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November 21, 2015

There is not much new on the ebook front today, but it’s probably just as well—next week will be big because of Black Friday. Already I’m putting together a list of a ton of deals on books, ebooks, and lots of other good material. So be sure to check in on Friday.

Running Away with the Circus

Here’s an interesting reflection on the circus in the age of mass digital entertainment. Is there still a place for it in today’s world?

The Generation That Doesn’t Remember Life Before Smartphones

While we are on the subject of this digital world, Popular Mechanics covers the American teenager as the first generation that has no memory of life before smartphones.

On Being Matt Chandler’s Roommate

I enjoyed this one: “My sophomore year a student transferred in who captured the attention and imagination of much of the student body. His name was Matt Chandler.”

Four Types of Worship Teams

Jamie Brown reflects on four different types of worship teams, four approaches to how to structure, view, and lead a team.

That Old-Timey Accent

Ever noticed that people in old movies all kind of talked with the same funny accent? Here’s why.

How Should Christians Think About the Refugee Crisis?

Here is Russell Moore’s take on how we should think about the refugee crisis. He says to stop pitting security and compassion against each other.

Tomorrow in 1963. 52 years ago tomorrow beloved British author, apologist, and scholar C.S. Lewis died—one week before his 65th birthday. *

Why Isn’t It Faster to Fly West?

If the earth is spinning to the east at 1000 miles per hour, why can’t we fly west more easily? This video explains.

Thinking Conference

If you’re in Toronto, or looking for an excuse to visit, you might want to look at the Thinking conference. It should be a good one!

The New Man

Thanks to P&R for sponsoring the blog this week with an article entitled ‘Men, We Can’t Just ‘Do It’.”


The story of every great Christian achievement is the history of answered prayer. —E.M. Bounds

Free Stuff Fridays
November 20, 2015

This week's Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Missional Wear. For years they have been producing great Reformed theology t-shirts, apparel, drinkware, posters, and more. They are now introducing a new line of paper goods including greeting cards, flat cards, and note pads. There will be 5 winners that will each receive a t-shirt of their choosing and a sampler of Missional Wear's brand new stationery products.

Missional Wear t-shirts and hoodies make a perfect Christmas gift for the theology lover in your life. This Christmas morning they will be surprised to see their favorite theologian on a t-shirt. Make it even more special by adding their favorite quote on the back. With over 150 designs to choose from, you will definitely find something that they will absolutely love. Get an early start with the coupon code CHALLIES that will get you between $3 and $5 off each apparel item that you purchase!

Skip the cliché Christmas cards and send one that is beautiful with a theologically sound message. These Soli Deo Gloria and Five Solas folded card sets will send a unique message to your family, friends, and loved ones. The cards have a matte finish and are blank inside, allowing you plenty of space to write a personal message. Each card comes with a matching envelope that make them ready to mail. For a limited time you can get 100 cards for the price of 50, so grab them while they are available!

Have you ever needed to write a note of encouragement and wanted to write it on something more than a blank piece of printer paper? Missional Wear's new note cards are the ideal size for writting a short message. These unique note cards feature original art of some of your favorite theologians like Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and John Owen. One of the most popular designs features this quote from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever."

If you write a lot of notes or just need something to jot down your grocery list, one of their new 50 sheet notepads may be exactly what you are looking for. They are a great way to expose others to some of the greatest theologians and theological truths via something as simple as a note. There are 4 beautiful designs to choose from with quantity discounts for all of you heavy note takers out there.

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.

4 Great Reasons to Read Romans
November 20, 2015

The book of Romans is an absolute treasure. J.I. Packer expresses it well when he says, “All roads in the Bible lead to Romans, and all views afforded by the Bible are seen most clearly from Romans, and when the message of Romans gets into a person’s heart there is no telling what may happen.” I want the message of Romans to continue to get into my heart and life. To that end, I listened to Michael Kruger’s recent lectures on the book and want to commend them to you. These lectures were given at RTS Charlotte where Kruger serves as President. They were delivered not in a classroom environment but as part of a ladies’ study. They are some of the best teaching on the book I’ve ever heard.

