In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Lifeway Kid’s Ministry blog, Bekah Stoneking discussed the importance of biblical literacy for children. Bekah writes:

What do young people really think about God, the Bible, and church? How do we balance Barna’s findings—which reveal a majority of adolescents desire closeness with God and leading meaningful lives—along with reports of young people who are leaving the church because they did not experience a “robust Christian faith?” And, what does “spiritual but not religious” mean, anyway?

 

To reconcile the differences that exist among a desire for God, a lackluster faith experience, and a noncommittal stance toward the church, I’d suggest we begin at a young person’s foundation—both in their development as children and in their early experiences with the Bible. For those of us who are called to disciple kids in our homes and churches, we should understand the role biblical literacy plays in transforming lives and building faith.

 

At The Exchange, Ed Stetzer and Amy Whitfield discussed how Evangelicals made Trump’s candidacy, and they now need to help remake his presidency.

[Tuesday Night], maps were redrawn. Political realities were upended. America was redirected—and, for good or for ill, Evangelicals were a big part of that reality. White Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the general election, after propelling his campaign in the primaries.
Many Evangelicals didn’t follow the leaders that warned them away from Trump. These Evangelicals, and many Americans, were angry enough to vote for a stunningly unpopular candidate who promised change. It turns out that that basket was a lot bigger than many people expected.
We knew that half of America would be outraged, but the surprise is which half.
Now the world is outraged. And much anger is being directed at Evangelical Trump voters. Yet we need to remember that Trump voters are not Trump

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford and D. A. Horton teamed up to share a post-election vision for Evangelical Conservatives.

Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States. Many evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Many did not. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree: the last decade, and especially the past two years, in American public life has made one thing clear to evangelical conservatives: we are being decentered socially, culturally, and politically.

 

Although in recent years we have seen incremental progress in our advocacy for the pro-life cause, we are experiencing consistent setbacks on other significant concerns such as religious liberty, race relations, and marriage and family. Many Americans consider our stance on moral issues to be not only wrong but bad, and view us as little more than the hypocritical and bigoted special interest arm of the Republican Party.

 

Not the best of times, these.

 

In light of the situation, therefore, shouldn’t evangelical conservatives forget about politics and public life for a while so they can slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on the gospel?

 

No.

 

In an article at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax asked: “What if our Bibles rose up and judged us?”

I’m two months into my new role as Bible and reference publisher for LifeWay, where I have the privilege of stewarding a Bible translation and producing resources that assist people in reading and understanding God’s Word.

 

But there’s a scary part to my job, a spiritual element that I cannot shake off.

 

At his blog Millennial Evangelical, Chris Martin reminds us that we have forgotten where home is. Chris writes:

Christians: we tend to have a perspective problem. We have misunderstood eternity to be the epilogue that follows our life on earth, when our life on earth is actually just the prologue to eternity. This weekend, my pastor, Trevor Atwood, preached on Matthew 6:11, which is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

The “daily bread” that God provides is not the fullness of all that is good in life. “Daily bread” is not the fulfillment of every good promise of God. “Daily bread” is the presence of God we need to fuel us in our journey en route to his eternal presence. “Daily bread” is like a greasy Whopper to get us by in our car on the way home to a delicious home-cooked meal with our family.

 

When we pray, and as we live out our lives on earth, we often want “daily bread” to be more than God promises it to be. We expect the “daily bread” that’s meant to fuel our journey home to be a home-cooked feast. It’s not just that we’re too impatient to wait for the feast until we get home. It’s that we have forgotten where our home is.

 

What is Love, and How do I find it?” This is a question that Jonathan C. Edwards addresses in a recent article at the Intersect Project Website. Jonathan writes:

We look far too many places and to far too many things to find love, figure out what exactly it looks like and experience what it feels like. We do this time and again because, frankly, where it actually can be found seems boring, out of date and not all that sexy. Reading a good novel or cuddling up watching the newest romantic film seems a lot more enjoyable than opening the Bible.

 

What’s interesting though is that the Bible, unlike much of everything else we experience, isn’t cryptic when it comes to uncovering the coveted understanding of love’s true form. Scripture says, “You want to know what love is? You want to know how to feel love and express love? Look at the cross. Period.” [John 10:11, 15:13; 1 John 3:16, 4:10, 19]

 

But it seems that’s not good enough for us.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Keelan Cook shares four truths to ground your Theology of Mission.

