In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at his personal blog, Bruce Ashford shared a theological syllabus for aspiring pastors and church planters. Dr. Ashford writes:

There is nothing more satisfying, more unsettling, more helpful, and more practical than systematic reflection on the word of God. Aspiring pastors and church planters should embrace the calling to be theologians. Although their ministry will involve more than theology, it will never involve less.

In light of the centrality of theology for ministry, therefore, I encourage aspiring pastors and church planters to develop a theology with the following five characteristics.

In a recent article at the N.C. Baptists website, Dr. Danny Akin shared why we go.

Last words are meant to be lasting words. They are meant to make an impact. They are meant to leave an impression. As Jesus was preparing to ascend back into heaven following His three-year sojourn on this earth as “heaven’s missionary,” there are any number of things He could have given as his final instructions. He could have told us to love one another, giving attention to our moral life. He could have urged us to obey the commands of God, giving attention to our ethical life. He could have warned us about false teaching, giving attention to our doctrinal life. All of these are important and worthy of our careful attention and devotion. And yet Jesus chose to focus on our missional life with His parting words: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). So, we go because our king has told us to go. We go and make disciples, devoted followers of Jesus, because our king told us to make disciples. And, we go and make disciples of all nations because all the nations, all the ethne, are to be the object of our evangelistic and missionary agenda.

At The Intersect Project, Dr. Spence Spencer discusses the question of should Christians have to pay taxes when governments fund injustice.

The only things that are certain are death and taxes.

 

At least, that’s how the old saying, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, goes.

 

As Christians, we are much less certain of death, since we expect that one generation will meet the returning Christ without first dying.

 

At times, some Christians argue that taxes should not be certain, either. Usually, the objection to paying taxes is framed as concern for an unjust practice that is funded by taxation. However, those objections do not stand up to the testimony of Scripture, particularly in the life of Christ. According to Christ, we are required to pay taxes, but we are also required to fight for justice.

 

In a recent post at the Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Alvin Reid discusses when freaking out is okay. Dr. Reid writes:

In October 2014, I visited San Francisco for the first time.  The first place I had to go was the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets. This street corner represents the epicenter of the hippie culture of the 1960s, and there was a hippie playing a guitar when I arrived, right on cue.

 

This is also where the earliest signs of what would be called the Jesus Movement began. A hippie named Ted Wise got saved, and then others joined him. Before long the movement went south, where a man named Chuck Smith and a church called Calvary Chapel exploded.

 

Thousands of youth came to Christ, while at the same time thousands of youth in established churches experienced a new zeal for Jesus. Churches filled with youth groups, and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) organized an event called Explo ’72 where eighty thousand young people came to Dallas, Texas, to learn to share Christ. On the Saturday following the event, some 150,000–180,000 youth gathered for a massive festival featuring Billy Graham, among others.

 

I was saved in those days. I remember young people who did not have a church background, who didn’t have a lot of theological training—okay, they had none—but who had a passion to tell others about Jesus. We had a name for them:

 

Jesus Freaks.

 

At his personal website, Dr. Jason Duesing shared an article titled: “The Bell Grew Louder: Reading Narnia and Thinking of Andrew Fuller.”

One of the peculiar things about the human mind is how it can process multiple things at the same time. Some say multitasking is a myth, as one can really only accomplish one task at any given moment. However, I found that when reading books to my children, I can really multitask. As I scroll aloud through paragraphs, my mind will often solve all kinds of problems and make connections to things far from the content of the words entering through my eyes and out of my mouth. Am I the only one?

 

This happened on an occasion while reading aloud C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. The more I read the more I thought not of some distant Narnian land, but rather of eighteenth century England and the life and work of Andrew Fuller.

 

Todd Borger recently posted an article discussing how ordering our nights and days are an act of bearing God’s image. Dr. Borger writes:

My day, Lord, is yours. Creation gives us a daily sequence or alteration of evening and morning. The direction of that sequence is important and the opposite of what our language and culture dictate. We begin each day with the morning and end it at night. Genesis counts the days by evenings and morning, however, so we could say that the day begins with bedtime at night and ends in the light of day before the next sunset. Seen this way, we have a movement from darkness to light just as creation in Genesis moves from unadulterated darkness to a divided and ordered darkness and light. Revelation tells us that the darkness that permeated all things at the beginning will not be present in the eschaton.

