Thursday, June 26, 2014

All Around the Web - June 26, 2014

Trevin Wax - Don’t Waste Your Twenties
  • Read beyond the requirements of college, church, or work. That’s right. Read. Feel free to enjoy video games, movie-watching, or other fun activities, but make sure you are intentional about deepening the well of your spiritual and educational life. You’ll soon discover how much need to draw from that well.
  • Build relationships and connections with people who care about similar things. Find people you respect. Learn from them. Walk with people in ministry and learn from their successes and failures. Seek out mentors and listen to them.
  • Embrace the big markers of life. If you believe God is calling you to marriage and childbearing, don’t postpone those two things indefinitely. Truth is, no one is ever really “ready” to have a kid. Ever. You’re never “mature” enough or “financially stable” enough to get married or have kids. I actually think, most of the time, the reverse is true. Marriage and kids are often what God uses to grow us up.
  • For those who are single by circumstances or by calling, please do not misinterpret the previous word as suggesting that you can’t be mature without marriage or kids. History is filled with examples of Christians whose singleness (whether permanent or temporary) provided the opportunity to channel passion and wisdom into fruitful ministry. Take John Stott’s advice: “Go wherever your gifts will be exploited the most.”
  • Future pastors, sermon preparation doesn’t start when you get a ministry position. It’s the result of whole-life preparation. Remember that. And start preparing now. Immerse yourself in the Word and in the lives of people.
  • Future missionaries and church leaders, you are on mission now. You don’t need a title, a ministry position, or a seminary degree before you’re on mission. Jesus’ commissioning is all you need to love God, love people, and witness to the truth of the gospel. John Mayer sings ”Waiting On the World To Change.” It did. 2000 years ago when a dead Man walked out of His tomb. So let’s get going.
  • When the day arrives and a leadership role is thrust upon you, you’d better be the person you need to be. You can and will do some training, of course, but so much of your role requires you to be a certain kind of person, not just do a certain kind of thing. 
  • Be willing to serve in the trenches of ministry without praise or acclamation. Serve your church. Work hard at whatever job you’re at. Encourage the people around you. If God chooses to expand your sphere of influence, wonderful. If not, then be the best you can be right where you are.

Matt Capps - 7 Disciplines to Strengthen Evangelistic Focus
1. Pray for the unbelievers in your life by name.
2. Be intentional in pursuing relationships and scheduling time with unbelievers.
3. Don’t withdraw from unbelieving family members. Lean in.
4. Love your neighbors.
5. Appreciate your workplace as the best place.
6. Harvest relationships from your children’s activities.
7. Take up a new hobby, especially one shared in groups.

Chuck Lawless - 10 Questions for a Six-Month Spiritual Checkup
  1. Are you reading the Bible daily? If you adopted an annual reading plan at the beginning of 2014, is your reading up to date? If not, take time this week to caught up. You might choose, if necessary, to adjust your plan – but still read daily. If you did not adopt a plan in January, pick a strategy for rest of the year.
  2. Are you praying daily? Are you praying regularly and recurrently (1 Thess. 5:17)? Do you pray for those in authority, including government and church leaders (1 Tim. 2:2)? Are you praying by name for other believers to speak the gospel boldly and clearly (Eph. 6:18-20, Col. 4:2-4)? Do you pray for your enemies (Matt. 5:44)?
  3. How often have you shared the gospel this year? Is the gospel so striking to you that you cannot keep it to yourself? Have you reached beyond the church world to develop gospel-centered relationships with unbelievers? For what non-believers are you praying as Paul did (Rom. 10:1)? Ask God to increase your burden for lost people (Rom. 9:1-3) throughout the remainder of this year.
  4. Are you faithfully fighting sin in your life? Be honest – have you experienced victory over sin this year? Is there a sin that continually haunts you even though you’ve sought to overcome it? If so, what steps do you still need to take this year? Confess that sin to someone? Seek accountability? Simply repent?
  5. What scriptures have you memorized this year? Do you echo the desire of the psalmist: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You” (Psalm 19:14)? Based on your memorization of God’s Word this year, would I conclude that you treasure God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:9-11)?
  6. Are you serving faithfully in a local church? The church is much more than a place to attend; it is a family that loves us and provokes us to good works (Heb. 10:24). Through the first half of 2014, have you used your spiritual gifts as a member of a local body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:1-11, 1 Pet. 4:10)? Are you supporting His work financially? Commit today to invest yourself in God’s church throughout the rest of 2014.
  7.  Are you exhibiting the work of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23)? Here, allow the Word to guide your self-evaluation: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious:sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy,drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. . . . But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,gentleness, self-control.” Which traits most characterize your life today?
  8. Who is walking more with God because of your influence this year? That is, are you making disciples? Have you purposefully pointed away from self to direct others to follow the Son of God (John 1:29)? Or, to ask the question in the negative, is there anyone who walks less with God today because of your example and influence this year?
  9. What steps have you taken to spread the gospel to the nations? The Great Commission is a global calling (Matt. 28:18-20), even for those not called to go to the nations full-time. Have you intentionally studied about God’s work around the world this year? Are you praying for missionaries by name? Are you fully open to taking a mission trip this year or next?
  10. How would your family assess you as a family member and a believer this year?  Those who live with us are most equipped to evaluate our spiritual walk. If I were to ask your family about your walk with God, what would they say? Would they say your life – all of it, including behind the scenes – models Christ? If not, decide today what steps you will take the next six months.

