In Case You Missed It

Spence Spencer recently posted an article discussing how Francis Schaeffer helped call people back to an understanding that Jesus is Lord of all life. Spence writes:

In the Alps of Switzerland, a wise man once lived out his religion as faithfully as he knew how. He was not a hermit who sought isolation, but an evangelist who invited many people into his home to converse and try to think God’s thoughts after him.

 

That man was Francis Schaeffer. That home was called L’Abri. Schaeffer’s vision for Christians was faith that brings the gospel to bear on every aspect of life.

 

For Schaeffer, confronting the ills of culture was not simply done through direct proclamation. It was also accomplished by contributing to the world in a way that reflects the moral order of the universe. Creation is meant to be true—that is, the work people do is meant to point back to God.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently wrote an article discussing how to think biblically about politics.

When Christians want to answer the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” it can be tempting to come up with a quick answer by limiting our research to a couple of Bible passages that explicitly address the Christian’s relationship to the governing authorities. Or, alternatively, it can be tempting to jump immediately to Bible passages that address religious liberty, the value of human life, the nature of marriage, or some other public policy issue.

However, if we conduct our investigation by looking only at a few isolated passages, we will miss the Bible’s richest and most profound teaching. We will miss its fuller perspective on culture and politics; we will misunderstand those isolated passages because our perspective does not arise from within a fully-formed Christian worldview. Similarly, if we allow our minds to leap to specific issues of public policy, we will be trying to build a “house of policy” without having first laid a foundation.

The only way to overcome a fragmented perspective on politics is to allow the Bible’s master narrative to shape our thinking. Isolated passages shouldn’t be understood, and policies shouldn’t be crafted, in ways that are divorced from the bigger picture. So we’ve got to go back before we can go forward: we need to understand politics from within the Bible’s master narrative—the true story of the whole world.

Cas Monaco posted at Intersect project this week on how to steward the Gospel well, giving a framework for both the energized and the overwhelmed. Cas writes:

As a budding missiologist, I am being trained to research and analyze the church and culture within a sound biblical framework. Since I’m on staff with Cru, I put my learning into practice as I interact with city leaders and kingdom citizens participating in the Great Commission across the country actively.

 

We collaborate with all sorts of leaders who seek to steward the gospel well. Many pastor or partner with churches in the urban core. Some serve Millennials by helping them to navigate the precarious path between faith and work. Others encourage actors, artists, filmmakers and authors. One thing these believers have in common, whether Cru staff, educators, civil servants, financial analysts or computer programmers, is passion and a longing to make a difference for God’s kingdom in their field of influence or their neighborhood.

 

As we dialogue with followers of Jesus, we reflect on the rapidly changing culture and consider how we can effectively express the gospel in word and deed.

 

At Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer recently discussed dissertations that are needed today.

The function of graduate work is to make specialists out of generalists. There is nothing wrong with being a generalist, but generalists are aggregators of knowledge. Specialists have an opportunity to add to the realm of human knowledge.

Ph.D. study refines the specialty of the specialist, revealing knowledge the generalist learns later.

If these assertions are true of knowledge in scientific and historical fields, they are no less true regarding the religious Ph.D.

Here are a few thoughts about why you should consider seeking a Ph.D. today.

Aaron Earls recently wrote a blog post about how American Christians are confused about what it means to be a Christian. Aaron writes:

Before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

 

He claimed to be the exclusive way to salvation and eternal life with God. But according to Pew Research, most American Christians believe they have found a different path.

 

Self-identified Christians were given a list of items and asked which ones were essential to being a Christian, which ones were important, but not essential, and which ones were unimportant. For most weekly church-attending American Christians, the essentials of being a Christian means doing some good things, believing in God, and … that’s about it.

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Bruce Ashford recently posted an article at his personal blog discussing how there is no social transformation without representation, and what we should expect in a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States. Dr. Ashford writes:

The British cultural critic G. K. Chesterton once noted, “Seemingly from the dawn of man all nations have had governments, and all nations have been ashamed of them.” What is true of “all nations” in relation to their governments is true of many “Americans” in relation to the Supreme Court majority.

