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October 14, 2010

True WomanAt long last I’ve made it to Texas. I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve always wanted to visit Texas and have long said that I’d go the first time I got invited. That invitation came a few months ago in the form of a request to blog the True Woman Conference down here in Fort Worth. When they mentioned that Aileen should come with me, it was a done deal. So here we are. We’ve left the kids with my in-laws and have traveled down to Texas. (Now that I’ve made it to Texas, the state I most want to visit is Alaska. Or Oregon. I’m actually half convinced that Oregon is a fictional place; we all talk about it, but no one has ever bothered to go there to see if it actually exists. I contend that it does not.)

My first impression, as we drove out of the airport and headed toward Fort Worth was, “This looks like Orlando but without the swamps.” They say there are hills in some parts of Texas, but they sure aren’t anywhere near here. I think Fort Worth is probably not the best indicator of what Texas is all about. Nevertheless, it’s the only part of the state I’ll be able to see during this trip, so it’s all I’ve got to go on. So far the only cattle I’ve seen were mounted on the wall of a restaurant and the only cowboy hats were affixed to a sculpture hanging from the ceiling of the convention center.

My second impression came when Aileen and I went looking for dinner. We wandered for a while and eventually found ourselves at a barbecue place. The prices are ridiculously low and the portions ridiculously large. I suppose we are accustomed to Toronto where you pay twice as much money for half as much food. If that food tastes 2 times better or is twice as nutritious, I think it all evens out, right? But the food we had for dinner was plenty good (at least as much of it as we could consume. Neither one of us got through more than about ⅔ of it and even then we were waddling away).

The rest of my impressions will have to wait. Let me tell you a little bit about the conference.

October 14, 2010

At long last it is time to read another classic work of the Christian faith, and to read it together. This time around we are reading R.C. Sproul’s book The Holiness of God. Of all the books we’ve read in this Reading Classics program, this is the one that has been written most recently (1985). And yet there is little doubt that it is a classic, even if we must add the word “modern” to the monicker. It’s a modern classic and one destined to stand the test of time, I’m sure.

Over the next 11 weeks we are going to be reading this book together. If you are interested in participating, you are free to do so. All you need to do is find a copy of the book and read (or listen—use coupon code CHALLIES10 to get the audio book for just $2.98) along with us. Check in here every Thursday for your chance to reflect on the book or simply to read the reflections of other participants. It’s that simple.

And away we go…

Summary

This week’s reading was chapter 1 which is titled “The Holy Grail.” Sproul begins with a little biographical snippet in which he relates a time in his Christian life when he became aware of God’s holiness. He says that until this time he was a Unitarian of sorts, someone who loved Jesus but who had not yet come to love or appreciate the Father. And yet in a moment he was given a sense of the majestic holiness of God. And his life was forever changed.

In this initial chapter Sproul starts to introduce this God, this Father. He first introduces him as the creator, as the one who existed before anything else existed. He contrasts the beauty and power of God’s creative act with the folly of believing that all that is came out of nothing. “Some modern theorists believe that the world was created by nothing. Note the difference between saying that the world was created from nothing and saying that the universe was created by nothing. In this modern view the rabbit comes out of the hat without a rabbit, a hat, or even a magician. The modern view is far more miraculous than the biblical view. It suggests that nothing created something. More than that, it holds that nothing created everything—quite a feat indeed!”

October 14, 2010

I’m on my way to Fort Worth for the True Woman conference (I know, I know; it’s a conference for women…). Stay tuned over the next couple of days as I try to find some interesting stories to tell from my time there.

Camera Reunions - Here’s a great idea—a web site that tries to reunite lost cameras with their owners. Because you know how much it hurts when you’re on vacation and lose all those great shots you’ve taken.

2 Chilean Miners Get Saved - This was a great headline to read: “2 Chilean miners accept Christ while trapped underground.” So there is something to pray for now that the men have all been rescued.

