In Case You Missed It

At his personal blog, Art Rainer shared what could be the worst goal to pursue in 2017.

What are you going to chase in 2017?

If it’s on the leadership level, what mountain are you going to ask your team to climb with you? If it’s on the personal level, what in your life do you want look different 365 days from now?

 

In my last post on goals (5 Reasons You Can’t Avoid Goal-Setting), I pointed out what characteristics make up really good goals. They are S.M.A.R.T.—Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. These are the types of goals you want to pursue over the next twelve months.

 

So what characteristics would make up really bad goals? What does the worst goal to pursue in 2017 look like? How can you spot one? S.M.A.R.T. goals can provide us some guidance.

 

Here is how the worst goal to pursue in 2017 will present itself

 

At The Intersect Project, Meridith Berson discusses the virus of moral superiority. Meridith writes:

The past election cycle was hard on this country. For starters, it was long. The Republican primary debates started in early August of 2015, leaving us with fifteen grueling months of a politically charged news cycle. As a country we watched as the various Republican candidates spared, dropped out and endorsed or denounced their peers.

 

We then watched as a left-wing Independent from Vermont began what was dubbed as a revolution, aimed at taking the Democratic Party further left than it was accustomed. The reactionaries in the Party then pivoted to bring this wing into their fold. While it was a calculated attempt to reunite the party, it left the remnants of the revolution confused and alienated.

 

Somewhere in the midst of the unfolding drama, the voters spoke and the results yielded two opposites. One was a carefully calculated, and seemingly handpicked, candidate. Her name had been circulating in political circles for longer than most Millennials — the base she desperately needed — had been alive. She came across as scripted, elitist and, for many, the paradigm of corruption. Yet, there she was, the representative of the party that presents itself as the caretaker of the marginalized, the party that fights inequality, the party of the people.

 

Bruce Ashford shared five reasons for atheists to join Christians in church this Christmas.

Earlier this month, American Atheists launched two nationwide billboard campaigns urging Americans to celebrate the holidays by skipping church. The first billboard depicts a text message exchange in which one young woman tells a friend that she plans to skip church during Christmas and that her parents will “get over it.” The second billboard parodies President-elect Trump’s campaign slogan, urging Americans to “Make Christmas Great Again!” by skipping church.

 

In an interview explaining the billboard campaign, American Atheist President David Silverman said, “It is important for people to know religion has nothing to do with being a good person, and that being open and honest about what you believe—and don’t believe—is the best gift you can give this holiday season.”

 

While we are a little confused by Silverman’s apparent delight in fantasizing about family division during the holidays, we agree with Silverman that openness and honesty are good things and, in that spirit, we offer a few reflections.

 

At the Baptist Press, Micah Fries, Nathan Finn, and Jon Akin shared an open letter discussing the need for cooperation amid SBC tensions.

Controversy surrounding ethicist Russell Moore’s past comments on President-elect Donald Trump has led three Tennessee Baptists — all under the age of 40 — to issue an open letter calling “the [conservative] resurgence generation and their protégés” to “be the statesmen we need them to be in this season of denominational tension.”

 

Jonathan Akin, Nathan Finn and Micah Fries wrote in a Dec. 21 open letter provided to Baptist Press, “Now isn’t the time for acrimonious debates over secondary and tertiary doctrinal matters,” such as the extent of the atonement, church polity, methodology and the appropriate means of cultural engagement.

 

They directed their comments especially toward Southern Baptists who led the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s as well as those mentored by that generation, noting, “Our real enemy is the Prince of Darkness.” The resurgence attempted to make biblical inerrancy a bedrock commitment of Southern Baptist Convention entities.

 

At his blog, Chuck Lawless shared 10 gift ideas which do not cost money. Dr. Lawless writes:

Christmas can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, we usually give gifts that don’t last anyway. This Christmas, give one of these gifts to someone.