The study is divided into “seasons” of 20 or 21 lectures each with each lecture coming in at around 45 minutes. Season 1 covers chapters 1 through 9 in 20 lectures (plus a brief extra). Season 2 begins in Romans 8 and continues to Romans 11.

For each session you can download the notes, then watch the video. They are as ideally suited for watching alone as watching with friends or family. Give them a try! I think you will enjoy them as much as I did.

Season 1 (Romans 1-7)

Series 2 (Romans 8-11)

November 20, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include Recapturing the Voice of God by Stephen Smith ($4.99); Preaching the Old Testament by Scott Gibson ($1.99); Picture Perfect by Amy Baker (free); Salvation and Sovereignty by Kenneth Keathley ($2.99). New from GLH Publishing is Thomas Boston’s The Crook in the Lot ($0.99).

The Syrian Refugee Controversy

Joe Carter’s article will get you caught up on the Syrian refugee controversy (as it pertains to inviting refugees into America).

Bad Doctrine vs. Heresy

Mike Riccardi uses Mohler’s theological triage to attempt to sort the bad doctrine from the outright heresy.

The Short Half-Life of Online Empathy

“Everything’s accelerated these days, and the same must be said for grief online. The Internet cycles through all five stages in as many tweets. We find it hurtling toward us: unavoidable, wall-to-wall.”

Windows Turns 30

Microsoft Windows turns 30 this week. Here’s a visual tour of its history. How many of these versions did you use?

Meaningless Chatter

Here is a selection of words and phrases you may use (especially if you’re a preacher or church leader) that really have no meaning.

This Day in 1541. 474 years ago today at the age of 32, John Calvin established a theocratic government in Geneva, which provided a home base for Protestantism throughout Europe. *

Fascinating Letters From the Time Archives

Time shares the 7 most fascinating letters from their archives. They come from Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, and Tennessee Williams, among others.

What Is an Evangelical?

Christianity Today: “About 2 out of 5 Protestants who call themselves evangelicals no longer qualify under a new definition of what true evangelicals believe. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 Protestants who don’t self-identify as evangelicals actually have beliefs matching the new definition of evangelical.”


Any theology that does not lead to song is, at a fundamental level, a flawed theology. —J.I. Packer

A Charlie Brown Religion
November 19, 2015

Like countless millions of people of my generation (and the one before and the one after), I grew up reading Peanuts. I loved reading stories and gags based on Charlie Brown and his gang. Charles Schulz had a gift for creating lovable characters and for communicating real ideas through the simplest medium—three or four small squares on newsprint. One thing that always fascinated me about Schulz was his references to the Christian faith. Hundreds of his strips and many of his television specials included subtle and sometimes blatant quotes from the Bible and musings on faith. Why did he include these? Was he a Christian attempting to share his beliefs through his medium or did he just find the Bible an interesting and inspiring work of literature?

Like me, Stephen J. Lind grew up in a Christian home, reading and enjoying Peanuts. He, too, had an interest in Schulz’s religious beliefs. And he has just released A Charlie Brown Religion, a fascinating spiritual biography of Charles Schulz.

This book concerns the thematic thread of religion in Sparky’s life and work. It does not have much to say about his love for hockey, golf, or chocolate chip cookies (all of which were important in various ways to him), but the book has plenty to say about the importance of Charles Schulz’s faith. The reader of this book should not see such a focus to be an indication that Schulz’s life was entirely consumed and driven by religious thought. It wasn’t. Yet such thought was deeply interesting and personally important to him, with a breadth and depth of context and performance that more than justifies a complete volume devoted to its history.

This work tells the story of Schulz’s life and times while keeping the focus on his faith. His faith was as complicated as the man himself and developed a great deal over the course of his life. Lind says, “One might see this book as weaving together answers to two primary questions—‘Was Charles Schulz a religious man?’ and ‘Is there really much religion in Peanuts?’ The simple answer to both of those questions is ‘Yes.’ But the simple answer is rarely the truest answer in history, and you may find that the questions themselves need challenging as we search for thicker answers.”

