Rabbit Trails – Late November

Rabbit Trails – Late November

*Things have been full lately, so here we are a month late. I’m learning to hit send instead of continuing to mull over the right way to say it. Enjoy. – MK

§ Deformed by Distraction

I’ve been reading about spiritual disciplines since high school, and I still struggle to consistently do the thing I know will bring about the ends that I want. Willard says this is the general human failing, to “want what is right and important, but at the same time not to commit to the kind of life that will produce the action we know to be right and the condition we want to enjoy. This is the feature of human character that explains why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We intend what is right, but we avoid the life that would make it reality.”

Ouch.

I want to be formed by the Spirit into the image of Christ, and it feels like many days I am being deformed by app designers and dopamine. The road to sloth is paved with glowing rectangles.

And for all the warning of what is happening, we accommodate ourselves to being used by machines instead of using them. After plenty of books, talks, podcasts and posts about hurry, rest, sabbath, and habits—I can tell you there is plenty of data about the crisis of virtue in the western world, largely fed by the very tech we’ve trusted for deliverance from the weight of boredom and the thinness of our own character and relationships. This should be offensive to us, and it momentarily is if we will give our attention to it, but the cost to convenience, false connectedness, and the pull of dopamine (which is merely the anticipation of something good happening, not getting the good itself) keeps us bound.

I attended a conference put on by the Center for Pastor Theologians last month. Given their topic around technology and faith, I’ve been waiting for several of the talks to be available online. When they do, you will find it here. In the meantime, the CPT has released Felicia Su Wong’s talk, Digital Life as Secular Liturgy via their podcast. I took 6+ pages of notes during this talk, and am thankful to be able to hear it again. Note that it is in two parts on the podcast – episodes 34 + 35.

 

§ Get Wisdom. 

Last week in the Training Program, I taught on the biblical wisdom literature, and then preached on it at Mosaic Church in Richardson (audio here).

In studying for lecture, I was struck by how in our secular, post-christian world, we have traded the classical view of wisdom for the availability of information. The internet in your pocket has leveled the street value of experience and expertise. Life hacks, how to guides, and self-help books have replaced the call of the scriptures to get wisdom, because they have built the foundation of wisdom on self, and not upon faith in our Creating God. The Bible says  at all costs, get wisdom—our modern culture seeks wisdom through information, and we trust in our own judgement, our own rationalism more than revealed knowledge. 

It reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s poem:

Choruses from the Rock

The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven,
The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
o perpetual revolution of configured stars,
o perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
o world of spring and autumn, birth and dying
The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,
All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,
But nearness to death no nearer to GOD.
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.

 

§ Are you successful?

I really enjoyed this video from Ned Bustard, an illustrator whose work I first came across in Every Moment Holy. (Note: I would buy this book, and consider giving it as a gift this Christmas. It is uniquely special.) Now don’t let that distract you from this video.

 

“We were made, in joy, to make things in and for joy.” Amen and amen.

 

§ Currents

  • I’m looking forward to reading through Isaiah this year during Advent via Tony Reinke’s reading plan. It starts this Sunday if you want to join in.
  • My wife and I have really enjoyed listening and talking through John Mark Comer and Jefferson Bethke’s podcast: Fight Hustle, End Hurry.
  • On a recent trip I finally got to see the movie, Yesterday. I enjoyed it so much I watched it on both legs of the trip. Since then I’ve been happily humming the Beatles with zero regrets.
  • My oldest child and I are working through Ryan Lister’s new work, Emblems of the Infinite King, and it is fantastic. As a theology primer for kids, it is giving me language to use with adults. Ryan has done a great job, and the book itself is illustrated beautifully.
  • If you made it this far, cheers! I’d love to hear from you on twitter or instagram.

 

 

 

Rabbit Trails 9.12.19 – a poem, the care of souls, & sabbath rest.

Rabbit Trails 9.12.19 – a poem, the care of souls, & sabbath rest.

