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November 26, 2015

If you are at all like me, you probably find it easy to pray those prayers of petition (“Please give me…”) but far more difficult to pray those prayers of gratitude (“Thank you for…”). Here is some valuable assistance from The Valley of Vision.

O My God,
You fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
My heart admires, adores, loves You,
For my little vessel is as full as it can be,
And I would pour out all that fullness before You in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with You
Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
Crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless You for the soul You have created,
For adorning it, for sanctifying it,
Though it is fixed in barren soil;
For the body You have given me,
For preserving its strength and vigor,
For providing senses to enjoy delights,
For the ease and freedom of limbs,
For hands, eyes, ears that do Your bidding;
For Your royal bounty providing my daily support,
For a full table and overflowing cup,
For appetite, taste, sweetness,
For social joys of relatives and friends,
For ability to serve others,
For a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
For a mind to care for my fellow-men,
For opportunities of spreading happiness around,
For loved ones in the joys of heaven,
For my own expectation of seeing You clearly.
I love You above the powers of language to express,
For what You are to Your creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Image credit: Shutterstock

November 26, 2015

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, America! While you enjoy your holiday I will be keeping my ear to the ground for Black Friday deals (since, you know, we Canadians took care of our Thanksgiving six weeks ago). Check in tomorrow and I’ll let you know what I found. In the meantime, here are some links and Kindle deals that may interest you.

Today’s Kindle deals: Tough Topics 2 by Sam Storms ($3.99); Heaven, How I Got Here by Colin Smith ($2.99); Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine ($2.99); The Cambridge Seven by John Pollock ($2.99); Hudson Taylor: An Adventure Begins by Catherine MacKenzie ($2.99); We Believe by Matthew Sims ($0.99).

Pornography: A Perpetual Pastoral Problem

I was recently a guest on Mortification of Spin to talk with Aimee, Carl, and Todd about the problem of pornography.

5 Reminders for Christian Parents

“Parenting is just hard. It’s tiring. It’s busy. It’s laborious. It’s unending. It’s continuous. It’s demanding. But with all these realities, we as parents must remember that parenting is supremely rewarding!”

Justice Without Facts Is No Justice at All

“Justice without facts is no justice at all. When the institution of justice fails to report the facts, we should suspect injustice would happen.”

The Fruits of the Spirit

“When we look at a tree and see bad fruit, we conclude it is a bad tree. When we look at the same tree and it has good fruit, new fruit, we conclude the tree has changed. There’s not just new fruit but a new tree. This is what God does for His people in regeneration. He doesn’t just change the fruit; He changes the tree.”

This Day in 1789. 226 years ago today, “President George Washington proclaimed this date (a Thursday) to be the first national Thanksgiving Day holiday.” Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers! *

Does Debt Have To Be Part of the College Experience?

Aaron Armstrong speaks with Alex Chediak about college debt. Alex tells about his new book which explores the issue.

The Serial Swatter

The New York Times covers a strange and scary new kind of crime. “Internet trolls have learned to exploit our over-militarized police. It’s a crime that’s hard to stop — and hard to prosecute.” (Note: there’s a bit of bad language.)


To abandon prayer is to embrace atheism. —Alec Motyer

How I Love Your Law
November 25, 2015

I have been around Christians all my life, and I don’t know that I’ve heard too many of them exclaim, “Oh how I love your law!” Yet in Psalm 119 we find David saying that very thing, expressing his love for God’s law. In the very first Psalm we find him declaring the man blessed who finds God’s law a source of great delight. It sounds a bit strange to our ears, doesn’t it? Aren’t we people of grace? Aren’t we free from the law?

Not in this case. When David expressed his love of God’s law he was expressing his love of God’s revealed truth, all the knowledge and instruction he has given to humanity in his Word. David had less of it than we do—he had only the first few books of what would later be the 66-book Bible. But he read these few books, he pondered them, and he diligently applied their wisdom to his life. The more he did this, the more his affection grew.

