In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Lifeway Kid’s Ministry blog, Bekah Stoneking discussed the importance of biblical literacy for children. Bekah writes:

What do young people really think about God, the Bible, and church? How do we balance Barna’s findings—which reveal a majority of adolescents desire closeness with God and leading meaningful lives—along with reports of young people who are leaving the church because they did not experience a “robust Christian faith?” And, what does “spiritual but not religious” mean, anyway?

 

To reconcile the differences that exist among a desire for God, a lackluster faith experience, and a noncommittal stance toward the church, I’d suggest we begin at a young person’s foundation—both in their development as children and in their early experiences with the Bible. For those of us who are called to disciple kids in our homes and churches, we should understand the role biblical literacy plays in transforming lives and building faith.

 

At The Exchange, Ed Stetzer and Amy Whitfield discussed how Evangelicals made Trump’s candidacy, and they now need to help remake his presidency.

[Tuesday Night], maps were redrawn. Political realities were upended. America was redirected—and, for good or for ill, Evangelicals were a big part of that reality. White Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the general election, after propelling his campaign in the primaries.
Many Evangelicals didn’t follow the leaders that warned them away from Trump. These Evangelicals, and many Americans, were angry enough to vote for a stunningly unpopular candidate who promised change. It turns out that that basket was a lot bigger than many people expected.
We knew that half of America would be outraged, but the surprise is which half.
Now the world is outraged. And much anger is being directed at Evangelical Trump voters. Yet we need to remember that Trump voters are not Trump

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford and D. A. Horton teamed up to share a post-election vision for Evangelical Conservatives.

Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States. Many evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Many did not. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree: the last decade, and especially the past two years, in American public life has made one thing clear to evangelical conservatives: we are being decentered socially, culturally, and politically.

 

Although in recent years we have seen incremental progress in our advocacy for the pro-life cause, we are experiencing consistent setbacks on other significant concerns such as religious liberty, race relations, and marriage and family. Many Americans consider our stance on moral issues to be not only wrong but bad, and view us as little more than the hypocritical and bigoted special interest arm of the Republican Party.

 

Not the best of times, these.

 

In light of the situation, therefore, shouldn’t evangelical conservatives forget about politics and public life for a while so they can slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on the gospel?

 

No.

 

In an article at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax asked: “What if our Bibles rose up and judged us?”

I’m two months into my new role as Bible and reference publisher for LifeWay, where I have the privilege of stewarding a Bible translation and producing resources that assist people in reading and understanding God’s Word.

 

But there’s a scary part to my job, a spiritual element that I cannot shake off.

 

At his blog Millennial Evangelical, Chris Martin reminds us that we have forgotten where home is. Chris writes:

Christians: we tend to have a perspective problem. We have misunderstood eternity to be the epilogue that follows our life on earth, when our life on earth is actually just the prologue to eternity. This weekend, my pastor, Trevor Atwood, preached on Matthew 6:11, which is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

The “daily bread” that God provides is not the fullness of all that is good in life. “Daily bread” is not the fulfillment of every good promise of God. “Daily bread” is the presence of God we need to fuel us in our journey en route to his eternal presence. “Daily bread” is like a greasy Whopper to get us by in our car on the way home to a delicious home-cooked meal with our family.

 

When we pray, and as we live out our lives on earth, we often want “daily bread” to be more than God promises it to be. We expect the “daily bread” that’s meant to fuel our journey home to be a home-cooked feast. It’s not just that we’re too impatient to wait for the feast until we get home. It’s that we have forgotten where our home is.

 

What is Love, and How do I find it?” This is a question that Jonathan C. Edwards addresses in a recent article at the Intersect Project Website. Jonathan writes:

We look far too many places and to far too many things to find love, figure out what exactly it looks like and experience what it feels like. We do this time and again because, frankly, where it actually can be found seems boring, out of date and not all that sexy. Reading a good novel or cuddling up watching the newest romantic film seems a lot more enjoyable than opening the Bible.

 

What’s interesting though is that the Bible, unlike much of everything else we experience, isn’t cryptic when it comes to uncovering the coveted understanding of love’s true form. Scripture says, “You want to know what love is? You want to know how to feel love and express love? Look at the cross. Period.” [John 10:11, 15:13; 1 John 3:16, 4:10, 19]

 

But it seems that’s not good enough for us.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Keelan Cook shares four truths to ground your Theology of Mission.

Studying missions is an important part of actually doing missions. There is a cognitive aspect to everything we do. Therefore, what we study about missions affects how we actually do missions. The Bible has a lot to say about the mission of God and the church’s role in that mission. There is another component to studying mission: the actual theology we glean from what the Bible says. Our theology comes from our interpretation of the Bible, and everyone interprets the Bible whether they realize it or not. There are theological interpretations of Bible’s bases for missions. I’ve listed a few below.