§ George Herbert – Aaron 


I work through a few Herbert poems each month, and am increasingly convinced the man was a literary genius. The structure, turns, and endings are layered in such powerful ways. Here is one that I have really enjoyed lately:

Aaron

Holiness on the head,
Light and perfections on the breast,
Harmonious bells below, raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest:
Thus are true Aarons drest.
//
Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest:
Poor priest, thus am I drest.
//
Only another head
I have, another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest:
In him I am well drest.
//
Christ is my only head,
My alone-only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me ev’n dead,
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in him new-drest.
//
So, holy in my head,
Perfect and light in my dear breast,
My doctrine tun’d by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come people; Aaron’s drest.

Re-read it. Look at the structure of each stanza and how it repeats in the same topical pattern. Then, if you’re interested, here is an analysis.

Herbert is my favorite poet. I love this collection, and have been really enjoying Ryken’s commentary in this anthology of Christian devotional poetry.

§ Harold Senkbeil – Care of Souls

The first book we are reading in the Ministry Leadership track of the TVCI Residency this year is from Lexham Press, and is entitled The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart by Harold Senkbeil. Senkbeil is a lutheran pastor who, after 53 years in ministry, has written a beautiful work on the classical model of pastoring. I keep finding myself caught between stories of his childhood on a farm and pictures of him ministering in the most humane ways that shine with God’s mercy. It is an encouragement and call toward the normal work of pastoral ministry, and I keep getting the kind of gentle, patient, but firm sense of truth that I sense from men like Eugene Peterson and Zack Eswine. There is a settledness about Harold’s words that is comforting and calls toward something beautiful in the work for the pure sake of the work for the Savior, and not for success in secular terms.

Here are a few quotes:

“What you might consider mundane routine is the very heart of your calling: to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ and to administer his life-giving sacraments. Preaching, baptizing, communing may be ordinary and God-ordained—but they are never dull. Through these sacred acts, God gives his Holy Spirit, who works faith when and where it pleases him in those who hear the gospel. Week after week, day after day these seemingly ordinary tasks of a pastor are extraordinarily rich in their impact: sinners are forgiven, saints restored, lives enriched and hearts consoled—all by your mouth and hands! The Spirit’s work continues through you daily and richly in his holy church. This may be routine, but it’s never boring.” p.29

“People have been scrambling to find some way of carrying out what seems to be an impossible task: making disciples in a world that seems with every passing year less and less inclined to become disciples. All kinds of methods have been borrowed from business, advertising, and the social sciences in service of Christ’s commission. Yet the most important ingredient in that mission is often overlooked: the promised personal presence of Jesus by means of his word and sacrament.” p.15

“It amazes me that the medical profession depends on something that we pastors in recent generations have tended to dismiss: quiet, probing conversation accompanied by a great deal of attentive listening. In my experience, the listening itself provides an immensely therapeutic benefit. Most people in our time are frenetically occupied with so many things that they don’t take the time to sit down and unburden their hearts. And if ever they are inclined to do so, there’s no one to listen. So simply giving someone your undivided attention for sixty or so clock ticks, you’ve given then an immense gift.” p.68

§ Sabbath – Recent Sermon and Resources

Last weekend I preached on Sabbath from Psalm 95. As we are learning to practice this rhythm in our house with small children, I have included the sermon and several resources below for use.

“If you don’t come apart for a while, you will come apart after a while.” – Dallas Willard

§ tidbits: 

Lately I’ve been enjoying a song by The New Scottish Hymns Band, Give Me Some Truth. Here it is below:

Here’s to hoping the Texas weather cools off soon, it’s the time of year where I want to end the day around the fire pit with friends. Thanks for reading.

Rabbit Trails – End of Summer

Rabbit Trails – End of Summer

§ Alan Jacobs and the Reticence of the Bible

Jacobs writes in his latest newsletter:

“I’ve also been thinking lately about how the Bible tells stories. Erich Auerbach famously said that the biblical narratives are “fraught with background,” with so much that matters but is unspoken. (For example, what does Abraham think when God tells him to sacrifice his son?) Robert Alter calls this the “reticence” of biblical story, and while both of them were referring to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament can be reticent too. So in response to that reticence I’ve been telling a few small stories of my own: onetwothree.”

