Quill

Understanding the Artist in Your Life

At some point on life’s journey, you’re going to meet an artist.

If you’re an evangelical, this artist will confuse you, because the artist will not be interested in your theological answers to life’s dilemmas – they’re too simple, too neat, and too “propositional.”

That’s not necessarily right, it’s just true.

They will also be frustrated that, as you read their book, or listen to their music, or look at their work, you are trying to figure out their agenda.

That’s not to say artists don’t have an agenda. It’s simply to say that for the artist, the agenda is – at least in a postmodern context – largely about sharing an experience. To create isn’t to offer answers, but to extend a hand of friendship: “This is what life feels like/looks like/sounds like to me – how about you?”

Of course, the artist can use some hard-bound protestants to protect them from falling of the experiential cliff of insanity. But in order to understand, and thus to reach, the artist in your life, you need to first sit alongside them. Which means: you need to bring him or her to the Bible’s fleshiest places.

Bring them to the despair of Ecclesiastes.

Guide them to the question mark at the end of Job.

Show them the rawness of the Psalmist.

Let them stare at the depravity of Judges.

Read them through Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Evangelicals shy away from these verses, but artists need them. They need to see that the Bible is not a fairy-tale, or a Canterbury Tale, or a flippant collection of trite maxims for do-gooders. It’s not that the artist doesn’t need answers. But if you don’t show the artist the Bible’s honesty, they’ll never listen to the answers.

And that, of course, means you need to wrestle with that honesty first.

Weekend Java Awards 02.06.16

Apologetics Award: C.S. Lewis Critiques the Liar, Lunatic, Lordship Argument – Well, he doesn’t. But someone else does, and he comes in for the alley-oop. That’s fun to picture, btw.

Preaching Award: The Thinking Pastor – A wonderful transcript of a sermon to preachers from a wonderful preacher himself. It’s less confusing than the way I described it just now.

Spiritual Life Award: Patient Parenting – Dr. David Murray with a few points of wonderful, wise, practical counsel for parents of all ages and stages.

Theology Award: 20 Quotes on Legalism, Antinomianism, and Assurance – From Sinclair Ferguson’s latest. You can’t go wrong.

Fun Award: McDonalds is Dead…And We Have Killed It – This is a very funny critique/case study on American culture as of late.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: I Can Tolerate Anything But the Outgroup – Here’s a rare bit of honest introspection from a secularist about the true intolerance of tolerant people. It’s actually a good bit of it, so you might want to take it a chunk at a time. Worth it.

Writing Award: Why Protestants Can’t Write – This article, and the one that follows, have started up a storm of reaction in the blogosphere, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading along.

Books and Lit Award: The Story Behind the Jesus Storybook Bible – This is a lovely interview with Sally-Lloyd Jones, in which she touches on writing, theology, and the publishing industry.

Christians and Culture Award: Trumped Up? – Here’s a lengthy but excellent article to help you understand the nuances behind the cultural phenomenon of Trumpism. Caution: this article is filled with black internet holes via link-mania. I think it took me about 2 hours to get through the whole thing.

Church Leadership Award: 5 Rookie Pastor Mistakes – Some great insight from Hershael York.

wedding-ring-1417592

8 Ways to Order Your Marriage.

As Brenna and I have been facing big decisions over the last few months, it’s been neat to see that way God has transformed our marriage from its fledgling stages to something a little more beautiful.

It’s also got me thinking about the whole complementarian/egalitarian debate, and how my views over the years – though still complementarian – have shifted from a kind of misogynistic immaturity to what Brenna and I both perceive to be a more Christ-like model.

It’s made me realize there aren’t just two positions on this: egalitarianism and complementarianism – and when people are arguing against one or the other, they’re normally arguing against a flawed diversion, rather than the real thing.

That being said, let me lay out a few different options:

Misogyny: The husband asserts his desires, the wife submits. Though this is what chiefly comes to mind to those in the egal. camp, this is the furthest thing from the biblical picture of complementarianism possible. Unfortunately many, wounded from a history of misogyny, reject all hierarchy within families whole-sale based on their experience.

If I’m honest, both my wife and I came into marriage with a subconscious commitment to this kind of relationship, and the results were not only personally devastating, but anti-gospel. Jesus never asserts his personal desires over and above his bride.

