In Case You Missed It

At The Peoples Next Door, Meredith Cook shared an article discussing how we should serve our churches. Meredith writes:

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory? I have, and I assume many who are reading this blog have as well. Spiritual gift inventories, while a bit simplistic and overgeneralizing, can be helpful if you don’t know how you are gifted. However, they do not address the underlying purpose of spiritual gifts, nor do they accurately tell us what to do with the gifts once we know what they are. We need to understand what the Bible says about them, and let it tell us how to use them.

 

There are several passages that discuss giftings, but I will mainly focus on 1 Corinthians 12.

 

Art Rainer posted at his personal blog discussing why we should stop multitasking.

How often to you attempt to multitask to become more productive?

I often find myself doing this. Even as I write this, my phone sits next to me. I’m tempted to stop writing and check a few emails.

 

But I shouldn’t.

 

I don’t multitask well. And neither do you. This is what research about our brains and our attempts to juggle several tasks at once tells us. Studies consistently show us that God did not create most of our brains to do multiple tasks at the same time. We are at our best when we focus on a single task. So what does happen when you multitask? It’s probably not increasing productivity. Let’s look at what you are really doing when you “multitask.”

 

At his personal blog, Matt Emerson posted a touching tribute to Dr. John Sailhamer who passed away earlier this week.

I learned on Twitter earlier that John Sailhamer has passed away.  Due to his failing health over the last decade, his last major project – The Meaning of the Pentateuchwas published way back in 2009. In our consumer-driven, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately American culture, that may as well have been a century ago. But Sailhamer’s influence has always been more about his positive impact on students than his publishing per se. If you read his books – The Pentateuch as Narrative, Introduction to Old Testament Theology,The Meaning of the Pentateuch, even Genesis Unbound, as well as his commentaries – it seems obvious that these arise directly out of his teaching. And if you talk to his students, they’ll confirm that this is in fact the case.

 

Bruce Ashford posted an article at the Intersect Project  website discussing three authors who changed his life. Dr. Ashford writes:

In the space of two years in Russia, I began to realize even more fully the deep and resonant effects of religion upon culture, and vice versa. I was living in a social and cultural context that had been almost entirely devoid of evangelical gospel influence for generations. Conversations with many of my students revealed a deep skepticism about whether God existed, whether life had any meaning, and whether there are any moral absolutes. The institutions of this country — including its government, businesses, marriages and schools — reflected this deep sense of loss, this sense that its people could no longer believe in a God who endowed their lives with meaning and purpose or who gave moral law by which all people and institutions should abide.

 

During this time, I began to read books by Christian thinkers such as Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis. (On my journey to Russia, I carried one suitcase of clothes and four suitcases of books.) What I read changed my life.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Tony Merida shared six ways to stir your affections for weekly preaching.

Foundational instruction in expository preaching tends to focus on theology and methodology. This makes sense. Expository preaching is a theologically driven approach to preaching. We don’t commend this approach because we think it’s a great church growth idea, but primarily because of our theological convictions. Our convictions about God, humanity, the gospel, the nature of the Bible, the work of the Spirit, the centrality of Christ, the church, the role of pastors, the coming judgment, and more should lead us to embrace a high view of biblical preaching.

 

After theology, we then talk methodology. How do you prepare Bible-saturated sermons? How do you preach systematically through books of the Bible? Here we often discuss matters like studying the text in detail, considering the redemptive-historical context (how the text points to Jesus), identifying a dominant theme, constructing an outline, explaining and applying the text, and adding an introduction and conclusion.

 

But theology and methodology shouldn’t be all we emphasize. We can become skilled at crafting sermons, but not be affected by the Savior. If we don’t guard our hearts, sermon preparation can become mechanical. We must avoid becoming what I call “the Sermonator”—the pastor who mechanically cranks out sermons devoid of heartfelt passion.

 

Good exposition isn’t merely theological and methodological; it’s also affectional. It includes both light and heat, intellect and affections, seeing and savoring. It involves preaching the text from your own heart to your people’s hearts.

