June, 2014

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Monthly Archives: June 2014

The ‘Master Builder’

For a few years now, I have often thought that a potentially-awesome theme for a future Crossing Kids Club – assuming copyright hurdles didn’t exist – would be to build the curriculum around the theme of LEGO. Almost every American parent is immediately familiar with those interlocking, multi-colored plastic building blocks that seem to end up squirreled away under sofa cushions and dropped into heating and air-conditioning ducts. Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, The Lego Group had 2013 revenues of $4.7 billion.

It’s easy to see why. Most kids seem to have an irresistible draw to all things LEGO-themed, as the incredible success of The LEGO Movie – domestic revenues $257M as of this writing – clearly demonstrates. (To no one’s surprise, a sequel is already in the works.) My wife and I purchased the Blu-ray edition the very first day it became available. I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I had the release date noted on both our calendars

Love Starts In Passion and Ends In Carpools

Some people (too many people) get married with crazy expectations. They say things like, “Now that I’ve found my soul mate, I’m going to be truly happy” or “She’s exactly what I’ve always wanted” or “When I’m with him I feel complete and whole.” I think that all that’s silly and slightly ridiculous. These are the kind of things people say before they are married but not after they’ve been married any significant amount of time.

An old friend of mine said that before he got married he thought that it was going to be naked bliss. But he found out that when two sinful people enter into the deepest of all human relationships, it’s not always and only naked bliss but also a multiplication of sin.

Because most marriages are a mixture of great companionship and tough learning experiences, the wise person is always on the lookout for helpful marriage advice no matter where it comes from. Enter David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times and a self identified, if not especially observant, Jew.

Seven Things You Might Not Know About the “War” Between Science and Faith

If you pay much attention to how our culture views the relationship between science and faith, the following story might sound familiar.

Once upon a time in the ancient world, Greek philosophers and thinkers began to usher in a golden age of learning and knowledge. Unfortunately for everyone, the rise of Christianity eclipsed this good work, bringing about the several centuries known as the Dark Ages, in which the church repressed learning through superstitious dogma. Thankfully, classical learning was rediscovered and courageous individuals were willing to shake off the shackles of Christianity. Their efforts launched the impressive flowering of knowledge and advancement we now know as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Science is therefore the natural enemy of faith, and scientific advancement will steadily make religious belief increasingly implausible.

It’s a compelling story, but it’s almost entirely wrong. In the book, For the Glory of God, sociologist/historian Rodney Stark points out a number of things you might not know about the “war” between science and faith:

Much-Needed ‘Reminders’

Every now and then, my faith begins to fail me. The exigencies of living in a fallen world – filled as it so often is with setbacks, disappointments and heartbreak – seem to “catch up to me” and bring me to the cusp of despair. If maintaining one’s faith in God’s good plan can be helpfully compared to a tank of gas, I sometimes feel myself “running on vapor.”

Jesus, in His great mercy, often stoops down to offer me a tangible, right-here-right-now reminder that He is in all things and superintending all things (Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3), which is precisely what I need to refill my tank. Jesus offers these here-and-now reminders to all of His people, if we will only ask for “eyes to see” (Matthew 13:16).

Songs and Scenes: Sunday, June 22, 2014

Songs and Scenes is a weekly blog review of songs, readings and prayers featured in The Crossing’s Sunday morning liturgy. If you’re interested in downloading a song, you’ll find links in the titles that will allow you purchase recorded versions when available.

Does Space Argue Against God?

What comes to mind when you stare into the starry skies? What do you think about when you hear descriptions about the enormity of the universe, or the billions and billions of stars that reside within it? Do you ever wonder how all of it got here, or maybe even where its “going”? And of course the big one: how does all of this relate to the question of God?

No doubt different people will offer different answers to the above questions. But we can count Tim Maudlin, professor of philosophy at New York University, as someone who believes modern cosmology has “refuted” the traditional biblical account of the origin of the cosmos. Though after reading an interview with him in the New York Times I’m not sure that his case is as persuasive as he suggests. Going point by point is beyond the scope here, but I’ll mention a few things.

Overcoming Busy Schedules and Aging Knees

Last week – for the first time since becoming a part of The Crossing community – I volunteered to help at Kids Club. Prior to last week, I always thought that I had good reasons as to why I couldn’t get involved in the amazing, chaotic world of Kids Club.

For instance, for the last eight years, I’ve done child care out of my home and, to be honest, volunteering to help with hundreds of excited, screaming kids in the evening (after spending 10 hours of my day caring for little ones already) just didn’t sound like something I was physically or mentally capable of doing.

This year, however, I learned that the Kids Club organizers were still in need of a few people to lead discussion during Bible Story Time – a.k.a. “Hero Training 101” – and so I decided to step up, though not without some trepidation. After all, I’m no spring chicken, and the idea of four days of non-stop activity was daunting to me.

Getting Ready for Sunday, June 15th at The Crossing

On Fridays we post a guide for how to prepare for the upcoming Sunday service. It gives you a chance to read the Bible passage ahead of time, see the song list, and get your mind and heart ready. You can see some of the rationale here.

Dave Cover continues our series in Exodus this week from Exodus 28 and 29 in a sermon entitled, “Why You Need a Priest.”

Does It Pay to Believe?

Can faith in God/Jesus lead to material prosperity? This is one of the central ideas of the “health and wealth gospel.” And needless to say, this kind of message has an obvious attraction. Most of us would rather be rich than poor. And if we can get more money by essentially believing that God wants to open up his heavenly storehouse and bless us in that way, well, why wouldn’t we?

Perhaps because this kind of thinking has several problems associated with it, at least if we take the Bible seriously. To mention just one of the most significant, we have to figure out what to do with any number of passages that underscore God intentionally using, not prosperity, but rather privation for the good of his people. Paul, no stranger to hunger, thirst, and exposure, can even say that such things are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Nor did Jesus exactly cash in on his Father’s supernatural favor. His road included “nowhere to lay his head” (Mat. 8:20), not to mention even greater suffering and, eventually, his execution.

No, the Bible is clear that God’s greatest gift to us is not a house on the water or luxury SUV or simply a comfortable life. It’s himself. And so his purposes for his people are often more complex and, ultimately, much more glorious than the “faith equals wealth” message would have us believe.

Still, we can perhaps make another error if we believe that a biblically shaped Christian faith has no relationship with economic flourishing in this world. Or at least that’s the contention of theologian Wayne Grudem and economist Barry Asmus in their book, The Poverty of Nations.

Holding Out for God’s Hero

Almost exactly two years ago, my son and I began a nightly ritual of reading through the pages of Scripture. Well, at least a version of Scripture that was immediately-accessible to the interests and attention span of a five-year-old. “Five” has since become seven, soon to be eight.

Since that time, our reading together of The Action Bible has waxed and waned – neither of us are much for taking a legalistic approach – but I am nonetheless thrilled to report that in the intervening two years he and I have gone from Genesis all the way through Revelation at least five times, and we still look forward to starting over again. As of this writing, we are somewhere in 1 Kings; Solomon’s son Rehoboam has foolishly listened to his younger advisors and the mighty kingdom built by his grandfather David has been torn in two. (“Not good.”)