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February 2012

February 27, 2012

The Santorum Predicament - I enjoyed Dr. Mohler’s take on The Santorum Predicament. “Rick Santorum is still a long shot for the Republican nomination, but his candidacy and its coverage in the mainstream media tell us a great deal about the fate of conservative candidates and conservative convictions in the public square.”

Bethlehem Succession Plan - It’s interesting to read about Bethlehem Baptist Church’s succession plan for John Piper. It is an unusual process to have to go through—to seek to replace a preacher like John Piper (who intends to step down from his preaching role in the summer of 2014).

Praying During Sermon Prep - Here’s one for the pastor: a guide on how to pray during sermon preparation. It can also help the non-preacher know how to pray for the guy preparing the sermon!

And While Preparing to Lead Worship - Inspired by the previous article, Matt Boswell has come up with a list of 8 ways to pray while preparing to serve as a worship leader.

Evaluating Movies - There is no one way to evaluate movies that will always filter the good from the bad, so I’m always interested in hearing how others go about it. Here is Randy Alcorn’s take.

Our old man is crucified, but he is long at dying. —C.H. Spurgeon

February 26, 2012

This seemed like a pertinent quote for a Sunday morning. As we head to church and listen to the preaching of the Word, I’m sure it will be profitable to think just a moment about the unction of the Holy Spirit. This quote comes from Charles Spurgeon’s An All-Round Ministry.

One thing more, and it is this. Let us, dear brethren, try to get saturated with the gospel. I always find that I can preach best when I can manage to lie a-soak in my text. I like to get a text, and find out its meaning and bearings, and so on; and then, after I have bathed in it, I delight to lie down in it, and let it soak into me. It softens me, or hardens me, or does whatever it ought to do to me, and then I can talk about it. You need not be very particular about the words and phrases if the spirit of the text has filled you; thoughts will leap out, and find raiment for themselves. Become saturated with spices, and you will smell of them; a sweet perfume will distill from you, and spread itself in every direction; — we call it unction. Do you not love to listen to a brother who abides in fellowship with the Lord Jesus? Even a few minutes with such a man is refreshing, for, like his Master, his paths drop fatness. Dwell in the truth, and let the truth dwell in you. Be baptized into its spirit and influence, that you may impart thereof to others. If you do not believe the gospel, do not preach it, for you lack an essential qualification; but even if you do believe it, do not preach it until you have taken it up into yourself as the wick takes up the oil. So only can you be a burning and a shining light.

February 25, 2012

To Praise Bands - James Smith recently penned an interesting and controversial letter to praise bands. I don’t agree with all he said, but I do appreciate the way he has stimulated my thoughts on the matter. It’s a conversation worth having.

The Land of My Heritage - Luma Simms has an article on her family’s heritage in Iraq, a nation they fled in the ‘70’s.

Landscapes - This is an amazing photo gallery of landscapes. I don’t think you need to connect on Google+ in order to view it.

I Asked the Lord - This is a lesser-known hymn from Newton, but a very powerful one. 

Slum Dwellers - “One billion people worldwide live in slums, a number that will likely double by 2030. The characteristics of slum life vary greatly between geographic regions, but they are generally inhabited by the very poor or socially disadvantaged. Slum buildings can be simple shacks or permanent and well-maintained structures but lack clean water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services.” The Big Picture has a photo gallery.

Born that Way? - Stand to Reason offers a way to engage with people who say “I was just born this way.”

4 Preaching Tips - “I have never met a preacher who did not want to increase the effectiveness of his sermon. The question is where to start? We often, and rightly so, head over towards the practical application of the Word itself. We spend more time praying, reading, studying, writing, and thinking. These are good and right. I encourage all of this. But the focus of this post is a little different.”

A God who could pardon without justice might one of these days condemn without reason. —C.H. Spurgeon

February 24, 2012

When it comes to supposed contradictions in the Bible, a classic example is Paul vs. James on the subject of justification. Paul says, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). James says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

The tension between the two seems irreconcilable at first glance: either a person is justified apart from works or they aren’t; either Paul is right or James is. They can’t both be right; that would be irrational, postmodern thinking in which truth is relative and, therefore, meaningless. But not necessarily. We have to remember that a single word can have more than one meaning, depending on the context in which it is used. The same word can even be used in seemingly opposing statements and yet both can still be true. (My favorite example is “cleave,” a word that has two directly opposed meanings.)

For example, if I say, “Man is an animal,” this is true in one sense. Man is, biologically speaking, a living creature, created on the same day and with a physiology very much like other mammals. On the other hand, if I say, “Man is not an animal,” this is also true. In a spiritual sense, he is not an animal. Man constitutes a distinct class of creature, one who is moral, fallible, redeemable, and made in the image of God.

February 24, 2012

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by CBD Reformed and, as always, they are offering up 5 great prize packages, each of which contains 3 items. Among those items are two of my favorite books from 2011.

