In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Michael Guyer reviewed Removing the Stain of Racicm from the Southern Baptist Convention, by Jarvis J. Williams and Kevin M. Jones.

Racism has been a glaring stain within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) since 1845, the year it was founded in Augusta, GA. And yet, by God’s grace, we are not the convention we once were. The 2017 SBC Annual Meeting showed us we still have more work to do. In the weeks following the SBC Annual Meeting, two different black pastors wrote contrasting articles—Lawrence Ware’s New York Time’s op-ed, “Why I am Leaving the Southern Baptist Convention”, and Dwight McKissic’s response in the Washington Post, “I’m a black pastor. Here’s why I’m staying in the Southern Baptist Convention.” While saddened by Ware’s conclusion, these articles highlight the continuing need to address racial justice and reconciliation within the SBC. I am especially grateful for McKissic’s voice in this conversation. His conclusion is worth repeating:

 

The SBC has its shortcomings, but churches that focus their attention on the mission of our Lord Jesus will not find a better body to cooperate with than the SBC. Not everything in the SBC is what it should be, but I am called to work within to help it become what it can be.

That’s why I remain.

In this same spirit, Jarvis Williams and Kevin Jones have given Southern Baptists, and any denomination with ears to hear, a great gift in Removing the Stain of Racism From the Southern Baptist Convention: Diverse African American and White Perspectives. It is the gift of honest reflection and thoughtful responses to the remaining stain of racism within the SBC.

 

Dr. Greg Mathias posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies titled Too Much Hustle, Too Little Heaven. Dr Matthias writes:

Heaven has invaded my thoughts a bit more over the past few weeks. While I cannot pinpoint a particular reason as to why my thoughts have been more heavenward, it’s been refreshing to consider this life in light of eternity.

 

Before the last few weeks, it strikes me how little I think about heaven. This isn’t just the fallout from a busy life and a forgetful mind, but it’s probably more accurate to say that it is because I think too little of heaven. My thoughts are wrapped up in what is right before me–the daily hustle. I find it difficult to consider anything beyond my next appointment notification, much less eternity. I live a consumed life focused on this world at the expense of my future, more permanent, and heavenly home. Perhaps you can relate?

 

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook asked: “Is door-knocking making a comeback?”

When I was in high school (in the late 90s), I discovered vintage clothes. In the small town where I grew up, we had small businesses known as “dig stores.” They were vintage clothing shops that had a large piles of clothes on tables or in a room where you sorted through clothing, looking for buried treasure. I remember the first time I found a pair of bell bottom blue jeans.

 

Anyone with just a bit of age on them knows that some fashions return to haunt us. When I was in high school, my parents laughed at my clothes, saying the 70s had returned. Today, I laugh as styles from the 90s climb out of their grave. Fashion is apparently not the only things from our past that revisit, and when it comes to local missions, that may be a good thing.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across an article in the Baptist Press lauding the return of door-knocking as an outreach method for contemporary churches. Robin Cornetet, the author, writes, “A Louisville pastor has busted the longstanding myth in the church world that door-to-door visitation is out of vogue and no longer effective.” The piece continues by pointing to Mark Bishop, the campus pastor for a Louisville church, who has developed the practice of knocking on 200 doors per week. The results, almost 40 baptisms over six months.

 

Is the practice of door-knocking coming back around to contemporary church practice? I will put my cards on the table and say I hope so.

 

The Intersect Project interviewed SEBTS staff photographer Maria Estes about how she uses her talent of photography for God’s glory.

In many vocations, you can clearly see how God is using your work for his glory. A construction worker builds a home that families can live in. A teacher invests in the next generation. A doctor saves lives.

 

In other vocations, the connection seems less clear. What if your work involves carrying a camera around? What if you spend most of your working hours in an office, editing photos on a computer screen?

 

Maria Estes is a photographer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and many of her days involve such tasks. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Maria about photography. In our conversation, you’ll see how God can use her work for his glory — and how he can use yours, too. Here’s our conversation.

 

In a guest post at Dr. Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe discussed how to handle negative Facebook comments about your church. Jonathan writes:

When churches have Facebook pages, negative comments will come your way. Whether it’s a former church member, someone from the community, or an online troll, it’s likely that at some point someone will comment negatively about your church on Facebook.