 

For those committed to exposition who have a sermon preparation routine, a vital question is this: How can we stir our affections for Sunday? Here are six ways.

 

Dr. Alvin Reid posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies discussing the tension of Evangelism.

Tension.

 

What does this word conjure up in your mind?

 

I asked a class this week whether their immediate response to the word “tension” was positive or negative. Almost all said negative. We see tension as something bad, something that’s a nuisance at best or a hindrance at worst.  I would beg to differ. Our world would not function without tension. Try building a bridge without it. Try walking upright without it. I know; for a while I could not walk upright because of lumbar spine issues. My body simply could not maintain the appropriate tension to stand up straight without pain.

In Case You Missed It

Matt Emerson recently posted on his blog discussing the question “Who is my Neighbor?” Matt writes:

Yesterday a comment on the Internet sparked some reflection about the nature of neighbor-hood and the people who inhabit the Middle East. The comment in question seemed to conflate America, and particularly its Christian inhabitants, with an idealized version of Israel on the one hand, and Middle Eastern peoples, particularly devout Muslims, with Israel’s OT enemies on the other. In doing so, the commenter was saying both that we should take care of our neighbors – fellow Americans – and keep at bay those who hold to Islam because the Arab peoples can only ultimately be consigned to idolatry and violent hatred for Isaac and Jacob’s descendants.

There are a number of issues here, but I will focus on two. I think they can be summarized in two questions – who is my neighbor? And, who is Israel?

Jonathan Akin posted at Baptist21 discussing Gospel Influence: The Great Divide in the SBC. Jonathan writes:

People who care about the Southern Baptist Convention’s mission in the world often attempt to analyze the things that might divide us. While we agree on far more than we disagree, we do differ on some things. But I do not think the great divide in the SBC is between younger and older leaders or between Calvinists and non-Calvinists; I think the great divide is on the issue of how the gospel influences our everyday life and our engagement in the culture.

Sam Storms recently posted an article discussing the Christian’s duty in relation to human government.

I can’t imagine what it would be like or how I would react if I were arrested and thrown in jail for hosting a Bible study in my home. Try to imagine being sentenced to five years in prison simply for sharing your Christian faith with a friend at Starbucks. Let’s be honest and admit that it’s hard to envision such things happening. After all, with few exceptions, it’s easy being a Christian in America (so far). We feel relatively safe and secure and free living for Jesus.
Of course, we should never lose sight of the fact that, tragically, we do live in a country where it is more acceptable for a woman to have a wife than it is to pray in Jesus’ name in a public ceremony. We live in a country, tragically, where spanking children is called into question but it’s legal to abort them!
Nevertheless, the idea of having to choose between loyalty to our God and loyalty to our government probably isn’t one that keeps us awake much at night. The idea of being forced to choose between obedience to our heavenly Lord or obedience to an earthly law is foreign to most of us. But there are Christian men and women who have to make that choice every day of their lives.

Zach Locklear posted at his blog discussing if atheists can be moral. Zach writes:

The increasing publicity of atheism over the past decade has created a springboard for Christian apologetics, bringing the discussion of competing worldviews out of the den of academia, and into the home of anyone who is remotely interested in the conversation. Specifically within the North American context, the counterbalance brought on by anti-religious worldviews has been beneficial, as it forces those who are religious to no longer take their presuppositions for granted. This is not to say that taking presuppositions for granted is a bad thing (we all do it), but the benefit to being a member within a society that is gradually shifting away from publicly favoring one worldview over another, means that if you’re going to hold to a belief, you probably need to know why. As an adult, blindly embracing the faith of your family or society isn’t something that is looked on with favor—and perhaps this is a good thing in many respects.

Matt Capps recently posted a video where he discusses the unique contribution that the book of Hebrews makes to the New Testament, and explores how the book weaves a beautiful tapestry of biblical theology centered on Jesus Christ.