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July 2011

July 23, 2011

Whole Hearts - Matt Hammitt is looking for your help in establishing the Whole Hearts Foundation to support the families of children with congenital heart defects. Pepsi is tallying votes and will make a donation to the organization that gets the most votes. You can visit the link to read more and to cast your vote. (Check out my interview with Matt right here)

What to Say - What to say when you are about to die for Christ. (HT)

Who Dieth Thus - Worth thinking about (and singing about): “Our generation doesn’t like to think about death. The church has largely handed over death to doctors and funeral directors and cemeteries. There once was a time when death was an integral part of church life and worship, hence the cemeteries on church property.”

Paul’s Downward Trajectory - This is a good little post from Justin Holcomb.

A Lost Son - A father pursues a lost son.

The Most Beautiful Waves - Here is a photo gallery worth checking out.

Ignorance of the Scriptures is the root of all error. —J.C. Ryle

July 22, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays sponsor is Reformation Heritage Books. RHB is a small publisher, but one that consistently brings us a powerful combination of treasures from the past combined with some of the best of contemporary writing. Today RHB is giving away 5 prizes today, each of which is two complete sets of the 3-volumes series called Puritan Treasures—one for you and one for your church library (or another good cause). 

The Fading of the FleshHere is a description of the 3 books:

  • The Fading of the Flesh and the Flourishing of Faith by George Swinnock - The Puritans frequently talked about dying well. That is something we do not discuss much these days, though we should. In this book, George Swinnock presents modern readers with valuable food for thought as he expounds Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” Swinnock combines careful explanation with vivid illustration to reveal the futility of earthly comforts and highlight the inestimable comfort, satisfaction, and joy afforded us in Christ. Displaying the relevance of the Puritans for today, you will find this sorely neglected and sobering topic an easy, thought-provoking, and compelling read.
  • Triumphing Over Sinful Fear by John Flavel - To some degree, everyone experiences fear. It impacts the decisions we make and leaves us feeling helpless. John Flavel begins this book by examining various fears and discussing general ways God governs it in this world. He then turns to sinful fear in particular, explaining its causes and disastrous effects. His longest chapter discusses rules for dealing with sinful fear, showing how a proper fear of God is the ultimate remedy for all other fears. This practical book will help you avoid making excuses for sinful fear and encourage you to trust in Christ’s commitment to settle His people’s feeble and trembling hearts.
  • Stop Loving The World by William Greenhill - Live in this world in such a way that people recognize that God is your treasure. Do you live in this world in such a way that people recognize that it is not your treasure? The Puritans were greatly concerned with suppressing worldliness in the church. Today, worldliness is an even greater problem, exacerbated by the fact that so few dare to speak out against it. In this book, William Greenhill provides modern readers with a healthy antidote to our love affair with the world. He explains what it means to love the world, exposes the dangers of cherishing it, shares how we ought to relate to it, and gives encouraging directions for removing our hearts from it. This is a book with a timeless message, demonstrating the relevance of the Puritans for today. By God’s grace, it will help persuade you that the world and all its charms are not what you should live for.

Remember that there are 5 prizes to win (30 books in total!)!

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.

July 22, 2011

Banning Weird Names - “In the past two years, the country [New Zealand] has banned 102 names deemed to be too out there. The list includes Baron, Bishop, Duke, General, Judge, Justice, King, Knight and Mr. Those names were banned because they were deemed to be too similar to titles. The name Messiah has also been turned down, as have requests to name kids 89, C, D, I and T. As well, the agency has refused to give a pass to full stops, asterisks, virgules and other punctuation marks.”

Revelation App - I’m quite enjoying this graphic novel version of the book of Revelation. You can get it for your iPad or iPhone.

Not for Men Only - Carolyn McCulley talks about lust and women—a topic that few are really willing to grapple with.

Student Study Bible - Westminster Books has a good deal going on now. Any order that contains a copy of the new ESV Student Study Bible will get free shipping within the US. Ligonier also has some good deals in this week’s edition of $5 Friday.

John MacArthur - Reformation21 has an excellent review of the new biography of John MacArthur.

Portable Churches - USA Today has a feature on portable churches and those who are trying to get churches to stop using public schools.

Let’s Ban Books - I enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we all stop writing books for a while—or at least that the stuff of the NY Times stop.

The resurrection of Christ is the Amen of all his promises. —John Boys

July 21, 2011

Christianity and Liberalism
Today we come to our final reading in Gresham Machen’s Christianity & Liberalism. Let me apologize once more for disappearing last week. I went on vacation and completely forgot that I was supposed to be posting something about the final chapter. So here we go, a week late.

