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September 25, 2015

Thanks to all who prayed for me and for the Se Hombre conference here in Santo Domingo. A couple of thousand men attended with thousands more watching the livestream. The Lord is at work in Latin America and it’s wildly encouraging. I preach one more time this evening, then head home tomorrow.

Revive ’15

Women may be interested in catching the livestream of Revive ’15 with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and others. The event begins this afternoon.

Hosting and/or Accepting Speaking Engagements

Jared Wilson has some helpful advice for conference speakers and for the people who invite them.

The Lunar Eclipse

Here’s your guide to when and where to watch this weekend’s lunar eclipse.

The Fastest Camera

“A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second. Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.”

This Day in 1929. J. Gresham Machen delivers the inaugural address at Westminster Seminary to a class of fifty students. *

Being Offended and Being Persecuted

Russell Moore distinguishes between offence and persecution.

Nothing Explicitly Christian

Denny Burk listened to the pope’s speech yesterday and provides a few reflections.

Why Don’t Protestants Have a Pope?

Kevin DeYoung turns to Bavinck for the answer.


Too often we confuse popularity with success, and obscurity with failure. —Chris Larson

September 24, 2015

We are easily distracted by the things that matter less, and preoccupied with the things that matter least. This is exactly the case—too often, at least—when it comes to talk of revival and when it comes to our desire to see the Spirit’s work in our lives and in the church. J.I. Packer makes the case that it is the Spirit’s regular ministry, and not his extraordinary or miraculous ministry, that should preoccupy us. Give this a read and consider it:

The instilling of the knowledge of [God’s love] is described as part of the regular ministry of the Spirit to those who receive him—to all, that is, who are born again, who are true believers. One could wish that this aspect of his ministry was prized more highly than it is at the present time. With a perversity as pathetic as it is impoverishing, we have become preoccupied today with the extraordinary, sporadic, non-universal ministries of the Spirit to the neglect of the ordinary, general ones. Thus, we show a great deal more interest in the gifts of healing and tongues—gifts of which, as Paul pointed out, not all Christians are meant to partake anyway (1 Cor. 12:28-30)—than in the Spirit’s ordinary work of giving peace, joy, hope, and love, through the shedding abroad in our hearts of knowledge of the love of God. Yet the latter is much more important than the former. To the Corinthians, who had taken it for granted that the more tongues the merrier, and the godlier too, Paul had to insist that without love—sanctification, Christlikeness—tongues were worth precisely nothing (1 Cor. 13:1ff.).

He would undoubtedly see reason to issue a similar caveat today. It will be tragic if the concern for revival that is stirring at the present time in many places gets diverted into the cul-de-sac of a new Corinthianism. The best thing that Paul could desire for the Ephesians in connection with the Spirit was that he might continue towards them the Romans 5:5 ministry with ever-increasing power, leading them deeper and deeper into knowledge of the love of God in Christ. …

Revival means the work of God restoring to a moribund church, in a manner out of the ordinary, those standards of Christian life and experience which the New Testament sets forth as being entirely ordinary; and a right-minded concern for revival will express itself, not in a hankering after tongues (ultimately it is of no importance whether we speak in tongues or not), but rather in a longing that the Spirit may shed God’s love abroad in our hearts with greater power. For it is with this (to which deep exercise of soul about sin is often preliminary) that personal revival begins, and by this that revival in the church, once begun, is sustained.

The challenge here is to delight in those ordinary gifts, and not to shun them in the hope or expectation of something I deem better.

Next Week

If you are reading Knowing God with me as part of Reading Classics Together, please read chapters 13 and 14 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.

September 24, 2015

Reformation Heritage Books has their excellent “Cultivating Biblical Godliness” series of minibooks on sale for Kindle at just $0.99 each: How Should Men Lead Their Families?What Is a Christian?Why Should I Fast?, Why Should You Deny Yourself?, How Do I Kill Remaining Sin?, What Is Experiential Calvinism?, What Does It Mean to Love God?, How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship?, How Should Teens Read the Bible?, How Do Preaching and Corporate Prayer Work Together? You might also consider Fear and Faith by Trillia Newbell ($3.03).

‘Close Your Eyes and Pretend to Be Dead’

Here’s a long, sad, account of what really happened two years ago in the bloody attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.

