In Case You Missed It

Alan Cross recently interviewed Dr. Bruce Ashford for his podcast When Heaven and Earth Collide. At SBC Voices, Alan writes about what they discussed.

In this interview, we start by talking about what God might be doing in regard to immigrants and the worldwide refugee crisis – a question that I asked everyone that I interviewed at the Southern Baptists Convention in St. Louis. However, Bruce immediately took us down some unexpected roads into a fascinating discussion involving the worship of God, mission, and the glorious light that God was committed to shine upon Himself through the nations of the world. There are things that I heard in this interview that I had not thought about before – or, at least I had not put it together the way that Bruce did. In seeking to develop a biblical perspective on immigrant and refugee ministry, this type of discussion is exactly what is needed.

 

We talked about Revelation 5, 21, and 22, Isaiah 60, and about what his local church, Summit, in Raleigh-Durham, is doing to engage and serve the nations that have come to them. Bruce serves there as an elder. We went on to talk about the witness of the church in our nation, the need for immigration reform and what it might look like, what justice drenched in mercy would be in this situation and why we need it. We also talked briefly about the incredibly unproductive nature of the current political discussions on immigration. You’ll be interested in what Dr. Ashford had to say about that.

 

At the Intersect Project’s website, Amber Bowen writes on how contemporary art can be the Christian’s unlikely tutor.

And there I was: in the “Citta’ Eterna.” Not to see the glories of ancient Rome or the works of the Renaissance masters. Instead, I was headed to the MaXXI — a famous contemporary art museum.

 

I lived in Italy for four years, immersed in its culture and masterpieces. I then moved back to the states and began to study contemporary philosophy. My studies sent me back desirous of exploring an Italy I hadn’t experienced before through contemporary art. And everyone pointed me to the MaXXI.

 

My best Italian friend is an expert in contemporary art criticism and preservation. We met in Rome for the day and she accompanied me through a breathtaking gallery of 21st century art and architecture, explaining background information, particularities, techniques and perspectives. Most of all, she showed me why she loves contemporary art as a Christian. Through our conversation that afternoon, I gained a greater appreciation for contemporary art. More importantly, I discovered that we Christians can learn important lessons from this art.

 

Keelan Cook shared a post at The Peoples Next Door discussing the dangers of hyper-connectivity for the missionary.

I have the unique fortune of training a good number of missionaries in my role at the seminary and through the church I pastor. It is a real blessing to be a part of equipping young families and singles to uproot their lives and move for the sake of the gospel. A regular component of this training is the use of media in the life of the missionary. Our generation (and all following) are now digital natives. The internet is an assumed part of life for all of us, and most of us are connected every hour of the day and night.

 

The internet has changed missions. Think back to the beginning of the modern missions movement. A move to the mission field virtually severed ties with anyone at home. Certainly, the missionaries maintained as much connection as possible, but that came in the form of letters that took months to deliver and then months more for response. The missionary calling was one of intense separation from church and family, and most often intense isolation from other believers or people from your culture. It was total immersion in a land where no one spoke like you, looked like you, acted like you, or believed like you. This is simply how missions worked all the way up to the middle of the 20th century. Eventually telegraphs and then telephones made more immediate communication possible, but this was extremely limited by location. With air travel, short term teams allowed a physical connection back to church and family in a way that was not possible before.

 

The Baptist Press published an article by Nathan Finn discussing the importance of those who are faithful in pastoral ministry whose work might be unrecognized outside of their communities. Dr. Finn writes:

Kentucky farmer-writer Wendell Berry once gave a lecture wherein he distinguished the “boomers” from the “stickers.” Boomers are the restless, ambitious types who believe the path to prosperity is leaving home and embracing a world of innovation and big cities. Stickers, on the other hand, aspire to maintain their roots in the small towns and country places that nurtured them.

 

Berry was thinking about the future of rural farming and rural America, but his ideas cause me to think about the future of the church and pastoral ministry.