What was it about the law that swelled David’s affections? Was he just a rigid kind of character who liked to do what was right and was afraid of doing what was wrong? Did he have a very structured, legal mind? No, he loved this: God’s law is a reflection of God’s character. When David looked at the law of God he saw the person of God, the character of God, the heart of God. As he read God’s Word he came face-to-face with the God he loved. He saw in the law an accurate portrait, an accurate reflection of the character of God. And he loved it because he loved him.

The law of God is God’s character externalized. It comes to us from the very heart and mind of God. Its purpose is not first to tell us what we must be and what we must do. Not first. Its purpose is to tell us first who God is and what he is like. And right here the Bible confronts you and me. If we don’t love the law and don’t want to do the law, we don’t love the God who gave the law. Do we love the law of God like David did? Do we treasure it as he treasured it? Do we meditate upon it and internalize it and live in light of it as he did? David loved the law of God because he loved the God of the law. Do we?

Image credit: Shutterstock

November 25, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include John G Paton: South Sea Island Rescue ($2.99); everPresent by Jeremy Writebol ($0.99); Called Together by Jonathan Dodson ($0.99); Make, Mature, Multiply by Brandon Smith ($0.99); Sent Together by Brad Watson ($0.99); Gospel Advance by Alvin Reid ($0.99); A Primer on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit by Winfield Bevins ($0.99); Gospel Amnesia by Luma Simms ($0.99); Sound Words by Jeremy Carr ($0.99); A Beginners Guide to Family Worship by Winfield Bevins ($0.99); The Stories We Live by Sean Post ($0.99); Proclaiming Jesus by Tony Merida ($0.99); Prayer Life by Winfield Bevins ($0.99).

Westminster Books

Westminster Books has just added IVP ebooks and they’ve got a great selection of them on sale for just $1.99. This deal lasts for only a couple of days, so don’t dawdle. The no-brainers include: Basic Christianity by John Stott, Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves, God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. There are many others besides.

Credo Magazine

There is a new issue of Credo magazine free to read and download. This issue looks at John Owen, the prince of Puritans.

Doctrine Matters

Kevin DeYoung says it well: “Christianity is much more than getting your doctrine right. But it is not less. You can have right doctrine and not be a Christian. You can know all sorts of true things about Jesus and not be saved.” 

What Is Thanksgiving Day?

Stephen Nichols: “We might think that times of adversity and challenge would spawn ingratitude, while times of prosperity would spawn gratitude. Sadly, the reverse is true.”

Thanksgiving Flight Patterns

There are some neat graphics here that show where Americans are flying for Thanksgiving. Since 1% of the country flies somewhere this week, there’s lots of information to work with.

Laquan McDonald and the Christian Response

“When the police arrived, Laquan refused to put down the knife or to turn himself in. This was an illegal action in which jail time was certainly the deserved outcome; but not death.” This article suggests ways Christians can respond to another tragic death.

This Day in 1742. 273 years ago today, the Scottish Society for the Propagating of Christian Knowledge approved David Brainerd as a missionary to the New England Indians. *

Finland Timelapse

Here’s another country I need to add to my list of places to visit. You know what to do: Full-screen and HD.


We are not sent into the pulpit to show our wit and eloquence, but to set the consciences of men on fire. —Solomon Stoddard

Do More Better
November 24, 2015

Do More BetterI am really excited to announce that one week from today you will be able to purchase my new book Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity. I wrote this book because I believe God calls each one of us to emphasize productivity in our lives. He calls each of us to emphasize a particular form of productivity—the kind that emphasizes stewarding our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God.

I don’t want you to do more stuff or take on more projects or complete more tasks. Not necessarily. I don’t want you to work longer hours or spend less time with your family and friends. I want you to do more good. I want you to do more of what matters most, and I want you to do it better. That’s what I want for myself as well. Whether you are a professional or a student, a pastor or a plumber, a work-from-home dad or a stay-at-home mom, I believe this book can be valuable to you.

