The pressures of living up to your calling are enormous. But your life doesn’t have to be at the mercy of the current. There’s a bigger story afoot than the river you’re standing in at the moment. Shane Morris interviews those who have stood against the stream of culture and discusses the ways you can be an active participant in God’s work of restoration.

Upstream Shane Morris

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The pressures of living up to your calling are enormous. But your life doesn’t have to be at the mercy of the current. There’s a bigger story afoot than the river you’re standing in at the moment. Shane Morris interviews those who have stood against the stream of culture and discusses the ways you can be an active participant in God’s work of restoration.

    In Defense of WWJD - A Reflection on the Conversation with Thomas Price

    In Defense of WWJD - A Reflection on the Conversation with Thomas Price

    At this point, the “What Would Jesus Do?” slogan seems more at home in a history museum than on a bracelet. This relic of 1990s evangelicalism caught on about the time I was finishing elementary school, and I dutifully joined in the trend and wore the letters in several colors, often to AWANA, until they all fell apart or were lost.  

    For many who went on to become interested in theology, the WWJD saying became the butt of jokes along with that Christian t-shirt that parodied the Abercrombie and Fitch logo with an allusion to the feeding of the five thousand that said, “A Breadcrumb and Fish,” (go ahead and groan). For me and many others, WWJD became a typical example of Christian bookstore theology. Our much more informed response was that Jesus did stuff we as Christians can’t. He performed miracles, forgave sins, authoritatively interpreted the Scriptures, and died to save the world. Instead of asking “What Would Jesus Do?” we newly-minted theologians explained, Christians should ask, “what did Jesus command us to do?”  

    Looking back, I’m not so sure that was the right response, and not just because “WDJCUTD” would be harder to remember or fit on a bracelet, and not because obeying Jesus’ commands is at all a bad idea. I actually think our criticism of WWJD was misguided on a more fundamental level. Insisting that Jesus isn’t our ultimate example because we can’t do all the things He did confuses His character with His calling, and more importantly, confuses His humanity with His Divinity.  

    Jesus’ life was not a screenplay we must follow. That was never what anyone who wore a WWJD bracelet meant by it. They weren’t claiming we must all, as one friend memorably put it, “strive toward a life of singleness, marrying no woman, raising no children, traveling the countryside hanging out with twelve buddies, and getting into trouble with the law.” Charitably, evangelicals in the nineties were saying that we should ask how Jesus would behave if He were in our circumstances, taking into account what we know of His character and commands. And this sort of imitation of Christ as a Person is explicitly taught in Scripture. John 13:13-17, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 John 2:6, and 1 Peter 2:21 are just a few examples. The very name “Christian” implies an identification with Christ that goes beyond mere belief or allegiance, reaching to our very persons and characters. We are to be, as I’ve heard it put, “little Christs.” 

    Second, it’s true that we can’t be God, but no one has ever suggested we can. We are, however, absolutely called to be human in the way God Incarnate was. There’s a big difference. In his “The Wonderful Works of God,” Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck gives an especially helpful reminder of how central Jesus’ humanity was to His mission, and how essential it is to our salvation that we partake of this humanity. In his chapter on Christ’s humiliation, Bavinck points out that Jesus’ three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King are human offices to which we, too, in our appropriate way, are called. He is, as is so often the case, worth quoting fully, here:  

    “In the unfolding of the image of God, in the harmonious development of all his gifts and power, in his exercise of the three offices of prophet, priest, and king lay the purpose and destiny of man. But man violated this high calling. And that is why Christ came to earth: to again exhibit the true image of man and to bring his destiny to perfect fulfillment. The doctrine of the three offices lays a firm connection between nature and grace, creation and redemption, Adam and Christ. The first Adam is type, herald, and prophecy of the last Adam, and the Last is the counterpart and fulfillment of the first.” (page 316)  

    If we fail to recognize that Christ was and is the ideal human—not just God w

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    On the Incarnation - Part 1 of 3 | Dr. Thomas Price

    On the Incarnation - Part 1 of 3 | Dr. Thomas Price

    Shane Morris visits with Dr. Thomas Price about Athanasius' On The Incarnation. The pair discuss the significance of Jesus being man and how Advent is an important time for the Christian, and not only to celebrate the birth of Christ.

    Sign-up for more resources at www.breakpoint.org/advent.

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    Manhood and the Metaverse - Samuel James

    Manhood and the Metaverse - Samuel James

    Shane welcomes writer and editor Samuel James to help us understand how social media is transforming into a kind of alternate reality, and how disembodied, digital existence—especially when it involves sex, war, and meaningless work—is uniquely destructive to men.

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    Stories Are the Medium of Meaning - A Reflection On the Conversation with Heidi White

    Stories Are the Medium of Meaning - A Reflection On the Conversation with Heidi White

