Series on Rest

By: Rachel Rogers

I love summer time!  It’s the promise of a break: from gray, colorless days and lifeless trees, from heavy winter clothes and chasing mittens on cold mornings.  Every kid knows that “summer” is equal to replacing homework and lunchboxes with swimming pools and popsicles. Many of us even change up our normal routine for a trip or a vacation along the way. Isn’t that the lure of summer?  A rest, a vacation, or at least a break from the normal? Does your heart long for a deep rest like mine? Are you disappointed, like me, when summer schedules and trips start to feel hectic and overwhelming?

Kathryn Butler’s article “Summer Vacation is No Sabbath” reminded me recently that it is not summer vacation my heart is actually longing for.  No, we were created for a different, deeper rest than any season or trip can offer. It’s actually when my soul learns to rest in the finished work of Christ that I find the shalom I seek.  It was a timely and helpful article; I hope it will encourage you too.  I’ll still be enjoying my homework-free evenings while the popsicles drip and my kids splash in the pool; and if you see me there, please remind me to keep searching deeper, for real soul rest in Jesus.  (Read the article here)

Racial Differences, Our Culture, and the Church

By: Brad Rogers

To say that the issues revolving around race is a hot button topic here in the US runs the risk of describing the situation too mildly.  Unfortunately, our inability to talk about racial concerns perpetuates and, at times, exasperates the problem in our culture. Misunderstandings are all too easy to come by and many of us respond by saying nothing as that can seem like the safest course. Sadly, for those of us who seek to take the Bible seriously, racial strife is not just a problem “out there” in culture, it exists in our churches as well.  How do we pursue racial reconciliation in the church when we don’t all agree on the extent of our racial divides or the best ways to address them? In this article, Kevin DeYoung seeks to isolate the real agreements and disagreements many Christians have regarding race with the hopes of helping to stimulate more constructive dialogue that leads to better possible solutions.  I commend this to you not because I think we will all agree on everything here, but because I think Kevin brings forward many of the issues we need to be thinking about in the body of Christ with respect to race.

Read the article here. 

Podcasts & Movies

By: Sean Scott

I love going to the movies. The new recliners, questionable popcorn, escaping into a world that seems far different to the one I experience every day. I love going with friends and family, it is an almost universally accepted “fun” thing to do. Enjoying movies and TV shows is an easy thing for me… What comes harder for me is thinking critically and evaluating forms of entertainment, instead of simply escaping. As a believer and follower of Jesus, I want to be engaged with the world around me, yet not of it.

A resource I have found helpful is a podcast produced by RYM (Reformed Youth Ministries) called “The Local Youth Worker”. Recently, they took a week to evaluate Marvel: Infinity Wars, Fortnite, and 13 Reasons Why. I would encourage you to listen to these episodes, if for no other reason than these conversations are important for how we engage with the world. Discerning culture through a Biblical world and life view is something we find valuable in our youth ministry. These 20-minute episodes are conversational and were helpful for me as I wrestle with how to talk to my wife, friends, and students about things relevant to our current culture. The episode links are below:

Episode 161

Episode 162

Episode 163

Episode 164

Episode 165

Grace in the Midst of Depression & Anxiety

By: Brad Rogers

Depression and anxiety are formidable, if not crippling foes, which have ailed even the strongest of Christ’s followers throughout church history.  In this article, Nashville Pastor, Scott Sauls, writes about two gifted pastors who committed suicide while he was studying for the ministry and his confusion over how this could happen. 

Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with such confusion.  The first pastor I had as a young adult took his own life not long after I graduated from seminary and had begun working as a college pastor while worshiping at the church he led. Ministering to others amidst my own hurt and disorientation was unnerving; and yet, as strange as it may sound, God met me in that darkness.  While I would have done anything to prevent what happened and wish it had never happened, God changed me and shaped me for ministry in important ways. 

Now, further along in life and ministry, Scott shares his own struggles with anxiety and depression and their impact.  He does so with the hopes that we all might see how “Afflicted does not mean ineffective” and “Damaged does not mean done.” These are good words from a pastor who has felt the pain and found grace and hope in the midst of it. To read the article, click here

Eat, Pray, Live: Heavenly Discontentment in a Culture that Craves Too Little

At one point in his message on contentment and discontentment, Geoff Bradford, pastor of Christ the King, made a statement that struck me deeply: “Life is a dress rehearsal for eternity.” Now as a theatre person, I know exactly what is supposed to happen in a dress rehearsal. This is the final rehearsal before a production opens. In this rehearsal, one hopes that everything will go as smoothly as if there was an audience present already. Unfortunately, a rehearsal is still a rehearsal, and things are bound to go bad. The lights go dark at the wrong time, the costume change is late, and the actor forgets a crucial line. Nothing is perfect.

The Journey Home

by: Marilyn Helms

Dear God...

One of my father’s last prayers was “Dear God, we may not have the strength we want, we may not have the mind we want, but we thank you for bringing us this far.” Rob and I had the privilege of sharing our home with my dad for the last 15 months of his life, and with my mom for her last 8 years. I learned from them that the end of life’s journey, like the end of a long road trip, can be rough. Comfortable seats gain hard edges and knobs, and our stiff legs forget how to move. We become argumentative and cranky. We’re anxious to arrive but uncertain that where we’ll be tomorrow will be as good as where we were yesterday.