Studying missions is an important part of actually doing missions. There is a cognitive aspect to everything we do. Therefore, what we study about missions affects how we actually do missions. The Bible has a lot to say about the mission of God and the church’s role in that mission. There is another component to studying mission: the actual theology we glean from what the Bible says. Our theology comes from our interpretation of the Bible, and everyone interprets the Bible whether they realize it or not. There are theological interpretations of Bible’s bases for missions. I’ve listed a few below.

In Case You Missed It

Dr. Jamie Dew shared a post on his personal blog about doubting…and why it happens to us all from time to time. Dr Dew writes:

I’ll admit it. I have had my moments when I wondered if it’s actually true. In fact, I’ve had more than just moments. Those who know me best know that it’s been the seasons of wondering and questioning that ultimately led me to studying apologetics and eventually philosophy. Before I knew it, I had become an academic.

 

Here’s one thing I’ve found. Believers tend to think something is terribly wrong if they have doubts about their faith. “Perhaps”, they think to themselves, “doubt indicates that there is something wrong with Christianity, the Bible, or even Jesus.” And since they don’t want to insinuate that anything is wrong with Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus, they suppress and conceal their doubts. And in the off chance that they actually talk about their struggles with fellow believers, they might be scolded for their uncertainty as if they have failed morally.

 

Here’s another thing I’ve found. Doubting is NOT—no matter what some might think—an indicator that there is something wrong with Christianity, the Bible, or Jesus. Doubting is an indicator that WE are limited as knowers. Doubting, uncertainty, and questions are not a result of some problem with Christianity. These are the results of our humanity. That is, they are part of the human condition and are shared by people of every worldview perspective. It’s just part of what it’s like to be a human and something that we all—no matter what worldview we hold to be true—have to deal with.

 

Having said that, let me say three things: Relax, Reflect, and Research.

 

At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls recently wrote an article discussing how nostalgia looks forward, not backwards.

Nostalgia may be the dominant force in modern culture.

 

Popular TV shows long since cancelled are receiving new life. Gilmore Girls is coming to Netflix almost 10 years after the show’s run on network television ended. Other shows are being rebooted or recast. Virtually every hit movie is a derivative of something that was successful in the past. Whether it was a book, TV show, comic book, or movie, the completely original film seems rare these days. It can be tempting to write off nostalgia as nothing more than the last gasps of an extended adolescence. We want to relive joys from our younger years and recapture cherished memories.

 

In a way that may be true. After all, nostalgia can be used as a replacement for honoring the past through traditions by simply commoditizing it. Within the church, nostalgia is often used as an excuse to avoid doing the hard work of understanding modern culture and simply calling people to embrace a bygone era. But that is only part of the story. Nostalgia is more than a pining glance backwards. In reality, it is a longing look forward that is simply misplaced.

 

At the Southeastern Women’s Life blog, Bekah Stoneking shared a post titled When God Calls, Just GO. Bekah writes:

“Professional ministry” never crossed my mind.

 

Though I grew up in the church and though a lot of my friends in college were pastors or pastors’ wives, it never clicked for me that people actually went to school to “do” ministry. I suppose I thought that everyone just served the church alongside whatever else they did (shout out to my parents, an engineer and a nurse, who are excellent examples of doing just that!)

 

Before I graduated from college, I felt like God was leading me to go to seminary (a rather foreign concept) and as I researched schools and degrees, I became overwhelmed. And whenever I’d think about what I’d do after seminary, I would become confused because I had no idea where I fit in. For a few months, I tried to press on, talk to friends and pastors, and make a plan but the more I searched, the more I realized that I was a woman.

 

What do women in seminary do? What do women in professional ministry do? I felt particularly gifted in teaching and public speaking but…what does that mean?

 

It didn’t make sense so I just pressed “pause” and stopped talking about it. I got  into a good groove teaching second graders in a wonderful school district, serving in my local church, and spending my summer and winter breaks D-leading at youth retreats. Then one November morning, I met a friend for breakfast. When she sat down, she quietly leaned across the table and said, “Bekah, I think God talked to me in the bathroom. I’m supposed to ask you when you’re going to seminary.

 

Well.

 

Okay then.

 

At The People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook shared how the Spirit is the source of our supply.

Ministry to others comes from the overflow of a heart filled with the Spirit.

 

You have heard it before. I have too. I have preached it before, but it is worth repeating. Ministry to others comes from the overflow of a heart filled with the Spirit. If we are to be the kind of ministers that God asks us to be, then we will only do so by abiding in him. Seminary student, aspiring to the ministry, hear these words: ministry is not simply about how much you know. Pastor, remember the demands of ministry and family cannot serve as excuses for distance from the Father. Such is a recipe for disaster in all areas. I was freshly reminded of this while studying Mark’s gospel with my church. In the fourth chapter, Mark makes a statement. It is small and subtle, so it is easy to pass over. Nevertheless, it is a principle that rings true and serves as a guide to the minister.