There are moments between the text that require the imagination of the reader to see the humanity of the text. The phrase, the reticence of the text, struck me as I read it, along with Jacobs’ own stories linked above. Over the years I have tried to look into the text with my imagination, and akin to Jacobs, here are a few of my own attempts to see the humanity of the text:

Acts 9:26-27
Exodus 12: If We Survive the Night
Holy Week (Day by Day)

§ Art and the Reticence of the Bible: Rembrandt

Rembrandt is one of my favorite artists. Other than an art history course at A&M, my first introduction at length was Nouwen’s meditation on The Return of the Prodigal Son. What a book.

I recently discovered Art Twitter, and have really enjoyed seeing sketches, studies and etchings from @ArtistRembrandt that give image to the biblical text, helping us look into history and think of the background.

I have been drawn to the use (and absence) of detail in these sketches. They are really stunning. Here are a few for you to see:

The Return of the Prodigal Son: 

(I posted this on instagram and my friend shared a quote from Peter Brown quoting Augustine: “The Father of the prodigal son ‘falls on his shoulders.’ It is Christ placing his yoke on the Christian, and in a flash we see the incident as Rembrandt would see it; every line of the heavy figure of the old man charged with meaning.”)

Jesus writing in the sand when approached with the woman caught in adultery:

Pilate presenting Jesus before the people:

Christ being removed from the cross:

 

§ Books to check out

I’ve spent the last two months planning the curriculum for the second year of our TVCI Residency Program. That means I’ve been scouring tables of contents, calculating page counts and trying to refine learning outcomes. I’m really excited and hopeful for the conversations we get to have with our incoming class of Residents.

Along the way I’ve come across some resources that I couldn’t fit into our curriculum this year (or I’m waiting for them to be published). Posting them here for you (and as a reminder to myself to read them).

The Pastor in the Secular Age, Andrew Root  / Podcast Interview with Root: The Pastor Writer
In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World, Jake Meador
Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, Andrew Peterson
Christian Philosophy: A Systematic and Narrative Introduction, Bartholomew and Goheen

§ A Must Listen: This Cultural Moment

The current task of discipleship involves the process of awakening to cultural narratives and anti-gospels presented by modernity, and confronting their impact in our own lives with the true narrative of the Gospel of Christ. It’s an awareness of the history of redemption, of which we stand in the same timeline that Paul stood as he spoke with authority to an unbelieving culture in his day.

To this end, cue the podcast, This Cultural Moment, hosted by Mark Sayers and John Mark Comer.
This is a must listen for what it means to interact with a post-Christian society. These conversations are incredibly helpful. Go ahead, start listening.

§ Routine

Come mid-August, the environments I work with are ramping back up for the school year, and this series will move to being posted at the end of the month. As always, I’d love to hear from you on twitter if you want to interact. Thanks for reading.

 

Rabbit Trails 7.10.19

Rabbit Trails 7.10.19

Power.

Each of us have it, and handling it well is a daily challenge.

Here’s a few podcasts and a book to help you think through it:

§ Gravity Leadership has been running a series on power that is worth listening to. I’ve taken in two episodes: Chuck DeGroat on Why We Love Narcissistic Leaders, and another with Rich Villodas on Cruciform Power and the Contemplative Life.

Chuck has a work coming out in the next year entitled When Narcissism comes to Church. I’m looking forward to reading it. This episode had me stewing for a few days around the question of why we trust the uber-confident, and how my stability and security seeking self can at times be tempted to look for earthly confidence to trust in before I settle my anxious thoughts and look for the stability of Christ.

Rich Villodas was a great listen, and he described an exercise over a period of a few weeks where when he noticed himself having a reaction to something, he took the time to identify the story he was telling himself, why he was upset, and then think through the true story the Gospel tells him in response to the situation. Rich said after a few weeks he began to notice patterns and see a decrease in the negative power of his reactions. This was a good listen.

§ Pete Scazzero is expounding upon his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, via podcast. Recently he covered Dual Relationships and Power. This podcast hit home, as in the last decade I’ve had to navigate lots of crossover in relationships. The combined roles of friend, coworker, manager, and pastor can bring complications into relationships if you are not aware of them and willing to address it. Scazzero’s point is that we all have power to steward, and you need to do an inventory of it to know what you could potentially be wielding when you’re not meaning to – or when you are tempted to use it for ill. Kind of wish I had heard this podcast five years ago.