Your Rights as a Christian in a Public School

If your children attend a public school, it may be helpful to review their rights.

A Glass Half Full

This is helpful: “I know, we don’t want to be accused of going soft on total depravity, the reality of remaining sin and the temptation to exchange worship of the true God for something in creation. But we have more biblical categories to work with than those, as important as they are.”

Re-ignite Bible Reading That’s Become Boring

David Murray offers some helpful ideas for when you find your Bible reading boring.

MacArthurNow Available. Tom Schreiner has just published an important book on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This is the first in what will eventually be a 5-part series called The 5 Solas Series. You can now order it at Amazon or Westminster Books.

Print Is Far From Dead

For a while now we have been hearing that print books are doomed. But the statistics just don’t bear that out.


Sin doesn’t stop where we want it to. It keeps taking us further. —Sam Allberry

September 23, 2015

Testimony—that’s a good Christian word, isn’t it? Each of us has a testimony, an account of how God extended his grace to us. And these testimonies are beautiful things, each one recounting the sovereign work of our great God.

Now, much has been said about how we tend to prefer the testimonies that feature the most dramatic lows. We have all heard those tales that almost seem to revel in past sins more than feel regret for them. But we like those stories because we find a certain kind of thrill in hearing how someone turned away from a life of such egregious sin.

I used to feel a little bit odd about telling others how I was saved. I was a good kid. I had opportunities to drink and do drugs, but just wasn’t interested. I didn’t ever steal anything beyond a few coins after running errands for my mother. There just isn’t a whole lot to tell. But the details shouldn’t be the point anyway.

My depravity was better displayed in my rejection of God and his grace than in my sins and unrighteous deeds. I proved my rebellion more in denying God, rejecting him, and shunning his grace than in any of the sinful acts I committed or could have committed. Even if I had murdered someone in a drug-fuelled binge, that sin would have been less severe than my utter rejection of God.

After all, unrighteous deeds are simply the overflow of a deeper rebellion. They are the symptom, not the disease itself. Here’s the thing: You don’t know how deeply sinful you are by your unrighteousness deeds, but by your rejection of God and his grace. That is the most serious, heinous, and damnable sin of them all.

September 23, 2015

I would appreciate your prayers over the next few days. I am currently heading to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), to speak at Se Hombre. Please pray for safe travels and that I would simply and confidently preach God’s Word.

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Preaching to a Post-Everything World by Zack Eswine ($2.51); How People Change by Timothy Lane ($2.99); One Anothering by Simon Schrock ($2.99); Mormonism Unmasked by Phillip Roberts ($2.99); The Religions Next Door by Marvin Olasky ($0.99).

Are We Together?

Ligonier Ministries is giving away R.C. Sproul’s excellent book Are We Together? In it “R.C. Sproul takes his stand for the cardinal doctrines of Protestantism in opposition to the errors of the Roman Catholic Church.”

Is Pro-Life Winning?

Russell Moore: “It’s hard to remember a mobilization of pro-life coalitions like the one we’ve seen in the months since the release of the first video. Planned Parenthood’s human trafficking operations have reignited our political and cultural discussions about abortion and human dignity, and many have testified of the videos’ having a profound—and in some cases, definitive—affect on their views.”

Open Air Preaching

Geoffrey Kirkland says, “As I frequent the streets to open air preach to the masses, I need to review biblical goals of open air preaching so I remember why I do what I do and to guard me from veering off track.”

Volkswagen’s Scandal

This article explains what Volkswagen did, and how they got away with it. (Note: one or two swear words.) “It sounds like the sinister plot of some straight-to-DVD movie. Since 2009, Volkswagen had been installing elaborate software in 482,000 ‘clean diesel’ vehicles sold in the US, so that the cars’ pollution controls only worked when being tested for emissions.”

This Day in 1950. Happy birthday to Tim Keller, who turns 65 today! You can wish him a happy birthday at @timkellernyc.

10 Surprising Facts About LEGO

The article is total clickbait, but still fun.

Reading Better, Retaining More

Trevin Wax has some tips for you.

Hard Not to Cry

It’s hard not to cry watching this video of a man serenading his wife with their old love songs.