Matriarchy: The wife asserts her desires, the husband submits. Though I doubt any would publicly subscribe to this, it is, unfortunately, a settled pattern in many Christian homes. In this model, the husband mistakes weakness for meekness and, rather than honoring his wife, becomes bitter and distant (in effect dishonoring her).

Jesus was not weak, he was meek – he asserted his bride’s good, he didn’t passively give into it.

Pragmatism: We both assert our desires, and we both win. The reason this sounds so ideal is that it is so idealistic. The truth is, we don’t have the time, energy and resources to try and make ‘win-wins’ out of every minute situation in life. Nor, I might add, does this sound much like the Christ who called us to marriage.

It’s a hunch, but I doubt Jesus came to earth saying: “You get what you can out of this, and I’ll get what I can.” Pragmatism (a focus on what works), is a denial of the purpose of marriage – the point of marriage is not to do the greatest good to the greatest number (both of us, in this case), but to assert the image of Christ and the church to a watching world (Ephesians 5:23). So “work”, in this case, is contingent upon a definition of marriage’s purpose which goes little beyond realizing my own, personal desires.

Besides, if “work” means, “does what it’s meant to do”, then pragmatism, in that sense, doesn’t “work”.

Naivety: We’ll never disagree. Point 1: Okay, sure. Point 2: Jesus called us to be peacemakers, and that in the church. This assumes there will be conflict, and it assumes a non-passive approach. We’re not called to be peace-keepers, but makers, meaning: we have work to do.

A quick read through the New Testament ought to wash us clean of this one. Jesus had (has) conflict with his bride, and he’s perfect. So, to put it strangely – if there’s no conflict, something’s wrong.

Democracy: We both assert our desires, and someone wins. The truth will out, is the thought here. Except, there’s no real “truth” to whether we ought to go out for ice-cream or pizza. No argument can solve it. There’s no “right” answer to whether we should move to California or Timbuktu – these are morally neutral issues. In fact, let me be controversial: there’s no real truth as to whether the house should be clean or messy. We attach virtues to these things because we inherently view our personalities like good Pharisees – we make rules from them, and work outward.

Besides, this looks nothing like Christ and the church. Notice I’m not saying that we shouldn’t communicate our desires to one another: communicating our vulnerability is actually an investment, not a withdrawal. It’s a compliment to say, “I need you.” But saying, “Therefore, you must do this” is patently wrong on every account.

Coldness: Neither of us assert our desires, and no one submits. Clearly, when you’ve reached this point, there’s bitterness and the whole operation’s gone amuck. Jesus communicates his desires toward us, and he invites us to communicate our desires to him. So – this is radically anti-gospel as well. This is a roommate scenario, not a Song of Solomon one.

Absurdity: Both of us assert the others’ desire, and no one submits. This is the closest to true complementarianism, but it’s only flaw is that it’s absurd. I believe it is in The Four Loves that C.S. Lewis points out that two people sitting at a dining table insisting that they pour the others’ tea has less to do with love and more to do with absurd false-humility. The beautiful thing about complementarianism is that it’s just like this, without the absurdity, which leads us to…

Complementary: Both of us assert the others’ desire, and the wife submits. In a recent decision my wife and I made, it became clear that our desires were in conflict. The position being offered to us would have been a wonderful fit for one of us, and a terrible fit for the other. Sparing you the details, it became evident to both of us the beautiful irony of the situation: Brenna was insisting that we do things my way. And I was insisting we do things in a way that was best for her.

And because we are complementation, I “won out” in the end: I asserted her desires over mine.

That is a long and winding journey, but I think it’s good for many of us to hear, on every side of the debate. While we think we may be in one camp, we may actually be in some permutation of it that is actually unrecognizable from its original intent. The truth is, the real model is like two people leaning toward one another for balance – it’s a total act of trust on both parts, and it requires an “all in” approach, not something half-baked.

But when we both lean in – curiously – it forms something like a steeple.

Weekend Java Awards 01.30.16

Apologetics Award: The New Tolerance Must Crumble – D.A. Carson has been going around secular college campuses on lecturing on the intolerance of tolerance. He gives a few useful insights, and pointers into how to do the same.

Preaching Award: Preach for Holiness by Preaching Christ – A double-feature by Dr. Prince today. Just one more reason why you should consider having a sermon template.

Spiritual Life Award: Rethinking Our Relaxing – This one got me good. Real good. It’s an interview about a guy who specializes in the biblical theology of leisure. Go figure. I found these 75 manly hobbies to be a nice complement to the article. It reminded me that oh – I like things other than reading theology. I should do this stuff. And I should do it with my boys.

