FrontLine Jul/Aug 2017: Excerpts

To whet your appetite for our latest issue, we offer here some excerpts from several of the articles in this issue.

Proclaim and Defend
Don Johnson

So when we say “proclaim,” we mean to edify, but we mean to edify with a purpose. We want spiritual strength to come from that feeding. We want those we feed to get their meat and vegetables. We aren’t really all that interested in providing strawberry shortcake.

Which brings us to “defend.” Paul told the Ephesian elders that his was a ministry of warning (20:31). He called them to that same ministry. He later told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). That’s largely a ministry of warning. The ministry of warning focuses on two categories: (1) the grievous wolves that invade from without (20:29) and (2) the perverse self-glorifiers who arise from within, gathering crowds around them at their man-centered conferences and self-help seminars (20:30). (Note that I give a modern context to the ancient instructions of the verse. No doubt there are more manifestations of these self-disciplers than these.)

Proclaim and Defend on Facebook: Is That Possible?
Matthew Recker

If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s most populated. Founded in 2004, Facebook has become populated with about 1.7 billion users. No longer are Facebook (and other social media platforms) a fad, but social media is an integral part of many lives. It is clearly not going away. It is free, easy to use, and has international reach. …

FBFI members are prayerfully invited to use our Facebook page for the growth of FBFI and of our Facebook page and for the blessing and benefit of your ministry. The way our FBFI Facebook page can grow is if our members get involved in our page by doing some of the following:

1. Give Us a “Like.”

2. Share One of Our Posts. …

3. Let Us Know What Is Happening. …

4. Write an Article.

Rooted Thinking—An Enduring Legacy
Greg Baker

It was early summer 1948 when A. W. Tozer finished his preface for The Pursuit of God. America’s martial spirit was at high tide. Militarily, it had taken four years of American war-making to crush the Axis Powers. Theologically, it had taken fifty years for the fundamentalists to usurp the powerful modernist coalition. Tozer, however, believed something had gone terribly wrong in the fight: fundamentalist leaders were “strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence.” He wrote to challenge those for whom “right opinions” had become paramount; he believed that “God’s children are starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.”

We tremble at what Tozer wrote. Yet we often take for granted that he wrote. Both are vitally important. And it’s to this second consideration we now turn.

Using a Blog in Ministry
Thomas Overmiller

In the fourteenth century BC, neighboring statesmen and Egyptian pharaohs used clay tablets to exchange messages. We call these the Amarna Letters. Today people continue to exchange written messages but use different platforms. We’ve moved from clay tablets to scrolls to parchments to bound books to newspapers to e-readers. …

Using the Internet, college student Justin Hall launched the first blog in 1994. He called it a personal homepage. Similar websites multiplied and were later dubbed a “weblog.” Peter Merholz shortened the word to “blog” in 1999, paving the way for Merriam-Webster to make it their word of the year in 2004.

A blog is a website that shares personal thoughts and comments from the writer. (Sometimes it also shares hyperlinks, videos, and photographs.) You’ve probably seen them. News sites use them. Sports writers use them. Hobbyists, businesses, and teachers use them. Anybody can use them.

But should pastors use them? Should they upload personal reflections and resources to a dedicated blog site? I would be naïve to insist that every pastor should do so. But every pastor should consider the possibility.

Deciding Right and Wrong
Wally Morris

Your twelve-year-old son wants to know why cheating is wrong. Your neighbor asks why you believe gambling is wrong and asks you for a Bible verse about it. Your daughter will soon graduate from high school and wants to know whether accepting scholarship money from state lottery activities is acceptable. You’ve noticed that more people at work are getting tattoos, and someone asks you what you think about it. A friend has a transgender grandchild and asks you if the Bible has anything to say about that.

How will you answer these questions from people who want to know what you think and what the Bible says? Add to this mixture the almost infinite availability of videos, books, blogs, and news on the Internet, and Christians wonder how to sort through all of the opinions and beliefs now openly available with the press of a button or swipe of a finger.

To Blog or Not to Blog
A FrontLine Interview with Mark Ward

FrontLine Magazine: Mark, thank you for your time in giving us your own personal perspective on blogging. We know you make your living online, especially through your work with LOGOS software, how long have you been blogging?

MW: I’ve been blogging for almost ten years at (what is now), and I make a living writing twice weekly for a digital Bible study blog.

FLM: How has it been received by pastors and church leaders?

MW: A few years ago I started to notice how often pastors I respect made negative references to blogging. In fact, some of them made only negative references. It pricked my conscience: was I doing wrong to blog? This is what I heard:

“What I’m about to say is just for this room; I don’t want anyone going and blogging this.”

“We were handling the problem just fine until the bloggers picked it up and splattered it all over the Internet.”

“The bloggers are making hay over this rather than addressing the article’s author directly as Matthew 18 commands.”

“There are so many valuable books out there to read—I don’t know why guys want to waste their time with blogs.”

I can’t say these are verbatim quotations, but I have definitely heard statements like them on numerous occasions, and from people of all generations.

FLM: Why do you think you got that reaction?

MW: Bloggers have a disruptive and gossipy reputation, a reputation which some of them deserve. But not all. And this is what I was told when I asked mentors whether I should stop blogging. They said what I was doing wasn’t objectionable (though neither did they say it was worthwhile!).

FLM: So, do you think blogging is worthwhile?

MW: I’m convinced that blogging is a worthwhile ministry within Christ’s body, and that though there’s wisdom in the cautions I just quoted, some Christians should blog.

The Protestant Reformation
Wally Morris

On a Wednesday in late October, several weeks into the cool Fall season, Catholic monk, theology professor, and pastor Martin Luther, with his 34th birthday only a few days away, nailed 95 Theses to the wooden door of the Imperial Church in Wittenberg, the city where Luther taught in the University. The church door was the bulletin board where public notices and other important information were posted for people to see. This particular day was the time for posting theses for debate. And Luther wanted people to see what he was concerned about.

The 95 Theses were written in Latin, the language of scholars. Luther intended a public debate concerning his theses, which concerned certain practices of the Catholic Church which Luther believed were wrong. As a pastor, he was concerned that people were being misled by the Church. Although the debate did not happen, copies of the Theses were quickly translated, printed, and distributed throughout Europe. Luther became a celebrity almost overnight, and October 31 would now be a day many would remember as the start of the Protestant Reformation.

There is much more in the magazine, including the regular feature, The Pastor’s Insert. It isn’t just for pastors, everyone can profit from it. Contact our head office to get your copy today!

(Originally published in FrontLine • July/August 2017. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)