In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford asks: “Is it true that Jesus was not ‘political’ during his time on earth?”

As a political opinion writer, I am generally amused by many of the critical comments people leave on my website or my Fox News Opinion pieces; sometimes I am amused because the comments are insults, other times because they are patently inane.

 

Yet, other times, the critical comments should be taken seriously because the commenter intends them seriously; one of the most serious and recurrent criticisms is that, “Christians should not be involved in politics and public life at all. Jesus wasn’t political, and he never asked us to be political.” In effect, they are saying “Withdraw from politics and public life.”

 

So, was Jesus “political” during his time on earth?

 

In a continuing interview with the Intersect Project Dr. Jim Shaddix shares three pitfalls to avoid when preaching for cultural engagement.

In a rapidly changing culture, more and more Christians are discussing the importance of cultural engagement. Yet what role does preaching play in cultural engagement and cultural formation? What dangers should we avoid?

 

To help us answer these questions, we turned to Jim Shaddix. Dr. Shaddix is the W. A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching at Southeastern Seminary. In addition, he is an accomplished preacher and author.

 

In part one of our interview, Dr. Shaddix explained why and how preachers can engage culture. Here’s part two of our conversation.

 

At the Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook explains how global cities are the Roman Roads of the 21st Century. Keelan writes:

I recently ran across a quote I would like to share concerning the significance of global cities in the mission of the church. It is from Jared Looney, who wrote Crossroads of the Nations:

While it is unlikely that this status will remain static, global cities such as New York City, London, Tokyo as well as Paris, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Houston, and many other key urban centers are of strategic importance for the present and future church. Such cities are centers of global influence and points of connection between nations and cultures. As the Gospel moved along the Roman roads through the cities of the Mediterranean world and people gathered at wells in ancient villages, global cities are now nodes in a global network and are of strategic importance for the mission of the church (Looney, Crossroads of the Nations).

There are two or three things I want you to see in this one. First, certain cities are rising to a new level of significance for the Great Commission. Looney compares these “global cities” to the significance of the Roman roads for the spread of the gospel. Honestly, I think he is right.

 

In a recent article at the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams discusses Lin-Manuel Miranda, ‘Hamilton’ and the value of work.

Two years ago, few people knew who Lin-Manuel Miranda was. Today, he’s a household name. Why? Because of Hamilton.

 

Miranda wrote and starred in this hip-hop musical about the brilliant but abrasive founding father. The show became an instant sensation. Tickets are sold out months in advance. It won Tonys, Grammys and even a Pulitzer. The musical may have even kept Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

 

Yet translating Alexander Hamilton’s story from the history books to the stage was not an easy task. Miranda wrote the musical’s first song in 2009. The show did not premier until six years later. Hamilton is the fruit of Miranda’s years of hard work.

 

In retrospect, the years Miranda spent crafting his historical hip-hop masterpiece were well spent. The show has been a runaway success. But what if the show had flopped? Would his work still have been worth it?

 

In a guest post at Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe discusses five reasons why he, a millennial, still likes using hymnals.

I might lose my Millennial card for admitting this, but:

 

I like hymnals. A lot.

 

Yes, I realize I’m supposed to want to worship with fog machines and song lyrics on projector screens with cool moving backgrounds. And sometimes I enjoy that too—but not all the time.

 

So why would a 36-year old Millennial enjoy hymnals? Here are my five reasons.

 

Chuck Lawless recently shared ten fears of young church leaders. Dr. Lawless writes:

Almost every day, I work with young people preparing for ministry. They are some of the most gifted, committed young adults I’ve ever met in 20+ years of serving as a professor. At the same time, though, they have fears that my older generation must recognize.

In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at Facts and Trends, Aaron Earls discussed the ten worst countries for Christians in 2017. Aaron writes:

For the 16th consecutive year, North Korea tops the list of the most oppressive nations toward Christians.

Open Doors, a Christian persecution awareness ministry, published its annual World Watch List, highlighting the plight of Christians around the world who are arrested, harassed, tortured, and killed for their faith.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford published an article at his personal blog which shares twelve important books about intellectual history and the Western mind.

Here are twelve books I recommend to persons who wish to better understand the rise and development of Western thought. Together, the books form a sort of “starter” course. 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 that might be required in a PhD seminar.

 

In a recent blog post, Eric Geiger shared three indicators you might love ministry more than God. Dr. Geiger writes:

Ministry is thrilling. Yes, there are deep and painful challenges, but we get to see the Lord change people’s lives. Ministry allows us to enjoy a front row seat to people grasping the gospel, to people being sent out on mission, and to the beauty of Christian community. Yes, there are plenty of people who throw stones and criticism, but there are also God’s people who offer encouragement and prayers and support to those who lead and serve. Because ministry is thrilling, it can be addictive. Because affirmations exist, we can long for more and more of them. We can, if we are not careful, love ministry more than the God who equipped us for it. If you love ministry more than God, these three things are true in your heart.

 

At The Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Scott Hildreth shared about the little things that make the biggest differences.

Over the years I have worked with missionaries, church staff, and students. These men and women have had passion in their hearts and a vision to changing the world for Christ. They launch into a ministry. Soon they are frustrated and ready to give up. They do not see the fruit or success they hoped for. They suffer from burnout or their family suffers because of an unhealthy work/ministry pace. The back half of this proverb quoted above contains some important tips for successful ministry/missionary life.

 

Trevin Wax posted at The Gospel Coalition discussing why Christians should care about ideas.

I can’t forget the shoes. Piles and piles of them filling the room. Of all the gruesome images I saw at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the room filled with shoes from Jewish victims is the one thing I can’t forget. I think about the people who once owned those shoes, and I mourn the human lives lost in a vortex of unspeakable evil.

