In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project’s blog, Chris Poirier wrote a post discussing three ways to put the Gospel where the geeks are. Chris writes:

What is Geek culture?  “Geek culture itself isn’t new. It has always existed in various forms before we saw fit to name and define it,” states Anne Donahue a comedian and writer for The Guardian. “For some of us, escapism through pop culture provides an outlet that we need to keep our brains healthy and functioning. For others, it creates a sense of community. For most, it stimulates the last remnants of imagination left over from our years convinced we too could live off pizza in a sewer, fighting a giant rat.”

 

The content of Geek culture (like many unreached cultures and/or people groups) tends to be fraught with violence, language, sexuality and other unseemly topics. As a result, we must approach this culture with caution and wisdom so that we don’t sacrifice our Christian ethics, morals and values. Yet, if we as the church want to engage lostness, we must step outside our fortress walls and comfort zones and engage the culture for the gospel — even if it might look and feel a little strange.

 

Practically speaking, here are three steps to engage the unreached Geek culture for the gospel.

Eric Geiger recently published an article giving five necessary traits for handling criticism well.

Elbert Hubbard quipped, “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Because leaders cannot afford to do nothing or say nothing, being criticized comes with the territory of being a leader. In leadership, affirmation today does not mean affirmation tomorrow. In many ways leaders face the same volatility as coaches who can, within a few games, go from being lauded as team chemistry geniuses, program architects, and master recruiters to ignorant, foolish risk-takers, and ineffective. Leaders are one decision, one quarter, one bad message away from unfair criticism.

 

Criticism is going to come. Those who handle it well have these five character trait

Dr. Scott Hildreth, the Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern recently posted a blog about teaching sound Theology cross-culturally. Dr. Hildreth writes:

Kevin VanHoozer writes: “If theology is to serve the church, the new challenge is how to give local expression to the understanding of the faith. . .” This is true. Theology represents human beings seeking understanding from God’s revelation of himself through the scriptures. In order for it to serve its ultimate purpose, theology must be founded on the scriptures but also rooted in local experience, language, and thought.

For years I have taught students at Southeastern the importance of contextualization as a missionary task. I remind them that contextualization first happens as cross-cultural communication when missionaries or church planters tell the message of Jesus in the language of the local people. However, contextualization does not stop with communication. It also takes place as the local church developed and communicates this faith. Contextualization is doing theology locally.

Ashley Gorman posted at the Intersect Project asking the question: “What would really happen if we defunded Planned Parenthood and ended abortion?

It’s no surprise that last year’s Planned Parenthood videos started wave after wave of outrage. In one of the videos, a Planned Parenthood “procurement technician” confesses that she was instructed to cut open a baby’s face while its heart was still beating, post-birth. The goal: procuring an intact brain that can be used for medical research.

 

First, before I get on my soapbox, let me say that I understand the outrage of my fellow Christians. I myself teared up, caught my breath, and prayed after reading the article.

 

For those of you who may not subscribe to Christianity, this is where the outrage comes from.

 

See, as believers, we believe that little, twenty-something-week-old baby was known by God in his mother’s womb, with its every day planned out. We believe he was fearfully and wonderfully made. We believe that his soul, like every soul, had fingerprints of the Divine on it. We believe that his whole being was knit together and seen by God, even in the moments that seem insignificant to the world. We believe that he was given a personality and unique gift-sets and passions that would light him up inside when he got to do them and even little, funny quirks crafted by the hand of the Lord.

 

I believe that very same thing of every human being I know.

Walter Strickland recently gave a talk on the History and Theology of the Black Church.

1Charleston is “a multi-ethnic, interdenominational, and Christ centered platform that empowers churches to embrace the multi-ethnic Gospel in deep and practical ways” in Charleston, South Carolina.  They hosted a conference and invited me to attempt the impossible; to summarize 400 years of black church history and theology in 60 minutes.  I hope my attempt is helpful to you.

 

 

In Case You Missed It

Dr. Ken Keathley, Director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture and Professor of Theology engaged in a conversation on Ken Ham’s view of creation. Tim Challies responded to Ken’s post. This interchange helps to understand the various nuances within the doctrine of creation.

 

Southeastern student Bekah Stoneking shared an important post at Ed Stetzer’s blog, showing how learning a language can break down many barriers to sharing the Gospel. Bekah writes:

“I’d like a green tea, please.”

 

The cashier swiped my card as her co-worker put the ingredients into my cup, snapped on the lid, and handed it over the counter without much eye contact; she had already turned to tend to the next customer.

 

“Shukran!”

 

She turned back to my direction and I repeated myself—in English this time. “Thank you.”

 

As my tea steeped, I began to panic. Did her nametag really say she was from Egypt? Did I use the correct form of “thank you” for her as an Egyptian woman? Did I use someone else’s “thank you” and offend her? Did I even say “thank you”?! Oh no. Here she comes…

 

When she asked if I spoke Arabic, I told her I was learning to read the Qur’an but had been practicing conversational phrases for about a week. She seemed delighted and told me how important she thought it was for people to learn Arabic since many Middle Easterners were moving to the city. We went back in forth with basic phrases and she even taught me some new ones.

 

“Allah mahaba. Allah is love,” she said.

 

She opened the door; all I had to do was walk through it.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Todd Borger, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern shared a touching reflection on the short, but full life of his daughter, Anna.

Another marker today. Anna would be 17 years old today. It is difficult to imagine, really. I shared last year of a memory of Anna learning to ride her bike, and what that might look like as she would learn at 16 to drive a car. The imagined scene was not pretty. But at 17, what am I supposed to imagine? Her first date? Her senior year of high school? It is all so unreal for a little girl who will always remain nine years old. More so for a nine year old girl who, although she wanted to have seventeen children and had already named them all, had no interest in being married. She recognized with apprehension the difficulty of her position and so conceded that she would have to marry in order to have all of her children. “But I don’t want to,” she insisted. “A husband is merely a tool for having children.” I have no idea where she learned things like that at nine years old. Was there a series of juvenile feminist literature she had hidden somewhere in her bedroom?

 

Art Rainer recently shared a helpful post at his personal blog giving three easy ways to get back on track with your yearly Bible reading plan.

Allow me a moment of confession—I got behind on my Bible reading plan. My church challenged each of its members to read through the Bible in 2016, and I eagerly accepted. I couldn’t wait to get started.

 

And while I kept up with the readings for a while, I began missing a day here and a day there. Suddenly, I found myself almost a week behind. In that moment, I had two options—Give up or catch up.

 

Many of you made a New Year’s resolution to work through a Bible reading plan. It may have been to read through the entire Bible this year. If you have found yourself behind on your 2016 Bible reading plan, you have the same two options—Give up or catch up. The easiest option is the former. But the most satisfying option is the latter.

For those who desire to get back on track with your Bible reading plan, here are three simple methods you can follow

In Case You Missed It

At The Blazing Center, Matt Rogers wrote an article discussing 7 ways to fail well.

No one likes to fail, but we all do it. We attempt a project that produces few results. We launch a venture only to see it flame out. We try to maintain regular family devotions and do well for, like, two weeks. We fight to overcome a particular sin pattern and then fail . . . again.

 

Life is filled with failure.

 

I’ll be honest—the common counsel isn’t that encouraging to me most days. Failure is preparation for something great. All great men fail before they succeeded. Learn from your failures. Fail forward (or is that fall forward?). Either way, I’m certain there are glimmers of truth in these statements. And, maybe sometime far down the road when I’m far more mature than I am currently, I’ll process life this way.

 

Right now, I just want to fail without giving up.

 

Let’s save the silver lining around the cloud of failure for some other day. Yes, God is at work changing me through my failure. Yes, God is exposing idolatry in my heart. Yes, God is preparing me in some way for the future he has planned for me. Yes, in some weird and painfully frustrating way, failure is a path to joy.

 

But I still hate it.

 

And I still want to give up.

 

And I know that it won’t be the last time I fail.

 

So what do you do with failure? Here are a few things I am doing (or trying to talk myself into doing).

From Marty Duren comes a helpful post on an often misused fragment of Scripture: “The poor you have with you always.” Marty writes:

As muddled theology follows Joel Osteen, when the subject of helping the poor arises some well-meaning person follows with “The poor you always have with you.” It is often inserted into conversation like a wannabe theological mic-drop, but typically impresses only the one who says it.

 

This verse fragment–for indeed that’s what it is–is found in toto in the gospels of Matthew (26:11), Mark (14:7), and John (12:8). The all important context is the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with her costly perfume, worth approximately a year’s salary. Those sharing the meal with Jesus were incensed about the incense, waving away the woman’s brave and contrite act of worship with their legalistic assertion it might have been sold as a fundraiser for the poor.

 

If that dinner was like the average church dinner more money sat greedily ungiven in the checking accounts of the cynics than the woman could have spilled on the feet of the Savior in another whole lifetime. Criticism being the blood-sport it is they harangued her.

 

It is in the face of this spectacle Jesus spoke a couple of sentences, a stinging rebuke to the legalists, an incredible solace to the “dirty” woman washing His feet. If we did not have the gospel record, we might be led to think Jesus said, “The poor you always have with you,” a detached commentary of the downside of capitalism.

 

That, however, is not what Jesus said, or at least not all of it. From Mark’s gospel we have the scene and Jesus’ full response.

At Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe outlines four reasons why you need a communications plan for your church.

Most, if not all, churches have a plan for their worship services. Hopefully your church has a plan for discipleship. And many churches have a long-range plan.

 

But what about how you communicate to members and guests? Do you have a plan for that? Here are four reasons you should have a communications plan in your church.

Lesley Hildreth posted at the Southeastern Seminary Women’s Life blog about discerning the “Missionary” calling. Lesley writes:

In The Insanity of Obedience, Nik Ripkin writes, “our conversations about call should be focused on where we have been called rather than on if we have been called. This question should be settled at the very beginning of our walk with Jesus. We have been called to radical obedience.”

 

Like Nik, I believe that the church has been given a clear command to make disciples of all nations (see Matthew 28:18-20). It is a direct command for the church and not just for a “select few.” To “go” simply means to live. As believers, we should live out the gospel with the realization that God is the one who engineers our goings. Since we are all commanded to Go and Tell the question we should begin asking ourselves is “where” and “to whom.”

 

Not everyone will be asked to pack a suitcase and sell all of their possessions to move across the ocean to reach the nations. But some will and for those, I think there are some common things God uses to awaken our hearts to obey this specific missionary call.

Finally, from the Intersect project, here are 4 articles on how Easter transforms culture, work, politics, and cities.

At Easter, we remember Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross. But Jesus didn’t simply redeem us; his sacrifice began to redeem culture, politics, work and even the city.

 

In the following selections, you’ll see where these spheres fit within the biblical narrative — and how the cross begins the process of restoration.