In Case You Missed It

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax posted an article discussing the blessing of weather that confounds the control-freak. Trevin writes:

One of the greatest temptations in a technological age is to imagine that human beings create truth rather than receive it. Through scientific inventions and social media re-inventions, we suffer under the illusion that reality is something we can determine rather than something we must discover.

 

As C. S. Lewis put it: in ancient times, “the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue.” In a technological age, however, “the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men; the solution is a technique.” 

 

“Subduing reality to our wishes” is the promise of technology, right? And even if we do not put our faith in this technological solution to human problems, we live in ways that further the illusion that we are ultimately in control—from our social media personas, to the heating and cooling of our houses, to the tailoring of our phones to our own needs.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Scott Hildreth shared five reasons (with solutions) which might cause evangelism to not get the emphasis it should.

There is little doubt that God’s mission and mandate for his church centers on evangelism. This means that, no matter what churches are doing, the primary objective must be clearly and plainly communicating the gospel. Our message is good news – God loved our sinful humanity so much that he gave his only Son. Anyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)

 

Carl F. H. Henry once wrote: “The gospel is only good news if it gets there on time.” Most Christians know this is true; however, we are consumed with other activities and forget the importance of evangelism. Below give 5 reasons for this misplaced focus and then give some recommendations.

 

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared a helpful reminder that we as Christians should stop making ourselves the hero of Bible stories.

For most movies, the protagonist or main character is also the hero, the person you are meant to identify with and want to emulate. Why is that?

 

Well, you naturally feel sympathy toward the person at the center of the story. It’s very difficult to constantly see the world through one person’s eyes and not view their perspective as right or at least defensible.

 

This creates a perpetual temptation for the Christian. Inescapably, we see life through our own eyes. We are the protagonists of our story and we naturally want to make ourselves the hero as well.

 

When you read a Bible passage, with whom do you initially identify?

 

Joe McKeever shared a post at his personal blog discussing twenty things which pastors should not love too much. Dr. McKeever writes:

“Do not be excessively righteous or overly wise” (Ecclesiastes 7:16).

Most of us would not include those excesses in a list of which to be wary.  But for most, I imagine the list might look more like this…

 

Chris Martin posted an article discussing how Americans feel better about most religions, but not Evangelicalism.

This week, the Pew Research Center released some data about how Americans feel about various religions, and how these feelings have changed from 2014 to 2017.

 

Perhaps the most interesting part of the data—and the focal point—is the comparison between how Americans felt about religious groups in 2014 versus 2017…every single religious group increased its reputation among Americans except for one: Evangelical Christians.

 

Yes. Americans warmed up to every religion over the course of the last three years except for one: Evangelical Christians.

 

Chuck Lawless posted at his blog sharing eight things which North American believers can learn from believers around the world.

In my various roles, I’ve been privileged to travel the world, talk to global brothers and sisters in Christ, and learn from them. I may be the professor, but they always teach me. Here are some things we North American Christians can learn from them.

 

In Case You Missed It

At The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how recent arguments over crowd sizes are insignificant and pointless, but they reveal actual—not alternative—facts about our culture’s attitude toward truth in a post titled: “Reaping the Whirlwind of Alternative Facts.” Aaron writes:

Postmodernism declared there is no absolute truth or inherent meaning. Today, in a modern culture steeped in this way of thinking, truth is understood as relative. In literature and art, it doesn’t matter what the author or artist intended their work to say, it only matters how the individual received it. If I perceive something as offensive, that is all that matters. In religion, you cannot claim Jesus is the way, truth and life. Maybe he is just a way to reach God—one of many ways—because all religions are equally true.

 

In identity, gender is fluid and determined, not by biology, but by how a person feels. No one else has the right to tell them how they are to see themselves. In morality, unborn life is discardable and should not be regarded as a person—unless the mother wants it. Only then can we use language of “baby,” “child,” etc. The mother’s desires determine the reality of the baby.

 

For years, conservative Christians fought against the rejection of absolute truth, while many in culture scoffed. The mantra for years has been: “They may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”

 

Now, suddenly, culture has become concerned with truth and facts again.

 

In a recent article at The Intersect Project, Spence Spencer discussed how income inequality is not our biggest problem.

Is income inequality is one of the most significant threats to justice in our age? Some voices in the marketplace say so. They argue that the wealthy are becoming wealthier at the expense of the poor. If this were true, it would truly be one of the most significant justice issues of our day. However, this version of reality relies on the zero-sum myth of economics.

 

Anna Daub posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies discussing women’s marches and missions. Anna writes:

This weekend, the nation witnessed a momentous occasion. Hundreds of thousands of women gathered in cities all across the United States and the world to peacefully assemble and march for women’s rights.

 

I spent some time reading the signs women carried at the march. While I recognize that there are some signs that Christians cannot agree, there are others that we need to notice. A little African American girl’s sign said, “I am a woman….we are important. We are beautiful. We love children. We are queens, respect us, cherish us, value us.” Another states, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Yet another, in front of a gold Star of David, said, “My great-grandmother didn’t escape Warsaw for this!” Probably one of the most chilling signs I saw was this: an elderly Japanese woman carrying a sign that said, “Locked up by US Prez 1942-1946. Never again.”

 

From where I stand as a female missiologist (someone who studies the science of missions), this weekend was important. While I in no way want to minimize the big button issues present like abortion, I also believe that if we ever want to reach this generation, we need to pay attention to other things that were said and done.

 

This event, this march, is a window into our current culture.

 

At his personal blog, Jason Duesing posted an article discussing the most important doctrine he learned in seminary.

