Issue #12

Follow God's Commands, Problem of Susan, Contentment, Spycraft, and more...

Issue #12

The Wise One Follows God’s Commands

Look, I have taught you statutes and ordinances as the LORD my God has commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to possess. Carefully follow them, for this will show your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the peoples. When they hear about all these statutes, they will say, ‘This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the LORD our God is to us whenever we call to him? And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?
– Deuteronomy 4:5-8 (CSB)

How does the church, the in-grafted of Israel, display the wisdom of God? By following His commandments. Strangely, this is precisely what many have told the church they must not do.

It is not “accepted wisdom” to follow the commandments of Yahweh God. We are told we will lose our witness if we do what God requires. Yet, the same must have been true of the Israelite people. They, too, were a strange people among their pagan neighbors. They, too, began to become like their neighbors. God’s commandments will always make his people strangers and exiles.

Read and Reflect 📖

The Problem(s) of Susan | Matt Mikalatos 📃 →

This article won’t make much sense to you if you’ve never read the complete Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I’m going to assume that most of my audience has read it. If you haven’t, stop what you’re doing and head to your local library or the Amazon link below, and please read the entire series. It’s one of the greatest fiction series ever written.

Coming back to the article, Mikalatos argues that C.S. Lewis made a mistake with Susan. She is the only Pevensie sibling who SPOILER ALERT does not die at the end of The Last Battle and meet with Aslan in Narnian “heaven” (Further up and further in!). When we leave her, it appears that she has left her belief in Narnia and Aslan behind as a silly childhood fantasy. Mikalatos finds the whole scene abrupt and dismissive of such a beloved character. After reading the article, I agree with Mikalatos. It seems that how Lewis portrayed Susan's character is too easily taken as dismissive and without hope.

Don’t miss the scene Mikalatos writes to wrap up Susan’s story. I like it quite a bit. It’s bittersweet for the present, but hopeful for the future, as it should be.

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Listen and Reflect 🎧

The Artist's Creed | Steve Guthrie and Rabbit Room 🎧 →

To be upfront, this podcast is not for me. But if your brain tends to work in a more artistic way than mine, it may be for you, and I certainly respect the care and creativity that has gone into the few episodes I’ve listened to. The Artist’s Creed podcast takes the work of an artist, such as George MacDonald’s writings, and relates it to an aspect of the Apostle’s Creed. For example, here are a few podcast descriptions:

“Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”
Steve Guthrie interviews Pete Peterson about the unique gift of theater as an incarnational, embodied art form—what can this physical enactment of story teach us about the way God has chosen to tell his story?
“The Resurrection and the Life of the World to Come”
Steve Guthrie and Sandra McCracken discuss the relationship between music and silence, cultivating a posture of receptivity before God, and how creativity and play prepare us to enter into the New Creation.

They have also recently started on “Season 2” of the podcast in which they relate artistic work and modern culture and problems.

The Artist's Creed, Episode 1: I Believe

Christianity Is True ✝️

12 Reasons to Trust the New Testament | Bob Perry 📃 →

The root of faith is trust. It is more than trust, but it is not less than trust. To place our faith in Jesus Christ, we must have heard the Good News (Romans 10:14). But to hear the Good News, we must look to the traditions and words passed down to us through the ages from the people who were there. These traditions and words are captured in what we now call our “New Testament.”

Bob Perry walks us through twelve brief reasons that the New Testament we have today is worthy of our trust. Here are a few:

  • Multiple, Independent Sources Contributed to It
  • The Manuscripts Were Written Early
  • Historical and Archeological Evidence Corroborate It
  • It Contains Embarrassing Details

If you’ve been challenged on why we can trust these Gospel documents, this is a good starting place.

For More:

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

The Neglected Virtue of Contentment | Brian J. Tabb 📃 →

What does it mean to be content in any situation (Philippians 4:11)? What does it mean to be content amid a global pandemic lockdown? What does it mean to be content in a society, media, and advertisers that want us to be discontent in our present situation? They want us to buy something, to increase our activism, or to consume more media.

What can the ancients tell us about contentment compared with our culture?

