In Case You Missed It

Spence Spencer recently posted an article discussing how Francis Schaeffer helped call people back to an understanding that Jesus is Lord of all life. Spence writes:

In the Alps of Switzerland, a wise man once lived out his religion as faithfully as he knew how. He was not a hermit who sought isolation, but an evangelist who invited many people into his home to converse and try to think God’s thoughts after him.

 

That man was Francis Schaeffer. That home was called L’Abri. Schaeffer’s vision for Christians was faith that brings the gospel to bear on every aspect of life.

 

For Schaeffer, confronting the ills of culture was not simply done through direct proclamation. It was also accomplished by contributing to the world in a way that reflects the moral order of the universe. Creation is meant to be true—that is, the work people do is meant to point back to God.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently wrote an article discussing how to think biblically about politics.

When Christians want to answer the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” it can be tempting to come up with a quick answer by limiting our research to a couple of Bible passages that explicitly address the Christian’s relationship to the governing authorities. Or, alternatively, it can be tempting to jump immediately to Bible passages that address religious liberty, the value of human life, the nature of marriage, or some other public policy issue.

However, if we conduct our investigation by looking only at a few isolated passages, we will miss the Bible’s richest and most profound teaching. We will miss its fuller perspective on culture and politics; we will misunderstand those isolated passages because our perspective does not arise from within a fully-formed Christian worldview. Similarly, if we allow our minds to leap to specific issues of public policy, we will be trying to build a “house of policy” without having first laid a foundation.

The only way to overcome a fragmented perspective on politics is to allow the Bible’s master narrative to shape our thinking. Isolated passages shouldn’t be understood, and policies shouldn’t be crafted, in ways that are divorced from the bigger picture. So we’ve got to go back before we can go forward: we need to understand politics from within the Bible’s master narrative—the true story of the whole world.

Cas Monaco posted at Intersect project this week on how to steward the Gospel well, giving a framework for both the energized and the overwhelmed. Cas writes:

As a budding missiologist, I am being trained to research and analyze the church and culture within a sound biblical framework. Since I’m on staff with Cru, I put my learning into practice as I interact with city leaders and kingdom citizens participating in the Great Commission across the country actively.

 

We collaborate with all sorts of leaders who seek to steward the gospel well. Many pastor or partner with churches in the urban core. Some serve Millennials by helping them to navigate the precarious path between faith and work. Others encourage actors, artists, filmmakers and authors. One thing these believers have in common, whether Cru staff, educators, civil servants, financial analysts or computer programmers, is passion and a longing to make a difference for God’s kingdom in their field of influence or their neighborhood.

 

As we dialogue with followers of Jesus, we reflect on the rapidly changing culture and consider how we can effectively express the gospel in word and deed.

 

At Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer recently discussed dissertations that are needed today.

The function of graduate work is to make specialists out of generalists. There is nothing wrong with being a generalist, but generalists are aggregators of knowledge. Specialists have an opportunity to add to the realm of human knowledge.

Ph.D. study refines the specialty of the specialist, revealing knowledge the generalist learns later.

If these assertions are true of knowledge in scientific and historical fields, they are no less true regarding the religious Ph.D.

Here are a few thoughts about why you should consider seeking a Ph.D. today.

Aaron Earls recently wrote a blog post about how American Christians are confused about what it means to be a Christian. Aaron writes:

Before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

 

He claimed to be the exclusive way to salvation and eternal life with God. But according to Pew Research, most American Christians believe they have found a different path.

 

Self-identified Christians were given a list of items and asked which ones were essential to being a Christian, which ones were important, but not essential, and which ones were unimportant. For most weekly church-attending American Christians, the essentials of being a Christian means doing some good things, believing in God, and … that’s about it.

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Bruce Ashford recently posted an article at his personal blog discussing how there is no social transformation without representation, and what we should expect in a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States. Dr. Ashford writes:

The British cultural critic G. K. Chesterton once noted, “Seemingly from the dawn of man all nations have had governments, and all nations have been ashamed of them.” What is true of “all nations” in relation to their governments is true of many “Americans” in relation to the Supreme Court majority.

