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May 2011

May 27, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
We’ve got a new sponsor for this week’s edition of Free Stuff Fridays. But it is a name that is probably familiar to you. Peacemaker Ministries will be giving away five complete sets of their new video group study, Resolving Everyday Conflict (regular price $249). Each set contains the materials needed for a group of 10 to go through the study together (including DVD set, study guides, peacemaking reference book, promotional materials, and more). 

Resolving ConflictResolving Everyday Conflict is an eight-lesson study that unpacks the amazing things the Bible has to say about conflict and relationships. As you go through this study, you’ll find the powerful and practical answers you are looking for to forever change how conflict looks in your life.

The primary places this study will be used are:

  • The Church - Give your church members a tool for outreach to the community: This study will help your church reach people that you might otherwise have trouble reaching—the people on the fringe of your church life as well as the unchurched in your community. By offering this study, you can give them practical help with an issue that is relevant—conflict—and teach them about Jesus at the same time.
  • The Workplace - Help employees deal with conflict at work (and everywhere else): Studying Resolving Everyday Conflict in the workplace has two key benefits: 1) It will help your team members by giving them practical tools to handle conflict at work and outside work; and 2) It is good for your organization—as your team learns to resolve conflict quickly and constructively (or avoid it altogether!), you’ll have a healthier and more productive work environment.

By the way… Resolving Everyday Conflict works in lots of other places, too. We’ve already heard of it being used as a neighborhood bible study, in prison ministry, in college dorms, and more. It’s flexible enough to work in just about any context where a group wants to learn to deal with conflict differently—in a way that reflects the reality of the gospel in all our relationships.

If you’d like to watch a video teaser of the course, you can do so here.

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.

May 27, 2011

Dispatches from the FrontThere are few things that thrill me more than learning what God is doing in other parts of the world. The Lord works in amazing ways and calls to himself people from every nation and tribe and tongue. Yet even in a world that is rapidly shrinking through the new media available to us, we hear far more than we see. Dispatches from the Front is a series of DVDs created by Frontline Missions that gives us a glimpse of what God is doing across the world.

There are currently 4 episodes available, each one about an hour long. I decided I would watch one of these DVDs each day until I had seen all 4. They were so good that I ended up watching all 4 back-to-back. Each one takes the viewer to a different part of the world—Southest Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa and India. Each one shows Frontline’s director Tim Keesee traveling within a certain region, seeking to understand the intricacies of its culture and meeting with local Christians. As he does this he hears of miraculous conversions, of terrible persecution, of seemingly insurmountable challenges. It is compelling stuff, amazing stuff; it is nearly impossible to watch without emotion, without tears of joy and sorrow.

Keesee writes about all of these things in his journal; the format of the DVDs is to combine video footage with his journal entries. And it’s a powerful combination.

Here is the trailer for Episode 3 (which was probably my favorite):

May 27, 2011

John Piper Interviews Rick Warren - Here is the long-awaited interview. You can read Piper’s purpose and rationale and then listen to the interview. “My aim in this interview is to bring out and clarify what Rick Warren believes about these biblical doctrines. In doing this my hope is that the thousands of pastors and lay people who look to Rick for inspiration and wisdom will see the profound place that doctrine has in his mind and heart.”

15 Killer Offices - Here are some amazing offices from various technology companies. They are amazingly creative but also surprisingly similar to one another.

Across the Great Divide - A free song for you to download.

$5 Friday - Ligonier has some good deals in their $5 Friday. Also, you can use the coupon code SPRING10 and get 10% off an order at their site. But only for another couple of days.

Six-Block Scar - “Following the devastating tornado which ripped though Joplin at the weekend, these satellite images show the extent of the damage. Before and after aerial photos show the shocking extent of the damage caused by the twister in the Missouri city - this image shows a six-block path of destruction.”

Alzheimer’s and the Gospel - From Carolyn McCulley: “A few weeks ago, I met Karyn Heath at a conference. As she spoke to me about her job caring for people with Alzheimer’s, I immediately asked her to write a guest post for my blog. This is necessary reading for all those who fear the future and those who are dealing with this disease right now.”

It is impossible for science to correct the Word of God, but it is possible for science to correct the word of the theologian. —R.C. Sproul

May 26, 2011

Next week several hundred of us will begin reading a classic Christian book together—Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. Consider this your one-week reminder. And if you haven’t yet heard about Reading Classics Together, here’s your chance to join in with us.

Christianity and LiberalismHere is what Machen said about the book.

In my little book, Christianity and Liberalism, 1923, I tried to show that the issue in the Church of the present day is not between two varieties of the same religion, but, at bottom, between two essentially different types of thought and life. There is much interlocking of the branches, but the two tendencies, Modernism and supernaturalism, or (otherwise designated) non-doctrinal religion and historic Christianity, spring from different roots. In particular, I tried to show that Christianity is not a “life,” as distinguished from a doctrine, and not a life that has doctrine as its changing symbolic expression, but that—exactly the other way around—it is a life founded on a doctrine.

This book has long been a classic defense of orthodox Christian faith against Liberalism. Published in 1923 at the height of the Liberal onslaught against orthodox faith, Machen establishes the traditional teaching of the church on Scripture, God, humanity, salvation, and ecclesiology, are not only defensible but preferable to those propounded by Liberals. It is important to keep in mind the Machen is not talking about modern political liberalism, but the religious liberalism many denominations and seminaries were accepting in the early 1900’s. Named one of the top 100 books of the 20th century by Christianity Today and WORLD, this work remains timely, relevant, and important.

It may be particularly relevant today as we see a resurgence of just the kind of denials that Machen battled in his day.

When?

