In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Christy Britton explained how with human trafficking, awareness is only the beginning.

January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking may seem like an abstract topic. But millions of vulnerable people are bought, sold and kept in captivity all over the world — even in your city. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.

 

As image bearers of the God of justice (Isaiah 30:18), we reflect his heart for the oppressed. It’s our responsibility to be aware of the plight of captives and labor for their freedom.

 

This month social media and news outlets are sharing statistics and stories aimed at drawing your attention to the presence of human slavery in our world today. While awareness is critical, it’s just the beginning of our fight to end the global slave trade.

 

International Justice Mission (IJM) president, Gary Haugen, says, “Nothing happens just because we are aware of modern-day slavery, but nothing will ever happen until we are.”

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Alvin Reid shared how to give an effective missions testimony.

I’m fresh off a couple of mission trips this past summer, one to Chicago and another to Kiev, Ukraine. Early this fall, we heard testimonies from members of our Young Pros ministry from these and several other trips. I LOVE such testimonies. I love hearing about how people are taking the gospel around the world.

 

But there’s a problem. We’ve all been there–the missionary testimony is perhaps enthusiastic, but definitely rambling. The person sharing is not a public speaker, after all (in most cases), and so he/she tends to be a bit scattered. I’ve been guilty myself. How do we stay focused and give effective testimonies briefly – to allow others to share as well – and powerfully?

 

The Intersect Project interviewed Lauren Pratt about serving the church with the written word.

Some vocations allow you to clearly see how God uses your work for his glory. A surgeon saves lives.A teacher prepares children for a lifetime of learning. A construction worker builds homes that provide shelter from the elements.

 

In other vocations, the connection seems less clear. What if your work involves typing words on a screen? What if you spend most of your working hours in an office, scribbling on a notepad or moving words around in sentences?

 

Lauren Pratt is the News and Information Specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and many of her days involve such tasks. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Lauren about writing. In our conversation, you’ll see how God can use her work for his glory — and how he can use yours, too. Here’s our conversation.

 

In a recent article at his blog, Thom Rainer shared about the new normal for church security.

We recently experienced a new tipping point for church security.

 

A tipping point is the critical juncture in evolving developments that leads to a new and, often, irreversible state. We call that new state “the new normal.”

 

In church security we have witnessed two major tipping points. Though child sex abuse in churches was not new, it reached a new level of awareness and response when Pope John Paul II called an emergency meeting with the U. S. cardinals in 2002. We knew then the issue was serious and pervasive.

 

We reached a second major tipping point in November 2017 with the church shootings at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Among the 26 people killed were nine members of one family. Church leaders and members across the nation began to realize that if it can happen in Sutherland Springs, it can happen anywhere.

 

I recently conducted a social media survey to ask church leaders and members to share what their churches were doing for church security. I then went to the Church Answers community (ChurchAnswers.com) for more in-depth responses. Here are some realities of the new normal as articulated by these respondents.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten ways to spend more time with God.

I don’t know many church leaders who think they spend sufficient time with God. Our lives are busy, and it’s tough to add more responsibilities to our plate. Here, though, are some ways to spend more time with God, beginning today.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Christy Britton shared a post about being enslaved to sin titled “The Thief and I.” Christy writes:

It was my first trip to Kenya. I was still adjusting to the culture shock when our team arrived at a boy’s juvenile detention center outside of Nairobi. Our van parked, and lots of young boys of all ages approached us with machetes in hand. My initial fear vanished when we discovered that the boys had been using the machetes to cut grass. As we mingled with the group of welcoming boys, we were told that most of them were thieves. They had lived as street kids, and they survived by stealing.

 

Our team divided the boys into small groups so we could interact more personally with them. I’m a mother of 4 boys, and I was shocked to realize how much these boys reminded me of my own. They were curious and funny and full of energy. We opened the Scriptures and taught them some stories. Then, we gave the boys a chance to tell us their stories.

