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May 2009

May 26, 2009

Outrageous MercyMartin Luther got it right when he said, “No theology is genuinely Christian which does not arise from and focus on the cross.” The cross of Christ is the very center point of the Christian faith; indeed, it is the very focal point of all of history. No event will or can be more significant than this. Little wonder, then, that so many books have been written that teach the cross, reflect on the cross, draw the Christian’s gaze to the cross.

May 26, 2009
Memorial Day 2009
Boston.com has another one of their great photo essays, this one commemorating Memorial Day 2009.
A Mother’s Heart for Two Brave Children
A year after the tragic death of Maria Chapman, her mother, Mary Beth Chapman, reflects on all that the last year has brought.
Ida: Humankind’s Earliest Ancestor! (Not Really)
TIME Magazine offers some perspective on Ida (though they do so from an evolutionary perspective). “All of which renders the press release touting a ‘revolutionary scientific find that will change everything’ absolutely true — as long as by ‘everything,’ you mean ‘whether the branch of the primate family that includes monkeys, apes and humans comes from the suborder strepsirrhinae or the suborder haplorrhinae,’ according to the PLoS One paper. And by ‘change,’ you mean ‘adds information that may or may not help settle the question, but whose implications won’t be known for a long time in any case.’”
Two Inches of Providence
John Ensor, writing in WORLD, offers a real-life perspective on providence. “Baby Jack, our 3-month-old grandson, was rocking away peacefully when terror struck. Our daughter-in-law thought a tornado was hitting them. What she really heard was a multi-ton, mighty tall oak tree cracking and crashing onto their old, wooden house, directly and immediately above baby Jack.”
Amusing Ourselves to Death
Stuart McMillen has written up a comic of sorts that conveys the introductory chapter to Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death (HT).
Humility: The Heart of Righteousness
Doug Groothuis offers a good post on the always-relevant subject of humility.
May 25, 2009

Some time ago a friend sent me a little gift she knew I would enjoy. It is a small book, published in 1959 titled Soul-Winning Made Easy and subtitled (The Encounter Method). It was written by C.S. Lovett who founded Baldwin Park Baptist Church (which, strangely enough, was later renamed Personal Christianity Chapel).

This book is a guide to personal evangelism and it is one that is a classic example of technique-based evangelism. Now obviously I appreciate the man’s desire to share the good news of the gospel and to train others to do the same. But what he offers is a method and one that needs to be followed with near religious fervor. He insists that anyone who would seek to evangelize must have a plan since “Every successful operation needs a plan. … One does not dare build a house without building-plans; the walls might not meet. Why, even a trip to the market requires a planned list to insure that items are not forgotten.”

May 25, 2009
Why Memorial Day Is Worth Remembering
Rev.Kev. tells us why Memorial Day is worth remembering.
The Climate-Industrial Complex
WSJ: “Some business leaders are cozying up with politicians and scientists to demand swift, drastic action on global warming. This is a new twist on a very old practice: companies using public policy to line their own pockets. The tight relationship between the groups echoes the relationship among weapons makers, researchers and the U.S. military during the Cold War.”
Documentary Probes Canadian Evangelism
I know Americans are accustomed to this kind of thing, but this is quite rare for Canada: a documentary that looks to Canadian evangelicalism. Unfortunately, it looks like he looked in most of the wrong places. “Evangelicals believe they have a duty to spread the gospel,” says Newman. “In the U.S., the evangelical strain has been fused with the fundamentalist strain; that isn’t true here. The evangelical movement links into many different strains in Canada. We’re a more secular country.”
De’tat’ched Attitude
Here’s an interesting repercussion of the economic downturn. “Dermatologists across the city are reporting a boom in tattoo laser removals, as body-art fanatics fretting over their professional image rush to erase their inky mistakes. ‘People can’t afford to handicap themselves be cause of a tattoo in a tight job market,’ said Dr. Jeffrey Rand, founder of the Tattoo Removal Center in Midtown. “We’re seeing a huge surge right now in people getting rid of their tattoos.”
Basics Conference Audio/Video
Audio and video of the recent Basics Conference is now available for free online. It includes both keynotes and breakouts.
India’s Massive General Election
This fascinating photo essay shares images from India’s recent general election. “An estimated 714 million voters (from a population of 1.2 billion) were eligible to cast their vote in one of five separate phases at over 800,000 polling stations, starting on April 16th. Logistically difficult, massive in scale, and opposed by various rebel groups, separatists and protestors, the elections still managed to be held with minimal disruption, with an average voter turnout of greater than 56%.”
Snuggie Review
Consumerist offers a light-hearted review of the infomerical / pop culture phenomenon the Snuggie (the blanket with sleeves).
Deal of the Day: The Cross Centered Life
Registered customers of Monergism Books will receive a 50% discount on C.J. Mahaney’s The Cross Centered Life. In order to receive discount please use coupon code “crosscentered” at checkout. Limit 1 per customer. This week only.
May 24, 2009

There are a couple of songs we sing in church for which I’ve seen only the barest information. In our bulletin we generally record at least the author, composition date and name of the tune. For these songs we’ve got nothing (except, in one case,the author’s name). I thought I’d put them up here today to see if anyone out there can point me in the direction of more substantial information about them.