 

As Southern Baptists, we have our own version of pastoral boomers and stickers. The boomers leave their small-town or rural churches, are educated in college and probably seminary, and then head off to serve churches located in the suburbs or the city center. Their prayerful desire is to make a significant Gospel impact in these places of dense populations and cultural influence….While I’m grateful for pastoral boomers, over the past few years I’ve found myself thinking more and more about the stickers. They also normally attend college, though seminary may or may not be in the offing. Many of them are solo pastors, perhaps even bivocational. Instead of heading to more “strategic” settings, pastoral stickers invest themselves in small-town churches and rural congregations — often close to where they were raised.

 

Were early Christians communist? Read as Dr. David Jones discusses in this article at the Intersect Project.

Were early Christians communists?

 

That’s what some Christians conclude when the read about the early Christian converts in the book of Acts who practiced a type of voluntary communal sharing. Acts 2:44–45 reads,

 

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

 

Additional details are recorded in Acts 4:32–35:

 

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. … There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

 

Some contemporary believers have suggested that this instance of communal sharing in the early church presents a model for all Christians to follow. Christians should be communists, they say.

 

Indeed, the communal sharing in Acts reflects the biblical ideal of provision for believers (see Psalm 37:25–26) and embodies the principle of lending to those in need (see Deuteronomy 15:7–8; Luke 6:34). Yet the example of communal sharing in the early church is not a viable model for contemporary Christians. Here are a few reasons.

TODO: Decide on a Title (Some thoughts on Procrastination)

By: Dougald McLaurin

We all need time to research. We need time to understand our topics, read our sources, and, analyze what others have said on our topic. We need time for our own ideas on the topic to mature. Finally, we need time to write.

Procrastination takes away the time we need to research well. Research cannot happen in an evening or even a week. If we do not allow sufficient time for research we will write with only a very poor understanding of a topic, and it will show. Ultimately, procrastination kills our creativity and the enjoyment we can experience while researching in seminary.

I think that procrastination is perhaps the main reason that students do not enjoy writing papers in seminary or college.

So, why do students procrastinate? I see two possible reasons why students might procrastinate.

1. They do not know what it takes to do good research.
2. They are afraid of the process.

In my role as Reference Coordinator at the Library at Southeastern, want to unlock the full creative potential of students. So, in this post I want to give a few tips on how to approach research and writing so that we can avoid procrastination and unlock your full potential. I want to see students engaging the world as creatively as possible with their mind.
Here are four basic tips to get started:

Plan:

How do you plan your research? Some of that will depend on your personality. Each one of us is different. However, if you have not established a research process, you will not be able to plan well. I generally point students to the Minnesota Assignment Calculator. An assignment calculator will help students see the entire research process—from understanding a topic, analyzing resources, outlining, and writing.

Assignment calculators will also help students to understand how much time they should devote to a particular step in the research and writing process. This allows them to set dates for each step. By setting dates you will be able to break your research project into smaller segments and make the process a little less daunting, which is a big reason for procrastination.

Write Along the Way:

The first time you write anything about your research topic should not be when you start to write your first draft. Keep a research journal and write down your own thoughts about your topic, reactions to what you read, and restating the arguments of the sources you use in your research. All of this will help you when you sit down to write. Your thoughts will be more mature and your ability to express your thoughts will come more naturally when you have already expressed those ideas before.

Rest:

This summer I had a Ph.D. student who visited the library after his graduation. As he left he turned to me and said, “The most helpful thing you taught me while getting my Ph.D. was to plan my rest.” Rest gives our minds a break and will allow us to remain focused. For example, I always save Sundays for rest from school work. It allows me to work hard during the week and then rest without worrying about school.

Pray:

Ask God for help. Give him a chance to show himself in your research and writing. He will give you strength when you do not feel like you have it. He will open your mind to understand difficult subjects. He will help you stay on task. Do not miss a chance to commune with God by not involving him in your research.

My hope is that these steps will prove helpful in making the task of research and writing less daunting. Procrastinating less and planning more can make your research assignment more enjoyable, and will produce a finished product of much higher quality.

Dougald McLaurin is the Reference Coordinator for the Library at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary