In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Lifeway Kid’s Ministry blog, Bekah Stoneking discussed the importance of biblical literacy for children. Bekah writes:

What do young people really think about God, the Bible, and church? How do we balance Barna’s findings—which reveal a majority of adolescents desire closeness with God and leading meaningful lives—along with reports of young people who are leaving the church because they did not experience a “robust Christian faith?” And, what does “spiritual but not religious” mean, anyway?

 

To reconcile the differences that exist among a desire for God, a lackluster faith experience, and a noncommittal stance toward the church, I’d suggest we begin at a young person’s foundation—both in their development as children and in their early experiences with the Bible. For those of us who are called to disciple kids in our homes and churches, we should understand the role biblical literacy plays in transforming lives and building faith.

 

At The Exchange, Ed Stetzer and Amy Whitfield discussed how Evangelicals made Trump’s candidacy, and they now need to help remake his presidency.

[Tuesday Night], maps were redrawn. Political realities were upended. America was redirected—and, for good or for ill, Evangelicals were a big part of that reality. White Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the general election, after propelling his campaign in the primaries.
Many Evangelicals didn’t follow the leaders that warned them away from Trump. These Evangelicals, and many Americans, were angry enough to vote for a stunningly unpopular candidate who promised change. It turns out that that basket was a lot bigger than many people expected.
We knew that half of America would be outraged, but the surprise is which half.
Now the world is outraged. And much anger is being directed at Evangelical Trump voters. Yet we need to remember that Trump voters are not Trump

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford and D. A. Horton teamed up to share a post-election vision for Evangelical Conservatives.

Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States. Many evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Many did not. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree: the last decade, and especially the past two years, in American public life has made one thing clear to evangelical conservatives: we are being decentered socially, culturally, and politically.

 

Although in recent years we have seen incremental progress in our advocacy for the pro-life cause, we are experiencing consistent setbacks on other significant concerns such as religious liberty, race relations, and marriage and family. Many Americans consider our stance on moral issues to be not only wrong but bad, and view us as little more than the hypocritical and bigoted special interest arm of the Republican Party.

 

Not the best of times, these.

 

In light of the situation, therefore, shouldn’t evangelical conservatives forget about politics and public life for a while so they can slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on the gospel?

 

No.

 

In an article at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax asked: “What if our Bibles rose up and judged us?”

I’m two months into my new role as Bible and reference publisher for LifeWay, where I have the privilege of stewarding a Bible translation and producing resources that assist people in reading and understanding God’s Word.

 

But there’s a scary part to my job, a spiritual element that I cannot shake off.

 

At his blog Millennial Evangelical, Chris Martin reminds us that we have forgotten where home is. Chris writes:

Christians: we tend to have a perspective problem. We have misunderstood eternity to be the epilogue that follows our life on earth, when our life on earth is actually just the prologue to eternity. This weekend, my pastor, Trevor Atwood, preached on Matthew 6:11, which is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

The “daily bread” that God provides is not the fullness of all that is good in life. “Daily bread” is not the fulfillment of every good promise of God. “Daily bread” is the presence of God we need to fuel us in our journey en route to his eternal presence. “Daily bread” is like a greasy Whopper to get us by in our car on the way home to a delicious home-cooked meal with our family.

 

When we pray, and as we live out our lives on earth, we often want “daily bread” to be more than God promises it to be. We expect the “daily bread” that’s meant to fuel our journey home to be a home-cooked feast. It’s not just that we’re too impatient to wait for the feast until we get home. It’s that we have forgotten where our home is.

 

What is Love, and How do I find it?” This is a question that Jonathan C. Edwards addresses in a recent article at the Intersect Project Website. Jonathan writes:

We look far too many places and to far too many things to find love, figure out what exactly it looks like and experience what it feels like. We do this time and again because, frankly, where it actually can be found seems boring, out of date and not all that sexy. Reading a good novel or cuddling up watching the newest romantic film seems a lot more enjoyable than opening the Bible.