In Case You Missed It

Dr. Bruce Ashford posted an article earlier this week giving seven reasons to put down your phone and pick up a book. Dr. Ashford writes:

This week, my family and I leave for a one-week vacation. In addition to relaxing at the beach with my family (if “relaxing” is what one does with children ages 6, 5, and 3) and keeping up with the Republican National Convention, I intend to do some reading. For starters, I will finish reading two fine books, Os Guinness’ Impossible People and Anthony Bradley’s Black and Tired.

 

While my mind is on vacation—and therefore on reading—I thought I’d write a brief post about the rewards of reading. In previous posts on reading, I gave 5 Tips for Determining Which Books to Read (and Which Not to Read) and 4 Tips on How to Get the Most from Your (Non-Fiction) Reading. But in this post, I want to focus on some of the benefits accrued from building a life-long habit of reading. Among the many rewards, here are seven.

 

At the Intersect Project website, Walter Strickland writes discussing that if you are living for the weekend, you are working for the wrong reasons.

The song “Livin’ for the Weekend” was made and remade because it resonated with the American workforce. Each Monday, laborers punch the clock with the thrill of the weekend behind them and the dread of another workweek ahead. For many, five of seven days each week are a necessary evil, endured to pay the bills arising from a weekend of leisure. Many workers dream of becoming wealthy enough to escape the rigors and monotony of the workplace. For them, work is a curse to be escaped.

 

Jonathan C. Edwards posted an insightful article at his blog titled: “Thanks to Seminary, I’m Dumber than I Was.” Jonathan writes:

8 years ago I found myself in my first seminary classroom. I was nervous. I was hesitant. I was skeptical.

 

I was a lot of things.

 

Among all those things, I was arrogant. I thought it was going to be such a joy ride over the next several years as I earned a degree that certified I knew more than the average Christian and could speak with authority on a variety of topics.

 

The professor walked in and addressed the aspiring pastor theologians and said something I will never forget. He spoke eloquently about the glory of God and the majesty that is the Resurrected Christ. He spoke humbly concerning the deep things of our Heavenly Father and how that had changed him, humbled him, and made him forever grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus. He then said these words:

 

When you graduate from this institution, the goal is not for you to be smarter than you are right now. The goal is that you have less knowledge and have a deeper awareness of all that you don’t know. The goal is humility, not arrogance. In a sense, you will graduate dumber than you are. That’s the goal.

 

At the Blazing Center, Matt Rogers writes of his fear of falling off of his own platform.

Another week passes, and another painful story about a prominent pastor surfaces. The details vary, but I’ve noticed one common theme. It seems that the very traits that cause a man to rise to prominence invariably lead to his demise. The personality traits that allowed him to climb the mountain of ministry, and do so with relative success, often push him off the mountain on the other side.

 

A new pastor longs to do something great for God, and he does—but then this drive causes him to base ministry success on how prominent he feels and how big of a platform he has created. Another pastor’s charisma allows him to engage a new culture with ease—but then this charm fosters an improper relationship with a woman in the church. Or, a pastor is a savvy leader, knowing how to put money and people in play in a way to maximizes strengths and minimizes weaknesses—but then this ingenuity leads to underhanded financial practices that disqualify him from ministry.

 

It seems that this trend does not merely apply to those who have achieved some national level of fame. It’s not just those who preach to big crowds, write bestselling books, or are sought-after conferences speakers. Countless other pastors and ministry leaders crash every day. We’ll likely never hear of them, but I’d guess the process is much the same in every case.

 

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams gives four ways to pray for Baton Rouge.

Last Sunday, we awoke to yet another tragedy. Three law enforcement officers were killed and three more injured in Baton Rouge, mere weeks after the death of Alton Sterling.

 

As I saw the horrific news develop, I wanted to know how I could pray for this city reeling in pain and division. So I reached out to Katie Harris, a friend who serves in Baton Rouge with AmeriCorps. Since she lives and ministers within the city, I knew she’d be able to help me know how to pray.

 

She offered four ways I can pray for the city. I hope that these help you pray as well.

 

Chris Martin recently shared three ways the church can fight against worshiping work more than Jesus. Chris writes:

Everyone is always busy. We have so much to do all the time. We all have our reasons, right?

 

For some of us, we can’t learn to say “No” when others ask us to volunteer for projects or sit on boards. For others of us, it’s because of our kids, who “can’t drive themselves to band practice, you know.” Some of us, unfortunately, keep ourselves busy because it makes us feel important.

 

Then there are those of us who are too busy because we worship our work, no matter how much we enjoy it or hate it, because we worship the provision and security it provides.

In Case You Missed It

Chris Martin published an interesting article at his blog discussing some statistics showing that many American Christians do not find Bible reading or church attendance to be essential. Chris writes:

That Instagrammed photo of your girlfriend with her Bible and coffee the other morning was probably staged…so kinda like every other perfectly groomed post upholding our never-ending pursuit of social acceptance and apparent perfection.

