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September 2009

September 25, 2009

Free Stuff Fridays

After a one-week hiatus, we are back with another edition of Free Stuff Fridays. This week’s sponsor is Bardin & Marsee Publishing and the prize they are offering is a mite unusual. They have offered up six copies of The Waterproof Bible. Now this is the kind of product that might lead you to immediately roll your eyes; but hang on for a moment. The Waterproof Bible is simply a Bible that is, well, waterproof. Available in the NIV and KJV, it is regular-sized Bible but one that you can take with you anywhere. The pages are very difficult to tear and, as you’d expect, you can drop it in the ocean and it will be just fine. The copy they sent to me shipped already-wet just to prove that this Bible truly is not going to get soggy.

m-waterproof.jpg

Here is Bobby Bardin’s story of how he came to see the need for a waterproof Bible:

As a believer in Christ and one that has always loved to be in God’s creation exposed to the elements, I have often desired to have my Bible by my side for reading here and there. My exploring has led me to mountain tops, river banks, sandy beaches, misty valleys, and hot springs, and has caused me to become soaked to the core while backpacking or paddling. I hate to admit that my Bible has not made it with me on many of these occasions for the sake of protecting it and because I don’t trust a plastic bag not to puncture. Michael and I have been talking about how awesome it would be to have a waterproof Bible for many years now, and we have finally decided to produce it ourselves. Now we can put an end to all the worrying that we have done in the past about our Bibles and take God’s Word wherever our adventures lead.

To make this happen, Michael, Anna (my wife), and I have formed Bardin & Marsee Publishing, LLC to produce the world’s first waterproof, rugged, and tear resistant Bibles. We hope that you find heaps of enjoyment reading God’s Word in all weather environments.

Bardin & Marsee have kindly offered up six copies of the NIV Waterproof Bible for this giveaway so there will be, of course, six winners.

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.


September 25, 2009
Photos That Make You Say ‘Wow’
Here is a roundup of some of the winners in the inaugural British Wildlife Photography Awards.
Toronto Pastors Fellowship
Monday marks the season’s first Toronto Pastors Fellowship. If you are a Toronto-area pastor, you will want to check it out.
The United States’ Credit Score
‘Loans and Credit’ figures out the US’ credit score based on FICO criteria. Things aren’t looking particularly good.
My Church or Kingdom?
Ray Ortlund: Suppose I said, “My passion isn’t to build up my marriage. My passion is for Marriage. I want the institution of Marriage to be revered again. I’ll work for that. I’ll pray for that. I’ll sacrifice for that. But don’t expect me to hunker down in the humble daily realities of building a great marriage with my wife Jani. I’m aiming at something grander.”
Why You Should Learn Biblical Languages
Here are a couple of video clips in which Westminster Seminary professor Elizabeth Groves explains why learning the biblical languages is so important.
September 24, 2009

A couple of days ago I sat down with Aileen and a blank piece of paper. On the top of the paper I wrote, “If we were better parents to our children we would…” and then, between the two of us, we began to jot down ideas. We thought of some of the things we would do if we were to be the kind of parents we really want to be—parents who love our children, who value genuine friendships with them and, primarily, who raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord. And I think we came up with a few ideas that ought to make a real difference.

As we did so, I thought of something I wrote a couple of years ago. It somehow seemed relevant. Here it is…

My children have been behaving a little bit strangely at bedtime in recent days. My son tends to be melancholy in the evenings at the best of times but recently has been getting worried as soon as we tuck him into bed. Two nights ago he was concerned that the Sith were going to attack him (how he even knows who the Sith are is beyond me) and last night he was worried that the Japanese were going to invade Canada (I guess he has been reading about the Second World War). I assured him that the Japanese were not going to invade our country but he replied, “Well, they snuck up on Hawaii without the Americans noticing!” This much is true. His little sister feeds off his worries and almost inevitably ends up creating her own.

It generally happens that, by the time we tuck the children into bed, Aileen and I are ready to be done with them for the day. It may sound harsh, but by the end of a long day, we are more than eager to spend an hour or two by ourselves in the living room before also heading for bed. The last thing we want is a parade of children up and down the stairs and a chorus of cries asking us to come upstairs to mediate one problem or another.

