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October 13, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals, all of which are from Crossway: One with Christ by Marcus Peter Johnson ($0.99); Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick ($0.99); He Who Gives Life by Graham Cole ($1.99); Engaging with the Holy Spirit by Graham Cole ($1.99).

Should Giving Always Be Kept Secret? - Randy Alcorn answers the question of whether giving should always be kept secret.

Cheating Video Poker - There is no real redeeming value in this article; it’s just plain interesting what people will do for greed. Also, it’s hard to feel sorry for casinos when people find ways to rip them off.

Relishing Baseball’s Postseason - Here’s Barnabas Piper on the joys of postseason baseball.

Reading As Spiritual Warfare - Redeemed Reader is a blog dedicated to reviewing books for kids, and they are featuring an interesting article about reading as spiritual warfare.

Activism in the Social Media Age - Clever.

Strange Fire Redux - John MacArthur is beginning a brief series looking back at Strange Fire one year later.

There is no idol like self. —Thomas Watson

Watson

October 12, 2014

For just a few minutes today, I’d like you to think about the things that matter most to you (which, I trust, are your relationships). And then let Michael Horton guide you via his new book Ordinary.

Think of the things that matter most to you. How do you measure your relationships? How do you “measure” your marriage, for example? When my wife and I talk about our relationship, we often have different takes on how things are going. Looking back over the course of our married years, we have seen many ways in which the Lord has bonded us together since our first year together. We can see steady growth and identify ways in which we’ve deepened in our relationship. But when we shift our focus to the short-term, the week-to-week, it becomes harder for us to get an accurate gauge on how we are doing. The extraordinary weekend retreat was memorable, but it’s those ordinary moments filled with seemingly insignificant decisions, conversations, and touches that matter most. This is where most of life is lived. The richest things in life are made up of more than Kodak moments.

Is it any different when you are raising children? The mantra among many parents today, especially dads, is “Quality Time.” But is that true? Think about all that happens in those mundane moments that are unplanned, unprogrammed, unscheduled, and unplugged. Nearly everything! Nicknames are invented, identities and relationships are formed. On the drive home from church, your child asks a question about the sermon that puts one more piece of the puzzle into place for an enduring faith. Everyone in the car benefits from the exchange.

I’ve used the “quality time” line before too, but it’s just an excuse. Can we really compensate for extended absence (even if we are physically present), missing the ordinary details of life, with a dream getaway or by laying out a thousand dollars to take the kids to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Any long-term relationship that wants to grow and be healthy needs those ordinary minutes, hours, days, months, and years. This is more than just enduring those moments passively. It requires engaging in intentional thought and effort as well as enjoyment.

Horton goes on to draw a comparison to the local church and the very ordinary Christian life, but I will have more to say about that in the near future.

October 11, 2014

I get my wife back today! Aileen has spent the last few days in Indianapolis to take in the 2014 True Woman conference. It sounds like she is having a great time, but I’ll be glad to have her back just in time for Thanksgiving (which, in Canada, we celebrate this weekend).

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Spiritual Warfare by Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura ($5.99); When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada ($5.99); Hitler in the Crosshairs by Maurice Possley & John Woodbridge ($3.79); The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens ($3.99); Gifted Hands by Ben Carson ($3.99); Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith ($1.99).

Here’s an interesting and quantified take on America’s Most Well-Spoken President - “We crunched the data on more than 600 presidential speeches and addresses to see how they changed over time, and had Bill Clinton’s speechwriter check the results. Our findings may surprise you.”

A Lens to the Front is a photo gallery from Iraq.

Thanks to Books at a Glance for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsors help keep this site afloat by covering the costs associated with hosting and maintenance.

I always love to read Sinclair Ferguson on the Bible - “If Scripture is our final authority, exactly how reliable is it as the authority on which we should base the whole of our lives?”

The title of this one just about says it all: Let Your Dim, Sin-Stained Light Shine Before The World.

This article outlines one of the ways same-sex marriage will affect friendships. Esolen asks us to imagine a world in which the incest taboo is erased. In such a place, “You see a father hugging his teenage daughter as she leaves the car to go to school. The possibility flashes before your mind. The language has changed, and the individual can do nothing about it.”

