What are you enjoying right now?
Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So each week the Facts & Trends staff would like to share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: The Voice is back! Season 7 of NBC’s The Voice kicked off this week with the blind auditions.
My husband, Keith, and I have been fans of The Voice since it debuted in 2011. We both love music, and the show’s contestants provide a great selection of covers and unique renditions of songs from a variety of music genres.
If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, the show begins with contestants singing to the backs of the coaches. The coaches—Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, and Pharrell—can’t see the performance. If they like what they hear, they turn their chairs around. The contestant then chooses the coach they want to work with throughout the competition.
Keith and I try to pick the winner based solely on the blind auditions. So far, I’ve picked the winner every season. This year we have a personal reason to watch. The daughter of a dear friend is in the competition. Congrats to Reagan James for making it through the first round of auditions!
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles is a fascinating seven-part film series that attempts to answer the question: What is my salvation actually for?
The series shows how our salvation goes beyond individual atonement, the promise of heaven, or having a friend in Jesus—though all those things are wonderful—to include every aspect of life.
Beautifully filmed and expertly narrated, we see how God’s purposes are woven into family, work, art, charity—everything! And as His people, we are called to be a transforming presence in this world for His glory and our joy.
For the Life of the World is not only a great tool for expanding your kingdom vision, it’s also a real pleasure to watch.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My favorite things this week? I have three:
- Spending four days with fellow religion nerds at the annual Religion Newswriters Association conference. It’s a combination family reunion/continuing education event. We see old friends, listen to great speakers, and remember why we religion reporters care so much about the God-beat. Here’s a little secret—all the audio recording from the conference, and our past conferences, are now posted online at RNA.org. Listening to those sessions is a great way to keep up with what’s happening in American religion.
- Watching the new Doctor. Peter Capaldi makes a surprisingly likable Doctor on the hit British television show Doctor Who. He’s a mix of three previous Doctors: the frantic Matt Smith, the irascible Tom Baker, and the lonely Christopher Eccleston. Well worth watching.
- The weather. It’s been sunny and in the 70s here in Nashville, after nearly two months of humid days and sultry nights. Perfect weather for a lunchtime walk or a long weekend run.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I have two this week. First was spending time with my daughters: seeing my oldest play her saxophone at a pep rally and the youngest cook brownies for a family at our church.
I was also able to spend time with my dad, who drove through on his way to a Virginia Tech game. He has lost 50 pounds and is trying to stay on his diet, so we exchanged dieting tips and encouraged each other.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: I’ve been excited this week for new music.
The entertainment world has encountered an Anomaly in the latest album from Lecrae, who became the first artist to debut No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Gospel, and Christian charts. The commercial success of Anomaly has landed the Atlanta rapper on MTV, ESPN, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Featuring beats that hit as hard as the issues tackled on the album, Anomaly is a throwback to early hip-hop that contained substance and called for social change, while still pushing the envelope musically. “Nuthin,” “Fear,” “Say I Won’t,” “Welcome to America,” highlight the album, which features collaborations with Andy Mineo, Crystal Nicole, Kari Jobe, and KING & COUNTRY.
If you aren’t into rap, Page CXVI makes excellent modern versions of classic hymns. Recently, they’ve added Lent to Maundy Thursday to the free albums available at Noise Trade. It includes “And Can It Be,” “Before the Throne of God Above,” “Were You There” and four other tracks. While you are there, go ahead and pick up Hymns Side B, my favorite album of theirs.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?