In Case You Missed It

In a post at the Intersect Project, Scott Hildreth discussed three ways Christians can flourish in culture.

In a recent post, I explained how culture is a pathway for the gospel. With that in mind, how can Christians flourish in contemporary culture? Here are a few suggestions.

 

This week Aaron Earls posted at his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door about how we need more “Thoughts and Prayers,” not less.

“Thoughts and prayers” have become an all-too-familiar restrain in American life. A somber, liturgical response to yet another horrific mass killing.

 

For those of deep faith and even sometimes those of little or no faith, those words are all we can muster after the initial shock. We share the words when no others will come. Hopefully, they come in the midst of actually empathetically thinking about the victims and emphatically praying for them. For many, however, those words are not welcome. They ring hollow for some who are desperate for specific, practical steps. Others regard them as ineffective, at best, self-deluding and hindering actual good, at worst.

 

So what should we make of the “thoughts and prayers” of millions offered up in the aftermath of a tragedy? Without a doubt, they are good. Even if you believe prayer is nothing more than talking to empty air, there are benefits to the prayers of others.

 

Brittany Salmon recently posted at the Intersect Project discussing how adoption and the pro-life cause is more than a political stance.

Our family stands out.

 

We can’t go to a grocery store without someone stopping and asking us questions about each of our children. For starters, we have identical twin daughters with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Like typical four year olds, they are feisty and sweet with a touch of sass. The amount of commentary we receive on them alone is enough to write a whole other blogpost, but to add to the excitement we also have a son who doesn’t look anything like us at all.

 

You see, our son joined our family through the blessing of adoption. He is a beautiful, strong black boy. He is smart and kind and loves to laugh loudly at his sisters. Put that combo together in a grocery store and we’re magnets for conversation starters. Some people stare. Some people are kind. But our diverse family draws attention in a homogenous world in which we tend to surround ourselves with people who think, look and act like us.

 

One day while standing in the checkout line, a well-intended fellow believer approached our family and commended us on the pro-life stance we took by adopting. I smiled and said, “Yes, we are pro-life, but our son’s birth mom is the true hero; she’s the one who should be commended for her pro-life choice. We really are the lucky beneficiaries of her brave love.”

 

In a recent article at his personal website, Bruce Ashford discussed how Socialism suppresses society.

Several recent polls reveal a troubling trend: younger Americans have positive views of socialism and Communism.

 

Although this trend has been evident for years, a recent poll found that nearly half of Millennials say prefer Socialism or Communism over democratic capitalism, with upwards of twenty percent going so far as to consider Josef Stalin was a “hero.” In another poll, found 53 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents viewed socialism favorably, compared to only a quarter of Americans over 55. Yet another survey found that 43 percent of respondents younger than 30 have a positive view of socialism.

 

At his personal blog this week, Chuck Lawless shared ten times when it is wise to turn a deaf ear in ministry.

Charles Spurgeon, in his Lectures to My Students, wrote about the importance of church leaders having one deaf ear in ministry. The one open ear helps you to be wise in ministry, but the deaf ear helps you to avoid being unnecessarily burdened and frustrated. Based on Spurgeon’s writing, here are times to turn a wise deaf ear.

 

In Case You Missed It

In a post at The Intersect Project, Art Rainer discussed how your smartphone can affect your financial health.

Your smartphone can impact your financial health beyond the monthly service bill. Smartphones are everywhere. According to Pew Research, 77% of Americans own a smartphone. This is more than double the ownership in 2011 (35%). Many of us cannot remember what life what like before our smartphone. Just the thought of losing or breaking our phone sends us into a state of panic.

 

Smartphones have been a double-edged sword for most of us. We find them useful and harmful at the same time. This can be true as it relates to our financial health. Sometimes they can help. But sometimes they can harm.

 

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door,  Aaron Earls shared the truth behind the Burnette Chapel shooting. Aaron writes:

News about the deadly shooting at Burnette Chapel outside of Nashville began to trickle out as I was leaving my own church in middle Tennessee. Immediately, everyone began searching for answers about the tragedy and the gunman. Why would he do this? What has he hoping to achieve?

 

I have no insight into the mind and motives of the shooter. But his rationale has nothing to do with the truth we can learn from this shooting. That truth was revealed by two different men: a pastor at another local church and one of the victims at Burnette Chapel.

 

In an article at the ERLC website, Michael Guyer shared how to parent toward purity.

Many things aren’t the way they used to be, and yet some things are as they have always been. So it is with purity.

 

It is almost expected that teenagers and young adults will choose impurity over purity. And the opportunities to do so have only seem to keep increasing. We should think seriously about this challenge facing our children. Yet, things are just as they have always been. Driven by sinful desires, we are tempted to and often choose the temporary, fleeting pleasures of lust over the eternal, satisfying delight in the Lord. We should not shrink back in fear or sit still in ignorance regarding issues of sexuality.

 

While there may be new challenges facing a teenager’s pursuit of purity today, we can still point them to the old, but tried and tested, wisdom of God’s Word. Here are several ways we can do that.

 

Robby Scholes shared a post at The Intersect Project discussing your piece of the economic pie.

