In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Jeremy Bell reminds us that as Christians, we should take care of our bodies.

The doctrine that humans were created in the image of God matters for how Christians navigate a variety of cultural issues—racism, bioethics, abortion, homosexuality and moral responsibility, just to name a few. This truth, the imago Dei, provides Christians with a correct worldview that all people are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) on the basis of their image–bearing. According to this doctrine, human beings are special because we are created beings that exist as both body and soul. Regardless of your capabilities, you are valued by God because you have been created by God as an embodied soul.

 

However, I fear that we have not fleshed out what the imago Dei means for us as individuals. We have created a culture that focuses mainly on the soul while forgetting the body — a sort of Christian Gnosticism. I am convinced that the Christian community needs to focus on both the body and the soul in order to honor God as his image–bearers.

 

What do I mean by this? Christians need to practice taking better care of their bodies in order to honor God as created beings. In other words, Christians should consider pursuing healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, drinking more water and avoiding harmful substances. The Christian understanding of body and soul from Scripture obligates us as created beings to be good stewards of the bodies that God has given each of us. However, we are to honor God with our bodies not as a means to earn God’s grace, but as a means to express our gratitude for the grace he has already shown us through Jesus Christ.

 

Here are three reasons that you should take care of your body because you have been created in the image of God.

 

Spence Spencer posted an article at his personal blog Ethics and Culture discussing the question: “What is an Evangelical?” Spence writes:

The furor around Hillbilly Elegy has largely died away. Much to nearly everyone’s surprise, a populist won the election. Many of his votes came from people who claim the title evangelical.

 

The exit poll results that indicate 81% of so-called evangelicals voted for Trump have been used as a cudgel against theologically conservative Protestants, many of whom identify as evangelical.

 

As Robert Wuthnow notes in his recent book, Inventing American Religion, however, there are significant differences between theological belief and political identity. The pollsters have tried to cross that boundary, but there are indications that the political label evangelical may not provide a strong theological indicator.

 

At Christianity Today, Hannah Anderson shared an article discussing how brainy women benefit the church.

“Why do you always have to analyze everything?”
I’ve heard this question many times, but I remember the first time someone posed it to me directly. I was 11 years old, in the fifth grade, and standing in the hallway surrounded by my classmates. I don’t remember who asked it, but I do remember that the question was quickly followed by an unsettling chorus of assent. To that point, I’d enjoyed the process of learning and felt free to excel academically. But something shifted in that moment.

 

Although I didn’t realize it then, our collective understanding of intelligence—and my perception of my own intelligence—had been taking shape for several years. A recent study by Lin Bian, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, reveals that children as young as six are already forming views about the nature of intelligence, including associating it with masculinity. Standing in that hallway was the first time I remember questioning whether being a “smart” girl was a benefit or a social liability.

Reporting on Bian’s research, Ed Yong of The Atlantic notes that society’s tendency to associate intelligence with masculinity can create hurdles for women.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently published an article at his blog discussing the Bible’s four essential teachings about politics.

When we ask the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” we can be tempted to jump straight to party platforms and policy issues. That is, of course, how the conversation proceeds on the radio shows and cable news networks: “What is a Christian perspective on immigration reform?” “Why do Christians oppose abortion but support the death penalty?” “How could a Christian support So-and-So for the presidency?”

 

But if we jump straight to these sort of issues, our perspective will be fragmented and incoherent. Instead of beginning with questions about isolated policy issues and party platforms, it is helpful to ask what the Bible’s master narrative says about politics itself.

 

That’s right. Even though the Bible is composed of 66 individual books composed by many different authors, its composition was guided by one Divine Author who formed those books together into one story. That story is the true story of the whole world, a story that tells where the world came from, what went horribly wrong with it, and how God will one day set it aright.

 

If we want to understand a Christian view of politics, therefore, the first thing we need to do is look at clues from the Bible’s main storyline. One way to tell the story is to divide it into four acts—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. In this article, I will do exactly that, and will briefly relate each act to the notion of politics.

 

At Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe shared four elements of a successful podcast.

In the past two weeks of the Rainer on Leadership podcast, we have experienced two of our top three days ever on the show in terms of downloads. For this, we are obviously grateful to our listeners.

 

As we begin year five of Rainer on Leadership, it feels like the proper time to look back over the past four years at what has made the podcast (and other popular podcasts) work. The “Religion and Spirituality” section of iTunes is by far the most populous category in the app, and Rainer on Leadership is consistently in the top 150. I’ve identified four elements of the podcast that I believe contribute to this.

 

In this post, Art Rainer gives five major reasons why church giving declines.

God has designed us, not to be hoarders, but conduits through which His generosity flows.

And this generosity should be evident by the way we give to our local church. Unfortunately, churches often experience a reduction in giving. Their members and attendees withhold or reduce their giving.

