In Case You Missed It

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Kara Bettis shared about how Donna Gaines is showing neighborly love through literacy.

Born and raised in the “birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll,” Donna Gaines returned 25 years later armed with a background in education and a heart for the county that claims one of the highest rates of childhood poverty.

 

Gaines is a women’s ministry leader and wife to Southern Baptist Convention president and Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Steve Gaines, where they minister together in Cordova, Tenn. Although she spends much of her time traveling with her husband, discipling women, and spending time with her 10—soon to be 11—grandchildren, Gaines is also the founder and president of a literacy program that targets at-risk children.

 

Five years ago, Gaines launched ARISE2Read, a faith-based literacy program for second graders in the greater Memphis and Jackson areas. Since starting the program, ARISE2Read has mobilized 822 volunteers who tutor 853 students in 19 schools—including in Gaines’s very own Georgian Hills Elementary, where she attended growing up.

 

At Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer interviewed Keith Getty about being awarded by the British Empire, modern hymns, and his new book. Ed writes:

My friend Keith Getty was recently honored as an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. I was able to talk with him about the award, his contribution to modern hymn writing, and his new book.

 

Topher Thomas posted an article at The Intersect Project titled: ‘Boy, Girl or Other: Do You Get to Choose?’

My wife and I were grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s with our baby daughter when an older woman stopped us and said, “What a cute little boy.” In her defense our daughter was wearing blue, and it’s hard to tell with babies. I responded with a smile and said, “She is a cutie, isn’t she?” The woman said to us, “Oh it’s a girl!” She then turned to our daughter and said, “You’re a girl now, but you don’t have to be. This state will see that one day.”

 

My wife and I were taken aback. I wanted to say, “Well, she really doesn’t have a choice. God made her a girl, and so she is.” However, I said nothing. The older lady continued her shopping, and so did we.

 

We live in a very “progressive” city. I work in a very “progressive” school. So such statements are almost commonplace. But these notions of gender fluidity are not unique to where I live. Our culture is in the midst of a sexual revolution, and countless workplaces, businesses, cities and states fully support pushing that revolution forward.

 

Though I did not respond in this specific situation, her comment made me stop and reflect. How do we respond to a world that interprets everything in a way that denies the supremacy of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture? What exactly is the error in a statement like that, and how do we speak both truth and compassion into a divisive subject like gender fluidity and those like it? Fortunately, we have a God who did not leave us without an answer for these and all of life’s issues.

 

Chris Martin posted at his personal blog discussing three considerations while facing temptation.

This summer, I have been leading the guys in our youth group through a study of James. It’s been a while since I took a deep dive into James, so it has been refreshing to see so much in the text that I hadn’t caught before.

 

Alongside reading the text itself, I have been reading Warren Wiersbe’s Be Maturecommentary and it has been a delightful companion through the study.

 

His chapter on James 1:13-18 is called, “How to Handle Temptation.” What I love about Wiersbe’s chapter on handling temptation is that it isn’t just a pragmatic list of ways to prevent ourselves from sinning.

 

In instructing us about how to handle temptation and avoid falling into sin, Wiersbe doesn’t direct our thoughts inward—he directs our thoughts upward.

 

Below are Wiersbe’s three considerations while facing temptation with some of my own elaboration on his points.

 

In a guest post at J.D. Greear’s blog, Chris Pappalardo discussed laziness or overwork—for church staff, which is worse?

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:23-24a NIV). What does that look like when there’s such a close connection between your work for “human masters” and your work “for the Lord”? For those of us in ministry, what does it look like to follow Paul’s command?

In Case You Missed It

In a guest post at Art Rainer’s blog, Robby Scholes shared three important questions to consider before taking a job in a new city.

A career opportunity arises in a new city.

Met with a mix of excitement and anxiety, the first natural reaction is to imagine living in this new place. The new compensation package is larger than your current role, immediately driving assumptions about the lifestyle possibilities, opportunities for increased generosity, and new savings goals you will finally be able to meet by taking this new role.

