In Case You Missed It

At The People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook shared a warning concerning religious categories. Keelan writes:

Americans love our categories. We love our boxes and labels. Even today, with the postmodern push away from classification, we Western thinkers still organize information by placing “like items” together in taxonomies. Categories can be helpful to understand certain generalizations about a set of items, ideas, or people. However, categories also obscure information. Every time we lump two like things together, we focus on the similarities and overlook the differences. This is particularly true when we view something as an outsider.

 

We need to recognize this tendency to generalize in missions and evangelism. Our world is full of cultures, beliefs, religions, and worldviews. The sheer number of options when it comes to a belief system are dizzying. In the past, however, your average church-going Christian in the US would only run across one of two different belief systems. A generation ago, there were Protestants, Catholics, and not-so-religious people. Those in the Protestant camp tended to be either committed, confessional Christians or nominal Christians (in name only) and part of a larger Christian cultural ethos. When it came to sharing the gospel, these were the predominant categories of thought.

 

Spence Spencer published an article at The Intersect Project discussing and the psychological consequences of a well-intended idea: universal basic income.

We don’t know what the future holds, but some in the tech industry are predicting a massive displacement of workers in the future.State jobs reports tend to confirm this expectation, as automation is thought to be increasing and threatening to displace low-skill workers.

 

Some see the downward shift in employment rates as an overall positive, arguing that taking people out of so-called menial jobs will free more people up to be creative and more effectively human. To support the displaced workers, there are a number of people calling for universal basic income.

 

Universal basic income proposals come in several forms and variations, but a simplified version is this: Everyone will be guaranteed at least a certain amount of income per year. Essentially, the government will write everyone a check for an amount deemed appropriate to support basic living expenses. Wages from compensated employment would either add to that basic income or displace it, depending on the proposal.

 

At his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared a post about Chip and Joanna Gaines, Buzzfeed, and fixing up the social media cycle of shame.

Buzzfeed published a lazy story on Chip and Joanna Gaines, the happy home renovating couple from Fixer Upper, using sermons preached by their pastor in opposition to same sex marriage.

 

The obvious intention of the piece was to gin up controversy and unleash an internet mob to pressure the hosts of the popular show to voice an opinion on the culturally controversial issue. After obtaining that information, only then could socially liberal viewers feel comfortable (or not) watching the Gaineses remodel homes.

 

Thankfully, unlike many previous instances, most readers critiqued Buzzfeed’s story instead of their subjects. Many who support same sex marriage and even many who are gay themselves called the piece “bad journalism and bad advocacy.”

 

After the backlash, Buzzfeed’s editor insisted the piece was about whether HGTV discriminated against same sex couples on the show. (Despite the fact that, as they reported in the story, multiple shows on HGTV regularly feature same sex couples.)

 

In a snark filled follow-up, the writer of the original piece quoted from an HGTV spokesperson that the network does not discriminate against anyone. Seemingly, this will end the latest version of Heresy Hunters, the new favorite reality show of some cultural progressives.

 

But as a Christian, I am much more concerned about our reaction to such situations. How we handle them matters because they will be more and more frequent.

 

At the Around Southeastern blog, Harper McKay shared about the Biblical Women’s Institute titled “Helping Us Get There“.

My husband and I met while serving overseas as singles in Southeast Asia. When we returned home from our two-year terms and talked about getting married, we thought we would slow down, stay in America for a while, and have a “normal” life, whatever that means. We both knew that God had called us to serve overseas long term, but we did not want to move to go to seminary. We thought it would be better to take online classes and work full time near our families.

 

As we searched for jobs, nothing seemed to open up to either one of us. The wedding date drew nearer and nearer and we still lived with our parents with no idea what to do after we got married. Still we said we just didn’t want to go to seminary.

 

Finally after my husband (then my fiancé) was turned down from two jobs in the same week, I admitted to something that had been creeping up in my mind.

 

“I think we have not been open to everything God might want us to do,” I said as we took a walk in the park.

 

Trevin Wax recently shared his 10 favorite reads of 2016Trevin writes:

For more than ten years now, I’ve been blogging regularly. And every year, I like to pick the ten books I most enjoyed reading.

