In Case You Missed It

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Kara Bettis shared about how Donna Gaines is showing neighborly love through literacy.

Born and raised in the “birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll,” Donna Gaines returned 25 years later armed with a background in education and a heart for the county that claims one of the highest rates of childhood poverty.

 

Gaines is a women’s ministry leader and wife to Southern Baptist Convention president and Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Steve Gaines, where they minister together in Cordova, Tenn. Although she spends much of her time traveling with her husband, discipling women, and spending time with her 10—soon to be 11—grandchildren, Gaines is also the founder and president of a literacy program that targets at-risk children.

 

Five years ago, Gaines launched ARISE2Read, a faith-based literacy program for second graders in the greater Memphis and Jackson areas. Since starting the program, ARISE2Read has mobilized 822 volunteers who tutor 853 students in 19 schools—including in Gaines’s very own Georgian Hills Elementary, where she attended growing up.

 

At Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer interviewed Keith Getty about being awarded by the British Empire, modern hymns, and his new book. Ed writes:

My friend Keith Getty was recently honored as an “Officer of the Order of the British Empire” by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. I was able to talk with him about the award, his contribution to modern hymn writing, and his new book.

 

Topher Thomas posted an article at The Intersect Project titled: ‘Boy, Girl or Other: Do You Get to Choose?’

My wife and I were grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s with our baby daughter when an older woman stopped us and said, “What a cute little boy.” In her defense our daughter was wearing blue, and it’s hard to tell with babies. I responded with a smile and said, “She is a cutie, isn’t she?” The woman said to us, “Oh it’s a girl!” She then turned to our daughter and said, “You’re a girl now, but you don’t have to be. This state will see that one day.”

 

My wife and I were taken aback. I wanted to say, “Well, she really doesn’t have a choice. God made her a girl, and so she is.” However, I said nothing. The older lady continued her shopping, and so did we.

 

We live in a very “progressive” city. I work in a very “progressive” school. So such statements are almost commonplace. But these notions of gender fluidity are not unique to where I live. Our culture is in the midst of a sexual revolution, and countless workplaces, businesses, cities and states fully support pushing that revolution forward.

 

Though I did not respond in this specific situation, her comment made me stop and reflect. How do we respond to a world that interprets everything in a way that denies the supremacy of Christ and the sufficiency of Scripture? What exactly is the error in a statement like that, and how do we speak both truth and compassion into a divisive subject like gender fluidity and those like it? Fortunately, we have a God who did not leave us without an answer for these and all of life’s issues.

 

Chris Martin posted at his personal blog discussing three considerations while facing temptation.

This summer, I have been leading the guys in our youth group through a study of James. It’s been a while since I took a deep dive into James, so it has been refreshing to see so much in the text that I hadn’t caught before.

 

Alongside reading the text itself, I have been reading Warren Wiersbe’s Be Maturecommentary and it has been a delightful companion through the study.

 

His chapter on James 1:13-18 is called, “How to Handle Temptation.” What I love about Wiersbe’s chapter on handling temptation is that it isn’t just a pragmatic list of ways to prevent ourselves from sinning.

 

In instructing us about how to handle temptation and avoid falling into sin, Wiersbe doesn’t direct our thoughts inward—he directs our thoughts upward.

 

Below are Wiersbe’s three considerations while facing temptation with some of my own elaboration on his points.

 

In a guest post at J.D. Greear’s blog, Chris Pappalardo discussed laziness or overwork—for church staff, which is worse?

In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:23-24a NIV). What does that look like when there’s such a close connection between your work for “human masters” and your work “for the Lord”? For those of us in ministry, what does it look like to follow Paul’s command?

In Case You Missed It

Recently at The Gospel Coalition, Keith Getty posted an article titled: Facing the Music, Finding the Mission. Keith writes:

There was something unfinished causing a splinter in my mind.

 

I began sensing it last year after I finished rewriting the song “Facing a Task Unfinished,” but it came to a head in January. Over the last five years, we’ve started a new family and enjoyed incredible opportunities in music we never could’ve dreamed of—and, of course, don’t deserve. All of this came out of writing music for the church.

