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Tim Challies

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April 2010

April 26, 2010

Back in January when Steve Jobs took the wraps off the iPad, I declared it The Greatest Disappointment in Human History. Obviously I did so tongue-in-cheek but really I wanted to make a point—that the device was clearly not what it could have been and clearly not what it will be in a generation or two. Never has it been easier to see the road map for a new device before it has been released (Gee, you think there will be a camera in generation two?).

Nevertheless, my work responsibilities dictated that I had to spend a good bit of time with this device, learning what it is and what it isn’t and learning how people will and will not use it. I have spent a couple of weeks using the iPad now. As part of my research I bought almost all of the bestselling apps through the App Store and tried to use each of them for a good bit of time. This, now, is my review of the iPad. But do note that it’s a two-week or ten-day review. A year from now I will undoubtedly have more to say and perhaps different things to say. Still, I think this kind of perspective is valuable. After all, movie reviews are written after seeing a movie just once or twice; book reviews are written after a single read. There is something useful about the urgency and about those early impressions.

In general, the iPad is an interesting mix of good and bad, of innovation and frustrating lack of innovation. Where it is at its best is in those ways in which it is obviously more than just a big iPhone or an oversized iPad Touch.

April 26, 2010

The Pill Turns 50 - Dr. Mohler looks at TIME’s article. “Anniversaries and commemorations come and go as history unfolds, but few dates are as significant as May 9, 1960. On that day the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale and use of Enovid — the first mass pharmaceutical form of what is now simply known as ‘The Pill.’ Quite simply, the world has never been the same since.”

Great Grace in the Small Things - Another touching entry from one of my favorite new blogs.

Conversations That Count - Toronto-area Christians will want to consider going to this event.

Can You Be a Christian and Gay? - Denny Burk provides video from Jennifer Knapp’s recent appearance on Larry King. Meanwhile, Trevin Wax asks “Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?”

Did Porn Cause the Financial Crisis? - Perhaps a little tongue in cheek, but the question is still a fair one considering recent discoveries at the SEC.

From the LOL File - Seven thousand copies of a cookbook called the Pasta Bible have had to be destroyed because one of its recipes recommended adding ‘salt and freshly ground black people’.

Mother’s Day at Monergism Books - Here’s a deal from Monergism Books. “Save an additional 5% off retail with the coupon > md2010 < PLUS Free Shipping on orders in U.S. over $25 when you select Economy Mail. Expires Tuesday April 27th.”

Is Facebook the New Internet? - That’s a question worth asking (and Mark Cuban does so). “It wasn’t all that long ago that the concept of Apple excluding Flash from its mobile platform would have been laughable. It’s not any longer. Both Apple and Google have to see Facebook as the greatest threat to their futures. The question is what do they do about it and how does Facebook respond ?”

Gold Box - Amazon’s Gold Box deal today is quite a good one, especially if you (still!) don’t have a GPS (I’m looking at you, Dave from Indiana). It’s a good deal on the TomTom XL 340S 4.3-Inch Portable GPS Navigator Bundle with Case.

April 25, 2010

Today at church we were introduced to a new hymn—at least one that was new to me. Titled “Pleading for Mercy” it is one of Newton’s Olney Hymns (#45 if you must know). And it’s a good one, too. Josh, our leader worshipper, composed a tune for it, altered a few of the lyrics, combined some of the verses, and so on. The end result was very powerful—as powerful as just about any of Newton’s hymns, I think.

In mercy, not in wrath, rebuke
Thy feeble worm, my God!
My spirit dreads thine angry look,
And trembles at thy rod.
Have mercy, Lord, for I am weak,
Regard my heavy groans;
O let thy voice of comfort speak,
And heal my broken bones!

By day my busy beating head
Is filled with anxious fears;
By night, upon my restless bed,
I weep a flood of tears.
Thus I sit desolate and mourn,
Mine eyes grow dull with grief;
How long, my Lord, till you return,
And bring my soul relief?

Satan, my cruel and envious foe
Insults me in my pain;
He smiles to see me brought so low,
And tells me hope is vain,
But hence, though enemy, depart!
Nor tempt me to despair;
My Savior comes to cheer my heart,
The Lord has heard my prayer.

O come and show thy pow’r to save,
And spare my fainting breath;
For who can praise thee in the grave,
Or sing thy name in death?
Since Jesus shared our flesh and blood
Then died the death we fear,
Removed the guilt wherein we stood
Our Father draws us near.

April 24, 2010

Yesterday I read Maggie Jackson’s book Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age. In the book she shows how life today offers many more distractions than at any other time in history and how this may lead us into a new dark age. While I’m not quite sure I agree with all the talk of a dark age, certainly she makes many valid points along the way.

One way this societal distraction manifests itself is in the way we eat. Meals are no longer times to be spent with family savoring good food. Rather, they are times to quickly and effeciently refuel. In 2006, she points out, 1,347 products with “go” on the label debuted on the global market, a nearly 50 percent increase from the previous year. We can get our coffee on the go, our cereal on the go and everything else that we find we need.

She writes about Dr. Rapaille, a French-born consultant with a doctorate in medical anthropology who says, “Americans say ‘I’m full’ at the end of a meal because … [their] mission has been to fill up their tanks; when they complete it, they announced that they’ve finished the task.”

Here are a couple of other noteworthy and ponder-worthy snippets of her screed against eating on the go:

We need handheld, bite-size, and dripless food because we are eating on the run-all day long. Nearly half of Americans say they eat most meals away from home or on the go. Forty percent of our food budgets are spent eating out, compared with a quarter in 1990.3 Twenty-five percent of restaurant meals are ordered from the car, up from 15 percent in 1988.

