CGCS: Greg Mathias on Diwali

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Wednesday mornings are Great Commission mornings at Between the Times. Really, everyday is a Great Commission day, but on Wednesdays we point you to the work of the Center for Great Commission Studies. This week, Greg Mathias informs us about the Hindu festival of lights, which begins on October 23. Read it and pray for those walking in darkness as they celebrate light.

Here’s an excerpt:

Here are a few things to know about Diwali:

Lights and firecrackers are everywhere during this time. Homes, businesses, and streets are transformed with lights, candles, and other decorations. The lights serve as a sign of respect to the heavens. Beyond the lights, there is a lot of noise during this celebration due to firecrackers. Setting off firecrackers demonstrates the joy of the people.

Diwali represents the triumph of good over evil. The Diwali celebration is a happy one for Hindus. The physical lights are a spiritual reminder to Hindus of the hope of being lifted out of spiritual darkness.

Read the full post here.

Marriage and Weddings: An EQUIP Workshop (John Ewart)

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The Charles Haddon Spurgeon Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching exists to equip and encourage pastors to lead healthy, disciple-making churches for the glory of God around the world. As the director of the center I have the privilege of building an intentional bridge between the seminary and the local church. One span of that bridge includes offering special equipping events on our campus and at sites around the country and world intentionally designed to help those who are currently serving or seek to serve as local church pastors.

I served as a full time pastor for many years in a variety of contexts. I found that no matter what the context, there were certain opportunities and challenges that were consistently present. In the Spurgeon Center we want to develop equipping opportunities and resources to help church leaders face those more ubiquitous ministry responsibilities. One way we are going to do that is through a specific type of event called an EQUIP Workshop.

I am excited to announce the Spurgeon Center’s first EQUIP Workshop is going to be held in Appleby Chapel on our campus on Wednesday, October 29 from 10am to 12 noon. The topic for this first workshop is marriage and weddings. How do we define marriage biblically? How does a pastor prepare for and plan weddings? How are weddings actually conducted?

The free workshop will feature a panel discussion with faculty members from both our pastoral ministry and biblical counseling areas as well as a local church pastor who teaches sermon delivery at the seminary. We will be discussing what marriage is and why, how to prepare and conduct good premarital pastoral care, key issues to be aware of and prepared for in relation to marriage and weddings as well as some of the more practical issues for which every pastor and church should be prepared. In other words, we will hit everything from biblical foundations to church policies and planning the event.

The second part of the workshop will include walking through the actual choreography of a wedding rehearsal and ceremony. We will show you where to stand and where to stand everyone else. We will help you make it through the important day itself by recreating a mock wedding ceremony and walking everyone through it. Everyone who attends will receive a packet of resource materials prepared by the workshop leaders to take with them. Reserve your place in Appleby Chapel on October 29 by clicking here. You do not want to miss this!

The entire workshop is going to be videotaped and will become a part of a bundled package we are developing covering the topic of marriage. It will also include a chapel event we are planning after the first of the year that will feature a more specific discussion concerning the biblical and practical issues surrounding marriage, divorce and remarriage. This helpful equipping module will be placed on the Spurgeon Center resource webpage for pastors as well as students to download and use as a training tool. It could even become a featured assignment for pastoral ministry and supervised field ministry experiences.

Future workshops will deal with the real ministry issues pastors face concerning death and funerals, the Lord’s Supper, baptism, and church budgets and finances. It is my prayer that every seminary student will take advantage of this practical training to prepare themselves for real tasks they will face on the field and that current pastors would participate and benefit from these resources and events.

Building bridges through the Spurgeon Center between the academy and the church is a two way path and a great opportunity. We hope to better serve the church through the center and the participation by churches helps us to better glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve them and fulfill the Great Commission.

Christ Is Sovereign Over All

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The title for this post is drawn from a famous statement by the Dutch statesman and theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). The full statement reads: “There is not a square inch in a whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” Where did Kuyper get this idea? I suspect, at least in part, from the Great Commission text of Matthew 28:18-20 where Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What Jesus has authority over belongs to Him. What belongs to Him He rightly claims as “Mine!” All of creation is Christ’s. As we advance the gospel across North America and to the nations we reclaim souls and territory that belong to King Jesus. This world belongs to the Son of God, not Satan.

C.S. Lewis certainly understood this to be the nature of our assignment. He said, “There is no neutral ground in the universe. Every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” Lewis was right. We are indeed locked in a cosmic conflict for the souls of human persons. Eternal destinies hang in the balance. We are also locked in a cultural conflict that will determine in many ways how we think and work, how we live and die.

I am in complete agreement with Francis Schaeffer, whose letters and papers are archived in our library at SEBTS. This wonderful Christian thinker, whose writings have had a profound influence on my life, put it like this: “Christianity provides a unified answer for the whole of life.” Did you catch the key word? The “whole” of life. In other words, our Christian faith is to translate into a Christian life, a way of thinking, acting, playing and living. No area is off limits. No discipline is out of bounds. Our surrender to Christ’s Lordship will impact the totality of our lives. It will shape and determine what we call our “worldview.”

Southeastern Seminary houses “The Center for Faith and Culture.” It is named after my former teacher and colleague L. Rush Bush, who served as the Dean of SEBTS for right at 20 years. The Center reflects well the heart and perspective of its founding director who believed all of life should be permeated by a Christian worldview. Bush said, “A worldview is that basic set of assumptions that gives meaning to ones thoughts. A worldview is that set of assumptions that someone has about the way things are, about what things are, about why things are.” Complementing this excellent statement, I often say a worldview is a comprehensive and all-encompassing view of life by which we think, understand, judge and act. It guides and determines our approach to life and how we will live.

Because the seminary I serve is committed to cultivating a comprehensive Christian worldview, we allow these ideas– axioms if you like–to inform how we teach in the classroom. It is also why we hold conferences that address issues like creation, abortion, sexual identity, adoption, marriage and family, government, economics, politics, law, philosophy, ethics, the environment, poverty and more. Faith and culture meet at the intersection of real life, and SEBTS is committed to being in the center of all of it!

Schaeffer says, “Christianity is the greatest intellectual system the mind of man has ever touched.” I believe that. And Kuyper adds, “When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become sin; you must, at any price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.” We at Southeastern believe this too, and we indeed accept the call to battle, laying our convictions bare for friend and foe alike!