In Case You Missed It

At the Intersect Project, Jeremy Bell reminds us that as Christians, we should take care of our bodies.

The doctrine that humans were created in the image of God matters for how Christians navigate a variety of cultural issues—racism, bioethics, abortion, homosexuality and moral responsibility, just to name a few. This truth, the imago Dei, provides Christians with a correct worldview that all people are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) on the basis of their image–bearing. According to this doctrine, human beings are special because we are created beings that exist as both body and soul. Regardless of your capabilities, you are valued by God because you have been created by God as an embodied soul.

 

However, I fear that we have not fleshed out what the imago Dei means for us as individuals. We have created a culture that focuses mainly on the soul while forgetting the body — a sort of Christian Gnosticism. I am convinced that the Christian community needs to focus on both the body and the soul in order to honor God as his image–bearers.

 

What do I mean by this? Christians need to practice taking better care of their bodies in order to honor God as created beings. In other words, Christians should consider pursuing healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, drinking more water and avoiding harmful substances. The Christian understanding of body and soul from Scripture obligates us as created beings to be good stewards of the bodies that God has given each of us. However, we are to honor God with our bodies not as a means to earn God’s grace, but as a means to express our gratitude for the grace he has already shown us through Jesus Christ.

 

Here are three reasons that you should take care of your body because you have been created in the image of God.

 

Spence Spencer posted an article at his personal blog Ethics and Culture discussing the question: “What is an Evangelical?” Spence writes:

The furor around Hillbilly Elegy has largely died away. Much to nearly everyone’s surprise, a populist won the election. Many of his votes came from people who claim the title evangelical.

 

The exit poll results that indicate 81% of so-called evangelicals voted for Trump have been used as a cudgel against theologically conservative Protestants, many of whom identify as evangelical.

 

As Robert Wuthnow notes in his recent book, Inventing American Religion, however, there are significant differences between theological belief and political identity. The pollsters have tried to cross that boundary, but there are indications that the political label evangelical may not provide a strong theological indicator.

 

At Christianity Today, Hannah Anderson shared an article discussing how brainy women benefit the church.

“Why do you always have to analyze everything?”
I’ve heard this question many times, but I remember the first time someone posed it to me directly. I was 11 years old, in the fifth grade, and standing in the hallway surrounded by my classmates. I don’t remember who asked it, but I do remember that the question was quickly followed by an unsettling chorus of assent. To that point, I’d enjoyed the process of learning and felt free to excel academically. But something shifted in that moment.

 

Although I didn’t realize it then, our collective understanding of intelligence—and my perception of my own intelligence—had been taking shape for several years. A recent study by Lin Bian, a psychologist at the University of Illinois, reveals that children as young as six are already forming views about the nature of intelligence, including associating it with masculinity. Standing in that hallway was the first time I remember questioning whether being a “smart” girl was a benefit or a social liability.

Reporting on Bian’s research, Ed Yong of The Atlantic notes that society’s tendency to associate intelligence with masculinity can create hurdles for women.

 

Dr. Bruce Ashford recently published an article at his blog discussing the Bible’s four essential teachings about politics.

When we ask the question, “What is a Christian view of politics?” we can be tempted to jump straight to party platforms and policy issues. That is, of course, how the conversation proceeds on the radio shows and cable news networks: “What is a Christian perspective on immigration reform?” “Why do Christians oppose abortion but support the death penalty?” “How could a Christian support So-and-So for the presidency?”

 

But if we jump straight to these sort of issues, our perspective will be fragmented and incoherent. Instead of beginning with questions about isolated policy issues and party platforms, it is helpful to ask what the Bible’s master narrative says about politics itself.

 

That’s right. Even though the Bible is composed of 66 individual books composed by many different authors, its composition was guided by one Divine Author who formed those books together into one story. That story is the true story of the whole world, a story that tells where the world came from, what went horribly wrong with it, and how God will one day set it aright.

 

If we want to understand a Christian view of politics, therefore, the first thing we need to do is look at clues from the Bible’s main storyline. One way to tell the story is to divide it into four acts—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. In this article, I will do exactly that, and will briefly relate each act to the notion of politics.

 

At Thom Rainer’s blog, Jonathan Howe shared four elements of a successful podcast.

In the past two weeks of the Rainer on Leadership podcast, we have experienced two of our top three days ever on the show in terms of downloads. For this, we are obviously grateful to our listeners.

 

As we begin year five of Rainer on Leadership, it feels like the proper time to look back over the past four years at what has made the podcast (and other popular podcasts) work. The “Religion and Spirituality” section of iTunes is by far the most populous category in the app, and Rainer on Leadership is consistently in the top 150. I’ve identified four elements of the podcast that I believe contribute to this.

 

In this post, Art Rainer gives five major reasons why church giving declines.

God has designed us, not to be hoarders, but conduits through which His generosity flows.

And this generosity should be evident by the way we give to our local church. Unfortunately, churches often experience a reduction in giving. Their members and attendees withhold or reduce their giving.