Schultz was raised in a family that put little stock in religion. As a young adult he came into contact with members of a Church of God in Minnesota and eventually professed faith in Jesus Christ. “He was fully committed to his spiritual beliefs, having developed what others in the church might describe as a ‘personal relationship’ with God through his faith in Christ, but Schulz had not yet developed his own personal spiritual voice. Instead, the language of the Church of God would provide the structure for his thought.” He came to love the Bible and rose to a leadership position within his church, often leading Bible studies, preaching, and doing street evangelism. “Over the years, Sparky [his nickname] would mark nearly every page of his Bible with a pencil or pen, underlining meaningful passages, transcribing timelines, and circling key words, so much that he would naturally forget what had inspired him to do so for certain passages. He filled the margins with explanations drawn from his commentaries and scrawled out personal insights in the blank space left at the end of an Old or New Testament book.” He later moved to California where he joined a United Methodist Church and became active as a Sunday school teacher.

Through this time he was gaining fame as the creator of Peanuts, quickly rising to become the world’s most popular cartoonist. From the beginning, he incorporated spiritual themes into his comics, sometimes quoting the Bible directly. Most famously, he had Linus quote an extended passage from the Bible in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

But sometimes things are not as simple as they seem. Schulz married Joyce Halverson who had no interest in religion and who refused to attend church with him. By their twentieth anniversary their marriage was in trouble and Schulz was engaged in an extra-marital affair. His marriage and affair both ended, and he soon re-married, this time to Jeannie Clyde to whom he would remain married until his death. Like Joyce, Jeannie had no interest in the Christian faith. By this time Schulz was no longer attending church and had lost much of his early enthusiasm for the Bible. Lind speculates “that within the tumult of a failing marriage and while in the midst of a private romantic affair, he no longer felt comfortable leading a study of the Bible.” He soon began describing himself as a “secular humanist,” though Lind points out that “Schulz’s statements reflected something more like a biblical humanism—merely a loosening of the already open, thoughtful faith that he had held since before leaving Minnesota. It was not a reversal of his faith, nor was it a signal of a personal religious crisis.” But it was also a clear sign that he did not hold to orthodox Christian beliefs. Over time, he came to hold to something closer to universalism, believing “there were others who were part of that Kingdom without even knowing it, without believing in Jesus. They were worshipping God through their heart attitudes and their merciful actions, regardless of their theological beliefs.” He died in perplexity and despair, grieving that he had not been given more years to live.

And yet through all of this evolution of his beliefs, or perhaps the clarifying of his existing beliefs, Schulz continued to share parts of the Bible through his work. At a time when culture, and especially entertainment culture, were openly hostile to Christianity, Schulz would include references to the Bible and have Linus boldly recite the meaning of Christmas. Even today, millions gather around their television sets to hear this monologue. While Schulz personally turned away from many core Christian beliefs, he at the same time brought Christian ideas back into the cultural mainstream.

A Charlie Brown Religion is as interesting a biography as I have read this year. It is just long enough to do justice to its subject without adding too much detail, and it moves at just the right pace. It describes a man who found joy and comfort in Christian beliefs, but who never fully appropriated those beliefs—not to the fullest degree. Attempting to understand his faith and its place in his life is equal parts perplexing and fascinating.


November 19, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include 5 volumes in B&H’s New American Commentary Studies at just $0.99 each: God’s Indwelling Presence by James Hamilton; Believer’s Baptism by Thomas Schreiner; The End of the Law by Jason Meyer; The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Schreiner; That You May Know by Christopher Bass; Enthroned on Our Praise by Timothy Pierce. Many of the volumes in the Perspectives series are also $0.99: Perspectives on the Sabbath; Perspectives on the Ending of Mark; Perspectives on Your Child’s Education; Perspectives on Family Ministry; Perspectives on the Doctrine of God; Perspectives on Election; Perspectives on Church Government; and Perspectives on Christian WorshipPerspectives on the Extend of the Atonement and Perspectives on Our Struggle With Sin are $2.99 each. James and Colossians & Philemon in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series are $0.99 each.

Read Scripture Series: Psalms

I continue to enjoy The Bible Project. Their latest video provides a great overview of the book of Psalms.

U.S. Christian Groups Prioritize Muslim Refugees over Christian Ones

Here’s why Christian refugees are overlooked: “Their plight involves a nightmarish catch-22. When Christians flee as refugees they cannot go to UN-run refugee camps because there they face the same persecution and terror from which they fled.”