§ One of the most impactful books on the concept of power that I’ve read is The Way of the Dragon or The Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that has Abandoned It, by Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin. I think I highlighted, bracketed or underlined at least half of this book. There are interviews dripping with wisdom and cultural insight toward evangelicalism. Here’s a brief list of 20 truths from the book. Get the book, read the interviews. Notice the age, disciplines, and demeanor of the people they’re talking to. Look at the type of power that we need and juxtapose that with the type of power we want when our longing to be part of something special lands in having a uniquely gifted pastor, rather than living into the cruciform way of weakness.

 

Newsletters. They’re Back.

Newsletters went away, and now they’re back. You could say this series is my attempt at a newsletter, but without the inbox. I subscribe to a few, and have come to really enjoy their appearance in my inbox.

Here are four I look forward to:

§ John Starke (Lead Pastor, Apostles NYC). John has a thoughtful offering that has recently been engaging how to think about secular culture. It’s fun, varied, and helpful. He’s on issue #6, so you can still jump in and say you got in on the ground floor.

§ Thomas S. Kidd (Baylor Distinguished Professor of History). Kidd writes about habits, his new works, alongside professional and family life hacks. He’s a great writer, and these are fairly to the point. I’ve been subscribing for a while. He writes at TGC, and has numerous biographical works to consider. I have really enjoyed his written works.

§ Alan Jacobs (Baylor Distinguished Professor of Humanities).  This is an eclectic and fun newsletter that can cover what Jacobs had for dinner, to his latest book, and then an obscure work of art that suddenly you realize you needed in your life. I read his work, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, and have been following along ever since. There is something refreshing about his approach, and I kinda like that he has an open letter to his students about how to attend and conduct oneself during his lectures.

§ David Murray and The Christian Man Academy. David has put together something pretty special. This newsletter is a weekly call toward Christian maturity, resourced with diverse readings and media. Each week there is a “required reading” section full of links, and there are themed discussions and videos that David produces. I’ve been thankful for this new endeavor of his, and hope to see it flourish.

 

Books I’m Into / Need to Finish / In the Queue

More reading would have happened, but Stranger Things happened.

The Fabric of Theology -Richard Lints
Hearers and Doers: A Pastor’s Guide to Making Disciples through Scripture and Doctrine – Kevin Vanhoozer
The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart – Harold L. Senkbeil
Plugged In: Connecting your faith with what you watch, read, and play (Live Different)- Daniel Strange

 

Holy Baptism – George Herbert

Holy Baptism – George Herbert

One of my favorite books is The Complete English Works of George Herbert. It’s a bit of a poetic anchor for me. Here’s one I enjoyed this week.

Holy Baptism (I)

As he that sees a dark and shady grove,
Stays not, but looks beyond it on the sky
So when I view my sins, mine eyes remove

More backward still, and to that water fly,
Which is above the heav’ns, whose spring and rent
Is in my dear Redeemer’s pierced side.

O blessed streams! either ye do prevent
And stop our sins from growing thick and wide,
Or else give tears to drown them, as they grow.

In you Redemption measures all my time,
And spreads the plaster equal to the crime:
You taught the book of life my name, that so,
Whatever future sins should me miscall,
Your first acquaintance might discredit all.

rabbit trails 6.12

rabbit trails 6.12

Things have been pretty full the last few months. All our environments in TVCI wrapped for the year, I graduated with my DMIN from SBTS, and then we got out of Texas and saw some real mountains in Alaska for a few days. I’ve been setting aside links and interesting bits, I hope something below is of service to you. – MK

 

The Life of the Pastor: Zack Eswine

I’ve been watching a series of lectures from Zack Eswine on the life of the pastor at Grace Theological College in New Zealand. Eswine’s work, The Imperfect Pastor, is on my personal yearly read list.

In these videos, what you need to watch for (beyond the excellent content) is Zack’s way of being with those in the room. He’s an incredibly present person. He hits on the discipleship we receive and have to unlearn as we come to Jesus, the way he trains elders, and how to restore dignity to those you minister to as you recognize their image bearing along the way. There were many moments I rewound to listen, and am planning on finishing up the series soon.

