Theology

Category Archives: Theology

Live a Bigger Life: Top 5 Curated Resources (May 2019)

Live a Bigger Life image

With all the resources at our fingertips to help us grow in and live the bigger life Jesus offers, it can sometimes be overwhelming to know where to start and what sources to trust. That’s why we’re curating five great resources each month for you–from books to podcasts to videos and more–that have been helpful to our staff team.

We hope this month’s edition of “Live a Bigger Life” inspires you to take one more step down the path of living in God’s bigger and better story.

May 2019 Contributions:

Content: The Porter’s Gate Worship Project (music album)

Description: These worship songs have influenced me and my kids. We love to sing along, and the truths in the lyrics have encouraged me on hard days.

Contributor: Molly Cover, Administrative Support

____________________________________________________________

Content: Not By Sight by Jon Bloom (book)

Description: This is a short and extremely easy-to-read book that will encourage your faith. The chapters are short (3-4 pages each) and each one is an imaginative retelling of a common biblical story with hypothetical backstories and possible emotions the characters are going through. Many of these stories will stick in your head as encouragements and over time it helps train you to read your Bible with more emotion and creativity.

Contributor: Justin Garrett, Crossing Students Pastor

____________________________________________________________

Content: Songs of Jesus by Tim Keller (devotional book)

Description: Since January of last year, my quiet times have most often revolved around Tim Keller’s “Songs of Jesus”, which goes through the psalms and breaks them down into 365 readings. Many psalms involve multiple days’ readings, so I often read the entire psalm, then focus more on the verses that Keller focuses on that day, and journal a prayer around the truths found in those verses. It’s a great way to go deep in this book of the Bible that is full of all of life’s gritty experiences – fear, anxiety, joy, grief, anger, loneliness, doubt. I’ve found that this daily routine helps me to remember and cling to the truth that my walk of faith is more about my committed relationship with a Person than it is about following rules and doing the right things.

Contributor: Shelly Mayer, Small Groups Team and Volunteer Director

____________________________________________________________

 
 
Content: Be Still My Soul by Nancy Guthrie (devotional book)
 
Description: It’s true that all of our lives will crash on the painful rocks of reality at some point. When life becomes difficult, as we face deep disappointment or agonizing loss, we set out on a search to find answers to significant questions: Why would God allow this to happen? What good could come out of this? I refer to this book when I need to remind myself of who God is when I face hardships, and it’s my go-to book that I offer to those wrestling with suffering and loss.
 
 
__________________________________________________________
 
 
 
Description: Hannah and Erin’s discussions about what it means to follow Christ in our culture are thoughtful and stretching. I love their fun back-and-forth, and their practical insights have encouraged me to think more deeply about what’s going on in the world around me.
 
Contributor: Anna Lynne Frazier, Crossing Twenties Team
 
 
 

Learning to Love Better

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means that love is in the air.

Or is it?

I ask the question because I’m convinced that love is one of the more widely defined–and misunderstood–concepts in our culture. And I’m far from the first person to point out that this time of year doesn’t always lend itself to the clearest thinking on the subject.

So when you get right down to it, what does it mean to love someone in God’s eyes?

Crossing Explainer: What is Advent?

If you’ve spent much time around a church during the holiday season, you’re probably heard the term “Advent” several times. But beyond associating the word with the Christmas season, many of us might not have the clearest idea of its significance.

Our English word “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which is a translation of the Greek term parousia, meaning “coming” or “arrival.” Western Christians have historically observed Advent during the four Sundays leading up to Christmas.

But what specifically are we observing? To sum it up briefly, Advent is a season of expectation. In it, we turn our attention to the coming of Christ. And to do so, we look both backward and forward.

Help! What Do I Do When I Don’t Understand the Bible?

thumb_41rJJE82O7L_1024Anybody who’s ever read the Bible for any length of time has experienced it. You’re reading along, understanding things well enough. But then, like Han Solo getting hit with a tractor beam aboard the Millennium Falcon, you come across a verse or passage that pulls you up short. “Wait, what did that say?” you ask yourself. Did someone interrupt your regularly scheduled English programming with an alien language? Or maybe it’s an image or metaphor that you simply don’t understand. Or it could be that you comprehend the words just fine, but you can hardly believe that they say what you think they say. In any case, confusion sets in, often soon followed by frustration. And you walk away, less confident in your ability to read the Bible, and less motivated to do so.

