In Case You Missed It

1) Danny Akin reflected on his hopes, dreams, and efforts for reconciliation after watching “Selma.”

2) At SEND Network, Josh King describes the worthwhile difficulties of church revitalization.

3) Ed Stetzer interviews SEBTS prof and Pastor of Imago Dei Church Tony Merida about his new book, Ordinary.

4) From Think Theology, Andrew Wilson provides a good list of tips on proper (or loving) Twitter use.

5) At Public Discourse, the blog of the Witherspoon Institute, Katy Faust–daughter of a gay parent–writes an open letter to Supreme Court Justice Kennedy. She winsomely argues that the redefinition of marriage will, in fact, harm children.

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.