In Case You Missed It

At his blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared a post discussing how the genuine kindness of Fred rogers has made him a new unlikely hero in our current culture.

In 2005, sandwiched between the Iraq War and the Great Recession, the internet provided Americans a needed respite in the form of Chuck Norris facts. But our hyper-partisan culture has found a new unlikely hero—Mr. Rogers.

 

Earlier this week, Jason Duesing shared an article at Preaching Source highlighting the preacher’s role as missionary.

In recent years our family survived our “Angry Birds” season of life. For a period of time our kids could not get enough of this game, to the extent that we even had an Angry Birds birthday party along the way. If you have played this game, you know that the key to advancing is trajectory. How you aim the angry bird makes all the difference for achieving maximum effect. While hopefully not angry, the key for the preacher as missionary also is trajectory. In what direction the preacher points, the church follows.

 

That said, it isn’t enough for a preacher to herald the importance of missions. He must underscore its importance biblically and encourage his people to be world Christians just like him. So, more than merely pointing to the ends of the earth, the preacher should also go there and take others with him.

 

In short, the preacher as missionary is an exemplar of one who champions the end goal of the gospel and those called to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Yet, this is not another hat he must wear but is the natural outgrowth of his dedication to the gospel and his desire to see the nations reached.

 

Inevitably, when the preacher is leading in the trajectory of missions, well-meaning church members will ask why it is that we need to emphasize and fund long-range global mission efforts when there are so many lost people right here at home. This is a question of stewardship and deserves a good answer, and the preacher as missionary should readily give it.

 

At The Intersect Project, Laura Thigpen shared four ways to walk with those who weep.

Silence accompanies Grief, as does Loneliness. These unwanted tenants take up residence in all our lives for a time. And each us will long for companions to come and sit with us while these unwanted guests are present. All of us may not be in seasons of deep grief, but we all know someone who is. The Christian life demands that we respond to others who grieve, but not in the way it has become so common.

 

For various reasons, I have experienced grief in my life that never truly leaves. I have come to realize that the pangs of grief may subside, but the cause of my grief will never go away. I will always be grieving, to some extent. And I’m not alone. For this reason, brothers and sisters in Christ must hold up one another’s arms, walk alongside and shoulder one another’s burdens as we grieve — for we all will grieve, and we all will desire someone to help us grieve.

 

I’m grateful to have such brothers and sisters in my life. Sometimes we sat in silence; other times we talked. Sometimes we wept together; other times we laughed. But what I have treasured most about the ways others have entered into grief with me is their resolve to grieve with me, to feel what I feel in a small way, to be burdenedby the destructive effects sin has in our world with me, to carry out the call to “weep with those who weep.” It is a blessing to have brothers and sisters so willing to follow this command, but it can be terribly burdensome when brothers and sisters do not.

 

Are you willing to “weep with those who weep” — to be there when someone is experiencing grief? Here are four practical steps to carry out this important call.

 

This week at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin wax looked at why C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity received bad reviews.

Mere Christianity is a strange book to become a modern Christian classic, partly because it wasn’t intended to be a book in the first place.

 

The work began as a series of radio addresses Lewis delivered during WWII. Next, these “broadcast talks” were printed as small pamphlets. A decade later, they were compiled into the book we know it as today. (What’s more, it wasn’t Mere Christianity that put Lewis on the map; The Screwtape Letters propelled Lewis forward in both the UK and the United States, eventually landing him on the cover of Time magazine.)

 

Still, few books in the 20th century have cast such a long shadow as Mere Christianity. I have multiple books on my shelf that give a nod to Lewis when making a case for Christianity in the 21st century: from N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian to Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. Today, Lewis’s book has its own biography–written by George Marsden–as one volume in a series on influential Christian books!

 

But despite the book’s influence today (more than 70 years after the talks were delivered and 65 years since it first showed up in print), early reviewers felt little fondness for Lewis’s work or his vision of Christianity. Some of the initial feedback was negative.

 

In a post at the Baptist Press, Paul Akin shared the number one reason missionaries leave the field.

The most common reason missionaries go home is not due to lack of money, illness, terrorism, homesickness, or even a lack of fruit or response to the Gospel.

 

Regretfully, the number one reason is due to conflict with other missionaries.

 

Yes, you read that correctly.

 

From my own personal experience on the field and after five years training, equipping, and sending missionaries, I have witnessed this truth firsthand. In all my travels around the world, I’ve spent countless days with missionary teams of all types, sizes, and makeups and one reality remains true: none of them are perfect.

 

Dr. Joe McKeever’s blog is always a treasure chest of information gathered over his many years of faithful service in ministry. This week, he shared two posts which were related in that they discussed his long-practiced habit of journaling.

In the first post, Dr. McKeever shared something he always tells students about writing.

Writing a journal is like taking a 30-minute slice of your today and sending it ahead into the future.  I’m big on journaling.  Journals, we are told, are not so much for our children–who presumably are living the same life we are and have little curiosity about how we view today–as for our grandchildren and theirs.  In time, my journal will be looked upon as something of a record of “the life of an ordinary Baptist preacher in the 1990s.”  I’ll not be around to know it, but in doing those journals–I’m through with journal-keeping except on this blog, something that I wouldn’t exactly call journaling–it has often been with a view toward the future.  There’s a strong witness for Christ throughout all 56 volumes.

