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October 2011

October 24, 2011

It has been fascinating to witness the rise of Halloween in recent years. What was at one time a day for kids to spend a couple of hours going door-to-door to collect candy and coins has morphed into a true holiday where kids and adults alike celebrate. Recent trips to costume stores show that the shelf space given to adult costumes now outweighs the space given to children’s costumes. I actually wonder if the trajectory of the holiday is such that the children will soon be forgotten altogether.

It’s fascinating to me—and more than a little repulsive—that on Halloween you can walk into a legitimate, professional workplace—a bank or real estate office where millions of dollars change hands every day—and find women dressed in ill-fitting, sexy costumes. You can find men dressed like skeletons or superheroes. Just for one day we can all act in ways that any other days would get us fired (or institutionalized). 

I’ve often wondered why it is that Halloween has transformed from what it was to what it is today. Along the way I’ve developed a theory. It may seem a little far-fetched, but hear me out and let me know what you think. First I’ll give two background factors or forces, and then get to the heart of my theory.

There is no doubt that, culturally, we are in a time of immaturity. There is little expectation of maturity for children and adults alike. As I’ve written in books and often shared at conferences, many people seem trapped in perpetual adolescence. Once thought to last for only a year or two, many people now believe that adolescence—that time that falls between childhood and adulthood—should now last for decades. There are some out there who honestly believe that you cannot rightly be considered an adult until your mid-thirties. It is a disturbing trend and I think it plays into the obsession with Halloween. Immaturity and dressing in costumes seems to go hand-in-hand. That is not strictly true, but certainly playing dress-up has more to do with childhood than mature adulthood. I’m not saying that you have to be immature to dress up for Halloween; but it helps.

So there is one cultural force that lies behind my theory.

October 24, 2011

5 Reasons God Calls Us to Wait - Paul David Tripp on some of the reasons that God may call us to wait. “In ministry you will be both called to wait and also find waiting personally and corporately difficult. So it is important to recognize that there are lots of good reasons why waiting is not merely inescapable but necessary and helpful. Here are a few of those reasons.”

Drones and Never-Ending War - “Today, our president said every soldier in Iraq is coming home, leading many to believe The War Is Over. Except it’s not. Getting humans out of there is great, but the fact is war today doesn’t need humans at all.” The implications of this are expansive.

The Holocaust - These photos from The Atlantic are almost too horrifying to take in.

Privatize the CBC - This probably applies only to Canadians. The author makes some great points.

Divas of Discernment - I’ll always be indebted to Phil Johnson for coining the phrase “Divas of Discernment.” Here he speaks to Todd Friel about “wall-building, biblical discernment, bad discernment ministries, shrill-and-sharp-tongued women who fancy themselves called to ministries of full-time criticism—and a few other interesting topics…”

Heart for Adoption - I enjoyed this little film which was played at the Together for Adoption conference.

Some persons on their dying beds just wake up in time to see their danger, but not toescape from it: they are carried right over the cataract of judgment and wrath. —Charles Spurgeon

October 23, 2011

I was looking through Edward Donnelly’s book Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell and came across a really powerful quote about all that we are not able to do and understand and accomplish in this life. Read it and be blessed!


The prospect of living forever in a renewed universe answers the frustration we feel over the brevity of earthly existence. For human begins have always felt that, at its longest, life is too short. There is so much in this world to discover, such a variety of experiences to enjoy, yet so little time available. How many places there are which we will never visit, books we will never read, great paintings at which we will never look, how much music we will never hear! It is tantalizing to see such wealth slipping away from us with every tick of the clock.

How little we know about even our close friends! What untapped reservoirs they are of character and insight! But it would take so long to learn all that we could about them. And what of millions we have never met—their personalities and their stories? We would be enriched beyond measure by their acquaintance. But we will never be—not on this earth.

In ourselves we are conscious of undeveloped gifts and resources, talents and qualities of which we are only dimly aware. A friend of our family was once asked if he could play the violin. “I don’t know,” he answered, “I have never tried.” He was being facetious, but in a sense he was right. There is more in each of us than has yet appeared. No one has ever seen the real you. We do not even know ourselves properly. But we will not be here long enough for our potential to be discovered.

After a lifetime of studying the Bible, it is simple realism, not mock humility, to acknowledge that we are still paddling in the shallows of revealed truth. With regard to prayer and communion with God we are the merest beginners. As yet we are novices in Christian living. We want to be better people, kinder and more unselfish, but we wrestle with damaged personalities and are disfigured by the scars of the past. Circumstances have stunted our development. Opportunities afforded to others have never come our way. There is so little time for it all!

Do you feel these frustrations? Do you not hunger ravenously for more and more of life? Does not your heart ache at the too swift passage of the years? Is there not a nagging sense of unfulfilment, no matter how happy you may be? Such beings as we are—in such a world—with so little possible!

Praise God for heaven! For every good longing within us is an intimation of immortality, an echo of eternity in our souls, a pointer to everlasting life. We were not created for seventy short years, ‘not born for death,’ in the poet’s words. Our Creator did not design beings of such complexity and capacity for a mere handful of decades. ‘He has put eternity in their hearts’ (Eccles. 3:11) and we have not been redeemed to be frustrated. ‘Life here is too short, too circumscribed, to be the end for man’s marvelous divinely given endowments and aspirations. He scarcely more than gets his preparations made for full and intelligent living until his time comes to leave.’ 

