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.

In Case You Missed It

Aaron Earls posted earlier this week at his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, discussing the trend of shocking headlines on social media. Aaron writes:

Look across Facebook and you can spot it—the virus that infects computer after computer. It’s passed from one person to the next through sharing a link or even liking a post.

The virus you may have caught and passed on through social media is fear. You see it in headlines across Facebook.

  • 7 Surprising Foods That Will Give You Cancer … And Make You Fat
  • Why This Politician Hates Puppies And Will Take Away All of Your Freedoms
  • 10 Steps to Protect Your Child From Their Inevitable Kidnapping
  • How You Will Lose All Your Money By Not Clicking This Link. No, Seriously, Click This Link!

A study of 100 top blogs found that headlines with violent words like “kill,” “dark,” “bleeding,” and yes, “fear,” get more social media shares. Headlines that focus on negative superlatives—like never or worst—are more effective than either headlines without superlatives or ones with positive words. We share negative stories cast in terms of what we should fear, but why is that?

At Canon and Culture, Bruce Ashford discussed the religious problem with Socialism. Dr. Ashford writes:

Socialism is a polarizing notion globally, and especially so in the United States. So it was, to say the least, surprising when Bernie Sanders decided to run for President openly as a “Democratic socialist.” It is even more surprising to find him—even in the early days of the primary season—in a relatively close race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After all, many Americans view socialism as an evil that will ruin the economy and perhaps lead to an authoritarian government.

There are a number of reasons that some Americans are willing to give Sanders a shot. Perhaps the foremost reason is that he actually views himself as a “socialist capitalist,” a notion which most socialists would consider a contradiction in terms. But there are, in fact, a number of varieties of socialism. Each variety emphasizes material equality and communal property ownership, but each does so in its own way.

Nathan Finn published an article at Crossway discussing what Star Wars can teach us about history:

A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far, Far Away . . .
Ever since the original Star Wars movie opened in theaters in 1977, the words mentioned above have been a part of American popular culture. Each of the live-action movies in the Star Wars franchise that have been released thus far begin with these words set against a black screen. Cue the famous theme song by composer John Williams. Once the music begins, a short summary of the backstory leading up to the film scrolls upward across the screen. Once the prologue is completed, the movie begins. I get chill bumps every time I sit in a theater and the opening words appear on the screen; even my disappointment in the moribund second trilogy of movies could not take away this feeling of anticipation.

In a helpful article on historical thinking, Thomas Andrews and Flannery Burke suggest that the opening sequence in the Star Wars films reminds us of the importance of historical context. I believe it also offers another important reminder to historians. The past, while often open to scholarly study, took place a long time ago in a faraway place (if not another galaxy). Many historians emphasize this point by citing the famous opening line to L. P. Hartley’s 1953 novel The Go-Between: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” This is true even of the recent past. For this reason, historians must take into account matters of historical context when studying the past.

Keelan Cook shared a post at the People’s Next Door website titled: What exactly is urban? Keelan writes:

Cites are a hot topic nowadays. The world is officially more urban than rural, and it does not appear that is changing anytime soon. People are talking about cities. People are moving into cities. Cities are claiming an ever-growing chunk of society. And on this march into the concrete jungle, the word urban is getting tossed around like a frisbee.

City planners are talking about urbanization. Sociologists speak of urbanism. Not only is urban becoming an ism and an ation, as a adjective it is used to describe everything from a neighborhood to a pair of boots (I’m looking at you Urban Outfitters). But, despite all of this word-slinging, what does urban actually mean?

Chuck Lawless recently shared ten things he has learned about corporate worship. Dr. Lawless writes:

Almost 35 years ago, I began pastoring my first church. I remember planning worship services, typing the order of worship, and praying the worship would go well. Since then, I’ve realized how little I knew about corporate worship at the time. Here are 10 things I’ve learned about worship since then.

In Case You Missed It

Aaron Earls published an article at his personal blog earlier this week reminding us that it is okay to not have a “perfect Christmas.” Aaron writes:

Approaching Christmas, we have all these images of what our seasonal celebrations will look like.

We will find the perfect gift for everyone on our list. We will bake the best cookies in our perpetually immaculate kitchen. Our house will have the perfect decorations that were placed perfectly around our home without any hint of disagreement from our spouse or complaining from our children.

Speaking of our children, they will be in perfect health the entire Christmas break and in perfect harmony as they sing carols at church without ever misbehaving during the multiple services.

They’ll be no traffic jams on the road or long lines at the mall. Every trip will be short, sweet and full of precious memories with our family and friends.

Of course, then we wake up to our sick kid in our messy house with our half finished shopping list starring us in our face. Despite imagining an idyllic scene every year, the reality never leaves up to those images. So why do we stress out trying to bring about those impossible recreation of a perfect Christmas card scene?

It’s not like the first Christmas was “perfect” from a worldly perspective, even though we even try to reimagine it that way.

At Desiring God, Phillip Holmes has written a blog discussing the traditional Christmas hymn: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing“.

When I was growing up, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley (revised by George Whitfield) was one of my favorite Christmas songs — but the point of the first line went completely over my head.

Don’t get me wrong, I understood lines like “Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled” and “Light and life to all he brings, Risen with healing in his wings / Mild he lays his glory by, Born that man no more may die.” However, there was that lead archaic imperative that escaped me for years: Hark! (Listen!).

Dr. Albert Mohler published an article earlier this week discussing the real meaning of Handel’s “Messiah.”

[Handel] began composing on August 22, 1741 and completed the entire massive work in just twenty-four days of breathtaking intensity. … Messiah is arranged into three great parts. The first presents the promise of salvation and focuses upon the birth of Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Messiah. The second part tells of the work of redemption and looks especially to the cross and resurrection of Christ. The third part looks to the final consummation of God’s purpose of salvation in the future.

Every word of the oratorio comes from the Bible and is based mainly in the King James Version. The power of Handel’s majestic composition is evident in the fact that most of us cannot hear many of these biblical texts without hearing also the refrains of Handel’s greatest oratorio.

At the Peoples Next Door blog, Keelan Cook reminds us that we may be home for Christmas, but many will not.

In just a few hours I will be hitting the road for Tennessee. This morning, the local news in Raleigh said the security line at the airport was so long it went outside the building and around the corner. It is Christmastime, and that means it is time to head home for the holidays.

Going home for the holidays is a tradition for so many. It is just what we do. We write songs about it. We make movies about it. I cannot count the number of movies that turn going home for Christmas into a comedy of errors. The whole idea is somewhat sacred and expected. As I hurriedly packed the last sweaters into my bag this morning, in a rather foul mood I might add, a thought crossed my mind.

I have a home to go to.

At the GC2 Summit, I heard startling statistics of Syrian displacement. Some 13 million people, mostly children, have been displaced in Syria. That is half of the country’s population. Half.

Finally all of us at Between the Times and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary would like to wish you a Merry Christmas!