Last night, a good hour after I put my daughter to bed, and as I settled into the couch to spend some time reading, I heard a cry of “Daddy!” I went to the bottom of the stairs and asked what she wanted. “Will you come and cuddle me?” she called out. I thought about it for a moment and eventually told her that she should already be asleep and that I was not going to come up and cuddle her. Thankfully she soon drifted off and slept well.

As I thought about it a little bit more I realized that I did not want to cuddle her, at least in part, because I had to. I was looking at it as a “got to” situation: “I’ve got to cuddle her.” And I rebelled. It didn’t take me long to regret my decision. She is going to be with us for so few years and for many of those she will no doubt have no desire to cuddle me. And is it so bad for a six-year old to want a cuddle (or another cuddle) before bed? The more I thought about it, the more this seemed like a “get to” situation: “I get to cuddle her.”

It’s funny the difference made by that one little letter. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with the got to’s and the get to’s. Church can seem like a “got to” obligation, but it is so much sweeter when I face it as if it is a “get to” privilege. My morning devotions can often feel like a “got to” but I enjoy them so much more when I treat them like a “get to.” Rather than having to face the Bible and prayer in the morning, I see them as an enjoyable privilege. It often makes all the difference in a mind as feeble and sinful as mine.

When Abby stumbled down the stairs this morning, squinting through barely-awake eyes, her hair all askew, I grabbed her up in a big hug and settled onto the couch with her for a few minutes of cuddling. It is something I get to do, at least for a few more years. It was my privilege and my pleasure.

September 24, 2009
I Do Not Permit…
There are some people who have the ability to so easily and succinctly refute an argument. D.A. Carson does that in this short video clip which deals with Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2 where he says, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…”
The Pharmaceutical Umbrella
This article, a very interesting one, shows how the whole world benefits from America’s free market health care system. “Imagine that it’s 1962, the hottest point of the Cold War, and that you’re reading a report comparing two countries’ strategies for resisting the Soviet menace. The United States, the report points out, spends billions of dollars a year on troops, tanks, warships, and missiles, while France spends a tiny fraction of that. Nevertheless, France and America are both unscathed by Soviet bombs. Therefore, the report concludes, France’s Cold War strategy is far more efficient than America’s.”
Ed Stetzer Interview
I enjoyed reading this brief interview with Ed Stetzer in which he speaks about technology, the future of seminaries, family life and higher education.
Microsoft’s Tablet
Speaking of technology, I’m loving all the talk today about tablets. I can see a device like this one playing a very important role in my life in the near future (though here’s hoping that Apple delivers something even better).
September 23, 2009

A couple of years ago a friend forwarded me an amazing bit of writing. It was crafted by James Russell Miller a Presbyterian pastor who lived from 1840-1912 and who pastored churches in Pennsylvania and Illinois. I assume from the first sentence that represents the opening lines of a book geared toward young people, perhaps a nineteenth century equivalent to Don’t Waste Your Life. It is full of soul-stirring reflections on the brevity of life and the importance of living each day for the glory of God. There is practical wisdom (“Sin may seem pleasant to us now, but we must not forget how it will appear when we get past it and turn to look back upon it; especially must we keep in mind how it will seem from a dying pillow.”) and there are meditations on the person and work of Christ (“only Christ can make any life, young or old, truly beautiful or truly happy. Only He can cure the heart’s restless fever and give quietness and calmness. Only He can purify that sinful fountain within us, our corrupt nature, and make us holy.”). It is, in sum, a powerful encouragement to live a godly life always with a view to the end. Read it, and be sure to read to the end!

*****

This may scarcely seem a fitting theme to introduce in a book meant chiefly for the young, and yet a moment’s reflection will show its appropriateness and practicalness.

Old age is the harvest of all the years that have gone before. It is the barn into which all the sheaves are gathered. It is the sea into which all the rills and rivers of life flow from their springs in the hills and valleys of youth and manhood. We are each, in all our earlier years, building the house in which we shall have to live when we grow old. And we may make it a prison or a palace. We may make it very beautiful, adorning it with taste and filling it with objects which shall minister to our pleasure, comfort, and power. We may cover the walls with lovely pictures. We may spread luxurious couches of ease on which to rest. We may lay up in store great supplies of provision upon which to feed in the days of hunger and feebleness. We may gather and pile away large bundles of wood to keep the fires blazing brightly in the long winter days and nights of old age.

