Listen and Learn 🎧
How Social Media and Screens Have Hijacked Our Hearts and Minds | Preston Sprinkle and Doug Smith 🎧 →
Doug offers an insider's perspective on the power of technology, informed by over two decades of software development experience and a lifetime of Bible study. He also brings the practical experience of a dad of four grown daughters and a man who has struggled, fallen, fought, and by the grace of God, overcome the power of screens.
Reminders can’t come often enough that screens and social media shape what we love, how we think, and how we live our lives.
- Unintentional: How Screens Secretly Shape Our Desires and How You Can Break Free | Doug Smith 📚 (Affiliate Link)
Read and Reflect 📖
In this ironic and satirical—yet effective—article, Orr gives us seven ways to crush our elders and pastors.
1. Criticize him.
I think one of the number one causes of pastoral stress is unfair criticism. A pastor I know spent most of the service in the church parking lot counseling a distraught wife whose husband had just left her and their three children. He went into the church to preach, but then immediately came back out to continue counseling this poor lady. After the service, someone else came up to this pastor, highly agitated about a very minor matter. This person ended up yelling at the pastor and accusing him of having no pastoral heart! This pastor was one step closer to giving it all in. Try and do things like that as much as possible. Every pastor has faults. Do not let your pastor remain ignorant of his. Point them out as constantly and clearly as you can. You are providing him a spiritual service by keeping him humble.
If you want your criticism to have an extra bite, direct it to his wife. Make sure that the pastor’s family are aware of your disappointment with the pastor.
4. Treat everything as a gospel issue.
Remember that every point where your pastor does not agree with your thinking is a gospel issue and you should make as big a deal of it as possible—whether it is how to interpret Revelation, sermon length, or the color of the carpet in the building.
Make sure you do not compromise on anything. If you think that the new carpet in the church should be blue, do not under any circumstances give in to his suggestion that it should be red. If he is reluctant to specially preach on who the congregation should vote for, hound him until he changes his mind or leaves. The gospel is at stake, and you know best!
The point is, of course, to examine ourselves and see if we have unintentionally taken on any of these attitudes, beliefs, or actions.
Consider Another Perspective 🤔
How Would Jesus Fight the Culture War? | Phil Vischer, Skye Jethani, Kaitlyn Schiess, and Mike Erre 🎧 →
Holy Post podcasts are split between a discussion of various issues (some related to the church and some not) and an interview with an author or public personality. I enjoyed both sections of this podcast, which looks at the “He Gets Us” ad campaign you may have seen on TV, and has an interview with a podcaster and Pastor Mike Erre.
Phil talks to pastor and podcaster Mike Erre about how to think biblically about the culture wars. Does the New Testament call the church to have power over the culture, how did Jesus influence others, and what about the presence of real evil in the world? Mike shares his 3 principles for Christians and the culture war. Plus, the Dutch are giving guns to robots. What could possibly go wrong?
I found Erre’s perspective thought-provoking.
This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.
Living This Christian Life 🤴👸
The title of this article is intentionally provocative. DiMarcangelo notes that our natural bent is toward laziness. Even with our modern cult of “busyness” we often find ourselves facing laziness—or is it resting? She gives us four principles to help us distinguish between our bent toward laziness and more purposeful resting.
Principle #1: Rest Should Have a Rhythm
God never grows tired or weary or worn out. But by resting on the seventh day, he knit rest into the fabric of creation (Gen. 2:2–3). It’s because our Creator rested first that we’re called to recognize the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-10)—Sabbath rest isn’t only a practice to imitate but a gift to receive (Ex. 16:29; Mark 2:27). It’s meant to bless us. To give us a break from our toil so we can realign our hearts to behold our God.
Additionally, our daily need for rest shows us our finitude and dependence. As day turns to night, we’re reminded that rest must be a rhythm in our lives. We need sleep. And that’s not all. We need food. We need fellowship. Breaking from work to break bread together is a rhythm that nourishes both our bodies and our souls.
If our rest patterns aren’t a rhythm but are chaotic and haphazard, then it’s probably not true rest.
Principle #2: Rest Should Refresh
When I mindlessly scroll social media, or half-watch a show while I’m sort-of-kind-of being productive, I never feel refreshed afterward. Usually, I’m left with a sinking feeling about the time I wasted, wishing I’d either actually rested or actually worked.
Principle #3: Rest Should Reorient
Another important fruit of rest is the reorienting of our hearts. Indulging in laziness has a spiritual effect. We become less sensitive to the Spirit and more numb to temptation. Idleness is a subtle segue into sin and tempts us to grow callous toward God.
Principle #4: Rest Bears Good Fruit
While laziness is the indulgence of self, rest is enjoyed for the glory of God and the good of others. Our problem doesn’t always lie in what we’re doing but in how we’re doing it. So consider the fruit—laziness yields selfishness; rest readies us for service.
DiMarcangelo writes more about each principle, and I encourage you to read this short but helpful post.
Challenge Your Brain 🧠
McDowell interviews professor Craig Olson, who has been working on understanding the ages of the Biblical patriarchs. He holds to the inerrancy of scripture, yet struggled to reconcile what archaeology told us about the ages of people in the patriarchal era with what scripture seemed to clearly say.
Olson eventually came to the belief that we needed to take another look at scripture and see if we’ve been misunderstanding what the ages in Genesis 1–11 were meant to communicate. He offers a compelling case. Linked in the video are also two freely available academic papers he’s written on the subject if you’re inclined to dive deeper.
Family Focus 🏡
Helopoulos starts his post by pointing to church history to show us how important family worship is alongside personal and church worship. Yet our modern culture doesn’t emphasize it. In fact, in my experience, many parents tend to see children’s spiritual formation as a job for the church, not for the family.
If you do want to try family worship, I love how Helopoulos offers simple setups for 5, 10–15, 15–20, or 20–30 minute time-frames. Even if you only have five minutes, or if you’ve never done it before and that’s where you want to start, Helopoulos has something for you.
I’ll be bookmarking this one for reference as my daughter gets older.
Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
The emergence of the #ChurchToo conversations in 2018 and the release of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Podcast in 2021 have rightly alerted the Evangelical world to the prevalence and seriousness of abuse in Christian churches, schools, and ministries. Abuse is a sin, whether it be verbal, sexual, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise. Its victims deserve the best of our care, and its perpetrators deserve the most serious of our discipline (and often the discipline of civil authorities).
However, the issue of abuse is now an important issue for apologetics because of how abuse erodes confidence in Christian institutions and Christian truth claims. Because we are aware of the enemy’s desire to destroy the church, we must be prepared to respond. Here I offer six points of reflection on how Christians ought to begin to formulate an apologetic response to abuse in our churches.
However, before examining these issues, we must get one thing straight. The issue of abuse in Christian ministries is not primarily about apologetics, but about justice, holiness, and the Christian mandate to care for the hurting and oppressed. This needs to be said because often apologetics is in the business of correcting misconceptions about Christianity.
This article is framed well. Abuse in the church has become a huge issue, primarily to be addressed with compassion for victims and justice for perpetrators. Some outside of Christianity have used abuse in the church as proof that Christianity is not true, and this article addresses that too.
Our greatest apologetic is to proclaim, loudly and often, that these kinds of abuses—of power, of sexuality, of money—are not compatible with the Christian faith, and by approaching them with the posture of Christ. Jesus’ harshest criticisms were for leaders of Israel’s religion who abused their power (for example, in Matt. 23 Jesus gives his anti-Beatitudes in his woes against the scribes and Pharisees, the teachers of Israelite religion).
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
because he has looked with favor
on the humble condition of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed
— Matthew 1:46–48 (CSB)