In Case You Missed It

Laura Thigpen posted an article at the Intersect Project discussing when grief is good.

Grief is an unwelcome guest that enters our lives unexpectedly and awkwardly overstays its welcome. But even this most awkward and unwelcome guest can open our eyes to the pain and suffering we have unwittingly been blinded to. It reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain:

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

When we read this short sentence, we may resonate with the words preceding the colon. In our pain, it can feel like God is shouting to us. Yet, don’t overlook the words that follow the colon. God uses our pain to rouse us, to stir our heart’s affections, to awaken our sensibilities.

 

This is precisely the point Lewis is making about our pain. The Lord uses our grief as a catalyst to bring about repentance, to achieve His purposes and to fulfill His plans.

 

Trevin Wax shared an article at The Gospel Coalition, titled: “Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One.” Trevin writes:

The most well-known hymn in America, “Amazing Grace,” by the former slaveholder John Newton, contains a line that many people stumble over.

 

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!

 

The hymn may be popular, but the sentiment is not. Few Americans consider themselves “wretches” of moral repugnance and debasement. We like to think of ourselves as basically good, with a few flaws; not fundamentally bad, with few virtues to save us.

 

Some Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending his Son to die for our sins is so significant.

 

The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.

 

At Biblical Foundations,  Andreas Köstenberger published an article discussing the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection.

One of the most important historical questions related to Jesus is how a tiny offshoot of Judaism went on to change the world. One of the most outspoken detractors of Jesus’ deity and the truthfulness of Christianity, Bart Ehrman, writes, “But then something else happened. Some of [Jesus’ followers] began to say that God had intervened and brought [Jesus] back from the dead. The story caught on, and some (or all – we don’t know) of his closest followers came to think that in fact he had been raised” (Did Jesus Exist?, 233). So did the early Christians invent the resurrection of Jesus? For his part, Ehrman disputes that Jesus’ tomb was empty, in part because neither Joseph of Arimathea—the man who put Jesus in the tomb according to the Gospels—nor the tomb itself are mentioned in the earliest creed (1 Cor 15:3b-5aHow Jesus Became God, 129-69). Yet 1 Cor 15:4 does say, “He was buried,” and proceeds to affirm, “He was raised.” The obvious historical conclusion is that whatever Jesus was buried in, presumably a tomb, was now empty!

 

Art Rainer discussed our double-edged smartphones at The Baptist Press.  Art writes:

Your smartphone can impact your financial health beyond the monthly service bill.

 

Smartphones are everywhere. According to Pew Research, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. This is more than double the 35 percent ownership in 2011.

 

Many of us cannot remember what life was 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 the Intersect Project, Michael Guyer posted: “A Letter to a Transgender Student.”

Dear friend,

I am so thankful I know you. It is an honor that you would share this struggle with me. I know it was not easy, nor does sharing resolve everything. As you shared, I could not help but think of how deeply I desire to be truly known. God designed us for this—to know Him and be known by Him. He not only made us for Himself, but He also made us for community—to know others and be known by them. My heart groans with yours to be truly known as God intended from the beginning. But my heart also groans because I know the church has not always felt like a place you could talk about this struggle. As a result, you have felt disconnected and not truly known yourself. Along the way, you have been disappointed, hurt and isolated by the actions and words of Christians. I grieve over the pain and loneliness you have experienced. Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I am here for you and I love you.

 

Also this week, Bruce Ashford published a 5-part series of articles at his blog discussing the issue of transgenderism:

  1. Introduction
  2. A Brief Explanation of Significant Terms
  3. The Bible and Gender Identity
  4. Relating to Individuals with Gender Dysphoria
  5. Responding to It as an Ideology and Movement

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 the Intersect Project, Michael Guyer reviewed Removing the Stain of Racicm from the Southern Baptist Convention, by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones.

