In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Jeremy Bell reminds us that as Christians, we should take care of our bodies.

The doctrine that humans were created in the image of God matters for how Christians navigate a variety of cultural issues—racism, bioethics, abortion, homosexuality and moral responsibility, just to name a few. This truth, the imago Dei, provides Christians with a correct worldview that all people are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) on the basis of their image–bearing. According to this doctrine, human beings are special because we are created beings that exist as both body and soul. Regardless of your capabilities, you are valued by God because you have been created by God as an embodied soul.

 

However, I fear that we have not fleshed out what the imago Dei means for us as individuals. We have created a culture that focuses mainly on the soul while forgetting the body — a sort of Christian Gnosticism. I am convinced that the Christian community needs to focus on both the body and the soul in order to honor God as his image–bearers.

 

What do I mean by this? Christians need to practice taking better care of their bodies in order to honor God as created beings. In other words, Christians should consider pursuing healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, drinking more water and avoiding harmful substances. The Christian understanding of body and soul from Scripture obligates us as created beings to be good stewards of the bodies that God has given each of us. However, we are to honor God with our bodies not as a means to earn God’s grace, but as a means to express our gratitude for the grace he has already shown us through Jesus Christ.

 

Here are three reasons that you should take care of your body because you have been created in the image of God.

 

Spence Spencer posted an article at his personal blog Ethics and Culture discussing the question: “What is an Evangelical?” Spence writes:

The furor around Hillbilly Elegy has largely died away. Much to nearly everyone’s surprise, a populist won the election. Many of his votes came from people who claim the title evangelical.

 

The exit poll results that indicate 81% of so-called evangelicals voted for Trump have been used as a cudgel against theologically conservative Protestants, many of whom identify as evangelical.

 

As Robert Wuthnow notes in his recent book, Inventing American Religion, however, there are significant differences between theological belief and political identity. The pollsters have tried to cross that boundary, but there are indications that the political label evangelical may not provide a strong theological indicator.

 

At Christianity Today, Hannah Anderson shared an article discussing how brainy women benefit the church.

“Why do you always have to analyze everything?”
I’ve heard this question many times, but I remember the first time someone posed it to me directly. I was 11 years old, in the fifth grade, and standing in the hallway surrounded by my classmates. I don’t remember who asked it, but I do remember that the question was quickly followed by an unsettling chorus of assent. To that point, I’d enjoyed the process of learning and felt free to excel academically. But something shifted in that moment.

 

Although I didn’t realize it then, our collective understanding of intelligence—and my perception of my own intelligence—had been taking shape for several years. A recent study by Lin Bian, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, reveals that children as young as six are already forming views about the nature of intelligence, including associating it with masculinity. Standing in that hallway was the first time I remember questioning whether being a “smart” girl was a benefit or a social liability.

Reporting on Bian’s research, Ed Yong of The Atlantic notes that society’s tendency to associate intelligence with masculinity can create hurdles for women.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently published an article at his blog discussing the Bible’s four essential teachings about politics.

When we ask the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” we can be tempted to jump straight to party platforms and policy issues. That is, of course, how the conversation proceeds on the radio shows and cable news networks: “What is a Christian perspective on immigration reform?” “Why do Christians oppose abortion but support the death penalty?” “How could a Christian support So-and-So for the presidency?”

 

But if we jump straight to these sort of issues, our perspective will be fragmented and incoherent. Instead of beginning with questions about isolated policy issues and party platforms, it is helpful to ask what the Bible’s master narrative says about politics itself.

 

That’s right. Even though the Bible is composed of 66 individual books composed by many different authors, its composition was guided by one Divine Author who formed those books together into one story. That story is the true story of the whole world, a story that tells where the world came from, what went horribly wrong with it, and how God will one day set it aright.

 

If we want to understand a Christian view of politics, therefore, the first thing we need to do is look at clues from the Bible’s main storyline. One way to tell the story is to divide it into four acts—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. In this article, I will do exactly that, and will briefly relate each act to the notion of politics.

 

At Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe shared four elements of a successful podcast.

In the past two weeks of the Rainer on Leadership podcast, we have experienced two of our top three days ever on the show in terms of downloads. For this, we are obviously grateful to our listeners.

 

As we begin year five of Rainer on Leadership, it feels like the proper time to look back over the past four years at what has made the podcast (and other popular podcasts) work. The “Religion and Spirituality” section of iTunes is by far the most populous category in the app, and Rainer on Leadership is consistently in the top 150. I’ve identified four elements of the podcast that I believe contribute to this.