Now we’ve left the fork behind, the casualty of a time-pressed age. But while we again eat with our hands, we’re rarely touching our sustenance. Wrappers, packaging, cans, straws, and the pace of life keep us from directly connecting with food until it’s halfway down our gullets. And the food itself, of course, is many steps removed from the drippy, messy, and sometimes wholly recognizable fare that graced many a groaning table of the past. In the name of civilization, we’ve moved toward clean, processed, and unobtrusive foods. A quiet fill-up, that’s what people tell [researchers] that they want. Nothing smelly, crackling, or noisy. We want food that takes a backseat to life-and we want it solo.

April 23, 2010

Free Stuff Fridays

Today is Friday and that means it is time for another Free Stuff Fridays. This week’s sponsor is The Torchlighters Heroes of the Faith, bringing worthwhile heroes to children through powerful animated stories. The Torchlighters are created by Christian History Institute, the founders and original publishers of Christian History Magazine. In 2002 CHI felt the call to share Christian heroes with children, as an alternative to the sports and entertainment heroes typically offered by our culture. The first animated episode entitled The Jim Elliot Story released in 2005. This year the Torchlighters project is celebrating 100,000 DVDs in circulation worldwide, while planning for the release of their eighth episode featuring the life of Amy Carmichael.

The action-packed series introduces children to heroes like William Tyndale, Gladys Aylward and John Bunyan. Kids meet heroes who put their faith into action and don’t give up when the going gets tough. Originally intended for ages 8-12, the DVDs often leave a lasting impact on teens and adults as well. Check out the series trailer: www.torchlighters.org.

The Torchlighters is offering 5 “Mission 3-Packs” for free. The Mission 3-Pack includes three episodes on Christian Missionaries: Jim Elliot, Eric Liddell, and Gladys Aylward.

3-PackEach Torchhlighter DVD includes the following special features:

  • Four lesson curriculum, for use in home or classroom settings
  • Reproducible student handouts and discussion questions
  • Spanish and English audio tracks
  • Feature-length documentary on the main character’s life

You can order Torchlighters from Vision Video.

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.

April 23, 2010

Yesterday morning I was in despair. In the morning paper I had read about a new health curriculum that was to be introduced to the public schools here in Ontario. Beginning next school year, students were to receive a thorough indoctrination in sex education. And as you probably know, my wife and I have chosen to enroll our kids in public schools. We were despairing, wondering how we would deal with this new reality. Would this be the last straw, the situation that would force us to consider alternatives? Would this be a one-day program for which we could easily withdraw our children from school? Or would it be something they would be taught over the course of the entire year? Questions abounded; answers were few.

The current health curriculum in Ontario was put into place twelve years ago, I believe, and to this point (my oldest child is in fourth grade) has proven entirely unremarkable. As Christian parents whose children are in public schools, this is the one area we watch out for more than any other—the one area where we feel most protective of our children. We want our children to know what is right and what is wrong when it comes to sexuality, but we want them to know at a proper time and in a proper way. Currently by fourth grade the most a child will have learned at school is very rudimentary knowledge of what constitutes sexual abuse and how to respond should he or she experience it (i.e. tell your mom and dad).

All that was to change with the new curriculum. Under this new agenda children in third grade were to learn about gender identity (your identity may be different than your physical gender, it seems) and they were to learn that criticizing homosexuality was no different than discriminating against those with physical disabilities. They were to learn that many children have two mommies or two daddies and that they should use inclusive language such as “partner” rather than “husband” or “wife” in order not to exclude anybody. By sixth grade children were to be taught that masturbation is normal and a good way of exploring the body. By seventh grade they would be taught that they need to talk to their sexual partners about good boundaries and they were to learn that abstinence may mean different things to different people—for some it may mean excluding all sexual activity while for others it might exclude vaginal intercourse but include anal intercourse. All this was to be taught to children in seventh grade and younger. As I said, I was in despair.

April 23, 2010

Young, Restless, Reformed? - Collin Hansen, has written an article for CT that he titled Piper, Warren and the Perils of Movement Building. Michael Horton has written a response, of sorts, in which he calls us to understand the word Reformed within its historical context and proposes an alternative.

Can You Name Them? - Randy Alcorn on heroes and celebrities: “Being a hero is something entirely different than being a celebrity. Fame is one thing. Virtue is another. The two aren’t even remotely related. In fact, the more famous you become the harder it is to cultivate and retain virtue. Celebrities are just people with good looks, talent, money, and the ability to draw attention to themselves. Heroes are people who stand courageously for what is right, often against the tide of public opinion, and at great cost to themselves.”

Struggling with Time-Debt - This article is worth a read. “I recently found myself, late one night, staring at my computer screen with a sinking, hard feeling in my stomach and a bad taste in my mouth. A familiar bad taste. The taste of debt. But I wasn’t looking at my bank statement—I was looking at my calendar.”

This Was Grace:

(HT:JT)

All I Have Is Christ:

(HT:Timmy Brister)

April 22, 2010

Today we come to our second reading in Richard Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed. We are looking at chapters 2 and 3 today, seeing that Christ will not break the bruised reed and learning what God means by “the smoking flax.”

Summary

Sibbes looks first to Christ’s dealing with the bruised reed (and, to reiterate, a bruised reed is a person who is in misery of spirit so either he will come to Christ or be drawn closer to Christ). He points to Christ’s mercy, saying “he will not only not break nor quench, but he will cherish those with whom he so deals. … Shall we think there is more mercy in ourselves than in God, who plants the affection of mercy in us?” Because we know how to show mercy, we can be assured that Christ will show greater mercy to those who have been bruised. Through Christ’s humanity he is able to sympathize with us in our plights. Though he has now ascended to heaven, “His advancement has not made him forget his own flesh. Though it has freed him from passion, yet not from compassion towards us. … He will not show his strength against those who prostrate themselves before him.”