In Case You Missed It

Dr. David Jones published an article at The Intersect Project discussing how you should decide on matters of conscience.

One of the topics I explore in my new book Knowing and Doing the Will of God is the issue of Christian liberty. Christian liberty is the idea that there are certain practices in which believers are free to engage, or from which believers are free to abstain. These issues are sometimes referred to as morally indifferent practices. Examples of areas where Christian liberty has been invoked in the past include: worship practices, music styles, games of chance, military service, places of employment, matters of commerce, eating practices and the observance of special days, among many other issues.

 

Throughout church history, issues of Christian liberty have caused no small amount of debate among believers. With a view toward helping those in the church navigate such topics in the Christian life, and fulfill the will of God, in my text I discuss several principles of Christian liberty, which are summarized below.

At The Gospel Coalition, Bruce Ashford shared four key ingredients in a devotional reading of Scripture. Dr. Ashford writes:

When the resurrected Lord rebuked the Ephesian church for leaving its first love, he was also serving notice to Christians of all times that they must labor to not lose the passionate commitment and joy that attended their conversion. This should remind us that the Christian life has many temptations, none of which is more insidious than leaving our “first love” (Rev. 2:4).

 

This temptation lurks around the corner for every Christian, but perhaps more so for “professional Christians” such as pastors, professors, and seminary students. It’s a unique temptation for us precisely because we study and teach the Bible for a living. Gradually, and without notice, we slip into the habit of viewing Scripture more as an object to be dissected than a living Word to be treasured.

 

As an antidote to this temptation, here is a fourfold pattern of Scripture intake to help us avoid treating Scripture as an object, so that we can receive it as the living Word of a living Lord. The pattern—read, reflect, pray, obey—adapts and modifies an early church practice.

 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Keelan Cook shared a post discussing how recovery is a marathon, not a sprint.

Harvey has moved on, and now we begin to pick up the pieces.

 

It’s been said that Harvey passing was only the end of the beginning, and that is right. For churches here in the Houston area, the race ahead is a marathon, not a sprint. Houston has months and months of recovery in store, and our local churches have an opportunity to serve and proclaim. It will not do for relief efforts to be faddish. In the immediacy of a moment such as this, with media pointing a spotlight, volunteering seems reasonable. Packing up donations is just what we are supposed to do. But soon, as it always does, the media’s gaze will turn away for this city so desperately trying to rebuild itself. This will happen long before the work is done. Something else will grab our national attention, and then the spotlight moves on.

 

In an article for the International Mission Board, Meredith Cook discussed what her experience with Hurricane Harvey taught her about missions.

#PrayforTexas. It’s the latest hashtag making its way around social media as the world watches Houston drown under Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters. Normally, I would be posting it as one watching from a distance. Now, I’m included in it. It’s devastating to see the roads we take to church every Sunday made invisible under flood waters; people just down the road from us pleading for rescue; and we ourselves the recipients of numerous texts from friends and family checking on us. It’s surreal.

 

By the Lord’s grace, our small area of Houston was spared most of the disastrous flooding going on around us. On Monday, I sat on my couch under the warm glow of lamplight, listening to the familiar hum of the air conditioner and tapping of rain on the window. I finished up a round of editing for my work-from-home job. If I didn’t know better, I would think it was a normal day.

 

The TV is quiet now, but for two days, my husband and I watched the one news channel we could pick up on our antenna. Hurricane Harvey ravaged towns in the Texas Gulf Coast three days prior, and then parked over our city and dumped more water into it than Houston has ever seen. Nine trillion gallons and counting. Our city is under water.

 

At The Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams shared five ways you can pray for Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

“This is the disaster of a century for our city.”

 

My friend and Texas resident Josh Hemphill wrote these words to describe the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Harvey on the city of Houston. And there’s no other term to describe it than catastrophic. One of America’s most populous cities is underwater, and other communities along the gulf face a situation that’s just as dire.

 

How can we help? In what ways can we pray? To answer these questions for myself, I reached out to friends in the area. Here are some of their suggestions.

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.

In Case You Missed It

At his personal blog, Tate Cockrell shared four ways you can help your graduate. Dr. Cockrell writes:

Today I get the privilege of participating in commencement exercises at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where I serve as Assistant Director of Doctor of Ministry Programs and Associate Professor of Counseling. It’s a highlight of the semester. Watching men and women receive their diplomas and doctoral hoods after years of hard work and sacrifice is a joy to watch. I was once where they are and remember all too well the immense feeling of relief of completing one phase of the journey.

 

This time of year graduates from preschools, grade schools, high schools, universities, graduate schools, and trade schools all over the world will have similar experiences. Here are four ways you can help the graduates in your life.

Art Rainer recently shared five career tips for recent college graduates:

Class of 2017,

Congratulations! You made it. You did the homework assignments. You completed the group projects. You wrote the papers. And you passed the exams. Now you are officially a college graduate.

 

For many college graduates, the next step is diving into a career. If this is you, here are a few tips to get you started

 

Earlier this week, Dr. Danny Akin shared sixteen commitments for a faithful ministry of preaching.

Whenever I teach my students the practice of biblical exposition, I always challenge them to develop their convictions about preaching and let those guide and shape their preaching ministry. I have done so myself. In class, I explain the following 16 commitments that I believe a pastor or preacher should have in the ministry of preaching.

 

At The Center for Great Commission Studies, Scott Hildreth shared ten ways to be missional this summer. Dr. Hildreth writes:

Today kicks off the Summer semester for our students. Some will continue taking classes. Others will spend the summer at home with families. A different group will be involved in ministries or missionary activities. The hope is that all of our students will seek ways to make this summer a missional season. No matter where God leads them, we are praying they will make a gospel difference in someone’s life. Week after week, class after class, chapel after chapel, we remind our students that they have been entrusted with the treasure of the gospel and have been given the commission to pass it along to others.

 

In this post, we are going to give tips for making a missionary difference this summer. Don’t be overwhelmed by the list. Pick one or two and start there — then let’s see what happens.

 

Matt Sliger posted an article at Founders Ministries discussing the value of seminary.

You’re probably not the smartest guy in the room, but you might think you are. That’s one reason you should consider seminary.

 

As nearly all women daydream about, last Friday my wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary at a seminary graduation. Neither of us had a clue on May 12, 2007 that we’d spend the first decade of matrimony scouring footnotes late at night and writing on holidays. Ten years and two kids later, we’ve somewhat been forced to reflect on the value of that investment. While we might appeal to a number of rationales, the primary role of theological education in my life has been to persistently remind me of my ignorance.

 

I’ve listed below four adverse effects on ministry preparation, if you’re regularly the smartest guy in the room (or think you are).

 

At The Peoples Next Door, Meredith Cook shared about the necessity of community.

I recently traveled to North Carolina for my seminary graduation, and while there, I was able to spend time with friends from the church I was a member of while living there. We had a great community in Raleigh and are looking forward to growing our community here in Houston. Our church in North Carolina kept us accountable, provided for us, served us, and allowed themselves to be inconvenienced for us. And we did the same for them.

 

We are made to be in community. On the flight home to Houston, I saw an ad for an app called “Mittcute” which allows users to meet new people based on similar interests such as kayaking, hiking, reading, or cooking. This isn’t the first I’ve heard of such a service. Even the secular world is recognizing that people are not meant to do life alone and is seeking to rectify loneliness through apps, community events, social media, etc. As believers, though, we have something better. We have the church.