In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Meredith Cook shared a post discussing how to survive the church as an introvert. Meredith writes:

If you register “I” on the spectrum of “HANG OUT WITH ALL THE PEOPLE” to “give me solitude or give me death”, then you, like me, probably struggle with community in the church. As an introvert, the balance between needing alone time to recharge and not neglecting others is hard. It is easy to value that time so much you neglect what is a necessary and biblical part of the Christian life — the church. I am guilty of, and I have witnessed others, using my so-called introversion as an excuse to neglect the church.

 

While I think there is some validity to the extrovert/introvert spectrum and how we relate to people, it is also largely a Western concept bred out of individualism and our desire to dictate who/what/when/where we spend time with people. However, this is not how we see believers relating to each other in the Bible. Christian community is illustrated throughout the Bible and rarely, if ever, do we see an individual forsaking people to get their alone time.

 

Aaron Earls posted an article at the Lifeway Pastor’s blog discussing the pastor’s challenge in recovering from the Christmas rush.

For many, work slows down during the Christmas season, but not for pastors. All the holiday festivities bring even more responsibilities. But no you’ve made it through the musicals, the small group parties, the Christmas Eve service, the increased benevolence demands from the community, and the extra visitors in the pews.

 

Hopefully, in the midst of it all, you’ve had a moment of peace to reflect on the coming of the Prince of Peace and an opportunity to celebrate with your family the Father sending the Son as the baby in a manger. But now what? As the Christmas season close to a close, how should you spend the last few days of the year? Here are five things you can do before the new year begins a new batch of tasks.

 

Paul Akin posted an article at the ERLC website titled: “Lottie Moon: A pioneer advocate for limitless sending.” Paul writes:

Billions of people are born, live their entire lives, and die without ever hearing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Maybe you should read that sentence again, just to give it time to sink in.

 

Currently, there are more than seven billion people in the world. Missiologists estimate that over 2.8 billion of those people have little to no access to the gospel. That is a huge number, and its reality demands a limitless missionary force to take the gospel to unreached peoples and places around the world.

 

Jesus exhorted his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:37–38). The same truth remains today.

 

Art Rainer recently shared nine steps to enjoying a sporting event with your kids on the cheap.

I love going to sporting events. So do my kids, ages three and six. But as you know, going to a sporting event can be a costly endeavor. Just about every part of the experience is expensive. And there is nothing worse than spending all that money and not walking away with an enjoyable memory. Over the past few years, I have been able to develop my own steps for creating an enjoyable memory with my kids at a sporting event.

 

How do I do it? Here are nine steps to enjoying a sporting even with young kids on the cheap

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared twelve questions he’d like to ask pastors with 40+ years of experience. Dr. Lawless writes:

This year, I celebrated my 35th year in full-time ministry. I rejoice over God’s faithfulness through the years, but I’m also aware that I’m always one step away from falling. When I think about that reality, I’d love to convene a group of pastors with 40+ years of ministry behind them and ask them these questions

In Case You Missed It

At The People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook shared a warning concerning religious categories. Keelan writes:

Americans love our categories. We love our boxes and labels. Even today, with the postmodern push away from classification, we Western thinkers still organize information by placing “like items” together in taxonomies. Categories can be helpful to understand certain generalizations about a set of items, ideas, or people. However, categories also obscure information. Every time we lump two like things together, we focus on the similarities and overlook the differences. This is particularly true when we view something as an outsider.

 

We need to recognize this tendency to generalize in missions and evangelism. Our world is full of cultures, beliefs, religions, and worldviews. The sheer number of options when it comes to a belief system are dizzying. In the past, however, your average church-going Christian in the US would only run across one of two different belief systems. A generation ago, there were Protestants, Catholics, and not-so-religious people. Those in the Protestant camp tended to be either committed, confessional Christians or nominal Christians (in name only) and part of a larger Christian cultural ethos. When it came to sharing the gospel, these were the predominant categories of thought.

 

Spence Spencer published an article at The Intersect Project discussing and the psychological consequences of a well-intended idea: universal basic income.

We don’t know what the future holds, but some in the tech industry are predicting a massive displacement of workers in the future.State jobs reports tend to confirm this expectation, as automation is thought to be increasing and threatening to displace low-skill workers.

 

Some see the downward shift in employment rates as an overall positive, arguing that taking people out of so-called menial jobs will free more people up to be creative and more effectively human. To support the displaced workers, there are a number of people calling for universal basic income.

 

Universal basic income proposals come in several forms and variations, but a simplified version is this: Everyone will be guaranteed at least a certain amount of income per year. Essentially, the government will write everyone a check for an amount deemed appropriate to support basic living expenses. Wages from compensated employment would either add to that basic income or displace it, depending on the proposal.

 

At his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared a post about Chip and Joanna Gaines, Buzzfeed, and fixing up the social media cycle of shame.

Buzzfeed published a lazy story on Chip and Joanna Gaines, the happy home renovating couple from Fixer Upper, using sermons preached by their pastor in opposition to same sex marriage.

 

The obvious intention of the piece was to gin up controversy and unleash an internet mob to pressure the hosts of the popular show to voice an opinion on the culturally controversial issue. After obtaining that information, only then could socially liberal viewers feel comfortable (or not) watching the Gaineses remodel homes.

 

Thankfully, unlike many previous instances, most readers critiqued Buzzfeed’s story instead of their subjects. Many who support same sex marriage and even many who are gay themselves called the piece “bad journalism and bad advocacy.”

 

After the backlash, Buzzfeed’s editor insisted the piece was about whether HGTV discriminated against same sex couples on the show. (Despite the fact that, as they reported in the story, multiple shows on HGTV regularly feature same sex couples.)

 

In a snark filled follow-up, the writer of the original piece quoted from an HGTV spokesperson that the network does not discriminate against anyone. Seemingly, this will end the latest version of Heresy Hunters, the new favorite reality show of some cultural progressives.

 

But as a Christian, I am much more concerned about our reaction to such situations. How we handle them matters because they will be more and more frequent.

 

At the Around Southeastern blog, Harper McKay shared about the Biblical Women’s Institute titled “Helping Us Get There“.

My husband and I met while serving overseas as singles in Southeast Asia. When we returned home from our two-year terms and talked about getting married, we thought we would slow down, stay in America for a while, and have a “normal” life, whatever that means. We both knew that God had called us to serve overseas long term, but we did not want to move to go to seminary. We thought it would be better to take online classes and work full time near our families.

 

As we searched for jobs, nothing seemed to open up to either one of us. The wedding date drew nearer and nearer and we still lived with our parents with no idea what to do after we got married. Still we said we just didn’t want to go to seminary.

 

Finally after my husband (then my fiancé) was turned down from two jobs in the same week, I admitted to something that had been creeping up in my mind.

 

“I think we have not been open to everything God might want us to do,” I said as we took a walk in the park.

 

Trevin Wax recently shared his 10 favorite reads of 2016Trevin writes:

For more than ten years now, I’ve been blogging regularly. And every year, I like to pick the ten books I most enjoyed reading.

Feel free to peruse this list and some of previous years’ selections (20152014201320122011, 2010,2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, as well as my Hubworthy page of “Essential” recommendations). You’ll find some great titles to add to your Christmas wish list.

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.