#IAmGoing Weekend Reading

What Does a World Without Billy Graham Look Like? Aaron Earls

On February 21, 2018, Billy Graham left our world and entered into the next. What did he leave behind?

In the year since Graham’s death, modern-day evangelicalism has had its fault lines surrounding ethnicity, gender, and politics exposed.

In addition, numerous high-profile pastors and Christian leaders have resigned or been forced out for personal moral failings, mishandling allegations of sexual abuse, and significant character flaws. …Read More.

10 Books That Reveal the Idolatrous Nature of Marxism: Bruce Ashford

Here are ten books I recommend for people who wish to understand the idolatrous nature of Marxism and its corrosive effects on individuals and societies. Although Marx intended to liberate society and alleviate its suffering, his ideological framework unfortunately and necessarily suppresses society, induces poverty, and supplants religion. Marxism is not primarily an economic theory. It is primarily a surrogate religion. And it is creeping into the worldview of many Americans, including American Christians.

I will describe each book and then rank its level of difficulty on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most difficult. Level 1 is the category for a book you could give to any friend or family member. Level 5 is the category for a book that might be required in a PhD seminar. …Read More.

10 Internal Signs of a Leadership Ego Problem: Chuck Lawless

Some people are openly arrogant. Even if they don’t always recognize it, others quickly see it in them. I hope, though, that church leaders would not be among that number. On the other hand, many of us struggle privately with ego. To help you determine if that’s the case for you, here are some signs honest, vulnerable pastors have shared with me over the years. …Read More.

3 Misconceptions Christians Have About Work

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The average person spends 90,000 hours of their life working. That’s more than 10 years of your life spent behind the desk, at the lectern, on the tractor or in your scrubs.

If we’re honest, most of us would rather devote our time to other things. Why do we subject ourselves to this grueling schedule? Why do we devote such a large percentage of our lives to work?

We Christians have sought to answer this question. Along the way, we’ve developed a handful of misconceptions about the nature and purpose of work. …Read More.

Restoring Meaning to a Meaningless World

The Bible describes Jesus as the Telos, the Goal, the Final Point where all lines converge. To see the point, think of that word “for.” Most of us use this three-letter preposition everyday when we want to express the teleology of something, that is, its purpose, why it is. ‘Why are there lawnmowers, daddy? What are they made for?’ ‘Well my boy, lawnmowers are for mowing lawns.’ Dad has offered Junior a teleological answer. If Junior asks, ‘What are lawnmowers made of, daddy? then dad faces a very different question, one that calls not for a teleological but a material answer, something to do with motors, wheels and steel blades. …Read More.

Oxford Study Tour: I Traveled Through Time, and You Can Too

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When I first heard about the Oxford Study Tour, I was thrilled at the possibility of going. See, every year, students and faculty have an opportunity to journey to Oxford to study, travel and learn — all while getting course credit. With a background in English and a love for travel, visiting Oxford was a dream come true for me. 

I enjoyed the literary thrills of seeing Oxford University, Blackwell’s bookstore and visiting C.S. Lewis’s house. But as I reflect on what I learned and appreciated most from this trip, three benefits of time travel stood out. Yes, time travel. On a trip that focuses on visiting historical places and learning about important figures of history, the importance of time was a constant theme. So, I’ll share three benefits of time travel from my time on the Oxford study trip that could also benefit others who participate in this trip.  …Read More.

#IAmGoing Weekend Reading

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Sex Abuse Among Southern Baptists: Keith Whitfield

Iam unashamedly Southern Baptist. It was in a Southern Baptist church that I was raised and became a pastor. I attended two Southern Baptist seminaries and have been an employee of one for the last seven years. I participate annually in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and this year will serve as vice-chair on the resolution committee. My closest friends are either employed by a Southern Baptist entity or pastors in a Southern Baptist church. This is my family.

The past twelve months have been a heart-rending season, with a handful of dismissals surrounding sexual misconduct and one for the mishandling of cases of sexual misconduct. Now another shoe has dropped: The Houston Chronicle published three articles—“Abuse of Faith,” “Offend, Then Repeat,” and “Preying on Teens”—on more than 700 abuse cases that occurred in Southern Baptist churches over the past 20 years. The banner graphic is a chilling mosaic of mug shots of Southern Baptists who were convicted or pleaded guilty to sexual abuse, faces that represent only a portion of the 220 known perpetrators since 1998.

It is devastating to realize that many of these accounts have been known for years. These survivors and many others have attempted to tell their stories, but their voices have been silenced. At times, their pleas have been ignored. In other instances, the accusations have been handled “in house” to protect the reputations of churches and leaders. Some survivors were even encouraged to “forgive and forget” those who victimized them. These responses are unacceptable, reflect complicity in the abuse of the vulnerable, and provide a place for predators. …Read More.

The Baptist Faith and Missions: Why Theology Matters for Missions: Chuck Lawless

Say the words doctrine and theology, and the responses you’ll get will vary. Some people love doctrine, and they’ll spend hours talking about historic church councils and “isms.” Others are neutral—they’re not opposed to theology and doctrine, but neither do the subjects light their fire. Still others don’t like the topics at all. “Doctrine is divisive,” they say, “and sometimes it’s just boring.” Regardless of how we feel about theology, though, reasons abound for tying it to missions. …Read More.

The Pendulum Swing Syndrome When Churches Get a New Pastor: Five Key Questions: Thom Rainer

The pattern is predictable.

The previous pastor did not visit enough. We need to get a pastor who visits a lot.

The previous pastor was not evangelistic. We need an evangelistic pastor.

The previous pastor did not like to counsel church members. We need a pastor who is good at counseling.

You get the picture.

Too often churches choose new pastors largely based upon the perceived weaknesses of the previous pastor. While the change in pastors may indeed afford the congregation the opportunity to make necessary shifts in ministry priorities, the church should be wise not to overplay this issue.

When churches become players in the pendulum swing game, they are prone to overlook other issues, some of which may be far more important than compensating for a perceived weakness. I have heard numerous church leaders and members bemoan the bad fit of the next pastor simply because they did not ask sufficient questions.

In order to make certain churches do not intentionally subject themselves to the pendulum swing syndrome, I urge them to consider carefully these five questions. …Read More.