A Godfather on Humility:

Just wrapped Stanley Hauerwas’ book, The Character of Virtue, which felt like a modern cousin to Lewis’ Letters to Malcom. With each chapter, he addressed a virtue with his godson. Here are a few quotes:

Those that are genuinely humble often don’t call attention to themselves because their humility doesn’t allow them to do so .They don’t mind not being singled out for their humility because they’re at home with who they are. They live in a manner that suggests they have nothing to prove. After all, humility is a virtue that makes it possible for us to rest easy with ourselves. This doesn’t mean that humble people are self-satisfied. It means they live by acknowledging the gifts that have made them who they are.  (148-9)

I hope that the accounts of the virtues in these letters will help you be at home in the truth, which is no easy accomplishment. We often “shade the truth” because we fear losing the love or regard of those who mean much to us. To be at home in the truth is also a demanding business because so often we lie first and foremost to ourselves, insce we fear facing what we can only acknowledge as a failure. In short, we lie to ourselves and others not because we’re corrupt but because we want to be good. (197)

Living in the truth may give you a life that’s difficult, but it will be one that will make it possible for you to look back and want no other life than the one you’ve lived. (198)

 

On Big Words and Feeling Stupid

Ever been in a classroom and felt slightly ashamed of wanting to ask for the definition of a five dollar word?

I spent a good deal of time in seminary trying to learn what the big words meant, and then figure out how to communicate the idea without wielding my SAT vocab skills. Now that I lecture on a weekly basis, I am continually reminded of the desire to keep my hand down and not ask the obvious question: Can you explain that word please?

Enter Justo Gonzalez’ work, Essential Theological Terms. There’s stuff in here that I haven’t studied, and I’m brushing up on concise definitions of stuff I’ve forgotten after our three children entered into the world.

 

Bruner on John and Vainglory:

This last year at church we have been working through the Gospel of John, and in conversation with our pastor, he recommended a commentary by Frederick Bruner, primarily based around the humanity that Bruner brought to the text which at times can be really challenging. I’ve found this to be true every time I’ve sat with the work, and recommend it as an addition to your library.
I was reading in John 5 this week, where Christ engages the reality that men trust those who come in their own name, but won’t trust Him who comes in the name of the Father and who is witnessed to by the Father. He speaks of how men seek glory from each other, but won’t seek the glory that comes from God.
Here’s Jesus:

[37] And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, [38] and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. [39] You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, [40] yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. [41] I do not receive glory from people. [42] But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. [43] I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. [44] How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? [45] Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. [46] For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. [47] But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

(John 5:37–47 ESV, bold formatting mine addition)

While reading Bruner on this section, I felt my need for deliverance from this “all-too-human” idol of being extraordinary in the world’s terms – in whatever facet it comes about: from the mundane to the professional.  Here’s two quotes from Bruner that I’ve been sitting with:

The Gospel of John says our reorientation begins when Jesus is trusted, and in a hundred different ways and from as many different angles, every paragraph in our Gospel seeks to elicit this trust. The service of this verse is the unmasking of our major idol. Perhaps we can only pray, “Dear Lord, please free me from seeking to receive glory from others and instead to seek and to receive glory from you and you only. Please, you alone be God to me and to your people in the world.” The first hindrance to believing in Jesus’ divinity, then, is our all-too-human egomania.  (350)

And, as my friend says, “there’s no burn quite like a poetry burn”:

All of us who work in biblical studies and who seek the judgment and respect of our peers must be very careful. Strachan in Morris, 333 n. 124, amplifies: “ ‘Scripture study had become a world in which men sought fame by showing their intellectual prowess.… where men sought honour of one another, ’citing, tellingly, John Masefield (The Everlasting Mercy):

The trained mind outs the upright soul,
As Jesus said the trained mind might,
Being wiser than the sons of light,
But trained men’s minds are spread so thin
They let all sorts of darkness in;
Whatever light man finds they doubt it,
They love not light, but talk about it.

