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: As a writer and reader of words on a screen, I appreciate the advances in technology that make e-books possible. But scrolling down a screen could never replace turning pages in a book. The smells and feel of a paper book evoke memories and stir up my imagination.
Because of that, I was glad to read our current book environment — a hybrid of new and old — may be the new normal. The New York Times reported the growth of e-books has subsided and more people are turning back to paper books, even the often maligned millennials.
This is a favorite for me personally, but it’s also good for culture as a whole. I don’t want to give up the pleasure of reading a book, but there are legitimate benefits for everyone who reads print as opposed to screen. Primarily, the book reader retains and comprehends more of what they read versus the e-book reader. So I’m glad you are reading these words on a screen, but still have the opportunity to crack open a book.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: My favorite this week is Becoming Who We Are, the latest album from Kings Kaleidoscope. There is certainly no shortage of worship bands and albums these days, but this one stands out both musically and lyrically. Becoming Who We Are artfully blends horns, strings, driving synths, and rock guitar in both original songs and fresh hymn arrangements.
My favorite track on the album is Felix Culpa (“happy fault” in Latin). A gritty, soulful rock tune with piercing lyrics where lead singer Chad Gardner belts out with aching gratitude:
“I have killed and stacked the dead on a throne from which I reign.
In the end I just want blood and with His blood my hands are stained.
See the God who reigns on high He has opened His own veins
from His wounds a rushing torrent that can wash it all away.
Grace upon grace, upon grace upon grace.”
The first time I heard the song I was swept up in the lyrics and reminded of my own wretchedness and the overwhelming beauty of God’s saving grace. The rest of the album is filled with rich lyrics and raw emotion. This is one of those albums you’ll want to read and savor the lyrics apart from the music.
Matt Erickson (@_Matt_Erickson), managing editor: I’ve started working my way through Randy Alcorn’s massive new tome Happiness. It’s a thoroughly biblical treatment of an important subject. The world is full of prescriptions for happiness that don’t deliver what they promise. But that doesn’t mean happiness isn’t important or is impossible to experience on an ongoing basis. Alcorn shows human beings were created to be happy, desire to be happy, and pursue happiness with single-minded focus. Moreover, God is happy (infinitely so!) and He created us to share in His happiness.
The book does a great job of dispelling some common myths about happiness. Alcorn argues there is no real biblical difference between happiness and joy. He writes, “Only in recent times have happiness and joy been set in contrast with each other. I believe this is biblically and historically ungrounded and has significant downsides.” Which leads to another common misunderstanding: the notion God is concerned about our holiness, not our happiness, or that the two are somehow opposed to each other. Simply not true, says Alcorn. And he backs it up with plenty of biblical evidence.
Far from a superficial topic, happiness is of the utmost importance for our Christian life and witness. After all, happy Christians make God look good—they glorify Him and draw people to Him. The book is a great reminder our desire to be happy isn’t wrong—it’s inescapable and right—while showing us God is the true source of all happiness. Reading Happiness has been, so far, a happy experience itself. I think every Christian could benefit from its lessons.
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), senior writer: When the stomach bug hit this week, I was amazed at how quickly I could go from an active, energetic human being to a puddle of misery on the sofa. Thoughts of food triggered waves of revulsion. Headache made me think I’d never focus my eyes again. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep.
My favorite this week is simple health — the energy to go about my day, the ability to eat lunch, the gradual retreat of headache and chills. I’m humbled by how easily it is lost and grateful for its return.
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: I recently came across a blog post on “The Theology of Creative Limitations” which breaks down one of the points in “Steal Like an Artist” (which is also a favorite of mine). It’s a good reminder the boundaries we are given are a gift, not a limitation.
As a creative person, one of the hardest things to learn is when to stop yourself and call a job “done.” We have a tendency to want to do more, more, more because the act of creating is fun and energizing. However, you don’t want your process to get in the way of the end product. You have to learn to self-edit and sometimes remove unnecessary elements to make your creation better.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?