The first is titled, “A Man There Is, a Real Man” and it’s written by Joseph Hart (who also wrote such hymns as “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy” and “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.” Beyond the title and the tune, we don’t really know anything about this hymn. Google and NetHymnal, between them, turn up little that is useful. Does anyone else sing it? Does anyone have any useful information about it (the collection it appeared in, the date it was composed, the name of the tune, etc, etc).

It is a great hymn as you can see by the words. I am especially fond of the fifth stanza: “Come, then, repenting sinner, come / Approach with humble faith / Owe what thou wilt the total sum / Is canceled by His death!” Here it is:

A Man There Is, a Real Man

A Man there is, a real Man,
With wounds still gaping wide,
From which rich streams of blood once ran,
In hands, and feet, and side.

2 ‘Tis no wild fancy of our brains,
No metaphor we speak;
The same dear Man in heaven now reigns,
That suffered for our sake.

3 This wondrous Man of whom we tell,
Is true Almighty God;
He bought our souls from death and hell;
The price, His own heart’s blood.

4 That human heart He still retains,
Though throned in highest bliss;
And feels each tempted member’s pains;
For our affliction’s His.

5 Come, then, repenting sinner, come;
Approach with humble faith;
Owe what thou wilt, the total sum
Is canceled by His death!

6 His blood can cleanse the blackest soul,
And wash our guilt away;
He will present us sound and whole
In that tremendous day.


This second song is one we have not sung for a while, actually, but we’d still like to know more about it. I’m quite sure it comes out of my pastors’ Masters College days and, indeed, when I mentioned the song in the past, several other Masters alumni said they remember it as well. One person suggested it was penned by Don Kistler, though I’ve never seen that confirmed. So once again, if anyone can tell me who wrote this song and the music for it, that would be great. It’s not a bad little song (though I’d love to see someone reimagine the line about “I’ll be the glove for your hand to fill…”).

Here are the words:

Teach Me To Live What You Say

Teach Me to Live What You Say
Teach me to live what You say,
Make me a child who’ll obey;
Holy in all that I do,
May I bring glory to You.

My life is all Yours to shape as You will
I’ll be the glove for Your hand to fill;
I want to be pleasing, to You may it be,
That You might be glorified somehow in me.

To be more like Jesus with each passing day;
More like the Master in every way,
A servant who’s yielded his heart to the One,
Who gives life and says to His servant, “Well done!”

May 23, 2009

Here is another roundup of a few books I have received but have chosen not to review. Also, this week I’ll list some of the books I’ve received—ones for which I’ve not yet made a decision either way.

Encouragement: How Words Change Lives by Gordon Cheng. This little book, published by Matthias Media, seeks to teach biblical wisdom on encouragement. I stumbled across it after searching for books on encouragement and realizing that this is one of only a very few in the field. Though I read it through, I have decided not to write a full review (since it is available through so few booksellers). “According to Gordon Cheng, encouragement is not only central to our church life, it belongs to one of the most powerful themes in the whole of Scripture: the power of God’s word to change lives. That powerful word not only changes us as we hear and respond to it; but through us it changes others too.” It’s a practical book and told with a really nice amount of humor—enough to add a fun element to the book but not so much that it becomes obnoxious.

A Family Guide to the Bible by Christin Ditchfield. From the publisher: “All Christian parents want their children to gain a better understanding of God’s Word, but many of them are still searching to completely understand the Bible themselves. How can they confidently share what they believe with their families? A Family Guide to the Bible takes readers on a fun and exciting tour through all sixty-six books of the Bible and offers parents, grandparents, and teachers a better understanding of the Scriptures so they can help the children in their lives know what is in the Bible, where to find it, and how it all fits together. As Christians become more familiar with God’s Word, they will gain greater confidence as they share what they believe with their family and friends, help answer questions concerning the Bible, and encourage others to grow deeper in their walks of faith.”

Books Received

Here are some of the books that showed up this week:

The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness by Albert Mohler.

Punic Wars & Culture Wars: Christian Essays on History and Teaching by Ben House.

50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Spiritual Giants of the Faith by Warren Wiersbe.

Do You Want a Friend? by Noel Piper.

Courage to Flee: Living a Moral Life in an Immoral World by Jeffery Klick.

Corinthian Elders by Jack Fortenberry.

The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture? by Voddie Baucham.

The Divorce Dilemma: God’s Last Word on Lasting Commitment by John MacArthur.