Praying on TV - I enjoyed this blogger’s thoughts on how strange it is to listen to a mediated pastor (and especially when he is praying). “Prayer of thankfulness. A Harley passes me. Silence. I slow down for a semi. Confession. I speed up. Silence. Blinker. Requests for the gathered believers. Check blind spot. Silence. Mirrors. Requests for outsiders. Lane change. Silence. Cop. Requests for self. Slow down. Check rearview mirror till the cop’s out of sight. Pause. Speed up. Pastor prays.”

Big Raise Ahead - I haven’t posted a Blue Jay-related piece of news for a bit (largely because the Jays aren’t generating much news this October, or any other October this side of 1993, for that). But here’s a good look on how Jose Bautista’s off-season could shape up. “A glance at the all-time single season home run leaders tells you all you need to know about Jose Bautista’s 2010 campaign. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, Ryan Howard, Luis Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Hack Wilson are the only players who have ever hit more home runs in a season.”

Ordination of Elders - Here’s a great new product you can pre-order from Reformation Art. “This masterpiece by John Henry Lorimer is titled The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk. This painting commemorates the solemn occasion where Spirit gifted men are set apart for service in the church of Jesus Christ. This product is in pre-production and will begin shipping by the end of November. Select multiple copies before adding to cart to receive a volume discount.”

God Story - This is another great adoption video I got from Together for Adoption’s site.

One of the marks of a mature person is the ability to dissent without creation dissension. —Don Robinson

October 13, 2010

DayOneMinistering the Master’s Way is a unique little series published by DayOne. It is a series that knows exactly the audience it is trying to reach—the pastor or elder of the local church. Each of the books looks to a different practical aspect of the Christian ministry. Many of the titles deal with very niche topics, but ones that are largely untouched by any other author—visiting the sick, accepting a call to minister at a local church, offering pastoral comfort to those who grieve, even caring for the pastor’s voice.

There are currently 9 volumes in the series and, unless I am mistaken, several more are in the works.

This is a great series to buy for your pastor or elders. Get them a few of the volumes and I suspect they’ll be eager to complete the set and to seek out the new ones as they are released.

October 13, 2010

First off, David and I will soon be doing another Q&A episode of The Connected Kingdom. So if you’d like us to answer your question on the podcast, feel free to email, leave a comment here, or comment at our Facebook group.

DetoxIn the meantime, here is this week’s episode. This time around David interviews me about my new book Sexual Detox. And I’ve got to say, the guy asks good questions—ones I wasn’t expecting. We talk about why I wrote the book, we talk about the purpose of sex, what sex has become in a pornified culture, and what all of this porn is doing to men today.

If you want to give us feedback on the podcast or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or another program. As always, feedback and suggestions for future topics are much appreciated.

October 13, 2010

Just one day before Aileen and I head to Fort Worth for the True Woman conference. We’re looking forward to getting away. I suppose I shouldn’t tell anyone down there that I was cheering for the Tampa Bay Rays. Not that it really matters at this point. Now I’ll be cheering for the Rangers over the Yankees. I’m fickle like that.

BECNT Sale - On the occasion of the release of the Ephesians commentary, Westminster Books is offering a great deal on the BECNT series of commentaries. And if that’s not your favorite series, they are also offering discounts on the NICNT.

Begg in Toronto - Alistair Begg recently spoke at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship, an event hosted by my church. If you’re interested, you can listen to his talk and the subsequent Q&A. The feedback from the pastors who attended was that Begg’s talk was very good!

I Can Help You in … Six Words - Ed Welch has good things to say about saying too much. “Christians have said and written plenty of words. We hear long sermons about one word in Scripture. The rite of passage for a preacher is to linger in the book of Romans for at least a year. The longer the better. Every week I walk through a seminary library that is running out of shelf space. When I set out to write a book I inevitably write too much and have to delete thousands of words.”

