The Top Ten Articles on Navigating By Faith in 2021

The top three articles were all written in 2020 as the world hunkered down against COVID.

When I set out to begin writing in 2012, I did it because I believed the Holy Spirit was prompting me to use the gifts God gave me and to be diligent in using them. This was the blog I set up in response to that prompting. I didn’t focus on the number of people who followed or read the blog. I was simply being obedient.

Each year since then, though, I have taken stock of the number of readers and the articles that are being read on this site: Navigating By Faith. The numbers have not always increased each year over the previous year, but they have trended up since 2012.

In the 2nd year, I topped 1000. By 2018, I topped 10,000. The blog wasn’t viral, but it was being read. In 2019, I was plateaued at just over 10,000 article views, with slightly fewer views in 2019 than the year before.

The last two years have seen jumps in readership by approximately 10,000 each year: a total of 20,084 in 2020 and 30,749 in 2021. I attribute the big jump last year to COVID. Everyone was hunkering down; they had more time; and they were reading more. I am not sure why the additional jump this year.

Maybe we have been more reflective as a society as we have come face to face with a deadly pandemic and have had more time to reflect? Maybe I hit on some topics that are particularly poignant in the current flux of issues bombarding the Church in the United States.

I began writing two blogs in 2012: one aimed at the general seeker; and this one aimed more specifically at Christ seekers/followers. Over time, I fund myself most focusing on the latter audience. I don’t think I have posted more than one article on the first blog in over a year.

In 2021, three articles account for the 10,000 increase over last year, and each one seems fitting for “the times” we have been experiencing.

The first one,

Who Were the Sons of Issachar? And What Might They Mean for Us Today?,

(written in September 2020) seems to have struck a nerve.


The article It has 6606 views which is over 4000 more than the next most read article. It was the product of my own angst about the evangelical support for Donald Trump, questioning my own increasingly critical posture, and digging deep into Scripture for answers. Could I have been wrong about him? Why are so many Christians defending him?

Because it went “viral” (relatively speaking) on my blog, I wrote a summary of just that one article. It was written before the presidential election and the January 6th confirmation, but it continues to be the most read article on the blog on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. You can read my retrospective of the article for the back story and my current assessment of the article.

The second most read article in 2021, with 1669 views, is:

God Meets Us Where We Are.


It is a kind of response to the existential angst of the Christ seeker/follower. It runs along the vein of Psalm 139. We can’t go anywhere that God is not with us. We don’t have to climb up to Him because He “climbs down” to us and meets us right where we are.

The third most read article tackles Critical Race Theory from a Christian Perspective (1226 views).


It summarizes the position of Monique Duson, who gravitated from CRT follower to CRT critic. She now sees CRT as a religion-like worldview that is heretical to and competes with Christian faith. That this article garnered much more attention than other articles I wrote about CRT is ironic.

I am not reflexively against CRT. I believe it has been coopted by people with anti-religious, even Marxist views of the world, but CRT isn’t (in itself) threatening to faith. What troubles me more than CRT is the effort the Church puts into beating up the CRT boogeyman while ignoring the underlying issues of racial injustice and racial disparity that continue to exist.

The top three articles were all written in 2020 as the world hunkered down against COVID. As the world hunkered down, racial tensions and angst rose up. Thus, I think, the reason why these articles got the most attention is easy to understand.

Those three articles, alone, account for over 10,000 views. They exceed al the views of the other articles that fill out the top ten combined. I will address each one and make some comments as I go.

Continue reading “The Top Ten Articles on Navigating By Faith in 2021”

Certainty in Uncertain Times is the Theme of the Top Article from this Blog in 2021

The most read article in 2021 for this blog has prophetic and apocalyptic undertones.

Each year since I started this blog in 2012, I have reviewed the most read blog posts of the year. Certain posts on timeless themes, like “It is Well with my Soul: The Story” (from 2014), are perennial contenders. Not this year, though. That article doesn’t even make the top ten.

While some timeless “favorites” (recognizing this is a relative term here) tend to make the list each year, 2021 is marked by the emergence of relatively new writings and a new theme. We might call that theme the signs of the times. At least, we might say that writings which reflect the current times have emerged on top.

That statement is certainly true of the article that is by far the most read article on this blog this year: Who Were the Sons of Issachar? And What Might They Mean for Us Today?

This article was written in September of 2020. At that time we were careening toward a contentious presidential election. Though it was written with only three months to the end of the year, it became the most read article of 2020 (beating out It is Well with My Soul), and it is the most read article in 2021 by far.

In fact, the Sons of Issachar article has quickly become the most read article in the life of my blog, beating out the 2014 article, It is Well with My Soul, three times over. That it grew out of my own angst leading up to the presidential election is certainly a sign of the times. We have had much angst in the last two years!