 

After hearing several boys share, I assumed we were done. But then a tall, skinny boy stood up to speak to our group. He introduced himself as Elvis and started to explain his predicament. “I’m a thief. I like to steal and I’m good at it. But I don’t want to like it. What’s wrong with me? Will you pray for me that I won’t want to be a thief?”

 

His words stunned me. Initially, I was shocked at how openly he talked about his sin. But then I began to see how freeing it was for him to do so. That day, in a children’s jail and with the voice of one of its prisoners, God taught me about the freedom that comes in Christ.

 

Shaq Hardy shared a post this week highlighting seven ways Paul shows us how to live by faith in Romans 1:8–17.

At the end of Romans 1:17, Paul says, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Faith is believing what God says about salvation and trusting in God for salvation. With that said, Paul shows us how to live by faith in these 7 ways in Romans 1:8-17.

 

Brent Aucoin posted at the Intersect Project highlighting Thomas Kidd’s recent visit to Southeastern Seminary. Dr. Aucoin writes:

Dr. Kidd’s lunch and evening presentations were engaging and entertaining, but more importantly provided necessary correctives to the historical scholarship of two important American religious and political figures, George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin. In both his writings and his presentations, Dr. Kidd is showing young, budding Christian scholars how to serve the church while also engaging the American academy professionally and with integrity.

 

In a post at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax highlighted Martin Luther’s ‘parasite’.

This month marks the 500th anniversary of the posting of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, long considered the start of the Reformation. Luther is a hero to me and many other Protestants for his courage, his conviction, and his rediscovery of the truth of justification by faith alone.

 

It may seem out of place to interrupt our celebration of Luther’s legacy by discussing some of the darker aspects of his life and thought. That’s how some reacted earlier this week when I tweeted a link to an article called “Luther’s Jewish Problem,” which lays out in all its awfulness the anti-Semitic turn of Luther in his later years. I agreed with the article in saying that we must look this evil square in the face and not explain it away.

 

The truth is the truth. And truth is not served by hagiography and exalted biographical sketches that minimize our heroes’ flaws. I believe Luther, who never minced words regarding sin and evil, would recommend we not minimize his sins.

 

At The Baptist Press Dr. David Dockery shared about the Reformation and Baptist life.

The Lord blessed me with the wonderful privilege of growing up in a Christian home — a faithful, Baptist home. Sundays included Sunday School, church services, afternoon choir practice as well as Bible Drill, Discipleship Training and Sunday evening after-church fellowship. It was generally a very busy day. Wednesdays included church suppers, prayer meetings, mission organizations, committee meetings and choir practice.

 

During the week there were opportunities for outreach visitation, WMU and other activities. Summer calendars were built around Vacation Bible School, church camps and other church-related events. My family planned weeks and seasons around church activities. Our heroes were Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong and Bill Wallace of China.

 

But apart from a world history course as a high school student, I do not recall ever hearing stories about the Reformation, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin or other early 16th-century Protestant leaders in any church-related activity.

 

My guess is that my experience parallels that of many other Baptists. Why, then, should Baptists pay attention to the many events and programs taking place this year to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation for we are not Lutherans nor Anglicans nor Presbyterians. Yet, whether we realize it or not, many of our core convictions as Baptists have been influenced or shaped by those 16th-century thinkers.

 

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook shared about reaching the Nations in North America.

For those of you who are not aware, this weekend a conference is happening here at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to discuss one of the most important issues facing the church in North America today: how we will discover and engage the scores of internationals coming to our communities with the gospel. The summit is a joint endeavor of several missions agencies, state Baptist conventions, and other organizations who all see the need to train and equip our local churches for cross-cultural ministry right here in our own backyard.

As Keelan mentioned in his article, Southeastern is hosting a conference this weekend on Reaching the Nations in North America. If you can’t be here in person, be sure to check out the livestream at sebts.edu/streaming.

