The Deep

by Kirk Spencer

00 TheDeepI was multi-tasking in my backyard—digging and listening to the radio and thinking about my Bible study. I was thinking about the darkness on the deep and the Spirit of God there hovering; about how the ancients feared the deep (the ocean). The deep came to represent danger and chaos and absurdity in life; like the chaos I was listening to on the radio, bad news all around—as usual—but recently, more bad than usual: celebrities taking their own lives, terrorist taking whole cities, Kurdish Christians killed, barbaric butchery, babies killed, human shields, terror tunnels, street riots in mid-America; a new scandal every news cycle; and a continuous crisis of leadership. It was so depressing. I put down the shovel, went over to my vintage “boombox” and changed the station. I tuned to KCBI (something I do often when I need a little escape from the absurdity).

And then I had this thought. Continue reading

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Seasons (Part 2): Sol Invictus

by Kirk Spencer

00 SolInvictusSol Invictus

I shine like the sun alone

Invincible the soul unconquerably cold

While all below me drones

In insect wings and summer heat

I reach down with the willows00

To touch the watertop and seed

A symphony of circles Continue reading

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Discipleship, Tradition, Community, and Virtue

by Barry Creamer

dv1636041Those who are committed to following Jesus learn over time that one of the most important aspects to their obedience to Him is helping others become better followers. In terms of the New Testament, it is as simple as the phrase, “teaching them to observe all the things I’ve commanded you” in the Great Commission, or recognizing the prescriptive nature of Paul’s direction to Timothy: “the things you’ve learned from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others in turn.” A fundamental of following Jesus is leading others to follow Him. Continue reading

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52,000 Immigrant Children and the Call to Love Outsiders

erlcOver at the ERLC, our new president, Barry Creamer, joins Brandon Smith in discussing the U.S. immigration problem and the way in which Scripture addresses our attitudes toward it. Here’s a snippet:

As Christians, we simply need to be more like Christ in how we respond. The children are here and need care.  Let’s not shout from the rooftops, “Send these criminals back!” Such a calloused response is irresponsible and inconsiderate; it simply won’t do.

We don’t punish the children because their parents may have acted negligently or naïvely; we love children that God brought into the world, no matter how they got here. If a woman gives birth and then gives her child away, we don’t say, “That mother is irresponsible! Let the kid suffer!” No, we adopt the child. This situation is no different.

A Christian immigration policy does not have to be an open border policy. Don’t misunderstand. But the Lord will not punish anyone for taking care of children, even ones we erroneously think don’t deserve care. Kudos to anyone seeking to take care of them–even an administration that we regularly disagree with on a variety of subjects.

Continue reading

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Christianity and the Importance of Philosophy

by Joe Wooddell

aquinas jpgThe Bible says not to be taken captive through philosophy (Col. 2:8). The warning, however, is not against philosophy (or the love of wisdom) in general, but rather to empty, worldly philosophy instead of a philosophy “according to Christ.” In fact, Paul used not only Scripture on Mars Hill in Acts 17, but philosophy also. He knew about worldly philosophy, as evinced by his familiarity with their poets and culture, but he wasn’t taken captive by it. Yes, it is true that he went to Corinth in chapter 18, and in 1 Corinthians 1 he says he didn’t come with great wisdom and superiority, but simply preaching Christ crucified. Some have claimed he used this approach in Corinth precisely because his philosophical approach failed at Athens; but it didn’t fail! Read the end of Acts 17. He had at least four converts and an invitation to return; not a bad day’s work for the cause of Christ. So what explains his approach in Corinth? Paul knew his audience. He knew he should use one approach in Athens, and another in Corinth. In fact, in 1 Cor. 9:22 he implies that he uses whatever approach works in various circumstances (all things to all men so that by all means I might save some). Continue reading

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Pitfalls of Spiritual Maturity

by Joshua Crutchfield

pitfallOne of the great thrills of newborns is watching them grow. But I do not just mean in size, chubby cheeks, or diapers. I mean, it is exciting to see your child grow cognitively, learning that things can exist though they are hidden (e.g. peek-a-boo), making sounds with their mouth just so they can hear themselves coo and ah. But what is especially entertaining is when the child begins to become self-aware. They notice their hands and their feet and are shoving them whole in their mouth; they are captivated by their reflection in mirrors. This self-awareness is a common, practical growth within the early life-stages of all children. Yet, within the early or even late life-stage of believers, an over heightened awareness of one’s spiritual state is something that can be detrimental, not just to the believer, but to others around him/her. I would like to highlight five potential pitfalls for Christians who are self-aware of their spiritual maturity: Continue reading

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The SBC Decline: Days of Future Past

by Aaron Meraz

sbcIn “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the X-Men find themselves in a world where mutants are being systematically exterminated. Through the superpower of a mutant who could send one’s consciousness back in time, the X-Men are able to pinpoint the time and events that resulted in their dismal future. Although I do not claim any “mutant” power, this blog will pinpoint the time that Southern Baptists began to decline. Future posts will address the events (or trends) that surrounded the time.

In a brief study entitled, “Reflections on Southern Baptist Membership,” the late J. Clifford Tharp noted that from 1951 to 2004 the annual rate of growth in the membership of the SBC steadily declined from 4% to less than 1%. It is not new that many Southern Baptists think of the 1950s as a decade of growth and prominence. Nevertheless, as can be seen from Tharp’s charts, the one year 4% membership growth rate from 1950 to 1951 was actually an anomaly. When looking further back into our history, Southern Baptists actually had many one year membership growth rates above 4% [1884 (5.2%), 1885 (4.2%), 1887 (4.7%), 1894 (5%), 1896 (4.1%), 1908 (6.2%), 1910 (5.1%), 1920 (6.3%), and 1922 (4.5%)]. Continue reading

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