    Why do little kids love stories so much? What is it in them that wants a story before bedtime? Why do they listen so intently and question you about every detail? Why is it that whenever you overhear two or three little children on the playground, they’re almost undoubtedly in character as warriors, or princesses, or police officers, or cowboys, or magical beings? Why do they so naturally, with no help from adults, step into the roles of characters in their own spontaneous stories?
    Well, it turns out all that play and storytelling has a serious purpose, and may even be essential to transforming an infant’s mind into the mind of adult. Tracy Gleason, professor of psychology at Wellesley College, summarizes the substantial research on the relationship between make-believe and “a child’s developing creativity, understanding of others and social competence with peers.”
    “Imaginary play,” she writes, “could encourage social development because children are simultaneously behaving as themselves and as someone else. This gives them a chance to explore the world from different perspectives, and is a feat that requires thinking about two ways of being at once, something that children may have difficulty doing in other circumstances.”
    Imaginary play exercises one of the mental muscles that likely sets us apart from animals: so-called “theory of mind,” or our ability to project our self-awareness onto others and imagine what life must be like from their perspective. The idea that others are not merely furniture in our sensory environment but have an inner life much like our own is a deceptively large cognitive leap. After all, we’ve never occupied anyone else’s mind, and never will. We have only our own experience to go off. Yet without making this leap, human beings could never have true relationships with each other. When children assume the role of a character from a movie or book or even one they’ve invented, they are establishing the rudiments of culture and society, and even preparing their hearts to receive and obey the Golden Rule.
    Story-based play emerges from theory of mind. It is what happens when children realize there are other characters besides themselves that share in the experiences and limitations of their world. It’s also why, if you listen closely beside the playground, you will hear them pausing their games incessantly to argue about those rules.
    “No, your superpower is fire, mine is water.” “We’re both orphans, but we aren’t sisters.” “Velociraptor is faster than T. rex!” “The princess escaped—the bad guys didn’t find her.”
    As Gleason puts it, “…some research suggests that children engaging in social pretend play spend almost as much time negotiating the terms and context of the play as they do enacting it.”
    I’ve even heard my children—particularly my most detail-oriented son—giving voices to military action figures and anthropomorphized Hot Wheel cars, who hotly negotiate the terms of their imaginary worlds.
    Yet while stories are correlated with and probably essential for their growth and education, children aren’t the only ones who love a good tale. Adults since the dawn of recorded history have told their own stories about the origins, meaning, and ultimate destiny of our world. Most of all, they’ve told stories about their place in the world, and what it means to be a hero, rather than a villain. We think of the
    Enūma Eliš, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the exhaustive visual tales of Egyptian gods and their mischief, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, and of course, the Bible.
    For Christians, the fact that the Bible contains the true plot of human history is no impediment to its also being a marvelous story. The opposite, in fact. As C. S. Lewis puts it, “…the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened…” If it’s true that

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    Sparking Kids’ Imaginations with Stories - Heidi White

    Sparking Kids’ Imaginations with Stories - Heidi White

    Classical Christian educator and CIRCE Institute contributor Heidi White joins Shane at the Anselm Society’s “Imagination Redeemed” conference to explain why reading the great stories to your children can awaken them to moral truth.  

    ** In Show References **
    The Anselm Society: www.anselmsociety.org
    Circe Institute: https://www.circeinstitute.org

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    Haiti Doesn’t Belong to Satan - A Reflection on the Conversation with Jean-Lubin Beaucejour & Darrow Miller

    Haiti Doesn’t Belong to Satan - A Reflection on the Conversation with Jean-Lubin Beaucejour & Darrow Miller

    Foreign affairs are a new beat for the Upstream podcast, and one with a complicated relationship to worldview. The idea that ideas can affect the fortunes of nations isn’t a new one, but it is a tricky one to trace out. As I talked with Pastor Jean-Lubin Beaucejour and Darrow Miller about the plight of Haiti, I was reminded of two equal but opposite errors we all need to guard against when we start asking why this nation—and others—seem stuck in perpetual failure.
    The first mistake is to approach the question as materialists. A lack of resources, money, or manpower, or opportunity are the reason Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. This is how classical Marxists approach the world, seeing in economic disparities, political revolutions, and even religion itself nothing but the consequences of material conditions and motives.
    But this approach falters in cases like Haiti, a land rich in natural resources, bordered by another nation (the Dominican Republic) with a per capita income six or seven times higher, and saturated in foreign assistance, both in the form of food and billions of dollars of aid—enough since 2010 to give every man, woman, and child in Haiti almost a year’s income.
    It’s been over 200 years since Haitians were slaves to the French. Undoubtedly, that legacy lives on in a thousand types of brokenness and deprivation. But it is just too simplistic to attribute the country’s woes solely to an institution that ended centuries ago. In the same way, it’s simplistic to blame Haiti’s condition on the admittedly terrible natural disasters its people have endured. Other countries, including its immediate neighbor, have weathered similar disasters. Yet they recovered. They rallied. Haiti has not.
    No, this impoverished country does not lack for material means to rise from its present condition. It has been the recipient of more intensive and sustained aid than just about any other nation. And despite all this, conditions in Haiti have measurably deteriorated in the last decade. Something beyond material goods is missing.
    The second mistake is to approach Haiti’s plight—and the plight of similarly impoverished nations—as merely spiritual. After my conversation with Darrow Miller in particular, I received a message from a thoughtful acquaintance who added to my understanding of Haiti’s spiritual past, and reminded me that while worldviews certainly matter, their influence is subtle, complicated, and mediated by politics and culture. Miller brought up the Bwa Kayiman Vodou ceremony that many of the Haitian people themselves look back on as their nation’s declaration of independence. You can read the Wikipedia entry on this 1791 event and marvel, as I did, at the well-documented and eerie details, including the mysterious prophetess and the drinking of a pig’s blood. It’s easy to see why so many foreign missionaries over the years, and even a large percentage of the Haitian population, believe that their nation won its independence by making a pact with the Devil.
    I’m not ready to dismiss this idea as bigotry or superstition, as many secular academics do. Even so, there’s an important caution, which I think came through in my interviews, but is worth reiterating:
    Believing that Haiti is under some kind of national curse for an event that happened 240 years ago is not the same as accepting that the beliefs behind that event are still crippling Haiti today.
    The friend I mentioned earlier sent me an essay published by the Social Science Research Council in 2010 that made exactly this point. The author, Bertin M. Louis, a cultural anthropologist at Washington University in Saint Louis, argues that it’s simplistic and dangerous to “scapegoat” a Vodou ceremony from so long ago for modern Haiti’s disorder. He’s not writing from a spiritual perspective, and I’m sure he and I wouldn’t agree on everything, but he makes the valid point that more recent ev

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