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In a recent article at Outreach Magazine, Drs. Danny Akin and Bruce Ashford shared 6 marks of Great Commission people.

Paul wrote the book of Romans to a church he did not found and had not yet visited. David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, calls it an extended missionary fundraising letter! In Romans 15 he tells the Romans straight out, “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you” (v. 24). In other words he wanted them to be on mission with him as he was a good neighbor to those who, as far as he knew, had never heard the gospel.

 

In Romans 15:14–24, Paul puts forth six marks of a Great Commission people. He describes the essence of a Great Commission people, explores the breadth of God’s mission, and then emphasizes the urgency of the Great Commission call among God’s people.

 

Let’s explore these six marks.

 

Dr. Andreas Köstenberger published an article at Desiring God explaining why we celebrate Advent. Dr. Köstenberger writes:

Christians, and even non-Christians, around the world celebrate Christmas as the day when Jesus, the Messiah, was born in a stable in the little Judean town of Bethlehem. Whether Jesus was born on December 25 or not, his birthday has easily become the most widely celebrated in history.

 

But what about Advent, the four weeks preceding Jesus’s birth? Do we really have any need to commemorate the buildup to the day on which Jesus was born?

 

Survey the birth narratives of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as the prologue of John’s Gospel, and you’ll see that the Messiah’s coming was heralded from long ago in the writings of the prophets, and even in the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses). This shows that Jesus’s arrival was eagerly anticipated by many in first-century Palestine.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared the story of the Christmas hymn G. K. Chesterton’s wife gave us.

In 1917, near the end of first world war, G. K. Chesterton’s wife, Frances, wrote the song “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?” It was published in the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols. Her biographer, Nancy Carpentier Brown, explains the significance of the song and reads several of the lyrics in light of the Chesterton’s struggle with infertility.

 

This week at his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared seven Great Commission reflections on the death of Fidel Castro. Dr. Lawless writes:

I was born in 1961, so I have known only a time when Fidel Castro was influencing Cuba, primarily as that country’s leader. He died last night at the age of 90. Here are a few thoughts about his death that Christ-followers should keep in mind.

 

Courtlandt Perkins shared an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies titled: “Lottie Moon: Casting a Four-foot Shadow Around the World.

If you are Southern Baptist, then Lottie Moon is a name you should know. She may have been small in stature, just over four feet tall, but she left a huge legacy. Lottie served as a international missionary for 39 years in China in the late 1800s. During that time, she became a champion for missions support. What started as her initiative of encouraging women back at home to raise annual support funds for overseas work has turned into the biggest annual missions offering in the world.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared a list of 12 books on missions he recommends for pastors, students, and churches.

The Christmas season is inextricably intertwined with Christian missions. Jesus was born in a manger so that one day he could suffer on a cross, be raised in victory, and commission his people to make disciples of the nations. For that reason, some denominations even plan their annual missions offering to coincide with the Christmas season.

In light of this connection between Christmas and missions, here are a dozen (or so) resources I recommend to pastors, professors, and students. I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. Level 1 is the category for a book you could give to any friend or family member. Level 5 is the category for a book more appropriate for a graduate student or a pastor who enjoys a challenge.

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David Jones recently published an article at the Intersect Project website titled: “Jesus, Paul and Beyond: Work Is Everywhere in the Bible.” Dr. Jones writes:

Work: Few of us are fond of the concept. The terms “work” and “labor” don’t usually prompt us to smile. Conversely, everyone likes the weekend. TGIF, right? So why do we like the weekend? Because we don’t have to go to work! And when the alarm goes off on Monday morning, we wish it were still the weekend. But is this perspective biblical? Is it inherently satisfying? Might there be some redeeming quality to work? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Bible scholars tell us the concept of work is mentioned, explicitly or implicitly, more than 800 times in Scripture. I have not attempted to track down and catalog all of these references, but this statistic seems reasonable to me. Consider just a few of the examples and general teachings on work that stand out as you read through the Bible.

 

Bruce Ashford recently shared a post at his personal blog discussing why Christians should freely participate in Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Each year, any number of Christian writers and preachers extol the virtues of the Thanksgiving holiday, while lamenting the vices of its Black Friday successor. They equate Thanksgiving with gratitude and Black Friday with greed. They encourage Americans to participate in Thanksgiving and boycott Black Friday.

 

But that is not quite right. Christian should freely participate in both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

 

Nathaniel Williams posted at the Intersect Project website asking: “After 2016, can we even be thankful anymore?” Nathaniel writes:

In a few weeks, 2016 will mercifully end.

 

This year’s been a doozy. Terror attacks. Zika. Police shootings. Racial tension. Syria. Floods. Fires. The deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, Harper Lee, Gene Wilder, Elie Wiesel, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill and countless other talented men and women. Even Hollywood produced a disappointing crop of summer films.

 

And then there was the most outlandish Presidential election in our lifetimes — a contest between a man accused of bullying and a woman investigated by the FBI. The candidates’ embarrassing rhetoric was only eclipsed by that of their followers, who filled public spaces with anger, name-calling and vitriol.

 

This year has been so bad that Richard Clark of Christianity Today dubbed it “the year of living hopelessly.” Chris Rock famously Tweeted (in June, no less), “I wish this year would stop already it’s just [too] much.”

 

Nevertheless, we will all soon gather around Thanksgiving tables. We’ll be prompted to share what we’re grateful for. So we have to ask the question: After 2016, can we even be thankful anymore?

 

Dr. Joe McKeever recently shared some advice for those who are planning to go into the ministry.

You say the Lord has called you into His work. You’re still young and you’re excited, although with a proper amount of fear and uncertainty on what all this means.

 

You’re normal.  Been there, felt that.

 

We might have cause to worry if the living God touched your life and redirected it into His service and you picked yourself up and went on as though nothing had happened.  Amos said, “I was gathering sycamore fruit, and the Lord God called me.”  He said, “The lion roars and you will fear. God calls and you will prophesy.”

 

The call of God is almost as life-changing as the original salvation experience itself. So, give thanks.  And give this a lot of prayerful thought.

 

Here are some thoughts for you as you go forward.  The list is not complete or exhaustive, but just to get you started.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless recently shared 8 miscalculations of many church leaders. Dr. Lawless writes:

My church consulting team and I often work with unhealthy churches; in fact, most churches who contact us have reached a significant level of disease before seeking help. Here are some of the miscalculations we see among leaders of these churches.

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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.