In this next post, he shares more about journaling, and why (no matter what we are writing) we should record the good experiences along with the painful ones.

Recently, when a friend began telling of the rupture in his congregation that resulted in his sudden departure, astonishingly some six or eight years after the event, I could see the pain was still fresh, the wound yet open.  I told him, “Start writing.  You need to get this out and on paper.”

 

He protested, “I can’t.  Those people are still around and I don’t want to stir it up again.”

 

I said, “You don’t have to publish it.  Just write it for yourself.

In Case You Missed It

At his personal website, Tate Cockrell shared how pain can be good for you. Dr. Cockrell writes:

The day was February 22, 2014. I thought my life was over. The picture below was taken just 3 days earlier in a small village 13,000 feet above sea level where we had been dropped off by helicopter . Notice the smile on all of our faces? We were so happy to be in the Himalayas. It was day one of a six day trek through the Himalayas where we would hike 90 miles in just six short days. Amidst the beauty of those wonderful mountains, I saw some of the worst poverty and suffering I had ever seen in my life.

 

February 22 marked the third and longest day of our journey. We hiked for 10 hours that day. As night was falling and the trails were getting harder to see, my body began to break down, and I was reaching the point of surrender. At one point, I thought I might die. Every part of my body hurt. Even parts of my body that I didn’t know could hurt, did hurt. Then I went from thinking I might die, to hoping I would die. I remember telling one of our guides, “just tell my family I love them. I can’t take another step.”

 

Thankfully, we had incredible guides with us who were able to keep me moving, and eventually we reached our destination for the night. Three days later we reached the end of the trek, and I had lost 16 lbs. in 6 days. It was one of the single best/worst days of my life. I learned several lessons about pain on that excursion. Here are a few of them you might find helpful.

 

At The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen shared an article titled: “The Barren Woman’s True Identity.”

We had intentionally shown up a few minutes late. As we made our way to the auditorium door, I noticed the celebratory handout on the table: carnations.

 

“Just breathe,” I thought to myself.

 

I had quickened my steps in hopes to slip through the door unnoticed when I was suddenly halted by a single carnation held out to me. When my eyes shifted from the flower to the man who held it I began to shake my head “no,” but he insisted by nodding “yes!” This was a friend, a brother in Christ who had just learned from his wife our recent news.

 

I took the carnation with my head hanging low to hide the tears of gratitude. In that moment, this brother had honored the life of my baby, the baby I never met. I was grateful. In a single moment my maternal grief had been validated. As I crossed the threshold of the auditorium door a sense of shame quickly rushed over me. I felt a need to hide the carnation because I was not like other mothers.To some, I was not a mother at all, and to others, this was just a regular Sunday morning worship service.

 

Brianna Copeland shared a post at The Intersect Project explaining how recycling is a sustainable way to live a sustainable life.

Have you ever read an article titled something like “50 Tips to Sustainable Living” or “12 Ways to Go Green”? Even when you read the “quick tips,” it seems like they are asking you to walk everywhere, cook by fire, live without air conditioning and grow all your own food! These articles make you feel like you will need to make some drastic life changes to achieve any of these “sustainable ideas.”

 

Sometimes the tips for a sustainable life do not feel so sustainable after all. Adding the weight of caring for the earth to our already long lists of responsibilities can seem daunting.

 

Here at Intersect, we’ve talked before about the importance of caring for the earth as part of our Christian stewardship. Laura Thigpen explained both why and how Christians should be engaged in the environment, and David W. Jones offered reasons Christians care for creation.

 

How, then, can you practically live out your care for creation — without getting bogged down in an impractical list of overwhelming do’s and don’t?

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Dr. Thomas S. Kidd shared the story of the North Korean revival of 1907.

Today as tensions between North Korea reach heights not seen since the 1950s, it is easy to forget that northern Korea used to be one of the Asian strongholds of Protestant Christianity. As Atlas Obscura recently explained, the city of Pyongyang became known to missionaries as the “Jerusalem of the East.” The city had great institutional strength for Protestantism, including Union Christian Hospital, Union Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and Union Christian College, the first four-year college anywhere in Korea.

 

One hundred ten years ago, Pyongyang saw the outbreak of a massive revival, the high point of the season of evangelical strength in northern Korea. Presbyterian missionary William Blair preached to thousands of Korean men, focusing on their need to turn away from their traditional hatred of the Japanese people, with whom Korea had a long history of conflict. The missionaries and Korean Christians had been praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for revival and repentance, and it came on that Saturday night in January 1907. Many at the meeting began praying out loud, and soon the signs of awakening began to appear.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared ten practical ways to read the Bible more. Dr. Lawless writes:

Do you struggle with reading the Bible? One reason we wrestle with this spiritual discipline is that we think we must be reading extensively every day or reading not at all; we don’t give ourselves much room for growth in this task. If you want to read more, try one of these simple ideas to get started.

