Apr

25

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Know Your Southern Baptists: Vicki Courtney

Vicki CourtneyName: Vicki Courtney

Why you’ve heard of her: She is a best-selling author and nationally recognized speaker.

Position: Courtney is the founder of Virtuous Reality Ministries.

Previous: She began her speaking ministry in 1995 and then started Virtuous Reality in 1998.

Books: Courtney has authored numerous books and Bible studies including: 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter, 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Son, Ever After: Life Lessons Learned in My Castle of Chaos, and Logged On and Tuned Out. Her book TeenVirtue won the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s Medallion of Excellence.

Why she’s important: As a self-proclaimed agnostic and feminist, Courtney went to college with the goal of becoming the next Gloria Steinem. Instead, she responded to the gospel at a college weekend retreat sponsored by a local Baptist church and became a Christian speaker.

Before she would become an author and speaker with a ministry that reaches over 150,000 girls and mothers a year, however, she would have to overcome guilt and shame of an eating disorder and an abortion she had as a 17-year-old. This journey allowed her to speak to young women struggling with issues of their own.

Now a mother herself to three children, she seeks to provide both teens and their parents with the tools necessary to navigate today’s promiscuous culture. She has done hundreds of radio and newspaper interviews and appeared on Focus on the Family, CNN, Fox News, and Headline News to discuss issues impacting teens. She is the creator of VirtuousReality.com, an online magazine for teen girls.

Notable Quotes:

“The world says that the ideal woman has beauty, body, brains and a boyfriend, but becoming a woman after God’s own heart is the truth related to the ideal woman.”

“The love a boy receives from his mother will set the tone for his future relationships.”

“No fairy tale can match the rescue mission that took place in God’s story.”

“When you build a relationship with Jesus Christ, your other relationships will all fall into place.”

“I realized that I had, like most girls by the time they’re 21, many regrets in my life. Only through the blood of Christ was I able to be forgiven.”

Others in the “Know Your Southern Baptists” Series:

 
 

Apr

25

2014

Trevin Wax|2:04 am CT

Trevin’s Seven

7background2Kindle Deal: For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel by Matt Carter & Darrin Patrick with Joel Lindsey. $3.79.

1. Fred Sanders - What You Can Learn from Calvin and Hobbes about the Message and the Medium

2. Karen Swallow Prior - Why Shakespeare Belongs in Jail

3. Jon Wood – The Top Three Traps in Suffering

4. Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World

5. Here’s the audio from the 2014 Band of Bloggers Panel Discussion at T4G

6. Why Conservatives See Rural America as the “Real America”

7. Kevin DeYoung – But What About Gluttony?!

 
 

Apr

25

2014

 
 

Apr

24

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

The Surprising and Sickening Outrage over Josie Cunningham’s Abortion

josie-cunninghamA woman in the United Kingdom faces an unplanned pregnancy that prevents her from taking the next step in her career. She makes the choice to abort.

And Great Britain erupts in judgment and anger toward the woman.

What gives?

Why the outrage toward a woman exercising her “reproductive rights?”

In this case, the woman is Josie Cunningham, a model who was given the opportunity to appear on Big Brother. Her 18-week pregnancy would keep her out of the show and stifle her career plans. So she made a choice, and when asked, explained her rationale to The Sunday Mirror:

I’m finally on the verge of becoming famous and I’m not going to ruin it now. An abortion will further my career. This time next year I won’t have a baby. Instead, I’ll be famous, driving a bright pink Range Rover and buying a big house. Nothing will get in my way.

The subsequent torrent of tweets and personal attacks toward Josie Cunningham is surprising… and sickening. Here’s why:

Surprising

What’s surprising about the response is how much of the judgment is coming from self-professed pro-choice people. In other words, it’s the people who argue for a woman’s right to choose an abortion who are heaping ridicule and scorn on a woman who has done just that. A number of viewers have said they will boycott Big Brother if Cunningham is a contestant.

I don’t expect any of this outrage to translate into legal battles to make abortion less of an option, but I wonder what it tells us about the turning tide of cultural sensibilities. Is the pro-choice movement being chiseled away from the inside out? Does pro-choice now mean “abortion in extreme circumstances should be legal” rather than “abortion in any circumstance should be legal?”

In The Guardian, Martin Robbins, while not giving moral approval to Cunningham’s choice, defended her right and encouraged his readers to see the bigger issues at stake. He writes:

In reality, her actions are no different from those of thousands of women who exercise their reproductive rights in order to make informed choices about their future careers and families, yet because she uses the wrong language, because she talks “common”, and wants to be on Big Brother instead of working in a call centre, she has been subjected to a torrent of vile abuse and bullying. Much of it incited by the very newspapers that promote the celebrity lifestyle in the first place.

