A Morning Peacock of Links (5/31)

The Fight for Egypt’s Future

Jeremy Weber on the Church in Egypt, strides that have been made since the revolution, and the work that remains moving forward. A thorough, revealing and encouraging read.

Timeless Wisdom for Seminary Graduates

For many, the phrase “old Princeton” stirs up images of stodgy professors incessantly discussing theological minutiae and teaching their students to do the same. Though their teaching was theologically and exegetically deep, it was also practical. Archibald Alexander, the founding professor of Princeton Seminary, gave introductory lectures to the student body at the opening of each new academic session. As seen in the following lecture originally delivered in November 1815, Alexander offered 23 principles learned from experience that can prove immensely helpful to seminary graduates and ministers today. It shows the concern of the theologians of old Princeton for some of the more practical aspects of ministry.

Though addressed to seminary students, there are several of nuggets of common wisdom to be found in Alexander’s lecture.

Works and Words: Why You Can’t Preach the Gospel with Deeds

Duane Litfin on the dichotomy between verbal and nonverbal communication, and how it relates to the gospel message. When considering the trendy and famous dictum attributed to Francis of Assisi (Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary), it’s so easy to lose the balance between verbal and nonverbal declaration of the gospel. And when we do that, Litfin writes, we risk sliding down a slippery slope. On a side note, Al Mohler spoke on this very issue at the T4G conference, preaching a message called “The Power of the Articulated Gospel”. In any case, here’s an excerpt from Litfin’s article:

So let us say it again: The belief that we can “preach the gospel” with our actions alone represents muddled thinking. However important our actions may be (and they are very important indeed), and whatever else they may be doing (they serve a range of crucial functions), they are not “preaching the gospel.” The gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching it is inherently verbal behavior. If the gospel is to be communicated at all, it must be put into words.

Such a statement flies in the face of a good deal of popular opinion. Can it withstand the light of examination? To answer this question, we need an appropriate framework for our thinking, one that will help us understand the issues rather than confuse them.

[…]

The gospel’s inherent power does not fluctuate with the strengths or weaknesses of its messengers. This truth is humbling, but also immensely liberating. In the end, my inability to answer objections, my lack of training or experience, even failures in my own faithfulness in living it out do not nullify the gospel’s power. Its potency is due to the working of God’s Spirit. Even when we are at our best, the gospel is powerful in spite of us, not because of us. Thanks be to God.

Happiness, Harvard Business Review, and the Church

Thom Rainer discusses a recent issue of HBR that focused mainly on the value of and factors attributing to happiness. Specifically, Rainer notes that many of the factors that HBR cites as positive contributors to happiness, are niches that the church should be filling:

I was struck by the theme of the various articles in this issue of Harvard Business Review. Most of what the authors describe as being conducive to happiness is what the church should be doing every day. Christians should develop bonds with each other individually and in small groups. They should also expand their social networks to nonbelievers in order to have a gospel witness.

Local churches should likewise lead Christians toward opportunities to minister to others, what Harvard Business Review called “practicing altruism.” After all, that’s what the Great Commission and the Great Commandment are all about.

I appreciate the fine research and writings of this periodical. But I am frustrated that many churches fail to lead their members toward the true joy that comes with connecting to others and doing for others.

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Being a Dad

Daniel Darling, a father of four, on things you learn about being a dad only after becoming one. As a Sunday school teacher, I’ve “enjoyed” a nice sampler plate of some of these lessons, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever be prepared to drive a minivan hahaha.

Graduation message: Dear Digital Son…

One father’s digital message to his graduating, digital son:

As you prepare to graduate, I hope you’ll remember there’s more to life than the Kardashians, 46-pound cats and texting in incomplete sentences.

In Defense of Video Games

Stephen Altrogge’s post in defense of video games in response to Mark Driscoll (here and here) and Russell Moore (here). Overall, both sides have a point. On the one hand, games in and of themselves won’t kill you. On the other hand, as human beings, our tendency is to take good things and pervert them into god things. Here’s an excerpt from Altrogge’s post:

I get what they’re saying, I really do. In some ways, the young men of my generation really are lazy and ambitionless. But to pin the problem on video games seems rather odd to me, like treating the cough instead of treating the lung cancer.  Video games are a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. After all, couldn’t the same argument be made against sports or movies or muscle cars or fishing? Both sports and movies allow us to satisfy a thirst for adventure and greatness without really doing anything.

The problem isn’t sports or movies or video games. The problem is selfishness. We live in a post-modern culture where self is king. If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad, right? If video games make you happy, spend hours playing in the damp cool of your mom’s basement. If sports make you happy, get the NFL Ticket from DirectTV and never miss a single game. If movies make you happy, stream thousands of them directly to your television for hours and hours of couch bliss.

 

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