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Tim Challies

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May 2010

May 27, 2010

I don’t know how many Reading Classics posts I’ve written over the years, but I do know that as time goes on, as we progress through a particular book, fewer and fewer people read along. There is a lot of attrition along the way as people find that they just cannot (or perhaps are not interested in) keeping up with the reading.

Nevertheless for those who remain, let’s carry on and look to this week’s selection from Richard Sibbes’ The Bruised Reed. We’ve got just a couple of readings to go and we need to persevere!

Summary

I was surprised and quite excited to see that the first of this week’s two chapters deals with a subject near and dear to me: spiritual discernment. if I read Sibbes correctly, he is using the word judgment as a synonym for discernment. Sibbes begins by saying “Christ’s government in his church and in his children is a wise and well-ordered government and … it is called judgment, and judgment is the life and soul of wisdom.” If Christians are to be wise, if they are to live as Christ would have them live, they need sound judgment or discernment. Sibbes branches out from this statement in two different ways: first he says that Christ’s spiritual government of us is joined with discernment and wisdom and second, that wherever there is true spiritual wisdom and discernment there is the Spirit of Christ.

May 27, 2010

The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires the Brain - Nicholas Carr has a good article over at WIRED. “What kind of brain is the Web giving us? That question will no doubt be the subject of a great deal of research in the years ahead. Already, though, there is much we know or can surmise—and the news is quite disturbing. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.”

When Did God Become a Sports Fan? - CNN writes about the growing phenomenon of athletes and their faith. “Baseball players point to the heavens after hitting home runs; NFL players pray in the end zone after scoring. Competitors routinely thank Jesus, along with their sponsors, in post-game interviews. Thanking God from the winner’s circle has become so common that one British newspaper published a letter to the editor entitled: ‘Leave me out of your petty games—Love, God.’” (HT:Z)

Christ the King - Thabiti Anyabwile has some information about a forthcoming album from Christian rapper Curtis “Voice” Allen.

Matthias Media Sale - Matthias Media is having a sale on many of their best books. If you’ve been waiting to buy The Trellis and the Vine, this is as good a time as any.

May 26, 2010

A day late because of the long weekend up here in Canada, here is episode 7 of the Connected Kingdom. This week I had a neighbor sitting in “studio” with me, video taping the proceedings for a little “day in the life” he is putting together about me (to tell the truth, I don’t even totally understand what he’s doing, but I’m happy to let him into my life, boring though it may be). That got David and me thinking about the concept of a day in the life of a Christian and so we dedicated this show to discussing what it means to live as a Christian with a gospel focus on every area of life, from waking to sleeping and everything in between. I hope you’ll find it useful as you think about how Christians live lives that are not just marked by the gospel but that are transformed by the gospel.

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 can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or another program. As always, feedback and suggestions for future topics are much appreciated.

May 26, 2010

Mark Twain to Reveal All - “Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain’s dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.” (HT:Phil Johnson)

Eternal Perspectives Ministries - Randy Alcorn and his Eternal Perspectives Ministries have a nice new web site. You’ll want to check it out at epm.org.

A Primer on Roman Catholicism - Over at the Ligonier blog we are serializing a booklet by John Gerstner in which he explains Roman Catholic theology, focusing on the issue of justification. It is a good and helpful series to begin to understand the key differences.

A Matter of Trust - This article explains a couple of the ways that Google collects data about you. And this one tells you why you shouldn’t trust Facebook’s recent “apology.” I know I’ve been posting a fair number of this kind of link lately, but privacy is quickly becoming one of the most important online issues and I think it’s worth knowing about some of the collection points of your personal information.

May 25, 2010

Bonhoeffer by Eric MetaxasIt was several years ago now that I began meeting regularly with a few Christian guys who live in this area. We would read through good books and then get together once a week to discuss them. Every Friday morning at 6(!) AM, we would meet in a local coffee shop and spend time dissecting and digesting classic books. It was in this effort, in this precursor to Reading Classics Together, that I first encountered Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Cost of Discipleship was the second book we read together, moving through it week by week, chapter by chapter. Like so many people before and since, I was introduced to the man by what most people consider his greatest work.

