In Case You Missed It

Trevin Wax posted an article at The Gospel Coalition showing that we should stop assuming our neighbors are hostile to our faith.

Some of the headlines are ominous. The value of religious liberty is on the decline. Many Americans consider normal Christian beliefs to be “extreme”—Christianity’s foundational truths (such as, Jesus is the only way to God) or Christianity’s moral vision (Jesus’s strict sexual ethic). In some quarters, our faith is no longer merely strange; it’s bad—detrimental a free and pluralistic society.

 

The evil one would love nothing more than to have these recent developments shut up Christians or to stir up in us a fear of rejection.

Dr. Jamie Dew recently posted about how to turn your children’s mistakes into learning experiences by asking them “What did you learn?” Dr. Dew writes:

What is your first reaction when your children make a “childish” mistake? By “childish”, I mean something like spilling milk, dropping your phone in the toilet, throwing a golf ball through a window, or ripping the wallpaper off the wall. I’m not referring to malicious acts of the will like hitting a brother, lying to a parent, or refusing to obey. Let’s consider those kinds of things later. For now, let’s think about our response to childish mistakes that kids make. The kind of mistakes that kids make because they are kids.

 

I’ll admit it, if I’m not careful, my first reaction to these kinds of mistakes is anger. With four kids, there have been plenty of moments when something went wrong and I responded in a way was is understandable, but not helpful. So, how do you respond? Do you have a default way of responding? Most of us do.

 

At The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared 8 ways churches can capitalize on Pokémon Go.

Pokemon Go has quickly become a cultural phenomenon and, whether you realize it or not, that’s a big deal for churches. Let me explain. The app mixes the popular video game with an augmented reality form of geocaching. In essence, you travel around in the real world, trying to catch Pokemon that show up on your smartphone. The game shot to the top of both iPhone and Android app charts, as millions of people around began their quest to “catch ’em all.”

 

Here’s why churches should care. Part of the game features going to PokeStops, which are real life buildings and landmarks that allow players to obtain needed items. Churches are often used this way. In fact, every church we drove past this weekend was a PokeStop or gym—from a gigantic megachurch to a tiny fundamentalist church. So what can a church do to capitalize on this? Here are some practical steps to hopefully move the gamers from your steps to your pews.

 

This has lead to some interesting situations for many unchurched gamers. Some exclaimed how this would be the first time in years they have been to a church.

 

My friend Chris Martin of Millennial Evangelical noted how he saw several young guys sitting on the steps of a downtown church because it was a Pokemon Gym. (He has also written a helpful post on why pastors and church leaders should care about Pokemon Go.)

 

So what can a church do to capitalize on this? Here are some practical steps to hopefully move the gamers from your steps to your pews.

At Dr. Dew’s blog, Dr. Steven Ladd posted an invitation to Logic. Dr. Ladd writes:

One of the great joys I have in academic life is teaching an undergraduate course in traditional logic. It is also called formal, predicate, term, or syllogistic logic, but because Aristotle’s method for making valid arguments was the earliest treatment of the subject (Prior Analyticsand De Interpretatione in Aristotle’s larger work Organon), his method developed into the traditional version taught for centuries also known as Aristotelian logic. All refer to the same discipline, however, and it has generally been taught to young people (middle school age) as the way to develop clarity in the reasoning process.

 

Nothing could be more relevant in the twenty-first century, especially for Christians seeking to engage a world increasingly hostile to the worldview found in Scripture.

Walter Strickland shared a helpful post on his blog giving some thoughts for church gatherings after #AltonSterling #PhilandoCastile & #Dallas.

Dear Pastor/Church Leader,

 

It has been said that the thoughtful Christian holds the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.  The events of this week have gripped our hearts and made us cling to the promises of Scripture.

 

Church leaders from Sunday school/small group leaders to senior pastors are asking the question, should these events be mentioned in our Sunday morning service?  If so, what does that look like?

 

Matt Capps shared the following post on his personal blog: “This is my son.

This is our precious son.

 

We have taught him about MLK, and that Americans have not always been nice to brown skinned people.

 

But, it breaks my heart to think that one day I will have to fully explain to him the complex brokenness of our world.

