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Since this issue includes numerous book reviews, I’ll use this page in an unusual way, starting with a suggestion about time.
Each of us started 2021 with 8,760 hours to invest. Subtract seven hours per night for sleep and 40 hours per week for work, and we still have 4,125 for other activities. That seems like a lot, but factor in family and church, eating and chores, plus other tidbits of daily life, and time flies.
Sometimes we need to do two things at once. I don’t recommend texting during dinner, but I do have a way you can improve your physical and spiritual health at the same time: Walk your dog (if you have one) while listening to a daily Bible reading and a thought-provoking sermon.
My Bible podcast choice this year has been “ESV: The Story of Redemption,” but many good options exist. My sermon suggestion is the “Gospel in Life” podcast of Tim Keller sermons. You can get some sense of his thinking by reading next issue’s Q&A with him, but the sermons are the best I’ve heard in my 45 years of attending churches in eight states, including three years in person at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
Select “Gospel in Life” on your podcast app (also at podcast.gospelinlife.com) and you’ll get three sermons per week, all for free (like grace). The fall series on Galatians (Nos. 637-649) has been excellent, and here are ones I saved on my phone before that: 629 The Patience of Jesus. 628 Truth, Tears, Anger, and Grace. 620 Reading Hearts. 617 How to Hate Your Parents. 616 Loving Your Enemies. 614 I Came to Set the Earth on Fire. 610 Forward-Back Living. 609 Inside-Out Living. 608 Upside-Down Living. 607 Responding to Jesus.
And that’s not all. Earlier ones I still have saved: 592 Salvation. 585 The Bible and History. 554 Treasures. 550 Law and Love. 505 Who is the Real Jesus? 478 Let Them Give Up Their Violence. 476 They Greatly Feared. 447 Praying Our Doubts. 445 David’s Mercy. 440 Saul’s Rejection.
WORLD ran part of No. 618, “The Sin Against the Holy Spirit,” as part of our website Saturday Series on Oct. 30. In it Keller says, “You can be in the church for years and years and years, and inside you know you’re basically empty. You might like this or that pastor, you might like this or that sermon … but you’re empty. You haven’t been changed.”
Here’s a crucial understanding: “Religion is the opposite of the gospel. … Religion is outside-in. If I live a good life, God will come in and bless me. But the gospel is inside-out. In the gospel, I receive the acceptance I have because of what Jesus Christ has done … and that flows out into my life and into a life of mercy and service.”
Tastes differ, but I’d rather listen to a podcast that challenges me than one that compliments me for my preferences and prejudices. That’s why I like “The Church Politics Podcast” hosted by Justin Giboney. (I interviewed him in our Dec. 28, 2019, issue.) He tweeted, “Being conservative or progressive on every single issue is intellectually lazy & unfaithful. ... Make conservatism sympathize & pursue racial justice. Make progressivism acknowledge absolute truth & the sanctity of life.”
Acts 17 shows how Paul knew Athenian thought patterns, and to follow Paul I also listen to “Honestly with Bari Weiss,” even though I disagree with her on LGBT issues and abortion. In one recent episode Weiss and her guest, superb writer Caitlin Flanagan, essentially make a pro-Roe argument from history (large numbers of pregnant women self-poisoned by undiluted Lysol?) and apply it to the future. Is that history accurate? If so, will history repeat itself, given changes in technology and society? “Honestly” forces us to do research, not just shout. —M.O.
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