In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Hannah Jayne Adkins shared a post discussing why Christians should care about the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic may sound like an abstract or irrelevant topic to you. It’s something you hear on the evening news, but you never think deeply about it.

 

But I’ve seen the effects of drug addiction first-hand. In addition to studying counseling at Southeastern Seminary, I also serve as a registered nurse. And I have seen how opioid addiction impacts real people’s lives in devastating and destructive ways.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Anna Daub shared a second post about singleness during the holidays, this time discussing how singles should engage others around them.

The holidays usually mean a myriad of emotions for single Christians. Some singles look forward to this time because of the opportunity to be a part of all the festivities or because it means a trip home to welcoming arms and nostalgic Christmas traditions. But for other singles, the holidays can be a stinging reminder of what they don’t have- a family waiting for them to come home, a significant other playing in the snow with them, children expectantly setting up cookies and milk for Santa. For these singles, the Christmas season can accentuate unmet desires and initiate the ache of loneliness, the sting of envy, and the choking hold of bitterness.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax discusses singing ‘Peace on Earth’ when our heart is heavy.

It’s Christmastime, so we’re singing these days about “peace on earth,” joining our voices with the angels who appeared to the shepherds.

 

But let’s face it: 2017 has been a hard year for “peace on earth.” We’ve seen wars and rumors of wars. We’ve watched earthquakes flatten towns, hurricanes destroy islands, fires consume neighborhoods, and floodwaters engulf a city. Last month brought news of a mass killing that took more than half of the people gathered for worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

 

The bad news is everywhere. Terrorist attacks. Nuclear threats. Corruption in Washington. Racial tensions. Sexual assault and harassment and predation coming to light in Hollywood, in Washington, D.C., and (Lord have mercy!) in the church of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to look at the state of our world and say, “Peace on earth sounds so far away.”

 

In a series of posts at his blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared ‘How to Watch a Move (An Evangelical Guide).’

Recently, I composed a brief survey, asking my website readers to tell me what they like and dislike about my website, and what they’d want to talk about if they had some time to chat with me personally.

 

I gained valuable insights from the survey, one of which is that many of my readers want me to explore issues at the intersection of Christianity and popular culture. In response to this request, I offered a six-part series entitled, “How to Watch a Movie (An Evangelical Guide).”

 

In light of the interest readers showed in the series, and in response to readers’ requests to put all of the content in one place so that it can be shared, I offer the six links together.

 

Dr. Chuck Lawless recently shared a post discussing why “parking lot” church business meetings are seldom good.

Maybe you’ve seen it happen. A group of church leaders are striving to make an “official” decision, but the discussions move beyond the official discussion to the parking lot (or the hallways, or the local café, or the telephone). Here’s why those parking lot meetings are seldom good.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams shared about the beauty of a child’s enthusiasm for work.

“Dad, when I grow up, I want to drive a trash truck.”

 

My four-year-old told me this with a straight face. Upon further examination, I discovered that he didn’t want to drive just any trash truck. He wanted to drive a “flying purple trash truck.”

 

I love that his career aspirations are so broad; he hasn’t yet fallen prey to the lie that white-collar vocations are somehow better than blue-collar. But I also love that he’s so genuinely excited about work. On some days, he dreams of driving this elusive flying purple trash truck. Other days, he wants to be a teacher, or a choir director or a farmer. Just yesterday, he had papers, toys and craft materials strewn about a table. When I asked him to clean it up, he told me matter-of-factly, “Dad, this is my desk. I have to work here. My boss won’t want me to clean this up!”

 

There’s something beautiful about his childlike enthusiasm for work. To him, work is not an obligation. It’s not a chore. It’s not even about making money. To him, work is thrilling. The world is teeming with possibilities, and he can’t wait to get his hands on it.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Anna Daub shared some advice about engaging singles during the holidays.

When I was a child, my parents went to great lengths to ensure we had beautiful Christmas memories and fun family traditions. One tradition was that Christmas Eve was always an open invitation to people who had nowhere else to go. My mother would cook a Tex-Mex feast and invite the single professors from the university nearby, the elderly woman who lived alone, and the Muslim man who sold cell phones in the mall to join us. Most of the time, only one or two would come, but this tradition instilled in me a reminder to always look for those who had nowhere to go for the holidays.

 

In a post at the Intersect Project, Tami Gomez warned Christians about being cultural copycats.

“Engage the culture.”

 

It’s what Christians are continually being told we need to do more. We need to look to our culture and use it creatively to reach our lost friends, family members and society at large. After all, if we can make music as catchy as what’s on the radio or movies as spectacular as Hollywood’s, then we will have won the culture wars; people will come for the party, but stay for the substance. At least that’s been the theory. Unfortunately, this has only lead to “Christian culture” being a stuffy, retooled version of styles that used to be trendy. Christians need to stop thinking in terms of engaging an already-existing culture and start thinking in terms of creating culture.

 

In a post at his blog, Scott Slayton shared why we should live in the Psalms.

In our distracted and fast-paced world, many Christians struggle to gain depth in our spiritual lives. If our devotions happen, they are usually hurried, so we don’t often make the unhurried time that we need to soak in God’s word and linger before God in prayer that we so desperately need. The result is that we often evidence a weak and shallow Christianity. We may be able to fake depth for a while, but eventually, the hard times come and expose us for who we really are.

 

The Psalms provide a welcome antidote to our craving for shallowness. The Psalms, which seem so easy to understand on the surface, invite us to deep study and contemplation. They show the blessing of cultivating a deep and abiding trust in the Lord and beckon us to leave behind our life of distraction so we can know and love God more deeply.

 

Here five reasons that our hurried and forgetful hearts need to live in the Psalms for a while.

 

At the LifeWay Facts & Trends blog, Joe McKeever shared thirteen things a pastor should never say to a congregation.

In addition to the obvious no-no’s, such as profanity, heresy, racism, sexism, and the like, no pastor should ever be heard to utter any of the following from the pulpit.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten reflections of a formerly single pastor.

For the first ten years of my pastoral ministry (ages 20-30), I was unmarried. The Lord had called me to preach when I was 13 years old, and the first church called me as pastor at age 20. Here are my reflections on those years as a single pastor.

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.