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April 2011

April 30, 2011

One more A La Carte to finish up another month. I believe I have done something like 1,300 A La Carte posts over the years. Turns out there is lots of interesting stuff to make note of! Here are a few more examples of this.

An Interview with Newton - This is kind of cool. Tony Reinke has reformatted one of Newton’s letters on spiritual depression into a kind of interview.

What Is a Library? - Be sure to read this brief article from Douglas Groothuis. “My spies tell me that a theological library, with which I am well acquainted, is often found with ‘students’ gazing at their laptops. Are they writing a paper on the New Testament or theology or even philosophy? No they are not. They are watching films.”

People in the Blogosphere - I quite enjoyed this article. “I’ve been blogging eight years, beginning with the launch of the Thinklings. In that time, I have come to identify certain blog community types. Gone is the heyday of scintillating conversation and good ol’ fashioned scrums in blog comment threads, but these folks are still around in some forms and fashions. Here are the people you meet when you’re walking down the street of the Christian blogosphere.”

Why We Love Amish Romance - I don’t love them, but I know a lot of people do.

The Royal Wedding - James MacDonald pretty much let loose on the royal couple and their wedding.

Glory Be To God - Another nice worship song. Why haven’t I ever sung this one before?

April 29, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s sponsor of Free Stuff Fridays is CBD Reformed. This how CBD introduces their site: “In order to serve an important segment of our customers more fully, we have developed a more focused website with author, publisher, and product selections reflective of the topics, issues, and concerns of discerning readers from a reformed perspective. We intentionally feature new and classic titles you’re looking for, authors you appreciate, and viewpoints you value.”

They are offering up 5 of the following prize packs (5 winners will each receive all 3 books):

  • Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Gregg Allison – Retail price $44.99
  • A Reader’s Guide to Calvin’s Institutes by Anthony Lane – Retail Price $14.99
  • Think by John Piper – retail $19.99

Historical TheologyAllison’s Historical Theology is an interesting new book and one that will be in great demand, I’m sure. “Most historical theology texts follow Christian beliefs chronologically, discussing notable doctrinal developments for all areas of theology according to their historical appearance. And while this may be good history, it can make for confusing theology, with the classic theological loci scattered throughout various time periods, movements, and controversies. In Historical Theology, Gregg Allison offers students the opportunity to study the historical development of theology according to a topical-chronological arrangement, setting out the history of Christian doctrine one theological element at a time. Such an approach allows readers to concentrate on one tenet of Christianity and its formulation in the early church, through the Middle Ages, Reformation, and post-Reformation era, and into the modern period.”

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (April 29 – May 2) on the following three products:

Again, there are 5 prize packages to win, so go ahead and enter…

Giveaway 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.

Note: If you are reading via RSS or email, you may need to click through to see the form.

April 29, 2011

Ringold, GA - My sister and her family live in Ringgold, GA, a town flattened by a tornado. We’re praising God that he saw fit to keep the family and their home safe. The Big Picture has photos of the destruction in other southern towns. The size and scope of this disaster is just shocking to me.

Potential Solutions - Zach offers up some potential solutions to the critiques offered by Carl Trueman related to pastors being celebrities.

$5 Fridays - Ligonier has a few excellent deals in this week’s $5 Friday, including books and teaching series by R.C. Sproul. It’s a good day to stock up on some of these for your church library.

Commentaries for Sale - RHB has the Reformed Expository Commentaries on sale. They are great commentaries for pastors and laypersons alike.

Urban Legends - Trevin Wax offers up a good list of urban legends that preachers (and the rest of us) need to stop stating as truth.

Expository Preaching - The Crossway blog excerpts a list of tips for expository preachers. The list comes from a book written by Alistair Begg.

The Light of the World - How had I never come across this song before?

When we learn to hold the world with a loose grip we are learning to take hold of the world to come with a firm grip. —Sinclair Ferguson

April 28, 2011

Forgiven
I was thinking today about being a people pleaser—a tendency all of us having to varying degrees. Lou Priolo has written a book on the subject and one that made quite an impression on me when I read it several years ago. In one of the chapters, Priolo looks at clothing ourselves in humility and he offers some wisdom on the subject of forgiveness.

