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April 04, 2011

Christians read a lot of books. This is a good thing. Christians read a lot of Christian books. This is another good thing. But it’s also an easy thing, a safe thing. Though I am glad to see many Christians reading many books, I believe there is value in reading not only deeply but also widely. And this means that Christians should read more than just Christian books—we should read books that are in the cultural mainstream.

Let me offer you a few reasons that you should consider reading regularly in the mainstream:

Common Grace

Christians have long understood that God gives a measure of grace to all human beings and not just to Christians. We know this as common grace, grace given in common to all people. The great theologian Charles Hodge summarizes it in this way: “The Bible therefore teaches that the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth, of holiness, and of life in all its forms, is present with every human mind, enforcing truth, restraining from evil, exciting to good, and imparting wisdom or strength, when, where, and in what measure seemeth to Him good.” Common grace tells us that Christians do not have the market cornered when it comes to what is true and what is wise.

What this means is that we are wise to read all kinds of books, and not just those that have been sanctified by association with a Christian publisher or Christian author. The Parable of the Dishonest Manager in Luke 16 is one of Jesus’ stranger parables, but its purpose should not be lost on us: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8). Jesus knew of God’s common grace. He would tell us that truth and wisdom are waiting to be mined in every genre of books.

Cultural Engagement

April 04, 2011

Baseball season is finally here, and I’m loving it. I don’t know what it is or why it is, but somehow life is just that much better when the boys of summer are doing their thing. And that’s true even if it’s going to be another frustrating season in Toronto.

The Place of God’s Disfavor - R.C. Sproul has a new book releasing this summer and it deals with heaven and hell. At the Ligonier blog you can read a timely excerpt on hell.

Freedom - Ali writes about a tough secret—that for many years she was addicted to pornography. And she writes about escaping the guilt of that sin.

God Loves You? - Bob Glenn asks, “Do you struggle to believe that God loves you?” Bob’s new to the blogosphere, but his blog is already one worth following.

The Next Story - Here’s a kind review of my book (which officially releases tomorrow!).

Why I Believe the Bible - Jim Hamilton tells why he believes that the Bible is what it says it is.

5 Myths About Gas Prices - “Gasoline prices have been steadily climbing for several months, and Americans are feeling the pain at the pump. The possible culprits (from greedy oil execs to Mideast turmoil) are as plentiful as the proposed solutions (more offshore drilling, green energy or government reserves). But what is really driving prices up? And what, if anything, can be done about it? Let’s take a moment to fill up on information about our fuel.”

Improbable Disaster - This article from the Washington Post provides an interesting take on some modern-day disasters. “When the government builds a levee, it may reduce the frequency of damaging floods but may also encourage even more people to build homes and businesses behind the barrier. When the Big One finally arrives, the total damage will be even greater than if no levee had been built.”

He Delights in the Asking - A sermon jam featuring Matt Chandler speaking about prayer.

The New Testament without the miracles would be far easier to believe. But the trouble is, would it be worth believing? —J. Gresham Machen

April 03, 2011

A couple of years ago I read Warren Wiersbe’s book 50 People Every Christian Should Know and marked a couple of paragraphs that I thought would prove worth sharing. These words come from a chapter devoted to Alexander Whyte. Here they are:

The sales manager of a successful Christian publishing house tells me that pastors are not buying books. “Most of the books sold in Christian bookstores are sold to and read by women,” he said. If our pastors are not using their valuable time for study, what are they using it for? Perhaps Whyte had the answer: “We shroud our indolence under the pretext of a difficulty. The truth is, it is lack of real love for our work.”

