Links To Go (July 12, 2018)

The Message That Moved the SBC

Criswell’s 40-minute message was an impassioned plea for a return to the Word and this represented a 65-year ministry spent proclaiming the Word. He believed the Bible was a hill on which to die. And the history of the SBC ever since has proved him right. 30 years later, we’re facing the same battles today in the church. Will we tolerate liberalism and a low view of the scriptures? Or like Criswell, will we, even through tears, take a stand on the inerrant Word of God?

Trump, Immigration and the Truth

Christians should love truth more than country. They should love the poor more than money. They should worship the God of the Exodus and not bow down to those who enslave others to make an extra buck. Christians should exalt and live into the reality of God’s Kingdom and not pledge allegiance to any flag because their allegiance belongs to the cross of Christ.

Brett Kavanaugh Is a Good Supreme Court Pick and the Reason Many Voted for Trump

So, I support this nominee and I am thankful for his nomination from President Trump. And, I also acknowledge the many Christians who voted for Trump did so they could have such a Supreme Court Justice as was nominated today.
I get that for many, there is simply an irrational response to anything positive being said about President Trump. So be it. But, regardless, I am thankful a conservative court will move away from judicial and social activism.

Brett Kavanaugh Is a Troubling Supreme Court Pick for Black Christians

We need to be sure that religious freedom and free speech extends to athletes who silently protest social issues in public spaces. We need to call out the hypocrisy of NFL owners who ask athletes to “just play football” and turn around and endorse federal judicial nominations on team Twitter accounts.
To make this nomination about Roe and dough (i.e. the religious freedom highlighted in the Christian baker case) ignores other essential issues Christians should care about—including immigration, health care, and labor laws.

Did Congress Print the First American Bible?

The role of religion in the founding is one of the most controversial historical subjects in America today. Secularists and Christian America advocates tend to go to extremes, with the former arguing that Christianity had virtually nothing to do with the founding, and the latter arguing that it had everything to do with the founding. The actual history brings us to a more reasonable position: Christian principles were powerfully if imperfectly present in the political culture of the founding, but many of the major founders were not traditional Christians. It is certainly not clear that they were seeking to create a “Christian nation” of the sort imagined by Christian America partisans.

Five Reasons a Wave of Revitalization of Churches Is Likely

Here is where I take a contrarian position compared to many others, including positions I have held in the past: Of the 300,000 churches in need of revitalization, 100,000 will revitalize organically or internally, and another 100,000 will be revitalized through replanting. It’s a bold assertion, but something that could very well unfold over the next five to ten years.

Why Your Church Needs a Hispanic Ministry

We have a God given chance to really represent the gospel to Latinos. Their community can be transformed if they know Jesus, just like any other community. There is a window of opportunity to reach nearly 60 million Latinos in America today, and the number will continue to grow.
This group who will soon become the majority will be shaping American culture in the near future. The Church needs to realize the mission field has changed; it has come to America. We must embrace the call of Jesus to preach to all and take advantage of this opportunity to minister to an entire people group.

This is how you make a disciple

So I got to see John baptize his friend Charlie into Christ.
Because believers lived Jesus, prayed for him, welcomed him, talked about Jesus with him, encouraged him to stay on the journey, and a visiting preacher told just the right story to convict him. Planting and watering and watching God give the increase.

Time for some Good News

There is good news. There is the Good News.

And we have it.

The world is full of bad news. We have the Good News.

Never be ashamed.

Space, church seating, and tradition

Was in an interesting discussion the other day, talking about traditions of space in a church’s history. OK, we were talking about why people sit in the same pew year after year, even if that means sitting in a spot that is isolated from others.

When I was growing up, we always sat in the front section, toward the left. It was exciting when I was old enough to sit in the front middle with the rest of the youth group. After leaving for college, I would sit with the other university students on the right side of the auditorium whenever I visited.

At some point, my parents began sitting in the back. My dad had some health issues and would sometimes need to get up during the service. And you could park closer to the exit nearest that back section.

I was always a visitor when we sat in the back section. Not just because we were in the back, but that was part of it. It was a reminder that the congregation was no longer exactly the same as when I was growing up. Others of my parents’ friends had also rotated to the back. Almost no one sat where they did when I was young.

If you’re waiting for a deep theological point to be made, I don’t have one. A practical point would be to not make assumptions about why people sit where they do. And also, respect the fact that for many, where they sit has a deeper meaning than their mere proximity to the pulpit area.

Links To Go (July 9, 2018)

7 Ways to Share the Gospel Without Being a Jerk

  1. Kindness goes a long way.
  2. Honesty shows and gains respect.
  3. Ordinary conversations matter most.
  4. You can only share what you know.
  5. Share the actual gospel.
  6. Don’t talk too much. Listen.
  7. Play the long-game. Persevere.