 

During the last half of the twentieth century, we the people experienced a social transformation being imposed upon us by a number of justices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). These judges were able to impose their social views upon us by employing what is called a “living document” view of the Constitution. This imposition, no matter how well-intended, undermines our democratic republic.

 

Most proponents of the “living document” view contend that the constitutional framers specifically wrote the Constitution in broad and flexible terms so that future judges could reinterpret it in light of “the times.” In effect, justices who employ this view from the Supreme Court bench are able to take things out of the Constitution that they do not like and insert things they do.

 

Beth Allison Bar recently posted at The Anxious Bench on the value of failure in graduate school:

My husband suggested once that I have lunch with a friend. She was a graduate student, and struggling in the program. “Did you tell her I almost quit?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” my husband said. “That is why I thought you should talk with her.”

 

Graduate school is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Although I am grateful for the excellent program I attended and my superb adviser (who is still my friend and advocate), I have no desire to return to my graduate years.

 

I expected the painful work load, the never ending research projects and papers, the complete lack of sleep for days on end, and even the political drama among both faculty and students.

 

What I didn’t expect was how much I would fail.

 

Benjamin Quinn wrote an article for the Intersect Project discussing how to destroy the divide between pulpit and pew. Dr. Quinn writes:

My older brother, Brandon, serves as principal of the public high school from which we both graduated. He recently told me a story about a kid we’ll call Cory who was in and out of Brandon’s office for reasons mostly related to drug possession. As Brandon questioned Cory about the situation, he discovered Cory’s problem wasn’t drug use — it was his family.

 

Cory’s parents were using him to deliver drugs to another kid at school, who then delivered them to his own parents. Their logic was that if Cory got caught, his punishment, as a minor, would be minimal. If they got caught, it would likely entail jail time. In other words, lower risk for him than for them.

 

In one emotional conversation with Cory, Brandon asked, “Do you want out of this?” With teary eyes, Cory said, “Show me how! There ain’t no way out of this!”

 

After Brandon shared this story with me, he asked about my job as a college and seminary professor: “What do you do every day?” I told him about various theology courses and students preparing for pastoral ministry and mission work. I also expressed my great delight in my work despite its challenges.

 

Less than three minutes after telling me about Cory, Brandon said, with all sincerity, “I just don’t see how what I do is as important as what pastors, missionaries or seminary professors do.”

 

My jaw dropped, and my heart broke. How could Brandon conclude that his work is less valuable than mine? The question was a turning point.

 

Dr. Jamie Dew posted an article earlier this week discussing the role of apologetics in the believer’s life.

Over the past few weeks we’ve considered doubt. I’ve looked at the causes, and I’ve suggested that we need friends and fellow believers to help us through times of doubt and struggle. I have not, at least not until now, said anything about the role of apologetics in the life of the believer who struggles with doubt. But obviously, any discussion on doubt needs to turn to this important question at some point.

 

For me, apologetics has been a huge help as I’ve continued to follow Christ. It’s given me the opportunity to explore my questions and my doubt, and to wrestle with very difficult matters. In the end, the process has made my faith stronger. Most of us who study apologetics recognize that it has as much to offer the believer and the church as it does the non-believer. So, if you struggle with doubt, you need apologetics. But, let me clarify a few things before you set your self to the task.

 

Christopher Poirier posted a helpful article at the Intersect Project website: “The Geek Contextualization: Finding the Geeks.” Christopher writes:

Have you ever noticed how the gospel thrives in the most unlikely places? For example, in the first century, the gospel thrived not among the Jews, but the pagan Gentiles. Today, the gospel thrives not in the so-called “Christian” West, but in parts of Asia under heavy persecution.

 

So, today Geek culture seems like a very unlikely place for the gospel to thrive. But God has done stranger things. So here’s the question: How can you and I share the gospel within this community?

 

Here at Intersect, we started having this conversation with a recent post, “The Geek Contextualization: Putting the Gospel Where the Geeks Are.” This piece will now be the foundational discussion point for a series on how to engage this large, and growing, community.

