In Case You Missed It

At The Gospel Coalition, Nathaniel Williams interviewed champion barista Kyle Ramage in a post titled: “Make People Wonder Why You’re Weird.”

When Kyle Ramage first stepped foot onto the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he thought he was preparing for vocational ministry. Little did he know God was preparing him for a different path.

 

He would soon enter the mission field of the coffee industry.

 

Ramage, who hails from Mississippi, graduated from Southeastern Seminary in 2014 with an MA in Christian ministry. Yet his career has taken an unexpected turn. He worked at a local coffee shop, excelled at his craft, and now works for Mahlkonig USA, a coffee grinder manufacturer in Durham, North Carolina.

 

Given his skill and his passion for coffee, Ramage competed in the 2017 United States Barista Championship. To his great surprise, he won. Next he will compete for the World Championship in Seoul, South Korea. (Read a full account of Ramage’s victory.)

 

Recently we had the chance to chat with Ramage about coffee, faith, work, and his time in seminary. Here’s our conversation (edited for clarity).

At Christianity Today, Trillia Newbell posted and article discussing six ways men can support women’s discipleship.

When I first became a Christian at the age of 22, there were two things that I couldn’t wait to do: learn about the Lord and share about him with others. As I dreamed about my future, I determined that I wanted to become a biblical counselor. I told a pastor about this desire, knowing that it would require more education through a counseling program, most likely at a seminary. His response to me was, “Well, you are probably going to be a mom.”

 

He was right. I did become a mom, one of my greatest joys and gifts in my life. Still, his statement deterred me from pursuing a counseling degree. Although I don’t hold any grudge against that pastor—he was doing the best to counsel me at the time—nonetheless his initial response was ill-advised and unhelpful.

 

My experience reflects a larger, more widespread challenge inside the church: Male clergy and lay leaders have the power to impact and support women’s discipleship, but many of them (by their own account) fall short.

Bruce Ashford published an article at his personal website addressed to anyone who questions the compatibility of Christianity and science. Dr. Ashford writes:

There is no shortage of reasons a person might think Christianity and science are intrinsically opposed to one another. The Galileo ordeal. The Scopes trials. The global warming debate. Richard Dawkins. “Et,” as they say, “cetera.”

 

But none of those reasons are sufficient to demonstrate that Christianity and science are opposed. In fact, the opposite is true. Christianity gave birth to modern science; its theological enterprise overlaps with the sciences and should be viewed as a mutually beneficial conversation partner; the tensions it experiences with science are ad hoc rather than inherent, and can be resolved over time.

At his personal blog, Footnotes, Dr. Jason Duesing posted an article titled: “The Wittenburg Door of American Evangelical Missions.”

In the summer of 1806, several dedicated young men attending the Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, began to gather regularly to pray and read reports of the burgeoning work of Andrew Fuller, William Carey, and the new Baptist Missionary Society in England.

 

On one occasion, while meeting in a field adjacent to the college campus, the students, trapped by a thunderstorm, took shelter in a haystack. Haystacks in 1806 were not the manicured and tightly bound variety that are arranged neatly as viewed from the 21st century roadside.

 

Rather, these were the versions piled as high as a human could assemble with only a pitchfork and a sundown deadline. Thus, like a quickly assembled snow fort, the young men of Williams dove into and carved out a hay-lined shelter to continue their meeting. What they found, though, was far more rewarding than had they discovered a missing needle.

At First Things, Matthew Mullins posted an article discussing the passing of the voting rights act. Dr. Mullins writes:

In 1965, the U.S. Congress made a seismic decision. Faced with the disenfranchisement of black voters on the one hand, and a Constitutional mandate to maintain equal sovereignty among the states on the other, Congress decided that jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination at the polls should be compelled to seek “preclearance” from federal authorities any time they wished to change their voting procedures. The preclearance process required covered jurisdictions to prove that the proposed changes were not intended to discriminate against voters based on race. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965 and has been reauthorized four times. Each time, the Executive has approved it and the Supreme Court has upheld it against challenges.

Chris Martin posted earlier this week at this personal blog sharing three limits of social media as a medium.

What is social media doing to our ability to communicate with kindness, clarity and depth?

 

Should social media be seen as a redeemable form of communication, or is it a medium that is not meant to hold the weight of discourse?

 

Can heavy matters of faith even be discussed on social media, or is the platform too temporary and cheap for the eternal riches of the gospel?

 

In 1985, Neil Postman published Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business to show how the advent of television caused much of American public discourse to be “dangerous nonsense.”

 

Oh, Mr. Postman, if you only knew.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Dr. Nathan Finn answered a few questions about the relationship between spiritual formation and mission from a new book, Spirituality for the Sent: Casting a New Vision for the Missional Church, which he co-edited with Dr. Keith Whitfield.