Theology Award: The Jesus Only Liberalism is Old News – Rishmawy nails it, here. Jesus as the replacement for all of scripture ultimately compromises Christ himself.

Fun Award: The Most Cringeworthy Christian T-Shirts – As pathetic as these are, one can’t help but be impressed by the effort.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: Aziz Ansari on Shallow Love – Secular comedian Aziz Ansari on how ridiculous is our American obsession with finding “the one”.

Writing Award: How to Be a Prolific Writer – Some good, realistic thoughts on crafting time for the craft.

Books and Lit Award: Which Roald Dahl Character Are You? Proud to be sporting the spirit-child of Matilda. How about you?

Christians and Culture Award: A Religious Alternative to American Politics – Bruce Ashford finishes up his series on Christians and politics with a very insightful finale. I’m still formulating my opinions on this. I’ve read a similar approach before, but it left me thinking: “That seems a bit naive – if we don’t share a basic worldview, how can we argue for/against any ethical issue?” Thoughts?

Church Leadership Award: Don’t Spiritualize Mediocrity in Ministry – Yes. “Where preaching is weak, anemic, unfaithful, and compromised in a church, everything else in congregational life, no matter how well done, is merely impotent ecclesial smoke and mirrors. That is where I stand. Period. But this post is designed to confront a different problem among those who agree with me on the primacy of preaching.”

Weekend Java Awards 01.23.16

Apologetics Award: “GK Chesterton Flips 4 Objections to Christianity Upside-Down” – This is a little piece of gold dug up by Trevin Wax.

Preaching Award: The Long and Short of Sermons – How long should a sermon be? Well, it depends how well you preach.

Spiritual Life Award: 7 Ways to Grow in the Art of Communication – This is about speaking gently and patiently with your children, not people in general. But it hit me like a Mack truck. Good stuff.

Theology Award: Romans 7 Does Describe Your Christian Experience – Piper’s follow up to the article I posted last week. He’s more difficult to follow than Schreiner, so take your time.

Fun Award: A Robot Writes and Episode of ‘Friends’ – This is pretty funny. And it proves that robots are people, too.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: The End of Small Talk – This article expresses on writer’s desire for deeper connection in a shallow world.

Writing Award: My Ethic of Blogging – My good friend Bryn T Clark fires up his blog again with a plethora of wonderful quotes and insights into the writing life. Enjoy.

Books and Lit Award: The Christian Reader’s Resource Guide – David Qaoud has rounded up 49 links to amazing book lists. You already have one of them, e-mail subscribers 😉

Christians and Culture Award: The Elusive Key to the Good Life – I’ve never posted a sermon here before, but these are worth posting. Steve is a brilliant expositor, and he’s taking his congregation through the book of Ecclesiastes. This series has been of great personal benefit to me, but it also has some of the most penetrating insights into our culture that I’ve heard. This is the second in the series, and you can get the first on the same site.

Church Leadership Award: The Secret of Spurgeon’s Success – This article on Spurgeon’s leadership through prayer inspired me to take some action this week. What a vivid, beautiful picture it paints.

Weekend Java Awards 01.16.16

Apologetics Award: How the Gospel Works – Jesse Johnson makes play dough of a youtube video that attempts to make play dough of the gospel.

Preaching Award: Preaching – Calvin Miller’s book “Preaching” is 90% off, and you can snag it for just $1.99.

Spiritual Life Award: J.I. Packer on Losing His Sight – Packer is retiring his ministry, due to loss of eyesight. This interview will inspire you toward holiness.

Theology Award: Romans 7 Does Not Describe Your Christian Experience – I’ve never bought the typical protestant interpretation of Romans 7. Schreiner makes a good case for why you shouldn’t, either.

Fun Award: How to Unlock Netflix’s Hidden Categories – For example, “Exciting B-Horror Movies” or “Feel Good Sports Movies for Ages 8-10”, or even “Latin and Ballroom Dance Movies”. Now code away.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: When Philosophy Lost its Way – This ingenious article articulates how modern “philosophy” isn’t actually philosophy at all. It’s egotistical micro-specialization.

Writing Award: 5 Story-Telling Lessons from Star Wars: The Force Awakens – This article is incredibly and unnecessarily vulgar, but the insights are ingenious.

Books and Lit Award: Snape Mash-Up – Alan Rickman (Snape in Harry Potter, villain in Die Hard, and very creepy guy in Robin Hood) died this week. Here is a sympathetic mashup of all his moments as Snape.