Alexander Whyte loved books, and he read them to his dying day. The Puritans in general and Thomas Goodwin in particular were his main diet. But he also thrived on the mystics and the princes of the Scottish church, such as Samuel Rutherford. Whyte constantly ordered books for himself and his friends in the ministry. However, he cautioned young pastors against becoming book-buyers instead of book-readers. “Don’t hunger for books,” he wrote a minister friend. “Get a few of the very best, such as you already have, and read them and your own heart continually.” Whyte often contrasted two kinds of reading—“reading on a sofa and reading with a pencil in hand.” He urged students to keep notebooks and to make entries in an interleaved Bible for future reference. “No day without its line” was his motto. He wrote to Hubert Simpson: “for more than forty years, I think I can say, never a week, scarcely a day, has passed, that I have not entered some note or notes into my Bible: and, then, I never read a book without taking notes for preservation one way or another.”

April 02, 2011

I’m one day late posting this, but I trust the wait is worth it. Here is this month’s selection of desktop wallpaper calendars, all free for the download. There are wallpapers here for your computer, your iPhone, your iPad or just about any other device you might like to dress us. Enjoy!

A few notes: 320 x 480 is for your iPhone; 1024 x 1024 is for your iPad; your desktop or laptop may take any of the other sizes depending on your monitor size and a host of other considerations. If you’re not sure of the size, just find one that looks like it would be pretty much the same size as your screen. Generally you set one of these are your wallpaper by clicking on the link to the image, then right-clicking on the image (once it’s open) and selecting “Set as Background,” “Set as Desktop Background,” or something similar.

In Glorious Day

Created by Eric Novak from Chicago, IL.

In Glorious Day

Risen Indeed

Created by Jeff Nine, Denver, CO. Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Risen Indeed

Bursting Forth

Created by Harold Sikkema, Hamilton, Canada. In April, I’m grateful for new life, for modern hymnwriters, and for my mother’s decade-spanning button collection.

Bursting Forth

April 01, 2011

Every month, on the first day of the month, Cruciform Press releases a new book. And this month our book is Jimmy Davis’ Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life. Employing the symbols of the cruciform cathedral and the Celtic cross, the aim of this book is to cast a vision for the Cruciform Life, living as disciples of Jesus who are being shaped by the cross (gospel) into people and churches who share and show the cross (gospel) as they live the vertical life of loving God with all their head, heart, and hands and the horizontal life of loving people as Christ has loved them.

CruciformThe book has garnered some enthusiastic endorsements and reviews. Paul Miller (author of The Praying Life) says “Jimmy Davis loves the cross. This little book will open your heart up to see how the cross is the center of all of life. Well done.”

Tullian Tchividjian writes “In Cruciform: Living the Cross-Shaped Life, my friend Jimmy Davis compellingly demonstrates that the gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before. Jimmy shows from personal experience how a lack of passion and purpose, focus and fervor, compassion and conviction, is always due to distance from the now-power of the gospel. I pray that through this book you will rediscover the beauty and brilliance of the gospel in brand new ways.”

Let me give you one more. Pastor Scotty Smith says “Cruciform is a theologically grounded and redemptively freeing picture of a life spent boasting in the cross of Jesus. Avoiding the distortions of both repressive legalism and irresponsible antinomianism, Jimmy Davis helps us understand how the indicatives of God’s grace lead to the imperatives of obedient love. This book will help many people understand what the gospel-driven life is all about.”

If you would like to learn more or if you’d like to buy Cruciform, visit CruciformPress.com where you can find it in a variety of book and e-book formats (for as low a price as $3.99).

April 01, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays

Christian Focus Publications publish over 500 books especially for children of all ages through their imprint CF4K. They also publish many excellent books for parents to help them to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (See also Psalm 78 v 4-7).

For this week’s free stuff Friday they are offering 3 parenting packs including 2 box sets of 5 books each. Which means that 3 winners will reach receive 13 books (if my math is correct). Also look out for Carine Mackenzie’s 150th book published later this year 365 Great Bible Stories: The good news of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation.

Lightkeepers Boys Complete Box Set by Irene Howat - Ten Boys

5 books in a gift box presentation set. A great present for Christmas or birthday includes: Ten Boys who Changed the World; Ten Boys who Didn’t Give In; Ten Boys who Made a Difference; Ten Boys who Made History; Ten Boys who Used Their Talents. Each book has 10 short biographies of Inspirational lives which will serve as an example - It includes fact files, prayer suggestions and quizzes.

