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July 27, 2015

Happy Monday! Crossway has some good deals this week on the Kindle versions of 3 excellent marriage books: No Ordinary Marriage by Tim Savage ($3.99); What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp ($3.99); and This Momentary Marriage by John Piper ($3.99). (From a different publisher, Dave Harvey’s When Sinners Say “I Do” is $1.99.)

Looking Away From Abortion - Ross Douthat has a good and powerful editorial on the situation surrounding Planned Parenthood.

Why Fireflies Glow - You know that they glow, but scientists are only just figuring out why they glow.

The Frequency of English Words - Here’s an interesting video that talks about one of my favorite things: words.

Don’t Pray About the Book of Mormon - Mormon missionaries often ask you to take the Book of Mormon and to pray about it. This article explains why you shouldn’t do that.

Don’t Blame Trump, Blame America - I usually try to avoid politics (and especially U.S. politics) but I think Canada’s Rex Murphy says a lot of insightful things in this article. He places Trump’s popularity in the middle of today’s cultural and ethical mess.

TGC Church Directory - The Gospel Coalition has a very helpful (and newly updated) directory of associated churches. It’s a great place to begin the search when you’re traveling or relocating.

We Will Not Bow - “Last Sunday night (July 19), John MacArthur addressed the church’s response to an American society that is growing increasingly hostile to biblical morality and the truth of the gospel.” You can read, listen, or watch as you see fit.

The ungodly are not half so restrained in their blasphemy as we are in our praise. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

 

July 26, 2015

Sometimes I just need to be reminded about the seriousness of sin. And sometimes I just need to be reminded off the slipperiness of sin. Those reminders came this week through Charles Spurgeon and a sermon he preached on June 29, 1890.

Many men are violent against one sin; but the true saint abhors all sin. You are a teetotaler; I am very glad to hear it: you will not allow the sin of drunkenness to have dominion over you. But are you selfish and ungenerous? Have you learned habits of strict economy in regard to religious donations, so that you always give a penny where you ought to give a pound? What have you done? You have only changed your idols. You have dethroned one usurper to set up another.

If you were once profane and are now hypocritical, you have only changed iniquities. It is a very curious thing how one sin feeds on another: the death of profligacy may be the resurrection of greed; the flight of pride may be the advent of shameless folly. The man who was lewd, riotous, brawling and irreligious has killed those sins, and on their graves he has sown a handful of a poisonous weed called pride, and it flourishes amazingly.

It may be London pride, country pride, or English pride, or American pride; but it is rare stuff to grow, and to grow over the rotting carcasses of other sins. Unbelief may dethrone superstition, but its own reign may be no real improvement upon that of credulity [gullibility].

If you only throw down Baal to set up Ashteroth, what progress have you made towards God? Little does it signify [matter] which of the false gods is set up in the temple of Jehovah, for he hates them all. The right prayer is, “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.”

 Some sins are of respectable repute and other sins are disreputable among men; but to a child of God every sin is loathsome. Sins are all what Bunyan calls Diabolonians and not one of them must be suffered to live in the town of ManSoul. “Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” I can see the throne set up within the heart of man. Who shall sit on it? It cannot be empty; who shall fill it? This sin, that sin, or the other? Nay, Lord, help me to keep every intruder out of it.

Whether he come as an angel of light, or in his true character as the devil, help me to treat every one as an enemy that would seek to supplant thee in thy dominion over me. Oh, that God may reign over us from morn to eve, through every day of every week of every year!

July 25, 2015

It’s the weekend at last! I have spent this week with my family at Muskoka Bible Centre, hanging around during the day and preaching every evening. This is a great place to enjoy some summer vacation and we are sorry to have to head home today. While we pack up and head back to the city, here are some articles and videos you may enjoy:

Doug Wilson comments on ISIS and Planned Parenthood and Their Respective Beheadings. He pulls no punches.

If you are up for a long and interesting kind of read that illustrates the Trouble in Utopia—any kind of Utopia—you may enjoy this.

U.S.-style megachurches are taking over the world according to The Washington Post. They discuss the rise of the megachurch across the globe.

CCEF has released a new edition of The Journal of Biblical Counseling and David Powlison’s editorial is always worth reading. This month he discusses How the Bible Gets Personal.

This storm chaser went to 10 states in 14 days to capture some remarkable footage.

R.C. Sproul Jr. gives you 5 Things to Look for in a Church. He ends this way: “If you find this list disheartening, if you feel there is no such body near you, get to work. A good church is less something you find, more something you build.”

The headline just about says it all: Challenging the Culture of Quarrelsome ‘Discernment’ Blogging. “I do not challenge biblical discernment. But I do want to challenge quarrelsome discernment: a counterfeit ‘discernment’ that revels in the fight, refuses to listen to others, and is careless with the truth.”

