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.
In A Praying Life, Paul Miller honestly and refreshingly deals with the issues many of us face when seeking to develop the spiritual discipline of prayer. He challenges us to remember the relationship we have with the Father through the gospel and the freedom that gives us in prayer.
My friend Kevin Harvey’s The Bible in Pop Culture discusses all the ways the stories we tell in our culture—TV shows, books, movies, etc.—reflect the one true story of the gospel. While those stories may not be perfect, they can be used, as Paul frequently does with cultural artifacts of his day, as bridges to point to Christ.
I often feel compelled to sing—in the car, in the shower, while I’m cooking, even at work. Usually, I sing worship songs and hymns I’ve learned over the years. I’m terrible when it comes to lyrics of pop songs, but the songs I learned at church are engrained in my memory.
I’ve never thought of singing as a spiritual discipline, but Kelley makes the case that singing is a habit essential for spiritual growth. Singing helps us remember the goodness of God: “Music and singing helps connect what our minds might know but our hearts do not feel.”
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: I’ve been enjoying a book by David Zahl called A Mess of Help: The Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll. Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and the editor-in-chief of The Mockingbird Blog, which is a personal favorite of mine.
In the book, he reflects on the music and lives of some of Rock’s biggest stars, helping us dive into questions about purpose, identity, love, grace, and suffering, among other things. The book is a combination of music criticism, memoir, and theological reflection.
And it’s a pleasure to read because he writes with his usual wisdom and humor, always coming back to the gospel, but not in a clumsy, pedantic way. So, if you’d like to find out what Michael Jackson or Brian Wilson or Axl Rose can teach us about life and suffering and grace and more, check out A Mess of Help.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: One of the founders of the band Nickel Creek, Chris Thile is a virtuoso of the mandolin, equally at home playing Bach sonatas or bluegrass standards. His fusion folk-bluegrass-classical album, “The Goat Rodeo Sessions,” recorded with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, won a Grammy in 2013, and shows his passion and enthusiasm for great music of any style.
A particular delight are versions of “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and “The Auld Triangle,” performed with his band, the Punch Brothers, in the documentary Another Day/Another Time: The Music of “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
Catch Thile this week as guest host of “A Prarie Home Companion” from American Public Media.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I just finished a great book, Blue Hole Back Home, by a friend and author at my church, Joy Jordan-Lake. The book describes the lives of a group of teenagers who deal with racial hatred and the status quo during the 1970s in the South.
Blue Hole Back Home encourages you to think about ways you truly live out your faith, and if you’d have the courage to lay down your life for your beliefs.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?