In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Peoples Next Door, Lauren Ballard explains how regular people can minister to internationals. Lauren writes:

I want to share part of my story on how I began to engage internationals and how you can too. When I started at seminary in the Fall of 2013, sadly the thought of engaging the nations in Raleigh was not on my radar. The Lord began to soften my heart and open my eyes to the fact that the nations are coming to us and I needed to do something about it. At church one Sunday someone announced the opportunity to get involved in ministering to Muslims. This sparked my interest, but I didn’t know how to get started. You may be thinking the same thing. For example, you see a Muslim lady in line at the store and want to strike up a conversation but don’t know where to start.

Let me tell you about three ways I engage internationals here in Raleigh: eyebrow threading shops, ethnic restaurants, and mosques/temples.

You don’t think your job matters? In this article Nathaniel Williams explains why it does.

My toddler occasionally watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (If you haven’t seen it, think animated Mr. Rogers with a preschool tiger.) One day I heard the characters singing this jingle:

Everyone’s job is important. We all help… in different ways.

My ears perked up, so I sat down to watch alongside my son. I learned that Daniel wanted to be the line leader. But when he received a different classroom job, he was disappointed. By the end of the episode, he learned that some classroom jobs are less glamorous, but all of them are important.

This lesson is simple enough. So simple, in fact, that the show’s creators put it to music. But believing that everyone’s job is important is painfully hard to put into practice.

In a recent article at The Anxious Bench, Thomas Kidd explains why the Founding Fathers spoke the King James Bible. Dr. Kidd writes:

One of the besetting problems of “Christian America” history writing is that it often interprets biblical quotes from the Founders as evidence that they were personally devout. Sometimes personally devout Founders did also speak in the language of the King James Bible, of course. But a broader range of Founding Fathers – including the skeptical Benjamin Franklin – spoke in the language of the King James because it was the coin of the realm. Even people who had little formal education, like Franklin, (the devout) Patrick Henry, or (the Calvinist-leaning skeptic) Abraham Lincoln thoroughly knew their Bibles from childhood, and spoke its language. So when you observe someone in America before 1877 speaking in the Bible’s phrases, you need to know more about that person before you can declare them a believing Christian.

Keelan Cook recently explained in a recent post why in the context of urban missions, the suburbs still matter.

We talk a lot about cities nowadays, and we should. The world is now more urban than not, and that does not look to change any time soon. The Great Commission is increasingly an urban mission. That being said, I think some of the language we use at times to showcase the importance of cities may cause people to overlook the complexity of the average US urban center.

Cities are engines of commerce, culture, and influence, we say. Cities emanate culture outward to the surrounding areas, regions, and even the world. Cities shape the world. While this is all true, if we are not careful, our description is a little too flat. The flow of culture, influence, and people is not one-directional.

Certainly, cities have a disproportionate influence compared to rural and even suburban areas. Think of the influence of Hollywood or Madison Avenue. It is no secret that advertising tells people what they want before they want it. In this regard, cities drive culture on a large scale. However, cities cannot do this alone. At least in America, cities need their suburbs.

Suburbs are important too.

Cities cannot exist without their suburbs. Because of the way cities developed in the United States (think about the automobile), most of our cities need suburbs to supply them people. Yes, many center cities are experiencing population growth right now, but the vast amount of commerce in cities depends on the large workforce that exists around its beltway. Not only do these people work in the city, they support the city by shopping and playing there. This is a bigger deal concerning culture and commerce than one would first think. If culture pushes out from the cities, then many of the people making decisions about it are actually suburbanites. That means this relationship is not as one-way as many claim.

At The Front Porch blog, Thabiti Anyabwile discusses the difference between a healthy church and a peaceful church.

I love the Church. And because I love the Church, I long for both her health and her peace. Sometimes in discussions with other people who love the Church, I find myself in some disagreement. Sometimes the disagreements are major and substantial—we see the world very differently. Sometimes the disagreements are matters of degree or emphasis—we see the world largely the same way but we lean in different directions.

I’ve sometimes been puzzled about why people who love the Church and want its health and peace find themselves at odds. This morning I’m convinced that sometimes the disagreements arise because we can use “health” and “peace” as synonyms when they’re not.