Only Two Religions

This is a helpful introduction into Peter Jones’ teaching about oneism and twoism—very helpful categories.

Brother, Where Is Your Identity?

David Powlison reminds you of important truths about your deepest identity.

IGNew Album. Today marks the release of a new album from Indelible Grace, the seventh in their history. It is titled Look to Jesus. As with all of their previous albums, this one features a collection of retuned hymns. You can listen to and buy the digital version at Bandcamp or pre-order the CD at their store.

Nobody Deserves That

It’s always fun when Adam4d uses one of my articles to draw a comic. He did that with “Nobody Deserves That.”

Stay & Wander

There is some amazing footage of the Alps (and the people who live deep within them) in this short film.


A child who knowingly sins can savingly believe. —C.H. Spurgeon

Satans Great Trick
November 18, 2015

One of Satan’s greatest tricks is to convince you that the sin you are being tempted with is a very small sin. “This is just a little one. It’s not like you’re going to kill anyone. It’s not like you’re committing adultery. You’ve done it before and God didn’t strike you down. The joy will by far outweigh the risk. We will keep this one between just you and me.” And too often you believe his lie. You indulge in what seems like just a little sin, a harmless peccadillo.

One of Satan’s greatest delights is to convince you that the sin you have just committed is a very big sin. That same sin that was so small in the future looms so large in the past. Now he whispers, “Oh, you have sinned so badly. You have sinned so big. How could you have done this? You’ve gone and done it this time—you’ve sinned beyond his grace.” And again, you believe the lie. You wallow in guilt and sink into despair.

Do you see the pattern? Do you see the cycle? Do you see the sheer evil of it? Satan’s great joy is to convince you that the sin you are about to commit is very small and the sin you have just committed is very large. He convinces you of this even when they are the very same sin. Don’t believe his lie! Don’t fall for his trick! But if and when you do, don’t give him his great delight.

There is hope, even when you fall for his trick for the thousandth time. The terrible reality is that there are no small sins, no minor offenses. There are always grave consequences for recklessly disobeying God’s commands. But your glorious confidence is that those consequences have already been faced and met and paid by God’s own Son. There are no sins so small that you can enjoy them with impunity, but no sins so big that they can take you beyond God’s saving grace.

Image credit: Shutterstock

November 18, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include one of my favorite Michael Horton books, Putting Amazing Back into Grace ($2.99). Also consider Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God by C.J. Mahaney ($2.99); Going Public by Bobby Jamieson ($4.99); Scripture Alone by James White ($2.99); and these 3 from Christian Focus: Joseph by Liam Goligher, Jonah by Colin Smith, and Daniel by Sean Michael Lucas ($2.99 each). You may want to download Don’t Follow Your Heart by Jon Bloom which is available free at Desiring God.

10 Questions about Adventism

Nathan Busenitz is finding out what I learned a little while ago: That critiquing Seventh Day Adventism brings about some harsh responses.

What ISIS Really Wants

“The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

If We Perish, We Perish

Amy makes an important point here: “It’s ironic that two months ago, when a drowned toddler was the Face of the Refugee, there was only criticism for those countries who didn’t open their arms wide.  Now, when the Face of the Refugee is a terrorist, those same doors are slamming shut.”

How One Man’s Face Became Another Man’s Face

(Note: Since I shared this today, NY Mag has added an inappropriate ad for another article in the right sidebar. My apologies.) “Patrick Hardison’s face was not always his own. Three months ago, it belonged to a young Brooklyn bike mechanic.” This article (which contains a handful of swear words) describes a procedure on the very frontier of medical science: a face transplant.

Christmas Books

Westminster Books has deals this week on Christmas books. There are some good choices there for individuals and families.

This Day in 1874. 141 years ago today the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was founded in Cleveland. *

Talking with Catholics about Jesus

Mark Gilbert: “Here are my answers to some great questions a student at a theological college asked me about talking with Catholics about Jesus.”

For the Love

TGC has a helpful review of Jen Hatmaker’s popular new book For the Love. They point out strengths and weaknesses and make it sound like there are probably better books to read.


No man more truly loves God than he that is most fearful to offend Him. —Thomas Adams