 

In this post, Art Rainer gives five major reasons why church giving declines.

God has designed us, not to be hoarders, but conduits through which His generosity flows.

And this generosity should be evident by the way we give to our local church. Unfortunately, churches often experience a reduction in giving. Their members and attendees withhold or reduce their giving.

 

Why does this happen?

 

Here are a few reasons to consider

 

In an article at the website of the International Mission Board, Scott Hildreth shared about how the Cooperative Program enables local congregations to participate in God’s mission. Dr. Hildreth writes:

Some may wonder how the Southern Baptist Convention is different from other denominations. There are many ways, but one of the most obvious is our basic structure and our funding system. From the early days of the convention, Southern Baptists looked for a structure that supported our belief in the importance of the local church while also enabling the churches to fulfill the Great Commission through many different ministries. The Cooperative Program is the result. Over the years, the details and complexity of the convention have changed, but this program has served as a key tool for our growth.

 

The beauty of our Cooperative Program outshines the motto: “We can do more together than we can do alone.” There is no question that the Cooperative Program has allowed Southern Baptists to achieve a lot. It is the financial driving force—some might even say, the lifeline— for the expanse and success of the SBC. The creation of a unified budget, along with the expectations of regular contributions, allows our boards to plan their work without being encumbered by the constant need to raise all of their support.

In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Hannah Jane Adkins recently shared why Christians should care about Women’s History Month. Hannah writes:

During the month of March, you’re probably engrossed in March Madness or relishing the first days of spring. These are good things. But have you paused to ponder about Women’s History Month?

 

Women’s History Month is a time to reflect on women’s contributions to society. As Christians looking through the lens of the Gospel, it is vital to see the impact of those who have gone before.

 

Why do we need Women’s History Month? The truth is that we don’t often think about the impact women have made on the church, on our lives or on the culture as a whole. But all of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, have been directly influenced by mothers, grandmothers and other women in our lives.

 

We experience freedoms because of women we will never know. Our faith has been influenced by women in the Bible and throughout church history.

 

Women’s history, then, is shared history. We must learn about our past to see how it affects the present and how it will continue to affect our future.

 

Why, then, should Christians care about Women’s History Month? Here are three key reasons.

 

Dr. Joe McKeever shared a post at his personal blog discussing some things a pastor needs to communicate to new staff members.

Let’s say you’re the pastor of a growing church.  The church has just brought in a new minister to assist you in leading the congregation.  He/she might be a worship pastor, minister of music, student minister, or in charge of education or pastoral care.

 

One of the best things a pastor can do with the incoming minister is to make him/her aware of your expectations.  You will want to think them through and write them out, then share them after you both have agreed that God is leading him/her to your church.  Give the person the printed copy and don’t lose your own.  This may be necessary if the time comes when you have to deal with a rebellious or lazy staff member.

 

In sharing these, do it graciously, not dictatorially as though you are going to be looking over their shoulder all the time.

 

You could even follow this by asking for their expectations concerning you.  I guarantee you they have them.  They will expect you to deal with them as ministers of the gospel, to give them room to do their job, to pay them well and protect them on their off days, and to support them when the criticism is unfair.  If  the new staffer is expecting something from you which was not spoken and never implied, you want to know that up front before you get too deeply into the employment process.

 

What follows are things I shared with our staff members in six churches over forty-two years.  Some of them evolved, while some of them were there from the first.  The list is not complete, but only things I recall at this vantage point.

 

At The Baptist Press, Scott Hildreth shared about calling out the called. Dr. Hildreth writes:

I am begging pastors and student pastors to pray for God to call your people into ministry. It is also an appeal for pastors to make time in their sermons and schedules to call out the called. Christianity Today released a statistic several weeks ago showing that only one out of seven senior pastors are under 40. I wonder if it is because we have stopped making appeals for people to respond to God’s call to ministry.

 

Here are a few important points for any pastor who is willing to accept this challenge.

 

Art Rainer recently shared four financial reasons why people don’t go to the mission field.

There are roughly three billion people in the world with little to no access to the gospel. And many of those people will live and die without ever hearing the name of Jesus. If you are a Christ-follower, this fact should be one of the driving motivations for you to go and share this good news that you have heard and received.

