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October 04, 2015

My sister shared these words with me—words written by Susannah Spurgeon after the death of her husband Charles. She reflects on life together and the Lord who gives and takes away. They are sweet and precious words.

I have traveled far now on life’s journey; and, having climbed one of the few remaining hills between earth and Heaven, I stand awhile on this vantage-ground, and look back across the country through which the Lord has led me.

A well-defined pathway is visible, but it appears devious and wandering; sometimes skirting a mountain-top, whence one could catch glimpses of “the land that is very far off”; and, further on, descending into a valley shadowed by clouds and darkness. At one time, it runs along amidst steep places, and overhanging rocks; at another time, it winds across an open plain, brilliant with the sunshine of goodness and mercy, and fanned by breezes which are wafted from the fields of Heaven.

There are flowers of joy and love growing all along the way, even in the dark places; and “trees which the Lord has planted,” give shade and shelter from too great heat.

I can see two pilgrims treading this highway of life together, hand in hand—heart linked to heart. True, they have had rivers to ford, and mountains to cross, and fierce enemies to fight, and many dangers to go through; but their Guide was watchful, their Deliverer unfailing, and of them it might truly be said, “In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.”

Mostly, they went on their way singing; and for one of them, at least, there was no joy greater than to tell others of the grace and glory of the blessed King to whose land He was hastening. And when he thus spoke, the power of the Lord was seen, and the angels rejoiced over repenting sinners.

But, at last, they came to a place on the road where two ways met; and here, amidst the terrors of a storm such as they had never before encountered, they parted company—the one being caught up to the invisible glory—the other, battered and bruised by the awful tempest, henceforth toiling along the road—alone.

But the “goodness and mercy” which, for so many years, had followed the two travelers, did not leave the solitary one; rather did the tenderness of the Lord “lead on softly,” and choose green pastures for the tired feet, and still waters for the solace and refreshment of His trembling child. He gave, moreover, into her hands a solemn charge—to help fellow-pilgrims along the road, filling her life with blessed interest, and healing her own deep sorrow by giving her power to relieve and comfort others.

October 03, 2015

Kindle deals today include: Truth in a Culture of Doubt by Andreas Kostenberger ($3.50); Contending with Christianity’s Critics by Paul Copan ($3.50); Fear and Faith by Trillia Newbell ($3.03); Discerning Truth by Jason Lisle ($2.99).

What “Orwellian” Means

Most people use the word wrong. This is a great little video that describes what it really means (and why we want to use it rightly).

A Quick And Easy Guide To The Planned Parenthood Videos

Mollie Hemingway provides a quick and easy guide to the 10 videos that have been released to this point.

Don’t Neglect the Work of Speck Removing

Are we actually supposed to remove the speck from a brother’s eye? And can we see clearly enough to do that? John Piper answers in his inimitable way.

FactChecker: The Umpqua Community College Shooting

Joe Carter: “In an attempt to help dispel and clarify some of the claims being made I’ve put together what we know so far. There is still much we do not know about this mass killing, and even most of what we know is tentative so I’ll update this article as necessary.”

Why Four Gospels?

Why did God give us four gospels instead of just one? It’s a valid question.

Tomorrow in 1692. Increase Mather published his “Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits,” which ended the Salem Witch Trials. *

The Execution of Alfredo Prieto

“It is undeniably disturbing to drive to the scheduled killing of another.” This article tells how an execution actually unfolds.

Don’t Leave Jesus Behind

Thanks to P&R for sponsoring the blog this week with “Don’t Leave Jesus Behind.” Sponsors play a crucial role in helping keep the blog going, so I am grateful for each one.


Can you have any greater assurance that you are praying the will of God than when you are praying the Word of God? —Don Whitney

October 02, 2015

Songs for SaplingsThis week's Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Songs for Saplings. Songs for Saplings created the “Questions with Answers” series of theological training materials for kids. The music is beautiful, lively, and enjoyable for the whole family. It has been translated into 7 languages and is being sung around the world.

There will be 5 winners this week, and each of the winners will receive a family journal as well as all 6 CDs in the Questions with Answers series.

JournalSongs for Saplings created the Family Journal as a gift for people who support their ministry. It's a handcrafted leather journal made by the Songs for Saplings staff in Portland, Oregon. It has 115 questions, answers, scripture verses and scripture references that are in the "Questions with Answers" songs. There is also plenty of room to write notes about your kids’ comments as you teach them, a great place to keep the “kid quotes”, and something you can share with them when they are older having grown up on the faith you taught them.

Also, there's a bonus. Anyone who would like to can download Questions with Answers Vol. 2: The Fall and Salvation. Simply click the link and use coupon code challies to get it for free.

Enter Here

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.

6 Great New Books for Kids
October 02, 2015

Christian publishers are spoiling us—they are spoiling us with high-quality and beautifully-illustrated books for children. Here, representing 6 different publishers, are some excellent new books for children.

