In Case You Missed It

At the Gospel Coalition, Rosaria Butterfield shared a reminder that we should love our neighbor enough to speak truth.

If this were 1999—the year that I was converted and walked away from the woman and lesbian community I loved—instead of 2016, Jen Hatmaker’s words about the holiness of LGBT relationships would have flooded into my world like a balm of Gilead. How amazing it would have been to have someone as radiant, knowledgeable, humble, kind, and funny as Jen saying out loud what my heart was shouting: Yes, I can have Jesus and my girlfriend. Yes, I can flourish both in my tenured academic discipline (queer theory and English literature and culture) and in my church. My emotional vertigo could find normal once again.

 

Maybe I wouldn’t need to lose everything to have Jesus. Maybe the gospel wouldn’t ruin me while I waited, waited, waited for the Lord to build me back up after he convicted me of my sin, and I suffered the consequences. Maybe it would go differently for me than it did for Paul, Daniel, David, and Jeremiah. Maybe Jesus could save me without afflicting me. Maybe the Lord would give to me respectable crosses (Matt. 16:24). Manageable thorns (2 Cor. 12:7).

 

Today, I hear Jen’s words—words meant to encourage, not discourage, to build up, not tear down, to defend the marginalized, not broker unearned power—and a thin trickle of sweat creeps down my back. If I were still in the thick of the battle over the indwelling sin of lesbian desire, Jen’s words would have put a millstone around my neck.

 

Earlier this week Dr. Bruce Ashford and Josh Wester shared: “Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton: An Evangelical Assessment.” Dr. Ashford writes:

Electing a president is a decision of great consequence. Every four years, the American people face the task of determining our nation’s leader. The process is always difficult. But this year that difficulty is compounded by the fact that the nominees of both major political parties are historically unpopular.

 

As a result, many citizens are being forced to ask more fundamental questions. And conservative evangelicals are no exception. Most of us have deep reservations about Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton.

 

During this election cycle, significant controversies have surrounded both candidates and their respective campaigns. Indeed, Bruce has briefly critiqued both Sec. Clinton (here and here) and Mr. Trump (here and here). But as November 8th draws near, a question we often encounter in conversation, in the classroom, and in public venues is: how does one evaluate a presidential candidate?

 

In this article, we provide an assessment of both major party nominees. After considering each candidate in view of four criteria, we offer our conclusions for consideration. Our assessment is an evangelical evaluation (not the evangelical evaluation); our hope is that, even if a reader disagrees with aspects of our analysis or our conclusion, the article will still be a beneficial contribution to the broader exercise of evaluating political candidates or platforms from an evangelical point of view.

 

Jonathan Petersen at Bible Gateway interviewed College at Southeastern Professor Dr. C. Ivan Spencer about his new book, Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained.

Though he died in 1900, Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical sway on modern thinking persists, inspiring numerous movements that weave the tapestries of contemporary culture: existentialism, theology, nihilistic culture, Nazism, 20th century film and art, atheism, ethical egoism, deconstruction, the hermeneutics of suspicion, and the postmodern age. His stark prophecy that “God is dead, and we killed him” thrives in this accelerating secular age where postmodernists lionize him as a prophetic voice of a new era.

 

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. C. Ivan Spencer (@scizen) about his book, Tweetable Nietzsche: His Essential Ideas Revealed and Explained (Zondervan, 2016).

 

Edgar Aponte posted right here at Between the Times on Monday sharing his thoughts on the U.S. Election from the perspective of a foreign-born Southern Baptist. If you missed it earlier this week, be sure to check it out.

I was born and raised in a developing country with a fairly stable presidential democracy. I got involved in politics at the age of 15, and in partisan politics when I was 18. Many of my political and policy positions are different today from those I held 20 years ago. As a non-Christian and then as a Christian, I supported and voted for candidates who I felt did not fully represent the kind of character and policies I wanted to champion.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog on five social media practices to avoid, and how to guard against them. Jonathan writes:

In days of yore, we followed current events through newspapers, radio, and television. In our current digital landscape, those industries look to social media for the latest information—and so do we. Social media is ubiquitous in our culture. We use it; our employers use it; our parents use it; our kids use it.

 

Over the past year, I’ve written a great deal about how you and your church can use social media most effectively. I’ve also shared insight into the common mistakes that are made. Today, I turn to practices to avoid altogether as well as helpful ways to keep from falling into their traps.

