In Case You Missed It

1) The sharp political and cultural critic, David Brooks, thinks that our culture has a shallow idea of meaning.

2) Tony Merida recently published his new book, Ordinary (B&H), which challenges us to be–yep–ordinary Christians.

3) At First Things, Faatimah Knight points out a “subtle and unnoticed misogyny” at work in television and film.

4) Micah Fries encourages SBC churches not to give to the Cooperative Program. (But he doesn’t mean what you may think.)

5) J. D. Greear asks, are you willing to doubt your doubt? Good question.

 

Book Notice: “Ordinary” by Tony Merida

Ordinary picYou, Christian, have been redeemed, reconciled, and renewed to change the world. You, Christian, must conquer your family, neighborhood, workplace, and even the world for the Kingdom. You must be radical, extreme, on the edge, extraordinary. Or not.

Tony Merida, Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern and Pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC, thinks that Christians are called to be extraordinary. That’s right, Christians are called to live ordinary lives for the King who created and saved them. But ordinary living as a Christian in this world means the world may well be turned upside down. Thus, Tony wrote the book, Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down (B&H).

In Ordinary, Tony displays the concern God has for the ordinary, or especially the outcasts, of the world. God, he claims, is a God of justice, one whose heart beats for the poor such that he became a poor man, Jesus Christ, and died a rejected criminal. The Bible is replete with evidence that God cares for the poor, orphans, widows, and other outcasts. This truth struck Tony earlier in his life and it has griped him ever since. His family tries to live out a PEACE plan that incorporates evangelism and social justice into a seamless whole. He is a good teacher and model for us on this way of integrated living before God and people.

So Tony wrote Ordinary in order to “identify some ‘ordinary things’ that ordinary people like us can do, and if we do them with gospel intentionality (speaking and showing the gospel), then we can make an extraordinary impact.” (p. 9) The introduction addresses the Bible’s testimony on the gospel-social justice nexus and the tendency we evangelical Christians have to sensationalize everything we do in the name of Jesus. The book then unfolds in five concise, easy-to-read chapters that address the key topics of ordinary living as a Christian: neighbor love, hospitality, orphan care, advocacy for the voiceless, and humility. In the conclusion, Tony exhorts us to take up this way of life, which is consistent with God’s character and plan for history.

The chapter titles indicate the clear, ordinary path Tony walks for us:

Introduction – Confessions: Trading Sensationalism for Ordinary Christianity

Chapter 1 –     Neighbor Love: How Justified Sinners Show Compassion in Word and Deed

Chapter 2 –     Kingdom Hospitality: How the King’s People Welcome Others

Chapter 3 –     Care for the Vulnerable: How the Father’s Children Love the Fatherless

Chapter 4 –     Courageous Advocacy: How God’s People Speak Up for the Voiceless (with Kimberly Merida)

Chapter 5 –     God-Centered Humility: How an Ordinary Christian Walked with His Extraordinary God

Conclusion –  Longing for a Just World

Some of us will (or do) live lives on the edge––serving Christ and his church in dangerous, far-off places––and such living glorifies God. But most of us live lives in the normal––serving Christ and his church in 9-5 jobs, coming home to our plain homes that our average families inhabit––and such living, when lived in grace-filled obedience to Christ, glorifies God. Tony Merida has reminded us all of what this life looks like. Students, teachers, small groups, and Sunday school classes––basically any Christian––will benefit from reading this book.

John Ewart on EQUIP equipping Pastors

I have the privilege of partnering with local churches and local church leaders around the world through the Spurgeon Center and our EQUIP Network. EQUIP is a strategy to wed the seminary to local church ministries. There is nothing I consider more important than the opportunity to serve them. Jesus has given the mission of God to the church. That mission is to make disciples of all nations. The fulfillment of this mission includes equipping leaders and sending them out to engage in frontier missions, to strengthen churches, and to plant new churches.

The Apostle Paul writes of this challenge to Timothy, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:1-2).

Timothy was to be strengthened through the grace that is only available to those who are in Christ and the teaching he had received from Paul. He then instructs Timothy to take his teachings and entrust them to others. Though these teachings were shared openly in the presence of many and everyone would benefit from hearing them, Timothy also needed to find specific men to which to entrust them in order to make certain they would be preserved and shared to future generations in the proper way. These men had to meet two requirements. First, they had to be faithful. Second, they had to be able to teach others.

Church leaders today must continue this pattern. We certainly must share the teachings of Scripture openly and faithfully from our pulpits, in our small groups and in our daily conversations to all who will listen. But we should also seek out specific men to whom we can entrust this message.

To shepherd these men, we must model for them and teach to them what it means to remain faithful and to walk with God in His strengthening grace. To help them teach others we must equip them with the proper skills and provide them opportunity. This type of equipping requires time and intentionality.

As Pastor Nathan Akin challenges, “The question for pastors has to be, who are your II Timothy 2:2 men? We have a variety of ways to measure ‘success’ in the church today. Too often they revolve around our statistics. If the Apostle Paul were giving standards of success it seems certain that one of them would be how many men are you raising up as leaders who will in turn do the same?”

Dr. Tony Merida also asks, “Have you ever considered the fact that perhaps the greatest thing you might do with your life is to pour into a future leader?” He adds, “Every pastor should not just have a ‘to-do’ list but also a ‘to-be’ list of potential leaders to mentor.”

EQUIP partners with local churches to help those leaders who seek to develop this type of ministry as well as to walk alongside those who already engage in it.  We can show you examples of equipping ministries and processes and help you develop the intentionality you seek in equipping other faithful leaders. In addition, there are several ways those who are being trained can earn fully accredited academic credit while engaging in this shepherding ministry with you. Please contact us today at www.sebts.edu/equip so we can determine how we might best serve you.