People, Not Culture

Mark Lauterbach's article People, Not Culture in the May 2009 issue of NEXT is a helpful piece for those who are thinking through how to relate to the world around them. Lauterbach writes,

But I want to suggest that this question–“How should a Christian relate to culture?”–may be the wrong question. This may be the wrong place for us, as Christians in the middle of culture, to start. Here’s why: I am not sure how I am to relate to the culture, but I am sure I am to relate to people outside of Christ for the sake of their salvation

You can read the full article here.

Missional Living

Jonathan Dodson posted several suggestions at theresurgence.com for being more intentional about spending time with non-Christians. The suggestions are simple, common sense stuff, but all too often we overlook these types of opportunities.

  • Eat with Non-Christians
  • Walk, Don’t Drive
  • Be a Regular
  • Hobby with Non-Christians
  • Talk to Your Co-workers
  • Volunteer with Non-Profits
  • Participate in City Events
  • Serve Your Neighbors

(via JT)

Gospel Centered Resources

The Gospel Coalition website is proving to be a great resource for Gospel centered text, audio, and video resources. You can browse resources by the name of the author/speaker, topic, or Scripture reference. In addition, you can browse for specific types of resources such as sermons, articles, interviews, etc.

If you're looking for a place to start I suggest you listen to or watch D.A. Carson's lecture entitled "What is the Gospel?". You can find the audio and video here or in iTunes.

Standing Firm in the Grace of God

Recently one of our church's interns, Matthew Seymour, a student at Westminster Seminary California, preached an excellent sermon on suffering from I Peter 4:12-19. Matthew helpfully summarized how we're to understand passages that deal with suffering and persecution.

We may not face trials and suffering on the same level of physical intensity that our brothers and sisters do around the world. However there is a wider sense in which Peter’s words apply to every situation in our lives. We experience a trial any time when our faith is tested and proved true. We suffer when we feel the effects of sin in our work, relationships and our own bodies.

Peter wants to prepare these believers to stand firm in trials and suffering and so he gives them a ‘vaccination shot’ of a biblical theology of trials and suffering. Whether or not we are facing trials and suffering at this present moment, we need right thinking now so that we will respond with right responses in the future.

You can listen to or download the sermon here. It will be well worth your time.

Tools for Studying the Text of Scripture

One of my goals this year is to study the book of Ephesians in-depth (I'm beginning to think I'll need/want to continue the study beyond 2009). After having done some background reading on the author, recipients, and historical setting, as well as familiarizing myself with the epistle as a whole, I'm now at a place where I'm ready to examine actual paragraphs or units of thought.

One of the crucial steps in studying a portion of Scripture is analyzing the structure or flow of the text. A great way to do this is by creating a "sentence flow" schematic. It's a method for visualizing the flow of thought in your text by means of aligning, indenting, and subordinating the phrases/clauses in the text. I've found Gordon Fee's New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and Pastors to be very helpful on this topic. The chapter on structural analysis, with plenty of sentence flow examples, can be found on Google Book Search here.

A related method for examining the structure of a biblical text is called "arcing". BibleArc.com is the place to go on the web to learn about arcing. The site contains some great tutorials and even has tools to enable you to create, save, and share your own arcs with other users of the site.

I'll be sure to post links to more resources as I come across them.