 

While these may seem to be general in nature, the application of these guidelines for pastors and church leaders can make a difference in how effectively you shepherd and minister to those under your care. The simple act of adjusting how you engage others online can dramatically alter your ministry effectiveness.

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At the People’s Next Door blog, Keelan Cook recently dsicussed The Discipleship Spiral: Doing to learn, and learning to do. Keelan writes:

Some of you will be familiar with Grant Osborne’s work, The Hermeneutical Spiral. For those of you who are not, hermeneutics is the fancy name for interpreting the Bible, and Osborne wrote a book where he compared the process of interpretation to a spiral. The reader spirals back and forth from the text of Scripture to the context of everyday life, examining each in light of the other and spiraling upward to clearer and clearer understanding of both.

 

Discipleship works the same way.

 

Chad Burchett posted an article at the Southeastern Literature and Arts Magazine discussing why it is important for Christians to produce art.

Every Christian should be an artist. Although many Christians maintain that art is just not for them, their world is immersed in art—some of which they contribute. Intentionally or not, we all serve as constant collaborators in a world of art. As Francis Schaeffer pens in his book Art and the Bible, “All of us are engaged daily with works of art, even if we are neither professional nor amateur artists.” Whether we produce high art or popular art or just contribute the art of a well-lived life and a well-spoken tongue, we are all functional artists. Denying the arts extinguishes a vibrant part of your identity and mission.

 

One of the primary ways believers can engage culture is through art. Households that would not open their home to a gospel presentation or a door-to-door evangelist may welcome our art onto their walls or shelves. The same people who recoil from a Bible may embrace our books, watch our films, read our poetry, and admire our photography. By our art we have the power to engage thousands of lives which we may never interact with any other way. Art is a stewardship—a powerful instrument of cultural transformation that we can either intentionally wield for the glory of God or wrongly choose to ignore or misuse.

 

Chuck Lawless recently posted nine reasons you may need to consider a Doctor of Ministry degree. Dr. Lawless writes:

This post may surprise you, but I want to defend a degree that’s received a bad rap, in my opinion. I’m a professor who has been doing this work long enough to know that some people view the D.Min. degree as a watered-down doctoral degree. I’m sure it can be (as all degrees can be), but I know institutions that have really strong degrees – including where I serve now at Southeastern Seminary. Here’s why you might want to consider this option.

 

Scott Hildreth published an article at the Center for Great Commission Studies explaining how the issue of alcohol is about the mission, not the morality.

The use of alcohol among conservative Evangelicals has been in the news lately. Famous pastor confessed to abusing it as way of handling stress. Missiologist, Ed Stetzer, has observed that this new openness might come with an increase in similar issues.  (Click Link) We were once a “full abstinence people.” But recently, younger Evangelicals are moving away from the stances held by our predecessors.

 

I am regularly asked my position on this subject. Our school has a strict policy and it is enforced across the board. When our younger students come in contact with this policy they are full of questions. Their questions generally revolve around issues of morality – is it wrong to drink alcohol? Is it a sin? Is it a matter of wisdom or conscience?

 

I could answer the question in a number of ways, but honestly, I don’t feel a need to engage in exegetical exercises about what Jesus turned water into, or what Paul told Timothy to drink for his stomach. Frankly, I find those discussions unhelpful.

 

At the Intersect Project website, Dr. Brent Aucoin wrote that if we want to fight poverty, we need to resist the sexual revolution. Dr. Aucoin writes:

The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s has swept across the entire country and into the White House, the US Supreme Court, and even public bathrooms and locker rooms. As a result, it is easy for those who have resisted the revolution to lose heart and abandon the effort.

 

Although there are numerous reasons to maintain the resistance, one that may not often come to mind is the true war on poverty. Not the so-called War on Poverty launched in the 1960s by the United States government, but rather the one which seeks to truly, effectively and permanently liberate individuals and families from poverty. Those activists and individuals who are fighting what I call the real war on poverty know that poverty is not just an economic problem. They know that morals, customs and worldviews are significant factors in determining people’s economic state.

 

Jonathan Howe posted at Thom Rainer’s blog giving four reasons to welcome smartphone use in the worship service.

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our culture. There’s no denying the influence of the smartphone on the rise of social media, changes in commercial marketing, and even the church.