 

So what do you do? Do you defend the church? Do you just delete the comment and move on?

 

How you respond depends on three things, mainly.

 

Dr. Jason K. Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary interviewed Dr. Art Rainer, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Seminary about the preacher and money.

This week on Preaching and Preachers, Art Rainer joins me in a discussion on the preacher and money. Art serves as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also cofounder of Rainer Publishing, and he has written four books: Raising DadSimple LifeThe Minister’s Salary, and The Money Challenge.

In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook discussed where the Kingdom of God is in disasters. Keelan writes:

The kingdom of God is already here, but not yet here fully.

 

By no means is this concept new. You have heard it mentioned in a sermon, a Bible study, or in a classroom somewhere. One of the mysteries of the kingdom is the fact that it is both here and now and not yet fully established. It is inaugurated but not yet consummated. In other words, we already see the effects of this kingdom come to earth in the life of the church, but the total rule and reign of the kingdom is clearly not fulfilled. Evil still lurks around every corner, even the dark corners of our own hearts. The kingdom awaits its final consummation, that moment when Christ himself comes back to fully establish his reign. Then and only then will all wrongs be made right.

 

That the kingdom is not yet fully established is painfully obvious in the weeks after a disaster like the one here on the Gulf Coast.

 

Christy Britton shared a post at the Intersect Project discussing what it’s like to come back from a hurricane.

Friendly warnings from meteorologists progress into evacuation orders from government officials. Clear, calm skies become dark. Gentle breezes transform into harsh winds. Dry air morphs into torrential downpours. Houses become quiet as the electricity goes out.

 

Those of us who live in coastal areas are familiar with hurricane season and its signs. We watch our television and refresh our Twitter feeds to track a storm’s progress. The words “contraflow” and “displaced” are a part of our vocabulary. We know why families keep axes in their attics.

 

My husband, my kids and I were living on the north shore of New Orleans the summer of 2005. In August of that year, Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast and more than one million people were suddenly homeless — including my family.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Greg Mathias shared a missiological reflection on 9/11.

I still remember where I was and what I was doing on that morning 16 years ago today. As my co-workers and I gathered around a television to see what was going on, we watched with a mix of confusion and horror as the second tower of the World Trade Center crumbled to the ground. The moments after that were a fog of bewilderment as we tried to make sense of what we were seeing. May we not forget that there are many today still trying to make sense of the events surrounding 9/11.

 

No matter the tragedy, trying to make sense of tragedy is elusive. Even though difficult, we are called to love God and love neighbor everyday, even on tragic days.

 

Here are a four thoughts on dealing with tragedy from a missiological perspective.

 

Dr. Amanda Aucoin posted at the Intersect Project about five Christian women who have shaped culture.

Culture is a word we hear a lot in Christian circles these days. We hear of a “cultural malaise,” ponder “culture wars,” talk about how America has ceased to be a “Christian culture” and are encouraged to be “culture makers.” All of these uses of the term are helpful for thinking about how Christians can cultivate and contribute to the world we are called to serve.

 

Because we as men and women are created in the image of a creative God, we will be forming culture in our own world, however big or small its impact may seem at the time. And sometimes that’s the problem. We feel discouraged because our world does seem so small. What contributions could we possibly make? Do we really think the small culture we create could make a difference now, influence the larger culture, or (even more of a long shot) affect culture in the future?

 

Thankfully, we don’t need to look far for inspiration. Key women throughout history, some who held positions of influence during their own lifetime and many who did not, have impacted culture in ways they did not think likely or even possible at the time. What could a barbarian woman, runaway nun, a slave, a handicapped woman and the women in your life have in common? They have shaped culture, in big and small ways, to the glory of God.

 

In a guest post at Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe discussed when it’s time to redesign your church website.

Depending on who and what you read, you can find different opinions on how often you should redesign or refresh your website. If it’s a website design company, the answer is probably “six months ago.” They like the business, after all.

 

I don’t think you should have a timeframe for website redesigns, though. It’s an as needed event and also one that should be carried out with much planning and intentionality.

