Seminary Blog

Teenagers, Competitions and the Sabbath

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:25

A youth pastor told me he was missing some of his core teenagers on Easter Sunday morning. They were playing in a school volleyball tournament. How did our culture come to this?

Plenty of parents take zero interest in their children and their activities. Youth leaders celebrate good parents who support their kids’ endeavors, hoping that worthwhile activities will give their offspring a boost in life. But for believing families, all such decisions fall under the command, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Our crumbling culture increasingly will call teenagers to give their Sunday mornings to academic, artistic and athletic competitions and activities. For the moment, traveling sports teams are a special concern, often pulling teenagers out of church for six or more Sundays. Managers pressuring teenagers to work Sunday mornings also are an issue. All this should concern believing parents for at least three reasons.

Inconsistent with God’s Commands

The same God who said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” said, “You shall not commit adultery.” Believers do not get to cherry-pick the commandments. Is sending a teenager to a tournament on Sunday morning any different from sending a teenage couple to a motel on prom night?

God created the Jewish Sabbath (and its Christian equivalent) to give mankind a weekly way to remember and honor Him. “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor it … then you will take delight in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

One of the central ways God chooses to be honored on His day is through the coming together of the church to worship, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Sunday worship is God’s plan for all nations through all generations.

Jesus pushed back on the Pharisees and their legalism concerning the Sabbath. They had lost the fact that Sabbath observance was to give honor to His Father and provide occasion for His people to worship Him. Today, He likely would resist with equal intensity anything that takes eyes off of the Godhead and precludes the weekly assembling of the body of Christ.

Inconsistent with the Goal of Parenting

Believing parents have no higher goal than this: To see their children leave home to live lives that bring great glory to King Jesus. Children exist for the glory of God, so every parenting action and decision should directly support that purpose.

Parents know that college athletic scouts are more likely to study prospects on a traveling sports team than a school team. For lukewarm church parents, the fact that a traveling team plays on Sunday is less important than the prospect of a scholarship.

Transformed parents work toward and celebrate the accomplishments of their children. But when choices have to be made, they always come down on the side of decisions that glorify Christ now and into the future.

Wise parents explain their decisions to their children. But instead of saying, “Our family always keeps the rules, and going to church is a rule,” discipling parents say, “Our family loves and adores King Jesus, and keeping His day sacred is our way to show that.”

Of course, parents have to set the example with their own choices. For example, after a Saturday night meeting out of town, Dad may have to decide between:

  1. Catching a 7:00 a.m. flight home in order to worship with the family, or
  2. Leisurely grazing the hotel breakfast buffet and then flying at 10:30 a.m.

Kids absorb and pursue what they perceive to be a parent’s priority. Actions always speak louder than words.

Inconsistent with the Life of a Young Disciple

As with all believers, teenagers need their hearts connected to the heart of Christ by a double helix. They need a strand of intimate, warm love intertwined with a strand of adoration and awe (almost holy fear).

Godly parents nurture the “love” strand so that someday a 25-year-old would rather spend Sunday morning with his Beloved than anyone else. And parents nurture the “awe” strand so future young adults so honor God that skipping church never seems like an option.

Teenage disciples are called to “count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). “All things” means all things—including a scholarship given by a college scout on a Sunday morning; or moving from JV to Varsity because coach saw a player working hard in the weight room on Sunday morning; or making first chair in the state orchestra performing on Sunday morning. All those things are good, but Jesus is better.

Teenage behavior patterns tend to last a lifetime. The boy who misses some Sundays becomes the dad who leaves his family at home while he hunts on Sunday mornings. Parents who allow their children to be inconsistent on Sundays need to look ahead. They may grieve when they try to call their future grandchildren, Sunday at noon, and discover they still are in bed.

Church parents sometimes look for excuses to help explain inconsistent respect for God and His fourth commandment. I have heard parents say, “I realize the girls are out five Sundays in a row, but you need to know the coach always reads John 3:16 before Sunday games.” God instructs His children to give Him their attention for a day, not for three minutes. He desires hearts united in worship, not a tip of the hat.

Such reasoning only appeals to those who assume church-going is a religious rule—and therefore any ritual performed satisfies that rule. This is similar to the church member who will not tithe, but drops a dollar in the plate. On Easter.