Racism has been a glaring stain within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) since 1845, the year it was founded in Augusta, GA. And yet, by God’s grace, we are not the convention we once were. The 2017 SBC Annual Meeting showed us we still have more work to do. In the weeks following the SBC Annual Meeting, two different black pastors wrote contrasting articles—Lawrence Ware’s New York Time’s op-ed, “Why I am Leaving the Southern Baptist Convention”, and Dwight McKissic’s response in the Washington Post, “I’m a black pastor. Here’s why I’m staying in the Southern Baptist Convention.” While saddened by Ware’s conclusion, these articles highlight the continuing need to address racial justice and reconciliation within the SBC. I am especially grateful for McKissic’s voice in this conversation. His conclusion is worth repeating:

 

The SBC has its shortcomings, but churches that focus their attention on the mission of our Lord Jesus will not find a better body to cooperate with than the SBC. Not everything in the SBC is what it should be, but I am called to work within to help it become what it can be.

That’s why I remain.

In this same spirit, Jarvis Williams and Kevin Jones have given Southern Baptists, and any denomination with ears to hear, a great gift in Removing the Stain of Racism From the Southern Baptist Convention: Diverse African American and White Perspectives. It is the gift of honest reflection and thoughtful responses to the remaining stain of racism within the SBC.

 

Dr. Greg Mathias posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies titled Too Much Hustle, Too Little Heaven. Dr Matthias writes:

Heaven has invaded my thoughts a bit more over the past few weeks. While I cannot pinpoint a particular reason as to why my thoughts have been more heavenward, it’s been refreshing to consider this life in light of eternity.

 

Before the last few weeks, it strikes me how little I think about heaven. This isn’t just the fallout from a busy life and a forgetful mind, but it’s probably more accurate to say that it is because I think too little of heaven. My thoughts are wrapped up in what is right before me–the daily hustle. I find it difficult to consider anything beyond my next appointment notification, much less eternity. I live a consumed life focused on this world at the expense of my future, more permanent, and heavenly home. Perhaps you can relate?

 

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook asked: “Is door-knocking making a comeback?”

When I was in high school (in the late 90s), I discovered vintage clothes. In the small town where I grew up, we had small businesses known as “dig stores.” They were vintage clothing shops that had a large piles of clothes on tables or in a room where you sorted through clothing, looking for buried treasure. I remember the first time I found a pair of bell bottom blue jeans.

 

Anyone with just a bit of age on them knows that some fashions return to haunt us. When I was in high school, my parents laughed at my clothes, saying the 70s had returned. Today, I laugh as styles from the 90s climb out of their grave. Fashion is apparently not the only things from our past that revisit, and when it comes to local missions, that may be a good thing.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across an article in the Baptist Press lauding the return of door-knocking as an outreach method for contemporary churches. Robin Cornetet, the author, writes, “A Louisville pastor has busted the longstanding myth in the church world that door-to-door visitation is out of vogue and no longer effective.” The piece continues by pointing to Mark Bishop, the campus pastor for a Louisville church, who has developed the practice of knocking on 200 doors per week. The results, almost 40 baptisms over six months.

 

Is the practice of door-knocking coming back around to contemporary church practice? I will put my cards on the table and say I hope so.

 

The Intersect Project interviewed SEBTS staff photographer Maria Estes about how she uses her talent of photography for God’s glory.

In many vocations, you can clearly see how God is using your work for his glory. A construction worker builds a home that families can live in. A teacher invests in the next generation. A doctor saves lives.

 

In other vocations, the connection seems less clear. What if your work involves carrying a camera around? What if you spend most of your working hours in an office, editing photos on a computer screen?

 

Maria Estes is a photographer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and many of her days involve such tasks. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Maria about photography. In our conversation, you’ll see how God can use her work for his glory — and how he can use yours, too. Here’s our conversation.

 

In a guest post at Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe discussed how to handle negative Facebook comments about your church. Jonathan writes:

When churches have Facebook pages, negative comments will come your way. Whether it’s a former church member, someone from the community, or an online troll, it’s likely that at some point someone will comment negatively about your church on Facebook.

 

So what do you do? Do you defend the church? Do you just delete the comment and move on?

 

How you respond depends on three things, mainly.

 

Dr. Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary interviewed Dr. Art Rainer, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Seminary about the preacher and money.

This week on Preaching and Preachers, Art Rainer joins me in a discussion on the preacher and money. Art serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also cofounder of Rainer Publishing, and he has written four books: Raising DadSimple LifeThe Minister’s Salary, and The Money Challenge.