In Case You Missed It

At his personal blog, Alvin Reid shared eight suggestions for eager new seminarians. Dr. Reid writes:

I remember a cold, windy day in January, 1982. My wife Michelle and I arrived in Fort Worth as newlyweds with everything we owned in a small U Haul trailer. We moved into our little one bedroom, furnished apartment with little materially but great dreams spiritually. I hobbled on crutches from a knee operation. We were broke, but we were called, and that was enough.

 

That was 35 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. If you are a brand new seminarian, I have a few things I hope will encourage you to help you for the next few decades.

 

Michael Guyer posted at the Intersect Project urging college students not to waste their time in college.

Summer is almost over. The semester will soon begin. Perhaps it’s your first semester in college or your last. Your schedule will be full of new classes. You will interact with new people. You will experience new opportunities. You will have renewed focus and desires…

 

  • to grow in your education
  • to grow in your friendships
  • to grow in your desires and passions
  • to grow in your skills and abilities
  • to grow when your love for Christ and for others
  • to grow in your love and commitment to the church
  • to grow in your heart for the nations
  • and to grow up to be the man or woman that God desires you to be.

 

All of this newness does not last forever though. These opportunities and desires often fade as quickly as they came. Your classes get old. New friends become old friends. Opportunities either don’t come or slip away. You find yourself in the same old ruts. And that renewed focus and desire morphs into distraction and discouragement. Before long, you feel like you are wasting your time—wasting your college.

 

At his blog The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared six reasons to read dead writers.

With so many books being published today, if you’re like me, it’s hard to keep up with all the ones you’d like to read.

 

In order to keep up with modern culture and know about the important conversations happening around us, we can be tempted to strictly focus on new books and ignore those from previous eras. In an introduction to an English translation of On the Incarnation, a seminal work by the African theologian Athanasius, C.S. Lewis wrote about the importance of reading old books.

 

In fact, most of his introduction is spent encouraging readers to value works by authors who were dead and gone.

 

He wrote, “Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old.”

 

Of course, today, Lewis is one of those dead writers and his books now qualify for the advice he gave while living. But why should you read books that are not quite hot off the presses?

 

Here’s five reasons from Lewis in his introduction and one from me.

 

On the LifeWay Pastor Talk podcast, Marty Duren and Bruce Ashford discussed what Lesslie Newbigin can teach pastors about a Christian approach to American Politics.

What could a little Brit named “Lesslie” possibly teach American pastors about a Christian approach to American politics? Recently, Marty Duren interviewed me on his podcast, “Pastor Talk,” giving me the opportunity to outline some lessons we can learn from the life and work of British theologian Lesslie Newbigin.

 

To access the podcast, click here.

 

In a post earlier this week at his blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons he needs to put his phone down during meetings and conversations. Dr. Lawless writes:

I admit my struggle here. I’m so accustomed to having my phone with me that I almost unknowingly and reflexively check it continuously throughout the day. I’m trying, though, to put it away during meetings and conversations. Here’s why.

 

In Case You Missed It

At  the International Mission Board, Phil Bartuska shared four ways missionaries can leave well for the field.

For those planning to go overseas as missionaries, there will come a day when they and their families board a plane with one-way tickets in hand. They’ll be nervous but confident that God is making a way for them to take the gospel to the unreached.

 

Every missionary has this experience in common. Whether single or married with children, this experience bonds all missionaries together. They have left behind family, friends, jobs, security, comfort, and normalcy for the sake of the gospel among the unreached. I have been thinking about that moment for years, and soon, my family and I will be stepping onto that plane.

 

Having said that, there is a lot to do here before we get to our destination. You see, we pray, plan, and prepare for the time when we land, but if we are only thinking of our future ministry, we may be missing some key opportunities to point our family and friends to Christ. The truth of the gospel should impact the way we leave home. Here are four things you can do to both leave well and prepare for your future ministry overseas.

 

Marty Duren posted an article at the Lifeway Pastors blog discussing mentoring relationships that make sense.

Over the last decade or so the concept of mentoring has taken a deep hold in leadership theory, including the church. The idea is leaders need someone with more experience than they to provide insight and counsel. In a perfect world, one’s mentor would prepare you for each and every eventuality you could face. We all know this is not probable.