(353)

Those are the big buckets. A few quick hits:

  • Recently I discovered that one of my favorite instrumental bands, Balmorhea, has a slew of albums that I’ve been unaware of.
  • I’m listening to J.P. Moreland’s work, Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and the Practices that Brought Peace. Here is a recent interview between him and Eric L. Johnson.
  • Here’s a pic from our Alaska trip. It is easy to see why people flee the concrete jungle to live in such beauty. I keep saying to myself, “but the people are so nice in Texas.” That makes up for the lack of this, right?
Rabbit Trails 4.1.18

Rabbit Trails 4.1.18

Strains of Thought:

I recently finished Alan Jacob’s How to Think, and in looking at his other work I came across this article, which centers around the theme of technology and formation. I think you should read it. He labels our computers and cell phones ‘ecosystems of interruption technologies’ (let that sink in for a second), and then draws some lines that are important to notice:

Our “ecosystem of interruption technologies” affects our spiritual and moral lives in every aspect. By our immersion in that ecosystem we are radically impeded from achieving a “right understanding of ourselves” and of God’s disposition toward us. We will not understand ourselves as sinners, or as people made in God’s image, or as people spiritually endangered by wandering far from God, or as people made to live in communion with God, or as people whom God has come to a far country in order to seek and to save, if we cannot cease for a few moments from an endless procession of stimuli that shock us out of thought.

It has of course always been hard for people to come to God, to have a right knowledge of ourselves and of God’s threats and promises. I don’t believe it’s harder to be a Christian today than it has been at any other time in history. But I think in different periods and places the common impediments are different. The threat of persecution is one kind of impediment; constant technological distraction is another. Who’s to say which is worse?—even if it’s obvious which is more painful. But I really do think we are in new and uniquely challenging territory in our culture today, and I don’t believe that, in general, churches have been fully aware of the challenges—indeed, in many cases churches have made things worse.
….
When George Whitefield and John Wesley were preaching sermons that created the First Great Awakening, they almost always started by trying to arouse in their hearers a conviction of sin. The typical sequence of their sermons looked like this:
1. You are a sinner, though no more, or less, of a sinner than anyone else.

2. We sinners cannot rescue ourselves.

3. But God in his grace and love has come to rescue us.

4. So we need only to accept that grace and love, in penitence, to be reconciled to God.

But I don’t believe we can readily reach people today with the same sequence. The very idea that I am a sinner sends me groping for my smartphone to avoid unpleasant emotions. I think this will be especially true for the majority of North Americans whose basic default theology is what the sociologist of religion Christian Smith and his colleagues call Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. For such people an awareness of sin is going to be hard to achieve—certainly at the earlier stages of their Christian lives.

If you start groping for your smartphone at the hint of existential pain, then true knowledge of God is at danger of being pushed out of your waking moments. In her work, By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine, Ellen Charry joins Jacobs’ reasoning:

Knowing God is the key to self-knowledge, and self-knowledge is the key to self-despair, and self-despair is the entry point for a sanctified life with God. (p232)

Self-despair is the entry point for a sanctified life with God. When you wake up to the false story of self-sufficiency and see yourself rightly – who you are in light of who God is – then you see God rightly, and you find yourself at the beginning of wisdom.


Things I’m listening to:

I’ve rekindled my relationship with Mars Hill Audio Journal. Man alive, this is a great thing. Well worth the investment of subscription.

James Bryan Smith hosts a podcast called Things Above, which he calls a podcast for ‘mind discipleship’ (e.g. setting your mind on *things above*). I’ve listened to just a few episodes, and appreciate the tone and trajectory of what I’m hearing.


Books I’ve been in contact with the last few weeks:

Kevin Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach to Doctrine
Dru Johnson, Human Rites: The Powers of Rituals, Habits, and Sacaments
Ellen Charry, By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine

Quotes I’ve enjoyed:
Blessed, plainly, is that life which is not valued at the estimation of others, but is known, as judge of itself, by its own inner feelings. -Ambrose

I count myself as one of those who write as they learn and learn as they write. – Augustine

In the self-assured world of modernity people seek to make sense of the Scriptures, instead of hoping, with the aid of the Scriptures, to make sense of themselves. – Nicholas Lash

*This type of digest is proving to be a place for me to consolidate things I would normally put on social media. I’m trying to be better about doing it here than there, and I like how it gives space for thoughts to breathe some before they’re shared. I hope for shorter articles in-between, perhaps when summer is upon us.