links: this went thru my mind

Church, church attendance, churchlessness & secularization: Secularism Grows as More Christians Turn Churchless

“There are tens of millions of active believers in America today. But the wall between the churched and the churchless is growing higher and more impenetrable as more people have no muscle memory of what it means to be a regular attender at a house of worship. How these people think, pray and use their time is shifting away from a faith-based perspective. As a result, a churchless or secular worldview ‘is becoming its own social force.'”

Ebola, faith, fear, hysteria & panic: How Christians Should Respond to Ebola in the United States [required reading]

“Never did I expect or think that my mom would contract the disease, be airlifted to Emory University Hospital or undergo the ordeal she did. We are exceedingly thankful for God’s mercy and kindness towards us in all the ways he provided to secure mom’s recovery and health. In recent days we’ve heard and seen more news of other American contracting the virus and even here in the United States. Unfortunately there is a high degree of panic about this virus, even among Christians. But this isn’t the way it should be, especially for those of us who follow and trust Christ. For Christian’s this ‘panic’ about Ebola isn’t warranted. Let me explain …”

Ministry, mission & outreach: Competency Three: Find and Cultivate New Partners in Mission

“The first work of conversion for us to have a credible witness in the world will be our own. And here is our salvation: to believe with everything we have that God’s power and significance in the world can be fully expressed in the form of a servant.”

Ministry & preaching: The Metric of a Prophet [required reading]

“‘How will the prophet measure success? In a world where the church is increasingly taken with corporate metrics of growth and success what is the metric of the prophet? … It’s found in [Ezekiel] 2.4-5: “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says.” And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.’ … They may listen. They may not listen. But the one thing they will know is this: A prophet lived among them. … This … is the only thing you can control. That when people look back at their lives they remember your words and life. They remember, perhaps from a long time ago, that they once knew a person who spoke truth to them. In a world full of thorns and scorpions they once knew a child of God. A man or a woman who spoke words of judgment and words of grace. They remember a prophet once lived among them.”

Spiritual formation & worship: When Worship Becomes Formative

“… worship is designed to accomplish four things: First, worship redefines our identity. Second, worship reorders our affections. Third, worship repatterns our imagination. Finally, worship reorients our life in the world. How does this all happen? What is going on in the worship that leads to these four elements? What are we doing in worship? What are we to be doing when we gather for worship?”

the Doug Williams I knew

 

Doug Williams and I were opposites in so many ways; however, one thing we proudly shared in common was our alma mater, Abilene Christian University. And with that, a common respect for, and admiration of, a professor there: Dr. John T. Willis.

Williams-Doug-2013
Doug Williams (2013)

One of the courses I had with Dr. Willis was a study of the book of Jeremiah. I remember the first class session of that course. We spent precious little time in Jeremiah and almost all of our time elsewhere in Scripture, studying how the Old Testament uses the word “prophet.”

One thing we quickly learned from our study was that the way the Old Testament speaks of a prophet and the way people commonly think today of a prophet are two very different things. Today, people tend to think of a prophet as someone who speaks of things in the distant future. However, while this certainly occurs in happenings recorded in Scripture, it is a relatively rare thing. Far more often Scripture emphasizes the role of the prophet regarding matters of the moment. While the future is sometimes, even often, in view, it is the present that makes up the lion’s share of the prophet’s words and works; it is the here and now that consumes the prophet of God’s attention.

Nowhere is this made more clear than in the words that are found to keep company with the word “prophet” in Scripture. Or to put it another way, in the synonyms used for “prophet.”

For example, frequently a prophet is referred to as a spokesman or messenger of God. A prophet of God is someone who keenly aware that they bear the message of another to others. The message they share is not their own. Their task is to convey that message, to communicate it clearly and candidly, and to live it by it themselves as well.

Similarly, a prophet is known as a servant. As in the phrase “my servants, the prophets.” A prophet’s words and ways are stimulated and motivated by the one they serve, the Lord God. In a word, their life is one of service. They minister to God and on behalf of God, in the way they minister to, serve, the needs of others. As a servant, their own will is irrelevant; it is the Master’s will that drives their thinking and doing.

A prophet is like a watchman. In ancient times, a watchman was not merely someone who helped guard the gates of a city, but one who did so by careful observation and listening. Their task was to pay close attention to what was actually happening outside the city, as well as within, and, as needed, to report their findings to those to whom they were under charge (e.g. – the elders of the people, the king, etc.). In this way, they were a blessing to, and sought to preserve and increase the blessing of, the people they watched after, particularly to those who were society’s most vulnerable. Their observations, or the lack thereof, were crucial, for they could spell life or death for many.

Ultimately, a prophet is a man of God. They function as God’s gift to others. They come from God and are on their way to God. They hold up God to others and call to others by all they think, do, and say, to remember and submit to the God. It would not be at all too much to say that as a man of God, their whole life is about God.

And so, I do not hesitate to say that the Doug Williams I knew was nothing less than a true, modern day prophet of God. And a mighty prophet at that, indeed.

We have all been greatly privileged by Doug’s presence among us. And we have all been made all the more responsible to God because of his time with us. So, might we honor the Lord, and thereby, best respect the name of Douglas Arthur Williams.