In Case You Missed It

David Jones recently published an article at the Intersect Project website titled: “Jesus, Paul and Beyond: Work Is Everywhere in the Bible.” Dr. Jones writes:

Work: Few of us are fond of the concept. The terms “work” and “labor” don’t usually prompt us to smile. Conversely, everyone likes the weekend. TGIF, right? So why do we like the weekend? Because we don’t have to go to work! And when the alarm goes off on Monday morning, we wish it were still the weekend. But is this perspective biblical? Is it inherently satisfying? Might there be some redeeming quality to work? Let’s take a closer look.


Bible scholars tell us the concept of work is mentioned, explicitly or implicitly, more than 800 times in Scripture. I have not attempted to track down and catalog all of these references, but this statistic seems reasonable to me. Consider just a few of the examples and general teachings on work that stand out as you read through the Bible.


Bruce Ashford recently shared a post at his personal blog discussing why Christians should freely participate in Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Each year, any number of Christian writers and preachers extol the virtues of the Thanksgiving holiday, while lamenting the vices of its Black Friday successor. They equate Thanksgiving with gratitude and Black Friday with greed. They encourage Americans to participate in Thanksgiving and boycott Black Friday.


But that is not quite right. Christian should freely participate in both Thanksgiving and Black Friday.


Nathaniel Williams posted at the Intersect Project website asking: “After 2016, can we even be thankful anymore?” Nathaniel writes:

In a few weeks, 2016 will mercifully end.


This year’s been a doozy. Terror attacks. Zika. Police shootings. Racial tension. Syria. Floods. Fires. The deaths of David Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Muhammed Ali, Harper Lee, Gene Wilder, Elie Wiesel, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill and countless other talented men and women. Even Hollywood produced a disappointing crop of summer films.


And then there was the most outlandish Presidential election in our lifetimes — a contest between a man accused of bullying and a woman investigated by the FBI. The candidates’ embarrassing rhetoric was only eclipsed by that of their followers, who filled public spaces with anger, name-calling and vitriol.


This year has been so bad that Richard Clark of Christianity Today dubbed it “the year of living hopelessly.” Chris Rock famously Tweeted (in June, no less), “I wish this year would stop already it’s just [too] much.”


Nevertheless, we will all soon gather around Thanksgiving tables. We’ll be prompted to share what we’re grateful for. So we have to ask the question: After 2016, can we even be thankful anymore?


Dr. Joe McKeever recently shared some advice for those who are planning to go into the ministry.

You say the Lord has called you into His work. You’re still young and you’re excited, although with a proper amount of fear and uncertainty on what all this means.


You’re normal.  Been there, felt that.


We might have cause to worry if the living God touched your life and redirected it into His service and you picked yourself up and went on as though nothing had happened.  Amos said, “I was gathering sycamore fruit, and the Lord God called me.”  He said, “The lion roars and you will fear. God calls and you will prophesy.”


The call of God is almost as life-changing as the original salvation experience itself. So, give thanks.  And give this a lot of prayerful thought.


Here are some thoughts for you as you go forward.  The list is not complete or exhaustive, but just to get you started.


At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless recently shared 8 miscalculations of many church leaders. Dr. Lawless writes:

My church consulting team and I often work with unhealthy churches; in fact, most churches who contact us have reached a significant level of disease before seeking help. Here are some of the miscalculations we see among leaders of these churches.

In Case You Missed It

Over at the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams shared a great post titled: “John the Baptist Died believing Character Matters,” which reminds us that our ultimate allegiance is to a crucified Savior. Nathaniel writes:

A prominent child of privilege had glaring personal weaknesses. He was overly image conscious, and he constantly got in trouble for indulging his hedonistic sexual desires.


On paper, he followed God. In practice, he did nothing of the sort.


Many of the people ignored his personal transgressions. But a well-known preacher called him out, at great personal cost.


This story sounds like it’s ripped from the headlines. In fact, it’s ripped from the history books. This is the story of Herod Antipas and his chief critic, John the Baptist.


At the People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook asks: Does your church have  family tree?

We replicate what we celebrate.


Everyone knows, buried deep in our bones, is a desire to be more and do more of what we praise. Truthfully, the idea is at the heart of the gospel and our purpose as people created to worship. We become what we worship, and we replicate what we celebrate.


This past week, I happened to see a video by Pillar Church in Dumfries, VA. Pillar is a great church just outside of DC, and I consider them a model for others churches when it comes to multiplication.


Our church is five years old, and multiplication was a high goal from the beginning. As a church plant, our membership naturally sees the importance of church planting and rallies behind the idea that multiplication is a better success metric than addition. Growing more churches is more important that growing our own church. The idea gets back to our gospel footprint. As we start new congregations here in the States or send missionaries to start new congregations across the world, we can impact far more areas with missions and mercy. The goal is the spread of the gospel.


Scott Hildreth posted earlier this week at the Center for Great Commission Studies reminding us that our place is here, and our time is now. Dr. Hildreth writes:

We are living through a very difficult time in our country. Friendships are being strained. Children are being exposed to embarrassing information. Hostility is oozing (maybe even spewing) from every pore and crack in society. Old wounds are ripped open and old enemies seem to be mounting again.