May 24, 2010

Pornography: The Difference Being a Parent Makes - Al Moher: Steve Jobs is a businessman of unquestioned ability, a technological wizard, and one of the greatest orchestrators of ‘cool’ in world history. Nevertheless, he has not been known as a critic of pornography … until now.

Moishe Rosen, 1932 - 2010 - Ray Ortlund writes about Moishe Rosen, founder of Jews for Jesus, who went to be with the Lord last week. The New York Times writes about him as well.

Can an Individual Interpret Scripture? - Mounce answers this question. “2 Pet 1:20-21 are important verses for our doctrine of Scripture, and so it should come as no surprise that there are some differences of opinion on the meaning of the passage.”

Nike has taken the wraps off their big World Cup advertisement. I find it very interesting from this perspective: could an “outsider” look at this ad and think it’s anything but idolatry? Are we not making these men into gods? It is a brilliant ad, not doubt, but seems to highlight the way we idolize athletes and athletics today.

May 24, 2010

Today is known as Victoria Day up here in the Great White North. Way back in the middle of the nineteenth century Canada declared this day, May 24, a holiday, in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday. And after she died it was officially established as a national holiday. Since then, “May Twenty-Four” as it’s known colloquially, has become Canada’s unofficial start to summer. This is typically the weekend when people head to their cottages for the first time and when those who stay behind get started on their gardens (since by now it’s pretty much a sure thing that there won’t be any more frost at night). Traditions on the day involve barbecues, beer and fireworks (not always the best combination). Many people refer to the day as “May Two-Four,” a reference to a case of beer.

This year has been especially warm and today is supposed to be beautiful—around 25 degrees (that’s 80 for you Americans) and sunny. It’s about the perfect weather for a day away from the desk; a good day to pick up the year’s first sun burn.

My plans today involve a little bit of reading, a little bit of writing, a little bit of hanging around and maybe a bike ride with the kids. Later in the day I’ll be heading out with the family to spend the evening with some friends. It’s got all the makings of a good day.

To keep you occupied as you go about your daily toil (you Americans can make fun of me in turn next week when you have Memorial Day) here are a few interesting and/or amusing things to read.

Creator or Curator - David Murray offers some good thoughts on the difference between preachers who are creators and preachers who are curators.

Crackdown in Bangkok - A series of powerful photos from Thailand.

The Black Keys to Amazing Grace - Thabiti posts an interesting video that includes a great rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Pray for a Cure - There’s a Bible for everything and everyone. The Pray for a Cure Bible stands as further proof.

Football’s for Girls - But hockey’s for men. First, here’s a story about Duncan Keith, a good Canadian boy, who lost seven teeth in a hockey game…and just kept playing. And then here’s a commercial about soccer/football.

May 23, 2010

A friend recently sent me an old article from John Piper entitled “Why Memorize Scripture?” Memorizing passages of the Bible is something I’ve developed more of an interest in over the past couple of years and, to my surprise, I’ve found that I’m actually able to do it—even to memorize extended sections if I am willing to put in the effort (not always a sure bet).

Piper offers a list of reasons why we should memorize Scripture. They are:

  1. Conformity to Christ - Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer.
  2. Daily Triumph over Sin - As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.
  3. Daily Triumph over Satan - When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight.
  4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love - When the heart full of God’s love can draw on the mind full of God’s word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.
  5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers - Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn.
  6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways - The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help to live a life that reflects the value of these attributes.

These are six really good reasons. On the flip side, I suspect that the primary reason most of us do not commit more Scripture to memory is simply the difficulty involved. It is a difficult and time-consuming process to take those words and force them into our minds.

So how about you? Is Scripture memorization a part of your routine? Is it something you do as a regular part of your devotion to the Lord?