Marie Durand Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr. This is the latest volume in Simonetta Carr’s excellent series of biographies for young readers. “In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Biggest Story The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung. The publisher says, “The Bible is full of exciting stories that fill children with awe and wonder. But kids need to know how all those classic stories connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people. In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth. With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God’s promises are even bigger and better than we think.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

God Made All of Me God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb. “It’s easy to convey the message to children that their bodies or particular parts of their bodies are shameful. This misconception fuels confusion, embarrassment, and secrecy, and often prevents children from recognizing or reporting sexual abuse. God Made All of Me is a simply-told, beautifully-illustrated story to help families talk about these sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children. Because the private parts of our bodies are private, the home is the ideal environment where a child should learn about his or her body and how it should be treated by others.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Gods Gospel God’s Gospel by Jill Nelson. This is the most recent volume in the “Making Him Known” series from P&R. “In God’s Gospel, Jill Nelson guides parents and their young children through the basics of the gospel, exploring even complex theological topics in easy-to-understand, kid-friendly language. At the end of each ready-made lesson, Nelson includes additional questions for reflection and family activities that will help children to remember what they have learned. This full-color, illustrated book is an ideal devotional tool for families with young children. Covering such questions as ‘What is sin?’ and ‘Why did Jesus die on the cross?,’ God’s Gospel leads kids through God’s plan to save his people from their sins, directing readers to Jesus as their personal Savior.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

The Ology The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New by Marty Machowski. “Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are on display and easier to understand. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together. Read The Ology to preschoolers, read it with grade-school kids, and let older kids discover the hidden truths by reading the corresponding Scripture passages for each section. However you read it, The Ology will give your children a gift that will last a lifetime a solid foundation of life-changing biblical truth that will point them to the God who loves them and gave himself for them.” (Learn more or buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)

Everything a Child Should Know About GodEverything a Child Should Know about God by Kenneth Taylor & Jenny Brake. “Help your child discover the wonders of biblical truths in simple terms our child can understand. Dr. Kenneth Taylor explains in child–friendly language the essential Bible truths you want your child to know. He tells children about God’s creation of the world, why Jesus came to earth, how the Holy Spirit helps us, and so much more! Give the child you love the greatest gift of all – a deeper understanding of God.” (Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books)

October 02, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include: The Kind of Preaching God Blesses by Steve Lawson ($3.99); The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper ($1.99); Church Zero by Peyton Jones ($1.99); Addicted to Busy by Brady Boyd ($1.99). Also, don’t forget to stock up on the New American Commentary series while they are just $2.99 each.

Scandals, Sandals & Biblical Epics

This article provides a brief biography of filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille who led a fascinatingly contradictory life.

The Prosperity Gospel Has Gone Viral

“Regrettably, the prosperity gospel has gone viral. Being more nuanced and subtle than you may think, it is very active in the church. Like a computer virus it is draining vitality and productivity in the covenant community. And you know what the worst part is? You may not even know that you are impacted by it.”

Tabletalk Magazine

Here are the highlights of this month’s issue of Tabletalk magazine. There are several columns you can read online (though you’ll need a subscription to read all of them).

Seeking Revival in Ontario

Here’s an article and interview about a new Gospel Coalition chapter forming right here in Ontario. Be sure to check out the conference (October 16-17).

What Does Pope Francis Believe?

Ross Douthat, himself a Roman Catholic (though not a great fan of the current pontiff), tries to piece together what pope Francis believes.

This Day in 1792. The Baptist Missionary Society was founded in London, England by 21-year-old William Carey. He later became England’s first great Protestant missionary to India. *

The NFL Commissioner Has a Gambling Problem

Very interesting: “NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated repeatedly his opposition to legalized gambling, asserting that the league’s opposition will not change because of vigilance in protecting the integrity of the game on his watch.”


If you’ve ever tried writing a full-length book in Microsoft Word you’ve undoubtedly realized that it’s just not up to the task. Scrivener is many people’s preferred option, and it’s on sale this week at a 56% discount.


When we bring God’s word directly into our praying, we are bringing God’s power into our praying. —Joni Eareckson Tada

October 01, 2015

What is involved in the idea of the Father, or Jesus, being a judge? This is something J.I. Packer deals with extraordinarily well in his book Knowing God. Let’s track with him just briefly to see our good God in his function of just judge. Here are 4 characteristics of the judge.

The judge is a Person with authority. “In the Bible world, the king was always the supreme authority because his was the supreme ruling authority. It is on that basis, according to the Bible, that God is judge of his world. As our Maker, he owns us, and as our Owner, he has a right to dispose of us; he has, therefore, a right to make laws for us, and to reward us according to whether or not we keep them. In most modern states, the legislature and judiciary are divided, so that the judge does not make the laws he administers; but in the ancient world this was not so, and it is not so with God. He is both the Lawgiver and the Judge.

The judge is a person identified with what is good and right. “The modern idea that a judge should be cold and dispassionate has no place in the Bible. The biblical judge is expected to love justice and fair play and to loathe all ill-treatment of one person by another. An unjust judge, one who has no interest in seeing right triumph over wrong, is by biblical standards a monstrosity. The Bible leaves us in no doubt that God loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and that the ideal of a judge wholly identified with what is good and right is perfectly fulfilled in him.

