Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Denison

Denison Forum on Truth and Culture
DenisonForumBanner_400
 
LinkedIn calls itself "the world's largest professional network," with more than 300 million members.  Co-founder and executive chairman Reid Hoffman presumably knows something about vocational relationships.  In his new book The Alliance, he identifies the biggest lie employers tell employees: "the employment relationship is like family."  Some employers tell this lie, according to Hoffman, because they have deluded themselves into believing it.  Others tell it because they want the employee to believe it.  But Hoffman says it isn't true: "You don't fire your kid because of bad grades."
 
Here's where the body of Christ is different from any other organization: it truly is a family.  We are all children of one Father, sisters and brothers of one family.  The church is intended to be a community of grace, not grades. (Tweet this)  And our community is perhaps our strongest appeal to a culture driven by performance, evaluation, and competition. 
 
However, we're not always the family our Father wants us to be.
 
I became a Christian in 1973 after a Baptist church in Houston, Texas invited my brother and me to ride their bus to church services.  Our church cooperated with other Baptist churches to do missions, youth camps, and other programs.  But I don't remember a single time when we worked on a ministry initiative with a non-Baptist church.
 
We Baptists weren't alone in our denominational exclusivity.  Prior to Vatican Council II (1962-65), many Catholics believed that non-Catholics could not enter heaven.  Many in the Church of Christ have believed that only those baptized into their church could be "saved."  Other traditions have their forms of doctrinal insistence.
 
By contrast, Jesus prayed for his followers across time "that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21).  Our Lord knew that divisions in his body would hinder our ministry and witness.  When the world sees Christians fighting with each other, why would they want to join us?  Jesus also knew that unity is a great enticement to the faith.  When the world sees Christians working together, they are more likely to want the love and community they see in us. (Tweet this)
 
Clearly, there are doctrinal commitments that supersede denominational cooperation.  Jesus' virgin birth, atoning death, physical resurrection and promised return are non-negotiable.  But believers can differ on significant but less-essential issues—mode of baptism, method of church organization, and eschatological positions, for instance—while cooperating to do evangelism and ministry together.
 
I have lived in Dallas, Texas for 17 years.  In recent years I have seen pastors praying for and with each other on a level of intensity I've never witnessed before.  I've seen millennials gathering for worship and ministry, and churches cooperating across ethnic and denominational divisions.  Movement Day Greater Dallas is one example of a collaborative initiative in our city.  There are many such examples of gospel movements in other cities across the land.  Clearly, the Spirit is unifying the people of God to advance the Kingdom of God for the glory of God.
 
"In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity."  How is God calling you to answer Jesus' prayer for unity today?
 
 
Publication date: May 26, 2015

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

DenisonForumBanner_400
 
A couple sits down to a meal together.  But they spend their time on their smartphones, barely speaking a word to each other.  It's become a common sight wherever mobile devices are common.  According to a new survey in China, 60 percent of married respondents complained about intrusion from smartphone use in their relationship.
 
"Mobile electronic devices have become the 'electronic enemy of love,'" the survey concluded.  Overuse has become "a major enemy to spousal relations, parental relations and personal health."  Nearly two-thirds of respondents reported taking their smartphones to bed, and half continue using them after turning off the lights.  Those who did so find it five times harder to go to sleep than those who did not bring the devices to bed. 
 
Smartphones are raising legal questions as well.  According to The Wall Street Journal, several lawsuits in the U.S. are alleging that companies expect employees to work unpaid and off hours by using their digital devices.  One executive explained that the trend started with the pager, used only for emergencies.  It expanded to smartphones which supervisors expect employees to check at all times, even after work.  For example, T-Mobile was sued by salespeople who alleged that the company required them to work 10-to-15 hours a week off the clock, answering emails and text messages from customers and other employees.  The company paid an undisclosed amount to settle the suit.
 
Despite such problems, technology is becoming more pervasive and personal every day.  Meet iCub, which The Guardian describes as "a toddler-sized humanoid with a streamlined plastic head from which two huge doe-eyes emerge, complete with seductively drooping eyelids."  It is one of the most advanced "humanoids" of its kid, with a sense of touch and hand-eye coordination and 53 degrees of limb movement.  It can grasp objects, play catch, and dance to music.
 
Stephen Hawking recently declared that the development of full artificial intelligence (AI) "could spell the end of the human race."  Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors and a future-embracing inventor, believes AI to be "our biggest existential threat."
 
The answer is not to ignore all technology, of course.  Without the Internet, you wouldn't be reading this Cultural Commentary and our ministry would not exist.  Organizations such as Global Media Outreach would not be leading millions of people to Christ every year through online ministries.  Digital tools play a vital role in preaching the gospel to all nations, part of God's clear mandate for his church (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20).
 
The key is to submit technology to the Spirit of God.  It is to seek his power in refusing temptations such as online pornography.  It is to follow his leading in setting boundaries for our digital lives.  It is to make technology the means, not the master.
 
Paul appealed to us to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).  Have you surrendered your digital devices to God's Spirit today?
 
 
Publication date: May 22, 2015

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

DenisonForumBanner_400
 
David Letterman hosted his 6,028th late-night talk-show last night.  (For insight on his faith, see Nick Pitts's article, The Faith of the mysterious David Letterman.)  CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said of the television icon, "David's influence was phenomenal.  Whenever there was something important going on in America, you turned on David Letterman.  He was the conscience of America, he was a bit of a social commentator, he was our local curmudgeon."
 
Tom Brokaw said of him, "You have to be on your toes.  He's very smart and very well read.  He makes me think."  One of his producers called him "the best talk-show host ever."  That's what makes his retirement so significant: he is arguably the last of the real talk-show hosts.  Others do what could be called "comedy/variety," with musical numbers, games with guests, and social media campaigns.  Letterman's trademark was conversation—often funny, sometimes pointed, on occasion profound. 
 
We need more conversation these days, not less. (Tweet this)
 
Thomas Friedman's latest article in The New York Times catalogues some of the seismic shifts going on in our world today.  Among them: a recent study concluded that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at high risk of being taken by software and smart machines over the next 20 years.  Geopolitics are dominated not by East-West or capitalist-communist rivalries, but by the World of Order versus the World of Disorder.  For instance, more than 50 million people are now displaced worldwide, the largest number since World War II.  Israel's government has started sending letters to 45,000 Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, notifying them that they have 30 days to accept $3,500 in cash and a one-way ticket home or to an unnamed third country, or face prison.
 
Friedman nominates this statement by columnist Tom Goodwin for "best lead paragraph on a news article so far this year": "Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles.  Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content.  Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory.  And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.  Something interesting is happening."
 
Indeed.  
 
We clearly need more conversation about the crucial issues of our time.  But even more than we need to be talking with each other, we need to be talking with our Lord.  His wisdom has never been more essential than it is today.  His Spirit's guidance has never been more needed.  And his word has never been more relevant.
 
Spiritual solitude is the key to social significance. (Tweet this) Henri Nouwen: "Solitude is very different from a 'time-out' from our busy lives.  Solitude is the very ground from which community grows.  Whenever we pray alone, study, read, write, or simply spend time away from the places where we interact with each other directly, we are potentially opened for a deeper intimacy with each other."
 
What cultural issues are especially urgent for you?  Have you sought the mind of Christ about them (1 Corinthians 2:16)?  When we know Christ, we can then make him known.  And a world desperate for help and hope will find his wisdom in ours.
 
 
Publication date: May 21, 2015

 

For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.

Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others? 

Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.

Follow Crosswalk.com