Good morning, friends!

An excellent new summary of what’s going on with “faith” in the NT by Nijay Gupta:

Mark Twain once said, wryly, “Faith is believin’ what you know ain’t so.” Many Christians, including myself, would have much to disagree with in Twain’s description, but one thing he got right about virtually all modern readers of the English Bible—they assume that “faith” is about “beliefs.” Now, there must be some connection between “faith” and “belief”—hence the historical Christians creeds begin with credo, “I believe in.” But is there more to faith than belief?

While this is an “evergreen” conversation in biblical and theological studies, several significant studies have been published in the last decade or so on faith language in the New Testament and its world. Two broader conversations that have inspired these works are “divine and human agency” in the Bible and the infamous pistis Christou debate. Divine and human agency involves questions about how biblical writers imagine and construe what roles humans play in religion and salvation, and what roles divine agents play. In the past, scholars have focused on keywords and concepts like law, works, justification/righteousness, covenant, and grace. But lately it seems that the Greek terminology pistis (often translated as faith) has been pushed into the spotlight.

If you have followed the Wheaton Plaque story, here’s the next chapter, by David Swartz.

The language on the plaque implicates more than just young Wheaton alumni. It reflects a troubling discourse embedded in the midcentury white evangelical missionary enterprise. Consider, for example, Through Gates of Splendor (1957), the widely read chronicle of the slayings written by Jim Elliot’s widow Elisabeth Elliot. She recalled that their first encounters with “isolated, unconquered, seminomadic remnant of age-old jungle Indians . . . thrilled their young blood. Would they someday be permitted to have part in winning the Aucas [a pejorative term meaning “savage” in the lowland Quichua language] for Christ?” As they engaged these warriors face to face, however, the young missionaries worried about living close to fundamentally untrustworthy “stone age” peoples. There was hope that the Huaorani could be redeemed, but the spiritual and cultural distance between civilized white Americans and the inscrutable Indians seemed enormous. In a raw concluding chapter, Elliot described dragging mutilated corpses to a common grave during a violent tropical storm—all while worrying that these “natural born killers” were waiting in the jungle to strike again. The Life magazine correspondent who accompanied the search party noted the eerie, grim, fantastical scene as helicopters descended into a cove and as guards with fingers on triggers stared tensely into the jungle. Everything about Elliot’s narrative suggested the savagery and otherness of the Huaorani.

Way to go, Kaydence!

Editor’s note: The original version of this story gave the impression this incident took place at Walt Disney World Resort, which is not correct. This incident took place at a hotel in Orlando, not on Walt Disney World property. We apologize for the confusion.

MAYHILL, N.M. (KRQE) — A New Mexico teen’s vacation to Orlando turned into a rescue mission when she saved a young girl’s life.

Thirteen-year-old Kaydence Henslee, of Mayhill, was on spring break in Orlando, Florida with her family enjoying some time at the pool when she saw a toddler floating face down in the deep end.

“I was scared and nervous and afraid, but my instincts kicked in,” Kaydence said.

“I just saw her kind of floating,” Kaydence recalled. “She wasn’t technically on the bottom when I was there. When I pulled her out, her lip was purple.”

The child was later identified as 3-year-old Haven Williams from Missouri. Haven’s mother, Ashley Williams, said she stepped away from the pool for just a couple of minutes. “I just remember seeing another woman run across and yell into the bar area for someone to call 911 because a baby had just drowned,” Ashley said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I didn’t think it was my baby.”

Ashley said it finally clicked when she recognized her daughter’s swimsuit. “I just pushed through the crowd,” Ashley said. “I felt that feeling of losing my child.”

A bystander performed CPR and Haven was rushed to the hospital that Saturday afternoon. Haven did not fully recover until 5 a.m. the next morning.

“Even the doctors are saying that whoever got her out of the water did it at a perfect time because if she would have been under the water a little longer, it would have been a different outcome,” Ashley said.

Way to go, Laurel!

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Hawaii third-grader and Girl Scout Laurel wrote an essay that is literally out of this world.