Parents who deeply desire to see lifetime disciples come from their home will instill love and awe toward King Jesus, toward His day, and toward the weekly gathering of His people.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Teenagers, Competitions and the Sabbath

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 09:25

A youth pastor told me he was missing some of his core teenagers on Easter Sunday morning. They were playing in a school volleyball tournament. How did our culture come to this?

Plenty of parents take zero interest in their children and their activities. Youth leaders celebrate good parents who support their kids’ endeavors, hoping that worthwhile activities will give their offspring a boost in life. But for believing families, all such decisions fall under the command, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Our crumbling culture increasingly will call teenagers to give their Sunday mornings to academic, artistic and athletic competitions and activities. For the moment, traveling sports teams are a special concern, often pulling teenagers out of church for six or more Sundays. Managers pressuring teenagers to work Sunday mornings also are an issue. All this should concern believing parents for at least three reasons.

Inconsistent with God’s Commands

The same God who said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” said, “You shall not commit adultery.” Believers do not get to cherry-pick the commandments. Is sending a teenager to a tournament on Sunday morning any different from sending a teenage couple to a motel on prom night?

God created the Jewish Sabbath (and its Christian equivalent) to give mankind a weekly way to remember and honor Him. “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor it … then you will take delight in the Lord” (Isaiah 58:13-14).

One of the central ways God chooses to be honored on His day is through the coming together of the church to worship, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Sunday worship is God’s plan for all nations through all generations.

Jesus pushed back on the Pharisees and their legalism concerning the Sabbath. They had lost the fact that Sabbath observance was to give honor to His Father and provide occasion for His people to worship Him. Today, He likely would resist with equal intensity anything that takes eyes off of the Godhead and precludes the weekly assembling of the body of Christ.

Inconsistent with the Goal of Parenting

Believing parents have no higher goal than this: To see their children leave home to live lives that bring great glory to King Jesus. Children exist for the glory of God, so every parenting action and decision should directly support that purpose.

Parents know that college athletic scouts are more likely to study prospects on a traveling sports team than a school team. For lukewarm church parents, the fact that a traveling team plays on Sunday is less important than the prospect of a scholarship.

Transformed parents work toward and celebrate the accomplishments of their children. But when choices have to be made, they always come down on the side of decisions that glorify Christ now and into the future.

Wise parents explain their decisions to their children. But instead of saying, “Our family always keeps the rules, and going to church is a rule,” discipling parents say, “Our family loves and adores King Jesus, and keeping His day sacred is our way to show that.”

Of course, parents have to set the example with their own choices. For example, after a Saturday night meeting out of town, Dad may have to decide between:

  1. Catching a 7:00 a.m. flight home in order to worship with the family, or
  2. Leisurely grazing the hotel breakfast buffet and then flying at 10:30 a.m.

Kids absorb and pursue what they perceive to be a parent’s priority. Actions always speak louder than words.

Inconsistent with the Life of a Young Disciple

As with all believers, teenagers need their hearts connected to the heart of Christ by a double helix. They need a strand of intimate, warm love intertwined with a strand of adoration and awe (almost holy fear).

Godly parents nurture the “love” strand so that someday a 25-year-old would rather spend Sunday morning with his Beloved than anyone else. And parents nurture the “awe” strand so future young adults so honor God that skipping church never seems like an option.

Teenage disciples are called to “count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). “All things” means all things—including a scholarship given by a college scout on a Sunday morning; or moving from JV to Varsity because coach saw a player working hard in the weight room on Sunday morning; or making first chair in the state orchestra performing on Sunday morning. All those things are good, but Jesus is better.

Teenage behavior patterns tend to last a lifetime. The boy who misses some Sundays becomes the dad who leaves his family at home while he hunts on Sunday mornings. Parents who allow their children to be inconsistent on Sundays need to look ahead. They may grieve when they try to call their future grandchildren, Sunday at noon, and discover they still are in bed.

Church parents sometimes look for excuses to help explain inconsistent respect for God and His fourth commandment. I have heard parents say, “I realize the girls are out five Sundays in a row, but you need to know the coach always reads John 3:16 before Sunday games.” God instructs His children to give Him their attention for a day, not for three minutes. He desires hearts united in worship, not a tip of the hat.

