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Free for All: Coloring, Mentorship, and ‘America’

Barry is joined by Winston, Joe, and Daisy to chat about ‘America’, adult coloring books, and being others focused.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_27.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

Philosophical Challenges in the Doctrine of the Atonement

Talbot School of Theology - 11 hours 58 min ago

In a recent Q&A, you mentioned "a theory of the atonement involving as an essential aspect the satisfaction of God's justice faces stiff philosophical challenges, which I hope eventually to address". I suspect I am not alone in excitedly anticipating the completion of your research! In the meantime, would you be able to summarize these challenges? I am certain this would be of significant interest to all your readers, especially those of us who are engaged in Philosophical Theology.

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Christian’s Perspective on War: Part 3

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 20:05

Winston drops by to talk with Barry about war, focusing on the paradigm of realism.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_26.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

What should a pastor do in his first few years at a church?

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 08:00

So many of the mistakes and missteps a pastor makes in a church as the new pastor comes from a lack of knowledge of what to do. The absence of clear thinking on this matter causes a pastor to listen to all kinds of different voices and hastily react to what he finds and hears in his church. Some say change everything immediately. Others urge a pastor to look outside the church for new life.

If a pastor does not have a solid handle on what to do and an even better idea of what not to do, he will react and make quick decisions based on the mess he finds.

Don’t react, pastor 

A pastor needs to be trained not to be reactionary regarding the dysfunction and turmoil he finds, but to have a clear plan on how his time should be spent during his first few years, regardless of what problems he inherits.

The best approach for a pastor, especially when entering a dysfunctional, dying congregation is to simply be a pastor to those people. This is why pastors need to be trained in the practicalities of pastoral theology so to be equipped in the work of the ministry.

A simple definition of pastoral theology is the application of biblical theology in a pastoral manner for the purpose of caring for God’s people.

That is, pastoral theology informs a pastor of the day-to-day tasks of a pastor with the aim of ministering to God’s people. These tasks include such things as preaching, praying, visiting the sick, caring for widows, discipling others, raising up leaders, encouraging the weak, conducting weddings and funerals, to name a few.

Two applicational principles

The key to applying pastoral theology in a church is centered on these two principles: The biblical tasks of a pastor for the sake of caring for the flock. The absence of biblical pastoral theology often leads to pragmatism. The absence of intentional, wise, and creative desires to minister to God’s people and meet them where they are can create the purist.

A pastor should not place the crushing expectation on himself of transforming the church in 18 months, but should simply come with a clear vision of what his calling is as a shepherd and pastor and do that with all his might. First and foremost, prepare to just be patient and shepherd the souls of the people who are there when you arrive. This allows a pastor to do what he can do and allows God time to do what only he can do.

_____________

Brian Croft serves as senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville. He is also senior fellow for the Mathena Center for Church Revitalization at Southern Seminary. A veteran pastor and author of numerous books on practical aspects of pastoral ministry, Brian oversees Practical Shepherding, a gospel-driven resource center for pastors and church leaders to equip them in the practical matters of pastoral ministry.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Acts 27-28: Part 3

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Wed, 05/25/2016 - 20:05

Barry takes the next step in our journey through the back of Acts focusing on the first half of chapter 28.

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Categories: Seminary Blog

Life Speed

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 05/25/2016 - 12:00

... I’ve also concluded that, metaphorically speaking, 40 miles per hour is my best speed for living life. Of course, there are those times when I have to go fast to finish a project or keep up with a host of activities particular to a certain time of year (like the little league/soccer schedules of my grand children). We all have fast times, for sure.

But the life speed that will enable me to go the long haul, continue to be effective, enjoyable to live with, and strong enough to handle the load, is a cruising speed of 40. Perhaps I first started becoming comfortable with this pace as a boy on our family farm. Life came and went in seasons. Spring and Summer were frenetic at times, but Fall and Winter balanced everything out as the ice and snow forced me to slow down, look both ways, and proceed with caution ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Free for All: Suspension, Feelings, and Children

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 20:05

Scott, Winston, and Daisy joined Barry to chat about reverse suspension, confrontation, and how to encourage your children.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_24.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

The Name of the Game: Keeping a Good Reputation in Sports

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 09:30

From halfway around the world, I got a message from my wife—“Have you seen the replays of Odor punching Bautista?” We are baseball fans in my family, and we religiously follow the Texas Rangers. My wife kept me updated while I was on a recent trip to the republic of Georgia.

