In Case You Missed It

Dr. Andreas Köstenberger recently published an article at his personal blog discussing Community and Mission. Dr. Köstenberger writes:

As we read at the beginning of the book of Acts, the early church was devoted to fellowship, koinonia (sharing things in common; koinon = common): “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. … And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:42). The emphasis on fellowship is interesting, because Acts is a book about mission. So we see that in the early church, community was the foundation for the church’s mission.

Keelan Cook recently posted a blog discussing 3 things churches think they cannot do with Internationals (but really can). Keelan writes:

Not only do I work at a seminary, I am also a local church pastor. As our church gets serious about discovering and engaging internationals in our area, I am starting to see a pattern. There are several things well-intentioned church members feel they are not supposed to do when engaging internationals that are, in fact, really good things.

Of course, everyone exists inside a culture, and church members here in America are no exception to that rule. That means certain aspects of our culture and worldview give us “rules” to live by when interacting with other people. For instance, here in the States when we meet someone we typically shake hands. It happens so naturally that we do not even realize it is a culturally conditioned response. However, when we start engaging cross-culturally, some of these cultural responses cross wires and short out communication. In other words, there are “rules” in our culture that make no sense in other cultures.

The following are three such examples where our “rules” in American culture tell us not to do something that would actually benefit our relationship with people from many other cultures. These are things we think would be wrong to do, but are actually good.

Michael J Kruger shared his top ten favorite books on the authority of Scripture in a recent blog post:

One of the most enjoyable aspects of speaking to different groups on the reliability of the Bible is the Q&A time. It is an exciting (and risky) affair because you never know what you are going to get.

Then again, sometimes you do know what you are going to get. Over the years, one question has been asked more than all others combined: “What are the best books to read on the authority of the Bible?”

Due to the popularity of that question, I have compiled an annotated list of the 10 best books on this topic. It goes without saying that such a list is highly selective (and debatable). So many good books deserve to be included.

Dr. Joe McKeever recently posted an article discussing the things we do for a great story:

“And without parables (great stories!) Jesus did not teach” (Mark 4:34).

I once sat through a long session of a convention of realtors just to hear a motivational speaker.  The story with which he opened quickly became a mainstay in my arsenal of great illustrations and sermon-helpers.

Time well spent.

I’ve read entire books and come away with one paragraph that became a staple in my preaching thereafter.  It was time well used and money well spent.

SEBTS Student (and Library Assistant) Nathaniel Martin recently shared this short biographical sketch of A.T. Robertson.

A.T. Robertson was a faithful teacher, preacher, and denominational leader. Although he came be remembered for many things and in many ways there is little doubt he will be most remembered as the greatest scholar in the history of Southern Seminary.

Finally, be sure to check out this great short story shared by George (Chef) Trudeau, a student at the College at Southeastern: “Meditated Grace

In Case You Missed It

Keelan Cook proclaimed in a recent blog post: “Missions is changing, and we need to keep up.

Our great-grandchildren will read about this moment in church history textbooks, if the Lord does not return first. Global changes are taking place that will forever affect the way churches fulfill the great commission, and our generation is standing at a major turning point in the history of the church.

I like to call this change the democratization of global missions. That is really a fancy way of saying that for the first time in history, every, single member of your local church can be directly involved in international missions. I am not referring to praying for missionaries or giving to support their cause. These crucial tasks have always been available to church members, and they are perhaps more important than ever. But now, every member can actually participate in cross-cultural ministry.

Chuck Lawless addressed the issue of why pastors have few deep friendships in a recent blog post:

I’ve heard it so many times that I almost expect it: pastors are lonely. They often minister among people they say they love, but don’t know well. They have few deep friendships. Here are 10 reasons why we struggle with finding friends.

At First Things, Peter Leithart published an article discussing what we get from worship.

It is often said that we come to worship to give and not to receive. That is a dangerous half-truth.

Praise, thanks, adoration are all part of worship, of course, and God delights in our praise. But in worship as in all of life, we have nothing to give unless we have first received. We give praise to God because He first gives gifts to us, and our gifts to Him are simply an Amen to His gifts to us. We come to worship to receive, so that we can give.

Earlier this week Thomas S. Kidd published and article which addressed the issue of how and when to say ‘no’. Dr. Kidd writes:

When do you say no? How do you choose between many promising-sounding opportunities? And how do you say no without seeming like a prima donna?

The key to this discussion is grasping that you need to focus on your core calling(s), and that the nature of your work in those callings changes over time. For example, if you are single, or if you are married with no kids, or are empty nest, then the question of saying no looks different than if you have kids at home. Or if you are a doctoral student writing your dissertation, saying no looks different than if you are a tenured full professor.

The basic principle is that a modicum of success or career progress, or additional family responsibilities, normally requires more saying ‘no.’ Instead, people often keep trying to shove more stuff into their schedule, leading to mediocrity across the board.

Finally, Amy Medina, who is has been serving in the East African city of Salaam since 2001 recently published an article: “Sometimes Africa Scares Me.” Pray for Amy and her family as there is potential for some political unrest where she is located:

The elections are two weeks from today.  But what can we do?  We stock our pantries; we fill up our gas tanks.  And we pray:  for peace, and for a government with integrity.  We pray for safety but remember that’s not always the most important thing.  Instead, that the gospel might go forth, no matter what.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.  

Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.

In Case You Missed It

1) Thomas S. Kidd discusses professors and the new public square. In his post Kidd writes:

E-mail, Twitter, blogging, and podcasts have dramatically lowered the structural barriers between professors and a potential reading public. But these are only possibilities unless academics avail themselves of them, and it remains to be seen whether they will…Academics who want to reach a broader audience will have to get used to the idea that they need to reach out to their prospective readers.

2) In this post, Joe McKeever reflects on his single biggest regret from 53 years of ministry: Making time for his family.

The minister who learns to say ‘no’ in order to protect his time with the family will occasionally anger a self-centered, demanding church member. But it’s a small price to pay, and in the long run, works out best both for the family and the immature member. Only a strong pastor can do this. I sure wish I’d been one.

3) Keelan Cook reflects on Muslim immigration in this post.

The least reached peoples are now in arms reach. And for the first time in our history, every, single member of your church can impact the nations in this way. Believers who never could go overseas no longer have to in order to share Christ with a Muslim, or a Hindu or Buddhist for that matter. We now share space. We share a marketplace. This is not bad news, if your heart is to share the good news of Christ.

4) Ed Stetzer discusses discipleship of new believers and how to focus on spiritual growth and transformation in this post.

More often than not people respond to Christ because they are in a life crisis, not just because they wake up feeling the need to be closer to Christ…every church needs a pathway which will provide direction for their discipleship plan, and also show how they grow together as a church.

5) Cameron Stanley, a member of a team of SEBTS students serving this summer in San Diego provides his take on the limitless boundaries of God’s love from a quick trip across the border.

One of the main lessons I was able to learn from that day was that God’s love transcends all boundaries. Regardless of the language barrier, the actual land boundary, or any other self-construed boundary pretense, we were able to share Christ, only by His grace. If we live life on mission with the idea that God’s love transcends all boundaries, pursing Him in all that we do, there is nothing that He can’t use us for.