Such reasoning only appeals to those who assume church-going is a religious rule—and therefore any ritual performed satisfies that rule. This is similar to the church member who will not tithe, but drops a dollar in the plate. On Easter.

Parents who deeply desire to see lifetime disciples come from their home will instill love and awe toward King Jesus, toward His day, and toward the weekly gathering of His people.

Categories: Seminary Blog

El Pecado de la Adicción al Trabajo

Talbot School of Theology - Mon, 05/29/2017 - 12:00

Cada vez estoy más convencido que ser un “trabajador obsesivo” es la adicción más común entre las personas que están en el ministerio cristiano. Evidentemente esta condición se presenta entre todas las personas sin importar su ocupación o religiosidad. De hecho en inglés el término “workaholic” ya forma parte del vocabulario común ya que representa una realidad cada vez más presente en nuestras sociedades. Pero es fácil convertirse en un trabajador obsesivo y disfrazar esta situación con piedad y buenas intenciones. De la misma manera es muy atractivo sumergirse en el trabajo y echarle la culpa a Dios o a la obra de Dios como excusa por esta situación ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

How to read the news like a Christian

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 16:18

When I was younger, if you wanted to know what the latest news was, you read the newspaper in the morning or watched the national news at 5:30 and the local news at 6:00 and 10:00. Then CNN and Headline News showed up and you could get a feel for what was going on every 30 minutes. Even then though, you had to seek the news. You opened the paper or turned the channel to the news.

We live in very different times now. Our phones give us a steady stream of headlines. At every turn, a news headline that scares or angers you begs for your attention.

How do Christians process the constant barrage of news and information at our fingertips?

Read the news like your time is valuable

We live in an economy where the advertisers fight for your attention. They don’t have to get you in front of a television or sitting down to read the newspaper anymore. A device constantly begging for your attention sits in your pocket and one “quick check” can send you down a rabbit hole of links and discussions.

Steward the time you spend looking at your phone and set specific times during the day when you will get on social media or check news headlines. If you try to constantly “stay informed,” you will end up never accomplishing anything important while you take in a steady stream of relatively unimportant information. You only have one life, don’t spend it staring at your phone.

Read the news like your hope is real

When we think about the issues taking center stage in our day, many of them concern things that make us anxious– rising healthcare costs, a shrinking economy, the threat of terrorism, and battles over free speech and religious liberty. When we hear about another terrorist attack, a liberal professor stifling free speech, or an increase in our healthcare premiums, our natural tendency is to worry and panic.

In times like these, we need to review what is true for those who trust in Christ. We know that God providentially rules over all of human history and he is working all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28-30) We know that Jesus has ascended into heaven and is preparing a place there for those who belong to him. (John 14:1-6) We know that those who are in Christ will share in his inheritance because we are God’s sons and daughters. (Rom. 8:16-17)

We could spend all day reviewing the glories that are coming to those who are in Christ and we need to look at the daily news in light of these overwhelming realities. This doesn’t mean that healthcare, abortion, social justice, and civil liberties don’t matter, instead, it reframes how we think about these issues. If we don’t get justice in this world, we know that ultimate justice is coming. If our opportunities for a comfortable retirement are declining, we remember that we look forward to something much better than retirement. Our great future hope changes the way that we look at everything.

Read the news like you love Your neighbor

Most of our news comes to us with a partisan slant. The headlines grab our attention by reinforcing the bad things we believe about our political enemies or show how our heroes are being disrespected. What ends up happening is that we grow in our animosity towards the other side. We start thinking that they don’t just disagree with us on political issues, but are dangerous people who must be stopped.

Someone once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is. He answered that the first is to love God and the second is that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Then, the questioner asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer this question. He showed a man taking personal responsibility for the suffering of someone who would consider him a social, political, and religious enemy. Love for our neighbors looks like this. It crosses all of the lines that we like to draw.

Christians must not fall into the trap of reading daily news to feed our loathing of other people. Because Jesus loved us when we were hostile to him, we love the people with whom we disagree. We read, not to get angry and lose our cool, but to better understand how to engage those who stand on the other side of important issues. If you find that reading the news causes you to in personal animus towards other people, it’s time to review the message of the Gospel and remember the love and patience God has shown you. 

