Reading and listening that is challenging me in this new year

I’ve spent a full year away from ministry and shifting into a new phase of life. I am still in a steep learning curve, but along the way I am always finding joy.

While a lot of things in my life have been shifted and a lot has been “taken off my plate”, I find there is still a lot to put on “my plate” and it’s still a challenge to read and listen. One thing I’ve become better at is using my car to keep listening and learning. I’ve spent a lot of hours on the road the last two years going between family members, so Audible has helped in my book fix. I’ve also picked up on some wonderful podcasts that keep my mind stretching.

Lately, here are some things that have challenged my thinking and keep giving me hope:

This video is worth your time, especially if you are in your 40s and 50s. I want to know that my life will continue to be productive in the “last half”, and this video challenged me to understand that “productive” in the “last half” is going to look different than the first half.

For those of you who have followed me a little more closely, you know I’ve left my ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God. My wife and I have joined an Anglican Church in Alabama. What has never faltered in me is my love for the Church. I love the expressions of the Body of Christ I have encountered in the last two years. It has been a wonderful journey.

This article expresses a love for the Church I can easily echo in my own life. This quote from the article is a deep expression of my own heart:

If you were wildly in love with church as a kid, it’s a confusing and painful thing to grow up… Yet I still can’t shake my love for the church, in its variant and frail forms. This love eventually led me to seminary and, after a long process of discernment, to ordination as a priest. Over time, I came to understand that the church—with its grape juice and fried chicken, with that basketball hoop and fellowship hall, that Bible and baptism—was not just a place I went for friendship or family ties. The church was, and still is, making me.

There are a couple of podcasts I love that help me in my understanding and frustration with the current American Church and the current American culture.

If you remember “Veggie Tales”, the creator Phil Vischer has a podcast where he banters around with Skye Jethani and Christian Taylor. They have a hilarious conversation, even when the subject is serious. The podcast has morphed a bit because of their workloads outside the podcast, so the first part is the banter and the second part is usually an interview Skye will do with a leading thinker, theologian, writer, etc. It’s a good mix. I love the way Phil keeps it light, but at the same time they drive home serious points.

Over the year I’ve listened to the podcast, they will have episodes where just the three of them will still take the whole time and get into a discussion over the state of the American Church and the move toward nationalistic Christianity. This podcast is one of those and while I know I’ve just lost a bunch of people who rolled their eyes and said, “There Dan goes again!”, I STILL invite you to give it a listen and somehow find a way out of the echo chambers we create in our current climate. (Plus, you’ll get the story of Rocco the Parrot as a bonus!)

While I have been fairly quiet on the whole American culturalized Christianity front for awhile, it doesn’t mean I’m still not challenged by this shift. It hasn’t lessened my prayer for the American Church. It has increased it. There is an entire series of posts I should do on the window of opportunity that has just closed for the American Church. I’ll probably save that for when I’m tired of this blog and know I will lose the last three readers.

But, this shift is serious and we still need to be challenged. This article references several other articles based on an interview Jerry Falwell, Jr. had with The Washington Post. Please note that Jerry Falwell, Jr. praised The Post for getting his quotes right, so what is given in response and critique is not an attack on something that was misquoted. We are making major mistakes in our theology to justify a culturalized Christianity and that needs to be challenged.

While listening to Phil Vischer’s podcasts, I had another podcast recommended called “This Cultural Moment.” It is a pastor in Portland, OR and a pastor and theologian from Australia breaking down the understanding of our culture and how to communicate the gospel to people in this climate. It is incredibly insightful and challenging. This particular podcast was captivating because it began a conversation on “spiritual warfare” NOT as simply casting out demons or praying for miracles, but as subtle action and character development that battles the spirit of our age. It is an incredible discussion. This entire podcast runs in three short seasons and is worth your time.

May 2019 find us thinking in a deeper way, finding a way to step away from our echo chambers, and always… ALWAYS… finding ways to deepen our walk with Christ and fall ever more in love with the Body of Christ.

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