Please Be Careful of Tip Overs - “According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a child dies roughly every two weeks due to tip-over incidents. The vast majority of victims are under the age of five.”

Thanks to RPTS for sponsoring the blog this week with Ancient Greek for the Digital Age.

There is no sin that exists that is more powerful than the grace that is to be found in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. —Paul Tripp

Tripp

 

July 24, 2015

This week's Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Christian Focus. Christian Focus Publications, based in the North of Scotland, produce a range of books from well-known authors such as John Piper, Tim Chester and J.I Packer. Their mission is to "reach out and stay faithful," serving every corner of the world with high-quality Christian literature. You can connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

They are giving away some great prize packages this week. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of them will receive the following books:

Motyer A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament: One Book, One God, One Story by Alec Motyer. Packed within this book is a love for the Old Testament cultivated over nearly ninety years. It presents the insight of a seasoned scholar in a way that is both pastorally warm and intellectually accessible. This accessible yet powerful addition to the Pocket Guide series draw together the threads of Scripture to help us understand the power of God's word when viewed in its completeness. "Now 90, Alec Motyer retains all his old clarity, warmth and charm as he shares his infectious affection for, and insight into, Jesus's Bible. This is a first-rate get-you-started book." (J. I. Packer)

Rubies Far Above Rubies: The Life of Bethan Lloyd-Jones by Lynette G. Clark. The galleries of the great heroes of faith contain many inspirational women; although not always placed in as prominent a position for all to see, their service has been invaluable in God's kingdom. The wife of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was such a woman. Bethan Lloyd-Jones' portrait has long been hidden in a part of the gallery known only to her family and certain close friends. Lynette G. Clark brings this portrait into view, capturing the wit, wisdom and faith of a godly wife, mother and friend. "What a rich and colorful portrait, of a godly woman who served her Savior with wit and wisdom...This is a portrait worth stopping to relish and study." (Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women's Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition)

Moody How Church Can Change Your Life: Answers to the 10 Most Common Questions about Church by Josh Moody. Google books on church, there will be no shortage of choice! Some will be helpful, others less so. So why another book on church? Josh Moody, is, in fact, asking a very different question: why should I go to church at all? Filled with practical advice, this book will help you answer questions you maybe should have known the answer to and other questions you never knew to ask! "... a powerful and needed reminder of the central role the local church should play in the life of every Christian." (R. Albert Mohler)

Chester Crown of Thorns: Connecting Kingdom and Cross by Tim Chester. Within evangelicalism today it can sometimes seem there are two competing versions of the gospel. There is the gospel of the kingdom with its focus on God's plan to restore the world. And there is the gospel of the cross with its focus on the offer of forgiveness. These two emphases create contrasting models of discipleship and mission. In Crown of Thorns Tim Chester shows how these two gospels are really one gospel - the message of the King who establishes justice in a surprising way. "This book is an absolute gift for those who want a holistic discipleship that 'teaches them to obey everything I have commanded you.''"(Daniel Montgomery, Senior Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky)

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.

July 24, 2015

New deals today include I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer ($0.99); Revelation commentary by Paige Patterson ($2.99); and Suburbianity by Byron Yawn ($2.99).

5 Reasons to Keep the Kids In - This article largely describes my preference when it comes to children and worship services.

The Coming of the Age of Gibberish - Carl Trueman highlights the kind of ridiculous statement that is suddenly becoming so common.

Logic on Fire - You may have heard of the excellent documentary Logic on Fire which looks at the life and ministry of Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The DVD is being offered at quite a discount.

How Boa Constrictors Kill - So maybe boa constrictors aren’t actually killing their prey by suffocation.

The End of Christianity in the Middle East - The New York Times magazine shows how the last vestiges of Christianity are being stamped out in the Middle East.

The Great Work Taking Place in Our World - Rick Phillips reminds us of the great work that is taking place in our world.

Plan B - I was sorry to read this story, about Washington State forcing objecting pharmacists to dispense Plan B.

All the preaching in the world cannot make a man see the truth so long as his eyes are blinded. —C.H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon

 

Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits
July 23, 2015

I have been blogging for 12 years now. For at least 11 of those years, people have been predicting the end of the blog. The reasons have changed, but the predictions have been consistent: It is only a matter of time before the blogosphere collapses.

Last month Christianity Today ran an article by Amy Julia Becker titled “Why Bloggers Are Calling It Quits.” She points to high-profile bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Heather Armstrong. Both of them have recently decided to walk away from their blogs at the very height of their popularity. She focuses on several reasons that bloggers quit: They grow weary of the anonymous vitriol that dominates so much online discussion, they realize that these blogs have come to dominate their lives, forcing them to inhabit a fast-paced always-on digital existence, and they want to slow down and to focus on a different kind of writing. Becker laments, “With the constantly changing and endlessly available content, and the pressure for writers to garner as many ‘clicks’ as possible, the Internet lends itself to a loss of storytelling, and a loss of careful thought.”

