In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams shared about the beauty of a child’s enthusiasm for work.

“Dad, when I grow up, I want to drive a trash truck.”

 

My four-year-old told me this with a straight face. Upon further examination, I discovered that he didn’t want to drive just any trash truck. He wanted to drive a “flying purple trash truck.”

 

I love that his career aspirations are so broad; he hasn’t yet fallen prey to the lie that white-collar vocations are somehow better than blue-collar. But I also love that he’s so genuinely excited about work. On some days, he dreams of driving this elusive flying purple trash truck. Other days, he wants to be a teacher, or a choir director or a farmer. Just yesterday, he had papers, toys and craft materials strewn about a table. When I asked him to clean it up, he told me matter-of-factly, “Dad, this is my desk. I have to work here. My boss won’t want me to clean this up!”

 

There’s something beautiful about his childlike enthusiasm for work. To him, work is not an obligation. It’s not a chore. It’s not even about making money. To him, work is thrilling. The world is teeming with possibilities, and he can’t wait to get his hands on it.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Anna Daub shared some advice about engaging singles during the holidays.

When I was a child, my parents went to great lengths to ensure we had beautiful Christmas memories and fun family traditions. One tradition was that Christmas Eve was always an open invitation to people who had nowhere else to go. My mother would cook a Tex-Mex feast and invite the single professors from the university nearby, the elderly woman who lived alone, and the Muslim man who sold cell phones in the mall to join us. Most of the time, only one or two would come, but this tradition instilled in me a reminder to always look for those who had nowhere to go for the holidays.

 

In a post at the Intersect Project, Tami Gomez warned Christians about being cultural copycats.

“Engage the culture.”

 

It’s what Christians are continually being told we need to do more. We need to look to our culture and use it creatively to reach our lost friends, family members and society at large. After all, if we can make music as catchy as what’s on the radio or movies as spectacular as Hollywood’s, then we will have won the culture wars; people will come for the party, but stay for the substance. At least that’s been the theory. Unfortunately, this has only lead to “Christian culture” being a stuffy, retooled version of styles that used to be trendy. Christians need to stop thinking in terms of engaging an already-existing culture and start thinking in terms of creating culture.

 

In a post at his blog, Scott Slayton shared why we should live in the Psalms.

In our distracted and fast-paced world, many Christians struggle to gain depth in our spiritual lives. If our devotions happen, they are usually hurried, so we don’t often make the unhurried time that we need to soak in God’s word and linger before God in prayer that we so desperately need. The result is that we often evidence a weak and shallow Christianity. We may be able to fake depth for a while, but eventually, the hard times come and expose us for who we really are.

 

The Psalms provide a welcome antidote to our craving for shallowness. The Psalms, which seem so easy to understand on the surface, invite us to deep study and contemplation. They show the blessing of cultivating a deep and abiding trust in the Lord and beckon us to leave behind our life of distraction so we can know and love God more deeply.

 

Here five reasons that our hurried and forgetful hearts need to live in the Psalms for a while.

 

At the LifeWay Facts & Trends blog, Joe McKeever shared thirteen things a pastor should never say to a congregation.

In addition to the obvious no-no’s, such as profanity, heresy, racism, sexism, and the like, no pastor should ever be heard to utter any of the following from the pulpit.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten reflections of a formerly single pastor.

For the first ten years of my pastoral ministry (ages 20-30), I was unmarried. The Lord had called me to preach when I was 13 years old, and the first church called me as pastor at age 20. Here are my reflections on those years as a single pastor.

In Case You Missed It

In a post at The Intersect Project, Christy Britton shared five ways to help the poor without hurting them.

When I boarded my jet for Kenya in 2015, I couldn’t wait to arrive at the Nairobi slums and get busy. Many people there needed help. I was prepared to visit, assess the needs and figure out what I could do. The need was overwhelming, but I’m a fixer — and I was armed and ready to fix.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax considered why it takes an eclipse to get us to look up to the heavens.

