In Case You Missed It

Recently at his personal blog, Dr. Jamie Dew shared 10 reasons why a family mealtime is vital. Dr. Dew writes:

I grew up in a home that was broken. My parents split up when I was 7 and it had a devastating blow on me as a young boy. In particular, one result was that it significantly decreased the amount of time that I had together with my family. We had our moments when we would all be together, but I remember far more occasions when we were off in our own directions. Looking back, I realize that it could have been far worse than it was. But still, it wasn’t ideal. There simply wasn’t enough time that we sat together as a family to enjoy and benefit from the offerings of a healthy family.

 

Now that I’m married with four kids of our own, we strive to make the time where we as a family can sit and just be together. The place this happens most is around our kitchen table. Like most families, we have our evenings along the way where we must eat out or apart from each other. But we do try to avoid that as much as possible.

 

Statistically, it is easy to find support for a family mealtime. But those of us who grew up without it honestly don’t need statistics. In my opinion, there are several obvious reasons why a family mealtime should be a high priority for our families.

 

Aaron Earls recently posted an article at his blog, The Wardrobe Door, discussing the value of potential lives.

Potential is notoriously difficult to quantify. By it’s very definition it is not yet realized. Despite it not being readily availably, it has value and factors in to decisions like the player a sports team drafts or the neighborhood in which you live.

 

Investments are built on potential. We ask, “Can this become something much more than it is right now?”

 

Recently, two examples of potential dominated the news cycle, but many handled them in diametrically opposite manners.

 

Earlier this week, Barnabas Piper wrote this post discussing 7 lies parents often tell their children. Barnabas writes:

We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help. Sometimes it’s because we’re idiots and just don’t realize what we’re doing. Here are seven of the most common lies parents tell kids.

 

Greg Mathias posted an article for the Center for Great Commission Studies discussing feeble prayers in our chaotic world.

Living in a new normal doesn’t feel so normal. The word tragedy is too much a part of my vocabulary these days. I have searched for other words, but tragedy describes best the world events constantly swirling around us. Istanbul, Brussels, Paris, Boston…the list could go on. We live in a chaotic and fallen world. In a world where the new normal is one tragedy followed by another tragedy followed by yet another. It can be overwhelming. Strike that, it IS overwhelming.

 

For Christians, this normal is not surprising, but that does not minimize the fact that we are constantly faced with new tragedies. Each and every tragedy evokes a response. No matter the tragedy, the most immediate response ought to be prayer. Often, though, prayer feels small compared to the massive tragedy in front of us. Even so, we should pray. We need to pray.

 

The question is, how are we supposed to pray in the midst of chaos when our prayers seem so feeble? Here are my thoughts on how to pray in the midst of our new and tragic normal.

 

J.D. Greear posted recently about 3 truths Christians must fight to remember. J.D. writes:

Throughout Scripture, God’s people are told to remember. This may seem odd if you look closely at when God says it. For instance, all throughout the book of Deuteronomy—Moses’ farewell sermon to Israel—God tells his people to remember what just happened. If you had been in slavery for 400 years, were miraculously rescued by walking through the dry floor of an ocean, and had seen bread fall out of heaven and water flowing out of rocks, do you think you’d forget it?

 

Apparently, yes. Israel’s times of spiritual wandering were always marked byspiritual amnesia. Not that they literally couldn’t recall what God had done, but that his mighty works weren’t prominent in their minds. The same is true of us.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford posted an article at this blog titled: “Make America Happy Again (Or, How the Beatitudes Slay the 7 Deadly Sins)“.

Recent surveys have confirmed what we already know: Americans are not happy. Anger, anxiety, and depression are on the rise in our country. An NBC News survey revealed that half of Americans are more angry than they were last year, and a significant percentage of Americans become angry at least once a day because of something they saw on the news. And the anger is bipartisan: both Republicans and Democrats both feel this way.

 

Other surveys reveal that Americans are also depressed, as indicated by a rise in suicides and in prescriptions for depression medications, and anxious because of stagnant wages, deteriorating 401(k) retirement plans, lost wars, racial unrest, terror acts, an increasingly polarized society, and the toxic nature of our public discourse.

 

In the midst of our anger, depression, and anxiety, Jesus offers the Beatitudes. “Beatitude” is the blessedness, the deep happiness, of being in right relationship with him and allowing him to work in and through us, even in the midst of the worst of circumstances.