Christians and Culture Award: The Early Church on Pacifism – I don’t think the Bible warrants pacifism, but Ron Sider makes a compelling case that much of the early church thought otherwise.

Church Leadership Award: Great Leaders Journal – HBR on why great leaders reflect on their leadership every day, and how you can do the same.

Weekend Java Awards 01.09.16

Apologetics Award: Jesus in an Age of Authenticity – Some remarkable off the cuff advice on how to turn people’s objections to Christianity around – via Tim Keller and Russell Moore.

Preaching Award: Challenging Perspective Peter Mead on why preaching needs to challenge our assumptions…even the ones we don’t know we hold.

Spiritual Life Award: Taking a Break from Social Media – Professor Alan Jacobs on why he’s leaving the blogosphere and social media sphere…ouch.

Theology Award: 5 Biblical Theodicies – Is there only one answer to the question, “Why does God allow evil?” According to scripture, says Rishmawy, there isn’t. There are several.

Fun Award: 52 Places to See This Year – I don’t have the budget to go to any of these places…but the pictures are magnificent.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: David Copperfield – I’ve been reading Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, which I’ve found a little bit whiny and sappily romantic. But it got me thinking where romanticism comes from, and I think this following quote is revealing – romanticism of childhood is homesickness for Eden:

“Ah, how I loved her! What happiness (I thought) if we were married, and were going away anywhere to live among the trees and in the fields, never growing older, never growing wiser, children ever, rambling hand in hand through sunshine and among flowery meadows, laying down our heads on moss at night, in a sweet sleep of purity and peace, and buried by the birds when we were dead! Some such picture, with no real world in it, bright with the light of our innocence, and vague as the stars afar off, was in my mind all the way.”

Writing Award: The Crowd Wants… – Seth Godin with a wonderful and succinct summary of writing for the crowd, and the duty we have to challenge the crowd as it stands.

Books and Lit Award: Obi-Wan-Kenobi Reads TS Eliot – I’ve not read “The Four Quartets”, but it’s very high on my list. I figure there’s no better way to get it than from Alec Guinness (aka: Obi-Wan-Kenobi)

Christians and Culture Award: Grad School: No Christians Need Apply – For some reason, this article really creeped me out. I’ve wondered how biased secular grad schools are toward Christians…this was revealing.

Church Leadership Award: On Failure – Singer/songwriter Derek Webb writes about his recent affair, and gives a timely word of warning to those in leadership in the church.

Weekend Java Awards 01.02.16(!)

Happy New Year, Folks! Thanks so much for everyone who’s become a 2016 Patron – I’m very excited to see how I can add value to the site and create future books through your contributions.

Apologetics Award: What is the Good Life? These fantastic 5 minute summaries clearly communicate the philosophy of Aristotle, Plato, Nietzsche and Kant. Surprisingly, most of these disassemble modern relativism fairly quickly, though the answer’s aren’t completely satisfactory.

Preaching Award: Plagiarizing and Quoting in Preaching – I suppose this one resonated with me because I had one GCTS professor who wrote the book (literally) on plagiarism in preaching, and I totally disagreed…this article helps me articulate what I felt at the time. My experience is – nobody wants to know, nobody cares (except for preachers who want to make money, and in that case, their sermons aren’t worth stealing), and for goodness’ sake, preaching is not part of the capitalistic enterprise of publishing houses. I’ve never “borrowed” outlines because I love making them, but I would have no problem with someone taking one of mine without any credit to me.

Spiritual Life Award: Taking Longer to Reach the Top Has Its Benefits – This is not a Christian article, but it hit me hard nevertheless and I’ve mulled it over all week.

Theology Award: Editor’s Choice 2015 – Not to give myself an award or anything, but I’m honored that TGC chose my article on the Prosperity Gospel as one of their tops of 2015. If you missed it (and other great reads) you can check it out here.

Fun Award: Barack Obama and Jerry Seinfeld – This was a very entertaining 20 minute episode of “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

A Glimpse of Truth Award: Business Ethics –Seth Godin with some killer words for modern business ethics: “You either do work you are proud of, or you work to make the maximum amount of money. (It would be nice if those overlapped every time, but they rarely do).”

Writing Award: CS Lewis on Writing – “What you want is practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t matter what we write (at least this is my view) at our age, so long as we write continually as well as we can. I feel that every time I write a page either of prose or of verse, with real effort, even if it’s thrown into the fire the next minute, I am so much further on.”

