In Case You Missed It

Recently at The Gospel Coalition, Keith Getty posted an article titled: Facing the Music, Finding the Mission. Keith writes:

There was something unfinished causing a splinter in my mind.

 

I began sensing it last year after I finished rewriting the song “Facing a Task Unfinished,” but it came to a head in January. Over the last five years, we’ve started a new family and enjoyed incredible opportunities in music we never could’ve dreamed of—and, of course, don’t deserve. All of this came out of writing music for the church.

 

Even so, something was just not right.

 

Then it arrived: the torturous day when I finally admitted to myself that little by little, we’d been moving away from what I’d set out to do at my core—write hymns. Time and focus was needed to feed new thoughts, collaborations, and sounds. It was time to face the music. Little did I know, I was about to find so much more.

 

As the clouds broke, our focus shifted and sharpened, so we began putting pen and melody to a new project, Facing a Task Unfinished. (Download free sheet music for the songs “He Will Hold Me Fast,” “For the Cause,” and “Facing a Task Unfinished.”) In the previous five years we’d only managed to write a couple of songs each year we were really pleased with, in contrast to earlier years of writing. But in the first three months of this year, we’d written eight new songs—a testament to the new perspective.

 

In coming back to this calling, I began to freshly realize four things that reinvigorated our cause.

 

At the Lifeway WosrhipLife blog, Dr. Joshua Waggener recently discussed worship that follows the Great Commission.

When Christians think about the Great Commission, we consider where we should go. But when we think of worshiping, we don’t necessarily think about going anywhere. Instead, we often focus on “staying put” for times of prayer, singing, and preaching from the Bible.

 

But what would our worship services look like if they more intentionally reflected the Great Commission? How might we gather to worship in ways that encourage going?

 

In a post at his personal blog, Jason Engle recently reminded us that there is no such thing as a blank space Christian. Jason writes:

Recently, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary adopted a new official hymn.  They selected a beautiful new song written by Keith and Krysten Getty entitled, “For the Cause.”  I love being a student (yet again!) at this wonderful Seminary.  I appreciate their heart for the gospel, and especially their vision to see “every classroom a Great Commission classroom.”  From good experience, I can honestly say that vision provides the engine that drives each and every classroom on their campus.  This is why this hymn fits the Seminary so very well.  I have posted a video of this song that the Getty’s have created in cooperation with Southeastern.  If you haven’t had a chance to hear this song or see this video, please take a few minutes and do that.  Besides the blessing I know it will be for you, I would like to offer some thoughts as I have reflected on it, myself.

 

Meredith Cooper is a student at Southeastern, and this year she made her first trip to the SBC annual meeting as a messenger. In this post, she shares the reflections of an SBC rookie. Meredith writes:

Last week, I attended the Southern Baptist Convention for the first time. While I am not new to the SBC—I grew up in an SBC church and now attend an SBC seminary—I did not consider myself immersed in the denomination until last year when I became a full-time employee of the seminary. As I learned more about the inner workings and politics of our denomination, I have to admit that my perception was less than positive. There were various reasons, ranging from sheer lack of interest in anything political to focusing on the wrong things to simple misunderstanding. However, attending the annual meeting last week put things in perspective, and these are some things I learned.

 

At The Peoples Next Door blog, Keelan Cook writes an appeal to young Southern Baptists.

This week was the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was held in St. Louis this year and over 7,000 messengers attended. That is quite a bit larger than recent years, and I have to say, the event impacted me in a couple of significant ways. That is the reason for this appeal. I write to ask you, young Southern Baptist, to consider your involvement in our convention. Does your church send representatives to the convention? Have you ever been?

 

In my estimation, this year’s convention was deeply significant. Some pretty important issues were discussed on the floor of the convention, some sharp rebukes were delivered, and some magnificent displays of unity occurred. It was more than a convention. It was a defining moment in the direction of our giant cooperation of churches, and there is a chance history will remember it that way. What is more, I was there and I did not just watch it happen, I helped make it happen.

