In Case You Missed It

Recently at The Gospel Coalition, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared how Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch Prime Minister changed his life. Dr. Ashford writes:

Rarely will a reader be trampled by a herd of evangelicals stampeding toward the Abraham Kuyper section of the bookstore. Though there are a number of reasons (like the impediment caused by display stands full of Test-a-mints and Precious Moments figurines), perhaps no reason is more important than this: We Americans rarely read old books, and Kuyper’s books are old.


Kuyper lived in 19th-century Holland, served as a pastor, founded a Christian university, started a newspaper, served in Parliament and as the prime minister, and wrote influential books on theology, culture, and politics. His deepest convictions might be summed up in one sentence:Jesus Christ is Lord of all, and because of that fact, our allegiance to him should shape not only the private but also the public aspects of our lives. If Christ is Lord, he’s not just Lord over private spirituality and church attendance, but also Lord over public affairs like art, science, business, politics, economics, and education. Reading Kuyper got me started on the path toward viewing Christ’s lordship as directly relevant to public life.


Dayton Hartman recently posted an article at Acts29 titled: “Pastors and Culture.”

I had a brief stint as the manager of a Christian bookstore. One day, as I spoke with a customer about our music selection (while comparing Christian artists to their secular counterparts), it dawned on me that much of what we were selling wasn’t good. The issue was the derivative quality of the content. Many artists weren’t focused on creating good music; instead they sought to emulate the style of a certain secular artist.


The rest of the day, I noticed myself and associates making statements like, “If you like Youtube, you will love Godtube,” or, “If you like Stephen King, then you will feel right at home reading Frank Peretti’s latest novel.” It was jarring. I was suddenly confronted with the harsh reality that Christians spend far too much time consuming secular culture or cheap Christian subcultures instead of producing good culture. We parrot the culture around us. We look like they do and sound like they do, but we claim there’s something about us that makes everything different: Jesus. But where’s the difference?


At the Intersect Project website, Laura Thigpen shares five reasons why Christians should be more engaged about the environment.

As conversations increase about Christians’ engagement with culture, our scope of understanding what “culture” includes continues to broaden. Yet one cultural topic that we often neglect is the environment.


My conversations with my friend Carly Abney have helped me see this deficiency. Carly is an NC State student finishing her degree in Sustainable Materials and Technology. She is passionate about Christ and His Church, and she’s passionate about the environment and what it means for Christians to be good stewards of God’s creation.


In her degree path, Carly has seen environmentalists express apathy and skepticism toward Christ and the gospel because their experiences with Christians on the topic have been less than winsome. Even so, Carly sees the value and importance of the Christian voice in these conversations, particularly when Christians are willing to enter them with a high view of the gospel and a fundamental understanding of how God views creation.


In her own words, here’s some practical advice from Carly to help us think better about the environment.


Keelan Cook posted at The People’s Next door explaining why Christians need to get out more. Keelan writes:

Adult Americans have a real hard time making friends, at least that is what most recent research claims. There are reasons. Interpersonally speaking, our lifestyle choices have hemmed us in. The shift in America toward single-family housing, the total dependence on automobiles, and the seemingly endless amount of land we have to develop spreads us out and walls us in. While it all makes sense, it certainly has its downsides.


This walling off of people from each other has significant social consequences. It is most likely one reason our cultural and political views are increasingly atomized. Many people only participate in interpersonal relationships with people who are like them. If we choose not to, we no longer have to interact with people different than us. It also leaves people with a sense of loneliness, despite the fact that we are more connected than ever through a web of social media.


For Christians, we have an even more important reason to push against this state of existence. We have a gospel reason. Christian, if you are like me, you need to get out more.


Aaron Earls published an article earlier this week asking: “Who can cast a stone at Hillary Clinton’s selfie takers?

2016 has been a divisive year, but one photo brought virtually everyone together over the weekend. No, it was the adorable photos of Michelle Obama and President George W. Bush embracing. That image made at least one writer lose his mind.  It was this photo of young people with their backs all turned, taking a selfie with Hillary Clinton.


Upon seeing the photo the collective internet exploded in annoyance and rage at the self-absorbed millennials who could not be bothered to turn face the influential person in their midst.


Ligonier Ministries recently put up a brilliant website using data from a recent Lifeway Research project discussing the state of theology.

