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Your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.

Podcasts of the Week Year

37 Christian Podcasts Worth A Listen, Clayton Kraby. We often get questions about podcasts—namely, which ones are any good. And while we’ve got our own preferences, it was with delight that we stumbled across Kraby’s list. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s the best one-stop-shop we’ve seen to date. He helpfully categorizes the podcasts by topic, and gives a brief summary of each. Peruse and find a new podcast or two. (Also, don’t miss The World and Everything in It. It didn’t register on Kraby’s list, but it’s too top notch to go unmentioned.)

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We recently encountered the rather colorful figure of Jephthah in our study through the book of Judges. In case you need a primer, Jephthah made a rather absurd vow, promising to sacrifice “whoever came out of his house first” if God would make him successful in battle. When that turned out to be his own daughter, he actually put her on the altar and killed her.

There’s a lot to say about that particular vow (you can hear the whole message here), but our Pastor of Counseling, Brad Hambrick, has some good reflections on what to do after we’ve made a ridiculously stupid promise to God:

God is not pleased or amused because we’ll do extreme things; which portrays God as an immature teenage audience chanting “Do it! Do it!” God is pleased with us because he sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ when we accept his death on the cross as the penalty for our sin.

Part of the reason we are prone to promise God stupid things in the first place is because we think he’s impressed with our grandiosity. The sooner we relinquish this idea the better. Therefore, we should repent not just of our stupid promise, but the immature view of God which led us to think he would be impressed by it.

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As we grieve with our brothers and sisters in Charleston, SC, at Emanuel AME Church, we are also amazed at the grace of God at work in them. I heard a black Christian leader say today that if Dylann Roof’s purpose was to ignite a race war, in the mercy of God his tragic and evil act may have had the opposite effect—that what Satan intended for evil God will overturn for good. We admire the faith, courage, and grace shown by our brothers and sisters in this, and continue to pray for them and grieve with them in their loss.

As I said yesterday, a gospel-centered, multi-cultural church is God’s answer to a racially divided country. It’s certainly not the only answer to the problem, but the church can be the place where love, understanding, and forgiveness are lived out. I hope that you at The Summit Church will pray fervently for this situation, and, if you are in the majority culture, reach out to your brothers and sisters of color to let them know you love them and stand with them. Ask them how you can care for and pray for them during this time.

Here are a few of the most impacting and compelling stories we have seen over the last few days:

1. The Families of the Charleston Shooting Victims Forgive Dylann RoofNY Times“It was as if the Bible study had never ended as one after another, victims’ family members offered lessons in forgiveness, testaments to a faith that is not compromised by violence or grief.”

2. “I Forgive You, Dylann Roof.” Washington Post. Similar to the NY Times piece, this article has the full seven minute video of the bond hearing, in which several family members spoke up—miraculously—to offer forgiveness.

3. Churches Throughout Charleston Gather in UnityNY Times“Here in this city, worship normally contained within church walls spilled into the streets on Sunday. … Jermaine Watkins, who is black and a teaching pastor at Journey Church, declared that the gathering showed that ‘what unites us is stronger than what divides us.’”

4. Standing with CharlestonEthics & Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC“The assault on Emanuel AME Church is an assault on all of us. When any part of the Body of Christ hurts, the whole Body of Christ hurts. We grieve, but we grieve in hope. We remember, after all, the meaning of Emanuel Church’s very name, a meaning that makes devils tremble: God is with us.”

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