When you hear the word “economics,” you may think back to just how little you liked that one required Econ class in high school or college. The infinite number of graphs and comparisons never really made much sense. A few odd birds in your class thrived in the subject. They were always ready to take out a paper napkin at lunch, draw an obscure graph, and make a conclusion based on a theory you have never heard of (nor care to understand). But not you.

 

In reality, though, economics does not have to be scary or confusing. In fact, I want challenge you to think about a simple yet profound principle of economics that relates directly to culture making, your work and human flourishing as a whole — positive-sum economics.

 

At his personal website, Bruce Ashford shared what is the cause of fake news (and it isn’t what you think).

On the Left and the Right, we are experiencing a world filled with “fake news,” “alternative facts,” a “post-truth” approach to reality. It’s a world filled with “Uncle Lennys” who have—wittingly or unwittingly—embraced our “post-truth” world. It’s a world in which the views of people on the Left and the Right are shaped more by their long-held personal opinions and by appeals to emotion than they are to objective facts. Even worse, it’s a world in which an increasing number of public influencers purposely convey partial truths and outright lies in order to accomplish their personal, professional, or political goals.

 

Why has fake news become such a problem today? Conservatives tend to blame the mainstream media and left-wing influencers. Progressives tend to blame the more conservative outlets and right-wing influencers. Both explanations are superficial and simplistic; only a gullible or dishonest person could be satisfied so easily. The rise of fake news is complex and multi-faceted, including at least three significant factors.

 

In a post at his blog, Chuck Lawless shared seven reasons why church members do not know their churches doctrine.

For years, I’ve required doctoral students to complete a theological survey of their congregations – and we’ve learned that many church members don’t know their church’s basic theological positions. They can neither summarize nor explain their church’s doctrine. The reasons for this problem are many, but here are a few.

 

Also, don’t forget that today (Friday,  September 29) at 10AM (EDT), the 2017 9Marks at Southeastern Conference begins. If you are not able to attend in person, be sure to watch online here: http://www.sebts.edu/streaming.

The topic this year is Leadership and speakers include Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, H.B. Charles, Jr., Burk Parsons, Jeramie Rinne, and our president, Danny Akin.

 

In Case You Missed It

At his personal blog, Alvin Reid shared eight suggestions for eager new seminarians. Dr. Reid writes:

I remember a cold, windy day in January, 1982. My wife Michelle and I arrived in Fort Worth as newlyweds with everything we owned in a small U Haul trailer. We moved into our little one bedroom, furnished apartment with little materially but great dreams spiritually. I hobbled on crutches from a knee operation. We were broke, but we were called, and that was enough.

 

That was 35 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. If you are a brand new seminarian, I have a few things I hope will encourage you to help you for the next few decades.

 

Michael Guyer posted at the Intersect Project urging college students not to waste their time in college.

Summer is almost over. The semester will soon begin. Perhaps it’s your first semester in college or your last. Your schedule will be full of new classes. You will interact with new people. You will experience new opportunities. You will have renewed focus and desires…

 

  • to grow in your education
  • to grow in your friendships
  • to grow in your desires and passions
  • to grow in your skills and abilities
  • to grow when your love for Christ and for others
  • to grow in your love and commitment to the church
  • to grow in your heart for the nations
  • and to grow up to be the man or woman that God desires you to be.

 

All of this newness does not last forever though. These opportunities and desires often fade as quickly as they came. Your classes get old. New friends become old friends. Opportunities either don’t come or slip away. You find yourself in the same old ruts. And that renewed focus and desire morphs into distraction and discouragement. Before long, you feel like you are wasting your time—wasting your college.

 

At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared six reasons to read dead writers.

With so many books being published today, if you’re like me, it’s hard to keep up with all the ones you’d like to read.

 

In order to keep up with modern culture and know about the important conversations happening around us, we can be tempted to strictly focus on new books and ignore those from previous eras. In an introduction to an English translation of On the Incarnation, a seminal work by the African theologian Athanasius, C.S. Lewis wrote about the importance of reading old books.

 

In fact, most of his introduction is spent encouraging readers to value works by authors who were dead and gone.

 

He wrote, “Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.”

 

Of course, today, Lewis is one of those dead writers and his books now qualify for the advice he gave while living. But why should you read books that are not quite hot off the presses?

 

Here’s five reasons from Lewis in his introduction and one from me.

 

On the LifeWay Pastor Talk podcast, Marty Duren and Bruce Ashford discussed what Lesslie Newbigin can teach pastors about a Christian approach to American Politics.

What could a little Brit named “Lesslie” possibly teach American pastors about a Christian approach to American politics? Recently, Marty Duren interviewed me on his podcast, “Pastor Talk,” giving me the opportunity to outline some lessons we can learn from the life and work of British theologian Lesslie Newbigin.

 

To access the podcast, click here.

 

In a post earlier this week at his blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons he needs to put his phone down during meetings and conversations. Dr. Lawless writes:

I admit my struggle here. I’m so accustomed to having my phone with me that I almost unknowingly and reflexively check it continuously throughout the day. I’m trying, though, to put it away during meetings and conversations. Here’s why.