The final chapter of Christianity & Liberalism concerns itself with the church and the stark contrast between the liberal and Christian conceptions of church. The first couple of paragraphs offer a brief explanation:

It has just been observed that Christianity, as well as liberalism, is interested in social institutions. But the most important institution has not yet been mentioned— it is the institution of the Church. When, according to Christian belief, lost souls are saved, the saved ones become united in the Christian Church. It is only by a baseless caricature that Christian missionaries are represented as though they had no interest in education or in the maintenance of a social life in this world; it is not true that they are interested only in saving individual souls and when the souls are saved leave them to their own devices. On the contrary true Christians must everywhere be united in the brotherhood of the Christian Church.

Very different is this Christian conception of brotherhood from the liberal doctrine of the “brotherhood of man.” The modern liberal doctrine is that all men everywhere, no matter what their race or creed, are brothers. There is a sense in which this doctrine can be accepted by the Christian. The relation in which all men stand to one another is analogous in some important respects to the relation of brotherhood. All men have the same Creator and the same nature. The Christian man can accept all that the modern liberal means by the brotherhood of man. But the Christian knows also of a relationship far more intimate than that general relationship of man to man and it is for this more intimate relationship that he reserves the term “brother.” The true brotherhood, according to Christian teaching, is the brotherhood of the redeemed.

There is nothing narrow about such teaching; for the Christian brotherhood is open without distinction to all; and the Christian man seeks to bring all men in. Christian service, it is true, is not limited to the household of faith; all men, whether Christians or not, are our neighbors if they be in need. But if we really love our fellowmen we shall never be content with binding up their wounds or pouring on oil and wine or rendering them any such lesser service. We shall indeed do such things for them. But the main business of our lives will be to bring them to the Savior of their souls.

He goes on to say, “It is upon this brotherhood of twice-born sinners, this brotherhood of the redeemed, that the Christian founds the hope of society. He finds no solid hope in the improvement of earthly conditions, or the molding of human institutions under the influence of the Golden Rule.” If there is to be any great improvement in society, if there is to be any great change, it will be through people being saved. Liberalism seeks societal change without the personal spiritual transformation. Machen insists “The Church is the highest Christian answer to the social needs of man.”

July 21, 2011

Last night I had the privilege of speaking to a big group of teens who traveled up from Tulsa, Oklahoma to do some missions work here in Toronto. What a great encouragement it is to see those teens serving hard and sharing the gospel. (Hi, Emily’s mom!)

There are lots of fantastic Kindle e-book deals available this week. My book The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment is available for $2.99, as are The Jesus Storybook Bible, Jerry Bridges’ must-read The Pursuit of Holiness, and Ravi Zacharias’ Has Jesus Failed You?.

The Most Dangerous Countries for Women - The Big Picture has a heartbreaking photo gallery of the most dangerous countries for women.

Grow Up. Settle Down. - John MacArthur is penning a series of blog posts meant to speak to the Young, Restless, Reformed crowd. I’m really looking forward to this! “I have some words of encouragement and counsel for YRRs, and I want to take a few days here at the blog to write to them about their movement, its influences, some hazards that lie ahead, some tendencies to avoid, and some qualities to cultivate.”

Surprised by Suffering - At the Ligonier blog I’ve got a roundup of some great quotes from R.C. Sproul’s book Surprised by Suffering.

Shame - This was an interesting article to read as the author harshly skewers Calvin College for even considering that Adam and Eve could have been real people. Once again we see evidence that the historicity of Adam is one of the major battles facing the church in the twenty-first century.

Cru - Campus Crusade is changing its name to Cru. Yup, Cru. Of course it’s already become Power to Change here in Canada.

If there is to be in our celestial garment but one stitch of our own making we are all of us lost. —C.H. Spurgeon

July 20, 2011

Divided the MovieYour church is heavily influenced by evolutionary thinking. It is founded on principles created by pagans and for pagans. You have succumbed to hellish thinking and imposed it upon your church. At least this is the case if your church has a nursery or a Sunday school or any other kind of program that involves dividing people by age. That is the rather audacious claim of Divided, a documentary that is being heavily promoted by the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC). Divided is a film about youth ministry. Kind of. At its heart it is a movie that promotes Family Integrated Church (FIC).

Divided follows a young filmmaker named Philip Leclerc as he seeks to find answers to the tricky question of why young people are abandoning the Christian faith. This journey quickly leads him to the leaders of the FIC where he learns that age segregation is at the very heart of our problems while family integration is the key to rebuilding the church and recapturing the next generation. 