Robbins then goes on to explain the logical progression away from abortion rights:

What makes the “debate” around Josie Cunningham so disturbing is that it refuses to even acknowledge the idea that access to abortion is a basic human right, or that women are entitled to choose what they do with their own bodies. If we fail to defend Cunningham, then we accept that only those women who are “deserving” enough should be allowed to have an abortion. And if we accept that, then it’s only a matter of time before others are deemed undeserving as well.

Robbins is right about the consequences, of course, even while he is on the wrong side of the debate. Abortion is indeed about human rights, but not because abortion access is a human right (like Robbins asserts) but because abortion itself is an attack on the humanity of the unborn. Look at what online pregnancy journals tell us about the 18-week baby whose life was snuffed out in Cunningham’s womb:

He now may be large enough for you to feel him twisting, rolling, kicking, and punching his way around the womb. Plus, he’s developing yawning and hiccupping skills (you may feel those soon, too!) and his own unique set of toe and fingerprints.

Human rights are indeed at stake. Just not in the way Robbins thinks.

Sickening

The surprising response is also sickening. British society reacted with revulsion toward a woman who decided to sacrifice another human in order to further her career. (I use sacrificial terminology deliberately, since all idols demand sacrifices, and a career can function as an idol.)

What’s sickening is to see how society bullies and shames a woman who is following the script that society itself has given her. Over and over again, we are told that women’s rights hinge on access to abortion, that women can be equal to men only if they have full freedom over their reproductive choices, that women need to put themselves and their careers first. One woman follows the logic, and all hell breaks loose against her.

Other news outlets have reported on the vitriol, so I won’t link to the comments made about this woman, many too vile to print here. Abortion is dehumanizing toward the unborn. The treatment of Josie Cunningham is dehumanizing too. It makes her a monster, when in fact, the monstrous act of abortion is something we as a society have created and promoted. (I wonder if there is a reverse sacrifice going on here. Josie Cunningham sacrifices her child on the altar of her career ambitions, and then British society sacrifices Cunningham as a collective easing of the conscience of a society with blood on its hands.)

Absent from this discussion, sadly, is the baby’s father. Where is he? Who is he? We are quick to heap scorn and judgment on a woman, as if she is the only person responsible for this debacle. How is it that a society that promotes woman’s rights can so quickly demonize a woman? Meanwhile, the man walks away after his romantic fling without consequence. Far from elevating our view of women, the abortion culture has led to a sickening double standard.

So, yes, the outrage over Josie Cunningham’s abortion is both surprising and sickening. As Christians, we should weep for the baby who was lost and be encouraged by society’s shock at abortion for selfish gain, even as we shake our heads at the double standard on display in society’s demonization of a woman.

 
 

Apr

24

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.24.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: Pastoral Leadership is… by Dave Earley. $0.99.

Presents in dozens of brief yet powerful chapters a practical, Bible-based, and highly readable guide to leading the local church.

Yancey Arrington – Tribes and the Lost Art of Discernment:

Whenever I see this either/or mentality I want to scream, “Whatever happened to discernment?” Wise leaders at some point (usually those who’ve been around for awhile) recover the ability to go beyond their own circles and discern the good, true, and beautiful in the thoughts, activities, and wisdom of the broader Church. That doesn’t make them de factosellouts or pragmatists. It doesn’t guarantee they’ve drunk the kool-aid or turned to the dark side. It could be that, while they love their tribe, they also recognize God has blessed the larger Church with leaders they can learn from…and still disagree with on issues.

Thom Rainer – 7 Trends in Church Names:

The call came from an eager young man starting a new church in Florida. He already had 50 people meeting in homes in Bible studies. They had secured a leased space to launch the church in just a few months. But they were having trouble coming to a consensus on the name of the church. What could I tell him about church names? Were there pitfalls or opportunities where they needed greater awareness for their church’s name?

Bob Yarbrough on the Hays-Ansberry Proposal regarding evangelicals and historical criticism:

Evangelical Faith and the Challenge of Historical Criticism, edited by Christopher Hays and Chrisopher Ansberry, argues that evangelical scholars have failed to embrace historical criticism to the extent that they could and should. This review essay surveys the book’s argument by chapters, asks how its claims should be evaluated, and arrives at the conclusion that while the Hays-Ansberry proposal marks a significant step in discussion of these matters, it is not always a step in a helpful direction.

James Emery White – The Perfect Storm Against the Faith:

The first storm combined Copernicus (the cosmological attack), Darwin (the biological attack), and Freud (the psychological attack). Each, in his own way and at different levels, led more and more to question the Christian faith and each called into question central elements of the faith. The sun became the center, natural selection explained humans, and projection explained the reason for religion.

White sees the second storm in a secular boom.

