Finding God in the Little Things

Here is a recent article by Christianity Today about seeing God in the little things and in the mundane of day to day life.  Read the article here and share your thoughts by commenting below.  Here a are a couple questions to get you thinking:

  1. What do you need to do to begin or continue seeing “patches of Godlight” as C.S. Lewis labels it?
  2. What are the hardest parts of your day to appreciate God’s good gifts?
  3. It is really a discipline to stop and see God throughout the day. Has anyone modeled this to you?  Who? and How?

Is shame influencing your life more?

Below is the article from Wednesday night or you can find it along with many more, here.

5 Reasons the West is Becoming More Shame Based

“Young people these days are becoming more shame based.” The previous post showed how data from TheCultureTest.com collaborates this common observation. But this observation naturally evokes the “why?” question. Why is Western culture becoming more shame based? Here I identify are five factors.

  1. Multiculturalism. Since 1965 most immigrants have been from non-European background, especially Latin America and Asia. In 2010, forty million people in American were foreign born. So, the face of America is no longer white. New cultures introduce new values, such as honor and shame, into the melting pot. Whether through personal relationships or popular media, Americans today encounter people from honor-shame cultures more frequently than in previous decades. The migration of honor-shame cultures into the West would naturally impact Western culture and morality.
  1. Postmodernism has transformed our perception of knowledge and morality in the 20th century. Postmodernists look upon ideologies, truth claims, and narratives with skepticism and distrust. Postmodernism deconstructs “laws” and “rules” as dominating and oppressive cultural systems. When people view moral codes as culturally relative or politically motivated, then their conscience does not feel “guilty” for transgressing moral codes. Moral relativity undermines notions of absolute guilt or moral standards.

Public confidence in the American justice system and law enforcement has been undermined by recent attention on videos of police brutality and documentaries like O.J.: Made in America or 13th. This attention leads to guilt by association—all notions of law, including biblical commandments, are viewed with suspicion and relativized.

  1. Civil Rights Movements have employed shame to influence public policy. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. sought to expose the moral hypocrisy of Southern leaders during the civil rights movement. He wanted people to see the images of white police harming Negros, because that would undermine the moral credibility of segregationists. The civil rights movement shamed shameful racism by exposing the immorality of Jim Crow laws.

More recently, the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender (LBGT) community has used shame to spur political and social change. The pride movement has labeled acts of intolerance as shameful. People who do not accept the sexual orientation of others are denounced as “bigots” and “homophobes.” With many Americans in favor of LBGT rights, people increasingly experience a greater sense of shame (both personally and publicly) for such “intolerance” and “exclusion.”

  1. Identity Politics gets people to support policies based on the interests of their social group. Identity politics creates tribalism—people supporting “their person” simply because he will help “us.” Though many people denounce identity politics as divisive, history proves it is a strategic tool for rallying the masses and getting power.

Donald Trump embodies identity politics (as have liberals). His campaign platform invigorated white nationalism. The tribe of white evangelicals by in large supported him as well. The tribalism of identity politics is about securing honor for your own clan and diminishing the status of outsiders; the tribalism of identity politics is not about moral rightness or the innate merit of public policies.

  1. Social Media creates an ever-present digital community before whom we must manage our face. Social media extends Satan’s oldest lie—we are what others think we are, not who God made us to be—into more of our life. To cover their shame, people project a “face,” get new “friends,” build “community,” or “make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4), and even degrade others. Lives have been ruined by the outrageous shaming ploys of internet bullying or Twitter takedowns. Through social media we experience new levels of humiliation in the court of public opinion. The dawn of social media has introduced new sources of shame in our lives.

These five realities have introduced shame into American culture, for both good and bad. These contribute to the general shift away from guilt and toward shame in Western morality.

What Will the Future Hold?

I suspect these factors–multiculturalism, postmodernism, civil/human rights movements, identity politics, and social media–will only become more prominent in Western culture. If that hypothesis proves true, the need for explaining the gospel as release from shame (both objective and subjective) will become more missiologically strategic for ministry in the West.

Here are some questions to consider:

Do you agree or disagree with the observations they made?

How has one of these factors affected your own life? 

When you were a child, how were you taught appropriate behaviors?

Shame, Shame, Shame

Thanks for a great discussion this Wednesday night!  I wanted to make some books and articles available for you to look up and read to continue the discussion and learn more about how prevalent honor and shame are seen throughout the Bible.  It really is a foreign concept to us to us here in the United States.  Even the perceived honor and shame in our society is much different than how it is displayed in the Greek and Hebrew culture of the Bible.