Rougned Odor is the up-and-coming, fiery second baseman for the Rangers. Jose Bautista is the perennial all-star outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays. After a series of bat flips, hard slides, and trash talking stretching back to last season, the bad blood came to its zenith with Odor’s hard right hook to the jaw of Bautista. The replays of the fight between these two players blew up the feeds on my social media page, and it has been the talk of Major League Baseball for days.

In a moment of confession, I have to admit that I felt a little satisfaction after watching the replay for the first time. It was retribution for Bautista’s home run that effectively ended the season for the Rangers last year. But then I started thinking about my son. What would I think if he landed a right hook to the jaw of an opposing player? What if he taunted the pitcher after hitting a ball over the fence?

Sports can bring out the best in us at times—loyalty, teamwork, perseverance. Sports can also bring out the worst in us—anger, pride and violence. I love the fact that my children participate in sports, but I want to teach them how to do it the right way, and sometimes watching our favorite teams is not the best way to learn.

Proverbs teaches us that a good reputation is of inestimable value. Solomon writes, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1). There is no doubt that both Odor and Bautista will suffer in their reputations after this incident. If my son participated in a similar altercation, his reputation would also suffer greatly.

Not only would my son suffer a loss of reputation, but my name would be tainted as his father. Whether it were true or not, those who witnessed such behavior would assume I taught him to behave that way or, at the very least, tolerated such behavior. It would take a long time for both of us to restore our reputations.

In my quest to consume all the opinions about the infamous fight, I came across an interesting piece of commentary from former Major League catcher Gregg Zaun (who happens to be a television analyst for the Blue Jays). He contrasted the taunting and arrogance of some players with the behavior of Mariano Rivera, perhaps the greatest closer of all time. About his own experience of being struck out by Rivera, Zaun said, “When was the last time you saw Mariano Rivera fist pump somebody? You know, I thought it was pretty demoralizing when that guy struck me out and just walked off the field like it was a foregone conclusion that … he was going to strike me out. … He didn’t need to celebrate the mundane and the everyday.”

Rivera is actually a good example in this case. He played for the New York Yankees, one of the most popular and most hated teams in the league. His ability to close down games in the ninth inning was integral to helping the Yankees win five World Series championships and his own appearance in 13 All-Star Games. Beyond all of his successes, Rivera was always known as a class act. You could hate the Yankees, but it was almost impossible to hate Rivera. Though feared for his cut fastball, Rivera was revered for his humility, kindness and faith.

This leads me back to the type of player I want my son to be. Do I want him to be the kid who taunts his opponents and starts a fight in the infield? Or would I rather him be a well-respected player, known for his commitment, attitude and faith? I’ll take the latter (even if it means he has to play for the Yankees).

How can I lead my son to be a man of integrity on the field? This takes me back to Proverbs. No less than six times in the first seven chapters of Proverbs, Solomon tells his son to listen to his instructions and wisdom. This implies that the king was constantly teaching his son how to follow God. He taught him to pursue wisdom and avoid folly. He taught him to receive instruction and discipline well. He taught him to fear God. My son will probably never make the majors, but his reputation will follow him wherever he goes. There is no amount of money that can make up for a bad reputation. Now it is up to me to teach him to build a good name on and off the field. May we not let our sports fanaticism damage our names. There is no amount of wealth that can replace the value of a good reputation.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Are you a closet annihilationist?

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 08:00

National Geographic has an interesting article on the doctrine of hell. Chris Date, Preston Sprinkle, Clark Pinnock, and Edward Fudge are all quoted in the piece. The gist of it is that evangelical belief in the traditional doctrine of hell is in decline.

Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans who believe in the fire down under has dropped from 71 percent to 58 percent. Heaven, by contrast, fares much better and, among Christians, remains an almost universally accepted concept.

Annihilationsists believe they have already made significant inroads within the evangelical community.

“My prediction is that, even within conservative evangelical circles, the annihilation view of hell will be the dominant view in 10 or 15 years,” says Preston Sprinkle, who co-authored the book Erasing Hell, which, in 2011, debuted at number three on The New York Times bestseller list. “I base that on how many well-known pastors secretly hold that view. I think that we are at a time and place when there is a growing suspicion of adopting tradition for the sake of tradition.”

Four thoughts about this:

1. I don’t know about this prediction. Christianity in America is bedeviled by false teaching on every side. It may very well be that belief in annihilationism is on the rise. But still, is it the “dominant” view? Dominant among whom? Bible-believing Christians? Bible-believing Christians around the world? I don’t think so. In the entire 2,000-year history of the Christian church, the near consensus view has been the Eternal Conscious Torment (ECT) view. The recent decline of that view in the West may simply be a sign of Christianity’s decline in the West. I’m not convinced it’s a sign the Christian church is undergoing some historic shift in its doctrine of hell.

2. Western “Christians” who forsake the traditional doctrine of hell tend to be drifting in other crucial areas of doctrine as well. I do not claim this is true in every individual case, but it is true in many cases. What we believe about hell is fundamentally a reflection of what we believe about God, his character, and his justice. Revisions in the doctrine of hell, therefore, are often accompanied by other revisions that undermine orthodox evangelical faith. I have in mind someone like Clark Pinnock, who is featured in the article as an “evangelical” proponent of annihilationism. But everyone who knows Pinnock knows that he was way off the evangelical reservation in his doctrine of God.

“What we believe about hell is fundamentally a reflection of what we believe about God, his character, and his justice.”

3. I know, I know. This is where all the annihliationists vociferously object, “But what about John Stott? Don’t you know he was an annihilationist? Don’t you think he was an evangelical?” Yes, I think he was evangelical. But I also believe that he had a patently unbiblical view of hell. He was wrong. Really wrong. And his error on this point is the gift that keeps on giving, so to speak. Over the last couple of decades, his otherwise impeccable credentials have provided cover for others who have drifted away from the traditional view. Honestly, I wonder if there would even be any serious evangelical consideration of this view if it weren’t for him. In my estimation, it is not the legacy of Fudge that has given this view such staying power. It’s Stott’s legacy. And that is sad.

4. At the end of the day, this is a question of biblical interpretation. What does the Bible teach? I am in agreement with the overwhelming testimony of the Christian church over the last 2,000 years. I make the case for that view in my chapter of Sprinkle’s book (which is also mentioned in the article), Four Views on Hell. I would also commend Robert Peterson’s contributions in Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment and Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue.

____________________

Denny Burk is a professor of biblical studies and director of The Center for Gospel and Culture at Boyce College. He contributed a chapter to the recently released second edition of Four Views on Hell in the Counterpoints series from Zondervan. He is the author of a book on sexual ethics titled What Is the Meaning of Sex? as well as a book on Greek grammar entitled Articular Infinitives in the Greek of the New Testament. He blogs regularly at DennyBurk.com.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Songwriting Captures the Voice of a Congregation

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 20:05

Barry speaks with Matt Boswell, Pastor of Ministries and Worship at Providence Church, about the purpose and practice of worship.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_23.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

Should Experience Trump Scripture?

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 05/23/2016 - 12:00

In my recent book The Beauty of Intolerance, my father and I discuss how a new view of tolerance has crept its way into the church. One powerful way this is seen is how an increasing number of Christians approach Scripture.

For instance, in his book God and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines begins by affirming the final authority of scripture on questions of morality and doctrine.[1] And yet when Vines discovered his own same-sex attraction, his perspective began to change based on his personal experience. Now he has become an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights within the church, and his goal is to lead a movement to convince Christians that they can affirm the full authority of scripture and also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Free for All: Nomenclatures, Selfies, and Physical Fitness

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 20:05

Joe, Daisy, and Kevin join Barry for a free for all discussing criminal backgrounds, statues, and motivational speeches.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_20.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

God’s Love and Justice in Contradiction?