John Stonestreet - From Assassination to Restoration
Between 1986 and 1991, Adriaan Vlok served as South Africa’s Apartheid-era Minister of Law & Order and also sat on South Africa’s State Security Council.

Vlok was behind many of the regime’s most repressive and drastic measures: hit squads, bombings and assassinations of anti-apartheid activists. The regime was desperate to stay in power in the wake of growing unrest at home and near-universal condemnation abroad.

All of which makes Vlok’s post-apartheid story all the more remarkable.

On August 1, 2006, he entered his old workplace in Pretoria and asked to see Frank Chikane, a minister and former anti-apartheid activist who was now serving in the government. As Eve Fairbanks tells readers in the New Republic, Vlok and Chikane had some history: Vlok tried to assassinate Chikane by lacing his underwear with “paraoxon, a potent insecticide.”

As comical as that sounds, the effects were no joke: Chikane survived only after “advanced medical treatment” in the U.S.

Why did Vlok want to see Chikane that day? Well, to ask forgiveness. Quaking as he stood before the man he tried to kill, he read from something he’d written on the front of his Bible: “I have sinned against the Lord and against you! Will you forgive me?”

Inside Higher Ed - 7 Apps for Cataloguing Your Home Library
1.     libib: This app allows you to organize your books (plus movies, music, etc.) via tags. I like the built-in annotation features (which could allow you to make notes about borrowing), and the basically limitless size (up to 100,000 items). This app also includes tools for measuring how much you’ve read, as well as the options to review items in your library and to make those reviews public. [Free. Web, iOS, or Android.]

2.     iBookshelf: I like this app because with its built-in borrowing status for every item, it lends itself well to tracking the current location/guardian of each book. I also appreciate the barcode scanning feature for easy use, and the fact that this app automatically calls up available info on each book by the ISBN you enter.  [$1.99. iPhone or iPad.]

3.     Libri: This is a very basic cataloging app, which allows you to input simple information about each item (author, title, publisher, year, ISBN, simple annotation). Its features are pretty limited, but that’s what makes it so easy to learn. I haven’t yet figured out a trick for tracking book lending in this app. [$1.99. iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch.]

4.     My Library: This one strikes me as being very similar to iBookshelf. You can input information via barcode scanning or ISBN, and it allows you to catalog all kinds of media (not just books). It also has built-in features for tracking borrowing/loans, allows you to rate items, features streamlined backup options, and can handle up to about 8,000 items at a time. [$3.99. iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch.]

5.     Book CrawlerI started looking at this tool because it boasted its status as the highest-rated book database app in iTunes. Again, this is another app that allows input via ISBN or barcode scanning, and it automatically generates associated information (including basics like title and author, but also Goodreads reviews) for each item. I also appreciate that this app is specifically designed to export to Dropbox for easy backup. [$1.99. iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, & Mac desktop.]

6.     Home Library: This app not only allows you to catalogue and track the loan status for each item in your library, but it also allows you to send “polite reminders to friends who haven’t returned your books.” It also accommodates wishlists. I like that this one allows you to easily track the books that you’ve checked out from the library, and that it sends you reminders before they’re due (farewell, late fees). [From $2.99. iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, and Mac OS X.]

7.     iCollect Books Pro: Key features in this app include barcode scanning or manual UPC/ISBN entry, automatic cover art and bibliographic information (via Google spidering), genre sorting, tracking loans and borrowing, wishlists, and preorder cataloging. [$2.99. iPhone, iPad, & iPod touch.]




HT: Kevin DeYoung
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