Holiness is not the way to Christ. Christ is the way to holiness. —Adrian Rogers

Rogers

October 10, 2014

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Frontline Missions. This is an amazing ministry that produces the Dispatches from the Front DVD series—a series I love. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of the winners will receive the complete collection of all 7 Dispatches from the Front DVDs.

CoversHere is what the ministry is all about:

Frontline’s key objective is to advance the Gospel, forming vibrant, Word-centered, disciple-making churches, especially in those regions of the world that have the least Light. We are driven by the same desire that animated the apostle Paul who said it was always his ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known (Romans 15:20). We pursue this goal by equipping Christians on the frontlines to reach their own people for Christ, by forming strategic partnerships with them, and by developing creative platforms in countries closed to traditional missions.

And here is the trailer for the most recent of the DVDs:

Enter to Win

Again, there are 5 prize packages to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below. (If you receive this by email, you will need to visit challies.com to enter.)

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.

October 10, 2014

We have a word for doing too little: lazy. We have a word for doing too much: busy. But we don’t have a word for whatever comes in between. Not a good one, anyway.

To say “I’m lazy” is to say “I have taken on too little.” To say “I’m busy” is to say “I have taken on too much.” But what word do we use when we have taken on just the right amount and are carefully balancing life’s responsibilities?

Laziness is a vice, the wallow of people who just don’t care. Busyness is a vice disguised as a virtue, the refuge of people who find their self-worth in activity and accomplishment. But what word describes the person who works hard, and works consistently, but who defines himself in more noble ways?

Lazy is a word of shame, as it should be. Busy is a word of pride, though it should not be. In truth, it is no more noble to be busy than to be lazy, because both are an egregious misuse of time and energy.

We need a word of virtue that fits in the space between busy and lazy. We need to use it, and we need to live it.

October 10, 2014

Here are a few new Kindle deals: Discovering the God Who Is by R.C. Sproul ($3.99); Still Growing by Kirk Cameron ($1.99); The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts ($3.49). And here are a couple that have just been published: New from GLH Publishing is The Gospel in Ezekiel by Thomas Guthrie ($0.99), and new from GCD Books is Called Together by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson ($3.99).

Follow Your Passion - Here’s why following your passion isn’t always a good idea.

Living with Ebola in West Africa - A sobering photo gallery from The Big Picture.

Glory Be to God - Jamie Brown has a free song for you. “As an Anglican, I was aware of the Te Deum being in our Book of Common Prayer, but as is the danger with most liturgical elements, I had gotten used to it.”

The Boring Parts - Nancy Guthrie tells us the best thing about the boring parts of the Bible.

The Key to Radical Generosity - The key to the best kind of generosity: God doesn’t need you. ”[I]t’s just that he’s not looking for people to supply his needs. He’s not short on money, talent, or time. He has never commanded us to go save the world for him; he calls us to follow him as he saves the world through us.”

Practical Evangelism - Here’s some very practical help on being a more faithful evangelist.

To really hear the gospel is to be shaken to your core. To really hear the gospel is to change. —Mark Dever

Dever

October 09, 2014

To become a Christian is to accept the lifelong challenge of becoming who you are — of putting sin to death and growing in holiness. Today I want to channel a little John Owen and tell you three things you ought to expect when battling sin.

Expect that the Battle Will Be Long

Owen says that putting sin to death consists of “a habitual weakening of sin,” and I take this to mean that over time and through our habits we chip away at our sin bit-by-bit and day-by-day. Rather than expecting sin to be destroyed in a moment, we expect that it will take time and focused effort. In this way putting sin to death is relative to our maturity as Christians and to the amount of time we have dedicated to battling a particular sin. He says, “The first thing in mortification is the weakening of this habit of sin or lust, that it shall not, with that violence, earnestness, frequency, rise up, conceive, tumultuate, provoke, entice, disquiet as naturally as it is apt to do.”