Middle Tennessee is in the eclipse zone. On August 21, my city will be inundated with people traveling from thousands of miles to witness a total eclipse, a rare event in which the moon obstructs the sun for several minutes. On videos of a total eclipse from other parts of the world, people cheer and clap when the moment occurs. It’s as if everyone is overcome by artistry of the Creator and feels the need to join in nature’s applause.

 

I’m going to watch the eclipse. I won’t try to capture it on film or on my phone because I want to enjoy the rarity of the moment for what it is. This will not happen again in my hometown in my lifetime, and I don’t want to see it through my camera. (I’m just praying it doesn’t rain!)

 

I will stop and pause for the eclipse. But this makes me wonder: Why don’t I do this more often? Am I as attuned as I should be to the glories that surround me all the time?

 

Dr. Joe McKeever shared a post at his personal blog discussing what he would do if he were starting ministry again.

If I were a young man just beginning to minister for the Lord, I would want to make sure I did these things…

 

At his personal blog, Art Rainer shared three ways Millennials can miss a huge but vanishing opportunity for their retirement savings.

Millennials have a huge opportunity right now for their retirement savings. They have what many Baby Boomers now want.

What is it? Time.

 

Late last Friday night, a group of white nationalists and white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia setting off a ripple of events that is still spreading. Much has been written about these events, and at Between the Times, we wanted to share a few links from members of the Southeastern family.

 

Today in chapel at the Fall 2017 Convocation message at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, our president, Dr. Danny Akin shared the Southeastern Seminary stance on Racial Diversity.

Dr Akin’s remarks included the following quote:

We stand steadfastly against any type of evil or wickedness that exalts any type of racial superiority, white supremacy, neo-Nazis, bigots, and racists. We will mark that for what it is: sin, evil and wickedness; and we will never divert from the clear affirmation of the Bible that we as believers in Christ all have the same Father, we are indwelt by the same Savior, and we also are empowered by the same Holy Spirit of God. That is who we are! And, I recognize that for a denomination that still bears the stain of racism, we have work to be done. But, by God’s grace and for His glory, we will join hands together and we will plot out a different course and we will create a different community that we pray that God then will seem to bless and that God will multiply many, many times over.

 

 

In Case You Missed It

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared a post discussing how the genuine kindness of Fred rogers has made him a new unlikely hero in our current culture.

In 2005, sandwiched between the Iraq War and the Great Recession, the internet provided Americans a needed respite in the form of Chuck Norris facts. But our hyper-partisan culture has found a new unlikely hero—Mr. Rogers.

 

Earlier this week, Jason Duesing shared an article at Preaching Source highlighting the preacher’s role as missionary.

In recent years our family survived our “Angry Birds” season of life. For a period of time our kids could not get enough of this game, to the extent that we even had an Angry Birds birthday party along the way. If you have played this game, you know that the key to advancing is trajectory. How you aim the angry bird makes all the difference for achieving maximum effect. While hopefully not angry, the key for the preacher as missionary also is trajectory. In what direction the preacher points, the church follows.

 

That said, it isn’t enough for a preacher to herald the importance of missions. He must underscore its importance biblically and encourage his people to be world Christians just like him. So, more than merely pointing to the ends of the earth, the preacher should also go there and take others with him.

 

In short, the preacher as missionary is an exemplar of one who champions the end goal of the gospel and those called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Yet, this is not another hat he must wear but is the natural outgrowth of his dedication to the gospel and his desire to see the nations reached.

 

Inevitably, when the preacher is leading in the trajectory of missions, well-meaning church members will ask why it is that we need to emphasize and fund long-range global mission efforts when there are so many lost people right here at home. This is a question of stewardship and deserves a good answer, and the preacher as missionary should readily give it.

 

At The Intersect Project, Laura Thigpen shared four ways to walk with those who weep.

Silence accompanies Grief, as does Loneliness. These unwanted tenants take up residence in all our lives for a time. And each us will long for companions to come and sit with us while these unwanted guests are present. All of us may not be in seasons of deep grief, but we all know someone who is. The Christian life demands that we respond to others who grieve, but not in the way it has become so common.