Exploring Hope Podcast: One Nation Under God

On this episode of Exploring Hope, Dr. Dew chats with our very own Dr. Bruce Ashford about his new book “One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics.” In this book, Dr. Ashford (and Chris Pappalardo) ask the question of whether or not we can be passionate about the gospel and yet care deeply about politics. Dr. Ashford joins the Exploring Hope Podcast as we get a chance to pick his brain about the different issues he discusses in his book which include important topics debated in our culture and government like abortion, race, immigration, war. Tune in to hear from this great scholar and influential writer.

 

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In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project website, Harper McKay shared how Southeast Asia helped her engage her own culture. Harper writes:

I’ll be the first to admit that reverse culture shock is hard. After living in Southeast Asia for nearly two years, America was both strange and familiar, welcoming yet uninviting.

 

In the midst of eating all the Chick-fil-A I could and catching up with friends and family, I found myself often confused in conversations, sometimes even angry. I criticized people for how they spent their time. I couldn’t understand the topics people chose to talk about. I heard it explained that I came from a square culture (America) and moved to a circle culture (Southeast Asia). My constant efforts to understand a circle culture as a square turned me into a triangle, resulting in me not fitting into my own square culture upon my return. While explanations like this helped me not to feel crazy, they really didn’t give me a way to live as a triangle in a square culture. Basically you’re told you’ve changed, no one gets you and now you just have to deal with it.

 

But then someone told me I didn’t have to settle for “that’s just the way it is.” I could use the differences in me to make an impact on my home culture. You see, to be a triangle means you have the unique privilege to be a constant learner of culture. Although I’m really just beginning this process, I have noticed a few things that my time in Southeast Asia taught me about engaging my own culture from the inside.

 

At his personal blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted: “Orlando, Tragedy and Why We Should Shut Up.

I’ve written before about how my first reaction to tragedies is almost always wrong. Instead of praying, I want to respond. The murderous rampage in Orlando is no different. We all have an inherent (and good) desire to see wrong made right, so we just want to do something—even if all that means is to say something on social media. Unfortunately, our responses often contradict one another and attacked deeply hold beliefs of others.

 

Jonathan Howe and Julie Masson recently shared five strategic ministry uses for Instagram.

In previous posts, I’ve covered how pastors, church leaders, and churches can most effectively used Facebook and Twitter. Today, I turn my attention to Instagram.

 

This picture-based social network can help build affinity, promote events, and provide inspiring insight into the inner-workings of your church. And now that the apps offer multi-account functionality, using Instagram has never been easier for pastors and church leaders.

 

But when it comes to using Instagram strategically for ministry, you have to post more than pics of food and lattes. So here are five ways you can use Instagram in a ministry context.

 

Ashley Gorman shared three things to do after praying for Orlando. Ashley writes:

We’ve all heard the news at this point. 50 Americans were killed horrifically in cold blood at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 53, according to the news, are still wounded. The media outlets are flabbergasted. The police work tirelessly to put the pieces together. The cries of families who have lost loved ones still hang in the air.

 

It’s a national tragedy. And if there’s anyone who can mourn with those who mourn, it should be a Christian.

 

People naturally want to watch how their Christian neighbors respond to this. They want to know—do you even care? While the answer should be obvious, I have to ask: Well, do we? While hashtags and prayers fill the air, and obviously should, we need to do more. Assuming you’ve already prayed for Orlando and posted something about it on social media, here are three other things you can do now.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

There are three types of people in our great nation. There are, first of all, those who do not read. An AP-Ipsos poll recently revealed that 25% of Americans do not read books, while other polls have put the number higher, at around 50%. It is not that these Americans cannot read or that they do not accumulate knowledge. (No country’s citizens—and I mean none—bring more depth and import to subjects such as celebrity clothes, hair and makeup, and the intricacies of the Pitt-Jolie marriage than the citizens of the USA.) It is just that their knowledge is not gained from books. Second, there are those who read but do so aimlessly, choosing on a whim what to read and when to do so. Third, there are those who plan to read and who read with a plan.

 

If you are the third type of reader, or if you wish to become that type of reader, this post offers five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

 

Determining what to read is more than a little important. Of the many books in any given library or bookstore, most can be left unread without any fear of intellectual, moral, or spiritual deprivation. Even (and sometimes especially) the bestsellers are not necessarily worth reading. So what should a thoughtful Christian read? Without being able to answer this question in specific, because each person’s callings, abilities, and tastes are unique, I will attempt to give some general principles that should apply to all.

 

This past Tuesday at the SBC annual meeting, Dr. James Merritt stood to offer support for a resolution against the confederate battle flag. The Baptist Press website published this write-up of the resolution, and you can also check out the video below to hear Dr. James Merritt’s statement for yourself.