I am no productivity guru. I am a writer, a church leader, a husband, and a father—a Christian with a lot of responsibilities and with new tasks coming at me all the time. I wrote this short, fast-paced, practical guide to productivity to share what I have learned about getting things done in today’s digital world. It will help you learn to structure your life to do the most good to the glory of God.

The genesis of this book was a blog series I wrote right here. Since I wrote that series, I have been able to respond to mountains of reader feedback and, even better, to hear from many of you as you’ve applied and practiced it. In Do More Better, you will learn:

  • Common obstacles to productivity
  • The great purpose behind productivity
  • 3 essential tools for getting things done
  • The power of daily and weekly routines
  • And much more, including bonus material on taming your email and a collection of quick tips to improve your productivity.

It really is possible to live a calm and orderly life, sure of your responsibilities and confident in your progress.

You can do more better. And I would love to help you get there.

There are three ways you can receive the book:

  • Amazon: Do More Better will be available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats on December 1, 2015. Other retailers will follow in early 2016.
  • Cruciform Press: It will be available in epub and pdf formats at Cruciform Press on December 1.
  • Become a patron. All Patreon supporters will receive an electronic copy of the book on December 1.

ESV Mens Devotional Bible
November 24, 2015

The ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is a rare product—it is a devotional Bible I may actually use. While I receive many similar products, I have never found one that intrigued me enough to commit to using it day-by-day. Sometimes this is because the editors have decided to push a wooden format that does not interest me; sometimes it is because of low-quality devotional material; sometimes the Bibles or the devotional material are just hopelessly hoaky. But here is a Bible that does not force a format, that brings devotionals from trusted, skillful writers, and that does not stoop into silliness.

The format of the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is simple: Interspersed within the biblical text are 365 page-length devotionals. The reader is the one who chooses how he will encounter these devotionals—there is no built-in reading plan or format. Instead, it is meant to fit different ways a man may read his Bible. I would suggest putting it to good use in either of these two ways:

  1. Use it with your current Bible-reading plan or, if you do not follow a plan, simply use it as your daily reading Bible. As you read the text, you will encounter the devotionals, sometimes one per day and sometimes more.
  2. Read the 365 devotionals sequentially, one per day. Before you read the devotionals, read the texts associated with them. These texts are often one or two chapters in length—just about right for your morning reading. If you do it this way you will encounter much of the Bible’s storyline over the course of the year. Because there is at least one devotional in each book of the Bible, you will have at least one reading from each book.

As for the devotionals themselves, they are prepared by men you may already know and trust: R. Kent Hughes (Genesis), Graeme Goldsworthy (1&2 Kings), Sam Storms (Joshua), Alistair Begg (Esther), Jared Wilson (Luke), Justin Holcomb (Acts), and James Hamilton (Revelation) among them. While I did not read all of the devotionals, I did read enough to conclude that they are biblically-sound and also applicable to life. I read enough of them to conclude that I want to read the rest.

Here is a sample devotional I chose at random. It is associated with Genesis 39 and is titled “The Energizing Power of God’s Presence.”

Joseph was so extraordinary that, even in the context of the greats of the Bible, he towers like a skyscraper. As to why this is so, the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife leaves no doubt: Moses’ narrative voice-over at both the beginning and end of the account states that Joseph was successful because the Lord was with him (stated twice at the beginning of the story (Gen. 39:2–3) and three times at the end (vv. 21–23). So we must understand that the unseen hand in the story is God’s, who was present and working on Joseph’s behalf in his phenomenal rise, his humiliating downfall, and his quick restoration to prominence.

But it is one thing to be outside the story and observe that God was with Joseph, and quite another to be Joseph inside the story and believe that God is with you, when all you have worked for is being ripped from you because of your integrity. And here Joseph shines because he knew that God was with him as he refused Mrs. Potiphar’s advances, declaring to her, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (v. 9). The grand deterrent to the seductive pleas was Joseph’s awareness that God is present and sees all, and that a sin that no one else knows about, committed behind locked doors in a dark room, is actually committed in the presence of a holy God.

