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July 10, 2010

Today’s guest blog comes courtesy of Chris Larson. Chris is responsible for the outreach and operations of Ligonier Ministries. And, as it happens, he is also a friend. Chris was kind enough to provide an article dealing with mercy.

*****

Peter didn’t just blow it, he blew it badly. “Though they all fall away…I will never fall away” (Matt. 26:33). Peter’s resolution we admire for its confidence and bravery. But it is a statement relying on one’s own strength and it is doomed for shipwreck. A few hours go by and we find him alone and weeping (v. 75).

We can relate, can’t we? We’ve made promise after promise to the Lord, resolution after resolution, only to come to the end of ourselves. The sinking feeling churns in our stomach, our earlier words of bold resolve pour like fuel on the fire of guilt and self-condemnation.

Godly sorrow doesn’t remove the sting of sin’s consequence. Falling short of the glory of God every day in word, thought, and deed is the norm, not the exception (Rom. 3:23). We may be surprised when we blow it, but our sins do not surprise the omniscient, holy God.

So often we want to hide from the Lord when we sin. Yet after Peter’s very public failure, he doesn’t hide. He waits. Notice what Peter did when he heard it was Jesus on the beach. His exuberance leaps off the pages of the Bible when we read how he throws himself into the water and swims to shore (John 21:7).

July 09, 2010

Today’s guest blogger is a dear friend to Aileen and me and, as it happens, the granddaughter of Arnold Dallimore, whose biography of Spurgeon we only just began to read together. I asked Becky if she would be willing to share a few memories of her grandfather.

*****

My grandpa was a man who could sleep anywhere. He was a small man with a big voice. He walked briskly, swinging his arms at his sides while he moved. He rarely left the house without his favourite red cap. He loved wonton soup. My grandpa always carried around two essential accessories: a shoe horn and a black, plastic comb. Each night, between seven and eight, he watched “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” (which, I am confident, based on his at home performances, he could have won). My grandpa was a world renowned author, church planter, pastor, preacher, poet, great man of God… and, according to my kindergarten journal, my best friend.

My grandpa loved to tell stories. I spent many hours, snuggled tightly between him and my grandma in the front seat of their car, listening to stories about his childhood in London, Ontario, his tomato soup (made from ketchup and water) years at Seminary in Toronto and the years he spent building and growing Cottam Baptist Church. My favourite stories were those he told about his mother, Mabel. Legend has it, that upon hearing the news of her death, a streak of his hair turned from brown to white.

My grandpa loved a good bargain. He was what many would have considered poor his entire life. He often told me that he’d never had two nickels to rub together. He would not have known what life would have been like with a little bit of extra money. Despite that, my grandpa always dressed well and he would often share the story of how much a garment had cost him and where he had purchased it from. He had a brown “Neiman Marcus” sweater that he had purchased at a thrift store. Every time he wore that sweater, he would remind me that it had been an outstanding deal.

July 08, 2010

The problem with writing a book is that, as an author, you feel like you need to practice what you preach (OK, I guess that’s not really a problem, is it?). And while I believe in the necessity of occasionally fasting from technology, I’ve found that I’m not very good at it—at least, not for very long. But now as I take a week off from all of my work responsibilities I am seeking to implement a lesson I learned last year. If I don’t take a break from technology, I’m not really taking a break at all. I had a vacation last year, but didn’t truly “vacate” because I continued to be as wired as ever.

So here’s the plan. For the next week I am not going to be checking email. I also won’t be tweeting or Facebooking or even blogging. I am going to simply cease to exist electronically. When I tell people this they give that low whistle and say, “That’s going to be tough.” And that may be the case. But I am really looking forward to it, both for the benefits I believe will come from it but also as a kind of case study. I think it’s going to make this a true vacation.

Here’s the auto-reply message I’ve setup within email:

I am taking an electronic vacation which means that I will not be checking email or blogging between July 9 and July 16. There is a very good chance that when I return to the digital world I will erase the hundreds (thousands?) of emails that will have accumulated.