 

As an older-teen and young man, my primary mentor was a truck-driver and deacon named Al Autry. When Al died, his funeral was attended by dozens of men my age and younger, all of whom counted Al as a primary mentor—if not the primary mentor—in their younger days. Al mentored me spiritually during a time when my own father was not yet a follower of Jesus.

 

In my early ministry, I didn’t need to talk to Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, or John Piper. But I did need to talk to someone who had more pastoral experience than I did. Two of my former pastors, an denominational employee, and a couple of pastors in my new locale fit that bill. While only one of them would I consider a mentor in the traditional sense, all of them filled the role in the aggregate.

 

When I moved to serve on a church staff, all the other staff members had more experience that I did, and at churches requiring greater responsibility. Every staff meeting was a mentoring session as was ministry together.

 

As I’ve grown older in ministry, younger pastors sometimes ask if I can mentor them, even if for a limited period of time. These relationships are always a blessing. But, there are mistakes pastors make when seeking a mentor. Three such mistakes are 1) thinking your mentor has to be a celebrity pastor, 2) that mentoring is always one person teaching the other, and 3) that only young pastors need mentors.

 

Not. True.

 

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams discussed embracing a smartphone-free life.

I sat around a table with a group of fellow pastors, many of whom were older than me. As our meeting concluded, one of the men planned how he would follow up with us.

 

“Does everyone have a smartphone?” he asked. The others nodded in agreement; some of them had been taking notes on their phones as he spoke.

 

I sheepishly shook my head no. I pulled out my circa-2007 basic phone and waved it in the air.

 

“How is it that the youngest person here doesn’t have a smartphone?” he asked. I laughed, admitted that I was behind the times and shared my email address instead.

 

I am used to these surprised reactions. I get them all the time. I am one of a dying breed — a millennial without a smartphone. Since more than 97 percent of my peers use a smartphone, people like me are almost extinct.

 

To be clear, my reasons for not having a smartphone aren’t remarkable. I’m not engaged in some anti-technology crusade. (I manage a website.) Nor am I interested in getting off the grid. (I still use my basic cell phone for calls and texts.) My tardiness in adopting a smartphone involves a combination of budget, stubbornness and the fact that I get along fine without one.

 

In this piece, I won’t try to convince you to become a smartphone curmudgeon. I simply want to offer a portrait of what it’s like to carry a technological relic in my pocket. To be 10 years behind the trend. To be a millennial without a smartphone.

 

At his personal blog, Southeastern President, Dr. Danny Akin shared why we need to stop and listen when it comes to Kingdom Diversity in the SBC.

I’ve been a Southern Baptist for as long as I have been a Christian. I came to know Jesus in a Southern Baptist church. I was baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I was called to ministry in a Southern Baptist church. I was educated at Southern Baptist institutions, and I have given my life to helping others on their path to ministry. In good times and bad, I love the SBC and I thank our Lord for its investment in my life.

 

When I read Lawrence Ware’s New York Times article after the 2017 SBC Annual Meeting, I was grieved. I don’t know Mr. Ware, and he and I don’t see eye to eye on every issue, particularly some of the parallels that he drew in his argument. But that didn’t change my reaction. When someone suggests that the experience of African Americans in my denomination is such that the best option may be to leave, I only feel sadness. I wish with all my heart this was not the case.

 

Chuck Lawless shared a post at his blog listing ten reasons Satan attacks families.

It’s no secret that Satan aims his arrows at families. In the Garden of Eden, he disrupted the marriage of Adam and Eve. In the very next chapter of the Bible, his influence was so great that a brother killed a brother. From that time, our homes have been in his sights. Here’s why.

In Case You Missed It

At The Baptist Press, Tobin Perry shared the story of Allie Candler, a 107-year-old retired Southern Baptist missionary who is still a missions advocate.

She had committed her life to Jesus during a revival at First Baptist Church of Lockhart, S.C., two years earlier. But she still had matters to settle in her spiritual life. She remembers sitting in a revival meeting and listening to a preacher share about the “Stewardship of Life.” He then asked a question that would change her life forever. “You’ve been saved, but have you dedicated your life to Him?”
Candler, who was then sitting with the choir, came down to the altar and prayed, “I’m ready to be used if You can use me.”