 

“Pay attention to what you hear. By the measure you use, it will be measured and added to you,” states Jesus in a conversation with his disciples (Mk 4:24). These words come at a transition point in a teaching discourse by Jesus, and they serve to tie together much of the previous thought on hearing the word of God and the responsibility that brings. At the beginning of the passage, Jesus delivers the parable of the sower. He cautions listeners about the manner in which they receive the word. There are multiple ways to receive God’s word but only one that produces fruit. “But the ones sown on good ground are those who hear the word, welcome it, and produce a crop: 30, 60, and 100 times what was sown” (Mk 4:20). The admonition of Christ is to be open to the word, to hear it with gladness, welcome it, and let it do it’s life-producing work in your heart. Fruit grows in the lives of those who receive the word rightly.

 

Dr. Chuck Lawless recently shared ten ways to listen better as a church leader.

All church leaders have church members who want to talk with us at times. Sometimes it’s an emergency. At other times, it’s a longer-term need. Many of us, though, aren’t the best listeners. Here are some ways to do better.

In Case You Missed It

Jon Bloom posted at Desiring God earlier this week asking the question: Is your world too small?

In recent centuries, our collective knowledge of the cosmos along with everything else has increased astronomically. Now we know that in size comparison, our solar system is to the universe what an atom is to our solar system. One result of this knowledge is that we have a tendency to view everything through what I’ll call a telescopic perspective: We live, as they say at Walt Disney, in “a small, small world”…We live in a small world at high speed. And the problem is that this way of living tends to produce spiritual barrenness rather than richness.

Bruce Ashford published an article at Canon and Culture titled: “The Great Barrier Rieff: Stemming the Tide of Destruction in American Culture and Public Life.” Dr. Ashford writes:

Outside of sociological circles, not many people these days have heard of Philip Rieff. But Rieff stands as one of the twentieth century’s keenest minds, and remains one of the greatest gifts—even if a complicated and challenging gift—to Western society…The progression of his thought over the course of his life sheds light on Rieff’s enduring significance, as well as offering us some vital wisdom for evaluating American culture today.

Dr. David Allen published a helpful article addressing five keys to reaching the “selfie” generation.

We all learned a new word in 2012: “selfie.”

For those of you who may still be in the cultural dark on this one, a “selfie” is a self-portrait photograph typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone held at arm’s length and then shared on social networking sites. Time magazine considered “selfie” one of the top 10 buzzwords for 2012. By 2013, the word was listed as “word of the year” and had become commonplace enough for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Apparently, selfies make up 30 percent of the photos taken by people ages 18-24. Amazing. …

In one sense, we are all “selfies.” Self-assertion; self-centeredness; self-conceit; self-defensive; self-indulgent; self-pleasing; self-seeking; self-sensitive; and the list goes on. Christians are supposed to be people who have denied self and who have died to self, according to Jesus.

So how do we reach the selfie generation?

Bekah Stoneking reviewed Barnabas Piper’s new book Help my Unbelief at the Southeastern Women’s Life blog.

The last 10 or so months of my life have been a real struggle in many ways. I also hit a place spiritually where I was so deep in a wilderness-like pit that even I, a disciple of more than two decades and with one-and-a-half seminary degrees under my belt, didn’t know how to claw my way out. I’m beyond grateful to my pastor, Josh, who has been a vigilant shepherd, who has interceded on my behalf, and who carried the Light by my feet when I didn’t have the strength to. I am also grateful for writers like Trillia Newbell and Barnabas Piper who have shared their gifts and wisdom with the Church. I reviewed Newbell’s most recent (and super helpful!) book, Fear and Faithhere and after I finished reading it, I began Piper’s book, Help My Unbelief.

Finally, Barnabas Piper posted this article at his personal blog this week: The One Key Component to Good Writing (It’s Not What You Think).

Has there ever been a great writer who wasn’t a great reader? That’s like asking if there has ever been a great baseball player who has never watched baseball. It’s almost a nonsense question.

But, unlike baseball, there are numerous people who seek to compose works without having read deeply and widely. Not everyone watches or plays baseball, but language is common to everyone. We all communicate via the spoken and written word, therefore people feel they can write. And in the most basic sense of writing (group of words makes up a sentence, group of sentences make up a paragraph, top to bottom, left to right) that’s true.

But good writing is a product of good thinking. Good thinking is a product of good reading. Good writing is a product of good craftsmanship. And order to write well OR think well one must read well.