Or we may make our house very gloomy. We may hang the chamber-walls with horrid pictures, covering them with ghastly spectres which shall look down upon us and haunt us, filling our souls with terror when we sit in the gathering darkness of life’s nightfall. We may make beds of thorns to rest upon. We may lay up nothing to feed upon in the hunger and craving of declining years. We may have no fuel ready for the winter fires.

We may plant roses to bloom about our doors and fragrant gardens to pour their perfumes about us, or we may sow weeds and briers to flaunt themselves in our faces as we sit in our doorways in the gloaming.

All old age is not beautiful. All old people are not happy. Some are very wretched, with hollow, sepulchral lives. Many an ancient palace was built over a dark dungeon. There were the marble walls that shone with dazzling splendor in the sunlight. There were the wide gilded chambers with their magnificent frescoes and their splendid adornments, the gaiety, the music, and the revelry. But deep down beneath all this luxurious splendor and dazzling display was the dungeon filled with its unhappy victims, and up through the iron gratings came the sad groans and moanings of despair, echoing and reverberating through the gilded halls and ceiled chambers; and in this I see a picture of many an old age. It may have abundant comforts and much that tells of prosperity in an outward sense—wealth, honors, friends, the pomp and circumstance of greatness—but it is only a palace built over a gloomy dungeon of memory, up from whose deep and dark recesses come evermore voices of remorse and despair to sadden or embitter every hour and to cast shadows over every lovely picture and every bright scene.

It is possible so to live as to make old age very sad, and then it is possible so to live as to make it very beautiful. In going my rounds in the crowded city I came one day to a door where my ears were greeted with a great chorus of bird-songs. There were birds everywhere—in parlour, in dining-room, in bedchamber, in hall—and the whole house was filled with their joyful music. So may old age be. So it is for those who have lived aright. It is full of music. Every memory is a little snatch of song. The sweet bird-notes of heavenly peace sing everywhere, and the last days of life are its happiest days—

“Rich in experience that angels might covet,
Rich in a faith that has grown with the years.”

The important practical question is, How can we so live that our old age, when it comes, shall be beautiful and happy? It will not do to adjourn this question until the evening shadows are upon us. It will be too late then to consider it. Consciously or unconsciously, we are every day helping to settle the question whether our old age shall be sweet and peaceful or bitter and wretched. It is worth our while, then, to think a little how to make sure of a happy old age.

We must live a useful life. Nothing good ever comes out of idleness or out of selfishness. The standing water stagnates and breeds decay and death. It is the running stream that keeps pure and sweet. The fruit of an idle life is never joy and peace. Years lived selfishly never become garden-spots in the field of memory. Happiness comes out of self-denial for the good of others. Sweet always are the memories of good deeds done and sacrifices made. Their incense, like heavenly perfume, comes floating up from the fields of toil and fills old age with holy fragrance. When one has lived to bless others, one has many grateful, loving friends whose affection proves a wondrous source of joy when the days of feebleness come. Bread cast upon the waters is found again after many days.

I see some people who do not seem to want to make friends. They are unsocial, unsympathetic, cold, distant, disobliging, selfish. Others, again, make no effort to retain their friends. They cast them away for the slightest cause. But they are robbing their later years of joys they cannot afford to lose. If we would walk in the warmth of friendship’s beams in the late evening-time, we must seek to make to ourselves loyal and faithful friends in the busy hours that come before. This we can do by a ministry of kindness and self-forgetfulness. This was part at least of what our Lord meant in that counsel which falls so strangely on our ears until we understand it: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”

Again, we must live a pure and holy life. Every one carries in himself the sources of his own happiness or wretchedness. Circumstances have really very little to do with our inner experiences. It matters little in the determination of one’s degree of enjoyment whether he live in a cottage or a palace. It is self, after all, that in largest measure gives the color to our skies and the tone to the music we hear. A happy heart sees rainbows and brilliance everywhere, even in darkest clouds, and hears sweet strains of song even amid the loudest wailings of the storm; and a sad heart, unhappy and discontented, sees spots in the sun, specks in the rarest fruits, and something with which to find fault in the most perfect of God’s works, and hears discords and jarring notes in the heavenliest music. So it comes about that this whole question must be settled from within. The fountains rise in the heart itself. The old man, like the snail, carries his house on his back. He may change neighbors or homes or scenes or companions, but he cannot get away from himself and his own past. Sinful years put thorns in the pillow on which the head of old age rests. Lives of passion and evil store away bitter fountains from which the old man has to drink.