 

For various reasons, I have experienced grief in my life that never truly leaves. I have come to realize that the pangs of grief may subside, but the cause of my grief will never go away. I will always be grieving, to some extent. And I’m not alone. For this reason, brothers and sisters in Christ must hold up one another’s arms, walk alongside and shoulder one another’s burdens as we grieve — for we all will grieve, and we all will desire someone to help us grieve.

 

I’m grateful to have such brothers and sisters in my life. Sometimes we sat in silence; other times we talked. Sometimes we wept together; other times we laughed. But what I have treasured most about the ways others have entered into grief with me is their resolve to grieve with me, to feel what I feel in a small way, to be burdenedby the destructive effects sin has in our world with me, to carry out the call to “weep with those who weep.” It is a blessing to have brothers and sisters so willing to follow this command, but it can be terribly burdensome when brothers and sisters do not.

 

Are you willing to “weep with those who weep” — to be there when someone is experiencing grief? Here are four practical steps to carry out this important call.

 

This week at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin wax looked at why C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity received bad reviews.

Mere Christianity is a strange book to become a modern Christian classic, partly because it wasn’t intended to be a book in the first place.

 

The work began as a series of radio addresses Lewis delivered during WWII. Next, these “broadcast talks” were printed as small pamphlets. A decade later, they were compiled into the book we know it as today. (What’s more, it wasn’t Mere Christianity that put Lewis on the map; The Screwtape Letters propelled Lewis forward in both the UK and the United States, eventually landing him on the cover of Time magazine.)

 

Still, few books in the 20th century have cast such a long shadow as Mere Christianity. I have multiple books on my shelf that give a nod to Lewis when making a case for Christianity in the 21st century: from N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian to Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. Today, Lewis’s book has its own biography–written by George Marsden–as one volume in a series on influential Christian books!

 

But despite the book’s influence today (more than 70 years after the talks were delivered and 65 years since it first showed up in print), early reviewers felt little fondness for Lewis’s work or his vision of Christianity. Some of the initial feedback was negative.

 

In a post at the Baptist Press, Paul Akin shared the number one reason missionaries leave the field.

The most common reason missionaries go home is not due to lack of money, illness, terrorism, homesickness, or even a lack of fruit or response to the Gospel.

 

Regretfully, the number one reason is due to conflict with other missionaries.

 

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

From my own personal experience on the field and after five years training, equipping, and sending missionaries, I have witnessed this truth firsthand. In all my travels around the world, I’ve spent countless days with missionary teams of all types, sizes, and makeups and one reality remains true: none of them are perfect.

 

Dr. Joe McKeever’s blog is always a treasure chest of information gathered over his many years of faithful service in ministry. This week, he shared two posts which were related in that they discussed his long-practiced habit of journaling.

In the first post, Dr. McKeever shared something he always tells students about writing.

Writing a journal is like taking a 30-minute slice of your today and sending it ahead into the future.  I’m big on journaling.  Journals, we are told, are not so much for our children–who presumably are living the same life we are and have little curiosity about how we view today–as for our grandchildren and theirs.  In time, my journal will be looked upon as something of a record of “the life of an ordinary Baptist preacher in the 1990s.”  I’ll not be around to know it, but in doing those journals–I’m through with journal-keeping except on this blog, something that I wouldn’t exactly call journaling–it has often been with a view toward the future.  There’s a strong witness for Christ throughout all 56 volumes.

In this next post, he shares more about journaling, and why (no matter what we are writing) we should record the good experiences along with the painful ones.

Recently, when a friend began telling of the rupture in his congregation that resulted in his sudden departure, astonishingly some six or eight years after the event, I could see the pain was still fresh, the wound yet open.  I told him, “Start writing.  You need to get this out and on paper.”

 

He protested, “I can’t.  Those people are still around and I don’t want to stir it up again.”

 

I said, “You don’t have to publish it.  Just write it for yourself.