20 Questions To Ask of Novels - Here are some good questions that come courtesy of a blog I’ve only just begun reading. Mark Meynell lists 20 questions that you can ask of a novel.

High Chairs vs Toilet Seats - “According to swabs taken at 30 different restaurants, the amount of bacteria found on high chairs was significantly greater than the amounts found on public toilets. Toilets had an average of eight bacteria per square centimeter. High chairs had 147.”

The Church and Culture - Phillip Jensen asks Mark Dever “How do you see the culture affecting us negatively?”

Phillip Jensen asks Mark Dever “How do you see the culture affecting us negatively?” from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

And finally, I got a chuckle out of this quote from R.C. Sproul (which I stumbled across while reading The Invisible Hand). Sproul is talking about today’s miracle workers:

It is clear that however we define a miracle we must place the alleged miracles of today in a different class, or category, from those recorded in the Scriptures. No one is bringing something out of nothing these days—unless it is the currency produced by the federal government!R.C. Sproul

October 12, 2010

I want to remind you about rather a unique program I offer here at the blog (one that hundreds of you have already taken advantage of and seem to be enjoying). It is called Friends of the Blog.

This is a program I established in order to give people an opportunity to support this blog and, at the same time, to find a creative way of thanking them for doing so. The idea was to ask people to help support the site while returning far more value to them. And by and large I think the program has done very well in that way. Some benefits have come and gone while others have arisen. But through it all, I think the value has remained oustanding.

Let me tell you what’s in it for you if you become a Friend of the Blog.

There are deals and gift certificates for when you shop:

  • $10 gift certificate for Westminster Books
  • $15 gift certificate for The Good Book Company
  • Discounts on all purchases at Vision Video and on a subscription to Modern Reformation magazine

You’ll also get free books:

  • 4 new a-list books or DVDs of your choice from Zondervan (you can choose 2 today, 1 in a couple of weeks, and 1 in a couple of months)
  • 1 new book from Reformation Heritage Books (later this week)
  • a free 6-month subscription to Christianity Today

And there is lots to listen to:

  • 10 full-length albums, available for immediate download in mp3 format including albums by Sovereign Grace Music, Indelible Grace, Christa Wells, Shai Linne, Sojourn, and more.

That’s not all; there will be other things coming your way over the life of your subscription. But that’s still hush-hush.

But best of all, you’ll get a warm, fuzzy feeling for supporting this blog (and its author). Win-win.

Friends of the Blog

October 12, 2010

One of the joys of reading widely is in finding interesting connections between things that might otherwise seem to be unrelated. Let me explain.

I recently read through R.C. Sproul’s book What Is Reformed Theology? Actually, I’ve recently read through almost all of R.C. Sproul’s books and have noted that he has several recurring emphases. One of these is the importance of a right understanding of God’s work of preservation. Of course this emphasis makes sense when you know that Sproul is a long-time teacher and defender of Reformed doctrine.

Sproul’s concern with understanding the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is not purely a theological one; it is not simply that he wants to have his theology right. His concern is practical. “There is clearly a link between our assurance and our sanctification,” he says. “The person who lacks assurance of salvation is vulnerable to a myriad of threats to his personal growth. The confident Christian, certain of his salvation, is free from the paralyzing fear that can inhibit personal growth. Without assurance we are assailed by doubt and uncertainty with respect to God’s promises, which serve as an anchor for our souls.”

What Sproul wants people to see is that assurance of salvation, a doctrine which flows out of God’s act of preservation (Sproul says rightly that the doctrines may be distinguished from one another, but never separated), is critical to spiritual growth. Those who lack assurance that they are saved often become bogged down by concern for their salvation. They have trouble growing in their faith because they cannot see past the uncertainty about their own spiritual condition. And this makes perfect sense, right? It is difficult to grow in the deeper things if we are still wrestling with the very basics. This is why every Christian should seek assurance of his salvation.