How the Gospel Erases Shame: D. Scott Hildreth
It is hard to imagine a more powerfully negative human emotion.
This feeling of vulnerability and embarrassment . . .
Wanting to hide but feeling exposed. . .
Shame is personal. It causes isolation, loneliness, and at times, even death. Sometimes it is self-generated, sometimes it results from what someone else does to us. No matter the cause, the pressing question is, “Is there any way to cover this? Will this feeling last forever?”
What is the Christian response to shame? Is there any hope in the Christian message? The short answer to this question is: “Yes. There is hope for those who are living in shame.”
I think it is important to recognize that shame, as a consequence of sin, is neglected in many of our gospel presentations. The most common description of God’s plan for our salvation in forensic terms. By this, I mean that we acknowledge that we are guilty of breaking God’s law. We have a debt that we cannot pay, so Jesus died in our place as the sacrifice necessary for our forgiveness. …Read More.
God’s Will Is Not a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Book: J. D. Greear
Do you remember “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels? They were some of my favorites as a kid. You’d get to a certain place in the story where you’d have a choice, like, “You’re being chased by a flock of rabid wolverines, and an old lady invites you into a house to escape. If you want to accept her invitation, turn to page 210. If not, turn to page 130.” And I’d accept the invitation, only to read on page 210, “Turns out she was a witch so she puts a spell on you and cooks you in her stew. The end.” And I would think, “Oh, if only I could have known, I would have chosen differently!”
(Side note: If you ever turned to the end and read these backwards, that says a lot about you. And—let’s be honest—about me.)
We often see the will of God like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story: We have two doors in front of us, and one probably leads to peace and prosperity and the other to doom and destruction. When things go wrong later, we look back and think, “If I had only known the right door!”
How do we know what God wants us to do in any given situation? Does he give us some warm, fuzzy feeling of peace when we think about the right decision? Do we learn to see God’s hand in strange coincidences or look for signs in our Cheerios?
Psalm 25 is a new favorite of mine, because it is about how God guides us and is a great template for how to pray for guidance today. There are two particular promises in Psalm 25 that are precious to remember when we seek God’s guidance for our lives. …Read More.
Pursuing Education, or Just Credentials? Trevin Wax
The digital age has led to an explosion of educational opportunities. You can stream online courses, attend all your classes in short bursts of time, join a seminary’s extension center, work through a program with a cohort, do an independent study, or attend all your classes on campus and become part of the school’s community. These approaches have strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve experienced all of them at one point or another in my educational journey.
In an era with so many choices, the temptation is to think of one’s education in terms of checking off boxes on the way to a degree. You need a particular set of credentials on your résumé, and so you fulfill the requirements the school gives you and eventually, you receive the degree you want. According to a recent study by Barna, most evangelicals view education in terms of career:
Evangelicals are more likely than people of no faith to say main purpose of education is career prep and increased financial opportunity.
Only 10 percent of evangelicals see college in terms of development of moral character—3 percent lower than those of “no faith.” Only 9 percent believe college should encourage spiritual growth.
Not surprisingly, when people ask me about furthering their education, they’re wondering about how to get the credentials they need in a short amount of time, with as little disruption to their lives as possible. They’re looking for answers, but I give them different questions. …Read More.
What We Can Learn from Our Hispanic Brothers and Sisters: Miguel Echevarria
As a professor, I meet students and pastors who say they want to “reach Hispanics” or start a ministry in their church to “minister to Spanish speakers.” I am encouraged by such conversations. After all, if Hispanics are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States, then reaching out to this diverse demographic must be near the top of our priority list. I would even argue that it should be our Great Commission desire to minister to Cubans, Guatemalans, Colombians, and other groups from Spanish speaking countries (Matt 28:19-20).
Amid my enthusiasm, however, I do have a reservation—for when Christians say they want to minister to Hispanics, what I generally hear is this: We want to share the good news with them and show them how to do ministry.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “So what’s wrong with that? Aren’t we supposed to reach Hispanics with the gospel?” Of course, we should want to minister to Hispanics. But many North American Christians may be unaware of a reality that could change the way we view our Hispanic neighbors. It’s this: The Christian faith is vibrant among the Hispanic population. You heard that right. There are thousands of Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, church-attending Hispanics already in our midst.
What I propose, then, is that instead of only focusing on how to minister to Hispanics, we should be open to learning from our Hispanic brothers and sisters in Christ. While there is a variety in terms of the beliefs and practices of Hispanic believers, there are some common themes that emerge. And if we can learn from other Christians who look and speak like us, why not those from Latin America? What follows are two ways that we can learn from Hispanic Christians. …Read More.