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February 18, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays sponsor is Crossway, a company we all know well, I’m sure. Crossway has 3 new books for you to win—or for 5 of you to win at any rate. Which is to say that 5 people will win all 3 of these books:

Practicing AffirmationPracticing Affirmation is one that looks particularly interesting to me. Here’s a description:

It happens in marriages, parent-child relationships, friendships, workplaces, and churches: Communication falters, friendships wane, teenagers withdraw, marriages fail, and bitter rifts sever once-strong ties. Christian communities are no exception. Why do so many of our relationships suffer from alienation, indifference, and even hostility?  

Author Sam Crabtree believes that often at the heart of these breakdowns is a lack of affirmation. He observes in Scripture that God grants mercy to those who refresh others, and in life that people tend to be influenced by those who praise them. Crabtree shows how a robust “God-centered affirmation ratio” refreshes others and honors God.

Practicing Affirmation sounds a call to recognize and affirm the character of Christ in others. When done well, affirmation does not fuel pride in the person, but refreshes them and honors God. All who are discouraged in relationships will find wisdom and practical insight in this book.

Again, there are 5 prize packages to be won. So what are you waiting for?

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, you’ll need to click through to see the form.

February 18, 2011

Another weekend is upon us, and a long weekend at that. Here in Ontario it wil be Family Day on Monday, a day most of us get off. It’s a new holiday and a made-up one just because someone figured we needed a day off in February. So we’ll take it, I guess.

Modern Analogies - A comic I enjoyed.

Why Bookstores Matter - Dr. Mohler: “Even the best-managed book stores are in trouble. The emergence of Amazon as a vast, online book-selling machine with discounted prices and the sudden popularity of electronic readers and digital books have already changed the book business from top to bottom—and the revolution has hardly started.”

Bush’s Liberal Legacy - Denny Burk points to an interesting article about George W. Bush. “In short, the column argues that liberals were wrong for excoriating President Bush for his desire to see democracy spread in the middle east. In fact, Bush’s ideals seem to be coming to reality.”

One Poodle’s Journey - There’s something strangely gross about this photo essay about one of the dogs that was at the recent Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

The Intolerance of Tolerance - D.A. Carson speaks about the incoherence of postmodern tolerance.

Slothful and lazy souls never obtain one view of the glory of Christ. —John Owen

February 17, 2011

A Passion for GodA.W. Tozer is a man whose ministry has long fascinated me. A man who held closely to biblical, Protestant theology, he was also a man who loved the old Catholic mystics. He had little formal education, yet had the ability to hold the most educated of men and women at rapt attention. He had a single-minded devotion to Christ and the highest respect for the Scriptures. Reading A Passion for God has only increased my fascination with him, for here we see more strange and seemingly irreconcilable opposites. Biographer Lyle Dorsett has written a study of the man that deals as honestly with his faults as with the areas that are laudable. And in this case the faults are almost shocking.

Tozer was a man who loved Scripture and loved nothing more than preaching its truths to all who would listen. “A.W. Tozer heralded biblical truth. He loved the Bible and unflinchingly preached what he believed people needed to hear, regardless of what they wanted.” Yet he was a man who neglected the mission field in his home. “On and off over the years, Aiden exercised his role as head of the family by encouraging times of family devotions. These never lasted more than a few weeks. As one son explained, the children just did not want it and they were seldom all together for extended periods in any case.”

February 17, 2011

Yesterday I got to see the final cut of the commercial they’ve made for my book. I’ll try to debut it here at the blog early next week. I think you’ll enjoy it…

God at the Grammys - WSJ had an interesting article last week about popstars and their beliefs. “Believing that God wants you to be famous actually improves your chances of being famous. Of course, from the standpoint of traditional theology, even in the Calvinistic world of predestination, God is much more concerned with the fate of an individual’s soul than his or her secular success, and one’s destiny is unknowable. So what’s helping these stars is not so much religion as belief—specifically, the belief that God favors their own personal, temporal success over that of almost everyone else.”

Ask R.C. Sproul Live - Tonight at 8:00 PM R.C. Sproul will be live online answering questions from you and me. You can ask questions by Twitter or Facebook.

11 Theses on Birth Control - Douglas Wilson has some great things to say about birth control in this blog post. For example: “There are no promised covenantal blessings for the self-absorbed proprietors of stud farms.”

Couch Surfing - Here’s an interesting application of social media. CouchSurfing.com “aims to connect travelers, or ‘surfers,’ with hosts willing to offer a free place to stay, has some similarities to Facebook in that it includes user profiles, photos and friend requests.” Of course the service begins with a faulty premise: “We believe that people are fundamentally good, and our service is designed around that premise…”

How Much Information? - Here’s an attempt to figure out how much information the world contains. “If a single star is a bit of information, that’s a galaxy of information for every person in the world. That’s 315 times the number of grains of sand in the world. But it’s still less than one percent of the information that is stored in all the DNA molecules of a human being.”