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:00

Dr. Craig,

Your ministry has radically changed my life. As a direct result of your arguments and debates, I went from a nihilist to a staunch Christian. However, I have encountered a problem with the ontological argument.

Is there a contradiction between perfect justice and perfect mercy in a maximally great being? The way I have seen this objection posed is that the Christian God is just and merciful. Mercy is defined as the suspension of justice. Thus there is a contradiction. I have also seen the argument being put as perfect justice is giving everyone what they're due, and perfect mercy is giving some people less than what they're due.

Is this objection as crushing as its proponents make it out to be? ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

The Root of Conflict Within our Marriages

Southwestern Seminary - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 09:30

Have you ever experienced the rather odd moment when you sit in a counseling session with a couple and ask, “What brought you here today?” After a slight pause, both of them, intentionally, stare at the other. Their glances assert a belief that the other person is the problem. So each person begins to devise a plan on how best to change the other while offering a defense of his/her own innocence. This type of blaming is what brought them to sit in the office in the first place, and the finger pointing only makes matters messier.

So how do we approach such conflict? Are the individuals at a stalemate left to jockey for position? Are coercion and manipulation the only way forward in the relationship? Scripture offers wisdom on how best to handle conflict in a way that leads to reconciliation and spiritual growth.

When conflict occurs—and rest assured, with two sinners living in close proximity, conflict is inevitable—our natural bent is to attack the other person. We think if we can get the other person to change, our problems will go away. In fact, when a relationship goes awry, the first person we often examine is not ourselves. Unfortunately, our attempts to eliminate conflict are unsuccessful because we are looking in the wrong direction for the remedy.

James 4:1-3 identifies the root of the conflict. He says the source of quarrels and conflicts is our own selfish desires. The first person we should examine in conflict is our own self.

Jesus explains in Matthew 7:1-5 how to handle offenses within relationships. Rather than believe our interpersonal problems are sociological in nature (simply between two people), we must realize they are first and primarily theological (between the person in conflict and God).

Often, the first assignment I give to a couple having relationship difficulties is to write a “log list.” Each spouse must write a list of his/her sinful offenses, past and present, in the context of their marriage. The list encourages them to contemplate their own faults in the relationship instead of blaming and exploiting the failures of their spouse.

Jesus, in Matthew 7, instructs us to focus on the log in our own eye. He is telling us that our view of one another, especially in conflict, is distorted by our own faults. The only way we can effectively see is to do a bit of self-examination.

We usually do not mind comparing ourselves to others. We can always find someone who we think has more faults than we do. However, using someone else as the standard for examination does not drive us to the depth of our personal struggle with sin.

The only way we can properly remove the log in our eye is by peering into the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). The law is a mirror that can reveal and discern the depths of our thoughts and intentions (Hebrews 4:12). We must be reminded that God will judge us by this law (James 2:12). Obviously, being judged by God’s law is a pretty bleak picture for us. Knowing we do not have a righteousness of our own enables us to recall the grace and mercy demonstrated by God in forgiving us through the work of Christ.

Once the depths of Christ’s redemption are applied to our past and present flaws, assurance of His forgiveness and mercy has the power to transform our minds. The truths from God’s Word confront the logs in our eye and empower a transformation of mind through repentance and obedience. In turn, the couple is challenged to live with this mind that was also in Christ (Philippians 2:5). We are called with this same mind to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

As the couple returns in a subsequent session, I ask them for their “log list.” I try to help them realize they can only change one person in the relationship, and that one person is not their spouse. As I walk them through the process of repentance for their own logs, it opens the couple’s eyes toward the forgiveness of God in Christ. When one realizes the depth of forgiveness granted by God for his/her sins, that same person is compelled to have compassion and mercy on others (Matthew 18:21-35).