In Case You Missed It

At The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how recent arguments over crowd sizes are insignificant and pointless, but they reveal actual—not alternative—facts about our culture’s attitude toward truth in a post titled: “Reaping the Whirlwind of Alternative Facts.” Aaron writes:

Postmodernism declared there is no absolute truth or inherent meaning. Today, in a modern culture steeped in this way of thinking, truth is understood as relative. In literature and art, it doesn’t matter what the author or artist intended their work to say, it only matters how the individual received it. If I perceive something as offensive, that is all that matters. In religion, you cannot claim Jesus is the way, truth and life. Maybe he is just a way to reach God—one of many ways—because all religions are equally true.

 

In identity, gender is fluid and determined, not by biology, but by how a person feels. No one else has the right to tell them how they are to see themselves. In morality, unborn life is discardable and should not be regarded as a person—unless the mother wants it. Only then can we use language of “baby,” “child,” etc. The mother’s desires determine the reality of the baby.

 

For years, conservative Christians fought against the rejection of absolute truth, while many in culture scoffed. The mantra for years has been: “They may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”

 

Now, suddenly, culture has become concerned with truth and facts again.

 

In a recent article at The Intersect Project, Spence Spencer discussed how income inequality is not our biggest problem.

Is income inequality is one of the most significant threats to justice in our age? Some voices in the marketplace say so. They argue that the wealthy are becoming wealthier at the expense of the poor. If this were true, it would truly be one of the most significant justice issues of our day. However, this version of reality relies on the zero-sum myth of economics.

 

Anna Daub posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies discussing women’s marches and missions. Anna writes:

This weekend, the nation witnessed a momentous occasion. Hundreds of thousands of women gathered in cities all across the United States and the world to peacefully assemble and march for women’s rights.

 

I spent some time reading the signs women carried at the march. While I recognize that there are some signs that Christians cannot agree, there are others that we need to notice. A little African American girl’s sign said, “I am a woman….we are important. We are beautiful. We love children. We are queens, respect us, cherish us, value us.” Another states, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Yet another, in front of a gold Star of David, said, “My great-grandmother didn’t escape Warsaw for this!” Probably one of the most chilling signs I saw was this: an elderly Japanese woman carrying a sign that said, “Locked up by US Prez 1942-1946. Never again.”

 

From where I stand as a female missiologist (someone who studies the science of missions), this weekend was important. While I in no way want to minimize the big button issues present like abortion, I also believe that if we ever want to reach this generation, we need to pay attention to other things that were said and done.

 

This event, this march, is a window into our current culture.

 

At his personal blog, Jason Duesing posted an article discussing the most important doctrine he learned in seminary.

J. R. R. Tolkien loved words. More than that, he loved the study of words and delighted in philology or “the zone where history, linguistics, and literature meet.”[1] Therefore, when he had invented several languages he found he needed a world to house them. The result–the entirety of the fictional environs we know as Middle Earth and its inhabitants found their genesis in their creator’s love of words.

 

Words are something our Creator loves as well. He spoke the world into existence with words, sent his Son as the Word, and the Spirit breathed perfectly all the words we have in the Bible as Scripture. Thus, the Christian life is a life clothed and shaped by words even as some of those words require hard work to gain their full meaning.

 

When I went to seminary (in the latter part of the 20th century) I had only been a Christian for 4 years. I knew what it meant to be saved but was still working out what all that meant. For example, I had come to learn and love the hymn:

 

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

 

But it was not yet clear to me how exactly did Jesus wash me white as snow? I knew that Jesus died for my sins, but I don’t think I could have told you what happened when he did or how he did it. That is when I discovered I had a philology problem–a problem with words.

 

At The Intersect Project, Krystal Wilson discussed how Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is about more than abortion. Krystal writes:

As Christians, we believe in the sanctity of human life. We believe that all people are image bearers of a holy God and, as such, all human life is sacred and should be respected and protected. Many churches dedicate a whole Sunday in late January — Sanctity of Human Life Sunday — to enlighten its members about the sanctity of human life, particularly the issue of abortion.

 

But, as we will see, all life is sacred — even the lives we often neglect.

 

Chuck Lawless posted an article this week discussing 8 traits he sees in good worship leaders.

