In Case You Missed It

At The Baptist Press, Tobin Perry shared the story of Allie Candler, a 107-year-old retired Southern Baptist missionary who is still a missions advocate.

She had committed her life to Jesus during a revival at First Baptist Church of Lockhart, S.C., two years earlier. But she still had matters to settle in her spiritual life. She remembers sitting in a revival meeting and listening to a preacher share about the “Stewardship of Life.” He then asked a question that would change her life forever. “You’ve been saved, but have you dedicated your life to Him?”
Candler, who was then sitting with the choir, came down to the altar and prayed, “I’m ready to be used if You can use me.”

 

At a Sunday service two weeks later, God specifically directed her toward missions. On the way home, she says Satan tried to dissuade her from telling anyone about her call.

 

“Devil,” she said, “I didn’t have anything to do with it. The Lord called me.”

 

That time may seem like just yesterday to Allie Candler, but in reality, it was more than 31,000 days ago. As America reeled from the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned for the first time to be the nation’s president in 1932, God called a 22-year-old Candler into a lifetime of missions service.

 

Earlier this week, Chuck Lawless shared nine reasons why every church should adopt a North American church planter. Dr. Lawless writes:

I occasionally have opportunity to train church planters in North America. Based on my experiences with them, I believe every church ought to adopt and prayerfully support a church planter. Here’s why.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, S. Craig Sanders shared the story of how Andy Davis used expository preaching to revitalize First Baptist Church Durham, NC.

Before Andy Davis preached verse-by-verse through the book of Isaiah, he memorized all 1,292 of them. It’s a discipline he developed while working as a mechanical engineer in 1986, several years after becoming a Christian. To this day, fellow students from the doctoral program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recall seeing Davis walk the streets near the school as he committed entire books of the Bible to memory.

 

When Davis finished his PhD in church history in 1998, he accepted the call as pastor of the historic First Baptist Church Durham, North Carolina. Scripture memory and meditation sustained him as he withstood a powerful faction of deacons and committee chairs. In 2001, his opponents tried to drive him away after he led the church to change the bylaws to reflect biblical roles of gender and authority.

 

Now nearly 20 years later, the pastor and TGC Council member leads his thriving congregation the same way he did back when the cabal tried to oust him: verse-by-verse, expository preaching.

 

Marty Duren posted an article at the LifeWay Pastors blog which lists ten keys to being a better writer for an internet audience.

I approach the subject of writing as a writer with a lot of experience but no illusions of grandeur; hopefully no delusions either. My limitations are established as are my abilities. I know when I’ve turned a good phrase and crafted a good argument. I usually know when I should have hit “Trash” instead of “Publish.” My floor is littered with virtual paper-wads.

 

Many pastors and other church leaders have found another voice—as writers—by which they can expand their Kingdom influence online. Whether personal blogs, church websites, or articles for collaborative websites, many have experienced satisfaction through encouraging and teaching others through the written word.

 

An editor and writer by trade, this post has been on my mind for a while. This subject was included recent suggestion marathon on Facebook (or, a reasonable facsimile of the subject was).

 

If you are a pastor or church leader with a burden, passion, or passing interest in writing, I hope you will find these ten keys to being a better writer for an internet audience helpful.

 

At The Peoples Next Door, Meredith Cook shared how contextualization can be risky business. Meredith writes:

The opening scene of the movie, The African Queen, depicts a white missionary couple leading a worship service for residents of an African village. If you’ve seen the movie, you may or may not have noticed the oddities about this scene. This worship service takes place in a building, the music is being led by a conductor and a woman playing an organ, they are singing in English, congregants are sitting in rows, and some are using hymnals.

 

These details may not seem unusual but it’s likely because this is exactly how you worship every Sunday (perhaps without the hymnal, though). However, if you watch the scene from the movie again, notice how none of the congregants are fully participating in worship. Most of them look miserable. While this is a hypothetical situation, a typical worship service in their culture likely would not use an organ or hymnals.  They wouldn’t be singing in English and they may be more likely to sit in a circle than rows. This is a work of fiction, but this scene is a great example of contextualization done poorly. Instead of letting the African culture determine the forms used in the worship service, the missionaries simply applied their own cultural norms to the situation without considering the new culture around them.