Sin may seem pleasant to us now, but we must not forget how it will appear when we get past it and turn to look back upon it; especially must we keep in mind how it will seem from a dying pillow. Nothing brings such pure peace and quiet joy at the close as a well-lived past. We are every day laying up the food on which we must feed in the closing years. We are hanging up pictures about the walls of our hearts that we shall have to look at when we sit in the shadows.

How important that we live pure and holy lives! Even forgiven sins will mar the peace of old age, for the ugly scars will remain.

Summing all up in one word, only Christ can make any life, young or old, truly beautiful or truly happy. Only He can cure the heart’s restless fever and give quietness and calmness. Only He can purify that sinful fountain within us, our corrupt nature, and make us holy. To have a peaceful and blessed ending to life, we must live it with Christ. Such a life grows brighter even to its close. Its last days are the sunniest and the sweetest. The more earth’s joys fail, the nearer and the more satisfying do the comforts become. The nests over which the wing of God droops, which in the bright summer days of prosperous strength lay hidden among the leaves, stand out uncovered in the days of decay and feebleness when winter has stripped the branches bare. And for such a life death has no terrors. The tokens of its approach are but “the land-birds lighting on the shrouds, telling the weary mariner that he is nearing the haven.” The end is but the touching of the weather-beaten keel on the shore of glory.

September 23, 2009
Falling in Love with the Church
Derek Thomas on this always-important topic: “Something is terribly wrong when professing Christians do not identify with the church and love being a part of her. Something is wrong when professing Christians fail to be passionate about every aspect of the church and long to invest themselves in her, taking all that the church represents and does to heart.”
Recycling Bibles
Do you have any Bibles you could share? Next week, the Bible Foundation is kicking off their October Bible Drive (that they’ve held annually since 1992). According to their press release, “People around the world are begging for Bibles. Even damaged and parts of old Bibles have use and value.”
How Monogamous Men Can Rescue Civilization
Joe Carter, writing at First Things, quotes scholar Pat Fagan who says “culture of the traditional family is now in intense competition with a very different culture: The defining difference between the two is the sexual ideal embraced. The traditional family of Western civilization is based on lifelong monogamy. The competing culture is polyamorous, normally a serial polygamy both before and after the first marriage, but also increasingly polymorphous in its different sexual expressions.”
The Era of Age Segmentation
This interview is very interesting. Kara Powell talks about the harm that has come about through youth ministry being separated from the larger church and says that the future of youth ministry is to re-integrate it into the wider body. Let’s hope she is right!
Zondervan Partners with Logos
Zondervan is bringing a vast numbers of valuable resources to the Logos system. If you’re a Logos user, this is big news!
September 22, 2009

Gospel Powered Parenting by William FarleyAccording to George Barna, there have been approximately 75,000 books on parenting published in the past decade. I sometimes feel like I have read all of them. It strikes me, though, that publishers must feel the same way and that, hopefully, they think hard before releasing yet another book into such a crowded marketplace. I at least wanted to give the benefit of the doubt to P&R with the release of William Farley’s Gospel-Powered Parenting. And I’m very glad that I did.

September 22, 2009
“If God Is Good” Annotated Bibliography
Randy Alcorn has posted a partial annotated bibliography of the books he read in his research for If God Is Good.
Distributing Darwin
This is different: “Best-selling author and evangelist Ray Comfort hopes to give away tens of thousands of copies of a special edition of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species at colleges nationwide.”
Interview With Rick Warren
For the first time in months, Rick Warren does an interview, this time with USA Today.
Deal of the Day: Reformed Dogmatics
Here’s one for the theologian (or prospective theologian). RHB is offering all four volumes of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics for $85. Yes, it’s a lot, but if you’ve ever priced them, you know it’s a great deal!