  • Tempted and TriedA Year with C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings From His Classic Works - Retail price $22.99
  • Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ by Russell Moore - Retail Price $14.99
  • The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller - Retail Price $25.95

In addition, CBD Reformed is offering a 4-day sale (February 24 – February 27) on the following three products:

As you know by now, there are 5 prizes to win. All you need to do is enter below…

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, you’ll need to click through to see the form.

February 24, 2012

7 Marks of Humility - God’s leadership principles are the complete opposite of man’s. Paul Tautges goes to Philippians and shows that in God’s economy the way up is down.

The Best Chess Player in the World - Here’s an interesting profile of the world’s best chess player. The money quote: “I enjoy it when I see my opponent suffering.” Don’t we all?

A Lentendud - This is the time of year that those of us who don’t mark Lent feel really superior about ourselves (or the opposite, depending on your context). Douglas Wilson writes about Lent, those who celebrate it, and what they need to be aware of.

$3.5 Million in the Attic - “When Michael Rorrer found 345 comic books neatly stacked in a basement closet as he cleaned out his great-aunt’s Virginia home after her death, he thought they were cool but didn’t think much about their value.” But that wouldn’t make the news, so there must be more to the story…

Dating Tebow - I love stories like this one.

Tax Dollars - It’s always a bit depressing to know where all your tax dollars go. This infographic displays it nicely. And speaking of infographics, here’s one that looks at e-reading and e-readers.

Take a saint, and put him into any condition, and he knows how to rejoice in the Lord. —Walter Cradock

February 23, 2012

I spent much of my day yesterday wrestling through a couple of biblical genealogies (and enjoying every minute of it). I found myself reflecting on the end of the book of Ruth where we encounter a short but powerful genealogy. But before I get there, I want to remind you of the final scene in Ruth.

As the book comes to a close, we are given a glimpse of a little scene that is fun to picture in your mind. Boaz has married Ruth and the Lord has blessed them with a child. It seems here like after the child is born, the women of Bethlehem gather the baby and bring him to Naomi’s home to announce the birth and to celebrate with her. The women carry the baby from Ruth and Boaz’s house and approach Naomi’s home dancing and celebrating, taking joy in her joy. They come to her praising God, fully aware that this child is proof of God’s covenant-keeping favor. They even declare that Ruth is more to Naomi than seven sons, that Ruth is more to Naomi than the perfect family with perfect sons. That’s quite a tribute!

In a legal sense this was Naomi’s child; he was born of Ruth, but it is the child of Naomi and Elimelech, the child who will carry on the family name. Naomi will now serve as a kind of foster-mother, helping to raise this child. You can picture Naomi weeping and worshipping as she takes the child from the women and pulls him to her chest. So many promises are fulfilled, so much love expressed, so many prayers answered. God has been faithful to his covenant. He has given an heir and he has restored the land.

And they lived happily ever after. The story of Ruth began with Naomi leaving the land with her husband and two sons. Naomi suffered almost unbearable tragedies, but here she is at the end, cradling that little baby to her chest—that little baby who is God’s declaration that he is a covenant-keeping God, that he loves Naomi, that she has not been forgotten or forsaken. Naomi has experienced the deepest kind of emptiness, but here she is full, restored, whole.

The end?

Kind of, but not really. The narrator has one little surprise left for us. He has held one thing back that he will include in a postscript.

February 23, 2012

Visual Theology - If you are interested in purchasing some of those Visual Theology infographics/posters, you can get 20% off your order by using the code JUMP20.

Google Glasses - What is this world coming to? “People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.” This is even worse: connected cars.

Books on Prayer - Andrew Case’s books on prayer are all available for free in ebook formats. There are three: one for husbands, one for wives, and one for children. Each one focuses on praying Scripture while interceding for the one(s) you love.

The Apostles - The current issue of National Geographic has a major story about the Apostles. Unfortunately (and, I suppose, not surprisingly) it’s a bit of a mess of mysticism, speculation and poor theology. “They were unlikely leaders. As the Bible tells it, most knew more about mending nets than winning converts when Jesus said he would make them ‘fishers of men.’ Yet 2,000 years later, all over the world, the Apostles are still drawing people in.”

Real Books - Kevin DeYoung hopes that real books will never die. But they probably will anyway. Still, I pretty much agree with most of what he writes.

Conversation with Bezos - Amazon’s publishing model: “All along the way he’s stayed with his strategy of losing money to achieve that domination. His latest effort in this regard is well-known in publishing and was nicely summarized in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek piece. Bezos is going head to head with publishers—offering huge advances to authors and promising astronomical royalty rates that no publisher can maintain.”

Grace for Today - “I’m also learning that God gives grace for today. Period. I will meet troubles today and God will give me grace for those troubles. He does not give me grace today for troubles that will come tomorrow. God doesn’t give me grace for imaginary troubles, he gives me grace for real troubles.”

Philosophy and religion may reform, but only the Bible can transform. —Brian Edwards