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: No matter how long you have been reading and studying the Bible, there are still challenging verses that raise hard questions. A new podcast from Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax aims to help with those texts.
Word Matters is a short discussion between Smith, brand manager for the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project. They discuss varying viewpoints on the passage, give their own opinions, and occasionally have on relevant guests to share another perspective.
For pastors and teachers, one of the most helpful portions of the podcast is the conclusion where the hosts outline the best way to teach these potentially controversial biblical passages. Give Word Matters a listen.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: This article about the Boston Pops partnering with UConn’s puppetry arts program made me smile this week. It’s three of my favorite things coming together for a special event: the Boston Pops, puppets, and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” (one of my favorite pieces of music).
Since I won’t be able to make it to Boston this weekend, I’ll have to settle for listening to my record of David Bowie narrating “Peter and the Wolf” and imagining it being acted out by puppets. But if you’re in the Boston area, you should definitely check this out!
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: The hearing didn’t go the way my friends had hoped. For the past two years they’d poured all their time and money into a business they now might lose. Faces were tense as they left the hearing room, muttering of blame and bankruptcy and how they could ever face each other again. I stood by silently, unsure how to help. Then my neighbor worked a miracle.
With quiet confidence, he told my friends exactly what they needed to do to save their business. He didn’t quote the Bible, but every concept was rooted in Scripture: Have faith. Go the extra mile. Love your enemies. The abstract concepts took on shape as he outlined a plan for letters to be written, apologies to be offered, meetings to be held.
My friends had expected the next step to involve warrants and lawsuits. Now they were offered a vision of healing through kindness.
I was due back at work, but I couldn’t tear myself away from listening to this man as he described turning opponents into allies by meeting them more than halfway. I felt the tiniest hint of what Jesus’ disciples must have felt as they abandoned everything to follow a Man Who turned their worldview on its head.
My neighbor had work waiting for him too, but he spent half his afternoon standing with my friends until their fear and anger began to ease. Though he barely knew them, he offered to walk alongside them as they reach out to their adversaries.
And he left them with one bit of advice, a single verse, Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”
Read it, he told them. Believe it. Every day.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: My favorite this week: The Phil Vischer Podcast. Vischer, best known as the voice of Bob the Tomato and co-creator of Veggie Tales, hosts a weekly conversation about culture, politics, and life in the church.
He’s often joined by Skye Jethani, a former editor of Leadership Journal, and Christian Taylor, a voice-over actress and producer, for discussion on topics from religious liberty and civil disobedience to James Bond and the Boy Scouts, with Vischer’s trademark humor. Give a listen—you’ll be glad you did.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: One of my favorite set of verses is Psalm 8:3-4:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
Many of us don’t often get the luxury of stargazing because of “light pollution.” Sometimes we forget how vast and how beautiful they are. But the Weather Channel’s website Stargaze aims to change that. It allows you to go to see the night sky in various places around the world.
After a few minutes of stargazing, think about Psalm 8 again. The whole chapter truly is an expression of praise and worship from David. God’s majesty is immeasurable, and His creation is beautiful.
We are so little bitty compared to the stars and moon, yet God loves and cares for us as the pinnacle of His creation. We are truly blessed.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?