 

What’s interesting though is that the Bible, unlike much of everything else we experience, isn’t cryptic when it comes to uncovering the coveted understanding of love’s true form. Scripture says, “You want to know what love is? You want to know how to feel love and express love? Look at the cross. Period.” [John 10:11, 15:13; 1 John 3:16, 4:10, 19]

 

But it seems that’s not good enough for us.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Keelan Cook shares four truths to ground your Theology of Mission.

Studying missions is an important part of actually doing missions. There is a cognitive aspect to everything we do. Therefore, what we study about missions affects how we actually do missions. The Bible has a lot to say about the mission of God and the church’s role in that mission. There is another component to studying mission: the actual theology we glean from what the Bible says. Our theology comes from our interpretation of the Bible, and everyone interprets the Bible whether they realize it or not. There are theological interpretations of Bible’s bases for missions. I’ve listed a few below.

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Spence Spencer recently posted an article discussing how Francis Schaeffer helped call people back to an understanding that Jesus is Lord of all life. Spence writes:

In the Alps of Switzerland, a wise man once lived out his religion as faithfully as he knew how. He was not a hermit who sought isolation, but an evangelist who invited many people into his home to converse and try to think God’s thoughts after him.

 

That man was Francis Schaeffer. That home was called L’Abri. Schaeffer’s vision for Christians was faith that brings the gospel to bear on every aspect of life.

 

For Schaeffer, confronting the ills of culture was not simply done through direct proclamation. It was also accomplished by contributing to the world in a way that reflects the moral order of the universe. Creation is meant to be true—that is, the work people do is meant to point back to God.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently wrote an article discussing how to think biblically about politics.

When Christians want to answer the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” it can be tempting to come up with a quick answer by limiting our research to a couple of Bible passages that explicitly address the Christian’s relationship to the governing authorities. Or, alternatively, it can be tempting to jump immediately to Bible passages that address religious liberty, the value of human life, the nature of marriage, or some other public policy issue.

However, if we conduct our investigation by looking only at a few isolated passages, we will miss the Bible’s richest and most profound teaching. We will miss its fuller perspective on culture and politics; we will misunderstand those isolated passages because our perspective does not arise from within a fully-formed Christian worldview. Similarly, if we allow our minds to leap to specific issues of public policy, we will be trying to build a “house of policy” without having first laid a foundation.

The only way to overcome a fragmented perspective on politics is to allow the Bible’s master narrative to shape our thinking. Isolated passages shouldn’t be understood, and policies shouldn’t be crafted, in ways that are divorced from the bigger picture. So we’ve got to go back before we can go forward: we need to understand politics from within the Bible’s master narrative—the true story of the whole world.

Cas Monaco posted at Intersect project this week on how to steward the Gospel well, giving a framework for both the energized and the overwhelmed. Cas writes:

As a budding missiologist, I am being trained to research and analyze the church and culture within a sound biblical framework. Since I’m on staff with Cru, I put my learning into practice as I interact with city leaders and kingdom citizens participating in the Great Commission across the country actively.

 

We collaborate with all sorts of leaders who seek to steward the gospel well. Many pastor or partner with churches in the urban core. Some serve Millennials by helping them to navigate the precarious path between faith and work. Others encourage actors, artists, filmmakers and authors. One thing these believers have in common, whether Cru staff, educators, civil servants, financial analysts or computer programmers, is passion and a longing to make a difference for God’s kingdom in their field of influence or their neighborhood.

 

As we dialogue with followers of Jesus, we reflect on the rapidly changing culture and consider how we can effectively express the gospel in word and deed.

 

At Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer recently discussed dissertations that are needed today.

The function of graduate work is to make specialists out of generalists. There is nothing wrong with being a generalist, but generalists are aggregators of knowledge. Specialists have an opportunity to add to the realm of human knowledge.

Ph.D. study refines the specialty of the specialist, revealing knowledge the generalist learns later.

If these assertions are true of knowledge in scientific and historical fields, they are no less true regarding the religious Ph.D.

Here are a few thoughts about why you should consider seeking a Ph.D. today.

Aaron Earls recently wrote a blog post about how American Christians are confused about what it means to be a Christian. Aaron writes:

Before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

 

He claimed to be the exclusive way to salvation and eternal life with God. But according to Pew Research, most American Christians believe they have found a different path.