 

In part one of this series, I provided a broad definition of the Geek culture. The truth is, Geek culture is difficult to pin down. Part of what makes the Geek culture so large, dynamic and full of life is that new niches, games, movies and characters are constantly expanding the culture and its fan base each and every day.

 

But just how large is this group? Answering this question is difficult, and very little research exists to quantify it. That said, here are a few things we do know

 

In Case You Missed It

Dr. Chuck Lawless recently posted at his blog: “9 Reflections from a Formerly Single Adult.” Dr. Lawless writes:

I’ve been happily married for almost 25 years, but I was 30 years old before I married. I was a full-time single pastor for ten years before that. Working with college students, writing for older adults, and doing church consultations over the last year have caused me to think again about how churches relate to single adults. Here are my thoughts, and I welcome the input of singles.

 

The Intersect project recently published an article giving three reasons why we should read Every Waking Hour, a new book by Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland.

It’s Monday morning. You pull into your parking spot, ready to invest your time and energy into work. But the satisfaction you’re looking for never arrives, and you’re let down. By week’s end, you’re weary of the same old routines.

 

On Sunday you show up to church expecting encouragement. Instead, you feel guilty because your work isn’t as important as your pastor’s. You don’t have time to do all the church activities on the schedule. Your forty hours on the job seem like nothing more than a means to support your family, give your tithe and invite people to church.

 

So as another week ends, discontentment sets in again. You conclude that God must not care about your work.

 

I’ve been in this position. I’m sure you have too.
What if we were to tell you that God does care about your work? That your calling to your vocation is just as important as your pastor’s? That God himself is a worker who created you to be a worker in his image?

 

That’s exactly what you’ll learn in Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians. In it, Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland develop a biblically and theologically rich view of work, vocation, and they show you how to glorify God through everything you do.

 

Here are three reasons you must read Every Waking Hour

 

Dr. Jamie Dew recently published an interesting article on Pascal and the Pensées: dealing with our mortality. Dr. Dew writes:

“This negligence in a matter where they themselves, their eternity, their all are at stake, fills me more with irritation than pity; it astounds and appalls me; it seems quite monstrous to me. I do not say this prompted by the pious zeal of spiritual devotion. I mean on the contrary that we ought to have this feeling from principles of human interest” (Pascal, Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensées, 191).

 

A Second Reflection from Part III: Two Popular Pseudo-Solutions

 

We spend hours thinking about and discussing trivial things in life. We might, for example, spend days or weeks preparing our lawn for a new landscape design that we hope to bring to our property. Likewise, we spend massive amounts of time think about what car we might purchase, what we want our wardrobe to be like, or following our favorite sports team. When it comes to these things we typically have plenty of time and devote substantial amounts of mental energy.

 

Art Rainer published a helpful article on his blog discussing how the place we choose to sit in a meeting can communicate to others.

You walk into your boss’ office. He sits behind his desk and you sit in front of it, directly across from your boss. In that moment, how do you feel?

For many of us who have found ourselves in that setting, we remember feeling uncomfortable or maybe even intimidated. But why?

 

Proxemics is the study of the space around us. Believe it or not, how you use space communicates something to those around you. Including seating arrangements.

 

For the past few years, I have tried to consider what the chair in which I choose to sit around my conference table is communicating to the other person, especially during a one-on-one meeting.

 

Before your next one-on-one meeting, consider the tone you want to communicate. Below are three common tones and how to communicate it through your seating arrangement.

 

Ed Stetzer recently wrote an article discussing his love/hate relationship with leadership.

I have a love/hate relationship with leadership.

First of all, I hate it because I’m not a natural born leader. I’ve never been able to step into leadership roles effortlessly. I meet people who just become leaders because of who they are. I have never been that person. I was a bookworm and a nerd. Leadership was not something I naturally inherited; it was a skill and a practice I had to learn. And learn I did.

Because of my experience, I think all of us can learn to be leaders. I don’t think leadership is simply something we are born with or not. We can learn skills, activities, and practices that help us in the area of leadership.

Finally, please check out this awesome video from Dr. John Ewart discussing church revitalization as a new “normal.”