In recent years, evangelicals have pursued a more holistic Christian mission and participated in discussions about spiritual formation. Yet these two important movements have developed independently and rarely intersected.

Nathan A. Finn and Keith S. Whitfield want to change that. In Spirituality for the Sent: Casting a New Vision for the Missional Church (IVP Academic, 2017), Finn and Whitfield bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and ecclesial traditions to address the relationship between spiritual formation and mission.

Nathan A. Finn (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a professor of Christian thought and tradition at Union University, where he also serves as dean of the School of Theology and Missions. He was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, mission, spiritual formation and cultural engagement.

 

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how “coasting” only becomes an option in the mind of a Christian when we forget we are trying to draw closer to a person. Aaron writes:

How much did you enjoy coasting down a hill on your bike as a kid?

 

You can put your feet off to the side (or on the handlebar if you’re feeling really daring) and let gravity do all the work. Enjoying the wind against your face is the reward for all the effort you spent pedaling up.

 

As a kid, that was one of the greatest feelings, but sometimes things can go wrong.

 

Once, I was going too fast down a hill. I hit a bump, flipped over my handlebars and rode upside down for a few feet before crashing into a briar patch.

 

Attempting to coast spiritually, has put many Christians in a similar predicament without their even realizing it. Coasting is not an option for the Christian.

 

Over Easter weekend, a fascinating conversation took place on Twitter among several well-known evangelical women writers discussing the ideas of Christians building “platforms” and “brands.” Since that original conversation, several blog-posts have been written discussing this topic further. Below, are a few of these:

 

 

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week at his blog, Dr. Danny Akin shared about preaching books for the beginning expositor. Dr. Akin writes:

Recently I was asked a question about a textbook that would help prepare and deliver expository sermons. No one hates self-promotion more than I! Having said that, for the beginner in this high and holy calling, I would commend Engaging Exposition written by myself, Bill Curtis and Stephen Rummage.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford published an article this week discussing an evangelical response to fake news, cynicism, and “PC” conformity.

The past year in American politics has put on full display the social, cultural, and political breakdown we are experiencing in the United States. Evangelicals, we need to find a way to make things right again, and we can’t count on talk show hosts or politicians to do this. It’s up to us—ordinary citizens of the United States—to help restore the health of our nation, and we should start by doing three things.

 

At The Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. George Robinson wrote discussing how our curriculum alone will not make disciples.

Henry Blackaby. Beth Moore. “Explore the Bible”. “The Gospel Project”.  I’m thankful to God for them all.  Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” helped me to understand that as a Christian I needed to “Find where God is at work and join Him.”  Moore taught my wife that her identity is in Christ through a myriad of her Bible studies.  Both “Explore the Bible” and “The Gospel Project” are Sunday School/Small Group curricula put out by Lifeway Christian Resources helping literally millions of Christians to faithfully interpret the Bible and to grow in their relationship to God.   Most of them are good! But none of these curricula are effective (or even intended) at making reproducing disciples – at least not on their own.  Why?  Because curricula don’t make disciples.

 

At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls discussed two questions every Christian must answer. Aaron writes:

Every generation of believers faces their own unique set of challenges and questions. Different temptations hold cultural sway and attempt to pull Christians off course in different eras.

 

Yet, as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” These challenges, questions and temptations have been around before—in different forms and different combinations, yes, but we do not face unknown riddles.

 

Today, many Christians are stumbling over how we respond to an unchanging Scripture and a changing world. With that, there are two distinct temptations those of us who are following Jesus today must face.

 

How we respond to these two questions will determine our faithfulness in this generation.

 

Chris Martin posted this week with three reasons we should not use social media.

My job is to help authors leverage blogs and social media to use the gifts God has given them to serve the Church in her mission of making disciples.

 

But man, I really wish social media would just disappear sometimes. Don’t you?

 

Usually, the times I wish social media would disappear come about when I see Christians behaving badly on social media in such a way that it makes Jesus or the Church look bad.

 

I tend to think everyone should be on social media (and that everyone should have a blog). I think this because I think God has gifted everyone with unique insights and abilities that, if shared, may be used for the building up of the body of Christ.

 

But, sometimes it’s smart to keep yourself off of social media. Some of us are prone to certain sinful attitudes or postures that may make social media more harmful than helpful for us. Sometimes it’s smart to avoid social media altogether. Here are three reasons you should NOT use social media.

 

This was a great week in Chapel at Southeastern. We were blessed with powerful sermons from two members of our faculty: Dr. Chuck Quarles and Dr. Steven Wade. Be sure to check out the videos below if you missed them earlier in the week.

Dr. Chuck Quarles, The Sound of Silence: Ezekiel 33:1-11

 

 

Dr. Steven Wade, While We Wait: Titus 2:11-14