We will begin reading together next Thursday (June 2). Before then please track down a copy of the book and read the Introduction. Then return here on June 2 and we can share some thoughts and reflections on that Introduction. We’ll read one chapter per week for the next 6 weeks. And then we will be done, just like that.

Where?

The book is widely available. You can find it at:

Amazon (print)  |  Amazon (Kindle)  |  Westminster Books  |  CBD Reformed

If you’d prefer to save a few dollars and read it online, you can find it for free at Reformed.org, CCEL, and elsewhere. You can even get the audio book for free.

So get a book, get reading, and check back on June 2.

May 26, 2011

Beauty?A short time ago blogger and author Rachel Held Evans wrote an article she titled “Thou Shalt Not Let Thyself Go?” She began it this way: “In my quest for biblical womanhood, I’ve found that sometimes there’s as much to learn from what the Bible doesn’t say as there is to learn from what it does say.” Her article, she suggested, reflected something the Bible doesn’t say. She looked to Mark Driscoll, Dorothy Patterson and Martha Peace and pointed out how each one of them has at one time suggested that a woman has to be careful that she does not “let herself go” after having children or after being married for some time.

“The message is as clear as it is ominous,” she concludes. “Stay beautiful or your husband might leave you. And if he does, it’s partially your fault.” She spent a month “studying everything the Bible says about women and beauty.” She “turned the Bible inside out, combed through dozens of commentaries, conducted word searches and topic studies and extensive research” and at the end of it all “found nothing in the Bible to suggest that God requires women to be beautiful.”

It is an interesting question: Does God want a woman to seek to remain attractive to her husband even while she grows older? Is there any significance to her doing this, or not doing this? Evans believes that emphasizing physical beauty, even as a woman ages (or perhaps especially as a woman ages) points to a new kind of misogyny. But after long reflection, I am not convinced. Hear me out here.

The Inner and the Outer

I agree that when the Bible speaks of beauty it largely downplays physical beauty in favor of inner beauty. According to the Bible, a beautiful woman is not one who is perfectly proportioned (by whatever society determines to be perfect) or one whose face is stunning. Rather, a beautiful woman is one who is genuinely godly, who reflects “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” The beauty the Bible commends is a beauty of character more than a beauty of appearance.

But. You knew there had to be a but. I think Evans may draw something of a false distinction between the inner and the outer as if these things are entirely disconnected. I would suggest that these two things are actually inexorably connected: the outer is a reflection of the inner. And this means that the outer person matters too. What a person wears has spiritual significance because what a person wears or how a person treats her body reflects her heart. This is contra the Gnostics who believe that what is spirit is inherently superior to what is physical. The Bible allows no such tension. Though only one is immortal, both were created by God and deemed very good. Our responsibility extends to both.

May 26, 2011

Some day people will laugh at our culture. After all, Forbes has just (rightly) declared that Lady Gaga is currently the most influential celebrity in the world. Lady Gaga. That name alone should exclude her from any kind of influence. PluggedIn has a good review of her new album, Born This Way. “Past all the glitz and glamour and Madonna-esque efforts to shock, Gaga hints at a deep void in her own soul that she struggles to fill. ‘I’m a soldier to my own emptiness,’ she sings on ‘Marry the Night.’ And even though she’s playing the role of a teenage girl when she sings ‘I want lots of friends that invite me to their parties’ on ‘Hair,’ you get the sense that she’s talking about her own life too.”

Here are some other links worth checking out:

Men in Cars - “One thing I have noticed at the food pantry where I volunteer is that nine times out of ten a woman comes in to receive food, her male significant other waits in the car. I know this because he and I make awkward eye contact when I help the ladies carry groceries to the car.”

Professor Horner’s Plan - A while back I did up a blog post about Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System. Some have found that there is just too much reading at 10 chapters per day. This blogger has created a spreadsheet that will help you do the plan at your own pace.

In the House of Prayer - “Arnold Dallimore, in his enjoyable biography of Charles Spurgeon, recounts the following about the Prince of Preachers’ prayer life: ‘He talked with God in reverence but with freedom and familiarity.’ Freedom and familiarity: watchwords of true prayer. These two words prove an example of what balanced prayer should look like for the Christian. Unfortunately such balance is often toppled leaving Christians to slide from one or the other of the two extremes.”

Questions to Ask Your Wife - Men, here is a list of questions you would do well to ask your wife.

Christless Christianity - Gene Veith says “Pastor Douthwaite at our church gave one of the best comments on the Harold Camping fiasco.” And he’s right; the pastor got to the very crux of the matter (at least in the brief excerpt Veith includes).

Victims of Data Overload - “For the first time in my life, I was dropping the ball. Missing emails. Notes from friends on Facebook. DM’s on Twitter. And I’m no slouch. I start early, am on the web all day, and answer my last email just before I turn out the lights to go to bed. So, what was I doing wrong? And, was I alone? Now, I know the answers—and they’re stunning.”

I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. —Martin Luther

May 25, 2011

Author and speaker Nancy Guthrie pays us a visit on this week’s Connected Kingdom podcast. We talk about Nancy’s teaching ministry to women, and especially her Bible Study books on Christ in the Old Testament. Nancy also explains how the Lord used the loss of two infant children to move her and her husband David to host regular retreats for other bereaved parents. You can watch David and Nancy glorify God as they talk with Joni about Holding on to Hope in the midst of this suffering.

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.

May 25, 2011

You know by now that every Wednesday we are previewing a series of 10 films that look at the Old Testament appearances of Christ as the Angel of the Lord. The films are produced by HeadHeartHand Media and are free for you to view for 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.

Episode 9 looks at Zechariah 3. It is titled “A Brand from the Fire.”

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.