1. Sweating Our Faith by Mike Glenn
“Most of us … live mundane lives well within the limits our natural abilities. Most of us rarely, if ever, enter to the realm of living in faith.”
“We must always go back to the teachings of the early church, the New Testament, but the church itself was a mess. Much like today. We are a mess, too, so we go back to the teachings that went to our messy brothers and sisters. We learn from them and the teachings — not to be like them, but to be faithful to our risen Lord.”
3. As You Pass Through the Valley of Weeping by Richard Beck
“You can read the Psalms for years and still you’re interrupted by their poetry.”
4. Ein Harod – How to Move From Fear to Faith by Wayne Stiles
“Some situations today will seem as bleak, hopeless, and full of fear as Gideon’s seemed to him at Ein Harod. Circumstances and emotions will demand we doubt what God has clearly promised. But our confidence and faith must remain fixed on what the Lord has said, not in what we see.”
“… even more deep than willful ignorance is the sign that many have adopted a motive of self-enhancement above what reality is telling us — going for a ‘win’ in the face of a pending larger ‘loss.’ This is where willful ignorance becomes an observable and dangerous spiritual problem — the expression of egocentric and ethnocentric thinking and acting.”
Walk into any Chik-fil-a and you’ll nearly always be warmly greeted by the staff. Why is that? Because of their training and Chik-fil-a’s Core 4. Here’s a pic of a Core 4 reminder sticker stuck on the counter behind one of the cash registers.
Now what is it you see here? Four steps. And while we can detect something of a progression in sequence and development of experience in the steps, the fact remains all four steps are important; none are unimportant.
Consider the Core 4 just a wee bit more though and something else jumps out at you. The first and last steps (A – “create eye contact” and A -“stay connected”) have much in common, don’t they? As do the two middle steps: B – “share a smile” and B – “speak with an enthusiastic tone.” In fact, we could diagram those correlations something like this:
And that, my friends, is classic A-B-B-A, or X, chiasm!
Or, we could diagram the Core 4 in a different way – as a > – with the same effect:
Or yet further, we could conceive of the two pairs of commonality of thought that make up the Core 4 as a pair of concentric rings (aka: ring composition):
Once you discern the Core 4 as consisting of two pairs of action, you not only understand the Core 4 steps a bit better, you’ll also be hard pressed to forget them. Further, your appreciation of what’s going on in the Core 4 steps has surely deepened, too.
Which leads me to note that those matters are some of the major reasons for the existence of this literary device known as chiasm: it helps you grasp, appreciate, and remember the meaning of what’s going being communicated. No matter whether you think of it as an X, a >, or a set of rings (or spiral, helix).
Now let’s move from a sticker at Chik-fil-a-straight to a single verse in the Bible:
Do you detect (only) four distinct thoughts in the four sentences that make up this verse? Or do you now see two pairs of thought that share something in common? Like so:
Often chiasm is – in any literature, anywhere – very easy to detect. Naturally, the shorter the segment of thought, the easier it is to grasp. The repetition of key words can be a big clue at times (e.g. – “honor” in 1 Peter 2.17). Strong points of contrast or shifts to finer, more specific focus can also give chiasm away (e.g. – “everyone” and the “emperor;” “God” and “brotherhood”). And there are more clues, but that’s enough for us right now.
All of which leads me to say … “By jove, I believe you’ve got it!” So, stay with me in the days and weeks to come (God willing) and let’s make use of this new tool in our toolbox as we study Scripture.
Nine Election-Year Temptations
1. To try to use God as an instrument for achieving our own ends rather than humbly serving God as instruments for fulfilling his purposes.
2. To offer simplistic nostrums for problems that are extremely complex and for issues that are inescapably ambiguous.
3. To argue that only one position on a multifaceted matter is biblically-mandated, when actually there may be several viable approaches.
4. To equate personal piety with legislative and administrative competence, refusing to admit that spirituality is not the same as statecraft.
5. To identify our insights and programs with the truth and will of God – absolutizing the relative, dogmatically declaring, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ as if we knew exactly the divine mind – and refusing to admit that the policies we advocate for healing society’s ills are at best the fallible prescriptions of finite minds.
6. To refuse to compromise, even on matters that do not involve moral principles, forgetting that politics, as the art of doing the possible, requires give and take.
7. To forget that our country is not a covenant nation standing in a unique relationship to God, but a pluralistic, secular society where justice for all faiths must be maintained.
8. To fall back on sub-Christian means to achieve our ends: forsaking the claims of honesty, fairness, and courtesy; scathingly caricaturing an opponent; failing to state a rival policy position accurately and fully; stereotyping a person who disagrees with us; employing questionable fund-raising techniques.
9. To believe the siren of voices of demagogues and fanatics, not critically analyzing deceptive rhetoric.”
1. How Do Christians Fit into the Two-Party System? They Don’t by Timothy Keller
“The historical Christian positions on social issues don’t match up with contemporary political alignments. … Christians should think of how God rescued them. He did it not by taking power but by coming to earth, losing glory and power, serving and dying on a cross.”
“This will take thirty seconds.”
“Social media rewards not morality or veracity, but virality. Their design is a perfect engine for the fast and wide spread of information, which makes them so wonderful. But there is a catch: unlike the truth, lies can be engineered to take advantage of that design and move faster and wider.”