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April 2010

April 22, 2010

The Apple and the Fall - Carl Trueman writes about the mysterious next-generation iPhone that has generated so much buzz over the past few days. “Above all, the iPhone phenomenon speaks of the need to be continually occupied with texts, tweets and whatever.  The obsession with texting and these other phenomena is indicative of the general noise we need to generate to keep ourselves occupied.”

How I Pastor My Family - Here’s a fantastic article on leading your family in family devotions (and more).

Embracing the Digital Book - This article has lots of good things to say about digital books—what they do poorly and what they could be with a bit of attention.

Facebook Reduces Control Over Personal Information - It seems like there are articles like this one coming out far too often. But Facebook has once again found new ways of opening up access to your personal information.

Is it Better to Buy or Rent? - The Times has some useful information on this question.

April 21, 2010

It is time for another of these irregular roundups of books that I didn’t review. It’s not that these are bad books or ones I purposely chose not to read and review. It’s just that, life being what it is, I cannot read them all. So here are a few that I wish I could have read but which I just did not have time for.

Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims - Daniel Hyde seeks to explain what Reformed churches believe and why they structure life and worship as they do. Written for laymen rather than scholars, the book sketches the roots of these churches, looks at their basis in Scripture and confession, examines their key beliefs and shows how these beliefs work themselves out in practice. Written by a pastor from the URC and endorsed by quite a long list of Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed pastors and professors, the book is clearly tipped toward Presbyterianism and away from Reformed Baptists. Nevertheless, there is a lot to glean from it for those in either camp.

Introducing the New Testament - Based on the textbook written by D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo, this is a simple reference guide geared primarily towards laymen. It essentially introduces each of the books of the New Testament, answering questions about theme, authorship and its contribution to our faith. It is a faithful condensation of the larger book it’s based on.

A Sweet & Bitter Providence - I have grown accustomed to reading every new John Piper book, but I’ve had to let this one go. In A Sweet & Bitter Providence Piper examines the book of Ruth and looks at its relevant, unchanging themes along with its “dangerous ability” to inspire twenty-first-century readers in the cause of love.

Holy Subversion - Trevin Wax writes about “Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals.” He challenges Christians to stop privatizing their faith and begin undermining the cultural “Caesars” of our time by reclaiming the early church’s radical proclamation: “Jesus is Lord.”

The Trials of Theology: A Reader - Edited by Andrew Cameron and Brian Rosner, this book includes essay from voices past (Spurgeon, Warfield, Lewis, etc) and voices present (Woodhouse, Carson, Trueman, etc). The book helps students of theology navigate the trials of faith that can come while studying theology. John Piper says “Without the ‘trials of theology’ we remain on the surface of the statutes of God. May the Spirit of truth make this book a means of true thinking about God, deep affections for God, and beautiful obedience to God, through Jesus Christ who is God.”

April 21, 2010

The History of Computers in a Nutshell - It’s amazing to think how far computers have come in such a short time…and to think that what amazes us today will cause us to laugh just ten years from now.

Teen Texting Soars - NPR covers text messaging and why teens rely on it so heavily. Meanwhile DailyTech says that teen girls average 80 texts sent per day while boys average 30.

Do Popes Quit? - The New York Times asks the question. Look to history and you’ll see that popes die, popes are murdered, popes are dethroned but I don’t know that they ever quit.

Life on the Tibetan Plateau - Here you’ll find a couple of interesting articles about the recent Yushu earthquake. “Norbu flew across the room when the quake hit. My wife was also violently thrown to the ground. Everything in our apartment began to be tossed around, breaking when it hit the walls or floor. I ran to the back bedroom and grabbed Tsering and grabbed him as my wife grabbed Norbu off the floor. Together, we ran to the door. I paused long enough to grab my shoes, coat and a bit of money. I opened the door and one of our Tibetan neighbors assisted us in carrying Tsering down the 3 flights of stairs to the ground floor. All of us were in just our pajamas. I was the only one of my family who managed to get shoes.”

April 20, 2010

Last week, amidst all the busyness of a three-day trip to Louisville and announcing a new podcast and a new publishing company, I also announced a new program called Friends of the Blog. Since so many readers of this site were enjoying Together for the Gospel at the time, far from their computers and RSS readers, I wanted to give the program another mention. I’m grateful for the many of you who have already participated and want to make sure all the rest of you are aware of it.

Here are some of the highlights of what you gain as a Friend of the Blog:

  • 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 one-year subscription to Ligonier Ministries’ Tabletalk magazine
  • Album downloads from bands and artists you like (four to start, more coming soon)
  • Deals and savings from other stores

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.

There are also things to win including, right off the top, a Kindle. Everyone who signs up as a Friend by the end of April will be entered into a drawing for that Kindle. 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.

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

April 20, 2010

Thank you for all of the kind feedback on last week’s first episode of the Connected Kingdom podcast.

This week on Connected Kingdom, David and I talk about the Together for the Gospel Conference (what it was like to be there, what it was like to be left behind), we talk about a film project David is working on and we briefly discuss the iPad.

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.

