In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Hannah Jayne Adkins shared a post discussing why Christians should care about the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic may sound like an abstract or irrelevant topic to you. It’s something you hear on the evening news, but you never think deeply about it.

 

But I’ve seen the effects of drug addiction first-hand. In addition to studying counseling at Southeastern Seminary, I also serve as a registered nurse. And I have seen how opioid addiction impacts real people’s lives in devastating and destructive ways.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Anna Daub shared a second post about singleness during the holidays, this time discussing how singles should engage others around them.

The holidays usually mean a myriad of emotions for single Christians. Some singles look forward to this time because of the opportunity to be a part of all the festivities or because it means a trip home to welcoming arms and nostalgic Christmas traditions. But for other singles, the holidays can be a stinging reminder of what they don’t have- a family waiting for them to come home, a significant other playing in the snow with them, children expectantly setting up cookies and milk for Santa. For these singles, the Christmas season can accentuate unmet desires and initiate the ache of loneliness, the sting of envy, and the choking hold of bitterness.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax discusses singing ‘Peace on Earth’ when our heart is heavy.

It’s Christmastime, so we’re singing these days about “peace on earth,” joining our voices with the angels who appeared to the shepherds.

 

But let’s face it: 2017 has been a hard year for “peace on earth.” We’ve seen wars and rumors of wars. We’ve watched earthquakes flatten towns, hurricanes destroy islands, fires consume neighborhoods, and floodwaters engulf a city. Last month brought news of a mass killing that took more than half of the people gathered for worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

 

The bad news is everywhere. Terrorist attacks. Nuclear threats. Corruption in Washington. Racial tensions. Sexual assault and harassment and predation coming to light in Hollywood, in Washington, D.C., and (Lord have mercy!) in the church of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to look at the state of our world and say, “Peace on earth sounds so far away.”

 

In a series of posts at his blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared ‘How to Watch a Move (An Evangelical Guide).’

Recently, I composed a brief survey, asking my website readers to tell me what they like and dislike about my website, and what they’d want to talk about if they had some time to chat with me personally.

 

I gained valuable insights from the survey, one of which is that many of my readers want me to explore issues at the intersection of Christianity and popular culture. In response to this request, I offered a six-part series entitled, “How to Watch a Movie (An Evangelical Guide).”

 

In light of the interest readers showed in the series, and in response to readers’ requests to put all of the content in one place so that it can be shared, I offer the six links together.

 

Dr. Chuck Lawless recently shared a post discussing why “parking lot” church business meetings are seldom good.

Maybe you’ve seen it happen. A group of church leaders are striving to make an “official” decision, but the discussions move beyond the official discussion to the parking lot (or the hallways, or the local café, or the telephone). Here’s why those parking lot meetings are seldom good.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams shared about the beauty of a child’s enthusiasm for work.

“Dad, when I grow up, I want to drive a trash truck.”

 

My four-year-old told me this with a straight face. Upon further examination, I discovered that he didn’t want to drive just any trash truck. He wanted to drive a “flying purple trash truck.”

 

I love that his career aspirations are so broad; he hasn’t yet fallen prey to the lie that white-collar vocations are somehow better than blue-collar. But I also love that he’s so genuinely excited about work. On some days, he dreams of driving this elusive flying purple trash truck. Other days, he wants to be a teacher, or a choir director or a farmer. Just yesterday, he had papers, toys and craft materials strewn about a table. When I asked him to clean it up, he told me matter-of-factly, “Dad, this is my desk. I have to work here. My boss won’t want me to clean this up!”

 

There’s something beautiful about his childlike enthusiasm for work. To him, work is not an obligation. It’s not a chore. It’s not even about making money. To him, work is thrilling. The world is teeming with possibilities, and he can’t wait to get his hands on it.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Anna Daub shared some advice about engaging singles during the holidays.

When I was a child, my parents went to great lengths to ensure we had beautiful Christmas memories and fun family traditions. One tradition was that Christmas Eve was always an open invitation to people who had nowhere else to go. My mother would cook a Tex-Mex feast and invite the single professors from the university nearby, the elderly woman who lived alone, and the Muslim man who sold cell phones in the mall to join us. Most of the time, only one or two would come, but this tradition instilled in me a reminder to always look for those who had nowhere to go for the holidays.

 

In a post at the Intersect Project, Tami Gomez warned Christians about being cultural copycats.

“Engage the culture.”

 

It’s what Christians are continually being told we need to do more. We need to look to our culture and use it creatively to reach our lost friends, family members and society at large. After all, if we can make music as catchy as what’s on the radio or movies as spectacular as Hollywood’s, then we will have won the culture wars; people will come for the party, but stay for the substance. At least that’s been the theory. Unfortunately, this has only lead to “Christian culture” being a stuffy, retooled version of styles that used to be trendy. Christians need to stop thinking in terms of engaging an already-existing culture and start thinking in terms of creating culture.

 

In a post at his blog, Scott Slayton shared why we should live in the Psalms.