Three Ways Churches Will Be Impacted in the Revitalization Wave That Is Coming

  1. About one-third of these churches will revitalize organically.
  2. About one-third of these churches will revitalize through replanting and/or being acquired.
  3. About one-third of these churches will decline and die.

How are American Protestant Churches Welcoming Their Guests?

  • 96% have an opportunity to meet the pastor after the service.
  • 95% have greeters at the entrances.
  • 83% have cards guests are asked to complete.
  • 78% have a central location where guests can learn about the church.
  • 69% set aside time during the service for regular attenders to welcome guests.
  • 65% periodically host an information session for new people to learn more about the church.
  • 44% have books in the pews for all attenders to indicate they were present that collects visitor information.
  • 42% have gifts for guests.
  • 24% have greeters or attendants in the parking lot.
  • 17% ask guests to stand in the worship service.

Movements Come and Go, the Church Remains

This is why I’ll take the local church over “movements” any day. Yes, God does unique things in history where he refreshes and revives his people. He sends revivals and awakenings. But in order for movements to keep moving, they have to keep pushing the boundaries, which often leads to problems.
Faithful ministry isn’t about pushing boundaries, for the most part. It’s about proclaiming the same gospel truths, again and again.

Russia sent Obama a blunt message about Cuba, and now Trump is giving the edge back to Moscow

“Russia sees it as a moment to further its own relationship with Cuba,” Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, told Reuters in December. “The more the Russian footprint increases in Cuba, the more that will reinforce hardened anti-US attitudes.”
Rhodes has said that Trump curtailing ties with Cuba “delivered a better deal for Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.”
Trump’s moves have also injected more uncertainty at a time of generational political change in Cuba.

The rise of ‘pseudo-AI’: how tech firms quietly use humans to do bots’ work

This practice was brought to the fore this week in a Wall Street Journal article highlighting the hundreds of third-party app developers that Google allows to access people’s inboxes.
In the case of the San Jose-based company Edison Software, artificial intelligence engineers went through the personal email messages of hundreds of users – with their identities redacted – to improve a “smart replies” feature. The company did not mention that humans would view users’ emails in its privacy policy.

It Only Takes an Hour for Bacteria to Spoil Your Picnic Foods

Typically, cooked food is safe to leave out at room temperature for up to two hours, Lifehacker reports. Beyond that, it should be kept out of the “danger zone” of 40°F to 140°F by being either refrigerated or kept hot using a heating source: This keeps bacteria from thriving. But food left outdoors on a warm day (above 90°F) chops that rule in half. Food only has about an hour under the Sun before bacteria like Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus begin to multiply rapidly and greatly increase your chances of falling ill.

How One Nashville Designer Makes Domestic Violence Victims Feel At Home Again

She says the vision from the very beginning was to make domestic abuse survivors feel two things when they walked in their new home: “We want them to feel like somebody cared, and we want to feel like they have hope. The biggest thing is hope. We’re trying to make a difference one home at a time.”

Physical fitness tests and the church

I’m blessed to have the opportunities to talk to church leaders about their congregation’s outreach. If you’ve read Church Inside Out, especially the workbook, then you know that much of the book is focused on self-evaluation. It calls a church to look at what it’s doing well and what it’s not doing well.

Today I was remembering the Presidential Physical Fitness test from my youth. If you went to school after Eisenhower and before Obama, you had to do these tests in some form or fashion. I remember the tests as being 600-yard run, 50-yard run, chin-ups, sit-ups, standing broad jump, and softball throw. Since I didn’t get my coordination until junior high, those tests were a nightmare. I could nail the sit-ups, do okay in the broad jump, and would be totally humiliated in the other categories.

We would take those tests once a year, then forget about them. We did nothing to try and improve our performance. We merely ignored the existence of the test until it came around again.

In an ideal world, when those tests revealed my lack of upper body strength, someone should have helped me develop in that area. (Poor Mrs. Jenkins was dealing with 50+ kids in P.E. class; there was no way she could have paid that kind of individual attention to one student. She did well to keep us from killing one another.) Then the next year’s test would have been an interesting evaluation of progress, rather than merely confirming the previous year’s results.

When churches look at their strengths and weaknesses, they should be looking for how to improve in the areas where they are weak while taking advantage of their strengths. It’s not about criticizing nor ridiculing; it’s about finding areas where improvement can be made.

The same goes for each of us personally, of course. We seek outside evaluations of our spiritual lives, not to swell with pride or wither in despair, but in order to learn to strengthen the areas that need fortifying.