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Newsletter Review: The Weekly Calling

“How can I figure out God’s will for my life?” That is one of the most frequent questions people ask me as a pastor. I now have a new resource to help with that question: The Weekly Calling.

The Weekly Calling is an online newsletter published by The High Calling which in turn is published by Foundations for Laity Renewal. I read the newsletter from October 24, 2012 and scanned the website for this review.

Each weekly newsletter has a a quick audio snippet from the Foundation’s leader, Howard E. Butt, Jr, a brief interview-style video, and a number of articles from staff writers as well as blog-network affiliates. All content centres around how Christians find meaning in their work, whatever that work may be.

My first impression was Butt’s Southern accent. He sounds like your kind ol’ grandpa sitting down beside you to tell you a story. The story was interesting, but I had to wonder whether there would be much depth to the content that followed. I was pleasantly surprised.

The articles are not all alike—they are written in a variety of tones. Cindee Snider Re’s article, “Lending a Hand at Work,” was an intensely practical conversational piece. The message was clear, “Being helpful is more attitude than action.” On the other hand, the next article on Micromanaging read more like a piece that belonged in a book on business leadership.

All the content is brief and to the point which makes them very shareable. The High Calling has an active Facebook presence and uses Creative Commons licensing to encourage the sharing of their material. This should interest church leaders and even Bible School professors in pastoral theology classes.

The only problem I had with the newsletter was its lack of doctrinal background. With the sheer volume of online content available today, I use a basic statement of faith or a denominational background as a vetting tool. If this website is purely trans-denominational, I respect that—I just wish they would let the reader know ahead of time.

In the end, this is worth subscribing to if you want to explore how God works through your work.

Psalm 51 and Lent

Ash Wednesday is here again. As a pentecostal minister with an abnormal affection for liturgy, I was determined not to miss the season of Lent this time around. The problem is, what could I do that would be meaningful?

Rachel Held Evans posted 40 great ideas that started my mind whirling. I almost jumped into the 40 days of water idea. Something about it didn’t sit right with me, though (nothing wrong with the charity—it just wasn’t for me this time around).

This morning during prayer I realized the importance of confession during Lent, and what better scripture to go to than Psalm 51? I decided that this Lenten season I’m going to study and memorize Psalm 51. To help me with that task I’ve whipped up a series of 9 desktop backgrounds with the scripture on it (from the ESV).

If you feel like joining me in this, here are the files: Psalm 51 Desktop Background. I made them for my own desktop, so the resolution’s 1440×900.

A Christmas Prayer | Frederick Buechner

Lord Jesus Christ, thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born again into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.

Holy Child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again. Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou Blessed One, with healing in thy wings.

Savior, be born in each of us as we raise our faces to thy face, not knowing fully who we are or who thou art, knowing only that thy love is beyond our knowing and that no other has the power to make us whole. Come, Lord Jesus, to each who longs for thee even though we have forgotten thy name. Come quickly, Amen.

— “The Face in the Sky” in Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

A Guessing Game

I’ve been reading an old(er) book lately: Israel’s Sacred Songs: A Study of Dominant Themes by Harvey H. Guthrie (1966). I picked it up at a second hand bookstore when I noticed that Brueggemann wrote a blurb on the back cover. The book tries to situate the Psalms in their ANE culture.

Here’s something that made me think. Guess which one of these quotes is from our Psalms, and which one is a pagan prayer from Babylon:

To thee have I prayed; forgive my debt.
Forgive my sin, my iniquity, my shameful deeds, and my offence.
Overlook my shameful deeds; accept my prayer;
Loosen my fetters; secure my deliverance;
Guide my steps aright, radiantly like a hero let me enter the streets with the living.

Do you, you gods, ever really decree what is right?
Do you direct mortal men uprightly?
No! With wicked hearts do you ordain what is to happen on earth;
Your power lets violence come easily.

It just goes to show that nothing is written in a vacuum.

The Future of Christianity: A Theo-Blog Tour

Cool news: I’m participating in a theo-blog tour of Philip Clayton and Harvey Cox’s new books on the future of the Christian Faith. I’ll be blogging through Clayton’s book in the near future. Here’s the press release:

. . .

Philip Clayton and Harvey Cox both have new books out and they are taking them out on tour. One of the blog tour stops will be here, but as you can see below they will be making their rounds over the next month until they wrap things up in Montreal at the American Academy of Religion‘s annual meeting. There they will be joined by an illustrious panel including Eric Gregory, Bruce Sanguin, Serene Jones, Frank Tupper, and Andrew Sung Park to share a ‘Big Idea’ for the future of the Church. These ‘Big Ideas’ will be video tapped and shared, so be on the look out for live footage from the last night of the tour.

Philip’s new book is Transforming Christian Theology for Church & Society and Harvey’s is The Future of Faith. Both are worth checking out at one of the many tour stops. If you can’t wait you can listen to them interview each other. Enjoy the blogging!

Joseph Weethee , Jonathan Bartlett, The Church Geek, Jacob’s Cafe, Reverend Mommy, Steve Knight, Todd Littleton, Christina Accornero, John David Ryan, LeAnn Gunter Johns, Chase Andre, Matt Moorman, Gideon Addington, Ryan Dueck, Rachel Marszalek, Amy Moffitt, Josh Wallace, Jonathan Dodson, Stephen Barkley, Monty Galloway, Colin McEnroe, Tad DeLay, David Mullens, Kimberly Roth, Tripp Hudgins, Tripp Fuller, Greg Horton, Andrew Tatum, Drew Tatusko, Sam Andress, Susan Barnes, Jared Enyart, Jake Bouma, Eliacin Rosario-Cruz, Blake Huggins, Lance Green, Scott Lenger, Dan Rose, Thomas Turner, Les Chatwin, Joseph Carson, Brian Brandsmeier, J. D. Allen, Greg Bolt, Tim Snyder, Matthew L. Kelley, Carl McLendon, Carter McNeese, David R. Gillespie, Arthur Stewart, Tim Thompson, Joe Bumbulis, Bob Cornwall

This Tour is Sponsored by Transforming Theology DOT org!

Mini$try: Pulpit Propoganda

I was listening to a discussion yesterday on CBC Radio One. They were debating whether it was wise to allow corporate sponsorship into public schools. On the positive side, it was a tremendous source of income. It also filled a need: kids need chocolate bars and pop, right? On the negative side, the interviewee questioned whether it made sense to manipulate a child’s mind in such a subliminal manner: if I see it in school, it must be okay, right?

Today I received bulk email from CCLI with a link to a free Father’s Day video illustration. You can watch it here. I wanted to vomit. I don’t care whether the movie that the clip is from passes Dobson’s family-friendly filter or not. Does it seem wrong to anyone else out there to shamelessly advertise a film to a congregation—a congregation that, like a student in a school, trusts most of what they here while in the building?

Let’s hear Jesus’ words one more time (John 16:13-14, NRSV):

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth [This promised spirit is brought to you by our fine friends at Christian-Singles online. Choose Christian-Singles online for all your christian companionship needs.]; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears [Having problems hearing the message? For just three monthly installments of $99.99, you too can hear God’s word at home in crystal-clear 5.1 surround sound.], and he will declare to you the things that are to come [Worried about your financial future? RRSPs taking a nose-dive? Invest in Christian theme parks. There’s a 100-fold blessing guaranteed. You’ll be glad you did.]. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you [And you can take what is mine in this special offer…].

I just had to get that rant out of my system. I feel better already.

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