In Case You Missed It

At the Southeastern Women’s Life blog, Amy Whitfield shared about her first overseas trip in over a decade, and the first for her two children. Amy writes:

As 2016 came to a close, I found myself with the strange emotional mix of anxiety and anticipation. Three days after Christmas I was getting on an airplane (five airplanes, to be precise) and headed to the other side of the world. My husband was leading a trip to Southeast Asia and our whole family was going with him. It was my first trip overseas in over a decade, and the first time our children (ages 11 and 13) would ever leave the country.

 

In a post at the Baptist Press, Amy King also shared about taking kids on overseas mission trips.

We were celebrities and oddities in a rolling caravan. And by rolling, I mean with actual wheels — a double stroller and several wheeled suitcases trailing my husband Steven and me as we careened through an Asian airport with our two boys, ages 3 and 1.

 

In an American airport, perhaps we would have been a passing entertainment, avoided in security lines and processed with great pains. Yet in this Asian country, as I sweated my way through an immigration line, it was as if we had a golden ticket.

 

“This way!” the security manager called, waving us to a VIP line with no waiting. The once-stern boss then proceeded to coo and teach our boys how to count to 10 in the local language.

 

We had arrived on our first mission trip as a family of four, and I quickly realized my children had broken down barriers from the moment they stepped, or rode, into the country.

 

At The Gospel Coalition, Lauren Hansen shared a post titled: “My Empty Womb and a Forgotten Prophecy“.

In May 2014, I found out that my friend Carter had died. That was 28 months into my infertility journey. Twenty-eight months of Please, God, pleaseNo, Lord, no; and Show us your grace, Father. Twenty-eight cycles of wait, despair, and trust in the One who planned purpose in it all. My husband and I had endured the tests, taken the standard medication, administered the shots, and had found ourselves with medically diagnosed “unexplained infertility.” And we were two months from the end of our treatment plan and from giving over our unmet hope of biological children to God and resting in him there.

 

We had tried to figure out why God would withhold a child from us. Was he disciplining us? Was he protecting us from something we didn’t know? Did he have an entirely different purpose for our lives that could not be fulfilled with biological children? We never landed on an answer, but we knew God was at work. Like Jesus in Gethsemane or Paul with his thorn, our heavenly Father always has a greater purpose that requires quiet obedience. Job did not receive explanations, only assurances of God’s character. God is full of surprises, and by his grace we found peace in whatever his plan for our lives—with or without kids—because we learned to trust that we truly wanted what he wanted for us.

 

And we wanted what he promises: more and more of himself.

 

At The Intersect Project, Harper McKay posted an article discussing the refugee crisis with a reminder that as followers of Christ, our lives must be about God’s glory among all nations. Harper writes:

It was just a few years ago. News started to pour in that refugees were fleeing war torn and oppressive nations in North Africa and the Middle East in unprecedented numbers.

 

After my initial shock and incredible sadness for these people escaping for their lives, my next thought was, “Aslan is on the move.”

 

If you’ve read the famous tale, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” you know that Aslan is the great lion king who conquers the evil witch and saves his people in the land of Narnia. In the beginning of this story, Narnians start to see changes around them that are bigger than they are, more powerful than they could muster. They perceive that Aslan, their King, is working, and although they are still frightened, they have a sense of wonder and excitement about what is coming.

 

Amy Medina posted at her blog discussing 10 myths about Africa many Americans believe.

I am going to debunk the following myths with what I have learned by living in Tanzania, since that is the country I am most familiar with.  However, keep in mind that I will be speaking broadly, and knowingly countering the stereotypes about Africa with more stereotypes (albeit, hopefully more accurate stereotypes).  In any culture or country, people live along a spectrum, and it’s important that we don’t ever lump an entire group (or continent) of people under any particular label.  My main goal is to use what I have learned in Tanzania to change the mental picture many Westerners have of Africa.

