Explore the Scriptures 📖
Was Bathsheba looking for trouble when she bathed naked on her rooftop? This is a common assumption of many when reading this story. The problem is, no one knows where it comes from, because it’s not in the text. But if that isn’t the case, then how could David see her bathe?
Dr. Imes helps us to read the text again and to understand the ancient context of bathing to help us understand the story. Are we reading our modern context back into the story? What is this story trying to tell us? Lewis and Rowntree ask really good questions to help us dig into what this story has to tell us.
Read and Reflect 📖
In this post, Dr. Copan tells the story of how he began studying Islam.
If you want to sharpen your theology, start talking to Muslims. Many of them have been trained, at least informally, to rebut Christian theology. After a Muslim I had gotten to know (Abdul) invited me to attend a mosque, I determined that I would start my “mosque ministry” by befriending Muslims. I often ate in Muslim homes, and every Friday after the community gathered for prayer and a sermon by the imam (Omar), I joined them for lunch (usually fish sandwiches) and conversation. I learned a lot and built good friendships, and just before graduation, I was asked to speak to a dinner gathering at the mosque as a friendly farewell, at which time Omar presented me with a Qur’an in both Arabic and (thankfully!) English.
Building connections and friendships with those of other beliefs not only will help us to understand and engage with those beliefs but will also help us to see them as people made in the Image of God. Every Muslim is of surpassing worth to God, and that is why we share the good news with them.
Challenge Your Brain 🧠
It’s easy to dismiss the Old Testament, but it was not only the foundation story for the New Testament authors, it is our foundation story. Our faith’s foundation is ultimately Jesus, but the prelude story tells us why he came. It builds the patterns that are fulfilled in Jesus. Too few Christians study the Old Testament, and of those who do, too many see it as a collection of strange rules and hero stories.
Challenge yourself. Listen to this podcast and if you’re interested, check out Lanier’s book, linked below.
- Old Made New: A Guide to the New Testament Use of the Old Testament | Greg Lanier 📚 (Affiliate Link)
Consider Another Perspective 🤔
It’s important to remember the context within which this purity movement grew. Samuel James reminds us how the 90s pushed new boundaries by mass-marketing sexual content through movies and television. The teen pregnancy rate also peaked and remained high for most of the decade, and the advent of the internet made access to pornography easier than ever.
In that cultural moment, the purity movement was an understandable call to turn away from the culture’s sexual immorality. This call was well intended, and it bore some real fruit. But sadly, there wasn’t enough emphasis on what we were to turn toward. For young men, who were characterized as uniquely visual creatures, the message was “Look away!” without the equally important emphasis on what God has called us to see.
The purity movement wasn’t wrong per se. It was just too narrow. It focused on moral rules rather than the Gospel that opens eyes and hearts. When we focus just on following the rules, any failure results in condemnation. When we focus on Christ and our image-bearing neighbors, failure results in mercy and grace to stand and move forward. We need more Jesus in the purity conversation.
Christianity Is True ✝️
Rationality, Religious Experience, and the Case for God | Graham Oppy, Guillaume Bignon, and Justin Brierley 📽 →
Guillaume Bignon was a French atheist whose experiences led him to openness to the Gospel of Christ. How do rationality and religious experiences mix? Should one take priority over the other? Australian atheist philosopher Graham Oppy engages with Bignon on these topics.
Listen and Learn 🎧
It’s easy to recognize the psalms as beautiful poems. But how do we understand their deeper meaning? How psalms are organized (both internally and within the book of Psalms) is just as significant to their meaning as the words themselves. In this episode, join Tim, Jon, and Carissa for a deep dive into Psalm 148, where we see Yahweh as the ideal king who restores order to all creation.
I love Psalm 148. Praise Him!
This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.
Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
When I first opened this article, I expected to read a few lines, then close it. It’s only for Christian counselors or pastors, right? Needless to say, that did not happen, and I put it in my “best of the week” slot because I ended up reading it twice. Every Christian is a counselor, in the sense that we are called to draw all that we meet—whether a fellow Christian or our unbelieving neighbor—to Christ.
Squires gives us four steps we can use in our conversations to give wise counsel.
By commendation, I mean finding thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that are in accord with scriptural wisdom and giving them attention. Quite honestly, commendation can be the most difficult of the elements with which to become competent. Often, we need to hunt through the muck and mire of obvious sin to find a small gem of Christlike behavior. Commendation also requires genuinely knowing the person in front of us in order that our words don’t come across as mere platitudes. Yet finding the praiseworthy in a situation can be key for both building confidence and bringing hope.
By comfort, I mean finding appropriate words that bring peace, relief, and consolation. Comfort is especially fitting when we speak to the suffering, but even in situations where others need conviction, it is not uncommon that, without first receiving some amount of comfort, they will not be able to hear the conviction.
By conviction, I mean making others aware of how they have transgressed God’s law by their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors — either in the doing or the not doing.
By challenge, I mean helping others come up with a plan for how they can begin to think, feel, and act in harmony with their design according to Scripture.
Jesus does not leave the seven churches to fumble for a way forward. Rather, he exhorts them clearly — as when he tells those in Sardis, “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent” (Revelation 3:2–3). Action words saturate this small section: wake up, strengthen, remember, keep, repent — a biblical battle plan if ever there were one!
Squires gives scriptural examples throughout, primarily drawing on Revelation 2–3 so that we can see how Jesus counsels the seven churches using these methods.
In our relationships, we ought to be going deeper than the surface. Often that means simply listening. But, sometimes it means that we are in a position to give good and Godly counsel (Psalm 37:30). When we do that we don’t want to beat people over the head with moral rules, but neither do we want an empty platitude like, “just keep going, it will work itself out.” I pray Squires’ work will give you wisdom in these situations to share wisdom with others.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
— Matthew 10:38–39 (CSB)