 

That is the beauty of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are America’s largest protestant denomination and we are not run by some elite board of decision makers. We are run by a room full of church members from across the United States and Canada. Our decisions are made by small church pastors, bi-vocational church planters, scholars, and automobile mechanics. Technically, our denomination only exists for two days a year, when all of our churches have the opportunity to send people to speak on matters concerning this cooperation we have created. It is powerful, and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, I am afraid our generation knows little of that.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project website, Harper McKay shared how Southeast Asia helped her engage her own culture. Harper writes:

I’ll be the first to admit that reverse culture shock is hard. After living in Southeast Asia for nearly two years, America was both strange and familiar, welcoming yet uninviting.

 

In the midst of eating all the Chick-fil-A I could and catching up with friends and family, I found myself often confused in conversations, sometimes even angry. I criticized people for how they spent their time. I couldn’t understand the topics people chose to talk about. I heard it explained that I came from a square culture (America) and moved to a circle culture (Southeast Asia). My constant efforts to understand a circle culture as a square turned me into a triangle, resulting in me not fitting into my own square culture upon my return. While explanations like this helped me not to feel crazy, they really didn’t give me a way to live as a triangle in a square culture. Basically you’re told you’ve changed, no one gets you and now you just have to deal with it.

 

But then someone told me I didn’t have to settle for “that’s just the way it is.” I could use the differences in me to make an impact on my home culture. You see, to be a triangle means you have the unique privilege to be a constant learner of culture. Although I’m really just beginning this process, I have noticed a few things that my time in Southeast Asia taught me about engaging my own culture from the inside.

 

At his personal blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted: “Orlando, Tragedy and Why We Should Shut Up.

I’ve written before about how my first reaction to tragedies is almost always wrong. Instead of praying, I want to respond. The murderous rampage in Orlando is no different. We all have an inherent (and good) desire to see wrong made right, so we just want to do something—even if all that means is to say something on social media. Unfortunately, our responses often contradict one another and attacked deeply hold beliefs of others.

 

Jonathan Howe and Julie Masson recently shared five strategic ministry uses for Instagram.

In previous posts, I’ve covered how pastors, church leaders, and churches can most effectively used Facebook and Twitter. Today, I turn my attention to Instagram.

 

This picture-based social network can help build affinity, promote events, and provide inspiring insight into the inner-workings of your church. And now that the apps offer multi-account functionality, using Instagram has never been easier for pastors and church leaders.

 

But when it comes to using Instagram strategically for ministry, you have to post more than pics of food and lattes. So here are five ways you can use Instagram in a ministry context.

 

Ashley Gorman shared three things to do after praying for Orlando. Ashley writes:

We’ve all heard the news at this point. 50 Americans were killed horrifically in cold blood at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 53, according to the news, are still wounded. The media outlets are flabbergasted. The police work tirelessly to put the pieces together. The cries of families who have lost loved ones still hang in the air.

 

It’s a national tragedy. And if there’s anyone who can mourn with those who mourn, it should be a Christian.

 

People naturally want to watch how their Christian neighbors respond to this. They want to know—do you even care? While the answer should be obvious, I have to ask: Well, do we? While hashtags and prayers fill the air, and obviously should, we need to do more. Assuming you’ve already prayed for Orlando and posted something about it on social media, here are three other things you can do now.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

There are three types of people in our great nation. There are, first of all, those who do not read. An AP-Ipsos poll recently revealed that 25% of Americans do not read books, while other polls have put the number higher, at around 50%. It is not that these Americans cannot read or that they do not accumulate knowledge. (No country’s citizens—and I mean none—bring more depth and import to subjects such as celebrity clothes, hair and makeup, and the intricacies of the Pitt-Jolie marriage than the citizens of the USA.) It is just that their knowledge is not gained from books. Second, there are those who read but do so aimlessly, choosing on a whim what to read and when to do so. Third, there are those who plan to read and who read with a plan.