Read the news like you have heard Solomon’s wisdom

Too often, we react to the news like people who aren’t growing as believers in Christ. Too often, we draw strong conclusions and develop unrelenting opinions based on incomplete information. We read the title of an article or hear an out of context quote and rage inside. Then we start reading the comments and shake with anger at people we have never met. This takes us to a place of anger, anxiety, and unkindness.

The Proverbs speak to us about listening and making sure we have thoroughly heard a matter before we develop a strong opinion and lose our cool. “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (18:13) “Good sense makes one slow to anger and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (19:11) Solomon reminds us in these passages that wisdom calls us away from quick conclusions and hot-headed reactions. Instead, it beckons us to make sure we have heard what is being said and respond with a cool spirit.

Getting angry or anxious because of the news is not a new phenomenon. Things will take place in this world that will tempt us to shake our heads, grit our teeth, or fret over the future until Jesus returns. Until that great day, we walk by faith in the promises of God, remembering to love as we have been loved and live in a manner worthy of the calling we have received.

 

The post How to read the news like a Christian appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Royally Bad Objections to the Kalām Cosmological Argument

Talbot School of Theology - Fri, 05/26/2017 - 12:00

Dr. Craig,

I can't tell you how much of a blessing your work has been to me. You have been a great inspiration to me, and I consider you a fine example of what a Christian scholar should be.

I have been listening to a series of lectures entitled "The Big Questions of Philosophy" published by The Great Courses in which Professor David K. Johnson of King's College attempts to answer philosophically some of life's biggest questions. Because of the growing popularity of these lectures (especially now that they have been made very affordable through Audible), I thought it might be beneficial to get your thoughts. Professor Johnson demonstrates a deep familiarity with Christian apologetics. So much so that the lectures could almost have been entitled, "An Unbelievers Guide to Christian Apologetics." That may be a little bit of an exaggeration but not by too much. He singles out Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, and yourself. I hope one day you might have time to produce a podcast debunking his claims in general, but for now I wanted to ask you about something in which he mentions you by name specifically ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Finding Favor and Extending Favor

Talbot School of Theology - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 12:00

Job interviews are a nerve-wracking ordeal. The feeling of being out of control regarding one’s future leads to subservient postures in relationships. This was the situation the Moabite, Ruth, found herself in after returning with her mother in-law to Bethlehem (Ruth 1). However, in this amazing Biblical narrative is a posture of grace-seeking that is reminiscent of our seeking God; it is the God-action of finding favor in others that we should model in our working relationships ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

SBJT Forum

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:50

The post SBJT Forum appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Book Reviews

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 20:47

The post Book Reviews appeared first on Southern Equip.

Categories: Seminary Blog

Unleashing Your Potential as an Emerging Leader

Talbot School of Theology - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 12:00

Many persons in vocational Christian service got their start by working with young people. Youth ministry is great preparation for future service in other capacities. But it is much more than that. Youth pastors have the potential to impact the world for Christ in a powerful way, because young people often make important decisions about their future lives under the influence of church mentors and student ministries workers ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Story of Genesis 11: “And He Walked West”

Talbot School of Theology - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:00

Everyone loves a story. I think that is one of the reasons the Old Testament is primarily a story. However, many of the stories of the Old Testament often lack the kind of details that help you understand the characters. A good practice for you is to think through certain stories of the Old Testament and seek to create some depth to the characters. Of course, you have take some freedom and read between the lines, but it can be a lot of fun and very enriching to you and others. It can also serve as a discussion starter. I am offering you one such story based on Genesis 11. I simply try to draw the reader further into what it was like to be a character in the story. Happy reading ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Don’t Judge Me!