 

Website redesigns should be carried out strategically and to meet a need. So if your church has one of these needs, then it may be time to refresh your site.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons why spiritual disciplines matter. Dr. Lawless writes:

I know it sounds like a basic, simplistic matter in our Christian walk, but I’m writing this post to encourage all of us to do spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, fasting, and solitude. Here’s why.

In Case You Missed It

Dr. David Jones published an article at The Intersect Project discussing how you should decide on matters of conscience.

One of the topics I explore in my new book Knowing and Doing the Will of God is the issue of Christian liberty. Christian liberty is the idea that there are certain practices in which believers are free to engage, or from which believers are free to abstain. These issues are sometimes referred to as morally indifferent practices. Examples of areas where Christian liberty has been invoked in the past include: worship practices, music styles, games of chance, military service, places of employment, matters of commerce, eating practices and the observance of special days, among many other issues.

 

Throughout church history, issues of Christian liberty have caused no small amount of debate among believers. With a view toward helping those in the church navigate such topics in the Christian life, and fulfill the will of God, in my text I discuss several principles of Christian liberty, which are summarized below.

At The Gospel Coalition, Bruce Ashford shared four key ingredients in a devotional reading of Scripture. Dr. Ashford writes:

When the resurrected Lord rebuked the Ephesian church for leaving its first love, he was also serving notice to Christians of all times that they must labor to not lose the passionate commitment and joy that attended their conversion. This should remind us that the Christian life has many temptations, none of which is more insidious than leaving our “first love” (Rev. 2:4).

 

This temptation lurks around the corner for every Christian, but perhaps more so for “professional Christians” such as pastors, professors, and seminary students. It’s a unique temptation for us precisely because we study and teach the Bible for a living. Gradually, and without notice, we slip into the habit of viewing Scripture more as an object to be dissected than a living Word to be treasured.

 

As an antidote to this temptation, here is a fourfold pattern of Scripture intake to help us avoid treating Scripture as an object, so that we can receive it as the living Word of a living Lord. The pattern—read, reflect, pray, obey—adapts and modifies an early church practice.

 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Keelan Cook shared a post discussing how recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

Harvey has moved on, and now we begin to pick up the pieces.

 

It’s been said that Harvey passing was only the end of the beginning, and that is right. For churches here in the Houston area, the race ahead is a marathon, not a sprint. Houston has months and months of recovery in store, and our local churches have an opportunity to serve and proclaim. It will not do for relief efforts to be faddish. In the immediacy of a moment such as this, with media pointing a spotlight, volunteering seems reasonable. Packing up donations is just what we are supposed to do. But soon, as it always does, the media’s gaze will turn away for this city so desperately trying to rebuild itself. This will happen long before the work is done. Something else will grab our national attention, and then the spotlight moves on.

 

In an article for the International Mission Board, Meredith Cook discussed what her experience with Hurricane Harvey taught her about missions.

#PrayforTexas. It’s the latest hashtag making its way around social media as the world watches Houston drown under Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters. Normally, I would be posting it as one watching from a distance. Now, I’m included in it. It’s devastating to see the roads we take to church every Sunday made invisible under flood waters; people just down the road from us pleading for rescue; and we ourselves the recipients of numerous texts from friends and family checking on us. It’s surreal.

 

By the Lord’s grace, our small area of Houston was spared most of the disastrous flooding going on around us. On Monday, I sat on my couch under the warm glow of lamplight, listening to the familiar hum of the air conditioner and tapping of rain on the window. I finished up a round of editing for my work-from-home job. If I didn’t know better, I would think it was a normal day.

 

The TV is quiet now, but for two days, my husband and I watched the one news channel we could pick up on our antenna. Hurricane Harvey ravaged towns in the Texas Gulf Coast three days prior, and then parked over our city and dumped more water into it than Houston has ever seen. Nine trillion gallons and counting. Our city is under water.

 

At The Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams shared five ways you can pray for Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

“This is the disaster of a century for our city.”

 

My friend and Texas resident Josh Hemphill wrote these words to describe the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Harvey on the city of Houston. And there’s no other term to describe it than catastrophic. One of America’s most populous cities is underwater, and other communities along the gulf face a situation that’s just as dire.

 

How can we help? In what ways can we pray? To answer these questions for myself, I reached out to friends in the area. Here are some of their suggestions.