Of course all this is understandable. The Bible was written over a period of many centuries, by several different human authors, in three different ancient languages and in a host of different historical contexts. There’s bound to be a few things that trip us up. So what to do when you find yourself in this situation? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Crossing Explainer: Seven Important Things You Need to Know About the Bible

IMG_23141. The Bible was written by many different human authors.

Like classic Russian novels, the Bible is bigger than most books. But unlike Russian novels, it has more than one human author. In fact, a great many authors, including some of the more familiar names to the Christian faith, like Moses, David, Peter, John, and Paul, have written several of its 66 individual books. But this isn’t just a piece of Bible trivia. Those different authors wrote in different historical situations, using different vocabulary and writing styles—all of which helps to explain why one part of the Bible reads differently than the next.

2. The Bible has one ultimate Author.

We’re not given many details on how he did it, but we’re clearly assured that he did: behind the various human writers, each writing in their own voice, stands God himself as the ultimate author (see 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21). This means that the Bible exhibits his trustworthiness and carries his authority. It also leads to the next point.

Thinking (Christianly) About Politics

It’s that season again. I don’t mean winter. I mean the political season. Last night, Iowa kicked off the long primary/caucus gauntlet (grueling for both candidates and voters?), which will culminate several months from now in a national election. And if we aren’t already thinking along these lines, it’s a good reminder that we as Christians have a responsibility to think through how our faith should inform our understanding of and involvement with politics.

That’s not inventing a link that isn’t there, it’s just being biblical. Consider just one passage of many we could use to make the point:

Seven Quick Thoughts on Praying with Your Kids

Most of us probably think it’s a good idea, at least in theory, to pray with our kids at bedtime. But we may be unsure of what we should pray with them about. Or we may think we sound like one of those particularly annoying toys that repeats the same phrases over and over again. Not to mention all the times when we’re dog-tired or the kids are on the verge of meltdown because they’ve stayed up way too late for one reason or another. And in my house at least, there’s three of the little buggers, which in itself can make the hill look that much higher to climb. So yes, there are plenty of things that might discourage us from turning something good in theory into our actual practice.

With all that in mind, here are a few things to remember as we consider praying for our kids. I’ve thought of bedtime specifically as I’ve written these, but I think they’re relevant for most other times as well.

The One Thing We Might Overlook in Someone Becoming a Christian

What does it take for a person to become a Christian? Certainly a recognition of one’s need for grace and forgiveness, and an understanding and acceptance of what Jesus accomplished. But we might overlook another ingredient that’s often necessary:

5 Good Reads

For the post-holiday rest of your week: a roundup of five articles worth reading and considering, with a sample quote from each. (Note that inclusion here means each piece is helpful, not that I agree with everything in every article!)

The United States of Ambivalence: Celebrating the Founding of Imperfect Freedom
Thomas Kidd, Desiring God
“Ambivalence” is not such a bad posture for Christians to adopt toward America, however. We have always had reasons to celebrate and reasons to lament America’s history.

This Pro-Life Talk at Google Headquarters Was a Hit
Catholic News Agency
A pro-life activist walks into Google’s headquarters and delivers a speech so compelling that within 24 hours, the online video of it surpassed a similar speech given by the head of Planned Parenthood. It may sound like the start to a far-fetched joke, but on April 20th, pro-life speaker and activist Stephanie Gray did just that.

Psychology Today Article Recognizes Crossing Member

Leigh Shaffer, a member here at The Crossing, was the subject of a recent article in Psychology Today. It begins this way:

Dr. Leigh Shaffer is a dear friend and colleague whose health has not been good lately. He has borne his illness as he has conducted himself throughout his life, with much grace, humility, and dignity. I wanted to take this opportunity to write a note of gratitude for my time with Leigh, as he has been an inspiration to me.

Leigh is an academic. He spent many years as a professor of psychology before moving to Columbia with his wife Barbara. He is also a committed Christian, having participated in various teaching and ministry roles throughout his life. Both of these aspects of Leigh’s life feature prominently in the article, which was authored by George Mason psychology professor Gregg Henriques. In reading Henriques’ “letter of deep appreciation” for his friend, I was struck by a handful of things that can teach and encourage us: