In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Peoples Next Door, Lauren Ballard explains how regular people can minister to internationals. Lauren writes:

I want to share part of my story on how I began to engage internationals and how you can too. When I started at seminary in the Fall of 2013, sadly the thought of engaging the nations in Raleigh was not on my radar. The Lord began to soften my heart and open my eyes to the fact that the nations are coming to us and I needed to do something about it. At church one Sunday someone announced the opportunity to get involved in ministering to Muslims. This sparked my interest, but I didn’t know how to get started. You may be thinking the same thing. For example, you see a Muslim lady in line at the store and want to strike up a conversation but don’t know where to start.

Let me tell you about three ways I engage internationals here in Raleigh: eyebrow threading shops, ethnic restaurants, and mosques/temples.

You don’t think your job matters? In this article Nathaniel Williams explains why it does.

My toddler occasionally watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (If you haven’t seen it, think animated Mr. Rogers with a preschool tiger.) One day I heard the characters singing this jingle:

Everyone’s job is important. We all help… in different ways.

My ears perked up, so I sat down to watch alongside my son. I learned that Daniel wanted to be the line leader. But when he received a different classroom job, he was disappointed. By the end of the episode, he learned that some classroom jobs are less glamorous, but all of them are important.

This lesson is simple enough. So simple, in fact, that the show’s creators put it to music. But believing that everyone’s job is important is painfully hard to put into practice.

In a recent article at The Anxious Bench, Thomas Kidd explains why the Founding Fathers spoke the King James Bible. Dr. Kidd writes:

One of the besetting problems of “Christian America” history writing is that it often interprets biblical quotes from the Founders as evidence that they were personally devout. Sometimes personally devout Founders did also speak in the language of the King James Bible, of course. But a broader range of Founding Fathers – including the skeptical Benjamin Franklin – spoke in the language of the King James because it was the coin of the realm. Even people who had little formal education, like Franklin, (the devout) Patrick Henry, or (the Calvinist-leaning skeptic) Abraham Lincoln thoroughly knew their Bibles from childhood, and spoke its language. So when you observe someone in America before 1877 speaking in the Bible’s phrases, you need to know more about that person before you can declare them a believing Christian.

Keelan Cook recently explained in a recent post why in the context of urban missions, the suburbs still matter.

We talk a lot about cities nowadays, and we should. The world is now more urban than not, and that does not look to change any time soon. The Great Commission is increasingly an urban mission. That being said, I think some of the language we use at times to showcase the importance of cities may cause people to overlook the complexity of the average US urban center.

Cities are engines of commerce, culture, and influence, we say. Cities emanate culture outward to the surrounding areas, regions, and even the world. Cities shape the world. While this is all true, if we are not careful, our description is a little too flat. The flow of culture, influence, and people is not one-directional.

Certainly, cities have a disproportionate influence compared to rural and even suburban areas. Think of the influence of Hollywood or Madison Avenue. It is no secret that advertising tells people what they want before they want it. In this regard, cities drive culture on a large scale. However, cities cannot do this alone. At least in America, cities need their suburbs.

Suburbs are important too.

Cities cannot exist without their suburbs. Because of the way cities developed in the United States (think about the automobile), most of our cities need suburbs to supply them people. Yes, many center cities are experiencing population growth right now, but the vast amount of commerce in cities depends on the large workforce that exists around its beltway. Not only do these people work in the city, they support the city by shopping and playing there. This is a bigger deal concerning culture and commerce than one would first think. If culture pushes out from the cities, then many of the people making decisions about it are actually suburbanites. That means this relationship is not as one-way as many claim.

At The Front Porch blog, Thabiti Anyabwile discusses the difference between a healthy church and a peaceful church.

I love the Church. And because I love the Church, I long for both her health and her peace. Sometimes in discussions with other people who love the Church, I find myself in some disagreement. Sometimes the disagreements are major and substantial—we see the world very differently. Sometimes the disagreements are matters of degree or emphasis—we see the world largely the same way but we lean in different directions.

I’ve sometimes been puzzled about why people who love the Church and want its health and peace find themselves at odds. This morning I’m convinced that sometimes the disagreements arise because we can use “health” and “peace” as synonyms when they’re not.

In Case You Missed It

Keelan Cook proclaimed in a recent blog post: “Missions is changing, and we need to keep up.

Our great-grandchildren will read about this moment in church history textbooks, if the Lord does not return first. Global changes are taking place that will forever affect the way churches fulfill the great commission, and our generation is standing at a major turning point in the history of the church.

I like to call this change the democratization of global missions. That is really a fancy way of saying that for the first time in history, every, single member of your local church can be directly involved in international missions. I am not referring to praying for missionaries or giving to support their cause. These crucial tasks have always been available to church members, and they are perhaps more important than ever. But now, every member can actually participate in cross-cultural ministry.

Chuck Lawless addressed the issue of why pastors have few deep friendships in a recent blog post:

I’ve heard it so many times that I almost expect it: pastors are lonely. They often minister among people they say they love, but don’t know well. They have few deep friendships. Here are 10 reasons why we struggle with finding friends.

At First Things, Peter Leithart published an article discussing what we get from worship.

It is often said that we come to worship to give and not to receive. That is a dangerous half-truth.

Praise, thanks, adoration are all part of worship, of course, and God delights in our praise. But in worship as in all of life, we have nothing to give unless we have first received. We give praise to God because He first gives gifts to us, and our gifts to Him are simply an Amen to His gifts to us. We come to worship to receive, so that we can give.

Earlier this week Thomas S. Kidd published and article which addressed the issue of how and when to say ‘no’. Dr. Kidd writes:

When do you say no? How do you choose between many promising-sounding opportunities? And how do you say no without seeming like a prima donna?

The key to this discussion is grasping that you need to focus on your core calling(s), and that the nature of your work in those callings changes over time. For example, if you are single, or if you are married with no kids, or are empty nest, then the question of saying no looks different than if you have kids at home. Or if you are a doctoral student writing your dissertation, saying no looks different than if you are a tenured full professor.

The basic principle is that a modicum of success or career progress, or additional family responsibilities, normally requires more saying ‘no.’ Instead, people often keep trying to shove more stuff into their schedule, leading to mediocrity across the board.

Finally, Amy Medina, who is has been serving in the East African city of Salaam since 2001 recently published an article: “Sometimes Africa Scares Me.” Pray for Amy and her family as there is potential for some political unrest where she is located:

The elections are two weeks from today.  But what can we do?  We stock our pantries; we fill up our gas tanks.  And we pray:  for peace, and for a government with integrity.  We pray for safety but remember that’s not always the most important thing.  Instead, that the gospel might go forth, no matter what.

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.  

Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.

In Case You Missed It

1) Thomas S. Kidd discusses professors and the new public square. In his post Kidd writes:

E-mail, Twitter, blogging, and podcasts have dramatically lowered the structural barriers between professors and a potential reading public. But these are only possibilities unless academics avail themselves of them, and it remains to be seen whether they will…Academics who want to reach a broader audience will have to get used to the idea that they need to reach out to their prospective readers.

2) In this post, Joe McKeever reflects on his single biggest regret from 53 years of ministry: Making time for his family.

The minister who learns to say ‘no’ in order to protect his time with the family will occasionally anger a self-centered, demanding church member. But it’s a small price to pay, and in the long run, works out best both for the family and the immature member. Only a strong pastor can do this. I sure wish I’d been one.

3) Keelan Cook reflects on Muslim immigration in this post.

The least reached peoples are now in arms reach. And for the first time in our history, every, single member of your church can impact the nations in this way. Believers who never could go overseas no longer have to in order to share Christ with a Muslim, or a Hindu or Buddhist for that matter. We now share space. We share a marketplace. This is not bad news, if your heart is to share the good news of Christ.

4) Ed Stetzer discusses discipleship of new believers and how to focus on spiritual growth and transformation in this post.

More often than not people respond to Christ because they are in a life crisis, not just because they wake up feeling the need to be closer to Christ…every church needs a pathway which will provide direction for their discipleship plan, and also show how they grow together as a church.

5) Cameron Stanley, a member of a team of SEBTS students serving this summer in San Diego provides his take on the limitless boundaries of God’s love from a quick trip across the border.

One of the main lessons I was able to learn from that day was that God’s love transcends all boundaries. Regardless of the language barrier, the actual land boundary, or any other self-construed boundary pretense, we were able to share Christ, only by His grace. If we live life on mission with the idea that God’s love transcends all boundaries, pursing Him in all that we do, there is nothing that He can’t use us for.