 

Why does this happen?

 

Here are a few reasons to consider

 

In an article at the website of the International Mission Board, Scott Hildreth shared about how the Cooperative Program enables local congregations to participate in God’s mission. Dr. Hildreth writes:

Some may wonder how the Southern Baptist Convention is different from other denominations. There are many ways, but one of the most obvious is our basic structure and our funding system. From the early days of the convention, Southern Baptists looked for a structure that supported our belief in the importance of the local church while also enabling the churches to fulfill the Great Commission through many different ministries. The Cooperative Program is the result. Over the years, the details and complexity of the convention have changed, but this program has served as a key tool for our growth.

 

The beauty of our Cooperative Program outshines the motto: “We can do more together than we can do alone.” There is no question that the Cooperative Program has allowed Southern Baptists to achieve a lot. It is the financial driving force—some might even say, the lifeline— for the expanse and success of the SBC. The creation of a unified budget, along with the expectations of regular contributions, allows our boards to plan their work without being encumbered by the constant need to raise all of their support.

In Case You Missed It

Recently at the Logos Bible Software Blog, Jake Mailhot shared a post about Abraham Kuyper’s Theology of everday life which featured three books by members of Southeastern’s faculty.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the works of Abraham Kuyper, you might recognize his most famous quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

 

For Kuyper, this deep awareness of God’s sovereignty had vast implications for daily life. Throughout his writings, he wrestled with how to reconcile the sovereign presence of God in this beautifully created world while witnessing the fallenness and brokenness of the present. The modern church still struggles to navigate this tension between the spiritual life and the secular world. That’s why, despite being a century old, Kuyper’s theology of everyday life is still relevant today.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Ivan Mesa asked a few pastors and scholars to recommend a book that belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Pastors traffic daily in books. Of course, we preach the Book, and so we’re endlessly looking for books that’ll encourage and equip us in ministry. Our limited time and a never-ending stream of books (Ecc. 12:12) means we need discerning guides who’ll point us in the right direction.

 

I asked a few pastors and scholars what one book other than the Bible they would commend to every pastor or Christian writer. So whether you’re preparing a sermon, writing an article, or just seeking to build a dependable library, below are 10 books that’ll serve you—and those to whom you minister.

 

At The Center for Baptist Renewal, Matthew Emerson shared three theological reasons to look for patterns in Scripture. Dr. Emerson writes:

My doctoral supervisor, David Hogg, was once asked in my Theological Method Ph.D. seminar what his method is. I still love his response: “I look for patterns and weird stuff.” That is, his approach to reading Scripture consists largely of paying attention to what is repeated and what stands out as extraordinary, either in terms of actual events or their description or both. This interpretive method produces readings that sometimes (many times) vexes those who hold to the historical-critical method and its evangelical cousins.

 

What, then, are the theological rationales that give an interpreter the hermeneutical warrant to link certain biblical texts together in a typological chain? To put a finer historical point on it, why does Irenaeus, in his On the Apostolic Preaching, feel justified in linking the Virgin Birth to the untilled ground out of which Adam is made, or Eve’s creation out of Adam’s rib to the Church’s birth out of Christ’s pierced side? I want to suggest that there are least three theological reasons that readers feel justified in these types of patterned readings.

 

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen posted an article about helping women engage culture in everyday life.

Some Christian women struggle to see how tense cultural issues matter to their everyday lives. But it’s increasingly difficult to avoid these cultural debates. For example, the young mom may not care about LGBTQ issues—until she takes her children to the playground, finds herself in conversation with a parent of her child’s playmate and discovers the parent is in a homosexual marriage. Suddenly, the issue is relevant at the playground. Or, a teacher may not think that immigration reform is relevant to her—until she has an immigrant student suffering from anxiety because he fears that his parents might be deported. At that moment, cultural issues are no longer just “issues” but tangible faces, real people.

 

Yet, when attempting to engage these issues and the people most directly influenced by them, some women feel inadequate or intimidated. They struggle to have confidence to understand and interact with culturally tense issues from a theological conviction.There can be several reasons for this lack of confidence. Some women haven’t received higher education. Others know little about particular issues. Sometimes, moms of young children are so consumed with diapers, meal times and t-ball games that they have little room for organized study and discussion. Yet, women bring a unique voice to cultural issues that our churches and society need. But, they must first be discipled to do so.

 

A few years ago, I recognized my own need to have “iron-sharpening” relationships with other women to help me better engage difficult cultural issues. I decided to meet regularly with a few ladies from various backgrounds and in vastly different career fields. Every single one of these women brings a unique perspective, a thoughtful question and insightful encouragement to our time together.

