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

In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at the Intersect Project website, Dr. Bruce Ashford writes about how to engage culture like C.S. Lewis.

As Lewis scholar Michael Travers has noted, Lewis viewed evangelism as the main purpose of a Christian’s life. Lewis’ literary career can be viewed as an extended exercise in evangelism. Not only in his explicitly theological books, but also in his literature, Lewis wanted to translate Christianity into popular language for ordinary people who were not theologians. In his fiction texts, he tried to create in his readers a longing for God, and to help them “see” the gospel in concrete form. He called this type of writing praeparatione evangelica, or “preparation for the gospel.”

So for Lewis, “evangelism” is something that Christians do with their whole lives, not only through interpersonal encounters, but in the work they undertake and the shape of their professional lives.

We can learn many things about Christianity and culture from Lewis’ life and writings. Three significant lessons stand out.

At the Southeastern Literary and Art Magazine, Rebecca Byrd has written the worn-out student’s guide to break reading.

Final papers and exams are turned in. The mild shakiness of a days-long caffeine overload wears off. The semester’s books are relegated to the (ever-expanding) bookshelf in a triumphant gesture of victory. You actually sleep… for the whole night! Now it is time for one of my favorite celebrations: finding my break reading! While you may have just spent the entire semester with your head in your books, this type of reading is different because YOU get to decide what to read. I’ll acknowledge that some people may just want to put the books down for a while, and that’s okay. But for me, I like to take those weeks or months (if it’s summer!) to read something different. Here is a list of some possibilities for your break reading if you don’t know where to start

Dr. Andreas Köstenberger recently added a post to his blog titled “Christmas: A Call to Witness.” Dr. Köstenberger writes:

As a little boy, I was blessed to grow up in the small country of Austria, the land of “Silent Night, Holy Night” and of The Sound of Music. Christmas was truly a special time of the year, and many Christmases were in fact white. My sister and I would leave our wish list for the Christ child on our window sill the night before Christmas (we celebrated on Christmas Eve), and then, on Christmas Eve, behind closed doors, we heard our Christmas tree being set up and decorated by (we surmised) angels. Later that evening, we would enter our living room, and, lo and behold, find most of the presents we had wished for. What a joy for a child’s heart! Receiving presents! Little did it dawn on us that Christmas was not only a time to receive presents but, at least in the original instance, entailed a call to witness.

Chris Martin writes at his personal blog about three ways to encourage people in a world of negativity.

Perhaps what could set Christians apart most in this cultural moment isn’t a baptized belly-aching, but an atmosphere of encouragement. Everyone is angrily advocating for their value systems with every passing tragedy. What if we just took a break from that and tried to lift each other up? I don’t know. I’m just tired of being upset—sad, angry, or otherwise—and I would love to see a bit more positivity in general.

Here are three ways I try to encourage people from time to time. I value words of affirmation and encouragement, so I am most likely to do #1 below, but any of them (and more) are great. Maybe you need to encourage family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, cashiers, waiters, or others. Here are just a few general ways you can encourage people.

Spence Spencer recently published an article discussing the importance of amateur theologians.

There are two very important aspects of the Christian theological enterprise that need to maintained in order for the church to be (or become) healthy. First, there need to be professional theologians. Second, the discipline of theology needs to be accessible to amateur theologians.

The terms “professional” and “amateur” are intended to refer to more than the status of being paid for thinking and writing. It is certainly true that someone who is paid to think theologically and express those thoughts cogently (we hope) for others to read should be able to be more productive theologically and, perhaps, research and think more deeply. However, the bigger concern here is the training for becoming a theologian. The discipline of theology needs to be accessible to those that have the professional credentials (read advanced degrees) in the discipline and those that don’t.

Recently, a group of professional Catholic theologians got together to call on the New York Times to silence columnist Ross Douthat. It wasn’t just any Catholic theologians, it was a group of leading Catholic thinkers from Georgetown, Loyola, St. Thomas University, Yale, Harvard, Lasalle, and more. In other words, a pretty big group of well-credentialed theologians got together to call for the muzzling of one journalist.

 

In Case You Missed It

Recently at TGC, Trevin Wax published an article giving tips for reading better while retaining more. In his article Trevin writes:

Last week, I posted a video to my Facebook page in which I gave some tips for reading faster, better, and wider. Also last week, Hubworthy released book recommendations from people associated with The Gospel Coalition. (My list of “essential reading” is here.)

With so many good books to read, it’s natural to want to read better and wider. Here is my response to a few questions that were sent to me on Facebook, prompted by the video.

In a guest post on Art Rainer’s blog, Sam Morris gives five helpful tips for becoming a better public speaker:

Whether it is a sermon full of ‘umms’ or a prayer spoken at the speed of sound, if the audience has lost track you are not communicating effectively. As a pastor, this could quite literally be the difference between redemption and condemnation.

There are a myriad of reasons why a pastor should always continue to develop as a public speaker. Here are  five communication tips for pastors to consider.

Elizabeth Wann published an article earlier this week at Desiring God explaining the hidden ministry of motherhood. Elizabeth writes:

[T]he main role God calls us to as wives and mothers is our home and family. God made women to bear and nurture life and men to provide for and protect the lives of women and children. The heart disposition in these matters manifests itself in where our priorities lie.

At the Baptist Press, Don Whitney explains how he started praying the Bible:

It was the first of March 1985. I remember where I was sitting when it happened.

I was pastor of a church in the western suburbs of Chicago. A guest preacher was speaking at a series of meetings at our church. He was teaching on the prayers of the apostle Paul in his New Testament letters, and encouraging us to pray these inspired prayers as our own.

Then, at one point he held up his Bible said, “Folks, when you pray, use the prayer book.”

In that moment I suddenly realized, “The entire Bible is a prayer book. We can pray not only the prayers of Paul in Ephesians, we can pray everything in the Book of Ephesians.”

Chris Martin recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Russell Moore about his latest book ‘Onward’.

I do not count it coincidence that a leader as articulate and gracious as he has been made the leader of one of the most influential Christian organizations in Washington, D.C. amidst our present culture context. The Lord knew what he was doing when he led Dr. Moore to lead the ERLC, and I’m thankful for that. People who get on TV to represent Christianity sometimes make Christians look silly. Dr. Moore has done quite the opposite, and I’m thankful someone like him represents evangelicals on CNN and other places.