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June 24, 2015

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Worldly Saints by Mike Wittmer is one of my favorite recent books and a steal at $2.99; Marriage Is by Andrew Walker & Eric Teetsel ($2.99); Adoption by Russell Moore ($5.99); The End of the Law by Jason Meyer ($0.99); Relativism by Greg Koukl ($1.99); Renewing Your Mind by R.C. Sproul ($2.99).

The Invisible Sin of Gluttony - “Gluttony is not that peckish sensation of wanting seconds when you haven’t had enough food to satisfy your hunger; it’s the sin of unrestrained overconsumption. Gluttony is thus the kissing cousin of drunkenness.” (This headline from yesterday seems relevant.)

Would You Pay a Bribe? - I have spoken to several missionaries about this issue. “If you’re like most westerners, you’ve never really had to think about it. You’ve probably never been asked for one. The temptation has never been there. It’s a non-issue.”

GoThereFor - GoThereFor seems to have trouble explaining what it is. But it is actually a very good resource for churches and individual Christians. It is worth investigating, especially now that it has re-launched.

Walking with Jesus Through His Word - This new book comes high commended by some trusted theologians. It, and a few other titles, are on sale for the week.

Homeschooling Concerns - I highlight this one because it is written by R.C. Sproul Jr. who has been (and is) a leading advocate of homeschooling. “Where there are people, there are sins to be concerned about, and that includes we who homeschool. Here are five things I believe are a current danger.”

When Leaders Fall, All Are Punished - “First, a word to leaders. Faithfulness, holiness, and purity are priorities and necessities for all believers in Jesus Christ, but especially for you.”

God’s will is what we would choose if we knew what God knows. —Nancy Leigh DeMoss 

DeMoss

 

June 23, 2015

You have probably seen him or known him—He is the hypocritical husband. He is the man who speaks or writes or preaches about marriage, who proclaims his enduring affection for his bride, but who treats her dreadfully. Or maybe he just treats her apathetically. He is glad to tell others about his love, but his actions contradict his words.

As someone who both writes and preaches, I have been struck by my tendency toward hypocrisy in this way. I know that I am capable of teaching what the Bible says about marriage (or anything else, for that matter) even when I don’t act what the Bible says about it. I am capable of writing “8 Ways to Guarantee the Flame Lasts Forever” while acting as if I don’t care if it lasts another 5 minutes.

But I don’t mean to write about marriage today, I mean to write about the Bible. This article actually began over a friendly discussion of inerrancy. A friend and I were discussing a proper understanding of the Bible’s claims about itself and I found myself thinking about the people of Grace Fellowship Church. I found myself wondering about their understanding of the Bible, and whether or not they would affirm inerrancy.

I think they would—I think they would all agree with the claim that the Bible is without error and that it does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. And I think this is true whether or not they have ever heard the word inerrant. Here’s why: The most effective way of teaching inerrancy is not to teach inerrancy, but to teach the Bible. Inerrancy can (and sometimes should) be defined. But more often it should simply be displayed. And I am convinced that it is best displayed in the normal week-by-week expositional preaching of the Word.

It is here, in the preaching of the Word, that we show what we really believe. It is here that we show our theology in action. We open the Bible, say what it says, believe what it proclaims, and do what it commands. We open it up, allow God to speak, and then live out what he has spoken. There is nothing fancy about it. But there is something extraordinary and downright supernatural.

As people sit under this kind of preaching week after week, year after year, and book after book, they see inerrancy, they experience inerrancy, they believe inerrancy, and they consider anything less unthinkable. The most important lessons on inerrancy are not the ones in the systematic theology text but in the pulpit.

I have learned far more about marriage by seeing marriage than by reading definitions or descriptions of it. That is both right and good. And as important as it is to know and define the word inerrancy, it is far more important to see it. When we preach the Bible as inerrant, we teach people to understand that it is inerrant.

Image credit: Shutterstock

June 23, 2015

Here are some new Kindle deals: Radically Normal by Josh Kelley ($1.99); God’s Indwelling Presence by James Hamilton ($0.99); Believer’s Baptism by Thomas Schreiner ($0.99); The New Testament by David Allan Black ($2.99); The People of God by Trevor Joy ($2.99); A Christ-Centered Wedding by Catherine Parks ($2.99); The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses by Chris Bruno ($5.99); Exalting Jesus in Galatians by David Platt ($2.99); A Simplified Harmony of the Gospel by George Knight ($2.99).