Lightkeeper Girls Complete Box Set by Irene Howat - Ten Girls

5 books in a gift box presentation set. A great present for birthday includes: Ten Girls who Changed the World; Ten Girls who Didn’t Give In; Ten Girls who Made a Difference; Ten Girls who Made History; Ten Girls who Used Their Talents. Each book has 10 short biographies of Inspirational lives which will serve as an example - It includes fact files, prayer suggestions and quizzes.

My First Book of Questions and Answers by Carine MacKenzie

Children always have questions about what it means to be a Christian. Do they need a long philosophical answer? Not always and it is simple answers to deep questions that feature in this book. If you have ever wanted to know how to explain the Christian faith to young children in bite-sized chunks then the 114 profound questions and answers, backed by scripture proofs provide an invaluable tool to get you started.

World-proof Your Kids: Raising Children Unstained by the World by Ruth & Timothy Sisemore

Many Christian parents are at their wits end about raising their children in a healthy and spiritual way. Increasingly the influence of the world, with its ‘me first’ obsession, is causing problems within the Christian home This influence causes Christian families to fall into the four categories:

  • The disillusioned family
  • The distracted family
  • The disciplinarian family
  • The dedicated family

All end up being influenced by the culture rather than by their faith. Is your family influenced by the culture rather than your faith. Is your family falling into an unhealthy pattern of behaviour? It’s time to find out and put things right. If you want to help your family then the Sisemore’s are here to help break the cycle.

Our Covenant With Kids: Biblical Nurture in Home and Church by Timothy Sisemore

Dr. Sisemore teaches you about - Christian parenting in a hostile world, educating children spiritually and academically, cultivating godliness, disciplining and discipling, honoring parents, how are children saved? The church’s responsibility towards its children, children’s involvement in worship and sacraments.

This is a practical and theological approach to parenting and children’s ministry - and shows how to nurture children to be disciples.

Giveaway Rules: You may only enter the draw once. Simply fill out your name and email address to enter the draw. 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.

Note: If you are reading via RSS or email, you may need to click through to see the form.

April 01, 2011

The Kindle version of The Next Story has fallen to $5.99. So get it while the getting is good. Just over a week from now the price will climb back to $9.99. And I’m pretty sure it’s not going to go any lower than $5.99.

2011 NatCon Messages - The messages from Ligonier’s recent National Conference are now available to watch online (or in some cases to download).

$5 Friday - Speaking of Ligonier, they’ve got a couple of excellent deals in today’s edition of $5 Friday.

The History of Printing - An interesting infographic.

The Dump-Truck of Merit - I appreciated this post: “There is little doubt that we have all experienced the following circumstance and reaction. Someone comes to let you know about something that you have said or done that is wrong. Whether it was ignorant or blatant, the bottom line is the consequence. The other individual is offended, hurt, or aware of something that you did that needs to be addressed.”

Good Friday in Toronto - My church will be joining with 4 others on Good Friday. Here are details if you happen to be in Toronto at the time.

The Little Stuff - “Warming up your day by knocking off a bunch of quick, easy tasks is tempting, but it can provide you with a false sense of accomplishment. The danger in this approach is that the bulk of your energy gets depleted over a bunch of insignificant tasks.”

Failure of Moral Effort - Z shares a story that Keller borrows and updates from Charles Spurgeon. Did you get all that? Just read it.

The Three R’s - Bob Kauflin explaines why we sing.

Smartest - This is good:

Smartest

Though Christ died to take away the curse from us, yet not to take away the cross from us. —Thomas Watson

March 31, 2011

I don’t know if this is a fascinating or a boring podcast, but I think you’ll benefit from it if you give it a listen. Yesterday I sat down with David Murray and Ryan Pazdur, an editor at Zondervan, and we talked about The Next Story and subjects related to it. I hope you enjoy it!

If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.