This Week’s Good Reads

morning paperHere’s a collection of interesting blogs and articles from around the web. There are some good selections in this list, check it out:

1.”For Years I Pleaded with God to Make Me Straight, So Why Did My Prayers Go Unanswered?” by Matt Moore

Moore answers an important question and challenges believers with similar struggles to make the goal of their life not heterosexuality, but the honor of Jesus Christ.

2. “Michigan’s first ‘glampground’ is opening Up North” by Alaina Nutile

This is the way I’d camp…the only way I’d camp!

3. “The Epidemic of Male Body Hatred” by Paul Maxwell

This is such an important topic and one that doesn’t get any treatment in general Christian conversation. Male body issues are far more common than we readily recognize. In this piece by Maxwell he explores how behind male body issues is the desire for intimacy and he explores that by means of five relationships. This is a good read for all of us, but particularly for counselors and for those who know that they struggle with this issue.

4. “The Counselor’s Vulnerability” by Adrian Martinez

Modeled off of Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian church, Martinez walks counselor’s through the importance of opening their heart to counselees. This is a good reminder of the difference between a theory of counseling and the actual practice of counseling.

5. “Learning from Bodies” by Nora Calhoun

This is a beautiful reflection on being pro-life and one woman’s “conversion” to that perspective. It comes upon her as she reflects on the realities of birth, death, and body. It’s poetic, moving, honest, raw, and powerful. These are the kinds of discourses on abortion that we need to hear more often. Calhoun writes:

I have now spent a lot of time with other people’s bodies—very old bodies and very new bodies, severely disabled, sick, or just plain worn-out bodies, bodies in labor, bodies that are well and strong, and the bodies left behind by death. Looking back, I realize that changing my mind about abortion was actually one of the least significant steps toward becoming truly pro-life. There are things that can be learned—can be said—only in the language of bodies. There is a specific wisdom to be gained through the experience of being with actual people: their actual pregnancies, illnesses, births, and deaths. And many of the lessons that bodies teach can barely be translated into words.

I highly commend this piece from First Things to you, readers.

6. “Neither Falwell nor Benedict, But a New Creation” by Greg Forster

This is a great piece on what Forster sees the next five years and beyond of American Evangelicalism will look like. It is honest, but not pessimistic. It is hopeful and specific. Forster, who I think has a great pulse on culture, economics, and politics gives us not just predictions but some directions in which to move as Evangelicals. He states, “In short, I predict a dark five years followed by a new dawn.”

7. “10 Novels for Discipleship” by Mandy Smith

A great list of fiction works that pastors can use in disciple-making. I loved this list and would even add a few others to it myself.

8. “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

A great piece on how trigger warnings are hurting college education. The fear of offending, and the supposed right not to be offended is making higher education increasingly challenging. In this piece from the Atlantic the authors explore how a fear of being exposed to, or exposing another, to challenging and confronting alternative ideas is leading to the impediment of genuine education and preparation for the real-life world of diversity. There is a major correction that is needed in our culture and in higher ed.

9. “We Cannot Be Silent” by Betsy Shirley

A collection of short reflections on Ferguson and faith from some thoughtful people, including Karen Swallow Prior, whose quote is worthy of your time and personal reflection.

10. “The Church’s ‘Intersex’ Challenge” by Matthew Lee Anderson

Anderson reviews Megan DeFranza’s new book on the subject of intersex individuals and Christian theology. While he finds much to commend in it, ultimately he finds the book falls short of providing a consistent theologically conservative answer to this complex issue. I look forward to reading DeFranza’s book, but Anderson’s review is helpful.

11. “Self- Care and Self-Denial” by Amie Patrick

This is a good article dealing with the tension between the Bible’s call to self-denial and the reality of our own humanity. There’s much here to chew on and appreciate as the author guides us into her own discovery of the need to better self-care. I, in particular, appreciated her point that sometimes self-denial can be just as focused on self-indulgence as the self-care it tries to avoid.

12. “For Baby, #AnotherBoy, and Millions More” by Emily Carrington

A friend of mine has written a solid piece on the importance of raising awareness about early pregnancies, and how such a move can help us not only address the issues of miscarriage in a woman’s life, but to also help us think more carefully about the reality of abortion. She ties these together helpfully when she writes:

It is time to understand the loss of early pregnancy as a death and allow a space for women to grieve this loss of life. The lies perpetuated by pro-choice advocates tell families that they did not lose a child but only a “product of conception.”

For the sake of babies and for the sake of the women who carry them we need more honest discussions about early pregnancy. Emily shares in this piece her own experiences with miscarriage and the pain she suffered from it. This is good and important writing, friends.

13. “10 Tips for Living on Mission in Your Community” by Bryan Barley

Here’s a good piece from the folks at SEND. If the content is rather obvious it nonetheless helps us to take some practical steps towards living on mission. Sometimes, even the obvious stuff gets lost in the busyness of our lives.

14. “What Small-Group Pastors Can Learn from Millennials” by  Amy Jackson

Engaging millennials in small group ministry is possible, despite what the nay-sayers are telling us. In this report Jackson interviews a variety of millennial church leaders and gives small group pastors some insight into engaging with these folks for ministry. I am thrilled to hear someone offering a counter-point to the “millennials-hate-church” storyline. I am also thankful for my friend Richard Clark who was interviewed in this story and offered some good insight as well.

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