In Case You Missed It

At his personal blog, Alvin Reid shared eight suggestions for eager new seminarians. Dr. Reid writes:

I remember a cold, windy day in January, 1982. My wife Michelle and I arrived in Fort Worth as newlyweds with everything we owned in a small U Haul trailer. We moved into our little one bedroom, furnished apartment with little materially but great dreams spiritually. I hobbled on crutches from a knee operation. We were broke, but we were called, and that was enough.

 

That was 35 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. If you are a brand new seminarian, I have a few things I hope will encourage you to help you for the next few decades.

 

Michael Guyer posted at the Intersect Project urging college students not to waste their time in college.

Summer is almost over. The semester will soon begin. Perhaps it’s your first semester in college or your last. Your schedule will be full of new classes. You will interact with new people. You will experience new opportunities. You will have renewed focus and desires…

 

  • to grow in your education
  • to grow in your friendships
  • to grow in your desires and passions
  • to grow in your skills and abilities
  • to grow when your love for Christ and for others
  • to grow in your love and commitment to the church
  • to grow in your heart for the nations
  • and to grow up to be the man or woman that God desires you to be.

 

All of this newness does not last forever though. These opportunities and desires often fade as quickly as they came. Your classes get old. New friends become old friends. Opportunities either don’t come or slip away. You find yourself in the same old ruts. And that renewed focus and desire morphs into distraction and discouragement. Before long, you feel like you are wasting your time—wasting your college.

 

At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared six reasons to read dead writers.

With so many books being published today, if you’re like me, it’s hard to keep up with all the ones you’d like to read.

 

In order to keep up with modern culture and know about the important conversations happening around us, we can be tempted to strictly focus on new books and ignore those from previous eras. In an introduction to an English translation of On the Incarnation, a seminal work by the African theologian Athanasius, C.S. Lewis wrote about the importance of reading old books.

 

In fact, most of his introduction is spent encouraging readers to value works by authors who were dead and gone.

 

He wrote, “Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.”

 

Of course, today, Lewis is one of those dead writers and his books now qualify for the advice he gave while living. But why should you read books that are not quite hot off the presses?

 

Here’s five reasons from Lewis in his introduction and one from me.

 

On the LifeWay Pastor Talk podcast, Marty Duren and Bruce Ashford discussed what Lesslie Newbigin can teach pastors about a Christian approach to American Politics.

What could a little Brit named “Lesslie” possibly teach American pastors about a Christian approach to American politics? Recently, Marty Duren interviewed me on his podcast, “Pastor Talk,” giving me the opportunity to outline some lessons we can learn from the life and work of British theologian Lesslie Newbigin.

 

To access the podcast, click here.

 

In a post earlier this week at his blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons he needs to put his phone down during meetings and conversations. Dr. Lawless writes:

I admit my struggle here. I’m so accustomed to having my phone with me that I almost unknowingly and reflexively check it continuously throughout the day. I’m trying, though, to put it away during meetings and conversations. Here’s why.

 

In Case You Missed It

At  the International Mission Board, Phil Bartuska shared four ways missionaries can leave well for the field.

For those planning to go overseas as missionaries, there will come a day when they and their families board a plane with one-way tickets in hand. They’ll be nervous but confident that God is making a way for them to take the gospel to the unreached.

 

Every missionary has this experience in common. Whether single or married with children, this experience bonds all missionaries together. They have left behind family, friends, jobs, security, comfort, and normalcy for the sake of the gospel among the unreached. I have been thinking about that moment for years, and soon, my family and I will be stepping onto that plane.

 

Having said that, there is a lot to do here before we get to our destination. You see, we pray, plan, and prepare for the time when we land, but if we are only thinking of our future ministry, we may be missing some key opportunities to point our family and friends to Christ. The truth of the gospel should impact the way we leave home. Here are four things you can do to both leave well and prepare for your future ministry overseas.