I have never highlighted a single article in my annual summary of past years. This year is different. I will get to the summary, but I will tell the back story and reflect on the significance of the Sons of Issachar article, which seems to have hit home with people, first.

Continue reading “Certainty in Uncertain Times is the Theme of the Top Article from this Blog in 2021”

Christmas Thoughts: The Heart of God’s Redemptive Story is Revealed through Mary

The final woman mentioned in the lineage of Jesus is central to God’s redemptive work in human history.

I have written a Christmas series of blog posts on the genealogy in Matthew that sets the stage for the narrative of the birth of Jesus, but I haven’t finished it… until now. The theme is the redemptive work of God in human history through the perspective of the five (5) women mentioned in the genealogy.

If that last statement gave you pause, you may have a hint of the radical nature of that storyline, which is the point of this redemotive story: There are five women mentioned in the genealogy. Five women.  

The Hebrew culture was paternalistic, like all cultures in the Ancient Near East, and almost all cultures down through history (and even now). The oldest male in that culture inherited his father’s estate. Lineage was traced from male to male.

So, what are five women doing in the sacred lineage of Jesus?

That Matthew mentions five women in his genealogy is truly remarkable. We might gloss over it in our modern thinking, maybe even being tempted to sneer that he didn’t include more. That he included ANY women is the the amazing thing.

I described four of those women in previous blog posts. I began with a post that sets out the genealogy in full and links to each of the subsequent blog posts. (Christmas Thoughts: God’s Redemptive Actions Through Women of the Old Testament). The posts continue in the following progression, from oldest to most recent:

  1. Christmas Thoughts: God Redeems the Line of Judah through Tamar;
  2. Christmas Thoughts: Rahab, a Foreign Prostitute & God’s Redemptive Plan;
  3. Christmas Thoughts: Ruth & God, the Kinsman-Redeemer;
  4. Christmas Thoughts: Uriah’s Wife and the Redemption Plan of God

All of the stories I have covered so far are of women from the Old Testament, showing God’s redemptive work leading up to the birth of the long awaited Messiah. The last of the woman is Mary, who gave birth to him.

This piece is inspired by Craig Keener, who has a Ph.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins from Duke University and is a prolific writer of scholarly works on the New Testament, among other things. He was interviewed recently by Preston Sprinkle on Theology in the Raw as part of a series on Christmas.

He contrasts the appearances of an angel to Zechariah (Luke 1:8-22) and to Mary (Luke 1:26-38). The passages are parallels, announcing the birth of the Messiah, but the response of the two are different. The contrast is intended, no doubt, to catch our attention: Zechariah responds with unbelief, while Mary responds, “May it be according to you word!”

The parallelism of the two passages is striking, so the difference in the responses stands out. It is meant to stand out.

Zechariah is an aged man, a priest operating at the center of the life and culture of his people, serving in holiest place in Hebrew culture: in the temple. He is male of course. Zechariah, of all people, might be expected to recognize and embrace God’s great entry into human history and the fulfillment of the long-foretold Messianic prophecies.

Contrasted to him is Mary, a young female (probably in her mid-teens), a relative nobody in a nowhere place in the eyes of that culture. She would not have been privileged to know Scripture like Zechariah She would have no stature, no power, no influence nor importance.

The contrast in status would be more evident to First Century Hebrews, but we can understand it even today. Despite the elevated stature of Zechariah, Mary is the hero of this story. She embraces what the angel says, while Zechariah hesitates in doubt at the threshold of God’s entry into the world.

Mary’s song (Luke 1:46-55) is one of the most eloquent and poignant responses to God’s redemptive work in all of Scripture.[i] Mary is glorified over the venerable old priest in the story. The spotlight is on her, and

Mary’s words also set the tone for the coming of the Messiah. She says God scatters those who are proud, but He lifts up the humble. He fills the hungry, but he empties the rich.

Leading the way to God’s appearance human history are five women who stand out in Matthew’s genealogy by the very fact that they were included at all. Their stories are at the center of God’s redemptive work and plans for mankind that He envisioned from before the foundations of the world.

The mention of five women in the genealogy of Christ, the Messiah, is no accident. In our western minds, we might tend to gloss over genealogy as a mundane recitation of historic fact. For Hebrews, the composition of a genealogy is not just about fact, but an emphasis of key facts.

The genealogy with the mention of five women sets the stage for the appearance of God. It is foundational and a central a part of that story. Take a moment to consider how utterly unusual that genealogy would have seemed at the time, and it’s significance in story of Jesus. Consider Mary’s grand response to God, and take some time to read the stories of the other women in the lineage of Jesus.


