In Case You Missed It

1) John Hammett, John Leadley Dagg Chair of Systematic Theology, writes about salvation and God’s mission, including the extent of the atonement, at Ed Stetzer’s blog.

2) Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, reflects on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s advent reflections while in prison. Only prisoners understand that from which they have been set free.

3) Ed Stezter shares Part 3 of LifeWay’s research on the church and mental illness. Well worth keeping up with this research.

4) At CT, Ruth Moon with some interesting research findings on whether pastors think the gospel mandates racial reconciliation.

5) At SEND Network, NAMB President Kevin Ezell reflects on God’s work in 2014.

 

J. D. Greear on Hezekiah’s Tragic End

Every Thursday, we highlight the writing of J. D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. This week J. D. examines the end of Hezekiah’s life and encourages Christians to persevere unto the end. 

Here’s an except:

Tragically, many of God’s people end their lives just like Hezekiah. They forget that God blesses us to be a blessingThey may never say it out loud, but their lives scream, “Who cares about anyone else? As long as my needs are taken care of and I die happy, it’s all fine! So what if kids in my city are growing up without mothers or fathers? So what if people around the world are dying without hearing the gospel? I’m going to heaven, so it’s all good.”

Read the full post here.

John Ewart on God’s Servants in Zambia

I have the privilege of writing this just before Christmas from the campus of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia in Lusaka. I am here teaching courses to a cohort of leaders from around their convention and churches. These men are pastor/teachers who seek to develop other leaders as well. They are a sharp and godly group! They humble me.

No matter where I go and how often I have the opportunity to be a part of the incredible team at Southeastern that helps train leaders in the international church just like these men, I am always struck by how universal and cross cultural the needs of discipleship and leadership development truly are. God has created His church and maintained ownership of it from the beginning. We, as mere stewards and servants, are asked to help guide and lead His people under His command. The task is great but the resources He provides are even greater. They are supra-cultural. They transcend culture.

I recognize and am teaching this week about the reality of contextualization and its great importance. I understand and will expound upon the fact that our specific methods and approaches to church life, missions and discipleship are greatly affected and often specifically defined by context and culture. First Corinthians 9:19-23 shows we must be willing to adapt and be sensitive. But underneath that willingness lays a firm foundation we must always acknowledge that is never changing and wholly dependent upon God.

I have been learning from my students here once again about the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer. I am being schooled on what concepts like total dependency upon God and amazing faith in the Word look like in real world practice. I am being blessed by testimonies of victory and triumph over darkness. It is good as the teacher to also be the student. I appreciate the early Christmas present I am receiving by being here.

As we seek to train trainers in our local churches, our schools and for the nations, I pray we will study well the lessons learned from others. It is good to learn from those who went before us and succeeded at impacting others. The principles we can find in books and conferences or even a blog like this are often valuable, challenging and encouraging. They also give us something to footnote!

Ultimately, however, may we never forget the primacy of Scripture and the Holy Spirit in the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples and leaders. To remember that our relationship with others must be squarely based upon our relationship with our Father as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 22:34-40. To never forget that no matter what role we play in the process, God, in the end, is the One who causes the growth to occur as Paul writes in I Corinthians 3:5-7.

I have already finished teaching these leaders in a course on evangelism. Now I must expand the discussion to missions. I pray I can teach them well; teach them something of value. But if I were to be honest, selfishly, I am really praying they will teach me more as well over the next few days. Good leaders must never stop being good learners. I will be looking for that next early Christmas present as I meet with these dear brothers!