I do not disagree with all Becker says. I, too, sometimes grow weary of blogs and the blogosphere. I hate that even the most bland or innocuous statement will inevitably be taken by someone somewhere as an outrage. I completely agree that “We need to preserve a place for storytelling that takes time, and thought, and care, storytelling that provides a sense of telos, of purpose and meaning and not just an ever-changing present reality.” But the blogosphere isn’t meant to be a replacement for such works; it is meant to complement them. Ironically, the people who write those great works will immediately turn to the blogosphere to spread the ideas and sell the books. Both media are improved when they work together. We do not need to downplay one in order to give due respect to the other.

I predict that the blogosphere will continue to grow and thrive. At least, the idea of the blogosphere will grow and thrive. The idea that gave rise to the blogosphere is that it offered people with ideas a voice that circumvented the traditional gatekeepers. Newspaper editors no longer stood between opinions and audiences. Book publishers could no longer determine the authors who would introduce and evaluate the big ideas. Magazines and news shows were no longer the only curators of interesting news and information. That anyone today can have a voice seems normal in 2015, but we forget that fifteen years ago it was a novel idea.

Blogs have given a voice to the people, and the people do not intend to give it back anytime soon. News and information, both in its content and curation, has been democratized. I don’t see that changing for a long time. We don’t want to go back to a world where a few giant media outlets control the ideas and suggest how we ought to think about them.

The medium will inevitably evolve and (I pray) mature. Some of the traditional elements of a blog (such as a comment section, which I pretty much leave closed these days) are disappearing or migrating to platforms like Facebook. Some day we may even lose the word “blog.” But the idea is here to say. Yes, a lot of bloggers are quitting. But many others are taking their place.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

July 23, 2015

Today is a good day to stock up on R.C. Sproul books: God’s Love and The Work of Christ are $1.99 each, Pleasing God is $0.99, while How Then Shall We Worship? is free.

Heaven Is a Place for Sale - This article traces a bit of the pre-history of the heaven tourism genre.

Forward from Conversion - Ed Stetzer: “It’s a really bad idea to give birth to a baby and leave them on their own. We call that abandonment. People go to jail for that—and rightfully so. But I think sometimes we do that in church.”

Lighting at 2000 FPS - This is an amazing video that shows lighting at 2000 frames per second.

The Pastor’s Personal Holiness - Nothing is more essential to a pastor’s calling or the ministry he extends to others than his own personal holiness.

New York Times Bestseller - We all know it’s an honor to be a New York Times bestseller. This article explains what that actually means.

After Miscarriage - Jessalyn Hutto has written a helpful book on miscarriage. Over the next couple of weeks she will taking and answering questions through her blog.

The world: Your biggest problem is without. The solution is within. The Bible: Your biggest problem is within. The solution is without. —Matt Smethurst

Smethurst

 

July 22, 2015

I want my heroes to be good, only good, and my villains to be bad, only bad. I can deal with this. The trouble comes when I see vices in my heroes and virtues in my villains. That is where it all gets complicated.

This man has a long history of preaching and defending the gospel, but then he makes statements about the inerrancy of Scripture that leave me scratching my head. This woman has had a long and effective ministry of teaching the Bible, but then she allies herself with a ministry that I find very concerning and she quotes an author who is theologically dangerous. Or, on the flip side, this teacher has long questioned some important doctrines, but then he begins to say things that are not only helpful, but uniquely true and insightful.

The problem, I am convinced, is that we expect a kind of consistency that is just not realistic for people so deeply stained by sin. We want our heroes and our villains to be monolithic, to play their roles perfectly. But this world is rarely so clean and neat.

The fact is that we are all a mess of contradictions. We are a mess of contradictions who are highly attuned to other people’s, but blind to our own. We will joyfully believe both A and B, we will joyfully do both A and Not A, all the while thinking that we are being perfectly consistent. But we will not tolerate this in others.

If we demand utter consistency we will eventually abandon all our heroes and miss the virtues of our villains. We will end up on a lonely little island all alone, convinced that we are the only consistent people left. We will follow our consistency to isolation and despair.

I have my heroes just like you do. I have people that I admire, people with whom I have a kind of emotional or spiritual attachment. I may not even know them, but I still look up to them, value their opinions, and even model aspects of my life and faith on theirs. And when I see these contradictions in people who are so godly I can only assume that I must have some significant contradictions of my own. I assume that I am equally blind to these contradictions. I assume that I am equally convinced of the virtues of my vices.

I have learned that I need to choose my heroes carefully. I need to expect that my heroes will be flawed. I need to believe that I am flawed. And I need to force myself to remember that the best of men are but men at their best.

Image credit: Shutterstock