I received a few DVDs as well:

A Question of Mercy

The Late Great Planet Church: The Rise of Dispensationalism

13 Letters (This is actually a combination CD/DVD/Study kit.

May 22, 2009

Free Stuff Fridays

It’s Friday and that means I’ve got another Free Stuff Fridays for you. This week’s sponsor is Ligonier Ministries which I’m sure you know primarily as the teaching ministry of R.C. Sproul. Everyone knows that Dr. Sproul has written many, many books over his career (60 titles and counting). What you may not know is that he was written several books targeted at children. And today we are giving out all four of the ones he has written. They are:

  • The Prince’s Poison Cup - In this work, Sproul focuses on the atonement to show that Jesus had to endure the curse of sin in order to redeem His people from their spiritual death.
  • The Lightlings - Sproul weaves an allegorical tale that captures the essence of the biblical story of redemption in a manner that will fascinate and delight children. A race of tiny beings known as lightlings are a picture of humanity as they pass through all the stages of the biblical drama - creation, fall, and redemption.
  • The Priest with Dirty Clothes - This book tells the story of a mud-covered priest who can only find cleansing from the Great Prince who offers “new clothes for the heart.”
  • The King Without A Shadow - A book for children highlighting through a simple story of a boy and his dog, the holiness of God.

Four winners will receive each of these four books.

Sproul Books

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 10 AM.


May 22, 2009

This is a topic I’ve written about before, but one that has been on my mind again lately. I’ll be interested in your feedback on it.

Ted Wallis, a doctor in Austin, Texas, recently came upon a lost child in tears in a mall. His first instinct was to help, but he feared people might consider him a predator. He walked away. ‘Being male,’ he explains, ‘I am guilty until proven innocent.’” As awful as it sounds, I sympathize with this guy. As terrible as it might be to see a young child lost and alone, as a man in this society I feel like accusing eyes would be upon me if I was I to walk up to that child and offer my help. My instinct would probably be to look for an authority figure—a police officer or mall security guard—or a harmless-looking stranger, perhaps an elderly woman or a pregnant mom. These people could help the child without making others assume that they have evil ulterior motives.

Jeff Zaslow of the Wall Street Journal has written a couple of compelling articles dealing with our society’s view of men as predators. They are well worth reading (Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful of Men? and Avoiding Kids: How Men Cope With Being Cast as Predators). He asks, “Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. Child advocate John Walsh advises parents to never hire a male babysitter. Airlines are seating unaccompanied minors with female passengers rather than male passengers. Soccer leagues are telling male coaches not to touch players.” An ad campaign for Virginia’s Department of Health features a picture of a man’s hand holding a child’s hand with these words plastered over it: “It doesn’t feel right when I see them together.” The message seems clear. “The implication is that if you see a man holding a girl’s hand, he’s probably a predator,” according to Marc Rudov who runs a father’s rights site.

Clearly there are going to be consequences to making society (and children in particular) fearful of men. “Fathers’ rights activists and educators now argue that an inflated predator panic is damaging men’s relationships with kids. Some men are opting not to get involved with children at all, which partly explains why many youth groups can’t find male leaders, and why just 9% of elementary-school teachers are male, down from 18% in 1981.” Children are beginning to be distrustful of men and society in general is becoming increasingly distrustful of men. Men, meanwhile, bear the weight of feeling like they are always on the edge of being accused of some deviant behavior. “The result of all this hyper-carefulness, however, is that men often feel like untouchables.” “While we don’t want sexual predators to harm our kids, we do want our kids to develop healthy relationships with adults, both men and women. Instilling a fear of men is a profound disservice to everyone.”

Here are a few examples of how this is working itself out according to the testimonies of men who responded to Zaslow’s articles:

In Cochranville, Pa., Ray Simpson, a bus driver, says that he used to have 30 kids stop at his house on Halloween. But after his divorce, with people knowing he was a man living alone, he had zero visitors. “I felt like crying at the end of the evening,” he says.

At Houston Intercontinental Airport, businessman Mitch Reifel was having a meal with his 5-year-old daughter when a policeman showed up to question him. A passerby had reported his interactions with the child seemed “suspicious.”

In Skokie, Ill., Steve Frederick says the director of his son’s day-care center called him in to reprimand him for “inappropriately touching the children.” “I was shocked,” he says. “Whatever did she mean?” She was referring to him reading stories with his son and other kids on his lap. A parent had panicked when her child mentioned sitting on a man’s lap.

I am of two minds about this. On the one hand I don’t want to feel (and don’t want my children to feel) that all men are perverts who are untrustworthy simply by virtue of being men. At the same time, I have too often seen the harm done to children through predatory men. Though it may be the case that only the smallest percentage of men are predators, the fact remains that the vast majority of predators are men. Early on in our marriage my wife and I established a couple of ground rules pertaining to our children (such as not allowing men or boys to babysit our children and being exceedingly cautious about sleep-overs). To use these seemed like common sense rules and not ones born out of a great fear of all men. They are rules that we do not tell the children so as not to make them overly fearful toward men. We are cautious towards relationships between our children and other men, but rejoice when godly or otherwise concerned adults show a genuine interest in them.

I would be interested in hearing from the people who read this site to hear how you cope with these situations.

  1. Would you leave your children with male babysitters?
  2. Would you allow your teenage boy to babysit other children?
  3. Are you immediately hesitant or nervous when a man shows friendly interest in your children?
  4. For the men: if you saw a child standing alone and crying in the mall, would you stop to help the child? If so, would you do so with confidence or with some level of fear?