It is frustrating.

It is frightening.

It is nauseating and exhausting


It is also tempting to wish we did not have to live here or, that we were not living here, now.


This temptation leads us to search for safe places to hide until the storm is passed. We want to protect our faith, our families, our way of life. These reactions are normal and to be expected; however, I want to suggest that they should not be the Christian’s response to our current cultural crisis. Rather than wishing for a different life in a different place and different time, let’s embrace these challenges as God’s mission field. Nothing we are enduring has voided God’s mission nor will it derail His plan. However, we are his body and his mission must advance through us. Rather than hunkering down until the storm passes, let’s step out into the wild weather and recognize that God’s place for us is here and God’s time for us is now.


How shall we live as missionaries in this current society?


Dr. Nathan Finn recently shared a post with an important reminder about neighbor love and the upcoming election.

This year’s presidential election is unique in that both major party candidates are remarkably unpopular as individuals. It really is remarkable that so many Republicans and Democrats have spent so much time more or less apologizing for their support of their respective candidates. No doubt political scientists and historians will be studying this phenomenon for many years to come.


Thom Rainer posted at his personal blog giving five ways to stop the decline in your church.

Is there any hope for our church? Are we doomed to close the doors of this church after over a century in this community?


Those questions were two among many I received recently.


A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that explained why churches are dying and declining faster today than historical norms. The article was more clinical and descriptive than hopeful and prescriptive. I promised I would follow up with suggestions and advice. This article is that follow up.


You should read this next sentence very carefully. The solutions are not easy. In fact, they will be such a challenge that many church leaders and members will deem them impossible for their churches.


That will be a shame.


But if you are willing to make changes, to make sacrifices, and to get out of your comfort zones, there is real hope. Allow me to explain by repeating the five challenges in the form of questions followed by my answers.

In Case You Missed It

Bruce Ashford recently posted a guest post at Chuck Lawless’ blog, sharing a way to make Scripture memory manageable and meaningful. Dr. Ashford writes:

It happens to most of us church leaders. Gradually, and without notice, we slip into the habit of viewing the Scriptures more as an object to be dissected than a spiritual feast to nourish our souls. As an antidote to this temptation, I recently wrote about a four-fold pattern of Scripture intake that helps us to receive the Scriptures as the nourishing word of for our souls. The four-fold pattern—read, reflect, pray, obey—is an adaptation and modification of an early church practice.


Keelan Cook posted at The People’s Next Door earlier this week explaining that church is not a spectator sport.

College football season is once again upon us. This week, I am traveling to do some missionary training and last night, I found myself laying in a hotel bed, listening to my team play their opening game on the radio. The Tennessee Volunteers, a top ten ranked team, were getting man-handled by Appalachian State, a nowhere near top ten team. Fortunately, the Vols snagged a “W” in overtime, but the whole time I was talking to the radio, telling the team what they should be doing.


This is how football works: a small handful of folk on the field, trying to win the game, while millions of us sit in an armchair and tell them what they are doing wrong. Truth is, I have never played football, but you would think I knew something about it by listening to me. After all the sports shows, commentators, and games I have watched, I think I know something about it. However, if you put me into that game, it would not take long to realize I do not.


At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams published an article explaining that God is greater than your fear of sharing the gospel. Nathaniel writes:

I know I’m supposed to share the gospel. But fear always seems to get in the way.


To wit: I once had a conversation with a staunchly liberal (and probably unsaved) lady in my town. I invited her to my church and mentioned how faith inspires us to love the least of these. As I walked away, though, I realized I had only wanted to talk about topics she wanted to hear. I held back the portions of the gospel that caused friction with her worldview — namely, that Jesus is the only way to the Father.


On another occasion, I discussed faith with a deeply conservative (and probably unsaved) man. After I explained my interest in international missions, he said, “I hope you don’t leave the country. I hate any country that’s not America.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t. I held back the portions of the gospel that caused friction with his worldview — namely, the parts about Jesus saving us to share his good news to the ends of the earth.


In both instances, fear prohibited me from sharing parts of the gospel my listeners didn’t want to hear. So I stayed away from controversial topics. And both of them heard something less than the full gospel message.


Randy Mann shared the most encouraging post-sermon comment he has ever received.

Last Sunday, I received the most encouraging sermon comment I have ever received. It came from a 5 year old body (who I later found out was attending his first corporate worship service). He came up to me with his mom and said, “I really like what you said in your sermon today.” I asked, “Was there something special, or did you just like it in general?” He stopped for a minute and replied, “You made me think about Jesus.”


In a recent interview with Steve Noble about an article she wrote for The Exchange, Amy Whitfield tackled the question: “How should Christians use social media?” Follow this link to listen to the interview, or you can read highlights at the Intersect Project website.

I have a megaphone when I put something out on Facebook or on Twitter, but I don’t feel it in the moment. If I’m sitting in a room full of people, and I have a particular opinion about something but I know that it’s bombastic, or I know it could be hurtful, and I’m looking at everyone, then I know. I have some sort of check in my conscience that triggers me.