Teg Haggard on Restoration - Matthew Paul Turner has a few reflections on a recent interview with Ted Haggard.

When I have any money I get rid of it as quickly as possible, lest it find a way into my heart. —John Wesley

February 16, 2011

Chris LarsonAnd here we go with Episode 3 of the Connected Kingdom Podcast. Earlier today I enjoyed recording an interview with Chris Larson. Chris serves as Executive Vice President of Ligonier Ministries and David and I were eager to talk to him about how the Lord saved him, how he exercises leadership over a major ministry, how he juggles his responsibilities at work and home and what he has learned by working so closely with R.C. Sproul.

Chris shares some very wise words related to leadership and how a person can lead as a Christian. He also shares some interesting little tidbits about Dr. Sproul.

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.

February 16, 2011

Where Mercy Is ShownOf all the made-for-TV celebrities, I’m not sure that there are many stranger than Duane “Dog” Chapman. He’s a study in opposites: a tough guy who cries, a foul-mouthed dude who quotes Scripture, a family man who has had twelve children by at least five wives. His show, Dog the Bounty Hunter, has developed a strong following, making Chapman a rather unlikely and unusual celebrity.

In 2007 Chapman released his memoir, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, a book that shot straight onto the New York Times list of bestsellers and sent him on a nationwide book tour. That this book would end up on the bestseller list is culturally significant. Just two years later he released Where Mercy Is Shown, Mercy Is Given, a second memoir. That seems odd unless you know what has been going on in Dog’s world.

February 16, 2011

I’m running a bit late today, so let’s get to the links.

Correction - Justin Taylor shares some wisdom in a brief article titled “When Is an Issue Important Enough to Correct Someone?”

Space Shuttle - NASA’s space shuttle program has ended. This article rounds up some of the most important shuttle missions.

Exegetical Malpractice - Get Religion has an assessment of Newsweek’s ridiculous article “What the Bible Really Says About Sex.”

Facebook + Valentine’s Day - This is good stuff: “If someone you know is posting pictures of their hot date on Facebook, I guarantee you weren’t missing out on anything. The last time I turned up the heat, I wasn’t thinking about Facebook.”

Modesty - Bob Kauflin addresses front of the room modesty for worship teams. “One of the topics in the church that leaders rarely address is modesty. It’s awkward. You can be accused of legalism. People can be offended. It can seem politically incorrect. But that doesn’t mean it should never be addressed, nor that there’s not a gracious way to do it.”

One-armed Legless Man - Some news stories are just too bizarre to believe. A friend sent me this one: “A male nurse had to be rushed to the emergency unit after being badly injured by a disabled patient who had no legs and only one arm.”

Prayer Request for Egypt - Michael Horton shares some notes from a conference call with Christians leaders in Egypt.

God punishes his enemies but chastises his children. —Alistair Begg

February 15, 2011

In some parts of my life God has called me to lead and in some parts he has called me to follow. In either case the calling is one of service. He has called me to lead my family and he has called me to be involved in the leadership of my local church. And in all my leading these words from David Powlison present a genuine challenge: “You particularly image Christ by looking out for the well-being of those God has placed within your care.”

The words demand an obvious question: Am I providing those whom I serve an accurate image of Christ? Or am I leaving them with an image that is warped and distorted? Do my children look to the way I lead my wife and the way I lead them and see a reflection of the love of Christ? Or do they have cause to doubt that he is truly for them, that he loves them with a steadfast and immovable love? Do the men and women of Grace Fellowship Church see me leading them and learn that Christ labors for them in prayer, that he longs for them to know the Father through the Word? Or do they see a distortion, a picture of Christ who is self-centered and lazy?

This is why these words grab ahold of me—they challenge me as a leader. There are many measures I could use in an attempt to gauge the effectiveness of my leadership. I could seek to measure by the way people receive me, by the way they regard me, by the number of people who follow me, by wealth or health or happiness. Each of these measures is too easily manipulated; each is too subjective, too prone to my own agendas.

But in framing the success of leadership in its relationship to Christ—here is where the heart has little room to run or hide. Here the heart must see Christ as the model and myself as the one striving to be like him. Am I a good and godly leader? I need only look to Christ and see myself in relation to him. That is where the answer is found.

Interestingly, Powlison assures me that I can also gauge the way I follow by a similar measure. “You particularly serve Christ by standing under those God has placed over you.” But that is a topic for another time.