In Case You Missed It

At The Intersect Project, Hannah Jayne Adkins shared a post discussing why Christians should care about the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic may sound like an abstract or irrelevant topic to you. It’s something you hear on the evening news, but you never think deeply about it.

 

But I’ve seen the effects of drug addiction first-hand. In addition to studying counseling at Southeastern Seminary, I also serve as a registered nurse. And I have seen how opioid addiction impacts real people’s lives in devastating and destructive ways.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Anna Daub shared a second post about singleness during the holidays, this time discussing how singles should engage others around them.

The holidays usually mean a myriad of emotions for single Christians. Some singles look forward to this time because of the opportunity to be a part of all the festivities or because it means a trip home to welcoming arms and nostalgic Christmas traditions. But for other singles, the holidays can be a stinging reminder of what they don’t have- a family waiting for them to come home, a significant other playing in the snow with them, children expectantly setting up cookies and milk for Santa. For these singles, the Christmas season can accentuate unmet desires and initiate the ache of loneliness, the sting of envy, and the choking hold of bitterness.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax discusses singing ‘Peace on Earth’ when our heart is heavy.

It’s Christmastime, so we’re singing these days about “peace on earth,” joining our voices with the angels who appeared to the shepherds.

 

But let’s face it: 2017 has been a hard year for “peace on earth.” We’ve seen wars and rumors of wars. We’ve watched earthquakes flatten towns, hurricanes destroy islands, fires consume neighborhoods, and floodwaters engulf a city. Last month brought news of a mass killing that took more than half of the people gathered for worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

 

The bad news is everywhere. Terrorist attacks. Nuclear threats. Corruption in Washington. Racial tensions. Sexual assault and harassment and predation coming to light in Hollywood, in Washington, D.C., and (Lord have mercy!) in the church of Jesus Christ. It’s easy to look at the state of our world and say, “Peace on earth sounds so far away.”

 

In a series of posts at his blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared ‘How to Watch a Move (An Evangelical Guide).’

Recently, I composed a brief survey, asking my website readers to tell me what they like and dislike about my website, and what they’d want to talk about if they had some time to chat with me personally.

 

I gained valuable insights from the survey, one of which is that many of my readers want me to explore issues at the intersection of Christianity and popular culture. In response to this request, I offered a six-part series entitled, “How to Watch a Movie (An Evangelical Guide).”

 

In light of the interest readers showed in the series, and in response to readers’ requests to put all of the content in one place so that it can be shared, I offer the six links together.

 

Dr. Chuck Lawless recently shared a post discussing why “parking lot” church business meetings are seldom good.

Maybe you’ve seen it happen. A group of church leaders are striving to make an “official” decision, but the discussions move beyond the official discussion to the parking lot (or the hallways, or the local café, or the telephone). Here’s why those parking lot meetings are seldom good.

In Case You Missed It

In a recent post at the Intersect Project, Dayton Hartman shared the cure for a hopeless Christmas.

The Christmas season is marked by hope. Well, at least it is supposed to be. But instead of decorating their homes a la Clark Griswold, enjoying Christmas parties and watching cheesy Christmas movies, I’ve noticed among many believers a pervasive pessimism regarding the present and the future.

 

Yes, we live in difficult times culturally and politically. However, our celebration of the incarnation (Jesus’ first coming) ought to drive us toward hopeful anticipation of the consummation (Jesus’ second coming). In short, our eschatology ought to bring hope, not despair.

 

At the Center for Great Commission Studies, Dr. Alvin Reid shared about how to teach believers to share Jesus using the Sharing Jesus book.

This past April my book Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out: Evangelism the Way You Were Born to Do It was released by B&H Academic. Response has been amazing. So many pastors, students pastors, college and small group leaders have used it.

 

It’s designed to help everyday believers share Christ naturally through everyday conversations. B&H also made an incredible landing page that features an 8-week challenge to help the reader grow in their witness, free videos for each chapter and some role-playing videos as well.

 

In a recent talk at Southeastern Seminary both Michael Bird and Bruce Ashford shared responses to the Benedict Option. In this post, Alysha Clark shares a recap.

Christians can be peaceful public nuisances or counter-cultural practitioners for the common good, argued Michael Bird and Bruce Ashford in a recent Southeastern Seminary event.

 

Christianity has long held a position of privilege in the West. For a long time in Europe and the United States, Judeo-Christian values formed the normative framework for ethics and morality, and belief in God (even merely nominal belief) served as an asset for advancement in society and securing public favor.

 

Suddenly, it seems, this is no longer the case. Over the last 50 years, and especially the last 25, the West has become increasingly post-Christian and marches toward militant secularism, where belief in God is synonymous with immorality, where religious language has become flagged as hate speech and where the phrase “religious freedom” has become code for bigotry. Christians may feel the earth has given way under them and fear they will be swallowed up by the increasingly emboldened progressive secularism.

 

Numerous cultural thinkers have offered their analysis of the religious situation in the West and proposed a wide array of solutions. Some seek to dive into national politics and try to effect change and restore Christian morality through legislation and the judiciary. Some live as spiritual exiles in a foreign secular culture and want to preserve Christian culture through individual practice. Others, in the words of James Davison Hunter, aim to create a faithful presence of Christian disciples who seek to work for the common good of society and serve as a witness of the kingdom of God.

