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 the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly 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.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: I enjoyed reading this piece in The Atlantic about a pastor addressing homelessness in his own backyard—literally. Jeff Carr, pastor of Green Street Church, raised money to build tiny 60-square-foot houses directly behind his church that now house homeless individuals. The article goes on to discuss how many faith-based organizations and individuals are working to fight problems like homelessness apart from the government or large grants.
It is a needed reminder that the Christian faith is not best lived in a church pew, but out in community. It should do more than influence how early we get out of bed on Sunday morning. Everything we do should be shaped by our following Christ, including working to solve problems around us.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: Earlier this week, Pew Research released a study on American’s religious behaviors and beliefs. One of the significant findings was an increase in Americans’ sense of wonder. The latest study revealed 46 percent of Americans say they experience a deep sense of “wonder about the universe” at least once a week, up 7 points since 2007.
Even as society becomes less religious, as Pew’s study points out, people’s hearts are still primed for the gospel. As we encounter the nonreligious, we can engage that sense of wonder they feel and use it as a jumping off point to introduce them to the Creator of the universe. Even as Christ-followers, it’s good to be reminded of the nearness of God, and that often occurs as we encounter the wonder of His created world.
One of my favorite books and Bible studies is Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. In this particular study, Margaret challenges the reader to take time to look around and recognize the ways God reveals Himself in the extraordinary and ordinary moments of life.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: After reading some positive reviews, I picked up a short book by Ronnie Martin called Stop Your Complaining: From Grumbling to Gratitude. It’s a great reminder that complaining not only doesn’t do us any good, it also doesn’t help others or honor God.
As Christians, we say we believe God is good and He’s in control, and yet we complain about everyday inconveniences and trials. That’s natural, of course, but it doesn’t make it helpful or right. Besides, God doesn’t call us to rely on natural thinking, but on Spirit-inspired supernatural thinking as revealed in the Scriptures.
Here’s my favorite example of that: “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15). I love that description—”like stars in the world!” Our good attitude, our lack of complaining, is a huge part of our worship and witness.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), senior writer: With all the bad news that confronts us daily, sometimes it’s good to be reminded life hasn’t gone utterly askew. This week I’m reading Bradley Wright’s Upside: Surprising Good News About the State of Our World.
Among the bright spots: Income, education, and life expectancy are all substantially better today than in the “good old days” of the 1950s. Globally, there are fewer war deaths, more freedom, and less hunger. Christianity is growing rapidly, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It’s a refreshing perspective.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I feel like I don’t read enough books. Part of the problem is my free time is limited. But it’s also hard to find quality books worth reading.
Recently, I scanned through the Lifeway Church Leaders’ best books list. It’s pretty helpful because the books are reviewed and recommended by church leaders. Hopefully, I’ll find one, read it, and then recommend it in a future favorites list.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?