Southwestern Seminary - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 09:44

Standing for biblical truth elicits many negative responses from those outside the church as well as from some within. This is not surprising since Jesus told His disciples that they would be hated on account of Him (John 15:18-19, 1 John 3:13). While we may simply shrug this off as part of the reality of life, what is more challenging to navigate is the suggestion that by using the word “sin” for certain activities, we violate Jesus’ command not to judge. In popular sentiment, “do not judge” means that one cannot say any behavior is wrong. This understanding is pervasive, but it is severely flawed.[1]

There are pitfalls of judging that we must avoid, but doing so does not mean we cannot call sin what God has called sin. In fact, if we refuse to do so, we act as God’s judge, claiming that our perspective on the situation trumps His own. Similar to the rejection of God’s testimony in 1 John 1:10 and 5:10, this is tantamount to calling God a liar. We must call sin, sin, but we must also remember that God knows all of the details of the situation. We never will, and we often lack key information. As John 7:24 notes, we must not judge by mere appearances but must make a just judgment. If we wish to do so, we are wise to listen well and listen long, remembering the folly of giving an answer too quickly (Proverbs 18:13).

Jesus frequently identified sins, and Paul did the same. Jesus gave instructions for how to deal with a brother who has sinned against you (Matthew 18), and Paul told the Corinthians that he had already judged the brother who was engaged in sexual sin with his father’s wife (1 Corinthians 5). Even the Matthew 7 passage most commonly used to prohibit judging includes parameters for identifying sin in someone else’s life.[2] None of these required activities would be possible if identifying something as sin were not permitted. Furthermore, if you cannot rebuke someone else who has wronged you, there is no room even to say, “Don’t judge me.”

In addition to identifying certain behaviors as sinful, believers must judge in at least three other senses: evaluating the merits of a dispute between fellow Christians, evaluating the character of ministry candidates, and evaluating the teachings of those who claim to speak in the name of the Lord.[3] With respect to the first, Paul chides the Corinthians for failing to do so (1 Corinthians 6). Rather than turning to fellow believers to settle a dispute, some went to the courts. In doing so, they guaranteed defeat regardless of the outcome. In the pastoral epistles, Paul lists many qualifications for ministry candidates, primarily focused on character (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).[4] The evaluation of these qualifications requires wise judgment. Third, believers are commanded not to believe every spirit but to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 John 4:1). In addition to the content of the message, understanding the character of the speaker is quite important in this evaluation.

While many activities commonly associated with judging are actually required Christian duties, there are some pitfalls that we must avoid, the first of which is hypocrisy. In Matthew 7, Jesus refers to a person concerned with the speck in a brother’s eye instead of being concerned with the log in his own eye. In Romans 2:1-3, Paul rebukes those who pass judgment on others while they themselves do the same things. Before focusing on others, we must deal with the sin in our own lives. Whether it is the same sin we see in others or something completely different, let the light of Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s conviction address us first. This does not mean that we cannot speak to others about sin until we are completely done with sin (that will never happen), but rather that we have dealt significantly and in an ongoing manner with our own sin.

Another pitfall associated with judging is a condemning attitude.[5] I recently saw a friend who was called out for a mistake. Such was fine, but what came with it was not. In addition to calling out the error, I saw broad-brush insults and an attitude of arrogant superiority. If we are tempted to think that someone is beyond hope or that we are far superior to them, let us remember that most of the heroes in the Bible made extreme mistakes. What is more, all of us are just one bad decision away from a radically different life. Our role is not to condemn. That must be left to God. This, of course, is part of the reason that we must warn about sin. Since sin and the wrath of God are real, we must warn others about the coming judgment. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:11, “knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.”

Just as condemnation is not our role, there are times when we are tempted to address a situation that is none of our business. Romans 14-15 help us here. If the matter is something of a preference rather than a biblical mandate, we are told to keep our perspective to ourselves. Two questions may provide assistance. Are we trying to enforce a law that no longer has authority based on the finished work of Christ (clean and unclean foods, for example)? Are we trying to enforce a law that never had biblical authority in the first place? Determining the difference can be challenging, but it is a task that believers can accomplish by the power of the Spirit.

There are contexts in which Christians must judge, but we must judge justly. As we do so, may we remember the manifold grace and mercy of God in our lives and respond to others in a way that affirms not only the seriousness of sin but also the love and forgiveness that God offers through Christ Jesus.

[1]David Croteau addresses misunderstandings about judging in chapter 7 of his helpful book, Urban Legends of the New Testament.
[2]Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament, 38.
[3]In the future, the disciples will take part in judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), and believers will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).
[4]Croteau, Urban Legends of the New Testament, 183.
[5]Croteau affirms the same with respect to Matthew 7:1-2.

Categories: Seminary Blog

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