While you are unfit to die, you can have no true enjoyment of life. —John Newton

Eve by William Paul Young


September 22, 2015

On the positive side, I think [William] Paul Young has become a markedly better writer since The Shack. On the negative side, he continues to use his writing to undermine and redefine Christian theology. By my reckoning, that’s a net loss. Where The Shack was meant to revolutionize our understanding of God, his new novel Eve is meant to revolutionize and rescue our understanding of the relationship between men and women. And it is no less troubling.

Now, obviously Eve is fiction, which means it can be tricky to determine exactly what the author actually means to teach through his story. There is a lot in the novel that is complex and symbolic and that awaits the author’s authoritative interpretation. But what is clear is that Young’s novel is a retelling of the creation narrative through which he means to right a great wrong.

The story begins when a shipping container washes ashore on an island that exists somewhere between our world and the next. John the Collector finds a young woman named Lilly trapped inside. She is beaten, bruised, broken, and only barely alive. With the help of others—Scholars and Healers—he helps her to recover, to remember who she is, and to understand her importance in history. Lilly, it turns out, is a Witness, one who has the privilege of watching past events unfold so they can be properly understood and interpreted in the present time. Her privilege is to witness creation and the fall into sin, and in that way to provide an account that corrects all our false understandings.

What she witnesses varies significantly from the account we are accustomed to hearing. A sampling of the differences includes:

  • She sees that the world began with a big bang and that this involved the passing of billions of years (“I can’t believe all I saw happened in six days.” … “What you witnessed, especially the Days of Creation, likely took billions of years.”). (Note: In the book’s acknowledgements section Young thanks Hugh Ross and Reasons to Believe for helping him “craft the days of creation in a way respectful to both the text and to science,” suggesting he may hold to the day-age view and, perhaps, the existence of an historical Adam.)
  • She sees Jesus create Adam as an infant from the dust of the ground, and sees God personally nurse Adam from his breasts (“Here in my arms and nursing at my breast is the highest expression of my creation.” “Mythology is responsible for many odd ideas. … Did your Storytellers think that Adam was created as a young man with no capacity, a brute ready to be programmed?”).
  • She sees that Adam falls into sin before Eve was even created, and that the naming of the animals is an infuriating kind of penance for Adam (“Spinning away, the young man raised his fists and screamed fury into the sky, one word. It reverberated and echoed back as time and place and beast stood still. ‘Alone!’”).
  • She sees that Eve is not taken out of Adam as much as she grows within Adam and is birthed from him (“Adam’s belly grew, expanding with a pregnancy. … In nine months God fashioned the feminine side of Adam’s humanity, the female who slept within…”).
  • She sees that Adam and Satan (in the guise of a snake) conspire together to take advantage of Eve’s naïveté, so that Eve is an innocent party in her own downfall (“She had been betrayed and now was being blamed by Adam for what he had conceived in his own heart.”).
  • She sees that God is triune and genderless and, therefore, best referred to with gender-neutral, third-person pronouns (“God turned Their face to the woman and gently spoke with words of sorrow…”).

In short, she sees a whole new and “corrected” view of humanity’s origins and depravity. Through this character, Young means to show that the story of humanity’s fall into sin has been co-opted and perverted by men in order to gain power over women. Eve’s role in offering Adam the forbidden fruit is a fable men use to dominate and control women.

“But it’s all just a story,” you say. True, but in this case, Young insists that his story, and the truth it contains, is the result of decades of thought and research. He insists that the truth embedded in this story has the power to free us from faulty interpretations of the Bible that have long corrupted human relationships. In an interview with Publishers Weekly he says, “Ultimately, the inspiration for Eve is the Scriptures themselves. The more I studied and pondered and conversed, the more I was driven back to Genesis and the iconic saga of Beginnings, and it was there I began to find answers to the big, system-shaking questions I was asking. Eve is my attempt to express some of what I discovered.” In that way he plays a character within his own work—the character(s) he calls the Scholar.

Now, it’s not like the book is all bad. In fact, there are points where it is downright moving. Young’s descriptions of God’s joy over his creation, and especially his joy in the creation of man, is powerful and stirring. Man’s response to God’s love is equally sweet. Young’s compassion in describing the agonizing abuse endured by Lilly can only come out of the heart of an author who has himself suffered. And the story, while perhaps too complicated at times, is well-written and well-told.