 
 

Apr

23

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

Book Notes: End of Days / Double Down

Here are two books on American history I’ve read recently and enjoyed. One is about the Kennedy assassination and the other covers the 2012 presidential campaign.

End of DaysEND OF DAYS:
ASSASSINATION OF JOHN F. KENNEDY

James Swanson

I’m a fan of James Swanson’s work. He’s one of few writers who can recount history in a way that is so fast-paced and narrative-focused that you feel like you are in the scene. Manhunt, his book on Lincoln’s assassination and the chase for the killer (see my review), is a favorite.

Swanson’s take on Kennedy is just as good. He doesn’t delve into conspiracy theories or various opinions that have come and gone in the past fifty years. There’s no need to add that kind of drama to this story. The account is a nail biter as it stands.

Swanson slows down the scene in all the right places, so that the reader sees the event from various angles, hears from the witnesses, and enters the minds of the victims and Kennedy’s killer. Even though you know the outcome, you can’t help but hope against hope as Swanson navigates you through the events in Dallas half a century ago.

double downDOUBLE DOWN:
GAME CHANGE 2012

Mark Halperin & John Heilemann

The authors of Game Change are back with their take on the 2012 election. I confess I had low expectations for this book, since the 2012 campaign wasn’t nearly as interesting as 2008. In ’08, you had Sarah Palin, the Clinton/Obama dynamic, and the drama of an African-American running for president.

In ’12, the story is about a millionaire Mormon challenging a weak field of Republican candidates and then stumbling in his race for the White House. I worried the authors wouldn’t be able to overcome an uninteresting campaign cycle.

I was wrong. Double Down is just as good as Game Change, if not better, since the authors had to work harder to tell this story in a way that would hold the reader’s attention. They succeeded masterfully, shifting the scene back and forth from the Romney campaign to the Obama incumbency.

Their run-through of each major candidate in the Republican primary was worth the price of the book for me. Some may not want to relive that campaign season, but I found it helpful to walk back through those months and see the fatal moves each Republican contender made on their way to the Convention. (Warning: Language)

 
 

Apr

23

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.23.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City by Tim Keller. $3.79.

Today many pastors are struggling to adapt to a post-Christian culture without abandoning orthodox theology. How do we communicate the concepts of grace and substitutionary atonement in our globalized culture and context?

Ed Stetzer – Why Full and Public Repentance Matters:

Pastors are held to a higher standard and must repent of sin in accordance with that standard.

D. A. Carson – Do the Work of an Evangelist:

“Do the work of an evangelist” may well be an exhortation to engage in evangel ministry, in gospel ministry, which includes what we today mean by evangelism but should not be restricted to it.

Chelsen Vicari – Women, Sexuality and the ERLC Summit:

In the past Southern Baptists have not always gotten it right. But they appear to be working to rebuild trust and respect with non-Christians. “We need to take the courageous gospel message of love to a broken culture and proclaim freedom from sin!” proclaimed Lambert.

Jim Bryant – The Pastor and Personal Finances:

The pastor’s attitude toward money will be reflected in his church’s attitude toward money. He needs to practice a biblical balance about money. If he talks about it too often, some people will think that money is all he is interested in. If he never talks about money, he robs his people of the opportunity to discover God’s financial plan.

 
 

Apr

22

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

News Release: John the Baptist’s Beheading

CaravaggioSalomeLondonIn other news today, a popular prophet who had a longstanding ministry by the Jordan River where he baptized the repentant was executed by beheading, under the orders of King Herod.

John, whose nickname was “the Baptizer,” was known for his unusual clothing and eating habits, along with a fiery style of preaching reminiscent of Israel’s prophetic tradition.

In recent months, John’s ministry had taken an unusual turn. His message focused more and more upon the arrival of a Messiah-King who he believed would usher in the kingdom of God. He spent the last months of his life in prison due to his vocal criticism of King Herod’s marriage arrangements.

Here is how people in Galilee and Jerusalem responded to the death of this controversial prophet.

Elam the Essene: We are deeply disturbed to hear of the demise of this beloved prophet in Israel. The death of John the Baptist is a reminder that the “sons of darkness” are at war with the “sons of life.” We recommend that our fellow Israelites take measures to separate themselves from the darkness of our world, to cultivate personal spirituality, and wait for God’s intervention. However much we agree with John’s assessment of King Herod’s sin, we disagree with his decision to go public with his criticism. The piety of John the Baptist would have been preserved had he chosen to cultivate his own personal holiness rather than meddle in temporal affairs.

Philip the Pharisee: John was a prophet who exerted an enormous amount of influence among our people. We commend him for his stance toward King Herod’s sin, but because he also spoke harshly toward those of us who admirably seek to apply the Torah to everyday life, his legacy is mixed. John had a high view of God’s written Word, but he often dismissed our oral traditions. He implied that the holiest of Israel are just as guilty before God as the people who oppress us. He implied that we are all sinners. Had he been wiser, he could have avoided this terrible fate by being more sensitive to the needs and feelings of his listeners. He was unnecessarily combative toward the righteous people who likely would have supported him, and we believe this contributed to his execution.