“Whatever situation” is no pious abstraction. Remember that Paul penned these reflections from a dark, dingy prison (Phil 1:7, 12–14). Prisoners in the ancient world often lacked basic necessities like bedding, clothing, and medical care.11 They were also often shunned by friends due to the social stigma of incarceration.12 Not only was Paul incarcerated multiple times, but he was also beaten with rods and flogged, stoned and left for dead, and shipwrecked three times (2 Cor 11:23–27). He was opposed and maligned in one city after another, taking heat from Jews and Gentiles alike. He endured sleepless nights and often lacked shelter and supper. Paul doesn’t need to remind his readers that he and Silas were falsely accused, attacked by a mob, beaten with rods, and locked up in the inner prison without due process when they first came to Philippi (Acts 16:19–24). Despite this laundry list of toils and trials, Paul does not descend into bitterness, complaining, or self-pity. Even though he is separated from his friends, criticized by his foes, and stuck in a lousy cell, Paul remembers that the Lord will never disappoint him and will surely deliver him (1:19–20; 3:20). Thus, he stresses that he is content even in “weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” (2 Cor 12:10). The imprisoned apostle rejoices in Christ, resolves to work for other Christians’ progress and joy in the faith, and expresses his contentment in Christ, come what may (Phil 1:18, 25; 4:11–12).

Few of us have troubles that can compare with Paul’s. If Paul could find contentment in any situation, we would do well to pay attention to how he achieves such contentment. Tabb focuses our attention once again upon Jesus Christ as our hope and our contentment.

Family Focus 🏡

Preparing Our Kids for a Post-Christian World | Crossway Podcast with Rebecca McLaughlin 🎧 →

There is no dearth of resources on how to parent our children, not from secular sources, and not from Christian sources. However, I have not encountered many resources that are philosophically and theologically prepare parents for the unique challenges that face this rising generation. They are out there though, and parents must be prepared to answer the culturally relevant, hard questions their kids are asking.

[Rebecca] reflects on kids' propensity to ask hard questions and why that's a good thing, highlights some of the key challenges to a Christian worldview facing young people today, and offers advice on how to protect teens from harmful influences while at the same time encouraging them to form their own opinions and convictions.

We do so often desire for our kids to believe exactly what we believe (and that’s not a bad thing). But as I’ve noted before, we must be able to differentiate between core beliefs and those that are secondary or tertiary beliefs. Helping teens find their way through forming their belief systems without just telling them what to believe is a tricky process, and thankfully McLaughlin knows that. In this podcast, she helps us navigate this without giving us easy answers.

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Explore the Scriptures 📖

The Mind-Blowing Significance of Passover as Prophecy | Mike Winger 📽 →

In this Bible teaching, Pastor Mike Winger walks us through how Passover points to Jesus. It isn’t an explicit prophecy, but throughout Hebrew Bible scripture, we see types and emblems of Jesus portrayed in various stories and rituals. Winger proposes 24 ways that Passover is a type of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. He gave me a lot to think about, and he might for you too.

He is our Passover and we are forgiven because of His offering.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Every Moment Holy Volume 1 | Douglas McKelvey 📚 →

Every Moment Holy has become one of the most used books in our household. This wonderful book of prayers is for use either alone or as a pair or group. It includes prayers for mealtimes each day of the week, morning, noon, and evening prayers, prayers for spouses, and many other prayers to be used in various situations throughout the day. Scripture passages adorn virtually every page.

Every Moment Holy is a book to help us reflect on the divine in the mundane, to celebrate God’s gifts in what we have come to ignore. One of the great joys of being a father has been watching the wonder in my daughter’s eyes as she experiences the world for the first time. The first time she saw a water tower up close was incredible. She was in awe that something so big could exist and the reverence with which she touched the base was fascinating to watch. I have lost much of that wonder, but this book is designed to help us recapture the wonder of changing a diaper, of planting a garden, of the first hearth fire of winter.

The importance of this book to my family is so great that it will be prominently available to every member of our household for the rest of our lives. I have below included video readings of a few liturgies and the (freely available) text of two others for you to evaluate.

For More:

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
– Revelation 1:5-6 (CSB)

Joel Fischer