Real Conversations with Dad - I completely identify with this: The majority of parenting is done in those sweet, mundane, meaningful little moments.

Pit Stops - You might find this dead boring, but I found it strangely fascinating. It is a series of pit stops from different kinds of car race.

Cigars, The Christian, and the Glory of God - Joe Thorn is starting a series on cigars. I can’t stand the things, but am interested in his take on them.

#PrayForCharleston - “Charleston, South Carolina will always be the place I call home. From my youth, I walked her ancient streets, climbed her shrines to days past, snuck into her private gardens, and enlisted into her Corp of Cadets.”

A Killer Drug Crisis - Weekends are the time I tend to read longform articles. I learned a lot by reading this one from Macleans.

Why Would God Choose Me? - John Piper explains how he explains election.

The Confederate Flag - If you are wondering what Christians are saying about the current controversy surrounding the Confederate flag in South Carolina, this article will get you caught up.

If the college you visit has a bookstore filled with t-shirts rather than books, find another college. —Al Mohler

Mohler

 

June 22, 2015

In Martin Luther’s hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” the great Reformer penned these memorable words: “The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.” One little word. One little word is all that stands between Satan and his complete destruction.

Satan may rule as prince in this world, but his reign is fragile. He can reign only as long as the King permits. We see a powerful glimpse of his fragile power in one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.

Jesus and His disciples have sailed across the Sea of Galilee and landed on the far shore. They have arrived at a place inhabited by one of the most pathetic and tragic figures we could ever imagine—a man oppressed by not only one demon, but an entire legion of them. He has been driven far beyond the brink of insanity. He lives in the tombs outside the town. He runs naked through the hills, crying out in agony, bashing and bruising himself with rocks, attacking anyone who passes by. Chains cannot hold him; friends and family cannot restrain him. He is under the full control of the powerful Prince of Darkness.

And then Jesus arrives. The very moment Jesus sets foot on the shore, this man comes running. He comes running, naked and bleeding and unkempt, and falls down at Jesus’ feet. He falls down in submission, in terror. One of those demons cries out and says, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” And just like that, the tables have turned. The powerful demons are quaking in fear of One infinitely more powerful.

I recently taught this story to children and told them this: Imagine you are outside playing when the neighborhood bully comes your way. He walks up to you, shakes his fist in your face, and says, “I am going to pound you.” You know he is too strong for you, so you grit your teeth and prepare to get hurt. But then suddenly his eyes grow wide, his expression changes—is it fear?—and a bead of sweat trickles down his face. He raises his hands in surrender, backs away, turns around, and runs.

What happened? You turn around, and just a little bit behind you, you see your dad. He is marching toward you and toward that bully. He is rolling up his sleeves. He is coming to your defense. That bully is powerless in the presence of someone much stronger than he is.

And this is exactly the situation we find here. The demons, who had held such power over this man, are utterly powerless in the presence of Jesus. With a word, just one little word, He drives them from that man, He sends them into a herd of pigs, and they are destroyed. And He does it all to prove this: Satan may be the prince of this world, but Jesus is the King.

Lion
Image credit: Shutterstock

June 22, 2015

This week’s Kindle deals from Crossway are all about the Bible: Understanding Scripture and Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible by Wayne Grudem, C. John Collins & Thomas Schreiner ($2.99 each); Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence ($3.99); Welcome to the Story by Stephen Nichols ($2.99). Also consider The Saint’s Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter, which is new from GLH Publishing ($0.99).

Tullian Tchividjian Resigns - Here is very sad news from Florida: “Popular pastor and author Tullian Tchividjian has resigned as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church,” citing “ongoing marital issues” and “an inappropriate relationship.”

How Pixar Enchants Us - “Arguably no film studio in the world expends so much energy actively trying to fail. And succeeding at it.”

Reflections from an AME Prayer Vigil - Rich Phillips: “Last evening I was greatly blessed, together with many members of the congregation I serve, to participate in a prayer vigil for the nine victims of the racist attack on Emmanuel AME in Charleston.”