[i] And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Tribalism and the Body of Christ: What Unifies Us, & What Separates Us is Key

We can’t avoid the conflict of differing views, but we need to be careful how we differ with people and over what we differ with them.

I have been listening to the podcast, Truth Over Tribe, beginning with the episode, How Tribalism Is Ruining Your Life, on Podbean. Check it out.

Whether you label it polarization or tribalism, I have seen people entrenching and doubling down in their political positions more than at any other time in my life. Thus, the podcast resonated loudly with me.

In writing this piece, I am not focusing on people, generally, or the state of governmental affairs. My focus here is the body of Christ and it’s witness in the world. People have always been divided. We have always had wars and fighting to prove it. The Church, however, should be different. The Church should stand a part, like a city of a hill.

Continue reading “Tribalism and the Body of Christ: What Unifies Us, & What Separates Us is Key”

How the “God of the Old Testament” vs. God of the New Testament Idea Might Inform Our Politics

We should have the same mindset as Jesus in doing politics.


In the short YouTube segment, Are There Two Different Gods in the Old and New Testaments? (Part Two), Gareth Black does a good job describing why God appears differently in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. There is one God, but He relates differently to people.

I have explored this dichotomy before, but I don’t want to focus on it here, other than to set the stage for what I really want to lay out. The difference in the way God related to people at different times might just become a guide for Christians doing politics.

First, we know the orthodox view: that the God of the Old Testament is the same God revealed in the New Testament through Jesus. While, heretics abound, this is the accepted view. Still, it sometimes seems like a tough pill to swallow.

God in the Old Testament focuses on commandments. He seems full of judgment and anger. The Ten Commandments God gave Moses became legion with all the ceremonial laws, food laws, cleansing laws, and dozens of other laws people were commanded to follow.

In the New Testament, it may seem like Jesus paid “lip service” to the laws (saying he didn’t come to abolish the Law), because he simplified them into just two commandments: love God and love your neighbor. Easy, right?

At the same time, Jesus seemed to turn up the heat. In the same discourse in which he said he didn’t come to abolish the law, he told his audience the following:

  • It’s not enough to refrain from murdering people; harboring disdain in your heart is like committing murder;
  • It’s not enough to refrain from committing adultery; lusting after a person in your heart is like committing adultery.

He said more than that, but you get the point. So, it’s as simple as loving God and neighbor. At the same time, it’s as difficult as controlling what is in your heart!

To say that Jesus went easier on people is to ignore these things that he said. At the same time, Jesus confronted the men who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery and saved her. He said he didn’t condemn her (though he also told her, “Go and sin no more.”)


What in the world is going on? If it seems difficult to sort out what is going on here, join the club.

Black offers one explanation in the video. He says God relates to people differently at different times, just as a parent relates differently to their children at different times. Parents tend to be strict with little children, imposing lots of rules about bedtimes, eating, watching TV, playing video games, doing homework and doing chores and so on.

That relationship can get contentious at times, especially as children get older and become more difficult. After children move out of the house, though, the relationship changes. It’s not that parents think the rules were bad; rather the children become adults, and become responsible for setting their own rules.

The analogy isn’t exactly the same with God, but similar. Paul says the Law was given to us as a guardian (tutor, schoolmaster, instructor, etc.). (Galatians 3:24) The Law was given to teach us something, to lay a certain foundation of understanding. The idea that Paul probably had in mind was a stern, taskmaster, training the children up with discipline.

The taskmaster’s relationship to the children is different than a parent’s relationship. A tutor only trains the children for a time when they are young. The instructor’s job is to make sure the children learn their lessons, and that is the only focus.


A parent is always a parent and never ceases to be a parent who loves and wants the best for the children. A taskmaster doesn’t love the children like a parent does.

But, it’s more complicated than that, and this is the key. The prophet Jeremiah talked about it in the context of a new covenant this way:

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33)

This is God’s ultimate goal: that we would be receptive, willing and able to receive God’s law in us, written on our hearts.

God isn’t looking for law followers, but for children who desire to be like their father. He wants us to internalize His values and be like Him – not because we must, but because we want to!

Until Christ came, men were under the Law, but Christ came to earth in the form of a human and fulfilled the Law. He died to take the penalty for our transgression; he rose from the dead to demonstrate his authority and power over death; and he ascended to heaven, leaving the Holy Spirit as a guide and comforter for us.

The Holy Spirit is how God now writes his Law in us, on our hearts. The Law is set aside, now, with its commands and regulations. (Eph. 2:15) God is looking for people willing to receive is Spirit and internalize His character in themselves as His children.

But what does this have to do with politics?

Continue reading “How the “God of the Old Testament” vs. God of the New Testament Idea Might Inform Our Politics”