J. R. R. Tolkien loved words. More than that, he loved the study of words and delighted in philology or “the zone where history, linguistics, and literature meet.”[1] Therefore, when he had invented several languages he found he needed a world to house them. The result–the entirety of the fictional environs we know as Middle Earth and its inhabitants found their genesis in their creator’s love of words.

 

Words are something our Creator loves as well. He spoke the world into existence with words, sent his Son as the Word, and the Spirit breathed perfectly all the words we have in the Bible as Scripture. Thus, the Christian life is a life clothed and shaped by words even as some of those words require hard work to gain their full meaning.

 

When I went to seminary (in the latter part of the 20th century) I had only been a Christian for 4 years. I knew what it meant to be saved but was still working out what all that meant. For example, I had come to learn and love the hymn:

 

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

 

But it was not yet clear to me how exactly did Jesus wash me white as snow? I knew that Jesus died for my sins, but I don’t think I could have told you what happened when he did or how he did it. That is when I discovered I had a philology problem–a problem with words.

 

At The Intersect Project, Krystal Wilson discussed how Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is about more than abortion. Krystal writes:

As Christians, we believe in the sanctity of human life. We believe that all people are image bearers of a holy God and, as such, all human life is sacred and should be respected and protected. Many churches dedicate a whole Sunday in late January — Sanctity of Human Life Sunday — to enlighten its members about the sanctity of human life, particularly the issue of abortion.

 

But, as we will see, all life is sacred — even the lives we often neglect.

 

Chuck Lawless posted an article this week discussing 8 traits he sees in good worship leaders.

As I visit churches in my various roles, I’m privileged to worship with many different congregations. The styles aren’t always the same, but I can tell you some of the common traits I find in worship leaders who catch my attention. I know these thoughts are just my opinion, but here are some of those things.

In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook reminds us that we need to stop commiserating about sin. Keelan writes:

We have all been there. Someone in our small group asks to have coffee and we agree. Soon, we are sitting across a table before work one morning and see the expression on their face. We know the expression, we have had the expression. It is guilt and shame mixed with concern. As the conversation progresses, it turns to confession. Our friend is struggling with a particular sin and knows that confession is the right approach to dealing with it. They are seeking help, and they have come to us.

 

At his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how we as a society value entertainment and opinions more than we do information and truth.

Some back and forth between a football coach and a sports talk show host this week unintentionally illuminated one of our modern culture’s most dangerous condition. We value entertainment and opinions much more than we do information and truth…It’s more affirming when you read or hear something that simply dismisses everyone who disagrees with you as mentally or morally inferior. And it’s more infuriating to read someone who does that to you and your side. In both instances, our passions and emotions are inflamed (it is a hot take after all) and we are more likely to share or talk about it.

 

And when you share an article or video on social media, even if you talk about how horrible it is, you give the other person what they want—attention. So they serve up more takes and the cycle continues.

 

And that’s what hot takes do. They draw people in.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax writes that Christians must be myth busters.

MythBusters is one of The Discovery Channel’s most popular shows. It ran 15 seasons and still finds success in reruns.

 

Each episode focuses on a couple of popular beliefs or rumors, like “Can drinking Diet Coke and swallowing Mentos make your stomach explode?” or “Is running better than walking if you want to keep dry in the rain?” The hosts then test the beliefs through a number of experiments, to see if the idea holds up under scientific study.

 

MythBusters is a show that is comical and educational. It takes a common idea in society and shows how the myth gets “busted” from the scientific standpoint.

 

But you’ll never see a MythBusters episode about the purpose of life. You won’t find the hosts tackling the question, “What happens to us when we die?” Or “Is there a divine presence in the world?” These questions go beyond the stuff of scientific study. They are common and contested.

 

David Jones posted at the Intersect Project discussing the inauguration, Paula White, and the pitfalls of the prosperity gospel. Dr. Jones writes:

“To live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian.”

Charles Spurgeon uttered these words over a century ago to the then-largest congregation in all Christendom. Over the years, however, the message preached in some of the largest churches in the world has dramatically changed. This new gospel has been ascribed many names, such as the “name it and claim it” gospel, the “blab it and grab it” gospel, the “health and wealth” gospel, the “prosperity gospel” and “positive confession theology.”

No matter what name you use, though, the essence of this new gospel is the same: God wants believers to be physically healthy, materially wealthy and personally happy.

 

Also at the Intersect Project website, Laura Thigpen posted an article titled: “A Pro-Life Ethic: Caring for Aging Parents“.

Her frail hands, wrinkled with raised blue veins would meet my Granny’s hands as she held the cup to her thin lips. “Alright, now you have one more to take, Momma,” Granny would say, coaxing my great-grandmother to take the final sip to swallow the last of several pills.

 

As a child watching my Granny care for her nearly blind, hard-of-hearing elderly mother, I would try earnestly to imagine the woman before me as a young mother, up early preparing breakfast and organizing a household of seven children in the 1940’s. Sitting quietly, and contentedly, in her chair on the far side of the living room, I struggled then to see in her the once vibrant life she lived. But every now and then I would glimpse a small grin on her face, as if she weren’t so hard of hearing after all or perhaps she was remembering a pleasant memory.

 

Watching my Granny care for her mother in such a tender way, like caring for a young child, stirred an appreciation in my young heart for the beauty and delicacy of old age. Instead of seeing wrinkles I see stories of faith, adventure and hardships. Instead of gray hair I see the evidence of work, stress, grief and the wisdom of long-life. Instead of thin, easily bruised skin and oddly bent bones, I see a lifetime of very human vulnerability – such a soft shell to protect something so vital as the human heart.