Feel free to peruse this list and some of previous years’ selections (20152014201320122011, 2010,2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, as well as my Hubworthy page of “Essential” recommendations). You’ll find some great titles to add to your Christmas wish list.

In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Keelan Cook shared a word of caution about “relationship evangelism.” Keelan writes:

I can remember  Monday night visitation at church. We would all meet up at the church building to pair up and take any visitor cards from the Sunday before and go visit the new families and share the gospel with them. In addition, it was standard procedure to go door-to-door in the neighborhoods around their house and talk to people we had never met and attempt to share the gospel with them. We were given tracts, taught simple presentations, and armed with some questions that should allow us to get into a gospel conversation with a stranger.

 

That is not cool anymore.

 

Over the last couple of decades, “door knocking” has passed out of fashion and been replaced by “relationship evangelism.” Now, before you think I am a critic of developing relationships with lost people to share the gospel, let me take my stand as a fan of relationship evangelism. I am largely in favor of this shift. Often (but not always!) it better suits the culture we find ourselves in today. However, like all good things, the term “relationship evangelism” has its fair share of abuse.

 

Working at a seminary, I get to see a lot of students attempting to share their faith. Here are a few abuses I regularly encounter concerning “relationship evangelism.”

 

Southeastern Seminary Ph.D. student Spence Spencer recently (successfully) defended his dissertation. He shared some thoughts at his personal blog about the experience.

I still have that feeling of contentment in light of last Tuesday. Not because of the results of the election, but because I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation. I’ll leave the politics to others; frankly, I’m just glad this election cycle is over.

 

Seminary has been the best decade of my life. I started on my Master of Divinity in the Fall of 2005. It’s now the Fall of 2016 and I’ve finally completed the final step of the process. All that remains are a few typographical revisions and graduation. I’ve invested the arm and a leg that it costs to get regalia, so that’s out of the way.

 

For the handful of folks that read my blog and are interested, I’ve been summarizing some lessons learned from each stage of the game. Today I’m going to do the same for my dissertation defense.

 

Readers should recognize that some of this depends on your topic, discipline, and committee composition. However, in general, here are the lessons I learned

 

Trevin Wax recently shared an article with two reminders about prayer from the Korean church.

Earlier this week, I posted a few pictures from our trip to South Korea, where we launched The Gospel Project in Korean. As I’ve been processing the events during our brief sojourn in this beautiful land, I’ve kept returning to a couple of Korean prayer practices that challenge me.

 

Here are two areas in which the Korean church has something to teach us in the West.

 

Alysha Clark posted at the Intersect Project website discussing how Christians should think about medical research. Alysha writes:

You scroll through your Facebook feed. One person shares an article that warns of the dangers of vaccinations. Another claims pharmaceutical companies are withholding cures for deadly diseases. Yet another person complains about the dangers of GMOs.

 

Each of these claims share one core assumption: We can’t trust medical or industrial research and development.

 

As Christians, what should we make of these claims? More importantly, how should we think about medical research?

 

Art Rainer recently published an article at the LifeWay Leadership blog sharing four ways a short temper can hurt your leadership.

There are several verses in the Bible that discuss the dangers of a quick temper. I have been able to work and learn from some great leaders so far. I truly feel blessed.

 

But I know those whose experience differs dramatically from mine. I know those who have worked for leaders with really short fuses. And they hated it. If you are a leader that finds himself or herself with a short temper, be careful.

 

Recently Midwestern Seminary shared a short video with former Southeastern Seminary faculty member (and graduate) Dr. Nathan Finn discussing mistakes churches make when pursuing ethic diversity.

 

In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Lifeway Kid’s Ministry blog, Bekah Stoneking discussed the importance of biblical literacy for children. Bekah writes:

What do young people really think about God, the Bible, and church? How do we balance Barna’s findings—which reveal a majority of adolescents desire closeness with God and leading meaningful lives—along with reports of young people who are leaving the church because they did not experience a “robust Christian faith?” And, what does “spiritual but not religious” mean, anyway?

 

To reconcile the differences that exist among a desire for God, a lackluster faith experience, and a noncommittal stance toward the church, I’d suggest we begin at a young person’s foundation—both in their development as children and in their early experiences with the Bible. For those of us who are called to disciple kids in our homes and churches, we should understand the role biblical literacy plays in transforming lives and building faith.

