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.

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week Jason Duesing wrote an article about the most important word he learned in seminary. He writes:

When I went to seminary I had only been a Christian for 4 years. I knew what it meant to be saved but was still working out what all that meant. For example, I had come to learn and love the hymn:

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

But it was not yet clear to me how exactly did Jesus wash me white as snow? I knew that Jesus died for my sins, but I don’t think I could have told you what happened when he did or how he did it. That is when I discovered I had a philology problem–a problem with words.

Dr. Bruce Ashford published an article at The Intersect Project website explaining how to engage culture like Abraham Kuyper.

Abraham Kuyper lived in the Netherlands in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He was a pastor, a journalist, a newspaper founder, a professor, a university founder, a parliament member and a prime minister. From these many vantage points, Kuyper sought to work out the implications of the gospel. Both his writings and his life story show us a Christian who not only critiqued culture but made culture.

Kuyper is known for his teachings about Christianity and culture. Here are nine points that summarize some of his most important teachings.

Aaron Earls posted an article at his personal blog this week explaining why writing, even when no one will ever read it, is so important for the writer. Aaron writes:

Recently, I spent a significant amount of time working on a blog post only to hit delete instead of publish. That decision was difficult because of the investment and sacrifices I made to write it.

Having a wife, four kids, a full-time job, and church responsibilities means my spare time is limited, verging on the nonexistent. I want to make the most of every moment I have. So having that piece never see the light of day meant something was lost — but not everything.

As I tweeted about my decision, several other writers on Twitter shared their own experiences about constructing blog posts, articles, and even books, that no one else will ever read.

Reading their experiences and reflecting on my own, I realized the loss involved in deleting that post was not all that was involved. There were gains and benefits from the decision as well.

Here are four positive takeaways when my writing ends up on the cutting room floor. When we write for an “audience of none,” here’s what you and I can gain, as well as questions we should ask to determine whether a piece should be read by others.

Sam Storms, while looking at the account of Jesus’s cleansing of the temple, addresses the question: Who is this man, Jesus?

So who is this Jesus? Is he still the humble servant, riding on a donkey, offering himself to Israel as their Messianic King and savior from sin? Is he still the holy judge who is enraged with the unrighteous ways of the religious leaders? Is he at the same time the Good Shepherd of the sheep, tender and meek? At one moment his eyes flashed like fire! No one dared make eye contact with him. A split second later his eyes are filled with tears of love and compassion.

Finally, in this blog post, J.D. Greear discusses the new book One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics with the authors: Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo. J.D. writes:

I’ve often said that for Christian leaders, politics is like a skunk: touch it and that’s all anyone will notice about you for a long while. As Christians, our political convictions—no matter how passionately held or biblically based—should always be secondary to the gospel. I may be wrong about my economic views, but I know I’m not wrong about the gospel; and I never want my opinion on the former to prevent people from hearing the latter.

But just because politics is secondary doesn’t mean its irrelevant. There comes a time when the Church needs to actively equip itself to engage in politics. I believe this is one of those times.

The prospect of diving into politics scares a lot of Christians, especially in the younger generation. Many of us are tired of the “culture wars” and all of the poisonous rhetoric that so often accompanies political activism. And years of Christian over-dependence on politics has left most Christians timid to engage in the political process at all. That’s precisely why now, more than ever, we need a positive, proactive vision for how to live out the gospel in the public square.

Bruce Ashford (Provost at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Chris Pappalardo (Lead Researcher and Writer here at the Summit) have given the Church a masterfully constructed blueprint for doing just that. They’ve just released a book called One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics, and I asked them to respond to a few questions about evangelicals and politics today

In Case You Missed It

Yesterday, Jason Deusing shared this helpful post on his personal blog on how why and how he encourages his students to write and improve their writing. Dr. Deusing writes:

As I explain on the first day of class, one of the side effects of a journey with me as professor is that, whether one hopes for it or not, I use my courses to help improve writing skills. In the ministry assignments to which most of the students in my classes will go, the ability to communicate clearly their thoughts will prove crucial for their own efforts of building trust, strengthening relationships, resolving conflicts, organizing and casting visionary leadership, and, most importantly, communicating the gospel message well (Col 4:4). For those who find themselves set apart for the ministry of the Word in preaching, the ability to convey their message in written word only helps insure they will do even better verbally.

Spence Spencer recently published an article at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics discussing C.S. Lewis and the surprising reason we desire fulfillment at work.

When Friday afternoon arrives, sometimes we feel the sense of elation that we will cast off the bonds of our vocational labors and embark on a journey of recreation and rest.

Too soon it seems that Monday morning is looming, and we are back in the harness again for another week of toil.

In the midst of this cycle, we feel a deep longing in our souls for meaning in our weekly work beyond our paycheck and the sometimes minor progress we see.

In The Weight of Glory, a sermon preached in the Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in 1941, C. S. Lewis describes some of that deep longing and offers hope for its fulfillment.

Gavin Ortlund posted at Desiring God discussing five ways to encourage your pastor (without exalting him).

Plenty have lamented the problem of “celebrity culture” in the church, and usually that phrase brings into our minds famous pastors and leaders in the church today. But “celebrity culture” can be an equal challenge for non-famous, local ministries — and some of its most insidious effects crop up there.

The dangers of “celebrity culture” lurk anytime pastors become isolated from the normal, mutual processes of accountability and encouragement in the body of Christ — anytime leadership is characterized by Hebrews 13:17 authority without Hebrews 3:13accountability:

  • Authority: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.” (Hebrews 13:17)
  • Accountability: “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13)

How do we encourage both Hebrews 3 and Hebrews 13 dynamics in our church cultures? In other words, how do we affirm our pastors in their leadership over us without exalting them into some separate category above the sheep?

Who are the Millennials? Waylon Bailey discussed this at his blog recently.

Who are the Millennials, and what do we know about them?

The youngest adult generation in America is popularly known as the Millennials (some people call them Generation Y because the previous generation is known as Gen X).

The Millennial’s were born between 1980 and 2000. They are generally 15 to 35 years old. Other demographers would make them between the ages of 18 and 35.

What do we know about the Millennial’s? There are four very important benchmarks you need to know about the Millennial generation.

Earlier this week, Sam Storms posted a helpful blog entry discussing how forgetfulness is the fuel for idolatry.

“Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you” (Deut. 4:23).

Forgetfulness is the fuel for idolatry. Spiritual amnesia often leads to apostasy. This is the most important lesson for us in Deuteronomy 4:1-40. God’s concern is that his people might “forget the things” that they had seen and that the memory of their gracious deliverance might “depart” from their hearts. Thus we read here of the crucial importance of remembrance, of calling to mind again and again the history of God’s dealings with us and his faithfulness at every turn.