 

Even so, something was just not right.

 

Then it arrived: the torturous day when I finally admitted to myself that little by little, we’d been moving away from what I’d set out to do at my core—write hymns. Time and focus was needed to feed new thoughts, collaborations, and sounds. It was time to face the music. Little did I know, I was about to find so much more.

 

As the clouds broke, our focus shifted and sharpened, so we began putting pen and melody to a new project, Facing a Task Unfinished. (Download free sheet music for the songs “He Will Hold Me Fast,” “For the Cause,” and “Facing a Task Unfinished.”) In the previous five years we’d only managed to write a couple of songs each year we were really pleased with, in contrast to earlier years of writing. But in the first three months of this year, we’d written eight new songs—a testament to the new perspective.

 

In coming back to this calling, I began to freshly realize four things that reinvigorated our cause.

 

At the Lifeway WosrhipLife blog, Dr. Joshua Waggener recently discussed worship that follows the Great Commission.

When Christians think about the Great Commission, we consider where we should go. But when we think of worshiping, we don’t necessarily think about going anywhere. Instead, we often focus on “staying put” for times of prayer, singing, and preaching from the Bible.

 

But what would our worship services look like if they more intentionally reflected the Great Commission? How might we gather to worship in ways that encourage going?

 

In a post at his personal blog, Jason Engle recently reminded us that there is no such thing as a blank space Christian. Jason writes:

Recently, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary adopted a new official hymn.  They selected a beautiful new song written by Keith and Krysten Getty entitled, “For the Cause.”  I love being a student (yet again!) at this wonderful Seminary.  I appreciate their heart for the gospel, and especially their vision to see “every classroom a Great Commission classroom.”  From good experience, I can honestly say that vision provides the engine that drives each and every classroom on their campus.  This is why this hymn fits the Seminary so very well.  I have posted a video of this song that the Getty’s have created in cooperation with Southeastern.  If you haven’t had a chance to hear this song or see this video, please take a few minutes and do that.  Besides the blessing I know it will be for you, I would like to offer some thoughts as I have reflected on it, myself.

 

Meredith Cooper is a student at Southeastern, and this year she made her first trip to the SBC annual meeting as a messenger. In this post, she shares the reflections of an SBC rookie. Meredith writes:

Last week, I attended the Southern Baptist Convention for the first time. While I am not new to the SBC—I grew up in an SBC church and now attend an SBC seminary—I did not consider myself immersed in the denomination until last year when I became a full-time employee of the seminary. As I learned more about the inner workings and politics of our denomination, I have to admit that my perception was less than positive. There were various reasons, ranging from sheer lack of interest in anything political to focusing on the wrong things to simple misunderstanding. However, attending the annual meeting last week put things in perspective, and these are some things I learned.

 

At The Peoples Next Door blog, Keelan Cook writes an appeal to young Southern Baptists.

This week was the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was held in St. Louis this year and over 7,000 messengers attended. That is quite a bit larger than recent years, and I have to say, the event impacted me in a couple of significant ways. That is the reason for this appeal. I write to ask you, young Southern Baptist, to consider your involvement in our convention. Does your church send representatives to the convention? Have you ever been?

 

In my estimation, this year’s convention was deeply significant. Some pretty important issues were discussed on the floor of the convention, some sharp rebukes were delivered, and some magnificent displays of unity occurred. It was more than a convention. It was a defining moment in the direction of our giant cooperation of churches, and there is a chance history will remember it that way. What is more, I was there and I did not just watch it happen, I helped make it happen.

 

That is the beauty of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are America’s largest protestant denomination and we are not run by some elite board of decision makers. We are run by a room full of church members from across the United States and Canada. Our decisions are made by small church pastors, bi-vocational church planters, scholars, and automobile mechanics. Technically, our denomination only exists for two days a year, when all of our churches have the opportunity to send people to speak on matters concerning this cooperation we have created. It is powerful, and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, I am afraid our generation knows little of that.