 

Why does this happen?

 

Here are a few reasons to consider

 

In an article at the website of the International Mission Board, Scott Hildreth shared about how the Cooperative Program enables local congregations to participate in God’s mission. Dr. Hildreth writes:

Some may wonder how the Southern Baptist Convention is different from other denominations. There are many ways, but one of the most obvious is our basic structure and our funding system. From the early days of the convention, Southern Baptists looked for a structure that supported our belief in the importance of the local church while also enabling the churches to fulfill the Great Commission through many different ministries. The Cooperative Program is the result. Over the years, the details and complexity of the convention have changed, but this program has served as a key tool for our growth.

 

The beauty of our Cooperative Program outshines the motto: “We can do more together than we can do alone.” There is no question that the Cooperative Program has allowed Southern Baptists to achieve a lot. It is the financial driving force—some might even say, the lifeline— for the expanse and success of the SBC. The creation of a unified budget, along with the expectations of regular contributions, allows our boards to plan their work without being encumbered by the constant need to raise all of their support.

New Books: Power in the Pulpit and Progress in the Pulpit.

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons

Power in the Pulpit is an updated and revised edition of the original expository preaching textbook released in 1999. It’s a comprehensive ‘how-to’ book on preparing and delivering expository sermons. The revision lays out a more focused philosophy (Ch. 1) and theology (Ch. 2) of expository preaching, as well as a more simplified process of moving from exegesis to sermon preparation (Chs. 4-6).

In this work, Drs. Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix have achieved a balanced approach to sermon preparation in Power in the Pulpit. This primer combines the perspective of a pastor of forty years with that of someone who devotes daily time to training pastors in the context of theological education. It offers practical preaching instruction from a tradition that sees biblical exposition as a paramount and frequent event in the life of the local church.

Power in the Pulpit is the combined work of Dr. Vines’s two earlier publications on preaching: A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation (Moody Publishers, 1985) and A Guide to Effective Sermon Delivery (Moody Publishers, 1986). Dr. Shaddix carefully organized and supplemented the material to offer this useful resource that closes the gap between classroom theory and what a pastor actually experiences in his weekly sermon preparation.

 

Progress in the Pulpit: How to Grow in Your Preaching

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Image Source: Moody Publishers

Progress in the Pulpit is a companion volume that encourages preachers to continue to grow in their preaching. Each of the 12 chapters addresses a different subject wherein a preacher can make progress in his preaching (e.g., planning, evaluating, using language, depending on the Spirit, pulpit disciple-making, etc.).

Like musicans, preachers get better over time—unless, of course, they neglect maintenance. Progress in the Pulpit is for seasoned preachers looking to refresh their craft and receive guidance for contemporary challenges to preaching.

While most preaching books are geared toward new preachers, Progress in the Pulpit builds on the basics and focuses on what often falls into neglect. You will learn to better:

  • Connect to audiences without compromising biblical truth
  • Plan, evaluate, and get feedback on sermons
  • Battle biblical illiteracy in your congregation
  • Employ word studies and other technical aspects of biblical interpretation
  • Increase imagination and creativity in sermon writing
  • Extend the life of a sermon via social media, small groups, and more
  • Establish habits for continued growth

Drs. Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix, who wrote Power in the Pulpit, remain committed to pure expository preaching. Yet they understand that the times change and present new challenges. Here they offer guidance to help preachers stay sharp and grow in the craft of faithfully proclaiming God’s Word.

 

Dr. Jerry Vines (B.A., Mercer University; Th.D., Luther Rice Seminary) retired as pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida in 2006, where he served for 40 years. He served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Jerry is author of a number of books including Power in the Pulpit: How to Prepare and Deliver Expository Sermons, and A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation. He and his wife, Janet, have four adult children and five grandchildren.

Dr. Jim Shaddix (BS, Jacksonville State University; M.Div., D.Min., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Ph.D., New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, occupying the W. A. Criswell Chair of Expository Preaching. He has pastored churches in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Colorado, and also served as Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, LA. Jim is the author of The Passion Driven Sermon (Broadman & Holman, 2003) and co-author of Power in the Pulpit with Jerry Vines (Moody, 1999). Jim and his wife, Debra, focus much of their attention on discipling and mentoring young leaders and spouses. They have three grown children.

 

Brent Aucoin – Christianity and Racism in America: The Story of Thomas Goode Jones

 

In a recent faculty lecture at Southeastern Seminary, Dr. Brent Aucoin tackled a difficult topic: The connection between Christianity and racism.

In his lecture, Dr. Aucoin told the story of two white Christians with differing racial viewpoints. One of these men, Thomas Goode Jones, was a Christian who promoted African Americans’ dignity and value. The other was Thomas Dixon, Jr., who was a Baptist pastor who popularized racism in the twentieth century through a series of novels.

If after watching the video above you are interested in learning more about Thomas Goode Jones, check out Dr. Aucoin’s book: Thomas Goode Jones: Race, Politics, and Justice in the New South.