Weekly Ponderings

Here are some of the ideas I came across these last couple weeks that made me think.  You can read each article in full by clicking on the title under each excerpt. Inclusion does not mean full endorsement (of the whole post or the site where it is linked).

“God’s complaint here also shows why passages like this can be bewildering…“Who asked this from your hand?” the Lord God Almighty says of burnt offerings, incense, Sabbath convocations, appointed festivals and solemn assemblies.

That seems to be a rhetorical question, but it seems reasonable that both Isaiah’s original readers/listeners and contemporary religious folk would try to answer it. “Who asked for this?” Well, God, You did. And You didn’t just ask, You commanded all of this stuff. You gave us a whole set of books full of commandments demanding this from our hand.

That’s a fair point. I mean, it seems strange that God should spend so much time explicitly telling us “thou shalt … thou shalt … thou shalt … thou must” only to turn around later and be all, like, “Where did you people get the idea that any of this was something I wanted?”

But the prophets are very clear about the difference here. They don’t leave any room for confusion about the difference between worship and assemblies that delight God as a sweet-smelling form of obedience and worship and assemblies that offend and sicken God as a despicable, wearying burden.

The difference is justice. Justice is the necessary ingredient without which no worship, prayer, assembly, offering or other form of religious expression will be regarded as legitimate by God Almighty. Injustice delegitimizes all religion. It turns that which God has commanded into something that God detests — something that God detests in language harsher and angrier than anything even Frederick Douglass could muster.”

Go and learn what this means — the bad-faith ‘biblical’ defense of injustice (part 4) by Fred Clark

“…there is another dynamic at work that needs to be mentioned. This goes back to my childhood where I was regaled with missionaries-on-furlough telling stories of missionary work, and a number of our missionaries were single women. On the mission field women got to teach, got to preach, got to plant churches, and got to exercise gifts not permitted to be exercised in the home field of the USA.”

“I’m a Single Lady” (Missionary) and John Piper by Scot McKnight

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.”

“I think one look back at 2016 would confirm that. Power, it would seem, as much as we may want it, sometimes turns us into people we never thought we would be.

History tells us this is true…

The people wanted power.

And Jesus wouldn’t give it to them. He wasn’t interested in being a political Messiah or a governing Savior. And when the people tried to make Him that, He recoiled. He withdrew…

The people wanted nothing to do with such a powerless leader. So they killed him.
Jesus shows us power’s temptations aren’t new. Its promises aren’t unique. And real power looks far different than we can imagine.

Like nearly everything He said, it’s a paradox. Power is best used in serving. Greatness is found in humility. The last shall be first. And on and on it goes, making no sense to the rulers of this world–or those aspiring to be the rulers of this world.
Power is most pure and most helpful when it’s given away.

We will hold loosely to what promises power offers, and we will use what power we do have to love, to serve, and to build our character, even against all odds.

We may not be on the platform this January 20th, but we are in as good a position as any to learn to practice power–both the acquiring of it and the loss of it–well. Let Jesus show you how. Give some away. Serve all you can. Love all you come across. And believe there is a better end than power at the end of the day. There is dignity. Integrity. And character.”

Power Play: What You Can Do Inauguration Day by Sarah Anderson

“Most millennials I know struggle with mental illness to some degree. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and more. I wonder how much of that anxiety comes from being told that wanting a living wage, affordable college, or adequate healthcare means that you’re being a spoiled entitled brat. It really doesn’t. The generations before us HAD a living wage, affordable college, and adequate healthcare. But now, inflation has far surpassed the minimum wage, college tuition and loan interest rates are through the proverbial roof, and medical bills are the top cause of bankruptcy in America.

These things were not caused by millennials, but after being raised on a steady diet of “you’re entitled,” we don’t even need to hear it from other people. We believe it about ourselves. As a society, we now romanticize struggle, busy-ness, and “the hustle.” If you’re not losing sleep and working two or three jobs, you must not want it enough…

The millennial generation has been tasked with fixing the broken system we inherited and chastised for not doing it right or for daring to suggest improvements.

If you think we’re doing a bad job, ask yourself how it got this way in the first place.”


“Values are fragile. Because the values of human rights depend foremost on the ability to empathize with others — to recognize the importance of treating others the way we would want to be treated — they are especially vulnerable to the demagogue’s exclusionary appeal. A society’s culture of respect for human rights needs regular tending, lest the fears of the moment sweep away the wisdom that built democratic rule…”

We Are on the Verge of Darkness by Kenneth Roth

“This is not about deceit. It’s about privacy.

When you are surrounded by people who will not honor your being honest with them, but instead are likely to penalize you, possibly severely, in unfair, unrelated, and irrational ways, you do not owe them your honesty. As an adult, whether you should be honest about particular topics depends on the context of the relationship that you have with each person. You’re not a “liar” if you decide to keep the details of your sex life, your political opinions, or your religious views private from your family if that will preserve the best aspects of that relationship, and if indulging yourself in openness is simply not worth the cost. You are the one who decides if that is any of their business. If they will not be able handle the truth, if their reaction will be immature and destructive to themselves, to you, and to the relationship, then it’s really okay to respect your own boundaries and preserve your own privacy.”

Ask Richard: Atheist Student Struggles with Ethics Around Coming Out to the Family by Richard Wade

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