In our distracted and fast-paced world, many Christians struggle to gain depth in our spiritual lives. If our devotions happen, they are usually hurried, so we don’t often make the unhurried time that we need to soak in God’s word and linger before God in prayer that we so desperately need. The result is that we often evidence a weak and shallow Christianity. We may be able to fake depth for a while, but eventually, the hard times come and expose us for who we really are.

 

The Psalms provide a welcome antidote to our craving for shallowness. The Psalms, which seem so easy to understand on the surface, invite us to deep study and contemplation. They show the blessing of cultivating a deep and abiding trust in the Lord and beckon us to leave behind our life of distraction so we can know and love God more deeply.

 

Here five reasons that our hurried and forgetful hearts need to live in the Psalms for a while.

 

At the LifeWay Facts & Trends blog, Joe McKeever shared thirteen things a pastor should never say to a congregation.

In addition to the obvious no-no’s, such as profanity, heresy, racism, sexism, and the like, no pastor should ever be heard to utter any of the following from the pulpit.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten reflections of a formerly single pastor.

For the first ten years of my pastoral ministry (ages 20-30), I was unmarried. The Lord had called me to preach when I was 13 years old, and the first church called me as pastor at age 20. Here are my reflections on those years as a single pastor.

In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Intersect Project, Dayton Hartman shared the cure for a hopeless Christmas.

The Christmas season is marked by hope. Well, at least it is supposed to be. But instead of decorating their homes a la Clark Griswold, enjoying Christmas parties and watching cheesy Christmas movies, I’ve noticed among many believers a pervasive pessimism regarding the present and the future.

 

Yes, we live in difficult times culturally and politically. However, our celebration of the incarnation (Jesus’ first coming) ought to drive us toward hopeful anticipation of the consummation (Jesus’ second coming). In short, our eschatology ought to bring hope, not despair.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Alvin Reid shared about how to teach believers to share Jesus using the Sharing Jesus book.

This past April my book Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out: Evangelism the Way You Were Born to Do It was released by B&H Academic. Response has been amazing. So many pastors, students pastors, college and small group leaders have used it.

 

It’s designed to help everyday believers share Christ naturally through everyday conversations. B&H also made an incredible landing page that features an 8-week challenge to help the reader grow in their witness, free videos for each chapter and some role-playing videos as well.

 

In a recent talk at Southeastern Seminary both Michael Bird and Bruce Ashford shared responses to the Benedict Option. In this post, Alysha Clark shares a recap.

Christians can be peaceful public nuisances or counter-cultural practitioners for the common good, argued Michael Bird and Bruce Ashford in a recent Southeastern Seminary event.

 

Christianity has long held a position of privilege in the West. For a long time in Europe and the United States, Judeo-Christian values formed the normative framework for ethics and morality, and belief in God (even merely nominal belief) served as an asset for advancement in society and securing public favor.

 

Suddenly, it seems, this is no longer the case. Over the last 50 years, and especially the last 25, the West has become increasingly post-Christian and marches toward militant secularism, where belief in God is synonymous with immorality, where religious language has become flagged as hate speech and where the phrase “religious freedom” has become code for bigotry. Christians may feel the earth has given way under them and fear they will be swallowed up by the increasingly emboldened progressive secularism.

 

Numerous cultural thinkers have offered their analysis of the religious situation in the West and proposed a wide array of solutions. Some seek to dive into national politics and try to effect change and restore Christian morality through legislation and the judiciary. Some live as spiritual exiles in a foreign secular culture and want to preserve Christian culture through individual practice. Others, in the words of James Davison Hunter, aim to create a faithful presence of Christian disciples who seek to work for the common good of society and serve as a witness of the kingdom of God.

 

In a post at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared about sexual assault and the scandal of repentance.

During his lengthy tenure as an evening commentator on CNN, Larry King often posed two questions to pastors and theologians who came on as guests.

 

First, is Jesus the only way to God? This was Larry’s way of seeing if the Christian representative would insist on the uniqueness of Jesus no matter how offensive that claim might come across in a pluralistic world. You mean good people from other religions might be condemned?

 

The second question came from a different angle. Could a serial killer, or someone like Hitler, or a rapist, or a pedophile receive forgiveness and wind up in heaven? This was Larry’s way of seeing if the Christian representative would insist on the offer of grace, no matter how offensive that pronouncement might come across in a world that demands justice. You mean abhorrently wicked people might repent and be saved?

 

Larry King is not a Christian. But he knows where the scandalous power of Christianity is found. It’s in the narrowness of insisting on universal, eternal condemnation for all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, and in the broadness of calling everyone to repent of their sins, trust in Christ and be saved. Everyone, even the “vilest offender,” in the words of the old Isaac Watts hymn.

 

The “vilest offender” today is the person who engages in sexual assault and abuse.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons why he chooses to be a friend to his pastor.

I’m excited to be a part of our church in Wake Forest, Restoration Church, and I love my pastor. I’m proud of him and enjoy working beside him. I’m also honored to carry some of his burdens for him. Here’s why all of us need to be a friend to our pastors.