In Case You Missed It

Dave Miller posted a helpful article recently at SBC Voices about how not everything is a “gospel” issue—but race is!

I’m not a fan of buzzwords. If a word becomes such you can pretty much bank on it that I’m not likely to use it. I’ve used the word missions a handful of times in recent years but I avoid it because it’s both nebulous and omnipresent.

 

Unfortunately, the word “gospel” has become such a word in some circles. I have come to the point where I almost never use the word unless I am specifically referring to the gospel story of Christ’s salvation. If I enumerated my specific complaints it would be counter-productive and we would most certainly find ourselves on several tangents. But chief among those complaints is the tendency to make every issue a gospel issue. “This touches on the gospel.” “This is at the heart of the gospel.” There are many issues on which we can disagree and the gospel isn’t touched.

 

But race, racial reconciliation, and the combating of racism in any form in the church is a gospel issue.

 

Aaron Earls posted an article at his blog, The Wardrobe Door titled: “I’m Right Here With You.” Aaron writes:

As I sat down to write about Alton Sterling and the response of white conservative Christians, I had to stop and weep. Another video of another police shooting began trending on social media.

 

Honestly, I need to do more listening than talking during moments like this, but I also need to write to process. And I can’t help but feel my silence would be louder and more hurtful than any stumbling attempt to work through it. Philando Castile was shot in his car, in front of his girlfriend and 4-year-old daughter. He died later at the hospital.

 

There are still numerous facts and information that will come out over the next few days that will hopefully provide greater clarity to the events surrounding these now two shootings involving police officers and black men. I don’t know those facts and neither do most others, but I don’t have to wait for facts to grieve with those who are grieving and seek to share their burden with them.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared 4 tips for getting the most from your non-fiction reading.

Recently, I wrote a post on 5 Tips for Determining Which  Books to Read (and Not to Read). As a follow up to that post, and in answer to a number of questions I received, here are four tips on how to get the most from your (non-fiction) reading.

 

Micah Fries posted an article at The Gospel Coalition website about how your missiology can miss the gospel. Micah writes:

What do you think of when you consider a church that contextualizes the gospel?

 

Maybe you think of some uber-contemporary worship service with a pastor arrayed in trendy fashions and a band with just the right blend of tattoos, skinny jeans, and facial hair. “Contextualization” equals “cool.” Or so we seem to think.

 

But what if that perception misses the point completely? What if equating contextualization with the coolest version of ourselves actually contradicts biblical contextualization altogether?

 

Perhaps our poor assumptions about contextualization are why many view the concept as a perversion of the gospel. But this view fails to see that contextualization is found all across Scripture. Even the traditionalist pastor who preaches against contextualization while leading a congregation of formally dressed hymn-singers contextualizes the gospel.

 

In light of this observation, I’d like to commend an understanding of contextualization shaped by God’s Word.

 

Here is a helpful post from Dr. Jamie Dew titled: “Handy Dad, Handy Sons.

I’m a dad and I love it. I do the same kinds of projects that my dad did with me, but I often fail to include my boys the way he did with me. As I reflect on this, I realize that neglecting this prevents my boys from learning how to do things and prevents them from having the same fond memories with me that I now have of time with my dad. I can do better and fortunately, my boys are now old enough that they want to learn. I look forward to the years ahead of us!

Join us in praying for our country. We are indeed a land of, “Liberty and justice for all,” regardless of the color of one’s skin or the uniform one wears.

In Case You Missed It

1) The sharp political and cultural critic, David Brooks, thinks that our culture has a shallow idea of meaning.

2) Tony Merida recently published his new book, Ordinary (B&H), which challenges us to be–yep–ordinary Christians.

3) At First Things, Faatimah Knight points out a “subtle and unnoticed misogyny” at work in television and film.

4) Micah Fries encourages SBC churches not to give to the Cooperative Program. (But he doesn’t mean what you may think.)

5) J. D. Greear asks, are you willing to doubt your doubt? Good question.