In Case You Missed It

If you follow Dr. Russell Moore on social media, you may have heard that his Grandmother recently went home to be with the Lord. Earlier this week, Dr. Moore shared this post on what his Grandmother taught him about the church. Dr. Moore writes:

On the way to my grandmother’s funeral, I found myself noticing, in a gas station checkout line, a pack of Dentyne gum. I don’t think I had thought about the little red bits of cinnamon in years, but the package stood out to me. My grandmother, Agnes Moore, would give me half a piece of that gum every time we would sit down in church. It was always a half piece, because she couldn’t stand the sight of someone visibly smacking gum. All sorts of memories filed forward. I suppose that’s because I can only think of that gum in the context of church, and, in a very real sense, I can only think of the church in the context of her.

My family was always at Sunday school and Sunday morning worship, but my grandmother, who lived next door to us, expected more from me. She was widowed early in my life, losing my grandfather who had been pastor of my home church, Woolmarket Baptist in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was lonely, and I knew it, so I would spend many evenings in her house, snapping beans or shelling peas in front of the fire. And on Sunday evenings I would go with her to Training Union (kind of a Baptist Sunday school at night) followed by Sunday evening services. On Wednesday night, she would take me to Royal Ambassadors (kind of a Southern Baptist Boy Scouts, where we would learn about international missions) and Wednesday night prayer meeting. She would take me to all the fifth Sunday dinners on the grounds and every revival meeting.

There was only one event in the church calendar we would always miss: business meeting.

Jason Duesing recently shared this post on making the history of the future.

In a recent foreword to a book on Baptist church doctrine, James Leo Garrett Jr. offers a somber word. He says, “The twentieth century was not the finest epoch in Southern Baptist history with respect to ecclesiological practice.” Referencing decades of emphasis on efficiency and unchecked church growth, Garrett laments a century that largely “found that ecclesiology was a weakness.”

While I do not agree fully with Garrett’s bleak assessment, I do think that Baptists in the twenty-first century have an opportunity to recover how believers should understand what the Bible says about churches—and that is a hopeful task. In short, regardless of the past, what matters most for the future is what we do with the time that is given to us.

Bruce Ashford recently posted an article at the Intersect Project website on what we should do when scientists and theologians disagree. Dr. Ashford writes:

In a recent post, we discussed that science and theology should be partners, not enemies. Nevertheless, some scientists and theologians disagree on key issues. How, then, do we find a resolution when certain scientists present evidence that appears to conflict with Christian teaching?

As Christians we believe that there cannot be any real or final conflict between theology and science, because God is the author of both the “book of Scripture” and the “book of nature.” If there is a conflict between certain theologians and certain scientists, it exists because of human error in interpreting Scripture or interpreting nature.

In other words, there will sometimes be disagreement between theologians and scientists, but there will never be disagreement between God’s two books (Scripture and nature).

In light of these convictions, I offer three principles to resolve the disagreements that sometimes exist between theologians and scientists. These three principles are modified from an article written by the Christian philosopher Norman Geisler.

In a recent blog post at the Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook reminds us that it is both easier and harder than ever to be a missionary.

Today is an interesting time for global missions.

In many ways, it is easier than ever for us to get to the nations. Consider that early missionaries would travel on a dirty ship for two months through storms to get to their field, and then complain to me about the 2 hour delay on your layover. Travel is a lot easier and cheaper than it was.

And we cannot forget about the ease of communication. Today, with the internet, we can reach most anywhere in the world, at any time, instantaneously, and usually for free. Of course, that is not true everywhere. I served in one of those few places where the internet barely reaches, but those locations are shrinking by the day. So, in some ways, it is easier to be a missionary than ever.

But at the same time, it is getting harder to be a missionary in many places… a lot harder.

Dan Darling recently shared this helpful post on how to be a prolific writer. Dan writes:

One of the questions I often get from emerging writers is this one: How do you create a lot of good content at a regular pace. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to write for a variety of outlets on topics I enjoy. I write regularly for ERLC and am a regular contributor to several other publications.

Every writer has their own rhythms, but perhaps there are some things you can learn from what has helped me. Here are six things I do in my life to be a productive and consistent writer.