The film begins with a long list of scary statistics pointing to the sad reality that young people are increasingly abandoning their churches (a genuine concern that I wrote about recently). This introduces the tension the movie depends upon. How do we guard our children against becoming just another set of sad statistics? Leclerc begins his journey at a Christian music festival where we see young people head-banging to Christian rock and just plain having fun. He speaks to youth pastors who believe the key to reaching youth is to be cool and hip. He speaks to young people who believe in evolution or who don’t even know what they believe. He says about this festival that people were being taught that “the fun music of the world can bring you closer to God.” And in this way he paints an ugly picture of an entire generation.

Having done this, he finds the best and brightest of the FIC movement and allows them to interpret. This sets an intellectual like Voddie Baucham against a girl with a face full of piercings who partied so hard at the concert that her mohawk collapsed. It’s hardly a fair fight. What Leclerc does is what so many documentarians do: he chooses his representatives very, very carefully. He chooses the intellectuals of the FIC to represent his view and chooses the young and foolish to represent the other side. It’s hardly subtle and not at all fair. He builds his case on a cliche.

Once he has set the two sides in opposition, he allows proponents of FIC to pile on. One by one Scott Brown and Voddie Baucham and Doug Phillips and Paul Washer and many others talk about how youth ministry has ruined the church—and not just youth ministry, but any kind of ministry that divides people by age. These men make the claim that the first 1800 years of the church knew no age segregation whatsoever; it is only in the past 200 years or so that anyone considered dividing children by age. They claim that any kind of age segregation stems directly from evolution and has roots in paganism. Any kind of age segregation therefore sows pagan seeds of division.

These leaders claim that the Bible clearly teaches that we must not age segregate. Ever. The classroom is a pagan creation and so too is the Sunday school. Leclerc goes so far as to claim that the mass youth exodus may just be God’s hand of punishment upon the church for our active disobedience in ignoring what Scripture teaches.

The solution is to raise up a new generation of fathers who will take responsibility for their children and stop outsourcing the raising of their children to youth pastors. Fathers who truly love the Lord and who truly love their children will know better than to allow them to participate in youth ministry or Sunday school. These are the central claims of the film.

So what do we do with Divided?

July 20, 2011

Father & Son - “Chris Bray and his father, Kenneth, attended the launch of STS-135, the final space shuttle mission, on July 8. Thirty years earlier, they saw the launch of STS-1, the very first one. Possessing nearly identical photos of himself and his father at the two launches, Bray uploaded a composite image of them to Flickr and posted a link to the image on Reddit. It quickly shot up the ranks.”

Dramatic Swings - WORLD writes about Christian ballplayer Josh Hamilton who was recently involved in a terrible tragedy.

Modern Poverty - This is definitely worth reading: “When Americans think of poverty, we tend to picture people who can’t adequately shelter, clothe, and feed themselves or their families. When the Census Bureau defines “poverty,” though, it winds up painting more than 40 million Americans — one in seven — as ‘poor.’”

Book Hoarding - Here is a little parable courtesy of Jim Elliff. It begins like this: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance of books does his life consist of his library.”

Lego LOTR - This is spectacular.

Understanding Homosexuality - In this series R.C. Sproul looks to Scripture to help us understand some of the confusion surrounding the issue of homosexuality and provides us with simple biblical responses to them. It’s a free download from Ligonier.

Dilbert - Dilbert still makes me laugh occasionally.

Dilbert.com

Sin is but hell in embryo; hell is but sin in fulfilment. —Thomas V. Moore

CY

July 19, 2011

SOUL Christianity ExploredYou have probably heard of Christianity Explored, an evangelistic course that uses DVDs and workbooks to lead people through the gospel of Mark and ultimately to call them to become followers of Jesus. What you may not know is that there is also an excellent version of the course that targets a younger demographic. It is called CY.

CY is a life-changing journey through the Gospel of Mark. In seven interactive sessions, young people will explored what Christians believe, discover the Bible’s answers to the big questions of life and find out what Christianity is all about. CY is for older teenagers and young adults and works perfectly with the SOUL DVD. For 11-14’s, there is a special edition, CY Nano.

I led a group of teenagers through the course last year, using both the workbooks and the accompanying DVD, and was very impressed with it. It does a very good job of explaining the gospel in a way that is specially geared toward a young audience. It manages to avoid being hip and trendy even while still managing to appeal to that younger demographic. It focuses on the message, never letting the message get lost in the activities or presentation. Along the way it very powerfully pleads with participants to turn to Christ, whether they are church kids or people with very little church background.

You may be interested in taking a look at the trailer: 

This is a time of year that many church leaders are pondering activities for the fall. Might I suggest that you consider CY? I am confident that you will find it a great resource and one that will be a blessing to all of those who participate.

You can learn more about it right here.