What do Americans believe about God, salvation, ethics, and the Bible? Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research partnered to find out. These are the fundamental convictions that shape our society.

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week at his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared a glimpse into the life of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as a “Great Commission” Seminary. Dr. Ashford writes:

Southeastern possesses a clear identity, confession, and mission. The seminary is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. Its faculty members confess the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and covenant to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith & Message. They further affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Together with the Board of Trustees and the administration, faculty members share a mission in which “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Mt 28:1920).” In summary, Southeastern is a confessional seminary in the Southern Baptist stream of historic Christianity whose mission is to be a Great Commission seminary.


Karen Swallow Prior published an article on the challenge of entertainment at First Things: “Delight in the Good.”

I’m tempted to concur with the diagnosis of our current malaise offered by Carl Trueman: “[E]ntertainment is not simply a part of our world. It is arguably the dominant essence of our world. … [E]ntertainment is now ontology.”


I’ve been teaching college students for nearly thirty years, and I can affirm, with Neil Postman, that entertainment has been “the dominant essence” for students for at least that long. I’ve been a member of the body of Christ for even longer, and can attest to a similar attitude of careless consumption in too many pews (and a good number of podiums). Yet the problem, I think, is not that entertainment is ontology. Rather, it is that we don’t know what place to accord entertainment within our ontology. We should beware giving it too low a place, as well as too high.


Our human ability to delight in the world means that entertainment is part of human nature. Today, technology makes entertainment so ubiquitous that our only options may seem to be to consume it mindlessly or to reject it mindlessly.


Keelan Cook shared some tips on how to map your church members in Google for local outreach. Keelan writes:

We talk a lot about hospitality today. There is no end lately to the blog posts and articles circulating the internet concerning the importance of hospitality in outreach and missions. I have several on this site.


Hospitality is an important aspect of ministry that Western Christians often struggle to incorporate into their lives. Compared to other areas of the world, we love our privacy, and  our home easily becomes our fortress of solitude. While homes should be a place for rest, the Bible challenges us to view them as tools for ministry. Can we honestly say we are stewarding God’s gifts well when our single, biggest purchase is never used for outreach?


We should change this paradigm in our churches. Homes are not caves. They are not fortresses to protect us from the hectic world outside. They are gracious gifts from our Heavenly Father to be used, in turn, for his glory. This means opening your home up to others. Yes, it means having others from your church over, but it means even more than that. Use it as a staging ground for the Great Commission.


When was the last time you invited unbelieving neighbors into your home?


Krystal Wilson posted at The Intersect Project on Colin Kaepernick: Looking Past the Outrage.

Athletes: the only people who can go from “pent house to outhouse in seconds.”


As a former division one athlete, I’ve heard these words a thousand times, particularly from my father. He too was a former collegiate athlete, recruited by the likes of the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, and he had become all too familiar with the unique plight of an athlete.


Athletes know it is far too easy to fall from the high graces of fans. One moment people are singing your praises, and the next they’re burning your jersey. Knowing the fragileness of the pedestal upon which many athletes sit, it is genuinely surprising when they risk it all for something they believe in. To take such a risk, they must find that their belief or stance is worthy of the consequences of a loss of fan base and endorsements.


Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick (and several other NFL players) have decided to silently protest racial injustice in America by kneeling or raising a fist during the playing of the national anthem.


Kaepernick isn’t the first athlete to use his platform and take a form of silent protest on behalf of the voiceless. Kaepernick joins the likes of Muhammad Ali and Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who protested societal ills.


As we consider Kaepernick’s stance, let’s look past the distractions and consider some gospel implications and a way forward.


Sarah Rainer shared seven tips to address mental health issues in the church. Sarah writes:

One in five people in your church will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.


You will have few people who have not been directly or indirectly impacted by mental health issues. With so many individuals impacted, church leaders need basic knowledge to handle these issues effectively.


Church leaders do not need to be experts in psychological functioning, but they do need some basic knowledge in order to offer support to individuals struggling in the church. Here are seven basic pointers that every church leader should consider when dealing with mental health issues.


In a recent roundtable discussion posted by The Gospel Coalition, Miguel Núñez, Danny Akin, and Bill Kynes got together to discuss their biggest fear in ministry.


