In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at his personal blog, Bruce Ashford shared a theological syllabus for aspiring pastors and church planters. Dr. Ashford writes:

There is nothing more satisfying, more unsettling, more helpful, and more practical than systematic reflection on the word of God. Aspiring pastors and church planters should embrace the calling to be theologians. Although their ministry will involve more than theology, it will never involve less.

In light of the centrality of theology for ministry, therefore, I encourage aspiring pastors and church planters to develop a theology with the following five characteristics.

In a recent article at the N.C. Baptists website, Dr. Danny Akin shared why we go.

Last words are meant to be lasting words. They are meant to make an impact. They are meant to leave an impression. As Jesus was preparing to ascend back into heaven following His three-year sojourn on this earth as “heaven’s missionary,” there are any number of things He could have given as his final instructions. He could have told us to love one another, giving attention to our moral life. He could have urged us to obey the commands of God, giving attention to our ethical life. He could have warned us about false teaching, giving attention to our doctrinal life. All of these are important and worthy of our careful attention and devotion. And yet Jesus chose to focus on our missional life with His parting words: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). So, we go because our king has told us to go. We go and make disciples, devoted followers of Jesus, because our king told us to make disciples. And, we go and make disciples of all nations because all the nations, all the ethne, are to be the object of our evangelistic and missionary agenda.

At The Intersect Project, Dr. Spence Spencer discusses the question of should Christians have to pay taxes when governments fund injustice.

The only things that are certain are death and taxes.

 

At least, that’s how the old saying, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, goes.

 

As Christians, we are much less certain of death, since we expect that one generation will meet the returning Christ without first dying.

 

At times, some Christians argue that taxes should not be certain, either. Usually, the objection to paying taxes is framed as concern for an unjust practice that is funded by taxation. However, those objections do not stand up to the testimony of Scripture, particularly in the life of Christ. According to Christ, we are required to pay taxes, but we are also required to fight for justice.

 

In a recent post at the Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Alvin Reid discusses when freaking out is okay. Dr. Reid writes:

In October 2014, I visited San Francisco for the first time.  The first place I had to go was the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets. This street corner represents the epicenter of the hippie culture of the 1960s, and there was a hippie playing a guitar when I arrived, right on cue.

 

This is also where the earliest signs of what would be called the Jesus Movement began. A hippie named Ted Wise got saved, and then others joined him. Before long the movement went south, where a man named Chuck Smith and a church called Calvary Chapel exploded.

 

Thousands of youth came to Christ, while at the same time thousands of youth in established churches experienced a new zeal for Jesus. Churches filled with youth groups, and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) organized an event called Explo ’72 where eighty thousand young people came to Dallas, Texas, to learn to share Christ. On the Saturday following the event, some 150,000–180,000 youth gathered for a massive festival featuring Billy Graham, among others.

 

I was saved in those days. I remember young people who did not have a church background, who didn’t have a lot of theological training—okay, they had none—but who had a passion to tell others about Jesus. We had a name for them:

 

Jesus Freaks.

 

At his personal website, Dr. Jason Duesing shared an article titled: “The Bell Grew Louder: Reading Narnia and Thinking of Andrew Fuller.”

One of the peculiar things about the human mind is how it can process multiple things at the same time. Some say multitasking is a myth, as one can really only accomplish one task at any given moment. However, I found that when reading books to my children, I can really multitask. As I scroll aloud through paragraphs, my mind will often solve all kinds of problems and make connections to things far from the content of the words entering through my eyes and out of my mouth. Am I the only one?

 

This happened on an occasion while reading aloud C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. The more I read the more I thought not of some distant Narnian land, but rather of eighteenth century England and the life and work of Andrew Fuller.

 

Todd Borger recently posted an article discussing how ordering our nights and days are an act of bearing God’s image. Dr. Borger writes:

My day, Lord, is yours. Creation gives us a daily sequence or alteration of evening and morning. The direction of that sequence is important and the opposite of what our language and culture dictate. We begin each day with the morning and end it at night. Genesis counts the days by evenings and morning, however, so we could say that the day begins with bedtime at night and ends in the light of day before the next sunset. Seen this way, we have a movement from darkness to light just as creation in Genesis moves from unadulterated darkness to a divided and ordered darkness and light. Revelation tells us that the darkness that permeated all things at the beginning will not be present in the eschaton.

In Case You Missed It

At The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls posted an article discussing how recent arguments over crowd sizes are insignificant and pointless, but they reveal actual—not alternative—facts about our culture’s attitude toward truth in a post titled: “Reaping the Whirlwind of Alternative Facts.” Aaron writes:

Postmodernism declared there is no absolute truth or inherent meaning. Today, in a modern culture steeped in this way of thinking, truth is understood as relative. In literature and art, it doesn’t matter what the author or artist intended their work to say, it only matters how the individual received it. If I perceive something as offensive, that is all that matters. In religion, you cannot claim Jesus is the way, truth and life. Maybe he is just a way to reach God—one of many ways—because all religions are equally true.

 

In identity, gender is fluid and determined, not by biology, but by how a person feels. No one else has the right to tell them how they are to see themselves. In morality, unborn life is discardable and should not be regarded as a person—unless the mother wants it. Only then can we use language of “baby,” “child,” etc. The mother’s desires determine the reality of the baby.

 

For years, conservative Christians fought against the rejection of absolute truth, while many in culture scoffed. The mantra for years has been: “They may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.”

 

Now, suddenly, culture has become concerned with truth and facts again.

 

In a recent article at The Intersect Project, Spence Spencer discussed how income inequality is not our biggest problem.

Is income inequality is one of the most significant threats to justice in our age? Some voices in the marketplace say so. They argue that the wealthy are becoming wealthier at the expense of the poor. If this were true, it would truly be one of the most significant justice issues of our day. However, this version of reality relies on the zero-sum myth of economics.

 

Anna Daub posted an article at The Center for Great Commission Studies discussing women’s marches and missions. Anna writes:

This weekend, the nation witnessed a momentous occasion. Hundreds of thousands of women gathered in cities all across the United States and the world to peacefully assemble and march for women’s rights.

 

I spent some time reading the signs women carried at the march. While I recognize that there are some signs that Christians cannot agree, there are others that we need to notice. A little African American girl’s sign said, “I am a woman….we are important. We are beautiful. We love children. We are queens, respect us, cherish us, value us.” Another states, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.” Yet another, in front of a gold Star of David, said, “My great-grandmother didn’t escape Warsaw for this!” Probably one of the most chilling signs I saw was this: an elderly Japanese woman carrying a sign that said, “Locked up by US Prez 1942-1946. Never again.”

 

From where I stand as a female missiologist (someone who studies the science of missions), this weekend was important. While I in no way want to minimize the big button issues present like abortion, I also believe that if we ever want to reach this generation, we need to pay attention to other things that were said and done.

 

This event, this march, is a window into our current culture.

 

At his personal blog, Jason Duesing posted an article discussing the most important doctrine he learned in seminary.

J. R. R. Tolkien loved words. More than that, he loved the study of words and delighted in philology or “the zone where history, linguistics, and literature meet.”[1] Therefore, when he had invented several languages he found he needed a world to house them. The result–the entirety of the fictional environs we know as Middle Earth and its inhabitants found their genesis in their creator’s love of words.

 

Words are something our Creator loves as well. He spoke the world into existence with words, sent his Son as the Word, and the Spirit breathed perfectly all the words we have in the Bible as Scripture. Thus, the Christian life is a life clothed and shaped by words even as some of those words require hard work to gain their full meaning.

 

When I went to seminary (in the latter part of the 20th century) 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.

 

At The Intersect Project, Krystal Wilson discussed how Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is about more than abortion. Krystal writes:

As Christians, we believe in the sanctity of human life. We believe that all people are image bearers of a holy God and, as such, all human life is sacred and should be respected and protected. Many churches dedicate a whole Sunday in late January — Sanctity of Human Life Sunday — to enlighten its members about the sanctity of human life, particularly the issue of abortion.

 

But, as we will see, all life is sacred — even the lives we often neglect.

 

Chuck Lawless posted an article this week discussing 8 traits he sees in good worship leaders.

As I visit churches in my various roles, I’m privileged to worship with many different congregations. The styles aren’t always the same, but I can tell you some of the common traits I find in worship leaders who catch my attention. I know these thoughts are just my opinion, but here are some of those things.

In Case You Missed It

At The People’s Next Door, Keelan Cook shared a warning concerning religious categories. Keelan writes:

Americans love our categories. We love our boxes and labels. Even today, with the postmodern push away from classification, we Western thinkers still organize information by placing “like items” together in taxonomies. Categories can be helpful to understand certain generalizations about a set of items, ideas, or people. However, categories also obscure information. Every time we lump two like things together, we focus on the similarities and overlook the differences. This is particularly true when we view something as an outsider.

 

We need to recognize this tendency to generalize in missions and evangelism. Our world is full of cultures, beliefs, religions, and worldviews. The sheer number of options when it comes to a belief system are dizzying. In the past, however, your average church-going Christian in the US would only run across one of two different belief systems. A generation ago, there were Protestants, Catholics, and not-so-religious people. Those in the Protestant camp tended to be either committed, confessional Christians or nominal Christians (in name only) and part of a larger Christian cultural ethos. When it came to sharing the gospel, these were the predominant categories of thought.

 

Spence Spencer published an article at The Intersect Project discussing and the psychological consequences of a well-intended idea: universal basic income.

We don’t know what the future holds, but some in the tech industry are predicting a massive displacement of workers in the future.State jobs reports tend to confirm this expectation, as automation is thought to be increasing and threatening to displace low-skill workers.

 

Some see the downward shift in employment rates as an overall positive, arguing that taking people out of so-called menial jobs will free more people up to be creative and more effectively human. To support the displaced workers, there are a number of people calling for universal basic income.

 

Universal basic income proposals come in several forms and variations, but a simplified version is this: Everyone will be guaranteed at least a certain amount of income per year. Essentially, the government will write everyone a check for an amount deemed appropriate to support basic living expenses. Wages from compensated employment would either add to that basic income or displace it, depending on the proposal.

 

At his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door, Aaron Earls shared a post about Chip and Joanna Gaines, Buzzfeed, and fixing up the social media cycle of shame.

Buzzfeed published a lazy story on Chip and Joanna Gaines, the happy home renovating couple from Fixer Upper, using sermons preached by their pastor in opposition to same sex marriage.

 

The obvious intention of the piece was to gin up controversy and unleash an internet mob to pressure the hosts of the popular show to voice an opinion on the culturally controversial issue. After obtaining that information, only then could socially liberal viewers feel comfortable (or not) watching the Gaineses remodel homes.

 

Thankfully, unlike many previous instances, most readers critiqued Buzzfeed’s story instead of their subjects. Many who support same sex marriage and even many who are gay themselves called the piece “bad journalism and bad advocacy.”

 

After the backlash, Buzzfeed’s editor insisted the piece was about whether HGTV discriminated against same sex couples on the show. (Despite the fact that, as they reported in the story, multiple shows on HGTV regularly feature same sex couples.)

 

In a snark filled follow-up, the writer of the original piece quoted from an HGTV spokesperson that the network does not discriminate against anyone. Seemingly, this will end the latest version of Heresy Hunters, the new favorite reality show of some cultural progressives.

 

But as a Christian, I am much more concerned about our reaction to such situations. How we handle them matters because they will be more and more frequent.

 

At the Around Southeastern blog, Harper McKay shared about the Biblical Women’s Institute titled “Helping Us Get There“.

My husband and I met while serving overseas as singles in Southeast Asia. When we returned home from our two-year terms and talked about getting married, we thought we would slow down, stay in America for a while, and have a “normal” life, whatever that means. We both knew that God had called us to serve overseas long term, but we did not want to move to go to seminary. We thought it would be better to take online classes and work full time near our families.

 

As we searched for jobs, nothing seemed to open up to either one of us. The wedding date drew nearer and nearer and we still lived with our parents with no idea what to do after we got married. Still we said we just didn’t want to go to seminary.

 

Finally after my husband (then my fiancé) was turned down from two jobs in the same week, I admitted to something that had been creeping up in my mind.

 

“I think we have not been open to everything God might want us to do,” I said as we took a walk in the park.

 

Trevin Wax recently shared his 10 favorite reads of 2016Trevin writes:

For more than ten years now, I’ve been blogging regularly. And every year, I like to pick the ten books I most enjoyed reading.

Feel free to peruse this list and some of previous years’ selections (20152014201320122011, 2010,2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, as well as my Hubworthy page of “Essential” recommendations). You’ll find some great titles to add to your Christmas wish list.