And yet it is, in the final assessment, a troubling, faulty, and even dangerous story. There is much I could say here, but for the sake of brevity, let me target the book’s big point.

Whatever else Young means to accomplish in his work, it is clear that he means to undermine the traditional accounts of creation and human depravity. As he reinterprets those two doctrines, he then reinterprets the relationship between the sexes, teaching that any pattern of authority or submission is necessarily a product of sin. Even Adam naming Eve is, in Young’s retelling, a display of his longing for power and dominance over woman. Young goes so far in his desire to show the sinful dominance of man that he eventually elevates woman over man, femininity over masculinity, as if one is the antidote to the other. “[Women] is Adonai’s invitation to embrace frailty and softness, to be whole and unashamed, to return fully from his turning.” In this way man’s solution for sin is not only the promised offspring of the woman, but woman herself.

Ironically, Young’s insistence on complete egalitarianism is inconsistent with his own story. His Witnesses, Scholars, and Collectors are all equals, yet each with his (or her) own role. Young’s world and his story only work when each of his characters freely and joyfully plays his or her role. In the same way God, in his creative work, assigned separate roles to men and women. In God’s world no role is better or greater or higher than another, but each is critical to the story he is telling.

God tells us that God created men to take positions of leadership within the church and family, and for women to joyfully submit themselves to this leadership. In this way God provides a much fuller display of who he is and what he is like. His image is shown not in uniformity but in complementarity. After all, the relationships within the Trinity display this very same pattern of leadership and submission. What is ultimately at stake here is not the relationship of man to woman, but our understanding of God as he displays himself in our relationships.

Behind Young’s retelling of this portion of the Bible is the question of the Bible’s authority. The only way he can teach what he teaches is by radically altering the biblical narrative. So has the Bible been wrong all along? Is the Bible only a figurative count and Eve a faithful interpretation? Were the authors such a product of their time, place, and culture that they biased their work with chauvinist ideas? As the dust settles, what exactly is true anyway? Read Eve and you won’t have much certainty.

In that same interview with Publishers Weekly Young says, “There are also some who will read it and won’t ‘see’ her, sometimes because the timing isn’t right and their life’s journey has not granted the gifts inherent in suffering, or because their assumptions are too overwhelming and powerful to allow them to hear.” More condescending words have rarely been uttered. He seems unwilling to consider that perhaps it’s not that our assumptions are too overwhelming, but that God’s Word is too clear.

September 22, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include: Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul ($2.99); The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts ($3.99); Old Story New ($0.99) and Long Story Short (free) by Marty Machowski; Living as a Christian by A.W. Tozer ($1.99). Also, while we’re on the subject of Amazon, they’ve got lots of BBC documentaries and dramas on sale today only.

Women in Combat

Writing for Canada’s National Post, this columnist makes some valid (and completely counter-cultural points). He asks, “Why are we determined to put women in combat alongside men when we absolutely refuse to do it in sports?”

Debauching Kermit

This is a sign of the times, I suppose. “What were previously sly winks to a grownup audience are now grotesque full-body grimaces, delivered with depressing sledgehammer brutality.”

How ‘Faith-Based Film’ Became a Dirty Term

“Hollywood is getting hip to the Christian box-office boost, but the directors of movies like Captive don’t want to be lumped in with the religious flops of the past.”

Why You Need To Preach the Song of Songs

James Hamilton has recently completed a commentary on Song of Songs and in this article explains why every church should consider preaching through the book.

5 Ways to Read a Blog Post Without Getting Your Jimmies Rustled

We all need the occasional refresher here.

This Day in 2006: Christianity Today published Collin Hansen’s pivotal article, Young, Restless, Reformed. The article gave a name and definition to a new but discernible movement.

The Man Who Got No Whammies

Here’s a fascinating article about a guy who beat the show Press Your Luck. “Something was very wrong. Here was this guy from nowhere, and he kept going around the board and hitting the bonus boxes every time. It was bedlam, I can tell you. And we couldn’t stop this guy.”

Daniel Norris

There’s little doubt about it: Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Daniel Norris is one of the most interesting people in baseball.


It is treason against the King of kings to tone down the word of the Lord. —C.H. Spurgeon