The most read posts of 2017
Hey friends, thanks for reading this year. As I've said elsewhere, I mainly write to encourage and offer my voice to the people in our community in Circle of Hope, but I appreciate all the readership I get from other parts of the world. This blog is a simple project for me and I have a lot of fun doing it; it is an outlet of expression but it's more than that. Thanks again for being a part of it this year. Thanks for engaging, subscribing, commenting, and responding. Here are the ten most read posts of 2017. It is interesting to notice which ones get the most attention (usually, not my favorite ones, to be honest). You noticed posts about celebrities. Trump dominated this year, big time. But also blogs about social issues like feminism, racism, intersectionality, sexual assault too. I was happy that our women leaders got a lot of attention, as well as two big themes for me this year: helping the little ones not to stray and also the power of quieting down our arguments.
At the end of his life when Paul was instructing Timothy, he boasted about merely keeping his faith. Keeping your faith is so hard to do that even after the historic life of the Apostle Paul he hung his hat on just holding on to his faith in a world that is constantly trying to pry your fingers from it. I hope my thoughts help you hold onto yours. Let me know how else I can help.
The Trump Administration gives Christians, whose reputation is tattered in the media (need I mention the fundamentalist Nashville Statement or Joel Osteen’s reputation risk management last week?), a chance to redeem themselves almost every day. There is always something evil that the administration is doing that Christians should oppose. And I’m not talking about complex policy, these issues are simple: oppose white supremacy, support safety for children of immigrants, care for the environment, don’t start another war or escalate a nuclear one. No theology or political science degree required.
I am grateful for my time at Leadership and how it developed me, and the new network of friends I have. I’m so thankful my sister Megan Rosenbach got me involved, too. It actually gave me another reason to love Philadelphia. My advice? #MoveToPhilly
The sin is so transparent, I am concerned about the “little ones” it keeps from the faith. God have mercy on those keeping them from getting into the flock (alternatively, get your millstone ready). Whether it’s Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, or Robert Jeffress, those are the loud voices making headlines. The quieter ones, like this one from South Korea, are seldom heard.
It’s an amazing demonstration of forgiveness and enemy-love. The kind that we all learn from and the kind that Christians should pay attention to, in particular. I wonder if we can apply what Kesha is teaching us. Not just for victims of abuse, whose journeys are distinct and hard to replicate, but for those of us who are holding on to pain and can’t let go. Can we see the freedom Kesha is singing about receiving, the compassion she is demonstrating, and the hope and strength she ultimately finds in forgiveness, grace, and compassion. Our sometimes bloodthirsty desire for vengeance hurts us more than anything—rest assured, forgiveness will not stop God’s justice from coming forward (and as Christians, we are friends with God’s grace and mercy and his righteousness and justice, so don’t misunderstand me). But for our own sake, forgiveness can be freeing and empowering.
While I won’t stop working toward justice, liberation, and reconciliation. My hope isn’t found in their completion. It’s because I am completed in Jesus that I moved to reconcile all things unto him. Jesus freed me enough to live fully and freely in the world even if I was never understood. He gives me the liberty to continue to do his work here and to spread it around the region. And I’m free to do it because he saved me, not because I found a perfect match on TV.
She’s not saying something that’s very different than one of Circle of Hope’s own proverbs: One’s sexual orientation is not a barrier between them and God. The love of Jesus makes no distinctions. We are one in Christ.
Why not name the meaning and the truth like Paul did? According to the writer, Gaga is being inclusive and considerate of other people, something that the writer argues not enough Christians do. A vitriolic reaction against Gaga and the writer confirms that theory. Here’s how Gaga responds to her critics:
“We are not just ‘celebrities,’ we are humans and sinners, children, and our lives are not void of values because we struggle. We are as equally forgiven as our neighbor. God is never a trend, no matter who the believer.”
With Jesus, you are either moving with him or you aren’t. When it comes to white supremacy, there is only one side. That’s the side of Jesus who stands against that kind of hatred and oppression. The Bible is littered with passages, both in the Old and New Testament about welcoming the stranger and including the outside. The Levitical Law is clear about it. Paul committed his life to that work. The entire message of Jesus about breaking barriers down. Jesus specifically addresses people that will make the little ones stray and injure the least of these. Luke’s Gospel is written for the outcast. Christians who equivocate the 'many sides' and hesitate to be explicit about the evil at hand are confused at best. They aren’t reading the same Bible I am, it seems.
There is time and a place to message and signal. But we are an incarnational body, so I hope we not only move to have the right words and stances and literature, but that we let our actions do the talking. The message is in our mission, it’s in the medium. We want to disciple a diverse group of people, as diverse as the Kingdom of God. We want to make peace, not just argue for pacifism. We want to be reconcilers, not just make sure we have mastered the language of intersectionality. We want to do justice, not just talk about it.
I got fired up this week at the Evangelical response to Princeton rescinding the award it gave Tim Keller (successful church planter in New York City) after there was outrage about some of his positions specifically regarding women in leadership. Some Evangelical churches still misinterpret the Bible to exclude women from leading the same as men.