I then proceed to walk them through some significant passages on forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-35, and Ephesians 4:32). These passages challenge us to forgive one another in the same way that God has forgiven us. Often, couples use each other as standards of forgiveness. In other words, the husband may forgive his wife if she forgives him of a previous offense. But the other person is not the standard; God’s forgiveness to us in Christ is the measuring stick for our forgiveness to others (Ephesians 4:32).

None of these exercises minimizes the conflict. In fact, this method meets the conflict head-on with God’s remedy of forgiveness and sacrificial love within the relationship. This is real love because we cannot truly love until we have experienced the deep love of God, even though we are undeserving.

Conflicts in relationships, if handled in a biblical fashion, can lead to true reconciliation and spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit heals couples as they humble themselves by confronting their personal sin. Reconciliation occurs as each person offers forgiveness to his/her spouse flowing from a heart forgiven by Christ. Spiritual growth is fostered as the couple chooses to die to their own desires and love the other person in spite of his/her flaws, even when the spouse is underserving. Each individual intentionally chooses to crucify his/her fleshly desires to retaliate for the sake of obedience as an act of worship to God. Relationships are messy, and we should employ the Gospel, as God designed it, to conquer conflict and the destruction caused by our sinful selfish tendencies.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Acts 27-28: Part 2

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 20:05

Barry continues through Acts 27, focusing, on creation, authority, and the sea.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_19.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

Five keys to ministry in the Deep South

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 07:00

One year ago, my wife and I packed everything we owned inside of a Penske truck and headed south. To a state largely unknown to us. To a people we didn’t know. For a job in which I had no real prior experience. Looking back, it was one of the best things to happen to Kelly and me. Crawfish, LSU, Mardi Gras, and heat. Those are the only four things I knew about Louisiana before I came.

Two years later, I’m addicted to gumbo, I love muffelatas, my love for college football has grown exponentially, and my skin is a little browner than before. Above all, I’ve fallen in love with the Lord’s Louisianan church. In many ways, Louisiana is nothing like Kentucky. But in other ways, it’s not much different. People are still people. When someone knows you care, they invite you into their lives. And that’s exactly what the city of Central has done with Kelly and I. After my first year as student pastor and adopted son of Baton Rouge, these are five things I’ve learned by moving into a new city, culture, and ministry.

1. Know their geography

When I came down to Baton Rouge for my first interview, one of my first comments was about the show, Duck Dynasty. After all, other than The Waterboy, half of what I knew about the state of Louisiana was from watching Phil and Willie! Mistake. What I didn’t know is that southern Louisiana and northern Louisiana are worlds apart. It’s like someone comparing me, a Western Kentuckian, to an Eastern Kentuckian from Appalachia.

Likewise, the world south of I-10 is a different world altogether and I embraced that. I had to quickly learn little towns and cities and bayous so I could keep up with conversations inside and outside church. The first time I heard someone say “Breaux Bridge” I thought they were just talking about a bridge. The first time I read the words “Atchafalaya” or “Pontchartrain,” I thought it was Cajun nonsense.

I also had to learn about small-town rivalries. For example, when Kelly and I moved to Baton Rouge, we settled 10-15 minutes away from our church. What we didn’t know was that it was in a different school system. So when we told people where we lived, we’d receive friendly little jabs about the dirty water and the lack of education.

God quickly reminded us that, no matter where you live, there’s always another county, state, or town that’s supposedly worse. For Kentucky it’s Indiana. For Indiana it’s Kentucky. For Louisiana it’s Mississippi. For Mississippi it’s Louisiana. So naturally, I adopted a healthy aversion to Alabama football. No matter where you live, geography is important. It’s more than street signs and maps. Sometimes it’s the first step in the adoption of a culture.

2. Know their loves

One of the things I worried about most before moving to Louisiana was the conversation. I’m a talker. And in Kentucky, no matter where I was, I never lacked for dialogue. Wherever you were from, I knew someone or something from your county. A high school basketball team. A coach. A politician. A famous landmark. A lake. A gas station. Anything. But in Louisiana I didn’t have that. In fact, in Louisiana they don’t even have counties! They’re called “parishes.”

“In order to give yourself completely to a people, you find what the locals love and you learn to love what they love.”