October 22, 2011

Love Wins Companion - Rob Bell is releasing a companion to Love Wins. Here’s some classic publisher hyperbole: “In The Love Wins Companion, Rob Bell offers commentary on the positive and negative attention his groundbreaking book is receiving, delivering a crucial supplement to one of the most important books since the Bible.”

The Three Musketeers - I’m not sure why, but I enjoy reading reviews of movies I don’t ever intend to see. The Three Musketeers falls into that category. This review made me laugh. “’Evil is just a point of view,’ says the unscrupulous Cardinal Richelieu in the latest film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ 19th-century novel. But such moral relativism cuts both ways. Bad is also just a point of view. The Three Musketeers, for instance, is a bad film only if you happen to be watching it from a theatre seat.”

Boomtown - An interesting article from CNN on one of America’s boomtowns. 

Sukkot - Here’s a photo gallery from the Jewish celebration of Sukkot. This morning I was out for a walk, listening to 2 Corinthians. This line seems appropriate: “To this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.”

Sins of Omission - “Ask any group of leaders if humility is important, and almost every one of them will nod their heads and tell you that the world needs more humble leaders in every field, from business to politics to, well, everywhere. Ask that same group if they would like an opportunity to be humbled, and virtually every one of them will decline.”

Insult Like Shakespeare - The man wasn’t ever lacking for words.

More Power to Ya - I somehow came across this—Tim McGraw singing a classic Petra song. I kind of like the country spin on it.

In the last analysis, we sin not because we have to but because we want to. —Henry Jacobsen

October 21, 2011

Reading Classics Together
This week’s reading from John Stott’s The Cross of Christ for Reading Classics Together comes courtesy of Rebecca Stark. My week happened in such a way that I wasn’t able to write up my summary post, so I gladly borrowed Rebecca’s (with her permission of course). This week’s chapter was titled “The Community of Celebration” and here is how Rebecca summarizes it…

The Community of Celebration.

Stott starts by pointing out that Jesus didn’t die simply to save individuals but to make a new community of his own people, people from every nation who “live by and under the cross.” First of all, those in the new community of people have a new relationship to God, a relationship marked by

October 21, 2011

T4AToday several hundred people are gathering in Phoenix for the 2011 Together for Adoption conference. This year the focus is on missional living, the gospel, and orphan care. There is a whole team of people liveblogging the event (you can see a complete list here). Speakers at the event include Dan Cruver, Darrin Patrick, Tullian Tchividjian and Tim Chester.

Among the livebloggers is my pal Aaron Armstrong who is also there to represent Cruciform Press which is one of the key sponsors of the event. If you are at the conference, be sure to drop by the Cruciform table to say hello to Aaron. And if you are not able to attend the conference, why don’t you check in with his blog to hear what is being said, done and taught at the event. He will be blogging all through today and tomorrow.

October 21, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by The Good Book Company. Today The Good Book Company is offering 5 winners two 50 pack sets of their Halloween tracts and a free copy of One Day Wonders, an activity book for Children’s Ministries and families as they plan events around Christmas, Easter and Halloween. 

Halloween tracts with a gospel message

These engaging tracts take the theme of Halloween and use it as a springboard to explain the gospel to children and teenagers. A really positive way to share the good news with trick or treaters and also guests at alternative ‘harvest parties’.

Trick or Treat? is suitable for under 11s and The Fright of Your Life is ideal for ages 11-14. You can read both online.

Gospel

Tips for giving away a tract at Halloween

  1. Stock up on candy and tracts.
  2. Make sure you’re home on the evening of 31st October or take them along to your local trunk or treat event.
  3. TractWhen children come trick-or-treating, give them some candy along with a tract, which explains a bit more about Halloween.
  4. Pray!

Run your own ‘Harvest Party’

One Day WondersEverything you need to run a gospel event on October 31st.

This flexible and fun Bible activity book for children and families includes ideas for games and activities, comprehensive notes for leaders, talk outlines, dramas, a section on promoting your event and much more.

Turn the darkest night of the year into a gospel opportunity! Find out more 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.

October 21, 2011

Hating Tebow - Denny Burk writes about why so many people hate Tim Tebow, the young, Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos. “There are a lot of people out there pulling against Tebow, and I am not talking about football or the big game on Sunday. What I am talking about are the cynics out there who want Tebow not only to fail at football but also to fail at being a Christian.”

Smalltown Poets - The Smalltown Poets were one of my favorite bands until they took a hiatus. However, they are back with a new Christmas album that you can get for just $5. One of the songs is “In the First Light” which, unless I’m mistaken, was penned by Bob Kauflin (back in the GLAD days).

In the Danger Zone - Dr. Mohler looks at children in a digital age. Here’s a shocking statistic: by age 3 almost a third of children have a television in their bedroom.

Congregations Submitting - This is a good and important article, especially in light of a bit of controversy about congregationalism. “Do you see the dilemma? If the Bible located church authority exclusively in the elders, the idea of submission would be simple: the elders would make the decisions, and the congregation would submit to those decisions. But what does it mean for a congregation to submit to its elders when the congregation itself holds final authority?”

Mother Refuses Chemo - “Stacie Crimm didn’t get to share much time with her infant daughter, Dottie Mae — she’d made the ultimate sacrifice to give the little girl life.” Greater love has no mom than this…

TSA on the Highway - Wow, does this ever make me uncomfortable. “You’re probably used to seeing TSA’s signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).”

Invisible Drum Kit - I came across this classic Rowan Atkinson skit yesterday and enjoyed it again. It’s just amazing physical comedy.

Wisdom teaches us to wink at many of the injuries that are done to us, and act as if we did not see them. —Matthew Henry