 

At The Exchange, Ed Stetzer and Amy Whitfield discussed how Evangelicals made Trump’s candidacy, and they now need to help remake his presidency.

[Tuesday Night], maps were redrawn. Political realities were upended. America was redirected—and, for good or for ill, Evangelicals were a big part of that reality. White Evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the general election, after propelling his campaign in the primaries.
Many Evangelicals didn’t follow the leaders that warned them away from Trump. These Evangelicals, and many Americans, were angry enough to vote for a stunningly unpopular candidate who promised change. It turns out that that basket was a lot bigger than many people expected.
We knew that half of America would be outraged, but the surprise is which half.
Now the world is outraged. And much anger is being directed at Evangelical Trump voters. Yet we need to remember that Trump voters are not Trump

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford and D. A. Horton teamed up to share a post-election vision for Evangelical Conservatives.

Donald J. Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States. Many evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Many did not. But there is one thing upon which we can all agree: the last decade, and especially the past two years, in American public life has made one thing clear to evangelical conservatives: we are being decentered socially, culturally, and politically.

 

Although in recent years we have seen incremental progress in our advocacy for the pro-life cause, we are experiencing consistent setbacks on other significant concerns such as religious liberty, race relations, and marriage and family. Many Americans consider our stance on moral issues to be not only wrong but bad, and view us as little more than the hypocritical and bigoted special interest arm of the Republican Party.

 

Not the best of times, these.

 

In light of the situation, therefore, shouldn’t evangelical conservatives forget about politics and public life for a while so they can slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on the gospel?

 

No.

 

In an article at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax asked: “What if our Bibles rose up and judged us?”

I’m two months into my new role as Bible and reference publisher for LifeWay, where I have the privilege of stewarding a Bible translation and producing resources that assist people in reading and understanding God’s Word.

 

But there’s a scary part to my job, a spiritual element that I cannot shake off.

 

At his blog Millennial Evangelical, Chris Martin reminds us that we have forgotten where home is. Chris writes:

Christians: we tend to have a perspective problem. We have misunderstood eternity to be the epilogue that follows our life on earth, when our life on earth is actually just the prologue to eternity. This weekend, my pastor, Trevor Atwood, preached on Matthew 6:11, which is the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

 

The “daily bread” that God provides is not the fullness of all that is good in life. “Daily bread” is not the fulfillment of every good promise of God. “Daily bread” is the presence of God we need to fuel us in our journey en route to his eternal presence. “Daily bread” is like a greasy Whopper to get us by in our car on the way home to a delicious home-cooked meal with our family.

 

When we pray, and as we live out our lives on earth, we often want “daily bread” to be more than God promises it to be. We expect the “daily bread” that’s meant to fuel our journey home to be a home-cooked feast. It’s not just that we’re too impatient to wait for the feast until we get home. It’s that we have forgotten where our home is.

 

What is Love, and How do I find it?” This is a question that Jonathan C. Edwards addresses in a recent article at the Intersect Project Website. Jonathan writes:

We look far too many places and to far too many things to find love, figure out what exactly it looks like and experience what it feels like. We do this time and again because, frankly, where it actually can be found seems boring, out of date and not all that sexy. Reading a good novel or cuddling up watching the newest romantic film seems a lot more enjoyable than opening the Bible.

 

What’s interesting though is that the Bible, unlike much of everything else we experience, isn’t cryptic when it comes to uncovering the coveted understanding of love’s true form. Scripture says, “You want to know what love is? You want to know how to feel love and express love? Look at the cross. Period.” [John 10:11, 15:13; 1 John 3:16, 4:10, 19]

 

But it seems that’s not good enough for us.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Keelan Cook shares four truths to ground your Theology of Mission.

Studying missions is an important part of actually doing missions. There is a cognitive aspect to everything we do. Therefore, what we study about missions affects how we actually do missions. The Bible has a lot to say about the mission of God and the church’s role in that mission. There is another component to studying mission: the actual theology we glean from what the Bible says. Our theology comes from our interpretation of the Bible, and everyone interprets the Bible whether they realize it or not. There are theological interpretations of Bible’s bases for missions. I’ve listed a few below.