In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Diane Ellis explained why she and her husband decided to homeschool as a missionary couple.

Back in seminary, my husband and I began to think about options for educating our children. In the forefront of our minds was our desire to serve the Lord in overseas missions. We knew at least for the foreseeable future that we would be moving around quite a bit before settling at the place where God would lead us.

 

At that time, homeschooling was just beginning to become popular, and there were limited options for curriculum. But after doing some research and spending time in prayer, we decided to give it a try for one year. Not only did we want to be intimately involved in the spiritual and academic formation of our children, we also wanted to give them a stable learning environment that would not change every few months. My husband was pastoring a church during those days, and homeschooling was perfect for our lifestyle. We had flexibility to schedule the children’s education around his ministry and travels, and could take full advantage of opportunities for field trips, homeschool co-op meetings, park days, music lessons and sports activities in the community. Our children were able to actively participate in our ministry, whether visiting the nursing home, accompanying dad on visits, or spending time at the park with a family needing encouragement during the week.

 

Each year for several years, we re-evaluated our decision to homeschool. We wanted to make sure our children were getting a great education, that we were adequately involved in the community and church, that we had a balance of relationships with believers and unbelievers, and that we were not missing some key components in our children’s development. What started out as a one-year probationary period turned into 25 years of teaching and supervising our children through their formative years.

 

We eventually moved our family to Brazil, where we have served as missionaries for 22 years. We never did find that place to “settle,” as we have moved nearly every five years to new locations, not including our furloughs back to the US for sharing our ministry. But homeschooling was a constant in our children’s lives, which prepared them for college and life after college.

 

Aaron Earls posted an article at his personal blog The Wardrobe Door discussing how C. S. Lewis warned us about non-denominationalism. Aaron writes:

While most branches of American Christianity are shrinking, one strand continues to grow—non-denominationalism. But is that the most healthy situation for the faith?

 

According to a newly released Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who identify with a Protestant denomination has fallen 20 percentage points in just 16 years, from 50 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2016.

 

Meanwhile, those who claim to be a non-denominational Christian have almost doubled in the same time frame, from 9 percent to 17 percent.

 

The future continues to look less and less tied to denominational affiliation. Among college freshmen, “other Christian” has jumped 10 points in the past 20 years—the only affiliation to see significant growth.

 

Today, 15 percent of college freshman identify that way, second only to Catholic at 23 percent, which fell 13 points.

 

Dr. Benjamin Quinn posted an article at The Intersect Project reminding seminary students not to waste the jobs they have right now.

As a professor at the College at Southeastern and Southeastern Seminary, I have the privilege of working with students, many of whom are preparing for a future in vocational ministry.

 

Many of my students work during their time here in Wake Forest. They serve as janitors, waitresses, store clerks, IT — anything to pay the bills and support their families.

 

I like to ask them about their work. Occasionally, students will say something like, “I’m just doing this job until I can get a ministry position.” They view their work now as nothing more than a means to a paycheck. They’re biding their time until they get a job with a church.

 

Sometimes, the implications are more severe. “If I just had a job in the church or an easy position,” they think, “I wouldn’t have to put up with all these knuckleheads I have to work with.”

 

Do you resonate with these statements? Are you, too, biding your time until you get a ministry job? Do you grow weary of working with difficult people? If so, I want to urge you to reconsider.

 

At his personal blog, Sam Rainer discussed why sermon preparation is not devotional time.

Every Monday morning, I swivel in my desk chair—praying, pondering. Yellow legal pads fill with chicken scratch in a language only I understand. About fifty Mondays a year, around 3:00 p.m., I start to wonder if I’ll have anything worthwhile to say the following Sunday. The other two Mondays I’m on vacation.

 

I know it’s the Holy Spirit, but many weeks it feels like sheer luck. My sermon comes together, and cogent points begin to form. I’ve heard of some pastors using their sermon preparation as a devotional time. For me, that could never happen. I sweat too much when I write sermons. I’d get dehydrated.

 

Sermon preparation is not—and should not—be used as devotion time. Sermon writing is devotional to an extent. Both involve prayer. Both elevate Scripture. Both require the work of the Holy Spirit. But they are different.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford shared a post at his blog discussing how Lesslie Newbigin changed his way of thinking.

As a Christian citizen of the United States, it is clear to me that I am living in an increasingly post-Christian society. The majority of Americans no longer consider traditional Christian doctrine (e.g. original sin) or traditional Christian ethics (e.g. sexual morality) plausible in the modern world. Christians who do not abandon these beliefs are increasingly considered morally inferior or even hateful.

Given the fact that the United States is a democratic republic, the beliefs of citizens affect the lives of other citizens socially, culturally, and politically. This reality makes it increasingly important for us as Christians to figure out the best way to comport ourselves in the public square. I consider three thinkers especially helpful for this task: Richard John Neuhaus, Lesslie Newbigin, and Abraham Kuyper. In this post, I wish to articulate what it is about Newbigin’s life and writings that is helpful for us in our 21stcentury American context.