Therefore, if the email you sent me is very important, it would probably be wise to send it again sometime around July 17.

As for the blog, there will continue to be daily content here for you. I have asked a series of friends to each provide an article and those are all queued up and ready to go. Some of these people you will know and others you will get to know through their posts. Obviously there will be no A La Carte updates (those will resume July 19), but you will still be able to come here and read something good every day.

I’ll see you around the 17th!

July 08, 2010

You are familiar, I think, with the Reading Classics Together program. Over the past few years, I and many of the readers of this site have read a series of classics of the Christian faith. We’ve read them concurrently, a chapter or two at a time, and then have met up here at the blog once a week to discuss what we’ve read. After we finished the most recent version of this program (which saw us read The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes) I thought it would be fun to try something new. And thus I proposed that we read a biography together. Today we begin.

The biography we are reading together is Arnold Dallimore’s Spurgeon: A New Biography. Of course it’s not that new anymore, having been first printed in 1985. Nevertheless, it is a good biography and one that is thorough enough without being too long or too dense. Dallimore was a Canadian pastor and biographer who ministered not too far from where I live. He is best-known for his work on George Whitefield, a massive two-volume set that is still regarded as the definitive biography of the great evangelist. Tomorrow I’ll share a guest article written by Dallimore’s granddaughter and will allow her to introduce you to her her grandfather.

As we turn from classics of the faith to biographies, I am not entirely sure what I ought to maintain as a format as I try to share just a few thoughts on the week’s reading. So I may mix things up a little bit week-by-week as I attempt to find a workable format.

July 08, 2010

Practical Ideas for Family Worship - Tim Smith offers a few ideas for times of family worship.

The First Thing Young Women Do in the Morning - “Young women are becoming more and more dependent on social media and checking on their social networks, according to a new study released earlier today by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research. In fact, as many as one-third of women aged 18-34 check Facebook when they first wake up, even before they get to the bathroom.”

Technism - John Dyer, who is also writing a book on technology and one that will probably be better than mine, shows how the World Cup offers an example of technism. Technism is “the unending pursuit of more and more complex technologies designed to make human life better, But when those devices cause problems, the solution is always additional technologies that solve the problems caused by the previous technology, and then even more technology to deal with the problems of that technology, and so on.”

With God on Our Side - Alex Chediak links to a documentary that looks rather interesting.

July 07, 2010

Are you a Friend of the Blog? It has been a few months now since I rolled out the program and to this point I’m very happy with the results; I’ve been blessed by the many of you who have chosen to support my web site in this way. And I hear from more and more of you that you’re pleased with the results of your membership.

To those who are not aware of how the program works, let me give you a quick overview. When you become a Friend of the Blog, you receive a list of great benefits. Among these are:

  • A $10 gift certificate from Westminster Books
  • You choose 4 new books or DVDs from Zondervan (including Tim Keller’s new DVD Gospel in Life)
  • A subscription to Christianity Today
  • 1 book from Reformation Heritage Books
  • Album downloads from bands and artists you like (there are eight there now and more to come)
  • Deals and savings from other stores
  • You support this web site
  • More to come…

This comes to at least $160 in value and there are more things to come that will make it better value still. This is a year-long effort and more will be added over the course of the year. When you sign up, you get everything there plus whatever else comes in over the year. And through it all you’ll be supporting challies.com.

If you’re really a book addict, you may want to become an Affiliate and refer friends, earning $5 in Westminster Books credit with each person you refer. Already lots of people have earned some good credit from Westminster.

The cost to become a friend is just $39 for the year. Do the math and I think you’ll find that it’s more than fair value.

You can get all the details at Friends of the Blog. Check it out and join in the fun!

Sign Up

July 07, 2010

I’ve got a bit of a thing for nature documentaries and maybe it’s because I’m not exactly the traveling type. I don’t ever anticipate being able to visit South America or Africa, to walk through the jungles and savannahs and to see so many of the wonders of God’s creation (at least on this side of eternity). Nature films, though, provide a glimpse of some of those things I guess I won’t ever see except through the lens of a camera.