April 20, 2010

Twelve Extraordinary Women - Books by the Box offers, well, books by the box. If you buy boxes of John MacArthur’s Twelve Extraordinary Women, for a Mother’s Day gift for all the women at your church, for example, you’ll pay less than $2 per book.

Rhema Marvanne - I am starting to see people link to videos of this little girl, an exceptional singer for a 7-year old (and one raised in a Christian home, no doubt, with a name like “Rhema”). And yet I always feel sad for such children and hopeful that she won’t go through life thinking that she is nothing but a good voice.

Francis Chan - Francis Chan has announced that he’s stepping down and stepping out in faith according to these interview ciips. Chan definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer, something I’ve come to appreciate about him.

Hookup Backlash - This is good to read, an article saying that more young people are fighting back against the hookup culture on college campuses.

Amazon.com and Canada - Amazon has been given the green light to open a distribution center in Canada. I see this as both good news and bad news. As usual, it’s good news for the consumer but bad news for the competition.

Bruce Ware on Godly Manhood - This talk, outlined by Owen Strachan, looks like it would be well worth the investment in time.

Owls, Fireflies and Jesus - Christianity Today interviews Adam Young, the [Christian] guy behind the breakout band Owl City. “I grew up in a Christian home, with the most wonderful parents a kid could ever ask for. I came to know the Lord in middle school after hearing a testimony at church. From then on, I’ve just wanted to serve Christ in every way I know how, music being the only thing I’ve ever considered myself any ‘good’ at. I guess my whole message or goal of this whole operation is to bring glory to Jesus Christ by all that I do and say, not just as it relates to Owl City, but in all areas of my life.”

April 19, 2010

Is error in doctrine always sin? It’s a question I’ve reflected on in the past and one that I think is well worth considering, even if just for a few moments. While this may seem like a petty issue, a petty question, I believe it is an issue of some consequence since it will necessarily impact how I relate to fellow Christians who differ from me on secondary issues. If I feel that my friend is being sinful by teaching that we should baptize infants, I will want to go to great lengths to show him that he is sinning and to see him repent and correct his error. But if I believe that his belief in infant baptism is something less than sin, I can appreciate his conviction while not feeling the need to emphasize repentance and correction. Do you see the difference there? One understanding compels me to emphasize correction while the other allows me to find unity.

Now it is obvious that there are times when differences in doctrine reflect sin. A person who preaches that Jesus Christ is something other than divine is teaching an awful and divisive heresy and that error is sinful, pure and simple. A person who teaches that homosexuality is a legitimate lifestyle that the Bible condones is likewise teaching grievous error and error that can be easily proven so from the Bible. But what happens when the error deals with issues of lesser consequence? What happens when one teacher preaches a sermon defending the baptism of believers while another preaches a sermon defending the baptism of children? Obviously one of the two men must be wrong. But is one of them being sinful in teaching what is wrong? Or think of an issue like eschatology where two very fine and godly men may have completely different understandings of the end times. When they teach their differing conclusions, is one of them actually being sinful?

Here are three principles I’ve found useful and relevant while thinking about this issue.

First, it is clear to me that, regardless of whether or not error in doctrine is always sin, error in doctrine is always a consequence of sin. When the Lord returns and we join him in heaven, there will no longer be disagreements about doctrine. Disagreements about baptism, eschatology and other issues will be put away once and for all. And we all look forward to that day.

April 19, 2010

Why You Should Come to Toronto Pastor’s Conference - Paul explains why you should come to Toronto Pastor’s Conference (which just so happens to be sponsored by my church).

Michael Hyatt on the iPad - I’ll have more to say about the iPad in days to come (as I put it through its paces). But I do like what Michael Hyatt says. “Do you want an iPad? Probably. Do you need an iPad? Probably not. The iPhone is sufficient for making calls, checking email, stock quotes, and the weather, or listening to podcasts or audiobooks. In my experience, the iPad doesn’t offer a big enough improvement to warrant the additional investment.”

The Objectification of Jennifer Knapp - I appreciate the warning sounded in this post. “The first step toward a good dialogue is recognizing that there’s a real person, with a real will, a real mind, and real problems at the other end of the line. And in this case, from what I can tell, Jennifer Knapp the real person would rather not be in the thick of things. I simply think respecting that would be a good start to whatever happens next.”

Seven Characteristics of Highly Evangelistic Christians - Thom Rainer shares seven characteristics of Christians who love to evangelize. “The secret is really no secret at all. Ultimately, evangelistic churches see more persons become Christians through the passionate efforts of highly evangelistic Christians. More than any programs. More than any church events. More than anything else, we are the instruments God has chosen to use.”

Seven Sure-Fire Ways to Blow Up a Church - Chuck Lawless: “I served as a church pastor for 14 years, have now served for 12 years as a church consultant and have watched hundreds of students begin their local church ministries during my 14 years as a seminary professor. Based on my observations from these various vantage points, here’s what I would do if I wanted to ‘blow up’ a church.”

Call to the Ministry? - I’m hearing good things about this presentation, though I haven’t had time to watch it myself. It comes from Dr. Tony Curto at the OPC Timothy Conference held on the campus of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Note that it is in seven parts, so you’ll want to go looking for the rest.