In Case You Missed It

Recently at the Logos Bible Software Blog, Jake Mailhot shared a post about Abraham Kuyper’s Theology of everday life which featured three books by members of Southeastern’s faculty.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the works of Abraham Kuyper, you might recognize his most famous quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

 

For Kuyper, this deep awareness of God’s sovereignty had vast implications for daily life. Throughout his writings, he wrestled with how to reconcile the sovereign presence of God in this beautifully created world while witnessing the fallenness and brokenness of the present. The modern church still struggles to navigate this tension between the spiritual life and the secular world. That’s why, despite being a century old, Kuyper’s theology of everyday life is still relevant today.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Ivan Mesa asked a few pastors and scholars to recommend a book that belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Pastors traffic daily in books. Of course, we preach the Book, and so we’re endlessly looking for books that’ll encourage and equip us in ministry. Our limited time and a never-ending stream of books (Ecc. 12:12) means we need discerning guides who’ll point us in the right direction.

 

I asked a few pastors and scholars what one book other than the Bible they would commend to every pastor or Christian writer. So whether you’re preparing a sermon, writing an article, or just seeking to build a dependable library, below are 10 books that’ll serve you—and those to whom you minister.

 

At The Center for Baptist Renewal, Matthew Emerson shared three theological reasons to look for patterns in Scripture. Dr. Emerson writes:

My doctoral supervisor, David Hogg, was once asked in my Theological Method Ph.D. seminar what his method is. I still love his response: “I look for patterns and weird stuff.” That is, his approach to reading Scripture consists largely of paying attention to what is repeated and what stands out as extraordinary, either in terms of actual events or their description or both. This interpretive method produces readings that sometimes (many times) vexes those who hold to the historical-critical method and its evangelical cousins.

 

What, then, are the theological rationales that give an interpreter the hermeneutical warrant to link certain biblical texts together in a typological chain? To put a finer historical point on it, why does Irenaeus, in his On the Apostolic Preaching, feel justified in linking the Virgin Birth to the untilled ground out of which Adam is made, or Eve’s creation out of Adam’s rib to the Church’s birth out of Christ’s pierced side? I want to suggest that there are least three theological reasons that readers feel justified in these types of patterned readings.

 

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen posted an article about helping women engage culture in everyday life.

Some Christian women struggle to see how tense cultural issues matter to their everyday lives. But it’s increasingly difficult to avoid these cultural debates. For example, the young mom may not care about LGBTQ issues—until she takes her children to the playground, finds herself in conversation with a parent of her child’s playmate and discovers the parent is in a homosexual marriage. Suddenly, the issue is relevant at the playground. Or, a teacher may not think that immigration reform is relevant to her—until she has an immigrant student suffering from anxiety because he fears that his parents might be deported. At that moment, cultural issues are no longer just “issues” but tangible faces, real people.

 

Yet, when attempting to engage these issues and the people most directly influenced by them, some women feel inadequate or intimidated. They struggle to have confidence to understand and interact with culturally tense issues from a theological conviction.There can be several reasons for this lack of confidence. Some women haven’t received higher education. Others know little about particular issues. Sometimes, moms of young children are so consumed with diapers, meal times and t-ball games that they have little room for organized study and discussion. Yet, women bring a unique voice to cultural issues that our churches and society need. But, they must first be discipled to do so.

 

A few years ago, I recognized my own need to have “iron-sharpening” relationships with other women to help me better engage difficult cultural issues. I decided to meet regularly with a few ladies from various backgrounds and in vastly different career fields. Every single one of these women brings a unique perspective, a thoughtful question and insightful encouragement to our time together.

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to start a formal program to have these relationships for yourself. Though programs have their helpful place in teaching and edifying the church, there are four simple ways to disciple women to be theologically informed about culturally relevant issues in everyday life—whether they’re single, married, career-driven, stay-at-home moms, academically inclined or academically intimidated.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Thom Rainer’s blog discussing three actions churches can take in times of crisis. Jonathan writes:

The past few weeks have been quite eventful for the communications teams at Cracker Barrel and United Airlines. In case you’ve missed it, Cracker Barrel faced a deluge of complaints following the firing of a server named Nanette Reid. Her husband posted about it on the Cracker Barrel corporate Facebook page, and Internet pranksters created the #BradsWife movement.

 

Then a video surfaced this week of a passenger on a United Airlines flight being physically “re-accommodated.” Mainstream news and social media sites have been filled with stories and hot takes on everything from the passenger’s past (in which many stories had incorrect information) to the standard airline practice of overbooking.

 

Both companies are still fighting these crises, and from many (or most?) perspectives, they are losing the battle when it comes to public opinion. These companies will likely recover over time. They will likely hire PR firms to win back customers and improve their public reputation. It’s what big companies do.

 

But what if this had been your church? What if your church was faced with a scandal or legal issue that called for crisis communications? Are you prepared? Some are, but many churches are not. And their responses to crises often fall into three categories.

Exploring Hope: Is There A Christian View of Work and Vocation?

How should Christians view work and vocation? Occasionally it feels like work is just work and nothing about the daily grind has to do with the teachings of the Bible or who we are called to be. Many would admit that, of course, as Christians, they are called to work hard, and to work with honesty and integrity. But other than that, many see work as just a secular fact of life which we must accept. Others feel that work is worse than just neutral, but instead, is a result of the fall. However, Scripture seems to paint a different picture about our daily labor, which informs our vocations by placing them in a gospel-centered, biblical perspective. Check out the video below as Dr. Benjamin Quinn and Dr. Keith Whitfield discuss the biblical idea of vocation.