In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week at The Center for Great Commission Studies website, Greg Mathias shares a reminder that missionaries need the Bible. Dr. Mathias writes:

At the risk of being labeled Captain Obvious, let me begin with a simplistic yet important statement: Missionaries need the Bible. Ministry is fulfilling, but it is also hazardous. Language, culture, and new experiences of spiritual warfare compound these hazards for the missionary. In the midst of long days and nights of ministry, missionaries often struggle with spiritual exhaustion and long seasons of spiritual dryness. One of the key ingredients behind this exhaustion and dryness is a lack of rich and nourishing time in the Word of God.

 

6 ways to hold onto the Word in seasons of fruitful ministry or in seasons of exhaustion and dryness.

 

Alan Cross posted at SBC Voices with eight ways to appreciate your pastor for pastor appreciation month.

October is pastor appreciation month. Let me tell you how to let your pastor know you appreciate him. Gifts are fine and a vacation or money is always helpful, especially if the pastor has a family he is trying to provide for. But, he didn’t become a pastor for the money. He wanted to impact lives for God’s Kingdom. That is what he gave his life to years ago. Every pastor is different, I know, but many pastors that I’ve talked to feel most appreciated when the following happens. I thank God for every instance of this that I experienced.

 

At The Blazing Center, Matt Rogers shares why peace is a terrible basis for decision making.

It’s become a go-to answer to justify our actions.

Sarah is a high-school senior who is trying to determine where she will go to college. After four college tours, she tells her parents that she “just feels a peace” about going to a certain school. Or a businessman considering a new career venture might quip, “I know it is risky but I just feel a peace that this is what I should do.”

 

Our internal sense of peace serves as the ultimate rationale for decision-making and, the great thing is, no one can question us. It’s the ultimate mic-drop—akin to saying that God told you to do something.

 

Who’s gonna say that God didn’t tell you this or that your sense of peace is wrong?

 

This might not be such a big deal in morally neutral decisions like where we go to college or what entrepreneurial venture we are going to undertake next. But it’s a massive issue when it bleeds over to our choices in other areas of life—which it almost always does.

 

Dr. Brent Aucoin published a two-part article at Canon and Culture arguing that the Founding Fathers would not have barred pastors from holding public office. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Dr. Aucoin writes:

Did the Founding Fathers of America want to prohibit ministers from holding public office? One of the most prolific and respected Christian historians in America thinks so and wants you to do the same. John Fea, who is chair of the History Department at Messiah College, the author of four renowned books, and a popular blogger, made this argument in an essay entitled “Why the Founding Fathers wanted to keep ministers from public office” that appeared on the Religious News Service (RNS) website on August 15, 2016.

 

The question of whether pastors should be able to hold elective office does not seem to be a pressing issue, as relatively few ministers ever throw their hat into the political ring. But in a society where the growing hostility of the cultural and political elites towards Christianity is matched by their questioning of the guarantees of freedom of religion, this matter suddenly takes on greater significance. One can’t help but wonder if the attempt to prohibit pastors from running for political office may follow the previously unimaginable attempts by governments in America to collect and analyze sermons, or to effectively prevent professors in Christian colleges from teaching from a Christian perspective. If one could demonstrate that the Founders wished to bar ministers from public office, it would certainly help facilitate the ongoing quest to further secularize the public square and marginalize Christians.

 

At the Intersect Project, Laura Thigpen shares three ways Christians can be engaged about the environment.

In a recent article, my friend Carly Abney explained why Christians should care about the environment. Now that we’ve established that Christians should care about the environment, the next question is how. Often times people choose not to enter conversations on topics like science or the environment for two reasons:

  • Genuine Intellectual Insecurity: They feel inadequate, lacking enough knowledge to speak on the issues.
  • Superficial Intellectual Security: They believe they have the right answers and are unwilling to enter conversations where disagreement is almost certain.

Carly gave us several reasons why these avoidances actually hinder sharing gospel truths in the environmental movement. Now, Carly gives three practical ways we can work to overcome our perceived barriers and be engaged, ordered in increasing difficulty

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford published an article at Fox News sharing the one thing that could tip the balance in the next presidential debate.

There is one thing that could tip the balance in an increasingly tight race for the presidency, and it is the one thing that probably will not be mentioned—much less emphasized—during Monday night’s presidential debate. Here’s to hope.

 

There are a number of things I’d like to see happen during the second presidential debate and then there’s one thing I’d like to see happen more than anything else. Let’s start with a brief enumeration of the “number of things” before we conclude with the “one thing.”

Exploring Hope Podcast: How should Christians think about Immigration?

The topic of immigration has dominated political and public conversations for quite some time now. Some of our politicians, including many presidential candidates, have placed the issue at the heart of their respective platforms. Not surprisingly, it is an issue that polarizes politicians, citizens and even fellow Christian brothers and sisters. So, Dr. Jamie Dew had Alan Cross in the Exploring Hope studio last week to discuss some important points, statistics, and perspectives that can help believers look beyond the polarized and editorialized arguments we see on TV or hear in the workplace on a daily basis. Tune in to get some unique and factual perspectives on what kind of attitudes we should have towards immigrants and immigration!
 

ExploringHopePodcast2

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.