In Case You Missed It

At the People’s Next Door blog, Keelan Cook recently dsicussed The Discipleship Spiral: Doing to learn, and learning to do. Keelan writes:

Some of you will be familiar with Grant Osborne’s work, The Hermeneutical Spiral. For those of you who are not, hermeneutics is the fancy name for interpreting the Bible, and Osborne wrote a book where he compared the process of interpretation to a spiral. The reader spirals back and forth from the text of Scripture to the context of everyday life, examining each in light of the other and spiraling upward to clearer and clearer understanding of both.


Discipleship works the same way.


Chad Burchett posted an article at the Southeastern Literature and Arts Magazine discussing why it is important for Christians to produce art.

Every Christian should be an artist. Although many Christians maintain that art is just not for them, their world is immersed in art—some of which they contribute. Intentionally or not, we all serve as constant collaborators in a world of art. As Francis Schaeffer pens in his book Art and the Bible, “All of us are engaged daily with works of art, even if we are neither professional nor amateur artists.” Whether we produce high art or popular art or just contribute the art of a well-lived life and a well-spoken tongue, we are all functional artists. Denying the arts extinguishes a vibrant part of your identity and mission.


One of the primary ways believers can engage culture is through art. Households that would not open their home to a gospel presentation or a door-to-door evangelist may welcome our art onto their walls or shelves. The same people who recoil from a Bible may embrace our books, watch our films, read our poetry, and admire our photography. By our art we have the power to engage thousands of lives which we may never interact with any other way. Art is a stewardship—a powerful instrument of cultural transformation that we can either intentionally wield for the glory of God or wrongly choose to ignore or misuse.


Chuck Lawless recently posted nine reasons you may need to consider a Doctor of Ministry degree. Dr. Lawless writes:

This post may surprise you, but I want to defend a degree that’s received a bad rap, in my opinion. I’m a professor who has been doing this work long enough to know that some people view the D.Min. degree as a watered-down doctoral degree. I’m sure it can be (as all degrees can be), but I know institutions that have really strong degrees – including where I serve now at Southeastern Seminary. Here’s why you might want to consider this option.


Scott Hildreth published an article at the Center for Great Commission Studies explaining how the issue of alcohol is about the mission, not the morality.

The use of alcohol among conservative Evangelicals has been in the news lately. Famous pastor confessed to abusing it as way of handling stress. Missiologist, Ed Stetzer, has observed that this new openness might come with an increase in similar issues.  (Click Link) We were once a “full abstinence people.” But recently, younger Evangelicals are moving away from the stances held by our predecessors.


I am regularly asked my position on this subject. Our school has a strict policy and it is enforced across the board. When our younger students come in contact with this policy they are full of questions. Their questions generally revolve around issues of morality – is it wrong to drink alcohol? Is it a sin? Is it a matter of wisdom or conscience?


I could answer the question in a number of ways, but honestly, I don’t feel a need to engage in exegetical exercises about what Jesus turned water into, or what Paul told Timothy to drink for his stomach. Frankly, I find those discussions unhelpful.


At the Intersect Project website, Dr. Brent Aucoin wrote that if we want to fight poverty, we need to resist the sexual revolution. Dr. Aucoin writes:

The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s has swept across the entire country and into the White House, the US Supreme Court, and even public bathrooms and locker rooms. As a result, it is easy for those who have resisted the revolution to lose heart and abandon the effort.


Although there are numerous reasons to maintain the resistance, one that may not often come to mind is the true war on poverty. Not the so-called War on Poverty launched in the 1960s by the United States government, but rather the one which seeks to truly, effectively and permanently liberate individuals and families from poverty. Those activists and individuals who are fighting what I call the real war on poverty know that poverty is not just an economic problem. They know that morals, customs and worldviews are significant factors in determining people’s economic state.


Jonathan Howe posted at Thom Rainer’s blog giving four reasons to welcome smartphone use in the worship service.

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our culture. There’s no denying the influence of the smartphone on the rise of social media, changes in commercial marketing, and even the church.


Rarely a week goes by without me receiving an email, message, or tweet from a pastor or church leader asking about church apps, social media strategies, or mobile website functionality. “Don’t leave home without it” applies more to our smartphones than it ever did to American Express. And it applies when people are headed into their weekly worship service as well.