 

Marty Duren posted an article at the Lifeway Pastors blog discussing mentoring relationships that make sense.

Over the last decade or so the concept of mentoring has taken a deep hold in leadership theory, including the church. The idea is leaders need someone with more experience than they to provide insight and counsel. In a perfect world, one’s mentor would prepare you for each and every eventuality you could face. We all know this is not probable.

 

As an older-teen and young man, my primary mentor was a truck-driver and deacon named Al Autry. When Al died, his funeral was attended by dozens of men my age and younger, all of whom counted Al as a primary mentor—if not the primary mentor—in their younger days. Al mentored me spiritually during a time when my own father was not yet a follower of Jesus.

 

In my early ministry, I didn’t need to talk to Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or John Piper. But I did need to talk to someone who had more pastoral experience than I did. Two of my former pastors, an denominational employee, and a couple of pastors in my new locale fit that bill. While only one of them would I consider a mentor in the traditional sense, all of them filled the role in the aggregate.

 

When I moved to serve on a church staff, all the other staff members had more experience that I did, and at churches requiring greater responsibility. Every staff meeting was a mentoring session as was ministry together.

 

As I’ve grown older in ministry, younger pastors sometimes ask if I can mentor them, even if for a limited period of time. These relationships are always a blessing. But, there are mistakes pastors make when seeking a mentor. Three such mistakes are 1) thinking your mentor has to be a celebrity pastor, 2) that mentoring is always one person teaching the other, and 3) that only young pastors need mentors.

 

Not. True.

 

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams discussed embracing a smartphone-free life.

I sat around a table with a group of fellow pastors, many of whom were older than me. As our meeting concluded, one of the men planned how he would follow up with us.

 

“Does everyone have a smartphone?” he asked. The others nodded in agreement; some of them had been taking notes on their phones as he spoke.

 

I sheepishly shook my head no. I pulled out my circa-2007 basic phone and waved it in the air.

 

“How is it that the youngest person here doesn’t have a smartphone?” he asked. I laughed, admitted that I was behind the times and shared my email address instead.

 

I am used to these surprised reactions. I get them all the time. I am one of a dying breed — a millennial without a smartphone. Since more than 97 percent of my peers use a smartphone, people like me are almost extinct.

 

To be clear, my reasons for not having a smartphone aren’t remarkable. I’m not engaged in some anti-technology crusade. (I manage a website.) Nor am I interested in getting off the grid. (I still use my basic cell phone for calls and texts.) My tardiness in adopting a smartphone involves a combination of budget, stubbornness and the fact that I get along fine without one.

 

In this piece, I won’t try to convince you to become a smartphone curmudgeon. I simply want to offer a portrait of what it’s like to carry a technological relic in my pocket. To be 10 years behind the trend. To be a millennial without a smartphone.

 

At his personal blog, Southeastern President, Dr. Danny Akin shared why we need to stop and listen when it comes to Kingdom Diversity in the SBC.

I’ve been a Southern Baptist for as long as I have been a Christian. I came to know Jesus in a Southern Baptist church. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I was called to ministry in a Southern Baptist church. I was educated at Southern Baptist institutions, and I have given my life to helping others on their path to ministry. In good times and bad, I love the SBC and I thank our Lord for its investment in my life.

 

When I read Lawrence Ware’s New York Times article after the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting, I was grieved. I don’t know Mr. Ware, and he and I don’t see eye to eye on every issue, particularly some of the parallels that he drew in his argument. But that didn’t change my reaction. When someone suggests that the experience of African Americans in my denomination is such that the best option may be to leave, I only feel sadness. I wish with all my heart this was not the case.

 

Chuck Lawless shared a post at his blog listing ten reasons Satan attacks families.

It’s no secret that Satan aims his arrows at families. In the Garden of Eden, he disrupted the marriage of Adam and Eve. In the very next chapter of the Bible, his influence was so great that a brother killed a brother. From that time, our homes have been in his sights. Here’s why.

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.