Moving to Louisiana is a lesson in religion and culture. You notice that immediately when you cross the state line. The sign that says “Welcome to Louisiana” is also translated in French! It’s another planet in many ways. So I had to find a new medium of conversation. I couldn’t get by on my “good ole boy” Kentucky knowledge.

Therefore, over time, I eventually found my new medium of conversation: the universal language of the south—Sports. Louisiana loves sports. Football, baseball, softball, basketball, golf, you name it. If there’s a ball and a television, they watch it. More specifically, they love their LSU Tigers. Kelly and I are now LSU Tiger fans.

While I’ve remained loyal to Big Blue back home, Kelly hasn’t. She’s completely defected and turned purple and gold. From the second she walked into Death Valley, she was hooked. And it makes me smile that my wife has become all things to all people. Whether it’s Louisiana or Lithuania, culture is critical.

In order to give yourself completely to a people, you find what the locals love and you learn to love what they love. It’s not fake. It’s not an act. It’s about serving people. After one year and some ‘tiger-baiting,’ Kelly and I are adopted Cajuns and love every minute of it.

3. Know their names

While this may sound obvious, it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when you pastor at a larger southern Louisiana church. I’ll admit, this is something I’ve always taken for granted. Even at my last church, there was an average of about 80 people per Sunday. And they were all more or less related, so the family tree made it easier to remember!

But in Baton Rouge, especially for the first 6 months, every Sunday was a memory lesson. As I soon discovered, the senior citizens were less forgiving than the students. If you didn’t remember their name (first and last), they could smell the insincerity. “What’s my name, son?” they would ask me with a suspicious eye. “Uh…Betty?” So for months, I would plug names in my phone and try to remember as many as I could.

Remembering someone’s name is important because it tells them you value their friendship and their time. It quietly ascribes a measure of honor and significance to the people of your church. In ministry, and in any facet of life, to remember someone’s name is to dignify them as a person. And I learned that quickly in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately for me, in southern Louisiana, all the names are practically French, so I fumbled more names than I can remember. Delacroix, Hebert, Boudreaux — I butchered them all.

“Remembering someone’s name is important because it tells them you value their friendship and their time.”

Anytime I met a Baker or a Wilson, I gave them a big hug. God bless the Smiths. And when you leave your hometown, nobody in the world has a clue how to pronounce “Obbie.” After a year, half the senior citizens at Zoar still call me “Obie” (O-be). I’ve stopped correcting them at this point. When you’re eighty years old, you’re pretty much going to call people whatever you want. But I don’t mind. However, I’m still getting used to being called “brother.” Names matter.

4. Know their culture

If you’ve never heard of a king cake, then that probably means you’re not from Louisiana. But you don’t need to be from Louisiana to know about Mardi Gras. During the Mardi Gras season, bakeries and stores make “king cakes.” And one of these traditions is to put a figurine shaped like an infant inside the cake (It’s an old tradition concerning fertility). It’s unadulterated Louisianan culture.

Unfortunately, nobody warned me about this small tradition. So you can imagine my surprise when I chomped on a small child in my cake and pulled him or her out of my teeth. Welcome to Louisiana. It’s the same culture that uses the word “lagniappe” to denote “something extra” or a “small gift.” When someone gives you an extra tip or just a little Christmas present, that’s a “lagniappe.”

Pastors should always remember the doorway into a culture is often through the language. It makes its way into Cajun phrases like “I’ll be there for five.” No, that’s not somebody ordering a table for five. That’s how many southern Louisianans say “I’ll be there at five.” The French influence is also why some Louisianans say, “make groceries” instead of “get groceries.” They’re not stuttering. They’re talking French-English. It’s hilarious. And fun. It’s called culture. And it makes Baton Rouge a special place. Coming from the state that invented the “hillbilly,” I’m in no position to throw stones.

5. Know them

Moving to the Deep South was an experience in culture shock. For instance, the first time I saw a line of casinos on the side of a country road, I thought we’d moved to an Indian reservation! But crossing into another state and culture also affirmed one universal truth: nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. As cheesy as that sounds, it proves more true every day in cross-cultural ministry.