 

As I mentioned in my last post, contextualization is not something we can choose to do or not. Contextualization can be as simple as translating the gospel into another language, but it is usually more involved than that. And it should be more involved, because culture is not just what language we speak. Culture includes a myriad of qualities: our worship style preferences, how we relate to our leaders, what music we like, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, etc. Contextualization touches many aspects of culture. It is unavoidable and essential. There are significant benefits to doing it well—affirming culture, helping people understand the gospel in a way that makes sense to them, and giving us a broader perspective of the faith—but there are also some serious risks to avoid. To be clear, we won’t get contextualization right the first time nor every time, and the Lord will give us grace when we make mistakes. However, these are three things to be cautious of when doing contextualization.

In Case You Missed It

At his blog, Chuck Lawless shared why it is important for young pastors to talk with older pastors. Dr. Lawless writes:

If you read this blog regularly, you know I love to work with young pastors. I’ve spent the last 20+ years of my life equipping them. They have energy, passion, and faith that are remarkable. At the same time, many young pastors have written off older leaders because our churches haven’t been as healthy as they should be, or we don’t necessarily agree on every fine point of theology with them.

 

Young pastors, I challenge you to find an older pastor and have some conversations. I’m not even saying you need to find an older mentor (though I do think we all need older mentors); I’m simply saying, “Take an older pastor to lunch and talk.” Here are some reasons why.

 

Keelan Cook shared a post at The Peoples Next Door earlier this week explaining how immigration may soon beat a century-old record.

As of 2015, the United States had set one record in immigration, and it may be on pace to break another one.

 

According to the most recent data from Pew research, the United States is now home to over 43.2 million international immigrants. That is more than any other time in the country’s history. It also makes the United States the largest recipient of immigrants by a wide margin.

 

However, according to Pew, the US is tracking toward another milestone, one that has not been topped since 1890. This number is called “immigrant share,” and it is the percentage of the US population that is foreign-born. In other words, our total population is looking more and more diverse.

 

At the Intersect Project, Thomas West shared why we should listen to Lesslie Newbigin and rest by caring for our religious life, but also work by giving ourselves sound theological reflection.

We all know the feeling.

 

We approach the end of the summer and wish we’d spent it differently. Sure, we did some good things. But there were other tasks we never got to. Some of us wish we’d played more. Others of us wish we’d worked a little harder. Either way, we feel like we’ve wasted our summer.

 

How can you avoid that post-summer letdown? What tips will help you live a summer without regrets? In this article, let’s learn from the remarkable example of a remarkable man, Lesslie Newbigin.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Danny Akin shared five things you should always do before you preach a sermon.

Sermon preparation is hard work, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, and no matter how good you are at it. It simply requires work. Many preachers have a hard time finding a rhythm for sermon prep. What works for some might not work for others, and I think this is generally okay. However, I do think there are certain practices that should be common to all who want to faithfully and powerfully preach God’s Word to God’s people. I can think of at least 5.

 

Krystal White posted at the Intersect Project website sharing the burdens and blessings of a working mom. Krystal writes:

To work outside the home or not to work? The world of motherhood is deeply divided on the answer to this question. Unfortunately this dividing knife often cuts both ways, leaving mothers second-guessing their choice to either stay home or stay in the workforce.

 

As a mother of two who works full time, I feel the tension, too. I often hear statements such as “my husband and I care enough about the spiritual health of my kids for me to stay home,” or “I had a great career once, but I chose the kids over my career.” Statements such as these can lead many working moms to become insecure and feel as if they were undedicated to their children and families.

 

This week at his personal website, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared an essay discussing how to create a learning environment shaped by the Great Commandment.

In this essay, I wish to reflect on the question, “What will it profit a seminary to gain thousands of students but lose its soul?” What will our seminary gain if we develop a world-class faculty, build an efficient administration, receive a clean bill of health from our accreditors, enroll thousands of students and fill their heads with knowledge, but do not instill in our students a love for God and neighbor? What will a faculty member gain if he builds a large student following, has an impressive list of publications, and demonstrates a mastery of his subject matter, if these things are not underlain by a genuine love for God and for his neighbor? In other words how do we ensure that we are “Great Commandment faculty members” who view every seminary relationship as a “Great Commandment relationship?”