 

In a post at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared about sexual assault and the scandal of repentance.

During his lengthy tenure as an evening commentator on CNN, Larry King often posed two questions to pastors and theologians who came on as guests.

 

First, is Jesus the only way to God? This was Larry’s way of seeing if the Christian representative would insist on the uniqueness of Jesus no matter how offensive that claim might come across in a pluralistic world. You mean good people from other religions might be condemned?

 

The second question came from a different angle. Could a serial killer, or someone like Hitler, or a rapist, or a pedophile receive forgiveness and wind up in heaven? This was Larry’s way of seeing if the Christian representative would insist on the offer of grace, no matter how offensive that pronouncement might come across in a world that demands justice. You mean abhorrently wicked people might repent and be saved?

 

Larry King is not a Christian. But he knows where the scandalous power of Christianity is found. It’s in the narrowness of insisting on universal, eternal condemnation for all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, and in the broadness of calling everyone to repent of their sins, trust in Christ and be saved. Everyone, even the “vilest offender,” in the words of the old Isaac Watts hymn.

 

The “vilest offender” today is the person who engages in sexual assault and abuse.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared eight reasons why he chooses to be a friend to his pastor.

I’m excited to be a part of our church in Wake Forest, Restoration Church, and I love my pastor. I’m proud of him and enjoy working beside him. I’m also honored to carry some of his burdens for him. Here’s why all of us need to be a friend to our pastors.

 

In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at the Intersect Project, Dayton Hartman shared how God can use heresy for our good.

Survey the evangelical landscape, and you’ll find a lot to be depressed about. Self-professed Christians are compromising on moral convictions for political expediency. Some are denying essentials of the faith to embrace political correctness. And then others are pandering a kind of theological ambiguity that speaks much and says nothing.

 

I recently heard someone say, “What a depressing time to be a Christian!” Well, I guess that’s true — especially with so many megachurch pastors wearing the ironically large hipster glasses. But it’s also entirely untrue. This particular Christian was lamenting what they classified as the rush toward heresy among once faithful evangelicals. In their estimation, these trends must mean the end of the church in America is drawing near. Two things are worth noting.

 

At the People’s Next Door Keelan Cook reminds us that “gospel-centered” must mean more than just the preaching.

Gospel-centered is one of those buzzwords today in evangelical Christianity. It, like so many others, has a great origin and a significant purpose. In a day when mission drift threatens to pull us away from our core purpose as Christian churches, terms like “gospel-centered”  (or “missional”) are calls back to our biblical foundations. However, when they stick, they soon become victims of their own popularity. In many ways, I fear this is happening to the idea of being gospel-centered as well. The term now falls into the foggy words category. Foggy words are those words we use in ministry circles that sound good but when pressed no one can really give you a clear definition. They often help more than they hurt for that reason. When it comes to gospel-centered, I think there are two ways that this term seems to shift in meaning.

 

Bruce Ashford posted an article at his personal blog with five ways to save free speech on college campuses.

During the past 18 months, college students have engaged in disruptive and even violent activities toward guest speakers whose ideas they considered offensive.

 

In response, college administrators have tended to capitulate to—or collaborate with—the demonstrators by disinviting scheduled speakers and disciplining students or professors whose views were considered offensive.

 

In fact, recent studies by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Science Foundation together reveal that approximately 90 percentof colleges and universities have policies that either prohibit or substantially restrict free speech that is constitutionally protected.

 

Americans should beware. Unless we act to safeguard free speech on campuses, this depressing trend will continue indefinitely until the censors have gained control not only of universities, but coffee shops, churches, and public squares.

 

What can we do to safeguard free speech on college and university campuses? Here are five ways that all of us can play our own unique role.

 

“To Tithe or Not to Tithe?” At the Intersect Project David Jones shared a New Testament guide to generous giving.

To tithe or not to tithe?

 

This simple question has been debated in small groups, in Sunday school rooms, over kitchen tables and in textbooks for decades. In my new book Every Good Thing, I address it at length.

 

We don’t have the space to address the question in detail here, but I’ll simply say this: It is difficult to apply Old Testament tithing laws in our own context. In fact, if we survey the New Testament, we’ll find that it does not prescribe a formal method or fixed amount for believers’ giving at all.

 

Nevertheless, the New Testament does provide several examples and principles of giving that can guide us in our stewardship and giving. These principles ought to encourage many (if not most) Christians to give far more than 10 percent to kingdom work.

 

In a post at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared why Netflix thinks you’re bored and lonely.

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by . . . 

 

So sang the rock band America in 1974. Forty years later, lonely people are probably streaming Stranger Things.

 

At a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal last year, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, offered a purpose statement for his entertainment juggernaut: “Fundamentally, we’re about eliminating loneliness and boredom. . . . That’s what entertainment does.”

 

Eliminating boredom and loneliness. Chew on that for a while, and you’ll realize that only one of these issues is truly a problem, while the other is actually an opportunity.

 

At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared an open “thank you” letter to Southern Baptists.

I don’t typically write a post specifically for my denomination, but I’m making an exception today. In the past few weeks, I’ve been with Southern Baptists in Maryland, California, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. They’ve been college students, pastors, church planters, laypersons, and denominational leaders. I’ve been reminded in these weeks of how much Southern Baptists mean to me, so I’m writing this thank you note to you.