Every state is filled with one thing: sinners. And Louisiana sinners are just like Kentucky sinners. Despite their rebellious hearts, they’re searching for something authentic. Something real. Louisiana is a place filled with kind, diverse, hard-working people. However, they’re also wretched sinners in desperate need of a Savior. And that’s why we’re here.

We understand that the dignity of Psalm 8 and the depravity of Romans 3 go hand in hand. And in his sovereignty, Christ has turned the roadblocks of language, culture, geography, and sports into an avenue for the gospel. We love Louisiana because Christ loves Louisiana. And after one year, I thank God for such a high calling in the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

____________

Obbie Todd serves as associate pastor of students at Zoar Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Theology from Southern Seminary and is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Obbie and his wife, Kelly, are currently in the process of adopting their first child. You can follow him on Twitter @ObbieTyler.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Acts 27-28: Part 1

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 20:05

Barry has finally reached the last two chapters of Acts, reminding us the importance of listening to God’s messenger.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_18.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

Theological Anthropology

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 12:00

Christian anthropologies have been of vital importance throughout the history of the church because at each point in history there are cultural assumptions and philosophical perspectives about the nature of humanity that call the gospel into question, that question God’s Lordship, humanity’s servanthood, and their genuine fellowship in Jesus Christ. To maintain a biblical understanding of salvation, Christians have needed to emphasize humanity’s existence as embodied and as spiritual, as moved by intellect and by desire, as motivated by the will and as motivated by habitual acts that shape the will. These realities of human existence have been uncovered as theologians have thought through the logic of the gospel and its proclamation in their context ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Christians Don’t Retire

Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 05/18/2016 - 10:55

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the percentage of Americans at retirement age is expected to explode, with about 9000 reaching age 65 each year. “Forty-eight million Americans were age 65 and older in 2015, 18 percent more than just five years earlier. The number of older Americans will increase to 74 million by 2030, and 98 million by 2060” (http://www.urban.org/features/how-retirement-changing-america).

For many, retirement holds promises of travel, relaxation, and leisure. God certainly wants His children to enjoy the good gifts He has provided. But He also expects us to live our entire lives for Him, not just our working years. That’s why Christians don’t retire from being Christians—you never cease serving Christ.

I’ve had the privilege to work closely with several members of our church who have used their retirement as an opportunity to serve with our campus ministry at Wayne State University. One of the greatest examples I have seen of using your retirement for the glory of God was Clif Tally.

After retiring from being an engineer, Clif audited several classes here at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, simply because he wanted to better understand God and His Word. He became more involved with multiple Bible studies at different retirement homes. He helped start the campus ministry at Wayne State University in 2003 and served there faithfully for the last 13 years. He would spend 25-35 hours a week leading 10-15 different small group and one-on-one Bible studies. He built relationships with scores of international students (many of which were Chinese), spending an hour in English conversation and an hour studying the Bible with them each week. He helped to collect donated furniture and organize a furniture give-away for incoming international students each fall. He incorporated his love of bird-watching into two annual trips with international students to bird-watching events as a means of strengthening the relationships for the sake of the Gospel. Clif never retired from serving Christ, but on Monday God called His good and faithful servant home to enter the joy of his Lord.

Clif exemplified the truth that Christians do not look for their home in this world but in the world to come. They enjoy this life, but they are more concerned with investing in eternity. The years of retirement are an excellent time to serve Jesus. It’s an opportunity to take the wisdom, understanding, and experience gained over the years and pour them back into the lives of others.

Christians don’t retire. They may stop their earthly careers, but they do not stop their work for God. Because they know one day they will be called to enter God’s rest.

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Heb 4:9-10)

Categories: Seminary Blog

Free for All: Cremation, Politics, and Clergy

Criswell College: For Christ and Culture - Tue, 05/17/2016 - 20:05

Barry is joined by Steve Hunter, Jeff Campbell, and Daisy Reynolds, to chat about the intermediate state, politics, and ministry.

http://barrycreamer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CWC-2016_05_17.mp3
Categories: Seminary Blog

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