He has this amazing quote that is quite an indictment of humanity: “The reason why a natural man is not always perpetually in the pursuit of some one lust, night and day, is because he has many to serve, every one crying to be satisfied; thence he is carried on with great variety, but still in general he lies toward the satisfaction of self.”

He also makes a very helpful comparison between putting sin to death and a man being executed on a cross:

As a man nailed to the cross he first struggles and strives and cries out with great strength and might, but, as his blood and spirits waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries low and hoarse, scarce to be heard; when a man first sets on a lust or distemper, to deal with it, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved; but when by mortification the blood and spirits of it are let out, it moves seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart; it may have sometimes a dying pang, that makes an appearance of great vigor and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it be kept from considerable success.

Expect that the Battle Will Be Hard

Putting sin to death is a long and violent struggle against a deadly enemy that is absolutely devoted to our destruction. In this way we should not expect that putting sin to death will be easy, and we should not expect that sin will go quietly. “When sin is strong and vigorous, the soul is scarce able to make any head against it; it sighs, and groans, and mourns, and is troubled, as David speaks of himself, but seldom has sin in the pursuit.” This will be a lifelong battle and one that requires constant attention.

To fight against sin you need to know that…

  • “… a man has such an enemy to deal with it, to take notice of it, to consider it as an enemy indeed, and one that is to be destroyed by all means possible.” Always remember that sin exists, and always know that you are called to battle it.
  • “… to labor to be acquainted with the ways, wiles, methods, advantages, and occasions of its success is the beginning of this warfare.” Always remember that God gives us instructions in dealing with it, and we are to know our sin so we can better attack our sin.
  • “… to load it daily with all the things which shall after be mentioned, that are grevious, killing, and destructive to it is the height of this contest.” Always remember that you are to follow God’s instructions in dealing with it.

Expect to See Frequent Success

While the battle is long and fierce, “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.” Therefore we should expect to see frequent successes shown in significant and measurable victories over our sin. “Frequent success against any lust is another part and evidence of mortification. By success I understand not a mere disappointment of sin, that it be not brought forth nor accomplished, but a victory over it and pursuit of it to a complete conquest. For instance, when the heart finds sin at any time at work, seducing, forming imaginations to make provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof, it instantly apprehends sin and brings it to the law of God and love of Christ, condemns it, follows it with execution to the uttermost.” While we do battle against our sin, we know that God has given us both the desire and the power to see victory.

Next Time

Next Thursday we will continue with the sixth chapter of the book. There is still plenty of time for you to get the book and to read along if that is of interest to you.

Your Turn

I would like to know what you gained from this chapter. Feel free to post comments below or to write about this on your own blog (and then post a comment linking us to your thoughts). Do not feel that you need to say anything shocking or profound. Just share what stirred your heart or what gave you pause or what confused you. Let’s make sure we’re reading this book together.

October 09, 2014

Every morning I hunt through mountains of e-book junk looking for a few e-book jewels. And on that note, here are today’s worthwhile Kindle deals. You’ve got 5 from Sproul to choose from: The Promises of God by R.C. Sproul (free!); How Then Shall We Worship? ($1.99); The Work of Christ ($2.51); God’s Love ($1.99); Pleasing God ($1.99). Also consider  Preaching for God’s Glory by Alistair Begg ($4.43); Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott ($5.07).

Why Did God Allow Satan to Harm Job and His Family? - This is one answer to a perplexing question.

Will Christians Be Left Behind? - This article looks at the history of the belief in a secret rapture.

True Woman Live - The True Woman conference kicks off today; if you’d like to watch the livestream, you can do so at truewoman14.com/live/. It begins at 6:45 PM EST.

Ordinary and Other Deals - Westminster Books has some deals on a book called Ordinary, and some other promising titles.

Christ and Ebola - Denny Burk asks whether you have confidence that Christ can handle Ebola.

Christians not Welcome - I hate to read stories like this, but they are becoming more common. A graduate of a Canadian Christian university was rejected for a job because of the school’s position on sex and homosexuality.

Why Opposing Same-Sex Marriage Seems Anti-Gospel - Mike Leake writes about why opposing same-sex marriage seems anti-gospel.

No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one else talks to you more. —Paul Tripp

Tripp