 

One day I will have to fully explain our country’s disgraceful history of racial discrimination.

 

One day I will have to help him understand that we, as a country, have not fully moved beyond these racial issues.

 

Thankfully, I will also get to point him to the coming day that we read about in Revelation 21.

 

The day when our loving Father “will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things will have passed away.”

 

On that day, God will “make all things new.”

 

On that day every believer, from every “tribe and people”, will “stand before the throne and before the Lamb”, as one (Revelation 7).

 

How long, O Lord?

In Case You Missed It

Dave Miller posted a helpful article recently at SBC Voices about how not everything is a “gospel” issue—but race is!

I’m not a fan of buzzwords. If a word becomes such you can pretty much bank on it that I’m not likely to use it. I’ve used the word missions a handful of times in recent years but I avoid it because it’s both nebulous and omnipresent.

 

Unfortunately, the word “gospel” has become such a word in some circles. I have come to the point where I almost never use the word unless I am specifically referring to the gospel story of Christ’s salvation. If I enumerated my specific complaints it would be counter-productive and we would most certainly find ourselves on several tangents. But chief among those complaints is the tendency to make every issue a gospel issue. “This touches on the gospel.” “This is at the heart of the gospel.” There are many issues on which we can disagree and the gospel isn’t touched.

 

But race, racial reconciliation, and the combating of racism in any form in the church is a gospel issue.

 

Aaron Earls posted an article at his blog, The Wardrobe Door titled: “I’m Right Here With You.” Aaron writes:

As I sat down to write about Alton Sterling and the response of white conservative Christians, I had to stop and weep. Another video of another police shooting began trending on social media.

 

Honestly, I need to do more listening than talking during moments like this, but I also need to write to process. And I can’t help but feel my silence would be louder and more hurtful than any stumbling attempt to work through it. Philando Castile was shot in his car, in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter. He died later at the hospital.

 

There are still numerous facts and information that will come out over the next few days that will hopefully provide greater clarity to the events surrounding these now two shootings involving police officers and black men. I don’t know those facts and neither do most others, but I don’t have to wait for facts to grieve with those who are grieving and seek to share their burden with them.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared 4 tips for getting the most from your non-fiction reading.

Recently, I wrote a post on 5 Tips for Determining Which  Books to Read (and Not to Read). As a follow up to that post, and in answer to a number of questions I received, here are four tips on how to get the most from your (non-fiction) reading.

 

Micah Fries posted an article at The Gospel Coalition website about how your missiology can miss the gospel. Micah writes:

What do you think of when you consider a church that contextualizes the gospel?

 

Maybe you think of some uber-contemporary worship service with a pastor arrayed in trendy fashions and a band with just the right blend of tattoos, skinny jeans, and facial hair. “Contextualization” equals “cool.” Or so we seem to think.

 

But what if that perception misses the point completely? What if equating contextualization with the coolest version of ourselves actually contradicts biblical contextualization altogether?

 

Perhaps our poor assumptions about contextualization are why many view the concept as a perversion of the gospel. But this view fails to see that contextualization is found all across Scripture. Even the traditionalist pastor who preaches against contextualization while leading a congregation of formally dressed hymn-singers contextualizes the gospel.

 

In light of this observation, I’d like to commend an understanding of contextualization shaped by God’s Word.

 

Here is a helpful post from Dr. Jamie Dew titled: “Handy Dad, Handy Sons.

I’m a dad and I love it. I do the same kinds of projects that my dad did with me, but I often fail to include my boys the way he did with me. As I reflect on this, I realize that neglecting this prevents my boys from learning how to do things and prevents them from having the same fond memories with me that I now have of time with my dad. I can do better and fortunately, my boys are now old enough that they want to learn. I look forward to the years ahead of us!

Join us in praying for our country. We are indeed a land of, “Liberty and justice for all,” regardless of the color of one’s skin or the uniform one wears.

