Lenten Reading: Sermon on the Mount #5

iPhones

The Sermon on the Mount hit home in a practical and difficult way for me today.I've been struck lately by how distracted I am by my iPhone. The iPhone is a fantastic invention, remarkable really, and a boon in the hands of some folks. But, for me, the iPhone plays right into my natural impatience (instant access to Google and email), my desire for distraction (Words with Friends), and the ever-present temptation to isolate myself from my community--including my friends and family. I've noticed that lately it has been getting harder for me to concentrate on my reading and writing. I even … [Read more...]

The World is Not Ours to Save…Whew! [Patheos Book Club]

TheWorldIsNotOursToSave_1

I was asked to write a reflection on Tyler Wigg-Stevenson's new book The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good (IVP 2013) for the Patheos Book Club.  But for those who have been following the "Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice" Series, this post is also relevant to that conversation.I recently had the chance to interview Wigg-Stevenson for the current issue of The Englewood Review of Books, so I will borrow a couple of snippets from that interview as I reflect on the book.Cause fatigue is a significant problem among activists in the twenty-first century.   As an … [Read more...]

Be Strong in the Lord’s Power

PowersWeakness

Continuing the series on “Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice” today.  This is the sixth post. (Link goes to the initial post in the series).  Previous post: “God Tabernacling in Our Weakness"  Continuing the theme of our last post in this series (linked above), Marva Dawn in her important book Powers, Weakness and the Tabernacling of God, begins her exploration of the Ephesians 6 text by noting that because God tabernacles in our weakness, we can be strong in the Lord's power.  The we here is important, Dawn emphasizes, for it is the the whole Body of Christ -- and not the individua … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit

Simple-Weight

I was delighted to get a copy of poet Tania Runyan's collection Simple Weight last week, which fortuitously is structured around the backbone of the Beatitudes.Another collection of Runyan's poems, A Thousand Vessels was recently named a 2012 Englewood Honor Book (as one of the best books of the year).Simple Weight is going to make an excellent companion to my reading daily through the Sermon on the Mount, and I hope to share a few of the poems here between now and Easter.I begin today with the opening poem of the collection, one whose title are the opening words of the first … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: Sermon on the Mount #4

Rand

Reading the Sermon on the Mount has become a great way for my wife and I to spend some quiet time together in the morning before the day kicks into high gear. Today, she and I talked for a while about some patterns we saw in the "you have heard it said…but I tell you" passages in Matthew 5:21-48.We remembered that the familiar "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" (Matthew 5:38) refers back to commands in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. The laws of ancient Israel authorized retaliation for injustices, but they also restrained the scope of vengeance. Retaliation was reciprocal. If I knock … [Read more...]

What is Missional Reading?

Old_book_-_Les_Miserables

I was sitting down this morning to write the next post in the "Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice" series, when I got distracted by an excellent post by Jon Boyd on the Intervarsity Press blog... [Question] Junot Díaz on Creating a Reading Public Boyd shares some excellent thoughts from novelist Junot Díaz, and then poses these questions: What are we doing these days, and what more could we be doing, to encourage readers in this day and age? Where have you seen bright spots, fertile nurseries of readers-in-the-making? What ideas do you have to multiply such incubators and make them e … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: Sermon on the Mount #3

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A few of us are reading the Sermon on the Mount every day during Lent. (You're welcome to join us!) What stood out to me as I read this morning is the placement of that familiar command: "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) It appears toward the end of a passage about not being anxious about the necessities of life.Perhaps because of some experiences my wife and I had recently related to family finances, what came to mind as I read that verse in Matthew 6 was a separate passage in the book of Mark. In Mark 10, … [Read more...]


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