 

Unfortunately, some people who are willing to go to the nations, are held back because of financial reasons. Whether you are in this place because of poor decisions or not, they need to be addressed. Let’s look at four financial reasons why people don’t go to the mission field and what you can do about it.

 

At his personal blog, Dr. Chuck Lawless recently posted a list of ten leadership time wasters.

If you’re a leader, you know the importance of using time wisely. That doesn’t mean, though, that most of us use time well. Here are some of the most common leadership time wasters, in my opinion.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently shared a helpful post discussing five ways to get the most out of a book. Dr. Ashford writes:

It’s sad, but true. I had already graduated with a Ph.D. before I really learned to get the most out of a book. It’s not that I hadn’t read many books or hadn’t read them with serious intent. I had been a serial reader since I was a small child. I had studied books in order to prepare for exams, evaluate them for critical reviews, or interact with them in research papers or journal articles.

 

But I had not really learned how to get the most out of a book.

 

Only when I started teaching undergraduate reading seminars at The College at Southeastern did I learn to read a book for all it is worth. In those “History of Ideas” seminars, I led students to read many of the greatest books ever written, including great works of fiction (e.g. Dante, Virgil, Milton, Chaucer), philosophy (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Marx), history (e.g. Herodotus), and theology (e.g. Augustine, Aquinas, Erasmus, Luther).

 

As my freshmen and sophomore college students wrestled with reading some of the greatest books ever written, I realized that I needed to teach them the art of deep reading as well as critical evaluation.

 

In order to help my students, however, I knew I needed to improve my own ability to get the most out of a book. So I read Adler and Van Doren’s How to Read a Book, and I labored to develop my own set of principles and practices. These principles and practices apply not only to the so-called “great books,” but to contemporary books.

 

In order to convey the five principles, I’m going to focus on how to read a non-fiction book for all it is worth, and the examples I use will be from contemporary texts.

The Professor’s Bookshelf: Dr. Scott Hildreth

This series at Between the Times highlights Southeastern faculty members as they share about books which they are enjoying now, books which have shaped them personally, and books they consistently recommend to others.

This week, we interview Dr. Scott Hildreth.

Dr. Hildreth is Assistant Professor of Global Studies and is the Director of the Center for the Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What are some books you are reading right now?

I am reading Apostolicity by John Flett for the Southeastern Seminary journal, Southeastern Theological Review. I am also reading several books on the missions in the Reformation in preparation for our upcoming trip to Germany for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. For fun, I am reading G.K. Chesterton’s mystery novels about “Father Brown.”

What are some of the books which have had the largest impact on your life, thinking, or teaching?

The first time I read Michael Green’s Evangelism in the Early Church I was challenged in the idea of the importance contextualization in missions and this has become a major point of my research, writing, and teaching.

I have also been impacted by reading biographies of missionaries such as: William Carey, Hudson Taylor, and Jim Elliot, for example. These stories allow me to see how God uses different people and be encouraged by their faith

On the teaching front, Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman shapes my thinking. I see my classroom (and students) as those that will carry the faith forward and it is a disciple making process.

What are some of your favorite works of fiction?

One book that haunts me is John Grisham’s A Time to KillIt exposes the racial inequities in our country and also accidental racism in me.

I like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series because of the insight into real life walking with God.

I am a huge mystery/thriller fan. Many of the books are not necessarily recommendations, but I enjoy the stories and I also enjoy watching authors struggle with evil and good through these novels.

Are there any books which you re-read on a regular basis and why?

One book that I read regularly is Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable PlantI do this because I am always challenged by his understanding of spiritual formation and the role ministry plays in growing in godliness.

I also come back to, though not regularly, Desiring God by John Piper, Knowledge of the Holy and The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Knowing God by J.I. Packer, and other books that feed my soul with deep thoughts about God and spirituality.

What is one book which you would recommend to a church member and why?

Other than the books listed above, I would recommend all church members read Prayer: The Cry for the Kingdom  by Stanley Grenz. This book completely transformed my understanding of prayer. It is a theological discussion of a very mystical discipline.

What is one book which you would recommend to a seminary student to read beyond what they might encounter in class and why?

I wish all my students would read Elements of Style and How to Read a Book  (Ha Ha Ha!  Just kidding – kind of)!

Seriously, I love John Piper’s Brothers We are Not Professionals. Though it is written to pastors, I think all staff members and even laypersons can benefit from his insights on ministry.