In Case You Missed It

Laura Thigpen posted an article at the Intersect Project discussing when grief is good.

Grief is an unwelcome guest that enters our lives unexpectedly and awkwardly overstays its welcome. But even this most awkward and unwelcome guest can open our eyes to the pain and suffering we have unwittingly been blinded to. It reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain:

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

When we read this short sentence, we may resonate with the words preceding the colon. In our pain, it can feel like God is shouting to us. Yet, don’t overlook the words that follow the colon. God uses our pain to rouse us, to stir our heart’s affections, to awaken our sensibilities.

 

This is precisely the point Lewis is making about our pain. The Lord uses our grief as a catalyst to bring about repentance, to achieve His purposes and to fulfill His plans.

 

Trevin Wax shared an article at The Gospel Coalition, titled: “Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One.” Trevin writes:

The most well-known hymn in America, “Amazing Grace,” by the former slaveholder John Newton, contains a line that many people stumble over.

 

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me!

 

The hymn may be popular, but the sentiment is not. Few Americans consider themselves “wretches” of moral repugnance and debasement. We like to think of ourselves as basically good, with a few flaws; not fundamentally bad, with few virtues to save us.

 

Some Christians believe it would be good to remove unnecessary offense by downplaying human sinfulness, but such a move severs the root of what makes grace so powerful. It is precisely because we’re bad, not good, that God’s love in sending his Son to die for our sins is so significant.

 

The trouble is, grace is unimaginable in a world where everyone believes grace is deserved. And when grace is transformed into entitlement, the definitions change, for both those inside and outside the church.

 

At Biblical Foundations,  Andreas Köstenberger published an article discussing the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection.

One of the most important historical questions related to Jesus is how a tiny offshoot of Judaism went on to change the world. One of the most outspoken detractors of Jesus’ deity and the truthfulness of Christianity, Bart Ehrman, writes, “But then something else happened. Some of [Jesus’ followers] began to say that God had intervened and brought [Jesus] back from the dead. The story caught on, and some (or all – we don’t know) of his closest followers came to think that in fact he had been raised” (Did Jesus Exist?, 233). So did the early Christians invent the resurrection of Jesus? For his part, Ehrman disputes that Jesus’ tomb was empty, in part because neither Joseph of Arimathea—the man who put Jesus in the tomb according to the Gospels—nor the tomb itself are mentioned in the earliest creed (1 Cor 15:3b-5aHow Jesus Became God, 129-69). Yet 1 Cor 15:4 does say, “He was buried,” and proceeds to affirm, “He was raised.” The obvious historical conclusion is that whatever Jesus was buried in, presumably a tomb, was now empty!

 

Art Rainer discussed our double-edged smartphones at The Baptist Press.  Art writes:

Your smartphone can impact your financial health beyond the monthly service bill.

 

Smartphones are everywhere. According to Pew Research, 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone. This is more than double the 35 percent ownership in 2011.

 

Many of us cannot remember what life was like before our smartphone. Just the thought of losing or breaking our phone sends us into a state of panic.

 

Smartphones have been a double-edged sword for most of us. We find them useful and harmful at the same time. This can be true as it relates to our financial health. Sometimes they can help. But sometimes they can harm.

 

At the Intersect Project, Michael Guyer posted: “A Letter to a Transgender Student.”

Dear friend,

I am so thankful I know you. It is an honor that you would share this struggle with me. I know it was not easy, nor does sharing resolve everything. As you shared, I could not help but think of how deeply I desire to be truly known. God designed us for this—to know Him and be known by Him. He not only made us for Himself, but He also made us for community—to know others and be known by them. My heart groans with yours to be truly known as God intended from the beginning. But my heart also groans because I know the church has not always felt like a place you could talk about this struggle. As a result, you have felt disconnected and not truly known yourself. Along the way, you have been disappointed, hurt and isolated by the actions and words of Christians. I grieve over the pain and loneliness you have experienced. Before I say anything else, I want you to know that I am here for you and I love you.