Laurel took part in the first-ever “Making Space for Girls Challenge.”

Her essay — out of 700 entries — was one of 21 submissions picked to be included in a journey to the International Space Station.

“To do the essay, I thought about the stuff we could do in the future and what I think would be nice to have,” says Girl Scout Brownie Laurel S. from Troop 861. “It makes me feel like the essay was special, so they chose it for its creativity.”

Laurel’s submission included an essay and a Zoom interview.

The topic? What space travel will be like in 10 years.

“My space dream is to take a car ship to Mars,” says Laurel.

“We might also build an elevator into space. If we do, it will have to have bathrooms, beds, a kitchen, and a TV. This is because the elevator will take 10 days to get into outer space.”

“I think it’s like a different dimension out there with other things that we can discover like new planets and new maybe sources of life.”

The mission of the Girl Scouts is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

“80% of all female tech leaders, business tech leaders, were Girl Scouts,” says Shari Chang, CEO of Girl Scouts of Hawaii.

“Over 92% of every female astronaut was a Girl Scout. 100% of all female Secretaries of State were Girl Scouts. It’s a program that really provides girls with an opportunity to learn how to lead and become better leaders for their communities.”

Selected items will go to space in the SpaceX Mission 23, scheduled to launch in August, 2021, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Finland wins!

(CNN) — To say the past year has been a difficult one for people across the globe is something of an understatement.

Not only has the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the deaths of over 2.6 million people worldwide, it's also led to a massive shake up in everyday life for many of us.

But despite the devastating events of the last 12 months and the resulting decline in mental health in a number of destinations, there's been no change at the top spot when it comes to ranking the happiest country in the world.

For the fourth year running, Finland has come out on top in the annual list powered by data from the Gallup World Poll, with Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, and the Netherlands following in second, third, fourth and fifth position respectively.

While the United States moved up from 18th to 14th place and the United Kingdom dropped from 13th to 18th, Australia held its 12th place position.

"We need urgently to learn from Covid-19," said report co-editor Jeffrey Sachs, professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

"The pandemic reminds us of our global environmental threats, the urgent need to cooperate, and the difficulties of achieving cooperation in each country and globally."

Virus news:

(AP) — Nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in just five states — a situation that is putting pressure on the federal government to consider changing how it distributes vaccines by sending more doses to hot spots.

New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44% of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 new cases, in the latest available seven-day period, according to state health agency data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000.

The heavy concentration of new cases in states that account for 22% of the U.S. population has prompted some experts and elected officials to call for President Joe Biden’s administration to ship additional vaccine doses to those places. So far, the White House has shown no signs of shifting from its policy of dividing vaccine doses among states based on population.

With real pockets, please:

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KRON) — A first grader in Bentonville, Arkansas is gaining national attention after she asked Old Navy to make girl jeans with real pockets.

It was part of a school assignment at Evening Star Elementary that required 7-year-old Kamryn Gardner to write a persuasive letter.

“Dear Old Navy,

I do not like that the front pockets of the girls jeans are fake. I want front pockets because I want to put my hands in them. I also would like to put things in them. Would you consider making girls jeans with front pockets that are not fake. Thank you for reading my request.”

Kamryn’s words were pretty powerful, considering Old Navy actually responded!

Old Navy also sent Kamryn four pairs of jeans with real pockets.

O my, finally:

A Texas woman who held the Guinness World Record for the longest nails in the world has finally cut her 24-feet-long nails.

At the time of the record, in 2017, Ayanna Williams’ nails measured almost 19-feet-long collectively. In 2021, they had grown another 5 feet.

Williams began growing her nails nearly thirty years ago. This month, she decided to trim them down to a regular length.

She said the longest nail measured 38 inches, and it took her two bottles of nail polish and 20 hours to do a manicure.

Williams visited a dermatology office in Fort Worth, Texas to have the procedure. They used a small electric rotary tool to remove the nails.

With her shorter nails — which Williams plans to grow to about six inches long — she can now do everyday tasks that once were difficult or impossible, things like texting easily and opening doors.