The judge is a person of wisdom, to discern truth. In the biblical world, the judge’s first task is to ascertain the facts in the case that is before him. There is no jury; it is his responsibility, and his alone, to question, and cross-examine, and detect lies and pierce through evasions and establish how matters really stand. When the Bible pictures God judging, it emphasises his omniscience and wisdom as the searcher of hearts and the finder of facts. Nothing can escape him; we may fool men, but we cannot fool God. He knows us, and judges us, as we really are. … God will know. His judgment is according to truth—factual truth, as well as moral truth. He judges ‘the secrets of men,’ not just by their public facade. Not for nothing does Paul say, ‘we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ’.”

The judge is a person of power, to execute sentence. The modern judge does no more than pronounce the sentence; another department of the judicial executive then carries it out. The same was true in the ancient world. But God is his own executioner. As he legislates, and sentences, so he punishes. All judicial functions coalesce in him.

Next Week

If you are reading Knowing God with me as part of Reading Classics Together, please read chapters 15 and 16 for next Thursday. If you are not yet doing so, why don’t you join us? We aren’t that far into the book yet, so you will not have a difficult time catching up.

Your Turn

The purpose of Reading Classics Together is to read these books together. This time around the bulk of the discussion is happening in a dedicated Facebook group. You can find it right here. A thousand people are already interacting there and would be glad to have you join in or just read along.

October 01, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include: Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower ($2.99); On Guard by Deepak Reju ($3.99); Reformed Means Missional by Samuel Logan ($2.99); Running on Empty by Barbara Bancroft ($1.99); Multiply by Francis Chan ($4.99); Replant by Darrin Patrick ($1.99); Picture Perfect by Amy Baker ($0.99); Wilberforce by John Pollock ($1.99); Mindscape by Timothy Witmer ($2.99). You will also find that Amazon has a long list of monthly deals for a wide variety of books at $3.99 or less.

This month’s free audiobook from Christian Audio is David Platt’s Follow Me. It is free for the taking. Logos users may want to grab this month’s free Logos book: Luther in English.

Building the 787-9 Dreamliner

Here’s a neat time-lapse video showing how a Boeing 787 is built.

The First Rung of Christianity

In this short video Paul Washer comments briefly but powerfully on the porn plague.

Two Ways to Sing to God

“Psalm 81:1 commands us to ‘sing for joy.’ How does this command play itself out practically in our worlds, particularly when we feel joyless? I want to propose that to fully embrace this command, we must learn to sing in two ways: from affection and for affection.”

The Last Enemy

“Death rises to testify that life is absurd and God, if He exists, is either indifferent or impotent or perhaps both. No wonder the Apostle Paul calls it an enemy. The last enemy.”

Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?

You’ve probably heard the little saying before. Al Mohler thinks it through.

This Day in 1883. A.B. Simpson founded the first school in America to train missionaries. Called the Missionary Training Institute in 1894, its name was changed to Nyack College in 1972. *

Knowing Christ

Knowing Christ is the title of a new book by Mark Jones that was inspired by J.I. Packer’s classic Knowing God. It is on sale at Westminster Books. And you can see Jones and Packer in conversation in this video.

A New Book on the Life and Theology of Martin Luther

New from Cruciform Press (the publishing company I co-founded) is Charles E. Fry’s book, A World Upside Down: Four Essays on the Life and Theology of Martin Luther, with a Foreword from Jerry Bridges.


To call a Christian a theist is roughly equivalent to calling the space shuttle Atlantis a glider. —R.C. Sproul

September 30, 2015

Christians know to expect suffering and persecution. The formula is simple: If the perfect and sinless Son of God suffered persecution, so too will his imperfect and sinful followers. We are to be people who live in the world, but not of the world. We are to live among unbelieving people, but to live in a very different way. When we do this we are never far from some kind of persecution.

Still, there are a couple of ways we can insure ourselves against suffering.

The first way to avoid persecution is to live outside the world, to seclude ourselves away from it. If we do that, we will not suffer. We will not suffer because we will never come into contact with people who would persecute us. Our isolation will keep us far from their thoughts. But there is a high cost: It will also keep our faith and our Savior far from their thoughts.

There is a second way: to live in the world but to remain like the world. If we live just like the people around us, we will not suffer because there is nothing in us that stands out, nothing worth persecuting. And all the while our worldliness will contradict whatever we claim to be true about our faith and our Savior.

I appreciate how John Stott frames this. He says, “The first group escapes persecution by withdrawing from the world, the second group by becoming assimilated to the world.” It is just that simple. But God does not call us to either of those two extremes. Instead, he calls us to be salt and light, to plant ourselves in the midst of a watching world and, right there, to live very different lives. Some will see, and hear, and be persuaded. Many more will see, be convicted, and persecute. But as Christians we simply need to expect it: Persecution comes to those who are faithful.