In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at Outreach Magazine, Drs. Danny Akin and Bruce Ashford shared 6 marks of Great Commission people.

Paul wrote the book of Romans to a church he did not found and had not yet visited. David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, calls it an extended missionary fundraising letter! In Romans 15 he tells the Romans straight out, “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you” (v. 24). In other words he wanted them to be on mission with him as he was a good neighbor to those who, as far as he knew, had never heard the gospel.

 

In Romans 15:14–24, Paul puts forth six marks of a Great Commission people. He describes the essence of a Great Commission people, explores the breadth of God’s mission, and then emphasizes the urgency of the Great Commission call among God’s people.

 

Let’s explore these six marks.

 

Dr. Andreas Köstenberger published an article at Desiring God explaining why we celebrate Advent. Dr. Köstenberger writes:

Christians, and even non-Christians, around the world celebrate Christmas as the day when Jesus, the Messiah, was born in a stable in the little Judean town of Bethlehem. Whether Jesus was born on December 25 or not, his birthday has easily become the most widely celebrated in history.

 

But what about Advent, the four weeks preceding Jesus’s birth? Do we really have any need to commemorate the buildup to the day on which Jesus was born?

 

Survey the birth narratives of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as the prologue of John’s Gospel, and you’ll see that the Messiah’s coming was heralded from long ago in the writings of the prophets, and even in the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses). This shows that Jesus’s arrival was eagerly anticipated by many in first-century Palestine.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared the story of the Christmas hymn G. K. Chesterton’s wife gave us.

In 1917, near the end of first world war, G. K. Chesterton’s wife, Frances, wrote the song “How Far Is It to Bethlehem?” It was published in the 1928 Oxford Book of Carols. Her biographer, Nancy Carpentier Brown, explains the significance of the song and reads several of the lyrics in light of the Chesterton’s struggle with infertility.

 

This week at his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared seven Great Commission reflections on the death of Fidel Castro. Dr. Lawless writes:

I was born in 1961, so I have known only a time when Fidel Castro was influencing Cuba, primarily as that country’s leader. He died last night at the age of 90. Here are a few thoughts about his death that Christ-followers should keep in mind.

 

Courtlandt Perkins shared an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies titled: “Lottie Moon: Casting a Four-foot Shadow Around the World.

If you are Southern Baptist, then Lottie Moon is a name you should know. She may have been small in stature, just over four feet tall, but she left a huge legacy. Lottie served as a international missionary for 39 years in China in the late 1800s. During that time, she became a champion for missions support. What started as her initiative of encouraging women back at home to raise annual support funds for overseas work has turned into the biggest annual missions offering in the world.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared a list of 12 books on missions he recommends for pastors, students, and churches.

The Christmas season is inextricably intertwined with Christian missions. Jesus was born in a manger so that one day he could suffer on a cross, be raised in victory, and commission his people to make disciples of the nations. For that reason, some denominations even plan their annual missions offering to coincide with the Christmas season.

In light of this connection between Christmas and missions, here are a dozen (or so) resources I recommend to pastors, professors, and students. I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. Level 1 is the category for a book you could give to any friend or family member. Level 5 is the category for a book more appropriate for a graduate student or a pastor who enjoys a challenge.

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax wrote about Intervarsity and the revisionist hope for a place at the table. Trevin writes:

InterVarsity made headlines this week for requiring their staff to affirm the historic Christian position that all sexual expression is reserved for male-female marriage.

 

Critics claimed that same-sex marriage should not be a litmus test for staff members. IVCF should, instead, model a more inclusive approach that recognizes a diversity of views within the organization. By requiring employees to agree with IVCF’s doctrinal stance on marriage, the organization had lifted marriage to a non-negotiable. Since IVCF does not treat other issues this way (baptism, speaking in tongues, women in ministry), it is problematic for the organization to lift marriage to this level, alienate longtime supporters, and marginalize LGBT-affirming voices.

 

I’ve written before why marriage is not an “agree to disagree” issue but an architectural doctrine of the Christian faith.

 

At the Intersect Project website, James Ford wrote a piece on calibrating Christian eyes.

A battle is raging. You may not know about this battle — if so, you may be more likely to become a casualty. What is this battle? It’s the battle of depiction.

 

The church’s mission is to call people to faith and worship; however, the stories our culture tells depict faith and worship less than favorably. When was the last time you saw a person of faith depicted on screen with whom you would like to be associated? Devout, as depicted on screen, is not something you want to be. In addition, and more generally, good is depicted as evil and evil is depicted as good.

 

Courtlandt Perkins shared on race and the Great Commission at the Center for Great Commission Studies blog. Courtlandt writes:

“I’m a Christian and I think white Christians don’t care about my black life.”
This was a raw but honest thought that weighed heavily on my mind this Summer of 2016. National news and social media were flooded with pictures, videos, hate filled tweets, and Scriptures addressing racial tensions in America, that were highlighted by the deaths of black people by cops and the retaliatory murders of cops by rogue black men. The loss of human life grieves me whether it is someone who looks like me or not, but after moving to a predominantly white neighborhood and attending a predominately white seminary for almost a year now, I was beginning to wonder whether or not my burden for black lives being lost was shared with others that I had the Gospel in common.

 

Bruce Ashford shared nine books on religious liberty (and its enemies) at this personal blog earlier this week. Dr. Ashford writes:

Here are nine books I recommend to pastors, professors, and students who wish to gain a better understanding of religious liberty and the threats against it. I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. A Level 1 book is one you could give to any friend or family member. A Level 5 book is one that would be required in a PhD seminar. The list is also organized with the more accessible books at the beginning of the list and the more challenging books at the end.

 

Mark Dance recently shared his top six mistakes as a young pastor.

I made several mistakes in my first decade of ministry. I want to leverage the pain of the top six of those mistakes to help younger pastors succeed instead of suffer.

 

And finally, a reminder from Dr. Danny Akin, that we can maintain our commitments and convictions on one hand, and at the same time exhibit those commitments and convictions with grace and humility on the other.