In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Doug Ponder shared a post titled: “Giving Up Lent for Lent“. Doug writes:

I’d never heard of Lent until I was in college, and even then it was spoken of as “something Catholics do.” Over the past few years, however, I can’t spend more than a few minutes on social media in the month of February without seeing someone’s post about what they are “giving up for Lent” this year. It’s a trend that many evangelicals have now written about, including a recent Lifeway study. (See also here and here.)

 

I confess that the rising tides of Lenten observance once swept my wife and me along with the current. For a few years we joined the throngs of people who willingly ‘gave up’ something in preparation for Easter. We also prayed every day, and we read from a delightful Lenten devotional by one of my favorite scholars. It was a mostly positive experience.

 

But this year (like last year), I’m giving up Lent for Lent. Here are some reasons why.

 

Dr. Scott Hildreth posted at the Center for Great Commission Studies discussing what ants can teach us about evangelism.

Proverbs 6:6–11 challenges the reader to observe an ant to gain inspiration for daily life. Many have used these verses for business and personal management. This post considers the ant in relationship to the spiritual discipline of personal evangelism. Last week, I gave some simple solutions to common problems with personal evangelism. You can see that post by clicking here.

 

Today – let’s consider the ant!

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford posted an article discussing why we need radical Christian scholarship.

Please allow me to serve advance notice: if Christians in the United States are going to keep their moorings in the 21st century, they will need to return continually to their roots in Christian Scripture and the Great Tradition. This is true in every sphere of culture, including the arts and sciences, business and entrepreneurship, politics and economics, and scholarship and higher education.

 

Yet, it is this last sphere—scholarship and higher education—that is heavy on my mind. In general, this is because I have seen the way “secular” and pagan scholarship has corrupted higher education. In particular, however, it is on my mind because I am part of a group of scholars—the Transdisciplinary Group—who met this past week and who wish to encourage “radical Christian scholarship” among Christian scholars and institutions of higher education.

 

The plenary speakers included Peter Leithart, Kevin Vanhoozer, Craig Bartholomew, Eric Johnson, C. Stephen Evans, Mary Poplin, and Esther Meek, and the MC of the conference was yours truly. Although the speakers represented a diversity of denominations and schools of thought, we are unified around our belief that God’s revelation should shape our scholarship radically (at its roots) in at least four ways.

 

Keelan Cook posted at The Peoples Next Door discussing the primary reasons cities exist. Keelan writes:

“The strength that comes from human collaboration is the central truth behind civilization’s success and the primary reason why cities exist.”

The quote above is from a book by Edward Glaeser called The Triumph of the City. It is a simple idea. In fact, it is so simple our gut reaction is to disagree. Surely there has to be more to cities than this! But, I think he is correct.

The primary reason for cities must certainly be human collaboration. Some will argue it is for protection, looking back to the old fort cities of antiquity. Others argue that it is the purpose of government. After all the empire needs a headquarters. Still others point out the economic advantage of cities. After all, cities are where the world makes its money. But if you peel back the surface, all of these are a form of human collaboration. Whether it is coming together for mutual protection, governing a society, or creating an economy, human collaboration is the reason cities make all this possible.

 

In a guest post at Dr. Chuck Lawless’ blog, Trevor Forbis discussed 10 ways his mentor has changed his life.

One of the most influential people in my life today is my mentor. As a young man whose parents divorced at an early age, I have never had a man commit himself to walk alongside me as I sought to pursue Jesus. Now, in over a year of walking through life together, I have found 10 specific things my mentor has done that have changed my life.

 

Laura Thigpen shared an article at The Intersect Project discussing knowing Christ through our suffering and grief. Laura writes:

There once was a man who grieved so deeply he sweat drops of blood. A man who, despite his power to raise the dead to life, wept at the tomb of a friend. He was a man acquainted with sorrow and stricken with grief. A man whose greatest passion was suffering.

 

Grief is the unwanted guest every person will reluctantly host in this lifetime. Yet, many Christians assume Grief will stop by only briefly before leaving merrily on its way. And we’re surprised when it overstays its welcome.

 

Though we are a people characterized by joy and peace, who hope in a risen King and his eternal glory, we are also a people who identify with the Man of Sorrows, the Suffering Servant. This seems most unnerving to some believers, which gives evidence to a poor theology of grief.

In Case You Missed It

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared an article discussing why his son does not have a smartphone. Trevin writes:

Our son wants a smartphone with an Instagram account. He’s 12. He’s in seventh grade. He wants to be able to text his friends, send pictures, and chat in the afternoons and evenings.

 

His mom and I say “no.”

 

Keelan Cook posted an article at The People’s Next Door discussing if we can love people on social media.

February 4, 2004 was a very significant day in the world.

 

It was the day that Facebook was created. Whether you love it or not, Facebook was a catalyst for the online “social media” movement. There are now 1.6 billion active users on Facebook, which is nearly one quarter of the world’s population. Along with Facebook, there are several other social media outlets that have massive followings as well. I say all of that to point out two obvious conclusions. First, literally billions of people have decided they want to connect with other people around the world via social media. Second, it shows that people want to be heard and engage in dialogue with the rest of the world (or at least the hundred people that follow them). But what should our dialogue look like?