Books and Lit Award: The Top 5 Books Never Written – Just for funsies Tim gives us the top 5 books never written, including “Middlemarch of the Penguins” and “Tess of the Dumbledores”.

Christians and Culture Award: How Should Christians Use Guns? Challies with a great roundup of responses to the article I posted by Piper last week.

Church Leadership Award: How to Be a Countercultural Leader – Hint: It’s not by being a Hipster.

Book

A Preview of My Fiction Book, “Da Vinci’s Island: The Secret of The Imperial Pearl”

 

(Check out the video for this post right here.)

Hello All,

Thank you so much to those of you who’ve become Scribblepreach Patrons! For some time, I’ve been looking for a forum where I could invite some few of you to help contribute to my fiction work. This would be a place where I could post scenes from my work, one at a time, and you could give me comments, feedback, snide remarks, etc.

I think I’ve found that forum through Patreon.com. As a Patron, you can support my fiction work both financially (even if it’s $1 a month – you still get access) and by giving your own thoughts. You can also ask questions about why and how I’ve done things, and I’ll be happy to answer and engage.

In order to whet your appetite, I’ve decided to post the 1st 1,000 words below. This is they type of “scene” I’ll be posting from time to time on my Patron’s Page (not every week, but regularly). The whole book has been written, and rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten, etc. starting with my Creative Writing days in Oxford. It’s something I’m happy with as a reader myself – but my perspective only goes so far.

It’s time for me to have some community collaboration.

And to that, I invite you now:

Chapter 1: The Mechanical Man and the Mouse

Scene 1

The day the Mechanical Man arrived, no one roamed the street outside the Hotel Le Ville. Rain skipped off the streets like so many pebbles, and plump slugs were squirming from sidewalk cracks. It was 10 o’clock in the morning. Calypso Locke’s Parents, William and Amie, had left before sunrise on a business trip. They were going to Panama, they told him, and he should be a good boy, and obey his Aunt, Ms. Jacquelyn Hyde. She was in charge in their absence.

It was 10 o’clock in the morning. Calypso remembered that quite clearly.

Now it is true that Calypso lived an unconventional kind of life. He lived in one of Chicago’s most prestigious hotels. His parents had founded the hotel Le Ville a decade before his birth, and by now they were multi-multi-millionaires. His best friends were not schoolmates, but housekeepers and butlers and chefs and maids and bell-boys and VIP guests. He slept in the room adjacent to his parent’s suite, in a suite of his own, which was filled with plush pillows for throwing, hard candies for eating, and some tropical fish for – well he did not know what for, but they made nice festoons.

Calypso’s life was just like this for seven years, forty-two days and three hours. It was just so, until one morning, the grandfather clock in the lobby chimed 10 O’clock:

DIIIING doooooooong diiiiiiing dooooong. Diiiiiing DOOOOONG DIIIING doooong.

Calypso was sitting in Le Ville’s lobby, stoking crackling fire which flickered upon the silver mantelpiece. He was listening to the rhythmic ‘tick-tock’ of the clock, and the rain pelting. He glanced up – as he always did – to watch the cuckoo mechanism of the clock: an old man with a large, wooden spatula swatting at a baby’s bottom. With each swat the baby stood on its head, and the old man missed, falling on his face. They circled round three times, and then it was 10:01.

It was curious to have such a cuckoo mechanism in the lobbyway. If it hadn’t been, Calypso might never have seen – through heavy fog and sideways rain – a large, black shadow creeping up Le Ville’s drive. Calypso set aside the poker, and pressed his fingertips and nose against the lobby window. It was a black, wicker carriage – taller than Calypso if he stood on his own head twice. What was this carriage doing in the middle of Chicago? As far as Calypso remembered, carriages had been out of style for at least a century. He couldn’t imagine the poor man had navigated Chicago traffic in it. And the rain.

Even more curious, thought Calypso, were the creatures drawing the carriage. Two orange, skeletal sea-horses the size of Mastiff hounds hovered, as it seemed, inches above the street. Calypso pinched himself. Perhaps the man was some eccentric out-of-towner. His arm stung, and welted.