 

When you imagine “a week in the life of a Christian” you might imagine a church visit, an occasional Bible reading before bed, and some community involvement after school or work. However, this is not likely the case, if American Christians act in accordance with what they find essential to their faith.

 

Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center published some data on what American Christians value in everyday life. The data is fascinating, and I’d encourage you to read the summary here or the full report here. Today, I want to look at just one of the graphs they provide.

 

Bruce Ashford posted earlier this week arguing that the “G.O.(W.)P. should reject “Colorblind” politics. Dr. Ashford explains:

Early in the 2016 election cycle, GOP chairman Reince Priebus declared that the GOP was “likely to have the most diverse presidential primary field in history—of either party.” If diversity is considered in terms of the varied ethnic heritages of the presidential primary candidates, he was right. And yet, 90% of the voters in GOP primaries this year have been white.

 

Reflecting on this reality, Stanford sociologist Corey D. Fields recently argued in the New York Times that “the image of black Republicans that the G.O.P. disseminates may actually dampen enthusiasm for the party–not only among the black electorate in general, but also among black Republicans themselves.”

 

Brooke Davidson recently posted a great article at the SEBTS Women’s Life blog titled: “Beauty in the Wait.” Brooke writes:

Question: Have you ever felt like you were the living version of the game Jenga? One piece is pulled from you at a time, and you never know which piece will be the one that sends you crashing down. Watching and waiting. With that being said, please never forget who is pulling out those “Jenga” pieces. He’s not only pulling them out, but holding them, (your feelings, hopes, and dreams) in the midst of it all. Thank goodness we don’t have to do this all alone, right?  A verse that I’ve held close to my heart for the last ten years is Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord; Be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord.” That verse has helped me through many situations, but has never meant as much to me as it has in the past few months. There were times when everything seemed to be falling apart all around me, but the Lord was so constant and clear. If you are reading this and you feel like your life is falling apart, let me encourage you to wait on the Lord. Put your hope in Him, because He will sustain you!

 

Aaron Earls shared recently how the miscarriage of his child made him more pro-life.

I’ve never not been opposed to abortion. As a kid, I remember my grandmother being arrested for praying and protesting outside of an abortion clinic. As a student of philosophy, I found the pro-life arguments to be much more sound, coherent and persuasive. The arguments in favor of abortion always seemed too reliant on unfounded assumptions.

 

As a Christian, the Bible spoke clearly and frequently about the value of life and the need for those in power to speak for the voiceless. Biblical justice seemed to demand a pro-life stance. As a father, I could not imagine choosing to end the life of one of my children before they were born. I loved them from the moment I knew they were growing inside of my wife.

 

But my pro-life stance deepened more than I thought possible when I became the father of a child who never made it out of the womb. At this point, abortion advocates likely would point to two differences they believe to be relevant. I’ve encountered both of these arguments in discussions about abortion, so I want to address each.

 

At his personal blog, Art Rainer recently shared 11 Bible verses for the anxious leader.

You’re going to announce an organization-shaking decision that won’t be popular with everyone. You’re about to have that conversation you’ve been avoiding for months. You aren’t sure if you are going to have a job this time next week. From performance to personnel issues, the reasons for a leader’s anxiety are innumerable. Like many leaders today, you may find yourself feeling immersed in anxiety. And you desperately desire to come up for air.

 

You want to breathe again. God knew that anxiety would find its way into our lives. So He talks to us about it in the Bible. So if you find yourself immersed in anxiety, take the next few moments and consider what God is saying to you about it and the situation you are facing.

 

Here are 11 Bible verses for the anxious leader.

 

At The People’s Next Door blog earlier this week, Trevor King shared 7 reasons for covenant church membership. Trevor writes:

In Ephesians, Paul writes, “So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, andmembers of God’s household, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone,” (Ephesians 2:19-20). In the next chapter he goes on: “This is so that God’s multifaceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens,” (Ephesians 3:10). We’re not foreigners, but family. We’re not united around demographics, but around Christ Himself. We’re not idle, but making known the Wisdom of God to the world.

 

So, who are the members of God’s household? Who is this church that makes the Wisdom of God known? Who are the former strangers who are now citizens?

 

Enter covenant church membership. The idea of the church is wrapped up in the idea of covenant and, as the church, we must be able to articulate the whatand why of membership.

 

One of the best explanations of covenant membership comes from Pastor Sam Storms: “Covenant membership is simply the way in which an individual is known to be committed to all others in a local body of believers and how all others are known to be committed to that individual. Covenant membership is simply the way in which an individual makes known his/her covenant commitment to the Elders as spiritual leaders and how the Elders make known and fulfill their responsibility to shepherd and lead and protect the flock.”

While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are 7 reasons why we need covenant church membership