 

Also this week, Bruce Ashford published a 5-part series of articles at his blog discussing the issue of transgenderism:

  1. Introduction
  2. A Brief Explanation of Significant Terms
  3. The Bible and Gender Identity
  4. Relating to Individuals with Gender Dysphoria
  5. Responding to It as an Ideology and Movement

In Case You Missed It

This week at the Intersect Project, Ashley Gorman shared two articles discussing smartphones, screen-time and if we are using technology well.

Your Smartphone is a Tool. Do you use it well?

Recent posts on the Intersect blog have opened our eyes to the various ways technology has impacted daily human life. Notice the term human life is used here—not Christian life, or American life, or male life, or female life, or church life, or righteous life, or unrighteous life, or any other subset of life we could think of. Technology is an equal opportunity life-changer, and rains down on the just and the unjust alike, all around the globe. The smartphone is obviously the most common vehicle of this impact.

6 Ways to Steward Your Weekly Screen Time.

In a separate post, I explain that technology is best used in moderation. Here are some helpful tips and tools to help you and your family steward your weekly screen time.

 

Throughout this week the news of the horrific tragedy which occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night has spread, and has sparked questions about how we should respond as Christians, and how we should think about these types of tragedies as Christians. Here are a few posts which might be helpful in answering any lingering questions you might have.

Russell Moore: Where Is God in a Mass Shooting?

Ken Keathley: “Killing Spree” Killers: There Is No Fear of God Before Their Eyes

Bruce Ashford: Christians, Here Are Five Ways to Respond to the Las Vegas Shootings

Scott Hildreth: Mayhem and the Mission

 

Thom Rainer shared a post at his website discussing ten ways to bring joy to your pastor.

In some ways, I don’t like the official designation of October to be pastor appreciation month.

 

I really wish we showed appreciation to pastors all the time. But like many other points of recognition, it does serve as a reminder that we are blessed by our pastors and their ministries.

 

So how can you bring joy to your pastor? My list of ten is based on the interactions I have with thousands of pastors every year. Some of the affirmations are letters. Many of them have no monetary cost. All of them will be greatly appreciated.

 

At his personal website, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared the reply to a letter written to him by a young Christian college student trying to think through the issue of abortion.

Recently I received a letter from a college student who had registered for a course in “reproductive rights” at a nearby university. Having recently become a Christian, he was revisiting the pro-choice position he’d held up until this point. In the letter, he asked for my evaluation of the pro-choice position. Given the fact that other people wrestle with this question, I thought I’d reproduce a small portion of my response to him.

 

At his blog, Chuck Lawless shared six ways for pastors to raise up the next generation of pastors and missionaries. Dr. Lawless writes:

I think most of us are missing it, pastors. My perception is that we give little attention to “calling out the called” among us; we instead lead reactively here, only talking to potential pastors and missionaries if they first come to us. I’m convinced some “called” folks remain in the pew as a consequence, neither understanding their calling nor knowing their pastor would be happy to talk with them. Here are some ways to fix this problem.

 

At the website of the North American Mission Board, Dr. Danny Akin shared five lessons he learned from Adrian Rogers.

No one has influenced and impacted my life like the “prince of preachers,” the man known as Adrian Rogers. Dr. Rogers was one of the most popular and influential preachers and pastors of the latter half of the 20th century. He was known for expository preaching, evangelistic passion, love for the nations and his uncompromising commitment to the Bible as the infallible and inerrant Word of God. His ministry spanned over 50 years, and he was pivotal in the conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I have the joy of serving at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, because of Adrian Rogers.

 

Last weekend, Southeastern Seminary hosted the 9th annual 9Marks at Southeastern conference. Here is a recap.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted the ninth year of the 9Marks conference on Sept. 29-30 of which 747 pastors, ministry leaders and students attended and more than 900 viewed the conference via Facebook live stream. The conference centered on the topic of church leadership and attendees heard from speakers Mark Dever, Jeramie Rinne, Danny Akin, Thabiti Anyabwile, Burk Parsons and H.B. Charles.