In Case You Missed It

Bruce Ashford recently posted a guest post at Chuck Lawless’ blog, sharing a way to make Scripture memory manageable and meaningful. Dr. Ashford writes:

It happens to most of us church leaders. Gradually, and without notice, we slip into the habit of viewing the Scriptures more as an object to be dissected than a spiritual feast to nourish our souls. As an antidote to this temptation, I recently wrote about a four-fold pattern of Scripture intake that helps us to receive the Scriptures as the nourishing word of for our souls. The four-fold pattern—read, reflect, pray, obey—is an adaptation and modification of an early church practice.

 

Keelan Cook posted at The People’s Next Door earlier this week explaining that church is not a spectator sport.

College football season is once again upon us. This week, I am traveling to do some missionary training and last night, I found myself laying in a hotel bed, listening to my team play their opening game on the radio. The Tennessee Volunteers, a top ten ranked team, were getting man-handled by Appalachian State, a nowhere near top ten team. Fortunately, the Vols snagged a “W” in overtime, but the whole time I was talking to the radio, telling the team what they should be doing.

 

This is how football works: a small handful of folk on the field, trying to win the game, while millions of us sit in an armchair and tell them what they are doing wrong. Truth is, I have never played football, but you would think I knew something about it by listening to me. After all the sports shows, commentators, and games I have watched, I think I know something about it. However, if you put me into that game, it would not take long to realize I do not.

 

At the Intersect Project, Nathaniel Williams published an article explaining that God is greater than your fear of sharing the gospel. Nathaniel writes:

I know I’m supposed to share the gospel. But fear always seems to get in the way.

 

To wit: I once had a conversation with a staunchly liberal (and probably unsaved) lady in my town. I invited her to my church and mentioned how faith inspires us to love the least of these. As I walked away, though, I realized I had only wanted to talk about topics she wanted to hear. I held back the portions of the gospel that caused friction with her worldview — namely, that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

 

On another occasion, I discussed faith with a deeply conservative (and probably unsaved) man. After I explained my interest in international missions, he said, “I hope you don’t leave the country. I hate any country that’s not America.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t. I held back the portions of the gospel that caused friction with his worldview — namely, the parts about Jesus saving us to share his good news to the ends of the earth.

 

In both instances, fear prohibited me from sharing parts of the gospel my listeners didn’t want to hear. So I stayed away from controversial topics. And both of them heard something less than the full gospel message.

 

Randy Mann shared the most encouraging post-sermon comment he has ever received.

Last Sunday, I received the most encouraging sermon comment I have ever received. It came from a 5 year old body (who I later found out was attending his first corporate worship service). He came up to me with his mom and said, “I really like what you said in your sermon today.” I asked, “Was there something special, or did you just like it in general?” He stopped for a minute and replied, “You made me think about Jesus.”

 

In a recent interview with Steve Noble about an article she wrote for The Exchange, Amy Whitfield tackled the question: “How should Christians use social media?” Follow this link to listen to the interview, or you can read highlights at the Intersect Project website.

I have a megaphone when I put something out on Facebook or on Twitter, but I don’t feel it in the moment. If I’m sitting in a room full of people, and I have a particular opinion about something but I know that it’s bombastic, or I know it could be hurtful, and I’m looking at everyone, then I know. I have some sort of check in my conscience that triggers me.

In Case You Missed It

In this post, J.D. Greear he shares why he is running for President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

It is with this spirit of grateful humility that I am accepting the nomination for presidency of the SBC. When I was approached by several older SBC leaders asking me to consider this role, quite honestly, it took me by surprise. I know that the Holy Spirit often speaks through his Church (Acts 13:2), so we took their counsel seriously. As my wife, our pastors and leadership team, and I prayed, we sensed that God had indeed done things in our hearts and in our midst that may have prepared us for this. We believed we were supposed to at least make ourselves available. If it “seems good to the Holy Spirit and to the people of the SBC,” we are willing (Acts 15:28).

Amy Whitfield recently posted an article explaining what it’s like to be a parent in this new day of Presidential politics. Amy writes:

In 1988, I turned twelve. It was an exciting time to watch democracy in action, and it opened up a new world for me. That was the year George Herbert Walker Bush won the road to the White House and became the 41st President of the United States.

