In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week, Dr. Stephen Wade published an article which offers a few foundational thoughts relative to understanding addictions biblically, and in it he also suggests some practical tips relative to ministering to addicts. In his article Dr. Wade writes:

Addictions are typically associated with alcohol and drug abuse, but when we dig deep into the human heart, we find that a clear understanding of what is going on is really a picture of the battle going on in the heart of every sinner. Pastors will find that both believers and non-believers struggle with addictive tendencies, to a greater or lesser extent, with many different things in their lives. Indeed, the grace and power of the gospel applied to the struggle of an addict is the same grace and power that every believer needs in the battle with sin.

Thom Rainer published an article describing five reasons pastors have guest blindness at the Lifeway blog earlier this week. Dr. Rainer writes:

In light of the woeful reports from mystery guests, I was very surprised at one facet of some research we conducted as we interviewed pastors across America.* One of our questions asked if the pastor’s church does a good job of meeting the needs of first time guests. Surprisingly, 90 percent of the pastors said “yes.” Did you get that? Less than 20 percent of the guests said their visit was good, but 90 percent of the pastors perceive the opposite, that most guests have a good visit.

At The Gospel Coalition, Camille Cates writes: “Why I Don’t Blame Planned Parenthood.

In Genesis 3, we see Adam shift blame to his wife, Eve, and even to God himself. Likewise, Eve shifts blame onto the serpent. Neither takes responsibility for his or her own actions; instead, they simply act as if their sin is someone else’s fault. In the years immediately following my abortion, I shifted the blame too. I blamed my baby’s father. I blamed my parents who took me to the clinic. I even blamed God.

In a recent post on his blog, Dr. Waylon Bailey gives five practical steps for wise speech.

How many times have you asked yourself: “Why did I say that?” Or, maybe you asked: “How could I say that?” Nothing seems to be as easy as saying something dumb. None of us wants to misspeak or say things we shouldn’t. What can we do to minimize our unwise words?

Reflecting on a question he was once asked about Christians eating black pudding in light of Old Testament regulations about eating blood (Lev. 17:10ff), Sinclair Ferguson writes on four principles for the exercise of Christian liberty over at Ligonier:

Although (as far as I am aware) no theological dictionary contains an entry under B for “The Black Pudding Controversy,” this unusual discussion raised some most basic hermeneutical and theological issues:

  • How is the Old Testament related to the New?
  • How is the Law of Moses related to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
  • How should a Christian exercise freedom in Christ?

Yesterday in Chapel at Southeastern, Dr. Chuck Lawless, Dean of Graduate Studies warns students not to become hard hearted to where they destroy their witness. Watch the entire message here:

Why Church Leaders Need To Continue Their Education

By: Dr. Chuck Lawless

I admit my bias here. I am a seminary dean and professor, and I believe in education. My reason for writing this post, though, goes beyond these thoughts. If we are doing the work of God, we must give our absolute best. I desire to be part of a team that trains and sends out the strongest leaders in the world – leaders who make a difference in the kingdom of darkness. Those leaders never stop learning. Here are ten reasons why leaders should continue their education:

  1. The Christian life is about growth. We are babies in Christ at new birth, yet called to continual growth and maturity (Heb. 5:12-14). If we reach the point of assuming we’ve “arrived” and need no further training, we are instead neglecting our Christian responsibility.
  1. A willingness to learn is a sign of humility. Education is seldom easy. An openness to become a student again, to be held accountable for assignments, and to be evaluated by others is a sign of the kind of humility all leaders should exhibit.
  1. We always face theological issues. The authority of the Word of God, especially when evaluated against sacred documents of other world faiths, continues to be an issue. We must increasingly defend the truth that a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to God. Continued education can help us be better prepared to respond to these types of significant issues.
  1. We continue to confront new ethical and moral issues. When I started in ministry over thirty years ago, I did not imagine ministering in a culture that affirms same-sex marriage. Internet pornography was not even an option. Concerns like these are not, of course, separated from our theology, and further education equips us to minister in this changing culture.
  1. The people we lead are frequently still learning. At least in North America, we often minister to educated parishioners. Many of our congregations include professionals for whom continued education is assumed, if not required. Thus, they recognize the value that continued training offers for their spiritual leaders.
  1. Online learning allows us to continue education without leaving our ministry. Today, the Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for continued training without evacuating significant ministries. Southeastern Seminary now offers masters and doctoral degrees – including the PhD – that do not require residence in North Carolina.
  1. Learning within a group of peers is important. Many opportunities for advanced training include small group, peer-to-peer learning that focuses on particular aspects of leadership. Peers become not only classmates, but also prayer partners. Education thus becomes not only content-based, but also life-on-life.
  1. We often learn better after leadership experience. Learning apart from practical experience is not insignificant, but it risks becoming only theory rather than life application. The best students I know are those who leadership experience gives them a grid through which to evaluate concepts and programs.
  1. The discipline of learning is important. Let’s be honest: even leaders sometimes get lazy. We rely solely on yesterday’s learning to face today’s issues. We talk more about what we have read than about what we are reading. Continued education, on the other hand, challenges us to return to rigor and discipline.
  1. Continued education stretches our faith. The obstacles to further training are real. Too little time. Too few dollars. Too many years out of school. Too many other responsibilities. Too much risk of failure. Here’s the bottom line, though: sometimes we just have to trust God to help us do what He expects us to do.

First published at

Dr. Chuck Lawless is Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Graduate Studies, and Vice President for Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In Case You Missed It

Yesterday, SEBTS English professor Matthew Mullins published an article at First Things magazine about the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Dr. Mullins writes:

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. But with the 2016 elections just over a year away, the passing of the VRA has taken on new meaning. In June of 2013, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court invalidated key provisions of the VRA. In his majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts declared the section of the Act requiring “preclearance” from certain states and districts unconstitutional. This ruling allows these jurisdictions to make changes in voting laws with greater ease. Many have already done so, and some of the results suggest that we may have more reasons to mourn the passing of the VRA than to celebrate its passage.

Karen Swallow Prior published a story earlier this week at Think Christian about mourning Mark Zuckerberg’s miscarriages in the shadow of Planned Parenthood. In her article Karen raises an interesting point around potential life and actual life:

I can’t help but think that the contradictory ideas society holds about unborn children (who are considered babies when wanted and something else when not) owes in part to our tendency to conceive of child bearing as product- rather than process-oriented. The very term reproduction reflects such thinking. Our tendency, even within the church, to think with the product – rather than the means – in mind has dulled our understanding of a crucial distinction between potential life and actual life.

On his blog, Chuck Lawless gives 10 reasons pornography has power.

I suspect most if not all of the readers of this post know somebody who has struggled with pornography. From the teenager struggling with new desires to the senior pastor recently caught in sin, even believers wrestle with this sin. Perhaps if we understand why pornography has so much power, we would know better how to fight against it.

Thom Rainer posted an article about which books he would keep if he could only have 25 books in his minister’s library.

I began the process thinking it would be a simple exercise. I was wrong! I had great trouble narrowing the list to 25. Here are some of the parameters I used.

  • I didn’t hesitate to choose books that were simply personal preferences.
  • I decided at the onset I would strive to choose a variety of issues and topics, rather than just the 25 best books.
  • I was sufficiently lacking in humility, and put two of my own books on the list.
  • I really struggled eliminating many commentaries of individual Bible books.

Selma Wilson writes a reminder to parents: Building a yes home prepares your children to say yes to God.

Sure, children need direction and discipline. Along with boundaries, however, children crave a place to exercise physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. A yes home, with clearly established boundaries, gives them room to stretch, run, and grow with you close by.