 

If you are the third type of reader, or if you wish to become that type of reader, this post offers five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

 

Determining what to read is more than a little important. Of the many books in any given library or bookstore, most can be left unread without any fear of intellectual, moral, or spiritual deprivation. Even (and sometimes especially) the bestsellers are not necessarily worth reading. So what should a thoughtful Christian read? Without being able to answer this question in specific, because each person’s callings, abilities, and tastes are unique, I will attempt to give some general principles that should apply to all.

 

This past Tuesday at the SBC annual meeting, Dr. James Merritt stood to offer support for a resolution against the confederate battle flag. The Baptist Press website published this write-up of the resolution, and you can also check out the video below to hear Dr. James Merritt’s statement for yourself.

In Case You Missed It

Dr. Ivan Spencer recently posted about Dante’s Divine Comedy at Jamie Dew’s blog. Dr. Spencer writes:

Through the halls of time, you will not find a more haunting, surreal, and exhilarating vision than Dante’s Divine Comedy. The poem’s eerie and dreamy account retells the epic journey of Dante Alighieri though hell, purgatory, and heaven. His after-worldview, written over 700 years ago, unceasingly intrigues and inspires readers and artists today. My favorite artistic renditions flow from the brush of Salvador Dali and William Blake. Each produced 100 paintings, one for each canto, a legacy of this enduring classic. The work merits reading and study from a variety of disciplines, including theology, philosophy, cultural history, literary criticism, and aesthetics.

 

Brad Hambrick shared a post on his blog discussing a new letter writing tradition for his boys.

With my boys at the ages of 11 and 9, I am realizing that the years of influence that I have with them in our home are coming to an end much sooner than I would like (sigh). This is not the introduction for a blog post of regret, but one of intentionality.

 

For several years I have made it a discipline to write my wife at least 3 letters per year. This is a time to regularly reflect over our marriage, my level of engagement, and how the hopes-dreams-fears of life have changed over the last few months.

 

Recently, wife said, “You should write the boys letters too.” She’s right. I guess I never realized they know how to read now. We have taken lots of trips together. If you look over the review of each trip, you will be able to tell I put thought into their spiritual and character development on each trip.

 

But I realized I was counting on their memories to carry the content of those conversations into the future. Let’s be honest, kids remember events (i.e., flying on an air plane, riding down a water fall, rock climbing, etc…) more than conversations. Letters help compensate for that memory difference.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared the top 25 (or so) books for a young theologian to own (and read). Dr. Ashford writes:

If ever in history there were a non-event, this is it: my top 25 (or so) books for a young theologian to own (and read). A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me his list of twenty-five books and it “got me to thinkin.” So here’s my list, but before I give the list, allow me to make several comments.

 

First, I’ve focused this list mainly on Christian doctrine and systematic theology, and certain other types of books that relate closely to those tasks. I’ve left out numerous wonderful books that fall in other categories (pastoral theology, biblical studies, etc.).

 

Second, this list includes quite a few books with which I disagree vigorously. A theologian’s library should contain more than a few books written by theologians outside of our “theological family,” so that he can come to the theological roundtable, listening and speaking in an informed and compelling manner.

 

Third, this list encourages the young theologian not to be a chronological snob (by limiting his reading to recent publications), but instead to read the old books, slowly, patiently, receptively.

 

Fourth, I’d like to hear your thoughts about what you would have included that I left out, and maybe what I included that you would have left out. I started out aiming to provide 25 recommendations, but ended up exceeding my own limit.

 

Ryan Higginbottom shared the following post on his blog earlier this week: “Read Like a Reader“.

Shortly after I became a Christian, wise friends put good books in my hands.

 

I was in college, and these volumes of theology and practical Christianity lived next to my textbooks. When reading for class, I paid attention to every detail, stuffing my brain to capacity. I read these new books the same way.

 

For me, reading was a way to learn and prepare. Books were an academic tool, nothing more.

 

At the Intersect Project website, Dr. David Jones reccommended 7 books on faith and economics. Dr. Jones writes:

Want to learn more about how faith intersects with everyday topics like money, wealth, poverty and economics? You can check out my new book Every Good Thing. In addition, you should add these seven books to your summer reading list.