Calypso traced the reigns drawing the sea-horses up, until they reached a long, bone-thin man draped by a purple cloak. Gripping the reigns were black, spindly fingers as long as wrenches, glistening with an odd, oily-wet sheen. The man couldn’t have been a local. No one in Chicago wore that sort of thing. Calypso put on his poncho, and took a deep breath. As a rule, the more eccentric the guest, the more fuss.

He stepped out into the rain. The man’s hood turned slowly to face him, revealing only a yawning, black, cavern. Calypso balked, and his chest felt as though it were stuffed full of tightly wadded Kleenexes. The man extended a single finger, and coiled it, beckoning him closer. Calypso shuddered. The rain bit him cold on his cheeks, and he smothered them with his poncho as he hunched toward the creaky black wheeled mechanism. He reached into his pocket, and pulled from it a folded valet ticket.

“Are you here for the night?” Calypso shouted. The man shook his head slowly, the way a swing does when it hangs dead in the air.

“Then are you here for my parents? They’re not here now, they left this morning.” Again, the figure shook his head. Now Calypso felt his stomach churn.

“Where are my parents?” This question floated away from his mouth as naturally as a bubble from a bath, though he could not say why. The man reached two long fingers to his side, and drew forth between them, as one does with a playing card, a blood red piece of cloth. It was then that Calypso saw the hands were not hands at all. Rather they were an intricately wound set of tubes, wires and valves, strung together in the mangled yet precise shape of hands and fingers.

“Is that for me?” The man nodded his head as solemnly as he shook it. Then, Calypso added oddly:            “Thank you.” At this the cloaked figure growled, or screamed, or cackled, or some mixture of the three. The hair on Calypso’s neck stiffened at this sound – this creaking, grinding, moaning, horrible sound like no earthly thing he’d ever heard.

Calypso carefully unfolded the cloth. Bleached into its center was the imprint of a white cat’s face.    Calypso’s clammy skin bumped up like a plucked chicken, and he shuddered once again. His stomach felt like a ball of twisted rubber bands.

“Who are you?” said Calypso. His voice was trembling now. The man pointed back to the cloth. There, in a blood-red inscription beneath the cat’s face, darker even than that of the scarlet cloth, was a signature. Immediately the figure snapped the reigns, and the two sea-horses jolted into the mist quicker than you could say, “Where’s the funeral?” The carriage, the sea-horses, and the man were swallowed, as it seemed, in the fog.

Calypso returned his gaze to the signature.

It read: “The Mechanical Man.”

Nobody knew what happened to William and Amie Locke that morning. The police found their car parked outside an abandoned Chinese restaurant on Chicago’s South Side. No one had heard of the Mechanical Man. They did not know about a blood-red cloth with a bleached white cat. All they knew was that Calypso Locke, as it stood, was an orphan.

In order to read more scenes, contribute to the book, and become a patron, you can check out my patreon page right here and help me reach my year-end goal of $500 a month. Thanks, as always, for being a reader.

-Nick

Weekend Java Awards 12.26.15

Hey All – thanks to those of you who’ve generously helped me reach 22% of my year-end fundraising goal! Before you read, would you consider hopping over to my Patreon.com site here and donating $5 a month? This will help me keep the great content coming in 2016.

PS – I’m a Patron on Patreon, and it’s super easy and reliable.

Apologetics Award: Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God? – This article has the same title as last week’s, but it comes from ex-Muslim Tahiti Anyabwile.

Preaching Award: How Expository Preaching Meets Your Needs – I really liked how this article distinguished need-oriented between need-sensitive preaching. Very helpful.

Spiritual Life Award: How to Change Your Mind – I loved this suggestion, and it made so much sense to me. I’ve read through Matthew 2x this week, and found it immensely helpful.

Theology Award: Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves? – This article is totally radical, and totally biblical. If you read it, you should read the responses as well.

Fun Award: The Beatles in HD – This. I love the Beatles, and this makes me love them more. And yes I realize that statement is a strike against me both culturally and theologically.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: The Christmas Revolution – What…What!? This article in the NY Times is not only orthodox – it’s brilliant.

Writing Award: John Cleese’s Advice to Beginning Writers – I found this immensely helpful and encouraging.

Books and Lit Award: How CS Lewis Made Christianity Seem Reasonable – A good, concise summary of Lewis’s influence from a secular source. Something to share with friends.

Christians and Culture Award: Star Wars and Ancient Religion – This is a really clear, concise and well-researched article on the religious myth-making behind the Star Wars franchise.

Church Leadership Award: 9 Surprises in Worship Services that Made Guests Return – These are really helpful.