As the father of three young children, and as the owner of a proud and sinful heart, I have endless opportunities to teach about forgiveness and to practice both forgiveness and repentance in my own life. I’ve had to tell my children that true repentance doesn’t involve the word “but” (“I’m sorry I smacked you but you shouldn’t have said that to me…”). But then I’ve seen that I can fall into the same sin. I’ve had to tell my children that true repentance doesn’t drag up the past and use forgiven sin against others. But then I’ve seen that I can do the same thing. Though I’m many years older than they are, I’m still learning lessons about forgiveness.

In Pleasing People Priolo portrays the heart of forgiveness as being a promise. Here is what he says: “Forgiveness is fundamentally a promise. As God promises to not hold our sins against us, so we also must promise not to hold the sins of those we’ve forgiven against them.” This is, of course, the foundation of the forgiveness God promises to us: that he will never hold our sins against us. On the day of judgment we can have confidence that he will not suddenly charge us with sins that have been forgiven us through the blood of Jesus. We have faith in God and trust in this promise. Without this promise our faith is hopeless. Praise God that he offers us this manner of forgiveness! And I mean that. Praise him!

The promise of forgiveness, says Priolo, can be broken into three parts. First, you promise not to bring up the offense to the forgiven person so as to use it against him. Second, you promise not to discuss with others the sin you have forgiven. Third, you promise not to dwell on the forgiven offense but to remind yourself that you have forgiven the offender in the same way that God has forgiven you for a multitude of far greater sins. Thus when you ask forgiveness you secure these promises for yourself.

Seeking forgiveness cannot be confused with apologizing. An apology is not the means to reconciliation (which is to say that “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me” are not the same thing). If I apologize to a person I’ve offended and he subsequently apologizes to me, we still have not taken responsibility and truly humbled ourselves. We haven’t tied up loose ends and, to use Priolo’s term, the ball is still up in the air. Apologies are not enough. We must seek forgiveness and its fruit—reconciliation.

According to Priolo, true forgiveness looks something like this:

April 28, 2011

I am strangely drawn to infographics. I’m not sure what it is about them, but I guess it probably has to do with the way a good infographic lays out interesting information in an attractive and effective way. I am generally drawn to words more than pictures, but make an exception for infographics. Let’s start with two of them…

Does Facebook Make You a Better Student? - There are lots of interesting things to ponder in this infographic that looks at Facebook and the student. Does Facebook make you a better student? Probably not.

Publishing in the Digital Era - Here’s another good one that displays some of the new realities about publishing in the digital era.

China Declares War on Christians - Dr. Mohler: “The news out of China grows worse as reports of the arrest, detention, harassment, and beatings of Christians come from across China.”

Vetting Memoirs - Here’s an interesting discussion on publishers vetting memoirs. This discussion comes in the wake of revelations that Greg Mortenson apparently fabricated many parts of his memoir Three Cups of Tea. I

Your Greatest Weakness - You know that old interview question, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Matt Perman talks about the way to understand and answer that. Because you’re not supposed to answer, “Sometimes I like to burn things” or “I just care too much.”

Conference for Pastors - This conference for pastors (in Minnetonka, MN) looks like it may be very beneficial to those who attend.

Hardly Discerned - Kevin DeYoung quotes Jonathan Edwards on humility. Give it a quick read and a long ponder.

Build your nest in no tree here … for the Lord of the forest has condemned the whole woods to be demolished. —Samuel Rutherford

April 27, 2011

Several weeks ago I introduced you to a series of short films that focus on Christ’s appearances in the Old Testament as the Angel of the Lord. Every Wednesday for 10 weeks I will be posting a new episode right here at the blog. This will allow you to view the series in its entirety. Do note, though, that each episode will be available for only one week.

After the week is up you will need to purchase the series. Here’s how you can do that. The DVD and Study Guide (sample here) are available now. You can also buy the digital download of the whole series here for $5. Or visit Ligonier’s online store for the download or physical copies of the DVD and Study Guide.

This episode is titled “Give Me Your Son.”

