The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, "Physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things." I trust that many of us are committing to make the spiritual disciplines of prayer and time in the Word a priority for 2009.
But still, anyone who has trained knows, keeping up the daily commitment isn't easy. So sometimes, it helps to change the routine a bit. That's one reason I'm pleased that Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington have put together A Faith and Culture Devotional: Daily Readings in Art, Science, and Life.
Kullberg, the founder of Veritas Forum, and Arrington, a co-host of the radio program The Things That Matter Most, have assembled a stellar cast of contributing authors—Lee Strobel, John Stott, Gene Edward Veith, R.C. Sproul, Os Guinness, and Frederica Mathewes-Green to name just a few.
The devotional spans 15 weeks and a diversity of topics. And it accomplishes something that we've sought to do here at BreakPoint for years. It looks at the intersection of faith and culture, looking for God's fingerprints, extrapolating lessons God is teaching us.
Each devotional takes about five minutes to read, and then has questions for individual reflection or group discussion, making the book ideal for use in personal devotions or family devotions.
I think there's a lot in this little volume that will challenge you spiritually and get you thinking. Turn, for example, to Francis Collins's entry, where he discusses his work leading a team of more than 2,000 scientists on the Human Genome Project and what it taught him about the God who designed us. You'll enjoy reading Benjamin Wiker as he unfolds the ordered magnificence of what scientists discovered when they first assembled the periodic table.
Turn back a few pages, and you might learn that during the French Revolution, 6 percent of the tens of thousands slaughtered were clergy. They were beheaded because people resented them, not for being too spiritual, but for being too worldly! Keith Bower writes, "They'd hoarded food while others had starved. They hadn't cared about justice." There's a lesson in that from history!
One of my own colleagues, Catherine Larson, looks at what the artist Vincent Van Gogh can still teach us today about how to see people. Van Gogh wrote, "I prefer painting people rather than cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is not in a cathedral—a human soul, be that of a poor beggar or of a street walker." That something that Van Gogh saw was the Image of God.
One reviewer of the book noted how the discussion had enlivened his teenage son in family devotions. On reading the passage by Sam Storms on string theory, the commentator writes that his son "sat bolt upright and listened with interest to the remainder of the reading." After they finished the passage, he writes, "we shared in family conversation for the next 20 to25 minutes, talking about how God is glorified in every, and all, aspects of life."
I can't think of a better endorsement than that teenager's rapt attention.
So start the new year off right.