 

Self-identified Christians were given a list of items and asked which ones were essential to being a Christian, which ones were important, but not essential, and which ones were unimportant. For most weekly church-attending American Christians, the essentials of being a Christian means doing some good things, believing in God, and … that’s about it.

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Dr. Chuck Lawless recently posted at his blog: “9 Reflections from a Formerly Single Adult.” Dr. Lawless writes:

I’ve been happily married for almost 25 years, but I was 30 years old before I married. I was a full-time single pastor for ten years before that. Working with college students, writing for older adults, and doing church consultations over the last year have caused me to think again about how churches relate to single adults. Here are my thoughts, and I welcome the input of singles.

 

The Intersect project recently published an article giving three reasons why we should read Every Waking Hour, a new book by Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland.

It’s Monday morning. You pull into your parking spot, ready to invest your time and energy into work. But the satisfaction you’re looking for never arrives, and you’re let down. By week’s end, you’re weary of the same old routines.

 

On Sunday you show up to church expecting encouragement. Instead, you feel guilty because your work isn’t as important as your pastor’s. You don’t have time to do all the church activities on the schedule. Your forty hours on the job seem like nothing more than a means to support your family, give your tithe and invite people to church.

 

So as another week ends, discontentment sets in again. You conclude that God must not care about your work.

 

I’ve been in this position. I’m sure you have too.
What if we were to tell you that God does care about your work? That your calling to your vocation is just as important as your pastor’s? That God himself is a worker who created you to be a worker in his image?

 

That’s exactly what you’ll learn in Every Waking Hour: An Introduction to Work and Vocation for Christians. In it, Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland develop a biblically and theologically rich view of work, vocation, and they show you how to glorify God through everything you do.

 

Here are three reasons you must read Every Waking Hour

 

Dr. Jamie Dew recently published an interesting article on Pascal and the Pensées: dealing with our mortality. Dr. Dew writes:

“This negligence in a matter where they themselves, their eternity, their all are at stake, fills me more with irritation than pity; it astounds and appalls me; it seems quite monstrous to me. I do not say this prompted by the pious zeal of spiritual devotion. I mean on the contrary that we ought to have this feeling from principles of human interest” (Pascal, Christianity for Modern Pagans: Pascal’s Pensées, 191).

 

A Second Reflection from Part III: Two Popular Pseudo-Solutions

 

We spend hours thinking about and discussing trivial things in life. We might, for example, spend days or weeks preparing our lawn for a new landscape design that we hope to bring to our property. Likewise, we spend massive amounts of time think about what car we might purchase, what we want our wardrobe to be like, or following our favorite sports team. When it comes to these things we typically have plenty of time and devote substantial amounts of mental energy.

 

Art Rainer published a helpful article on his blog discussing how the place we choose to sit in a meeting can communicate to others.

You walk into your boss’ office. He sits behind his desk and you sit in front of it, directly across from your boss. In that moment, how do you feel?

For many of us who have found ourselves in that setting, we remember feeling uncomfortable or maybe even intimidated. But why?

 

Proxemics is the study of the space around us. Believe it or not, how you use space communicates something to those around you. Including seating arrangements.

 

For the past few years, I have tried to consider what the chair in which I choose to sit around my conference table is communicating to the other person, especially during a one-on-one meeting.

 

Before your next one-on-one meeting, consider the tone you want to communicate. Below are three common tones and how to communicate it through your seating arrangement.

 

Ed Stetzer recently wrote an article discussing his love/hate relationship with leadership.

I have a love/hate relationship with leadership.

First of all, I hate it because I’m not a natural born leader. I’ve never been able to step into leadership roles effortlessly. I meet people who just become leaders because of who they are. I have never been that person. I was a bookworm and a nerd. Leadership was not something I naturally inherited; it was a skill and a practice I had to learn. And learn I did.

Because of my experience, I think all of us can learn to be leaders. I don’t think leadership is simply something we are born with or not. We can learn skills, activities, and practices that help us in the area of leadership.

Finally, please check out this awesome video from Dr. John Ewart discussing church revitalization as a new “normal.”