Sunday Six-Pack (34)

Saturday escaped me, but the Six-Pack is rolling out before this weekend passes me by, all the same!

The best ministry-minded or faith-focused articles I could find this week? Here they are, with some grace space for a bit of who-knows-what.

If six options stuns you, start with my two *Picks of the Week*, and pick up steam from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter ( @JasonBandura ) to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Providential Accidents
Edward Fudge was writing about the doctrine of hell long before it became trendy. Here is an interview, with Scot McKnight, on his path and findings.

2) 42 Successful People Share the Best Advice They Ever Received
The Business Insider offers this pile of wisdom, much of which your mother may have shared with you back before you were paying attention.

3) Three Ways to Go Further, Faster (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Michael Hyatt offers the single most important move he’s made toward gaining on, and accomplishing, some of his life goals.

4) Why are Some Words More Persuasive than Others?
Lifehacker offers this piece on the psychology of language. Fascinating read for any communicator who cares about getting their point across as effectively or powerfully as possible.

5) The Most Overlooked Key to a Growing Church (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
In this short piece, Rick Warren reminds of a simple, easy-to-forget characteristic that should never be forgotten.

6) John Wesley’s Secret to Making Disciples
Gary Thompson‘s post shares the list of questions that used to guide Wesley’s “accountability groups” before the term even existed. Could this still work today to mature followers of Jesus?

Blessings on you, my friends.  May the week ahead be filled with God in ways that you can sense. Tune yourself in, and walk on!

YOUR TURN: Add a line below to direct other readers to the best stuff above or to highlight the piece that gave you something worth keeping.

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Escaping Aggravation

What do you find aggravating?

For many, the myth of Sisyphus captures the essence of frustration. Sentenced to roll an immense boulder to the crest of a hill, he looked on helplessly as the task was reset over and over again.

Within Scripture, the imagery of frustration, frequently portrayed by the Old Testament prophets, involves fields and vineyards that will be laboriously watered with one’s sweat, only to see the fruit harvested by conquering enemies.

The book of Ecclesiastes opens with eleven verses of 360-degree madness: Circles upon circle upon circles:

  • Generations passing.
  • Sun rising and setting.
  • Winds blowing.
  • Seas filling and emptying.
  • Desires motivating and remaining.
  • Ingenuity creating and re-creating.

Solomon, the king of wisdom, makes an observation (1:14) that is equal parts of sour reflection and sober recognition: We are all belted to a merry-go-round. And minus some serious center of orientation, vanity spins on the horse beside us.

Said another way, we are all within inches of living very frustrated lives, existing in ways that feel akin to “chasing the wind”.  This is a path all-too-easily found.

This is why Ecclesiastes often seems so depressing, because here we have Solomon, gifted more wisdom and wealth, power and pleasure than perhaps any other man or woman in history, and HE (of all people) speaks fluently of the vanity of life.

But the careful reader of Ecclesiastes must not miss verses like Ecclesiastes 2:26:

“For to the one who pleases Him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner, he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God.”

The statement is not that life must be frustrating.  The statement is that life will be frustrating, to the extent that our goals and motivations are self-centered.  To the one bent on pleasing God, a path radically different from “vanity” opens itself wide.  It is a path where genuinely impacting learning takes place and where profound joy is tasted.

And it is a path readied for those eager to cast down self-imaged idols, in exchange for an existence centered around living out our parts as people bearing the Divine image.

And that is the opposite of vanity in every way.