Friday, January 24, 2014

All Around the Web - January 24, 2014

HT: 22 Words

Albert Mohler - Welcome to Seminary—Now What? How to Be Faithful as a Seminary Student
1. Do not consider your years at seminary as a prelude to ministry—this is ministry. Just as the preacher’s time in the study each week is ministry, so is your theological education. This is not what you do before ministry starts, this is your ministry right now, and in his sovereignty God knows to whom you are ministering in the future even as you prepare for that ministry in the present. You will misunderstand your seminary experience if you see it as an interruption in ministry, or even as a delay. You are like the farmer planting seeds. That is farming just as much as the harvest is farming.

2. Do not believe that you will be more faithful in ministry in the future than you are now. Just as your ministry is now, so is the call to faithfulness. The habits and practices you establish now will foretell the habits and practices of your future ministry. Be faithful in every assignment. Make the most of every test, every book, every paper, every lecture, and every conversation. Be faithful in the little things as well as the great. Be faithful as a student, as a man or woman, in singleness or in marriage. If you are married, be faithful to love your spouse with faithful and devoted love as you grow in your faithfulness and devotion in ministry.

3. Do not believe that you will love the church more in the future than you do now. Love the church. Be infatuated with the Bride of Christ. Join a local congregation as soon as possible and get deeply invested in ministry. Sit among 8 year-olds and 80 year-olds. Develop friends who are not related to the seminary. Work in the nursery, or the youth ministry. Teach a senior adult class and preach in the nursing homes. See a need and fill it. Take every opportunity to preach and teach. Let no man despise your youth.

4. Do not believe that you will be more evangelistic in the future than you are now. Share the Gospel with eagerness. Talk to your neighbors about Christ. Invite non-Christians to dinner in your home. Take a teenager with you to go talk about Jesus on Bardstown Road. Develop a heart for the nations. Pray for an unreached people group every day. One of them just might have your name written on it—and that name written on your heart.

5. Finally, be morally strong and stay humble. Knowledge does tend to puff us up, so give yourself the ministry of deflation. Make many friends while at seminary, the kind of friends you will want to serve with for the rest of your days. Read books like you mean it. Write in them and build a library, not a book collection. A well read book worthy of reading is a companion for life. Develop a friendship with a Boyce College student who needs a big brother or a big sister. Go to the art museums and attend a high school football game. Learn what it means to study in the library until you get kicked out and the lights go out. Eat in the cafeteria and sit with someone you don’t yet know.

Justin Taylor - Gospel Truth on TBN |

Kevin DeYoung - Is Theology Theoretical or Practical
Early in the first volume, Turretin tackles a question first broached by the medieval Scholastics: is theology theoretical or practical? From our vantage point, the answer seems obvious. Theology must be practical. It must result in faith and obedience. It must bear fruit. The great problem in our day, we think, is that so much of our theological discourse has become theoretical–speculative, esoteric, good for nothing but puffing up smart guys with big brains.

But Turretin argues that theology cannot be simply one or the other. True theology is “mixed,” partly theoretical and partly practical (1:20-23).

We can understand the practical side of the equation. The mysteries of the faith “are impulsive to operation.” They are meant to incite us to love and worship. “A practical system is that which does not consist in the knowledge of a thing alone, but in its very nature and by itself goes forth into practice and has operation for its object.” Right doctrine counts for nothing if it does not sink into our hearts and find expression in our lives. Theology is chiefly practical.

But it is also theoretical. This is not a pejorative term for Turretin. Rather, “A theoretical system is that which is occupied in contemplation alone and has no other object than knowledge.” Here Turretin is affirming that we have something to learn from the Thomist emphasis on the beatific vision. Knowing the truth, beholding the truth, and reveling in the truth are objects in and of themselves (John 17:13; Jer. 31:34). A sermon without application can still be a biblical sermon if it causes us to see the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America
1. The official method of measuring poverty in America has remained largely unchanged since the early 1960s. The poverty thresholds (or poverty line) were originally developed in 1963-1964 by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration. Orshansky based her poverty thresholds on the economy food plan — the cheapest of four food plans developed by the Department of Agriculture. The actual combinations of foods in the food plans, devised by Agriculture Department dietitians using complex procedures, constituted nutritionally adequate diets; the Agriculture Department described the economy food plan as being "designed for temporary or emergency use when funds are low." The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years.

2. The poverty threshold is based on the average amount of income spent on food in 1955. At the time families spent about 33% of their income on food, so Orshansky calculated poverty thresholds for families of three or more persons by taking the dollar costs of the economy food plan for families of those sizes and multiplying the costs by a factor of three — the "multiplier." The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years, though the thresholds are updated annually to account for inflation. Today, Americans spend an average of 6.8% of their income on food - the lowest percentage in the world.

3. The federal poverty guideline for a family of four in the 48 contiguous states and D.C. was $23,550 in 2013. (The median household income in 2012 was $51,017.)

First Things - Eastern Europe’s Christian Reawakening
In Hungary, Croatia, and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, a pro-family, pro-life revolution and a rediscovery of Christian roots is occurring. While few in the American media have noticed, this trend should challenge those who simply lament Europe’s moral malaise. Unnoticed in the shadow of a secularized west, religion’s public role has been growing in the east since the collapse of communism.

Since taking power in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orban—a charismatic veteran of Hungary’s anti-Communist underground—has victoriously stood at the forefront of what Americans call the culture wars. In 2011, Orban’s government ratified a new constitution that defines marriage as the union of a man and woman, speaks of the rights of unborn Hungarians, and ties Christianity to Hungarian nationhood. In 2013, Orban’s government reintroduced—for the first time since before Communism—religious education in public schools. Meanwhile, Orban (the father of five children) has made the Hungarian tax code friendlier toward large families.

Orban himself can be said to symbolize Hungary’s reawakening. Born in 1963 to a nominally Calvinist family (Hungary is a mixed Protestant-Catholic country), Orban had no religious upbringing aside from being baptized. His father was a devout Communist, and while Christianity played a crucial role in the collapse of Communism across the Eastern Bloc, it did not in Hungary.

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