Arts & Culture

Editor’s Picks: IFWE’s Best of 2015

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When you publish content five days a week nearly every week of the year, it’s easy for great pieces to go right down the memory hole.

Before 2015’s myriad of posts grows dusty in IFWE’s digital archives, here is a selection of (some of) the most notable content we’ve published this year.

Thanks for your faithful readership. I hope you enjoy rediscovering these thought-provoking posts, or catching up on them if you missed them the first time around. On behalf of the IFWE staff, we look forward to providing you with more inspiring, in-depth content in 2016.

Why Sufjan Stevens Would Make Francis Schaeffer Proud

Elise Daniel

Stevens doesn’t hide his beliefs in his work, but he purposefully avoids the CCM label, perhaps because he doesn’t believe Christianity should be viewed as a cultural subset. Instead, we should live and breathe the gospel so naturally that it weaves its way into every area of life, transforming it.

What does it look like for a Christian to make a table? A pair of shoes? An expense report? (Is there such a thing as a ‘Christian’ expense report?)

Elise Daniel explores what excellent Christian work looks like by taking an in-depth look at Sufjan Stevens, a pioneering songwriter whose work has been causing people to rethink the stereotypical definition of ‘Christian’ music.

Read it here

You Can Spend Six Months and $1,500 Making a Chicken Sandwich…but Should You?

Anne Bradley

We don’t know how to do everything well, including making a chicken sandwich from scratch. The lesson here is that we are free because we don’t have to work for six months to get a mediocre sandwich. We can have so much more for so much less.

Earlier this year the internet was briefly captivated by the story of Andy George, a man who made a chicken sandwich from scratch. It took him six months and $1,500 to grow, collect, and assemble all the ingredients.

With her typical wit and sharp economic insight, Anne Bradley asks whether this is worth doing. Using the lens of Christian stewardship, she illustrates how using our particular vocations and skills to benefit others leaves us all with more time to do what God created us to do best.

Read it here.

In Praise of an Uncommon Corporate Value

John Kyle

We are to put off the character of war – bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, and, instead, be imitators of Christ by putting on the character of peace – kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness.

It’s easy to grow cynical about the values plastered on the company posters in the break room. It’s easy to grow hardened towards colleagues in the midst of a competitive corporate environment.

Reflecting on his past executive experience, John Kyle recalls one company he worked at that was marked by an entirely different corporate value he hadn’t seen anywhere else at the time.

Drawing on both scripture and his own story, Kyle shows how this uncommon corporate value can transform your workplace, too.

Read it here

Seven Biblical Methods for Responding to Obstacles

Lizzie Moyer

These seven biblical methods for responding to obstacles are just a sample of biblical wisdom we can apply when running into them. Each obstacle may require a different approach depending on circumstances and a number of factors. God doesn’t give us a secret formula.

Instead, he gave us his one and only Son. It’s through him that we have the power to truly overcome obstacles and finish the race strong.

There aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions to the obstacles we all face, and the Bible doesn’t give us a play-by-play for every challenge life throws our way.

But the way we respond to obstacles still matters, as Lizzie Moyer points out with wisdom and grace in this post detailing seven healthy, helpful ways to deal with tough situations.

Read it here

What the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Means for Flourishing in America

Vincent Bacote

The complicated aspects of King’s life provide yet another opportunity to consider how to evaluate great causes led by flawed people. Though some debate whether King had moral failures, it presents a conundrum many of us face: what do we do when our heroes are imperfect? How do we evaluate their public deeds?

Dr. Vincent Bacote uses the annual holiday honoring Dr. King to ask, “How do Christians lead the way in helping all humans flourish in the world of work?”

In answering this question, Bacote offers three ways King’s legacy helps us build flourishing in our communities.

Read it here.  

The Massive Leadership Opportunity for the Church Today

Glenn Brooke 

We are poised at the edge of a new Renaissance period. This could be one of the greatest chapters in human history if we have the right kind of leaders. This is a massive leadership development opportunity for the church, which is uniquely qualified to develop them.

This article reads more like a manifesto than a blog post, but it’s worth every minute you’ll spend reading it. Glenn Brooke does some heavy lifting here to discern the spirit of our age and how the church can preach the gospel to it.

Read it here

What We Talk about When We Talk about “Changing the World”

James Clark

Likely as it is that you’ve never heard of this book before, it has had a significant impact on Christian leaders. How we decide to relate to the culture around us as Christians will to a great extent determine the everyday choices we make, so the issue is far from academic.

This year several Christian thinkers revisited James Davison Hunter’s To Change the World in light of the book’s five year anniversary. At its heart, James Clark writes, the book is comprised of two main questions: how does culture change, and what are we to do about it?

In this insightful post and its follow up, “Can Faithful Presence Change the World? Some Christian Leaders Aren’t so Sure,” Clark details the responses Christian leaders have had to Hunter’s book and how it has impacted Christian witness in the world today.

Read it here

Six Reasons Heaven Is Not Our (Long-Term) Home

Hugh Whelchel

Why should I worry about work and impacting the culture around me when it’s all going to burn up anyway?” asked a young Christian I spoke to recently. “I am just waiting to go to heaven,” he added.

Unfortunately this “Theology of Evacuation” is what far too many American evangelicals believe. But is it what the Bible teaches?

It’s not, and 1,900 years of church history prove it.

Want to get in a good Twitter fight? Just ask about what’s going to happen to all of our work when Christ returns. Hugh Whelchel isn’t afraid to answer that question, and he tackles conventional wisdom head on in this post detailing six reasons why Restoration, your earthly work, and Christ’s return might look different from what you’d expect.

Read it here

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