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to start a formal program to have these relationships for yourself. Though programs have their helpful place in teaching and edifying the church, there are four simple ways to disciple women to be theologically informed about culturally relevant issues in everyday life—whether they’re single, married, career-driven, stay-at-home moms, academically inclined or academically intimidated.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Thom Rainer’s blog discussing three actions churches can take in times of crisis. Jonathan writes:

The past few weeks have been quite eventful for the communications teams at Cracker Barrel and United Airlines. In case you’ve missed it, Cracker Barrel faced a deluge of complaints following the firing of a server named Nanette Reid. Her husband posted about it on the Cracker Barrel corporate Facebook page, and Internet pranksters created the #BradsWife movement.

 

Then a video surfaced this week of a passenger on a United Airlines flight being physically “re-accommodated.” Mainstream news and social media sites have been filled with stories and hot takes on everything from the passenger’s past (in which many stories had incorrect information) to the standard airline practice of overbooking.

 

Both companies are still fighting these crises, and from many (or most?) perspectives, they are losing the battle when it comes to public opinion. These companies will likely recover over time. They will likely hire PR firms to win back customers and improve their public reputation. It’s what big companies do.

 

But what if this had been your church? What if your church was faced with a scandal or legal issue that called for crisis communications? Are you prepared? Some are, but many churches are not. And their responses to crises often fall into three categories.

In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford asks: “Is it true that Jesus was not ‘political’ during his time on earth?”

As a political opinion writer, I am generally amused by many of the critical comments people leave on my website or my Fox News Opinion pieces; sometimes I am amused because the comments are insults, other times because they are patently inane.

 

Yet, other times, the critical comments should be taken seriously because the commenter intends them seriously; one of the most serious and recurrent criticisms is that, “Christians should not be involved in politics and public life at all. Jesus wasn’t political, and he never asked us to be political.” In effect, they are saying “Withdraw from politics and public life.”

 

So, was Jesus “political” during his time on earth?

 

In a continuing interview with the Intersect Project Dr. Jim Shaddix shares three pitfalls to avoid when preaching for cultural engagement.

In a rapidly changing culture, more and more Christians are discussing the importance of cultural engagement. Yet what role does preaching play in cultural engagement and cultural formation? What dangers should we avoid?

 

To help us answer these questions, we turned to Jim Shaddix. Dr. Shaddix is the W. A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching at Southeastern Seminary. In addition, he is an accomplished preacher and author.

 

In part one of our interview, Dr. Shaddix explained why and how preachers can engage culture. Here’s part two of our conversation.

 

At the Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook explains how global cities are the Roman Roads of the 21st Century. Keelan writes:

I recently ran across a quote I would like to share concerning the significance of global cities in the mission of the church. It is from Jared Looney, who wrote Crossroads of the Nations:

While it is unlikely that this status will remain static, global cities such as New York City, London, Tokyo as well as Paris, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Houston, and many other key urban centers are of strategic importance for the present and future church. Such cities are centers of global influence and points of connection between nations and cultures. As the Gospel moved along the Roman roads through the cities of the Mediterranean world and people gathered at wells in ancient villages, global cities are now nodes in a global network and are of strategic importance for the mission of the church (Looney, Crossroads of the Nations).

There are two or three things I want you to see in this one. First, certain cities are rising to a new level of significance for the Great Commission. Looney compares these “global cities” to the significance of the Roman roads for the spread of the gospel. Honestly, I think he is right.

 

In a recent article at the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams discusses Lin-Manuel Miranda, ‘Hamilton’ and the value of work.

Two years ago, few people knew who Lin-Manuel Miranda was. Today, he’s a household name. Why? Because of Hamilton.

 

Miranda wrote and starred in this hip-hop musical about the brilliant but abrasive founding father. The show became an instant sensation. Tickets are sold out months in advance. It won Tonys, Grammys and even a Pulitzer. The musical may have even kept Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

 

Yet translating Alexander Hamilton’s story from the history books to the stage was not an easy task. Miranda wrote the musical’s first song in 2009. The show did not premier until six years later. Hamilton is the fruit of Miranda’s years of hard work.

 

In retrospect, the years Miranda spent crafting his historical hip-hop masterpiece were well spent. The show has been a runaway success. But what if the show had flopped? Would his work still have been worth it?

 

In a guest post at Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe discusses five reasons why he, a millennial, still likes using hymnals.

I might lose my Millennial card for admitting this, but:

 

I like hymnals. A lot.

 

Yes, I realize I’m supposed to want to worship with fog machines and song lyrics on projector screens with cool moving backgrounds. And sometimes I enjoy that too—but not all the time.

 

So why would a 36-year old Millennial enjoy hymnals? Here are my five reasons.

 

Chuck Lawless recently shared ten fears of young church leaders. Dr. Lawless writes:

Almost every day, I work with young people preparing for ministry. They are some of the most gifted, committed young adults I’ve ever met in 20+ years of serving as a professor. At the same time, though, they have fears that my older generation must recognize.