with the notes from another country, with images and illustrations from that context. It would be difficult to understand. This is the case for many in Africa, with their study Bibles written from the viewpoint of the United States and United Kingdom. The Africa Study Bible project aims to close that gap and provide a resource designed by Africans for Africans.
How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity, Morgan Guyton, Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.
I first met Morgan Guyton about five years ago at a required event for soon-to-be clergy in the Virginia Conference. We, and dozens more, were gathered at a college campus for a week for what I like to refer to as “Pastor Bootcamp.”
The distinct memory I have of Morgan was from an evening at a Mexican restaurant (one of many during the week). Over beer and chips and salsa, a group of us found ourselves in a deep theological conversation. For anyone who knows Morgan, you will not be surprised that he was at the helm of this conversation. In between scoops of salsa, Morgan would raise yet another question. Not to be argumentative, but to authentically seek more knowledge.
When I was in high school, our senior high youth group were gathered together up in the youth room on a Sunday night. The group was planning an upcoming Youth Sunday. We were making decisions regarding scripture passages, hymns, and prayers to use. Then, the question was asked, “Who will do the sermon?”
Everyone avoided making eye contact with anyone.
Honestly, I had spent the bulk of the time avoiding eye contact. I was one of the youngest in the room. What did I have to contribute?
Then, from the other end of the table, one of the seniors spoke up and said, “I think Jason should do it.”
It was one of those moments where I was thrilled to be thought of, yet scared to death that they thought of me! I would accept and began working on the “sermon.” When I finished it, I gave it my youth leader to look over. She made some suggestions, among them, “Be careful not to put God in a box.”
by Rev. Andrew Taylor-Troutman, author of “Parables of Parenthood”
Good Friday darkened March 25 this year, a date that marks the Feast of the Annunciation when the archangel Gabriel, also known as the voice of God, announced to a young peasant girl that she was highly favored among mortals. Conception and crucifixion. Joy and grief. Feast and fast, together on a single day.
My second son was born at 10:28 AM. He did not make a sound. The cord was wrapped once, twice around his neck. Even before I had a chance to be fully alarmed, nurses flew into action, their six hands a whirlwind over his body. And the oxygen mask to my son’s face. Once, twice. And Asa, whose name means healer, let out a short, staccato burst of a cry, as sure an amen as I have ever heard.
Here is the audio of my sermon from Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Philippians 2:5-11. You can listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.
The Printer and the Preacher: Ben Franklin, George Whitfield, and the Surprising Friendship that Invented America, Randy Petersen, Thomas Nelson, 2015.
Billed as a “groundbreaking look” at the friendship between the preacher George Whitfield and the printer (and anything else he wanted to be) Benjamin Franklin. The publisher goes on to say that this relationship “defined what it means to be an American.”
Petersen introduces Franklin and Whitfield in a chronological matter. He traces their early and formative years in a parallel matter, showing how their lives were similar even though they were an ocean apart. For Petersen, there are recurring themes in the lives of these two men: personal faith and personal responsibility.
Here is the audio of my sermon from Sunday, March 6, 2016 at Peakland United Methodist Church. The text was Philippians 3:17-4:1. You can listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.
Snuggle Time Prayers, Glenys Nellist, Zonderkidz, 2016.
This little book, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Cee Biscoe, is a cute little book perfect for young children. There are sixteen prayers in this little book, each accompanied by a scripture verse. Each prayer is a rhyming prayer based on the scripture verse provided. Rhyming helps in building vocabulary for early learners. Why not do so with prayers to God?
Biscoe’s illustrations fill two pages each. They are full color and bright. The animals bring to life the prayer that accompanies the illustration. My daughter at 14-months, enjoys flipping through the book, easy for her to do with the hard, board-like pages. The illustrations are attracting to her. The illustrations can also be used as a teaching tool.
The Legend of the Easter Robin: An Easter Story of Compassion and Faith, Dandi Daley Mackall, Zonderkidz, 2016.
This book, ideal for four to eight year olds, is a creative way to share an old Pennsylvania Dutch tale – the Legend of the Easter Robin. Young Tressa looks out her Gran’s window at a robin’s nest in anticipation for Easter.