In Case You Missed It

Recently at the Logos Bible Software Blog, Jake Mailhot shared a post about Abraham Kuyper’s Theology of everday life which featured three books by members of Southeastern’s faculty.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the works of Abraham Kuyper, you might recognize his most famous quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

 

For Kuyper, this deep awareness of God’s sovereignty had vast implications for daily life. Throughout his writings, he wrestled with how to reconcile the sovereign presence of God in this beautifully created world while witnessing the fallenness and brokenness of the present. The modern church still struggles to navigate this tension between the spiritual life and the secular world. That’s why, despite being a century old, Kuyper’s theology of everyday life is still relevant today.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Ivan Mesa asked a few pastors and scholars to recommend a book that belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf.

Pastors traffic daily in books. Of course, we preach the Book, and so we’re endlessly looking for books that’ll encourage and equip us in ministry. Our limited time and a never-ending stream of books (Ecc. 12:12) means we need discerning guides who’ll point us in the right direction.

 

I asked a few pastors and scholars what one book other than the Bible they would commend to every pastor or Christian writer. So whether you’re preparing a sermon, writing an article, or just seeking to build a dependable library, below are 10 books that’ll serve you—and those to whom you minister.

 

At The Center for Baptist Renewal, Matthew Emerson shared three theological reasons to look for patterns in Scripture. Dr. Emerson writes:

My doctoral supervisor, David Hogg, was once asked in my Theological Method Ph.D. seminar what his method is. I still love his response: “I look for patterns and weird stuff.” That is, his approach to reading Scripture consists largely of paying attention to what is repeated and what stands out as extraordinary, either in terms of actual events or their description or both. This interpretive method produces readings that sometimes (many times) vexes those who hold to the historical-critical method and its evangelical cousins.

 

What, then, are the theological rationales that give an interpreter the hermeneutical warrant to link certain biblical texts together in a typological chain? To put a finer historical point on it, why does Irenaeus, in his On the Apostolic Preaching, feel justified in linking the Virgin Birth to the untilled ground out of which Adam is made, or Eve’s creation out of Adam’s rib to the Church’s birth out of Christ’s pierced side? I want to suggest that there are least three theological reasons that readers feel justified in these types of patterned readings.

 

At the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission website, Laura Thigpen posted an article about helping women engage culture in everyday life.

Some Christian women struggle to see how tense cultural issues matter to their everyday lives. But it’s increasingly difficult to avoid these cultural debates. For example, the young mom may not care about LGBTQ issues—until she takes her children to the playground, finds herself in conversation with a parent of her child’s playmate and discovers the parent is in a homosexual marriage. Suddenly, the issue is relevant at the playground. Or, a teacher may not think that immigration reform is relevant to her—until she has an immigrant student suffering from anxiety because he fears that his parents might be deported. At that moment, cultural issues are no longer just “issues” but tangible faces, real people.

 

Yet, when attempting to engage these issues and the people most directly influenced by them, some women feel inadequate or intimidated. They struggle to have confidence to understand and interact with culturally tense issues from a theological conviction.There can be several reasons for this lack of confidence. Some women haven’t received higher education. Others know little about particular issues. Sometimes, moms of young children are so consumed with diapers, meal times and t-ball games that they have little room for organized study and discussion. Yet, women bring a unique voice to cultural issues that our churches and society need. But, they must first be discipled to do so.

 

A few years ago, I recognized my own need to have “iron-sharpening” relationships with other women to help me better engage difficult cultural issues. I decided to meet regularly with a few ladies from various backgrounds and in vastly different career fields. Every single one of these women brings a unique perspective, a thoughtful question and insightful encouragement to our time together.

 

Thankfully, you don’t need to start a formal program to have these relationships for yourself. Though programs have their helpful place in teaching and edifying the church, there are four simple ways to disciple women to be theologically informed about culturally relevant issues in everyday life—whether they’re single, married, career-driven, stay-at-home moms, academically inclined or academically intimidated.

 

Jonathan Howe shared a post at Thom Rainer’s blog discussing three actions churches can take in times of crisis. Jonathan writes:

The past few weeks have been quite eventful for the communications teams at Cracker Barrel and United Airlines. In case you’ve missed it, Cracker Barrel faced a deluge of complaints following the firing of a server named Nanette Reid. Her husband posted about it on the Cracker Barrel corporate Facebook page, and Internet pranksters created the #BradsWife movement.

 

Then a video surfaced this week of a passenger on a United Airlines flight being physically “re-accommodated.” Mainstream news and social media sites have been filled with stories and hot takes on everything from the passenger’s past (in which many stories had incorrect information) to the standard airline practice of overbooking.

 

Both companies are still fighting these crises, and from many (or most?) perspectives, they are losing the battle when it comes to public opinion. These companies will likely recover over time. They will likely hire PR firms to win back customers and improve their public reputation. It’s what big companies do.

 

But what if this had been your church? What if your church was faced with a scandal or legal issue that called for crisis communications? Are you prepared? Some are, but many churches are not. And their responses to crises often fall into three categories.