A few days ago, an elementary school in Texas was attacked by a young man with a gun. The young man killed nearly twenty children before being killed himself. Join me in this lament before we start this letter.
How long, O Lord, must we endure death and pain? How long, O Lord Jesus Christ, must we wait for your return?
Lord, we pray for the families of these, your children. We pray for comfort in a spinning world that doesn't make sense. We pray that, even in this, you can draw them to yourself.
Lord, we pray for the family of the killer. We pray that they would turn their shame, their heartbreak, and their loss to you. Healer and comforter, be with all those who have lost those they love.
Lord, we pray for the people of this nation. Give us wisdom as a people to stop these heinous attacks. Help us to elect the right leaders, support the right policies, and stop as much violence on the innocent as we can.
Lord, we know that you are still on your throne. We know that you watch over this world and are king of all creation. We also know that you weep with those who weep. No human can feel the heartbreak and pain of this tragedy like you do. Give us comfort in your perfectly loving hands.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Consider Another Perspective 🤔
Although empathetic identification is a good thing, empathy needs a context and motive for it to help us love our neighbors according to Christ’s terms and, ultimately, his sacrificial example.
The Christian understanding of empathy is connected to Christ’s teaching on the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).
Of course, these two loves are intricately connected, as we cannot possibly love our neighbors in a Christlike way without being connected to Christ, the source of love.
Christian empathy asks us to be both self-sacrificial and intentional as we reach beyond our usual circles and experiences to identify with those who are outcast, misunderstood, abused. We fail to love God when we neglect to see and cherish the imago Dei in other human beings.
But this sort of love and its corresponding empathy are very difficult, and we find ourselves often resorting to stereotypes and dismissing the sacredness of other lives, usually out of the impulse to first serve and protect ourselves.
Who is our neighbor that we need to see the image of God in?
Watch and Wonder 📽
Ward takes on the question from a professor at a KJV-only Bible college about why three major translations use different words in the 2nd commandment. I’ll reproduce them below:
but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
— Exodus 20:6 (ESV)
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
— Exodus 20:6 (KJV)
but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
— Exodus 20:6 (NIV)
Why “thousands” vs. “thousand generations” and why “steadfast love” vs. “mercy” vs. “love”? Ward does a good job of explaining why translations have to make hard choices about the words they choose.
Read and Reflect 📖
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is probably my favorite book of The Chronicles of Narnia (it’s been quite some time since I read them), and I enjoyed this article from Emily DeArdo explaining why it is hers.
Clearly, Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the best of the Narnia novels, and a big part of that is due to a talking mouse.
Yes. I’m talking about Reepicheep, the brave, swashbuckling Narnian mouse who is on a quest to find Aslan’s country (and defend the honor of the Kings and Queens of Narnia while he’s at it.).
Sure, a lot of things happen in Voyage that also give it the claim to being the best novel, the discussion of science and modernism versus tradition and religion (although religion and science aren’t actually at loggerheads), Eustace’s Pauline conversion, the growth of Lucy, Edmund, and Caspian, and of course the quest to find the seven lost Narnian lords, which gives the entire book its shape. All of these things add up to a tightly plotted and fast moving adventure. But I think that the reason it’s the best isn’t just Reepicheep, but what he and the other characters go through in the novel, which is growing up and becoming adult Christians.
- A Better Man (The Magician’s Nephew) | Thomas Sieberhagen 📃
- The Place for Meeting Aslan Is the Stone Table (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) | Chandler Moore 📃
- Closest to the Sun (The Horse and His Boy) | Brewer Eberly 📃
- Headaches and Housekeeping, Somebody Likes Prince Caspian (Prince Caspian) | Rebekah Curtis 📃
- The Answer Is to Remember (The Silver Chair) | Tyler Stitt 📃
- Divine Presence in the Dark Nights of the Soul (The Last Battle) | Ali Kjergaard 📃
Christianity Is True ✝️
Is There Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? | Dale Allison, Justin Bass, and Justin Brierley 📽 →
This is a great discussion between Allison, who professes Christian belief but struggles with the physical resurrection of Jesus. Justin Bass holds a traditional view of Jesus’ physical resurrection. I enjoyed the dialog the two of them had.
I’ve read Allison’s earlier work, Resurrecting Jesus, though not his newer one. It’s interesting to hear about his journey from 17 years ago to now as he continues to wrestle with his prejudices, desires, and what the historical evidence is telling him.
- The Resurrection of Jesus: Apologetics, Polemics, History | Dale Allison 📚
- The Bedrock of Christianity: The Unalterable Facts of Jesus' Death and Resurrection | Justin Bass 📚
Living This Christian Life 🤴👸
In the critically acclaimed though rarely seen movie Killer of Sheep (1978) there’s a scene that highlights why being poor can be so expensive.
The film is about an African American family living in the Watts section of Los Angeles in the 1970s. Attempting to escape the drudgery of everyday life, the family decides to join some friends one Saturday in taking a day trip out to the country. Before they can even get out of Watts, though, the car has a flat tire. They don’t have a spare, so they have to ride back home on the rim.
Not much is made of the event by the characters in the movie, but anyone who has been poor knows exactly what it means for the family’s future. If they couldn’t pay for a small repair like a flat tire, they certainly won’t be able to pay for the damage that comes from a bent rim. The car will either be abandoned or sold for scrap. Either way, the result will be the same: they no longer have a car. Life for them will become a little bit harder, slightly more miserable.
That’s one of the worst things about being poor: almost everything becomes a luxury good.
If you’re higher on the economic ladder, you have things fixed, whether tires or teeth, before the repairs become even worse and more costly. But when you’re poor, even small repairs are more than you can afford. And they lead to catastrophic consequences. It’s not that you’re ignoring a situation or ignorant about the inevitable disastrous outcome. You know it’s a problem and that it’ll be an even bigger problem in the future. There’s just not much you can do about it.
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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
This is a podcast from last year, but it’s one of the best conversations I’ve heard on the topic. The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast was at its peak and conversations about church leadership abounded. This discussion between an American and two Brits touches on the different contexts of church leadership, what makes a good leader, and more.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
“Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
— Matthew 7:15–16 (CSB)