Such a temptation! Joseph was 17 or 18 years old (see 37:2), and surely his hormones were raging, so that he brimmed with sexual curiosity and drive. The rationalizations were so natural and logical. No one would ever know (see 39:11). He was a slave. His life was not his own. And besides, a little strategic fornication could benefit his career. But Joseph said no!

What a towering figure Joseph had become. Never once, whether in prosperity or adversity, had Joseph doubted God. He sense and appropriated God’s presence in every circumstance. And never had Joseph been more of a success than now. He dwarfed the monuments of the Nile.

How does the story of Joseph intersect our lives today? It does so beautifully and powerfully in the incarnation of Christ the Messiah, who is Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Brothers, the key to our day-to-day success is to believe this with all our being, and conduct every moment of life in the dazzling reality of Christ’s presence.

Apart from the biblical text and the 365 devotionals, the ESV Men’s Devotional Bible also offers new introductions to each book of the Bible “that will orient the reader to what God is saying to us through that particular portion of his Word. We have especially focused in these introductions on the way any given book of the Bible speaks to a man’s heart.” At the end of the Bible are 14 articles dealing with a variety of pertinent topics: Ed Welch deals with pornography, David Powlison with a man’s identity, Thabiti Anyabwile with a man’s inner life, and Ray Ortlund with fathering.

This is a devotional Bible done right. I highly recommend it to you while personally looking forward to enjoying it for many years to come.

The ESV Men’s Devotional Bible is available in Hardcover, Cloth over Board, TruTone, and Kindle. You can find it at Amazon or Westminster Books.

Note: There is also an ESV Women’s Devotional Bible which my wife enjoys very much. It follows much the same format, though obviously prepared with women in mind.

November 24, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler ($1.99); Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper ($2.84); Why Believe the Bible? by John MacArthur ($1.99); Baptist Foundations edited by Mark Dever ($0.99); Beat God to the Punch ($2.99) and Manhood Restored by Eric Mason ($0.99); The People of God by Trevor Joy ($2.99); Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper ($2.99); Nothing Is Impossible with God by Rose Marie Miller ($0.99); And He Dwelt Among Us by A.W. Tozer ($1.99).

The Evangelical Theological Society after Obergefell

I am no scholar, so rarely pay much attention to the proceedings of the Evangelical Theological Society, but this year seems to have been particularly important. Denny Burk reports.

Does God “Want” All to Be Saved?

Michael Kruger takes on the always-controversial question. “But, our answer to these questions depends on what we mean when we say that God “wants” something. And when we talk about what God wants we inevitably must talk about the “will” of God. And this is a subject that requires some careful nuance.”

Arrests in the Amanda Blackburn Case

You may have heard of the tragic, awful death of Amanda Blackburn, the pastor’s wife who was raped and murdered in her home. Two men have now been arrested in connection with the murder. Her husband has continued to shine the light of Christ even in this dark time.

Immigration and the Moral Status of Borders

Here’s an interesting take on immigration and refugees. “Do we think borders are good or bad, a necessary evil or a moral necessity? My contention is that those who argue for open borders undervalue a sense of place and the integrity of nations like Britain and Australia as political communities; but those who argue for closed borders overvalue the likes of Britain and Australia as political communities.”

This Day in 1572. 443 years ago today, John Knox, the most notable of the Reformers of Scotland, died in Edinburgh. *

Enduring the Winter

Norway offers help in enduring the long winter.

9Marks Mailbag

I continue to enjoy the 9Marks Mailbag. Even if you don’t agree with all the answers they provide, they’re sure to get you thinking. This week’s headline: “Must Preachers Be Seminary-Trained?; Baby Dedications; Elders Disagreeing Over Calvinism.”

Why Him, Why Me?

For a longer read, try this story from ESPN. “Two tragic collisions on the football field, separated by 26 years, have brought together a high school linebacker and a former college running back in search of the answer to a life-altering question.”


Everybody thinks sanctification looks like strength. Really what it looks like is weakness. —Ed Welch