 

Rarely a week goes by without me receiving an email, message, or tweet from a pastor or church leader asking about church apps, social media strategies, or mobile website functionality. “Don’t leave home without it” applies more to our smartphones than it ever did to American Express. And it applies when people are headed into their weekly worship service as well.

In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project website, Harper McKay shared how Southeast Asia helped her engage her own culture. Harper writes:

I’ll be the first to admit that reverse culture shock is hard. After living in Southeast Asia for nearly two years, America was both strange and familiar, welcoming yet uninviting.

 

In the midst of eating all the Chick-fil-A I could and catching up with friends and family, I found myself often confused in conversations, sometimes even angry. I criticized people for how they spent their time. I couldn’t understand the topics people chose to talk about. I heard it explained that I came from a square culture (America) and moved to a circle culture (Southeast Asia). My constant efforts to understand a circle culture as a square turned me into a triangle, resulting in me not fitting into my own square culture upon my return. While explanations like this helped me not to feel crazy, they really didn’t give me a way to live as a triangle in a square culture. Basically you’re told you’ve changed, no one gets you and now you just have to deal with it.

 

But then someone told me I didn’t have to settle for “that’s just the way it is.” I could use the differences in me to make an impact on my home culture. You see, to be a triangle means you have the unique privilege to be a constant learner of culture. Although I’m really just beginning this process, I have noticed a few things that my time in Southeast Asia taught me about engaging my own culture from the inside.

 

At his personal blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted: “Orlando, Tragedy and Why We Should Shut Up.

I’ve written before about how my first reaction to tragedies is almost always wrong. Instead of praying, I want to respond. The murderous rampage in Orlando is no different. We all have an inherent (and good) desire to see wrong made right, so we just want to do something—even if all that means is to say something on social media. Unfortunately, our responses often contradict one another and attacked deeply hold beliefs of others.

 

Jonathan Howe and Julie Masson recently shared five strategic ministry uses for Instagram.

In previous posts, I’ve covered how pastors, church leaders, and churches can most effectively used Facebook and Twitter. Today, I turn my attention to Instagram.

 

This picture-based social network can help build affinity, promote events, and provide inspiring insight into the inner-workings of your church. And now that the apps offer multi-account functionality, using Instagram has never been easier for pastors and church leaders.

 

But when it comes to using Instagram strategically for ministry, you have to post more than pics of food and lattes. So here are five ways you can use Instagram in a ministry context.

 

Ashley Gorman shared three things to do after praying for Orlando. Ashley writes:

We’ve all heard the news at this point. 50 Americans were killed horrifically in cold blood at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 53, according to the news, are still wounded. The media outlets are flabbergasted. The police work tirelessly to put the pieces together. The cries of families who have lost loved ones still hang in the air.

 

It’s a national tragedy. And if there’s anyone who can mourn with those who mourn, it should be a Christian.

 

People naturally want to watch how their Christian neighbors respond to this. They want to know—do you even care? While the answer should be obvious, I have to ask: Well, do we? While hashtags and prayers fill the air, and obviously should, we need to do more. Assuming you’ve already prayed for Orlando and posted something about it on social media, here are three other things you can do now.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

There are three types of people in our great nation. There are, first of all, those who do not read. An AP-Ipsos poll recently revealed that 25% of Americans do not read books, while other polls have put the number higher, at around 50%. It is not that these Americans cannot read or that they do not accumulate knowledge. (No country’s citizens—and I mean none—bring more depth and import to subjects such as celebrity clothes, hair and makeup, and the intricacies of the Pitt-Jolie marriage than the citizens of the USA.) It is just that their knowledge is not gained from books. Second, there are those who read but do so aimlessly, choosing on a whim what to read and when to do so. Third, there are those who plan to read and who read with a plan.

 

If you are the third type of reader, or if you wish to become that type of reader, this post offers five tips for determining which books to read (and which not to read).

 

Determining what to read is more than a little important. Of the many books in any given library or bookstore, most can be left unread without any fear of intellectual, moral, or spiritual deprivation. Even (and sometimes especially) the bestsellers are not necessarily worth reading. So what should a thoughtful Christian read? Without being able to answer this question in specific, because each person’s callings, abilities, and tastes are unique, I will attempt to give some general principles that should apply to all.

 

This past Tuesday at the SBC annual meeting, Dr. James Merritt stood to offer support for a resolution against the confederate battle flag. The Baptist Press website published this write-up of the resolution, and you can also check out the video below to hear Dr. James Merritt’s statement for yourself.