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was a pastor in Scotland for 12 years before coming to Grand Rapids in 2007 with his wife Shona and their four children. He blogs regularly at Head Heart Hand.

April 27, 2011

Family Money MattersI am in the midst of an extended study of matters related to money. In particular, I am trying to understand money and possessions from a biblical perspective. What will it take to think in a distinctly biblical way about finances? I recently read and reviewed Randy Alcorn’s new book Managing God’s Money. Last week I also turned to Family Money Matters by John Temple. This is a short and to-the-point explanation of “How to run your family finances to God’s glory” (according to the book’s subtitle).

John Temple has written several books on the subject of money; this one is pointed specifically at family finances. At around 100 pages, it is meant to be just an introduction to what could be an expansive topic. It will not teach you how to get out of debt and it will not teach you all you could ever want to know about what to do (or what not to do) with your money. What it will teach, though, is equally important—it will give you the starting points for building a biblical worldview of your money. And as it happens, this is something many of us really need. Too few Christians think of money matters as Christians.

The book is composed of 13 chapters that move from the foundational to the practical. I found the opening 3 or 4 chapters the most compelling, though certainly many of the others have more than enough value to commend them. But it is in these early chapters that Temple lays the groundwork for that biblical way of thinking about money. He teaches that “Christians are to live in such a way that our lives demonstrate different values from those of our secular neighbors, colleagues and friends. This is one area where we can truly be different.” At the same time, “We must also show our neighbors that we are not ‘weird’ but ‘normal’ in all matters which are morally acceptable.” We do not fear our money and we do not regard it as evil. Rather, we must see it as a gift of God that must be stewarded faithfully.

Temple expends some effort in showing how the world thinks about money and showing how these unbiblical ideals have infiltrated Christian thinking. This is followed by a call for us to see how the Bible tells us to understand our money. After this the author is ready to speak about debt, home ownership, cars, vacations and other very practical concerns. I found his chapter on training your children particularly effective, and especially in the very practical section in which he describes one way of giving children an allowance and using that to teach them how to steward money well.

So what are my main takeaways as it pertains to my study of money? First, it has helped me in my attempt to build that Christian understanding of money and this by showing how worldy views of money have influenced my thinking. The second big takeaway is the beginning of a plan or strategy to help my children think well about their money and to train them from a young age to handle it responsibly.

Overall, this is a short but effective look at money and family finances. With a large practical component, Family Money Matters may be just what you need to kickstart your thinking about being a faithful steward of your money and possessions.

April 27, 2011

Airport Security - “At the Bangkok airport they took my scissors. This was the second time they took my scissors in Bangkok. I should have learned my lesson. They were safety scissors, the kind you’d give to a child, about two-and-a-half inches long with rounded tips.” There’s a lesson in there about airport security.

Pride and Prejudice and Porn - Here’s a fantastic article that looks at today’s pornified, hook-up culture and then compares it to a different age.

Meet Brent - I enjoyed meeting Brent Kassian at The Gospel Coalition conference. Here’s an article about the guy.

Talents for a Season - This article from Boundless is worth the read. “I recently attended the baby shower of a young woman in our church who I don’t know very well. As part of the shower (which was for men and women), the host had guests affirm the soon-to-be (fourth-time) parents. Many of the people present lauded the young woman’s amazing cooking skills and hospitality.”

Never Going to Get to It - A useful tip for actually getting things done—those things that so easily fall off the mental to-do list.

Advocating for the Unborn - “For the past year or so, some friends and I have stood outside Lovejoy Surgicenter praying, holding signs, and seeking to offer alternatives to men and women who choose to abort their babies.  It’s a difficult place to go to and I never look forward to it. But once I’m there, it becomes a powerful time of intercession and opportunities.”

Race and Economics - This looks like a really interesting book and one that should upset many fallacies about race and economics. Thomas Sowell gives it a look.

Stuff We Don’t Need - “What recession? Despite the fact that most Americans are still struggling in the worst economy since the Great Depression, a ‘non-scientific study’ from the Wall Street Journal says that U.S. citizens now spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods. For context, that’s more than 11 percent of overall consumer spending.”

The Christian faith is not true because it works; it works because it is true. —Os Guinness