The website honorshame.com is a great resource that has articles and even The Culture Test to take and learn what type of culture worldview you have.  One article connected to our discussion from Wednesday night looks at the real root of David’s sin and how shameful the act was and the shame it brought on the Lord’s name.  Take a couple minutes to read it and comment below.  Do you agree or disagree?  How does this change the way you view your sin?

Here are some great books in understanding more about honor/shame and other cultural expectations of that time:

Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brian

Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew by Jerome H. Neyrey

Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture by David A. deSilva

Lent – A Season of Reflection

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season.  Typically celebrated by most catholics and few protestants, it gave us a great discussion at ThirdPlace to consider where in the Bible are we challenged to stop, reflect, and examine our lives.  Throughout scripture we see the importance of allowing God’s Word to constantly re-align our hearts and our lives to God’s priorities, almost as if God knows we are very good at becoming busy and preoccupied and forgetful of His Words.

 

In our discussion at group we talked about what we should consider sacrificing for lent, considering how much Christ sacrificed for us.  Many people will take a break from social media (yeah right!), chocolate, alcohol, coffee, sweets, etc.  Yet most people won’t consider what is a new habit they could start this lent.  Maybe making time to surrender/examine each day to the Lord, or spending time reading the same verse over and over and over for 40 days, or maybe even thinking of 40 different people you can encourage or serve each day.

 

Here are a couple articles that can encourage you in thinking more about this:

https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2016/02/how-can-you-observe-lent-this-year/

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/march-web-only/lent-is-here-to-throw-us-off-again.html?start=1

Advent – A Lesson on Waiting

Growing up in a small mountain town makes the idealized view of Christmas become a reality almost every December.  I remember always hoping for a fresh snow fall to blanket the mountains and backyards of Tahoe, waiting for that perfect white Christmas morning.  Add in the traditional Christmas songs of Christmas Eve service, the anticipation of opening presents Christmas morning, and of course the huge Christmas dinner. The waiting was such a momentous build-up that knowing the exact day for our anticipation and longing made it bearable, at least until the last night when I would rarely fall sleep before midnight and always woke up long before sunrise.

As I read this article on Advent from the blog at crossway a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the uncertainty in the fulfillment for so many of our longings and desires.  The element of waiting is so difficult in this digital age, when we can get things we want almost instantly, and yet there are many hopes and dreams that may never come.  I’ve been reminded frequently this season that the hope of Christ’s salvation and return is one thing that will come, even if we don’t know when.  Enjoy reading the article and being reminded of our great Savior.

https://www.crossway.org/blog/2016/11/how-advent-teaches-us-to-wait-well/

Share your thoughts below. Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

How do you react when you have to wait for something?

What have you waited for, knowing that it would be a long time before it came?

What hope, desire, or longing do you have that has yet to come?

The Technology Temptation

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-ways-technology-makes-us-anxious?utm_content=bufferf3477&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

When was the last time you turned your phone off for a whole day?  How did it make you feel?

Do you intentionally use social media as a source to unplug from the day or a tool for God’s Kingdom? Why?

Who can you serve or encourage through your favorite app?

Parenting Binge Drinking

The Atlantic published an article recently that brings up an interestingly correlation between drinking, college, and parenting. Titled “How Helicopter Parenting Can Cause Binge Drinking”, the author sets out to explain the way some white parents raise their children is exacerbating an alcohol problem on U.S. universities. The article brings up many worthwhile questions for discussion, to name a few: Do universities encourage binge drinking? How should acceptance into a university be valued? How important is a university education? How influential are parents in the area of use and abuse of alcohol? Is there such a thing as “good parenting” and “bad parenting”? Do white parents raise their children differently from other races?

At the end of the article, the author makes the observation that many parents have raised binge-drinking children because they are only concerned with success and raising “winners”. She cites the importance that our culture places on status and power, not excluding the high school context, which permits excessive drinking. In her conclusion she makes the makes the connection the pursuit of prestige leads to emptiness in life. For a liberal magazine to publish such an argument is strange, for the connection between pursuing power and pursuing emptiness to be so clear… is not strange at all.

Disagree? Agree? Why? What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

You can read the article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/how-helicopter-parents-cause-binge-drinking/492722/