In Case You Missed It

Recently at his personal blog, Dr. Jamie Dew shared 10 reasons why a family mealtime is vital. Dr. Dew writes:

I grew up in a home that was broken. My parents split up when I was 7 and it had a devastating blow on me as a young boy. In particular, one result was that it significantly decreased the amount of time that I had together with my family. We had our moments when we would all be together, but I remember far more occasions when we were off in our own directions. Looking back, I realize that it could have been far worse than it was. But still, it wasn’t ideal. There simply wasn’t enough time that we sat together as a family to enjoy and benefit from the offerings of a healthy family.

 

Now that I’m married with four kids of our own, we strive to make the time where we as a family can sit and just be together. The place this happens most is around our kitchen table. Like most families, we have our evenings along the way where we must eat out or apart from each other. But we do try to avoid that as much as possible.

 

Statistically, it is easy to find support for a family mealtime. But those of us who grew up without it honestly don’t need statistics. In my opinion, there are several obvious reasons why a family mealtime should be a high priority for our families.

 

Aaron Earls recently posted an article at his blog, The Wardrobe Door, discussing the value of potential lives.

Potential is notoriously difficult to quantify. By it’s very definition it is not yet realized. Despite it not being readily availably, it has value and factors in to decisions like the player a sports team drafts or the neighborhood in which you live.

 

Investments are built on potential. We ask, “Can this become something much more than it is right now?”

 

Recently, two examples of potential dominated the news cycle, but many handled them in diametrically opposite manners.

 

Earlier this week, Barnabas Piper wrote this post discussing 7 lies parents often tell their children. Barnabas writes:

We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help. Sometimes it’s because we’re idiots and just don’t realize what we’re doing. Here are seven of the most common lies parents tell kids.

 

Greg Mathias posted an article for the Center for Great Commission Studies discussing feeble prayers in our chaotic world.

Living in a new normal doesn’t feel so normal. The word tragedy is too much a part of my vocabulary these days. I have searched for other words, but tragedy describes best the world events constantly swirling around us. Istanbul, Brussels, Paris, Boston…the list could go on. We live in a chaotic and fallen world. In a world where the new normal is one tragedy followed by another tragedy followed by yet another. It can be overwhelming. Strike that, it IS overwhelming.

 

For Christians, this normal is not surprising, but that does not minimize the fact that we are constantly faced with new tragedies. Each and every tragedy evokes a response. No matter the tragedy, the most immediate response ought to be prayer. Often, though, prayer feels small compared to the massive tragedy in front of us. Even so, we should pray. We need to pray.

 

The question is, how are we supposed to pray in the midst of chaos when our prayers seem so feeble? Here are my thoughts on how to pray in the midst of our new and tragic normal.

 

J.D. Greear posted recently about 3 truths Christians must fight to remember. J.D. writes:

Throughout Scripture, God’s people are told to remember. This may seem odd if you look closely at when God says it. For instance, all throughout the book of Deuteronomy—Moses’ farewell sermon to Israel—God tells his people to remember what just happened. If you had been in slavery for 400 years, were miraculously rescued by walking through the dry floor of an ocean, and had seen bread fall out of heaven and water flowing out of rocks, do you think you’d forget it?

 

Apparently, yes. Israel’s times of spiritual wandering were always marked byspiritual amnesia. Not that they literally couldn’t recall what God had done, but that his mighty works weren’t prominent in their minds. The same is true of us.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford posted an article at this blog titled: “Make America Happy Again (Or, How the Beatitudes Slay the 7 Deadly Sins)“.

Recent surveys have confirmed what we already know: Americans are not happy. Anger, anxiety, and depression are on the rise in our country. An NBC News survey revealed that half of Americans are more angry than they were last year, and a significant percentage of Americans become angry at least once a day because of something they saw on the news. And the anger is bipartisan: both Republicans and Democrats both feel this way.

 

Other surveys reveal that Americans are also depressed, as indicated by a rise in suicides and in prescriptions for depression medications, and anxious because of stagnant wages, deteriorating 401(k) retirement plans, lost wars, racial unrest, terror acts, an increasingly polarized society, and the toxic nature of our public discourse.

 

In the midst of our anger, depression, and anxiety, Jesus offers the Beatitudes. “Beatitude” is the blessedness, the deep happiness, of being in right relationship with him and allowing him to work in and through us, even in the midst of the worst of circumstances.