Samuel the Sadducee: The beheading of John the Baptist should serve as a cautionary tale to our Jewish people of what happens when we bring our personal religious beliefs into political affairs. To speak boldly about King Herod’s marriage arrangement was a terrible mistake, perhaps due to John’s reliance on the prophetic tradition of Israel instead of the Books of Moses. We are called to practice our religion, not call into question the ruling authorities or the sexual practices of other people. We recommend that our people focus on meeting the needs of the disadvantaged and not be distracted by such unimportant matters.

Jesus of Nazareth: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared.

 
 

Apr

22

2014

Trevin Wax|2:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.22.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman. FREE.

The authors intertwine devotional insights with remarkable scientific facts that awaken both mind and spirit. God turns wonderers into worshipers.

The Battle of the Bible Films:

Ten years after The Passion’s preeminence, several studios have begun to develop new big-budget Bible movies—and the results are finally appearing in cinemas everywhere. But not without hitting bumps and hurdles along the way.

This is fascinating. The tiny Wyoming Creek that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans:

While it’s not quite the Northwest Passage early explorers were looking for, the United States actually does have a continuous line of water dividing the country…

Between Smirks and Silence – Ending the Epidemic of Prison Rape:

We are justifiably outraged by the human rights abuses occurring in foreign lands. Why then are we not more outraged by atrocities here in our own country? Our reactions to the problem range from smirking indifference to embarrassed silence. But how can we be indifferent and silent when, as reports by the National Prison Rape Commission continue to show, rape and other forms of sexual assault are becoming endemic to our prison system?

J. D. Greear – In Defense of Short-Term Mission Trips:

There is also an enduring place for short-term mission trips. At the Summit, we send a lot of short-term trips to places in the world that are in most need of the gospel. Most of these go to the “10/40 Window,” that area of the world where most non-Christians live. There they get to partner with our people on the ground, briefly sharing in their ministry among the most lost populations in the world.

 
 

Apr

21

2014

Trevin Wax|2:10 am CT

Don’t Waste the Easter Season

photo (2)

A screenshot of my Easter playlist this year.

Every year, stores, businesses, and radio stations immerse our culture in the “Christmas season” by playing holiday songs from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day. Which begs the question: why do we spend a month to listening to Christmas music, but only a Sunday singing Easter music?

What if we are missing the opportunity to enjoy not just Easter Sunday, but also the Easter season, the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost?

Though every Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, this time of year provides ample opportunity to give laser-like attention to the resurrection that empowers our Christian life.

Last year, I recommended we listen to “Easter music” for the weeks following Resurrection Sunday. The good news is, unlike Christmas, you don’t have to wade through all the “secular” tunes about the season. (Unless you just happen to be a fan of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail.”)

If you’re looking to create a playlist, here are some tracks to get you started. Readers gave me plenty of suggestions last year, ten of which I’ve added to the list. Christ has risen!

My Easter Season Playlist

1. Christ Is Risen - Matt Maher

2. See, What a Morning - Keith & Kristyn Getty

3. All Things New - Andrew Peterson

4. In resurrectione tua - Taize

5. Easter Song - Keith Green

6. Redeemer - Nicole C. Mullen

7. Come, People of the Risen King - Keith & Kristyn Getty

8. Mystery (Feat. Charlie Hall) - Passion

9. Beneath the Waters (I Will Rise) - Hillsong

10. Christ The Lord Is Risen Today - Hymns Triumphant

11. I Know That My Redeemer Liveth - Steve Green

12. Jesus is Alive – Josh Wilson

13. Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed - Keith & Kristyn Getty

14. Christus Resurrexit - Taize

15. Jesus Lives - Sovereign Grace Music

16. I Will Rise - Chris Tomlin

17. The Trumpet Shall Sound - 4Him

18. For This Purpose - Graham Kendrick

19. Low In The Grave He Lay - The Hymn Makers

20. In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found) - Adrienne Liesching & Geoff Moore

21. Alive Forever Amen – Travis Cottrell

22. Great I Am - New Life Worship

23. Jesus is Alive – Shai Linne

24. Death Has Lost Its Sting – Sojourn

25. He Rose – Deluge

26. Death in His Grave – John Mark McMillan

27. Love Crucified Arose – Michael Card

28. Glorious Day – Casting Crowns

29. High Noon – Andrew Peterson

30. He’s Alive – David Phelps

Share some more of your favorites in the comments below. I’m interested in adding more music to my Easter 2014 Playlist.