 

At The Intersect Project Sam Morris shares three reasons why we should engage in political discussion on social media. Sam writes:

Politics are everywhere — especially our social media feeds. After eight months of fierce campaigning, we now are watching the political divide play out in real time on social media.

 

People are getting frustrated with what they see on social media. Some claim that they’re “quitting Facebook” or other social platforms (save for perhaps Instagram).

 

But don’t delete that Facebook account just yet.

 

Bruce Ashford shared a post at his personal blog discussing how we, our nation, and our churches should respond to Trump’s refugee ban.

One week into his presidency, Donald Trump fulfilled one of his campaign promises to ban immigration from countries compromised by terrorism. In an executive order signed on Friday, he banned all people from seven nations, refusing them entry for 90 days. Those nations are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

 

In light of the uproar caused by the executive order, and especially the refusal of Syrian refugees, this article will address six questions. The first three are more theoretical, while the last three address tangible actions that can be taken by nations, churches, and individuals.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Chuck Lawless shared ten reasons we must connect our churches with cities. Dr. Lawless writes:

We are called to get the gospel to all peoples of the world (Matt. 28:18-20), and we will not do that if we shy away from the world’s cities. Please read on, and pray about how your church might tackle a city – then encourage others to read this post as well.

In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook reminds us that we need to stop commiserating about sin. Keelan writes:

We have all been there. Someone in our small group asks to have coffee and we agree. Soon, we are sitting across a table before work one morning and see the expression on their face. We know the expression, we have had the expression. It is guilt and shame mixed with concern. As the conversation progresses, it turns to confession. Our friend is struggling with a particular sin and knows that confession is the right approach to dealing with it. They are seeking help, and they have come to us.

 

At his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how we as a society value entertainment and opinions more than we do information and truth.

Some back and forth between a football coach and a sports talk show host this week unintentionally illuminated one of our modern culture’s most dangerous condition. We value entertainment and opinions much more than we do information and truth…It’s more affirming when you read or hear something that simply dismisses everyone who disagrees with you as mentally or morally inferior. And it’s more infuriating to read someone who does that to you and your side. In both instances, our passions and emotions are inflamed (it is a hot take after all) and we are more likely to share or talk about it.

 

And when you share an article or video on social media, even if you talk about how horrible it is, you give the other person what they want—attention. So they serve up more takes and the cycle continues.

 

And that’s what hot takes do. They draw people in.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax writes that Christians must be myth busters.

MythBusters is one of The Discovery Channel’s most popular shows. It ran 15 seasons and still finds success in reruns.

 

Each episode focuses on a couple of popular beliefs or rumors, like “Can drinking Diet Coke and swallowing Mentos make your stomach explode?” or “Is running better than walking if you want to keep dry in the rain?” The hosts then test the beliefs through a number of experiments, to see if the idea holds up under scientific study.

 

MythBusters is a show that is comical and educational. It takes a common idea in society and shows how the myth gets “busted” from the scientific standpoint.

 

But you’ll never see a MythBusters episode about the purpose of life. You won’t find the hosts tackling the question, “What happens to us when we die?” Or “Is there a divine presence in the world?” These questions go beyond the stuff of scientific study. They are common and contested.

 

David Jones posted at the Intersect Project discussing the inauguration, Paula White, and the pitfalls of the prosperity gospel. Dr. Jones writes:

“To live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian.”

Charles Spurgeon uttered these words over a century ago to the then-largest congregation in all Christendom. Over the years, however, the message preached in some of the largest churches in the world has dramatically changed. This new gospel has been ascribed many names, such as the “name it and claim it” gospel, the “blab it and grab it” gospel, the “health and wealth” gospel, the “prosperity gospel” and “positive confession theology.”

No matter what name you use, though, the essence of this new gospel is the same: God wants believers to be physically healthy, materially wealthy and personally happy.

 

Also at the Intersect Project website, Laura Thigpen posted an article titled: “A Pro-Life Ethic: Caring for Aging Parents“.

Her frail hands, wrinkled with raised blue veins would meet my Granny’s hands as she held the cup to her thin lips. “Alright, now you have one more to take, Momma,” Granny would say, coaxing my great-grandmother to take the final sip to swallow the last of several pills.

 

As a child watching my Granny care for her nearly blind, hard-of-hearing elderly mother, I would try earnestly to imagine the woman before me as a young mother, up early preparing breakfast and organizing a household of seven children in the 1940’s. Sitting quietly, and contentedly, in her chair on the far side of the living room, I struggled then to see in her the once vibrant life she lived. But every now and then I would glimpse a small grin on her face, as if she weren’t so hard of hearing after all or perhaps she was remembering a pleasant memory.

 

Watching my Granny care for her mother in such a tender way, like caring for a young child, stirred an appreciation in my young heart for the beauty and delicacy of old age. Instead of seeing wrinkles I see stories of faith, adventure and hardships. Instead of gray hair I see the evidence of work, stress, grief and the wisdom of long-life. Instead of thin, easily bruised skin and oddly bent bones, I see a lifetime of very human vulnerability – such a soft shell to protect something so vital as the human heart.