In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook discussed where the Kingdom of God is in disasters. Keelan writes:

The kingdom of God is already here, but not yet here fully.

 

By no means is this concept new. You have heard it mentioned in a sermon, a Bible study, or in a classroom somewhere. One of the mysteries of the kingdom is the fact that it is both here and now and not yet fully established. It is inaugurated but not yet consummated. In other words, we already see the effects of this kingdom come to earth in the life of the church, but the total rule and reign of the kingdom is clearly not fulfilled. Evil still lurks around every corner, even the dark corners of our own hearts. The kingdom awaits its final consummation, that moment when Christ himself comes back to fully establish his reign. Then and only then will all wrongs be made right.

 

That the kingdom is not yet fully established is painfully obvious in the weeks after a disaster like the one here on the Gulf Coast.

 

Christy Britton shared a post at the Intersect Project discussing what it’s like to come back from a hurricane.

Friendly warnings from meteorologists progress into evacuation orders from government officials. Clear, calm skies become dark. Gentle breezes transform into harsh winds. Dry air morphs into torrential downpours. Houses become quiet as the electricity goes out.

 

Those of us who live in coastal areas are familiar with hurricane season and its signs. We watch our television and refresh our Twitter feeds to track a storm’s progress. The words “contraflow” and “displaced” are a part of our vocabulary. We know why families keep axes in their attics.

 

My husband, my kids and I were living on the north shore of New Orleans the summer of 2005. In August of that year, Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast and more than one million people were suddenly homeless — including my family.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Greg Mathias shared a missiological reflection on 9/11.

I still remember where I was and what I was doing on that morning 16 years ago today. As my co-workers and I gathered around a television to see what was going on, we watched with a mix of confusion and horror as the second tower of the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground. The moments after that were a fog of bewilderment as we tried to make sense of what we were seeing. May we not forget that there are many today still trying to make sense of the events surrounding 9/11.

 

No matter the tragedy, trying to make sense of tragedy is elusive. Even though difficult, we are called to love God and love neighbor everyday, even on tragic days.

 

Here are a four thoughts on dealing with tragedy from a missiological perspective.

 

Dr. Amanda Aucoin posted at the Intersect Project about five Christian women who have shaped culture.

Culture is a word we hear a lot in Christian circles these days. We hear of a “cultural malaise,” ponder “culture wars,” talk about how America has ceased to be a “Christian culture” and are encouraged to be “culture makers.” All of these uses of the term are helpful for thinking about how Christians can cultivate and contribute to the world we are called to serve.

 

Because we as men and women are created in the image of a creative God, we will be forming culture in our own world, however big or small its impact may seem at the time. And sometimes that’s the problem. We feel discouraged because our world does seem so small. What contributions could we possibly make? Do we really think the small culture we create could make a difference now, influence the larger culture, or (even more of a long shot) affect culture in the future?

 

Thankfully, we don’t need to look far for inspiration. Key women throughout history, some who held positions of influence during their own lifetime and many who did not, have impacted culture in ways they did not think likely or even possible at the time. What could a barbarian woman, runaway nun, a slave, a handicapped woman and the women in your life have in common? They have shaped culture, in big and small ways, to the glory of God.

 

In a guest post at Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe discussed when it’s time to redesign your church website.

Depending on who and what you read, you can find different opinions on how often you should redesign or refresh your website. If it’s a website design company, the answer is probably “six months ago.” They like the business, after all.

 

I don’t think you should have a timeframe for website redesigns, though. It’s an as needed event and also one that should be carried out with much planning and intentionality.

 

Website redesigns should be carried out strategically and to meet a need. So if your church has one of these needs, then it may be time to refresh your site.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons why spiritual disciplines matter. Dr. Lawless writes:

I know it sounds like a basic, simplistic matter in our Christian walk, but I’m writing this post to encourage all of us to do spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, fasting, and solitude. Here’s why.