 

At a Sunday service two weeks later, God specifically directed her toward missions. On the way home, she says Satan tried to dissuade her from telling anyone about her call.

 

“Devil,” she said, “I didn’t have anything to do with it. The Lord called me.”

 

That time may seem like just yesterday to Allie Candler, but in reality, it was more than 31,000 days ago. As America reeled from the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned for the first time to be the nation’s president in 1932, God called a 22-year-old Candler into a lifetime of missions service.

 

Earlier this week, Chuck Lawless shared nine reasons why every church should adopt a North American church planter. Dr. Lawless writes:

I occasionally have opportunity to train church planters in North America. Based on my experiences with them, I believe every church ought to adopt and prayerfully support a church planter. Here’s why.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, S. Craig Sanders shared the story of how Andy Davis used expository preaching to revitalize First Baptist Church Durham, NC.

Before Andy Davis preached verse-by-verse through the book of Isaiah, he memorized all 1,292 of them. It’s a discipline he developed while working as a mechanical engineer in 1986, several years after becoming a Christian. To this day, fellow students from the doctoral program at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary recall seeing Davis walk the streets near the school as he committed entire books of the Bible to memory.

 

When Davis finished his PhD in church history in 1998, he accepted the call as pastor of the historic First Baptist Church Durham, North Carolina. Scripture memory and meditation sustained him as he withstood a powerful faction of deacons and committee chairs. In 2001, his opponents tried to drive him away after he led the church to change the bylaws to reflect biblical roles of gender and authority.

 

Now nearly 20 years later, the pastor and TGC Council member leads his thriving congregation the same way he did back when the cabal tried to oust him: verse-by-verse, expository preaching.

 

Marty Duren posted an article at the LifeWay Pastors blog which lists ten keys to being a better writer for an internet audience.

I approach the subject of writing as a writer with a lot of experience but no illusions of grandeur; hopefully no delusions either. My limitations are established as are my abilities. I know when I’ve turned a good phrase and crafted a good argument. I usually know when I should have hit “Trash” instead of “Publish.” My floor is littered with virtual paper-wads.

 

Many pastors and other church leaders have found another voice—as writers—by which they can expand their Kingdom influence online. Whether personal blogs, church websites, or articles for collaborative websites, many have experienced satisfaction through encouraging and teaching others through the written word.

 

An editor and writer by trade, this post has been on my mind for a while. This subject was included recent suggestion marathon on Facebook (or, a reasonable facsimile of the subject was).

 

If you are a pastor or church leader with a burden, passion, or passing interest in writing, I hope you will find these ten keys to being a better writer for an internet audience helpful.

 

At The Peoples Next Door, Meredith Cook shared how contextualization can be risky business. Meredith writes:

The opening scene of the movie, The African Queen, depicts a white missionary couple leading a worship service for residents of an African village. If you’ve seen the movie, you may or may not have noticed the oddities about this scene. This worship service takes place in a building, the music is being led by a conductor and a woman playing an organ, they are singing in English, congregants are sitting in rows, and some are using hymnals.

 

These details may not seem unusual but it’s likely because this is exactly how you worship every Sunday (perhaps without the hymnal, though). However, if you watch the scene from the movie again, notice how none of the congregants are fully participating in worship. Most of them look miserable. While this is a hypothetical situation, a typical worship service in their culture likely would not use an organ or hymnals.  They wouldn’t be singing in English and they may be more likely to sit in a circle than rows. This is a work of fiction, but this scene is a great example of contextualization done poorly. Instead of letting the African culture determine the forms used in the worship service, the missionaries simply applied their own cultural norms to the situation without considering the new culture around them.

 

As I mentioned in my last post, contextualization is not something we can choose to do or not. Contextualization can be as simple as translating the gospel into another language, but it is usually more involved than that. And it should be more involved, because culture is not just what language we speak. Culture includes a myriad of qualities: our worship style preferences, how we relate to our leaders, what music we like, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, etc. Contextualization touches many aspects of culture. It is unavoidable and essential. There are significant benefits to doing it well—affirming culture, helping people understand the gospel in a way that makes sense to them, and giving us a broader perspective of the faith—but there are also some serious risks to avoid. To be clear, we won’t get contextualization right the first time nor every time, and the Lord will give us grace when we make mistakes. However, these are three things to be cautious of when doing contextualization.