In Case You Missed It

At his personal website, Tate Cockrell shared how pain can be good for you. Dr. Cockrell writes:

The day was February 22, 2014. I thought my life was over. The picture below was taken just 3 days earlier in a small village 13,000 feet above sea level where we had been dropped off by helicopter . Notice the smile on all of our faces? We were so happy to be in the Himalayas. It was day one of a six day trek through the Himalayas where we would hike 90 miles in just six short days. Amidst the beauty of those wonderful mountains, I saw some of the worst poverty and suffering I had ever seen in my life.

 

February 22 marked the third and longest day of our journey. We hiked for 10 hours that day. As night was falling and the trails were getting harder to see, my body began to break down, and I was reaching the point of surrender. At one point, I thought I might die. Every part of my body hurt. Even parts of my body that I didn’t know could hurt, did hurt. Then I went from thinking I might die, to hoping I would die. I remember telling one of our guides, “just tell my family I love them. I can’t take another step.”

 

Thankfully, we had incredible guides with us who were able to keep me moving, and eventually we reached our destination for the night. Three days later we reached the end of the trek, and I had lost 16 lbs. in 6 days. It was one of the single best/worst days of my life. I learned several lessons about pain on that excursion. Here are a few of them you might find helpful.

 

At The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen shared an article titled: “The Barren Woman’s True Identity.”

We had intentionally shown up a few minutes late. As we made our way to the auditorium door, I noticed the celebratory handout on the table: carnations.

 

“Just breathe,” I thought to myself.

 

I had quickened my steps in hopes to slip through the door unnoticed when I was suddenly halted by a single carnation held out to me. When my eyes shifted from the flower to the man who held it I began to shake my head “no,” but he insisted by nodding “yes!” This was a friend, a brother in Christ who had just learned from his wife our recent news.

 

I took the carnation with my head hanging low to hide the tears of gratitude. In that moment, this brother had honored the life of my baby, the baby I never met. I was grateful. In a single moment my maternal grief had been validated. As I crossed the threshold of the auditorium door a sense of shame quickly rushed over me. I felt a need to hide the carnation because I was not like other mothers.To some, I was not a mother at all, and to others, this was just a regular Sunday morning worship service.

 

Brianna Copeland shared a post at The Intersect Project explaining how recycling is a sustainable way to live a sustainable life.

Have you ever read an article titled something like “50 Tips to Sustainable Living” or “12 Ways to Go Green”? Even when you read the “quick tips,” it seems like they are asking you to walk everywhere, cook by fire, live without air conditioning and grow all your own food! These articles make you feel like you will need to make some drastic life changes to achieve any of these “sustainable ideas.”

 

Sometimes the tips for a sustainable life do not feel so sustainable after all. Adding the weight of caring for the earth to our already long lists of responsibilities can seem daunting.

 

Here at Intersect, we’ve talked before about the importance of caring for the earth as part of our Christian stewardship. Laura Thigpen explained both why and how Christians should be engaged in the environment, and David W. Jones offered reasons Christians care for creation.

 

How, then, can you practically live out your care for creation — without getting bogged down in an impractical list of overwhelming do’s and don’t?

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Dr. Thomas S. Kidd shared the story of the North Korean revival of 1907.

Today as tensions between North Korea reach heights not seen since the 1950s, it is easy to forget that northern Korea used to be one of the Asian strongholds of Protestant Christianity. As Atlas Obscura recently explained, the city of Pyongyang became known to missionaries as the “Jerusalem of the East.” The city had great institutional strength for Protestantism, including Union Christian Hospital, Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and Union Christian College, the first four-year college anywhere in Korea.

 

One hundred ten years ago, Pyongyang saw the outbreak of a massive revival, the high point of the season of evangelical strength in northern Korea. Presbyterian missionary William Blair preached to thousands of Korean men, focusing on their need to turn away from their traditional hatred of the Japanese people, with whom Korea had a long history of conflict. The missionaries and Korean Christians had been praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for revival and repentance, and it came on that Saturday night in January 1907. Many at the meeting began praying out loud, and soon the signs of awakening began to appear.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten practical ways to read the Bible more. Dr. Lawless writes:

Do you struggle with reading the Bible? One reason we wrestle with this spiritual discipline is that we think we must be reading extensively every day or reading not at all; we don’t give ourselves much room for growth in this task. If you want to read more, try one of these simple ideas to get started.