 

During the last half of the twentieth century, we the people experienced a social transformation being imposed upon us by a number of justices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). These judges were able to impose their social views upon us by employing what is called a “living document” view of the Constitution. This imposition, no matter how well-intended, undermines our democratic republic.

 

Most proponents of the “living document” view contend that the constitutional framers specifically wrote the Constitution in broad and flexible terms so that future judges could reinterpret it in light of “the times.” In effect, justices who employ this view from the Supreme Court bench are able to take things out of the Constitution that they do not like and insert things they do.

 

Beth Allison Bar recently posted at The Anxious Bench on the value of failure in graduate school:

My husband suggested once that I have lunch with a friend. She was a graduate student, and struggling in the program. “Did you tell her I almost quit?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” my husband said. “That is why I thought you should talk with her.”

 

Graduate school is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Although I am grateful for the excellent program I attended and my superb adviser (who is still my friend and advocate), I have no desire to return to my graduate years.

 

I expected the painful work load, the never ending research projects and papers, the complete lack of sleep for days on end, and even the political drama among both faculty and students.

 

What I didn’t expect was how much I would fail.

 

Benjamin Quinn wrote an article for the Intersect Project discussing how to destroy the divide between pulpit and pew. Dr. Quinn writes:

My older brother, Brandon, serves as principal of the public high school from which we both graduated. He recently told me a story about a kid we’ll call Cory who was in and out of Brandon’s office for reasons mostly related to drug possession. As Brandon questioned Cory about the situation, he discovered Cory’s problem wasn’t drug use — it was his family.

 

Cory’s parents were using him to deliver drugs to another kid at school, who then delivered them to his own parents. Their logic was that if Cory got caught, his punishment, as a minor, would be minimal. If they got caught, it would likely entail jail time. In other words, lower risk for him than for them.

 

In one emotional conversation with Cory, Brandon asked, “Do you want out of this?” With teary eyes, Cory said, “Show me how! There ain’t no way out of this!”

 

After Brandon shared this story with me, he asked about my job as a college and seminary professor: “What do you do every day?” I told him about various theology courses and students preparing for pastoral ministry and mission work. I also expressed my great delight in my work despite its challenges.

 

Less than three minutes after telling me about Cory, Brandon said, with all sincerity, “I just don’t see how what I do is as important as what pastors, missionaries or seminary professors do.”

 

My jaw dropped, and my heart broke. How could Brandon conclude that his work is less valuable than mine? The question was a turning point.

 

Dr. Jamie Dew posted an article earlier this week discussing the role of apologetics in the believer’s life.

Over the past few weeks we’ve considered doubt. I’ve looked at the causes, and I’ve suggested that we need friends and fellow believers to help us through times of doubt and struggle. I have not, at least not until now, said anything about the role of apologetics in the life of the believer who struggles with doubt. But obviously, any discussion on doubt needs to turn to this important question at some point.

 

For me, apologetics has been a huge help as I’ve continued to follow Christ. It’s given me the opportunity to explore my questions and my doubt, and to wrestle with very difficult matters. In the end, the process has made my faith stronger. Most of us who study apologetics recognize that it has as much to offer the believer and the church as it does the non-believer. So, if you struggle with doubt, you need apologetics. But, let me clarify a few things before you set your self to the task.

 

Christopher Poirier posted a helpful article at the Intersect Project website: “The Geek Contextualization: Finding the Geeks.” Christopher writes:

Have you ever noticed how the gospel thrives in the most unlikely places? For example, in the first century, the gospel thrived not among the Jews, but the pagan Gentiles. Today, the gospel thrives not in the so-called “Christian” West, but in parts of Asia under heavy persecution.

 

So, today Geek culture seems like a very unlikely place for the gospel to thrive. But God has done stranger things. So here’s the question: How can you and I share the gospel within this community?

 

Here at Intersect, we started having this conversation with a recent post, “The Geek Contextualization: Putting the Gospel Where the Geeks Are.” This piece will now be the foundational discussion point for a series on how to engage this large, and growing, community.