As I visit churches in my various roles, I’m privileged to worship with many different congregations. The styles aren’t always the same, but I can tell you some of the common traits I find in worship leaders who catch my attention. I know these thoughts are just my opinion, but here are some of those things.

In Case You Missed It

If you follow Dr. Russell Moore on social media, you may have heard that his Grandmother recently went home to be with the Lord. Earlier this week, Dr. Moore shared this post on what his Grandmother taught him about the church. Dr. Moore writes:

On the way to my grandmother’s funeral, I found myself noticing, in a gas station checkout line, a pack of Dentyne gum. I don’t think I had thought about the little red bits of cinnamon in years, but the package stood out to me. My grandmother, Agnes Moore, would give me half a piece of that gum every time we would sit down in church. It was always a half piece, because she couldn’t stand the sight of someone visibly smacking gum. All sorts of memories filed forward. I suppose that’s because I can only think of that gum in the context of church, and, in a very real sense, I can only think of the church in the context of her.

My family was always at Sunday school and Sunday morning worship, but my grandmother, who lived next door to us, expected more from me. She was widowed early in my life, losing my grandfather who had been pastor of my home church, Woolmarket Baptist in Biloxi, Mississippi. She was lonely, and I knew it, so I would spend many evenings in her house, snapping beans or shelling peas in front of the fire. And on Sunday evenings I would go with her to Training Union (kind of a Baptist Sunday school at night) followed by Sunday evening services. On Wednesday night, she would take me to Royal Ambassadors (kind of a Southern Baptist Boy Scouts, where we would learn about international missions) and Wednesday night prayer meeting. She would take me to all the fifth Sunday dinners on the grounds and every revival meeting.

There was only one event in the church calendar we would always miss: business meeting.

Jason Duesing recently shared this post on making the history of the future.

In a recent foreword to a book on Baptist church doctrine, James Leo Garrett Jr. offers a somber word. He says, “The twentieth century was not the finest epoch in Southern Baptist history with respect to ecclesiological practice.” Referencing decades of emphasis on efficiency and unchecked church growth, Garrett laments a century that largely “found that ecclesiology was a weakness.”

While I do not agree fully with Garrett’s bleak assessment, I do think that Baptists in the twenty-first century have an opportunity to recover how believers should understand what the Bible says about churches—and that is a hopeful task. In short, regardless of the past, what matters most for the future is what we do with the time that is given to us.

Bruce Ashford recently posted an article at the Intersect Project website on what we should do when scientists and theologians disagree. Dr. Ashford writes:

In a recent post, we discussed that science and theology should be partners, not enemies. Nevertheless, some scientists and theologians disagree on key issues. How, then, do we find a resolution when certain scientists present evidence that appears to conflict with Christian teaching?

As Christians we believe that there cannot be any real or final conflict between theology and science, because God is the author of both the “book of Scripture” and the “book of nature.” If there is a conflict between certain theologians and certain scientists, it exists because of human error in interpreting Scripture or interpreting nature.

In other words, there will sometimes be disagreement between theologians and scientists, but there will never be disagreement between God’s two books (Scripture and nature).

In light of these convictions, I offer three principles to resolve the disagreements that sometimes exist between theologians and scientists. These three principles are modified from an article written by the Christian philosopher Norman Geisler.

In a recent blog post at the Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook reminds us that it is both easier and harder than ever to be a missionary.

Today is an interesting time for global missions.

In many ways, it is easier than ever for us to get to the nations. Consider that early missionaries would travel on a dirty ship for two months through storms to get to their field, and then complain to me about the 2 hour delay on your layover. Travel is a lot easier and cheaper than it was.

And we cannot forget about the ease of communication. Today, with the internet, we can reach most anywhere in the world, at any time, instantaneously, and usually for free. Of course, that is not true everywhere. I served in one of those few places where the internet barely reaches, but those locations are shrinking by the day. So, in some ways, it is easier to be a missionary than ever.

But at the same time, it is getting harder to be a missionary in many places… a lot harder.

Dan Darling recently shared this helpful post on how to be a prolific writer. Dan writes:

One of the questions I often get from emerging writers is this one: How do you create a lot of good content at a regular pace. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to write for a variety of outlets on topics I enjoy. I write regularly for ERLC and am a regular contributor to several other publications.

Every writer has their own rhythms, but perhaps there are some things you can learn from what has helped me. Here are six things I do in my life to be a productive and consistent writer.