 

You begin to think that taking the job is a no-brainer. Is it?

 

A new city means a new cost of living. Sometimes this works to your benefit and other times to your detriment. An increased cost of living could swallow the higher salary.

 

So before accepting the role, consider these 3 questions.

 

Sam Rainer shared a helpful post earlier this week discussing why every young pastor needs an old mentor.

“Sometimes the being is more important than the doing.” My mentor shared this wisdom at our last meeting. He’s in his mid-80s, about 50 years ahead of me. He retired from a church in Indiana and moved to Bradenton several years ago. I inherited him with my church when I was called as pastor two years ago. God gave me a spiritual heavyweight of encouragement with him. He sits a few rows from the back—prayerfully listening every week. Most in our church do not realize the wealth of maturity he brings to our congregation. He holds no formal leadership position in our church. He doesn’t need it because his prayers move mountains.

 

Every young pastor needs an old mentor. I know that’s not a new thought. I press the point because it’s hard to overstate the value of wisdom from someone 50 years older than you. Unfortunately, young pastors tend to dismiss the oldest generation of leaders. Not overtly, of course. Few would explicitly state they don’t want to hear from someone older. The dismissal comes more in the form of time. Our ears can only listen to so much before words start melting together. Podcasts, meetings, texts, phone calls, blogs, sermons—how many of them come from the oldest generation? If you’re like me, you tend to listen to people your age, maybe 10 years older. Listening to the oldest generation takes effort. It’s not efficient. My mentor talks slowly, with careful nostalgia. If I pay attention, what I hear is the greatest hits album of his ministry. It should be played over and over again.

 

At his blog Millennial Evangelical, Chris Martin shared about the strange burden of participating in social media.

Over the last year or so, I have become more discouraged about social media and what it is doing to us than I have ever been.

 

Often I think to myself, “The only reason I use social media any more is because it’s such an important part of my job.” Really, it’s central to my job.

 

Then, some weeks, what I see on social media encourages me and gives me hope for the medium as a useful tool for the Church.

 

One of my friends recently left social media entirely. He deleted all of his accounts and isn’t going to engage on Twitter, Facebook, etc. any more. I kinda wish I could bring myself to do that, but every time I consider it, I can’t.

 

It’s not that I can’t bring myself to leave social media because I have some sort of unhealthy addiction to it or because I need to be informed about what all of my friends are doing with their lives. (At least I don’t think that’s why.)

 

I think I can’t bring myself to leave social media because I have a sort of strange burden for it as a medium.

 

Earlier this week, Russell Moore shared about his writing process.

Because you are probably going to be called upon to write something at some point in your life. It may not be that you’re a writer, but you may have to write a loved one’s obituary. Or you may have to write a letter to a child or a family member. All of us are going to have to put down on paper or on the screen our thoughts at some point. Some people just do it much more extensively than other people do it.

 

So here’s kind of the process I go through. And again, I don’t commend it to anybody at all. This is just the way that I work. What I wish I could say to you is that I sit down and make out an elaborate outline, and then have note cards in front of me, and I go through each of note cards. That’s not how I work. What I have to do is spend a lot of time, first of all, reading in whatever area I’m going to be writing in, and then a lot of time just processing that. So just thinking. A lot of the most important writing time for me actually is not in front of the screen, it’s walking in the woods. Because that’s when I’m thinking through “Okay but what about this, and what about that, what about this idea, and what about that idea,” and sort of churning as I’m thinking through this. And for me, exercising – especially sort of meandering free exercising – is what helps to put all of that together for me.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless recently shared ten reasons (beyond fear) that believers don’t evangelize.

If you look at many studies about evangelism, you’ll discover that fear is a primary factor that keeps Christians from telling the Good News. Those fears might involve a fear of rejection, a fear of not knowing answers, a fear of others watching our lives more closely if we speak of Christ, or other possibilities. In addition to fear, here are some other reasons – perhaps surprising ones – that believers don’t evangelize.

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.