The Death Treatment - This long, difficult article from The New Yorker shows what seems to be the inevitable slide once euthanasia becomes legalized.

15 Prayers from the Bible - Here are 15 prayers drawn from specific passages of the Bible. It is good to pray God’s Word back to God!

Thinking in Public - I really enjoyed Al Mohler’s conversation with Grant Wacker as they discuss the life and legacy of Billy Graham. It may sound dry, but I assure you it is not.

We can all look at life and agree that there are some parts that have no purpose—like neckties or cats. —Matt Chandler

Chandler

 

June 21, 2015

Few people have had a deeper impact on my way of thinking than John Stott. In his little book Your Mind Matters, he writes about the importance of being Christians who use our minds. But knowledge is not an end in and of itself. Rather, all that knowledge is meant to lead somewhere.

Knowledge should lead to worship. The true knowledge of God will result not in our being puffed up with conceit at how knowledgeable we are, but in our falling on our faces before God in sheer wonder and crying, “O the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Whenever our knowledge becomes dry or leaves us cold, something has gone wrong. For whenever Christ opens the Scriptures to us and we learn from him, our heart should be aglow within us. The more we know God the more we should love him.

Second, knowledge should lead to faith. We have already seen that knowledge is the foundation of faith and makes faith reasonable. “Those who know thy name put their trust in thee,” wrote the psalmist. It is our very knowledge of God’s nature and character which elicits our faith. But if we cannot believe without knowing, we must not know without believing. That is, our faith must grasp hold of whatever truth God reveals to us. Indeed, God’s message brings no benefit unless it meets with faith in the hearers. This is why Paul does more than pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened to know the greatness of God’s power which has been demonstrated in the resurrection; he adds that this power which God accomplished in Christ is now available to use who believe. The first and necessary step is that we know in our minds the magnitude of God’s power, but this should lead us to appropriate his power in our lives by faith.

Third, knowledge should lead to holiness. We have to see how the more our knowledge grows, the greater our responsibility to put it into practice. Many biblical examples could be quoted. Psalm 119 is full of aspirations to know God’s law. Why? In order the better to obey it: “Give me understanding, that I may keep thy law and observe it with my whole heart.” Thomas Manton, the Puritan minister, who at one time was Oliver Cromwell’s chaplain, likened a disobedient Christian to a child suffering from rickets: “Rickets cause great heads and week feet. We are not only to dispute of the word, and talk of it, but to keep it. We must neither be all ear, nor all head, nor all tongue, but the feet must be exercised!”

Fourth, knowledge should lead to love. The more we know, the more we should want to share what we know with others and use our knowledge in their service, whether in evangelism or ministry. Sometimes, however, our love will restrain our knowledge. For by itself knowledge can be harsh; it needs to sensitivity which love can give it. This is what Paul meant when he wrote: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

Knowledge is indispensable to Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God’s grace. At the same time, knowledge is given us to be used, to lead us to higher worship, greater faith, deeper holiness, better service. What we need is not less knowledge but more knowledge, so long as we act upon it.

Image credit: Shutterstock

June 20, 2015

Kim Ransleben writes about When the Wages of Sin Is a Grandbaby. “Her weeping came ahead of her presence, causing my heart to pound. As a mom of three, it wasn’t the first time a crying child had entered our bedroom hours after we thought they’d gone to sleep…”

This is the first I have heard of Walter Milne, one of Scotland’s Protestant martyrs. Aaron Denlinger tells his story well.

You may enjoy this longform article called Aneurysm. It is a neurosurgeon simply writing about the work he does. (Note: It includes a bad word or two.)

David Murray draws some principles out of The Most Painful Interview He’s Ever Watched. Because sometimes it is just so hard to say, “I was wrong.”

Here is A Monumental Display of Mercy. “The late Christopher Hitchens formulated (and forever repeated) a superficially clever challenge to people of faith: ‘Find one good or noble thing,” he said, “which cannot be accomplished without religion.’ The astonishing rejoinder to Hitchens comes now from the family members of those who were gunned down Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina.”

Thanks to Reformed Presybterian Theological Seminary for sponsoring the blog this week with Sacrifices by Fire.

If community in your local church is not dependent on God’s supernatural Spirit for its lifeblood, it is not evidently supernatural. —Jamie Dunlop

Dunlop