 

A daughter of the Reagan era, I had admired my president for eight years as most children do. But I couldn’t tell you why. I can read the history books now and tell you what was great about Ronald Reagan, but memory doesn’t allow me to actually miss him. I can only remember knowing three things for certain: he loved jellybeans, my grandfather liked him, and his wife wanted me to say no to drugs. At that age, it was really all I needed to know.

 

But by 1988 things were different. For the first time, I was old enough to understand what I was seeing and to select a candidate that I liked. I participated in a mock debate in my class, and I tried to actually comprehend the issues and the process. I learned about the differences between the two major parties. I learned that the primary and general elections are not the same thing. I learned that the Electoral College is not, in fact, an actual college.

 

Sure, there were some issues that popped up, introducing names like Willie Horton to frighten me about prison furloughs. And there were the usual zingers like Lloyd Bentsen declaring of Dan Quayle, “You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy.” But there was a certain decorum to the process that made it easy for a young armchair political strategist to follow. I was enthralled. Six years later I registered to vote on my birthday, declared my college major in Politics and never stopped taking it all in.

 

In 2016, there is again a twelve-year-old in my house. It’s another year to see democracy in action. But as I watch through her eyes, very little looks familiar to me. And our conversations have taken a different shape.

In this post, Jamie Dew explores why it’s so important for Dad’s to spend quality time with their sons.

I suppose I am moderately handy. I’m not the kind of guy that can do any kind of project around the house, but I know how to do a few things. I’m thankful for this “skill” since it tends to save our family a lot of money when I’m able to fix things, build things, or paint things.

 

But even more importantly, I’m thankful the way I learned to do the things that I do. Whether it’s fixing a broken window or knocking out a wall in our kitchen, in each case I’m reminded of my dad. I didn’t learn how to do these things in a vacuum or by watching Youtube videos (though I have watched my share). I learned how to do these things as a boy by going with my father on service calls for properties that he owned.

David Jones shares three things the New Testament teaches us about how to deal with wealth and poverty. Dr. Jones writes:

What did you do yesterday? Perhaps you went to work, made money, paid bills and drove past the homeless person on the way home. Or, maybe you sent in yet another resume, looked at your dwindling bank account and wondered if you can make it another month.

 

So when we talk about wealth and poverty, we’re not talking about theory. We’re talking about life. As a result, it’s critical that we think biblically about these issues.

 

In a recent post, we saw what Jesus taught about wealth and poverty in the Gospels. Today, let’s complete our look at the Bible’s teachings on this matter by looking at the rest of the New Testament.

 

John Bloom recently published an article at Desiring God discussing God’s rehab for the weak, weary faith.

I’m not sure how God feels about our having favorite books of the Bible.

 

It’s not like any of his words are throw-aways. Perhaps such preferences betray certain kinds of immaturity in us, not being able to see more glory in books we consider somewhat boring or confusing. But I must confess, I do have my favorites. And the epistle to the Hebrews is one of them.

 

I love Hebrews for many reasons. I love how it radiates with the transcendent glory of God the Son. I love its magisterial grasp of how the old covenant is fulfilled and surpassed by the new covenant. And I love the beautiful, compelling portrait of the cloud of witnesses, who by their remarkable examples call us to live by faith in the unfailing promises of our faithful God.

 

I also love Hebrews because it is a letter to weary Christians, some of whom are standing right on the cliff’s edge, tempted to “throw away [their] confidence, which has a great reward” (Hebrews 10:35).

 

I’ve been there: weary, disillusioned, full of doubts about the reality of it all, seriously wondering if being a Christian was worth the fight. I too have wondered if it’s all just a house of cards, if life on earth really is just an anomalous, absurd blip of desperate turmoil in a purposeless universe destined to burn out.

 

And gazing at the cliff’s edge, God used this precious book to keep me from tossing over my confidence in him, the Great Reward. I trust he will pardon my partiality for Hebrews.