The tragedy of the Holocaust reminds me of something I heard as a high school student—ideas have consequences. Adolf Hitler did not come out of nowhere. Before there was the Holocaust, there were decades of philosophical theories advocating superior races, nationalistic laws, and the use of eugenics to weed out inferior peoples. Throw in a dash of “survival of the fittest” from Darwinism and perhaps the pursuit of raw power from Nihilism and eventually we arrive in the concentration camp—a horrifying concoction of various falsehoods.

Ideas do indeed have consequences. But sometimes those consequences are beautiful, as in the early days of Christianity when plagues would sweep through cities in the Roman Empire. While many Roman citizens chose to abandon family and friends and flee the city to escape contamination, early Christians stayed behind to nurse the sick. Because of their belief in a Savior who sacrificed himself for others, they were content to give their lives as well.

 

In a post at his personal blog, Dr. Danny Akin shared six ways preaching aids discipleship in the church. Dr. Akin writes:

Discipleship lies at the heart of the Great Commission, so it should be at the heart of all our ministry as well, including our preaching. Many churches struggle to disciple their people, but I want to suggest that the preaching ministry of the church can and should be one of the main engines of discipleship for the entire body. Here are six ways I believe faithful biblical exposition can help Christians grow to look more like the Lord Jesus and live well before Him.

In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Doug Ponder shared a post titled: “Giving Up Lent for Lent“. Doug writes:

I’d never heard of Lent until I was in college, and even then it was spoken of as “something Catholics do.” Over the past few years, however, I can’t spend more than a few minutes on social media in the month of February without seeing someone’s post about what they are “giving up for Lent” this year. It’s a trend that many evangelicals have now written about, including a recent Lifeway study. (See also here and here.)

 

I confess that the rising tides of Lenten observance once swept my wife and me along with the current. For a few years we joined the throngs of people who willingly ‘gave up’ something in preparation for Easter. We also prayed every day, and we read from a delightful Lenten devotional by one of my favorite scholars. It was a mostly positive experience.

 

But this year (like last year), I’m giving up Lent for Lent. Here are some reasons why.

 

Dr. Scott Hildreth posted at the Center for Great Commission Studies discussing what ants can teach us about evangelism.

Proverbs 6:6–11 challenges the reader to observe an ant to gain inspiration for daily life. Many have used these verses for business and personal management. This post considers the ant in relationship to the spiritual discipline of personal evangelism. Last week, I gave some simple solutions to common problems with personal evangelism. You can see that post by clicking here.

 

Today – let’s consider the ant!

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford posted an article discussing why we need radical Christian scholarship.

Please allow me to serve advance notice: if Christians in the United States are going to keep their moorings in the 21st century, they will need to return continually to their roots in Christian Scripture and the Great Tradition. This is true in every sphere of culture, including the arts and sciences, business and entrepreneurship, politics and economics, and scholarship and higher education.

 

Yet, it is this last sphere—scholarship and higher education—that is heavy on my mind. In general, this is because I have seen the way “secular” and pagan scholarship has corrupted higher education. In particular, however, it is on my mind because I am part of a group of scholars—the Transdisciplinary Group—who met this past week and who wish to encourage “radical Christian scholarship” among Christian scholars and institutions of higher education.

 

The plenary speakers included Peter Leithart, Kevin Vanhoozer, Craig Bartholomew, Eric Johnson, C. Stephen Evans, Mary Poplin, and Esther Meek, and the MC of the conference was yours truly. Although the speakers represented a diversity of denominations and schools of thought, we are unified around our belief that God’s revelation should shape our scholarship radically (at its roots) in at least four ways.

 

Keelan Cook posted at The Peoples Next Door discussing the primary reasons cities exist. Keelan writes:

“The strength that comes from human collaboration is the central truth behind civilization’s success and the primary reason why cities exist.”

The quote above is from a book by Edward Glaeser called The Triumph of the City. It is a simple idea. In fact, it is so simple our gut reaction is to disagree. Surely there has to be more to cities than this! But, I think he is correct.

The primary reason for cities must certainly be human collaboration. Some will argue it is for protection, looking back to the old fort cities of antiquity. Others argue that it is the purpose of government. After all the empire needs a headquarters. Still others point out the economic advantage of cities. After all, cities are where the world makes its money. But if you peel back the surface, all of these are a form of human collaboration. Whether it is coming together for mutual protection, governing a society, or creating an economy, human collaboration is the reason cities make all this possible.

 

In a guest post at Dr. Chuck Lawless’ blog, Trevor Forbis discussed 10 ways his mentor has changed his life.

One of the most influential people in my life today is my mentor. As a young man whose parents divorced at an early age, I have never had a man commit himself to walk alongside me as I sought to pursue Jesus. Now, in over a year of walking through life together, I have found 10 specific things my mentor has done that have changed my life.

 

Laura Thigpen shared an article at The Intersect Project discussing knowing Christ through our suffering and grief. Laura writes:

There once was a man who grieved so deeply he sweat drops of blood. A man who, despite his power to raise the dead to life, wept at the tomb of a friend. He was a man acquainted with sorrow and stricken with grief. A man whose greatest passion was suffering.

 

Grief is the unwanted guest every person will reluctantly host in this lifetime. Yet, many Christians assume Grief will stop by only briefly before leaving merrily on its way. And we’re surprised when it overstays its welcome.

 

Though we are a people characterized by joy and peace, who hope in a risen King and his eternal glory, we are also a people who identify with the Man of Sorrows, the Suffering Servant. This seems most unnerving to some believers, which gives evidence to a poor theology of grief.