You are familiar, I’m sure, with Planet Earth, the 2007 BBC documentary that was and perhaps still is the greatest nature series ever filmed. That same team is responsible for Planet Earth’s successor, titled simply Life. The series, filmed over four years, looks at “the lengths living beings go to to stay alive.” This makes the series less epic in scope than its predecessor, but no less ambitious and certainly no less enthralling.

Life does a great job of mixing well-known animals with those that are more obscure. In one show you’ll watch cheetahs and elephants and in another you’ll encounter a bizarre pebble toad that lives in just one small corner of the earth. You’ll come almost literally face-to-face with these creatures and so many others. The producers were able to capture shots that are as close-up, as intimate as any you’ve seen. Like Planet Earth before it, the camera work is absolutely stunning. In short “making-of” featurettes after each of the episodes you’ll see the lengths they went to in order to capture these shots, sometimes working for days to film just a few seconds of footage. The series also features a musical score that takes itself lightly enough that it can add an element of fun or drama where appropriate.

We watched most of this series as a family and enjoyed doing so. Now, depending on how much you’ve talked to your children about life and depending on whether or not you live on or near a farm, you may find yourself having to answer a few questions (like “Daddy, what does fertilize mean?”) since the animals are often filmed in the very throes of passion. And when the animals are not creating life, they are often destroying it, meaning that you will see a few gruesome deaths along the way. However, such is life (and, therefore, such is Life).

Watching the series as a family also gave us opportunities to discuss the inevitable references to evolution. Narrator David Attenborough throws around millions of years like a millionaire throws around nickels. In one particularly comical moment we see flamingos on the screen while Attenborough describes the birds’ reptilian ancestors. Even a child can look at a newt and then look at a flamingo and do the math. The series is not constant in references to evolution but you will encounter it several times along the way.

Overall, Life is yet another fantastic series and one that will take you face-to-face with some of God’s most remarkable creatures. The Bible tells us that it is the fool who says in his heart that there is no God. And this means that it is only the fool who could watch Life and not catch glimpses of the Creator. Watch it and praise God for his artistry.

Do note that there are two versions of the series available to you—the original by the BBC and the Discovery Channel adaptation. Be sure you find the original since David Attenborough is in every respect a superior narrator to Oprah Winfrey. Attenborough’s eccentric inflections are part of the fun. Also, if you have access to the appropriate hardware, it’s worth upgrading to the Blu Ray version so you can watch it all in high definition.

Here, in case you’re not yet convinced, is the trailer:

July 07, 2010

Lessons Learned Behind the Microphone - Now that Al Mohler has recorded his final radio show, he takes time to reflect on what he learned through all those years. He also shares what’s ahead.

What Is the Gospel? - Greg Gilbert’s book What Is the Gospel? is available free for Kindle and iBooks. This is a limited time kind of thing, so don’t dawdle!

DVD Sale - Desiring God has all of their DVDs on sale this month. And while we’re on the subject of DVDs by great ministries, Ligonier Ministries will send you R.C. Sproul’s Chosen by God DVD series for a donation of any amount. Click here to check it out.

Back to North Korea - “Like most North Koreans, Son Jong Nam knew next to nothing about Christianity when he fled to neighboring China in 1998.Eleven years later, he died back in North Korea in prison, reportedly tortured to death for trying to spread the Gospel in his native land, armed with 20 bibles and 10 cassette tapes of hymns. He was 50.” (HT:Z)

Questions to Ask About Global Warming - JT links to a very useful video that shares questions Christians should ask about global warming.

Vuvezela Concert - This is both amusing and horrifying:

Your Hands by JJ Heller - This, on the other hand, is just plain beautiful.

K-LOVE - JJ Heller “Your Hands” LIVE from K-LOVE Radio on Vimeo.