 

In part one of this series, I provided a broad definition of the Geek culture. The truth is, Geek culture is difficult to pin down. Part of what makes the Geek culture so large, dynamic and full of life is that new niches, games, movies and characters are constantly expanding the culture and its fan base each and every day.

 

But just how large is this group? Answering this question is difficult, and very little research exists to quantify it. That said, here are a few things we do know

 

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In a recent blog post, Jamie Dew discusses how to turn your child’s mistakes into teachable moments by asking “What did you Learn?” Dr. Dew writes:

What is your first reaction when your children make a “childish” mistake? By “childish”, I mean something like spilling milk, dropping your phone in the toilet, throwing a golf ball through a window, or ripping the wallpaper off the wall. I’m not referring to malicious acts of the will like hitting a brother, lying to a parent, or refusing to obey. Let’s consider those kinds of things later. For now, let’s think about our response to childish mistakes that kids make. The kind of mistakes that kids make because they are kids.

 

I’ll admit it, if I’m not careful, my first reaction to these kinds of mistakes is anger. With four kids, there have been plenty of moments when something went wrong and I responded in a way was is understandable, but not helpful. So, how do you respond?

At the Intersect Project’s website, Bruce Ashford discusses seven guiding principles for Christians in the public square.

A core biblical teaching is that all humans are worshipers, either of God or of idols. Our worship is located in the heart, and it radiates outward into all that we do. People who are not Christians are still worshipers, and whatever or whoever they worship radiates outward into all tat they do, including their public-square interactions.

 

As Christian believers, we worship the God of Jesus Christ. Because he is the creator and Lord of all that exists, we seek to bring all of our lives, including our public-square interactions, into submission to his lordship.

 

Yet the question remains: “How exactly do we bring our public-square interactions in line with Christ’s lordship?” Here are seven points that offer a way forward.

Aaron Earls recently published an article explaining how courage is the way forward for Christians in a complicated culture. Aaron writes:

Let’s cut to the chase and acknowledge what we all already know. As Christians, we face difficult circumstances and troubling trends that undermine the image of God in every man, woman and child. But these are not new problems for the Church.

 

The bride of Christ has confronted and thrived in the midst of cultural embrace of triumphalist leaders parading as political messiahs, sub-biblical sexuality offering empty promises, the devaluing of human life from the unborn to the elderly, and rejection of our shared humanity over issues of race and class.

 

That the Church will come through victoriously on the other side yet again is not in doubt—not because our strength or accomplishments, but because of Christ’s strength in our weakness and His finished work on our behalf.

 

The only real question is about you and I. Will we make it through unscathed? Will individual Christians maintain their faithful witness in the midst of trying times? That all depends on how we choose to respond.

 

We will be told that there are only three options—capitulation, cowardice or cynicism. Each have their own temptations and allures, but each is faulty and unbiblical.

At The People’s Next Door blog, Meredith Cooper explains that hospitality is hard, but we should do it anyway.

Hospitality is a word I hear a lot in conjunction with ministry training. It is now a common subject in my seminary classes, church sermons, conferences or books I read, and with good reason. Hospitality is an important part of both obeying the “one another” commands we see in Scripture regarding fellow believers and doing gospel ministry with those outside the church. Take Rosaria Butterfield for example, who became a believer largely due to a pastor and his wife hosting her in their home regularly and sharing the gospel with her.

 

In order to understand what hospitality is, we need to see what hospitality is not. People commonly associate hospitality with inviting people into our homes, but there are some pre-conceived notions that must be dismissed.

At The Gospel Coalition, Donald Whitney gives five reasons we should prioritize family worship.

Just about everyone I know feels overwhelmed. Most are busier than they’ve ever been before, especially if they have children at home.

 

Pair that with my observation that most Christians I know would affirm that family worship—if they’re familiar with it—would probably be a worthwhile practice if they were to make time for it.

 

If these things are true for you, then my prayer is to persuade you, despite the many demands on your schedule, to make a priority of family worship. And I hope to persuade you regardless of your family’s size—even if you’ve never had kids or no longer have them in your home—by means of the following five reasons.