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June 2012

June 30, 2012

Wallpaper Sponsor
July is nearly here! To ring in the new month I’ve got great new desktop wallpaper for you to download. This month’s wallpaper was created by Andrew Joyce who does fantastic design work as Mosaic Web Studios.

A few notes: Your desktop or laptop may take any of the sizes, depending on your monitor size and a host of other considerations. If you’re not sure of the size, just find one that looks like it would be pretty much the same size as your screen. Generally you set one of these are your wallpaper by clicking on the link to the image, then right-clicking on the image (once it’s open) and selecting “Set as Background,” “Set as Desktop Background,” or something similar. If you aren’t sure, post a comment and we’ll try to help you figure it out.

July 2012

With Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

Without Calendar: iPhone, iPad, 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

July 2012 2

With Calendar: 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

Without Calendar: iPhone, iPad, 1024x768, 1280x800, 1280x1024, 1366x768, 1440x900, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, 2560x1440

Churchplantmedia

June 29, 2012

Genesis 2 has often been put at odds with Genesis 1. A long list of skeptics have claimed that the content is contradictory in places, especially when it comes to the timing of the events it recounts. Other scholars have argued that stylistic differences indicate that the chapters were written by different authors as parts of entirely separate creation accounts, and that these were later forced together in Genesis.

So how do we answer this while also affirming that “every word of God proves true” (Proverbs 30:5) and that Moses was the sole and inspired author of the Pentateuch (apart, of course, from the description of his death in Deuteronomy 34)?

The ESV Study Bible provides a helpful answer that accounts for both of these convictions:

The panoramic view of creation in ch. 1 is immediately followed by a complementary account of the sixth day that zooms in on the creation of the human couple, who are placed in the garden of Eden. In style and content this section differs significantly from the previous one; it does not contradict anything in ch. 1, but as a literary flashback it supplies more detail about what was recorded in 1:27. The picture of a sovereign, transcendent deity is complemented by that of a God who is both immanent and personal. The two portrayals of God balance each other, together providing a truer and richer description of his nature than either does on its own. In a similar way, whereas ch. 1 emphasizes the regal character of human beings, ch. 2 highlights their priestly status. (Note on Gen. 2:4-25)

Pentateuch scholar John Sailhamer has a similar take on it (I do not agree with all he says about Creation, but he is helpful here):

It seems apparent that the author intends the second chapter to be read closely with the first and that each chapter be identified as part of the same event. Thus the author explicitly retuns to the place and time of chapter 1 at the point where he links it to chapter 2: “When the Lord God made the land and the sky” (2:4b). It is likely that the author’s central theological interests in chapter 1 would be continued in chapter 2 as well—the theme of humanity’s creation in the “image of God.” Thus we may expect to find in chapter 2 a continuation of the theme of the “likeness” between humankind and the Creator. (The Pentateuch As Narrative, 97)

June 29, 2012

Free Stuff Fridays
This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Reformation Heritage Books, a name that ought to be familiar to you by now. And they are giving away a prize that proved pretty popular the last time they did a similar giveaway. They have 5 prize packages to win, and each package will consist of 8 Journibles.

JournibleWhat are Journibles? Well, they are what happens when you smash a Bible into a journal. “The idea comes from Deuteronomy 17:18, where God commands the kings of Israel to hand-write their own copy of the Torah, or book of the law. The purpose of this was so that they would carry it with them always, read it, learn from it, and lead the people accordingly. It’s interesting to note that 3400 years later, educators have been discovering that most people learn kinesthetically, by doing or writing things out for themselves. As you open the book, you will see chapter and verse numbers on the right-hand pages. These are conveniently spaced according to the length of each verse. However, these pre-formatted lines are left blank for you to hand-write your Journible book of yourself.”

It’s kind of a neat idea, really. As you read the Bible, you get to write it out on your own—a great way of enhancing understanding and retention, and you also get to take your own notes. Pretty cool, eh?

So far there are currently 15 in the series and the winners will each receive 8 of them.

If you want to get a better idea of the format, click here to see a sample page from Galatians. Or you can visit the official Journibles site.

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.

June 29, 2012

Contend for the Faith - This is just a short article, but it asks an important question: “are we more eager to police other Christians’ theology, quietly gleeful when we diagnose error, or are we more eager to rejoice in what we have in common with other Christians? Both are crucial. Neither is negotiable. But which is our deepest joy and instinct?”

Baptized Lions and Talking Crosses - Timothy Paul Jones looks at a couple of real-life examples of how some writings ended up excluded from the churches’ collections of authoritative books.

Trashing Icons of Innocence - “In June of 1989, rocker Don Henley struck a chord with his melancholy musical commentary ‘The End of the Innocence.’ In that song, guileless idealism runs headlong into harsh realities of adult life. Divorce. Deception. Duplicity. But Henley’s Top-10 hit didn’t chronicle the final, dying breath of sweetness and naïveté in America. Twenty-three summers later, there’s still a little left. And it’s taking a beating.”

Toward Short-Term Missions - Darren Carlson continues his look at short-term missions. “In the first article I laid out the history of short-term missions and some of the opportunities it has provided. The second article pointed to some of the problems that surround the enterprise. Now I want to offer a way forward.”

Obamacare - “The Supreme Court this morning ruled that two main provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare’) were, for the most part, constitutional. How did this happen? What does it mean for our constitutional system? Here’s a few answers.”

The London Olympics - The 2012 Olympics are ramping up in England, and so are the visualizations of all the data related to the games. You can see a collection of Olympic-related infographics at the link.

This Is the Gospel Project - This is a great little look at redemptive history via classical art.

Ah! if there be degrees in glory, they will not be distributed according to our talents, but according to our faithfulness in using them. —C.H. Spurgeon

June 28, 2012

J.C. Ryle defines sanctification as “an inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer.” In his classic work Holiness, he lays out twelve propositions concerning sanctification.

  • It is a result of your union with Christ. “The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils.”
  • It is a necessary consequence of your regeneration. “Where there is no sanctification there is no regeneration.”
  • It is the only certain evidence that you have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ’s people is sanctification.”
  • It is the only sure mark that you have been elected by God. “Elect men and women may be known and distinguished by holy lives.”
  • It is a reality that will always be visible. Your “sanctification will be something felt and seen, though [you yourself] may not understand it.”
  • It is a reality for which every believer is responsible. “Believers are eminently and peculiarly responsible and under a special obligation to live holy lives.”
  • It requires growth and is present in differing degrees. “A man may climb from one step to another in holiness and be far more sanctified at one period of his life than another.”
  • It depends greatly on your diligent use of the ordinary means of grace. “He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without [the means of grace].”
  • It does not necessarily prevent you from having a great deal of inward spiritual conflict. “A true Christian is one who has not only peace of conscience, but war within.”
  • It cannot justify you, yet it genuinely pleases God. “The Bible distinctly teaches that the holy actions of a sanctified man, although imperfect, are pleasing in the sight of God.”
  • It will be found absolutely necessary as a witness to your character on the great Day of Judgment. “It will be utterly useless to plead that we believed in Christ unless our faith has had some sanctifying effect and been seen in our lives.”
  • It is necessary in order to train and prepare you for heaven. “We must be saints before we die if we are to be saints afterwards in glory.”

June 28, 2012

In last week’s reading in David McIntyre’s The Hidden Life of Prayer we looked at praising God in prayer. This week we were to read two chapters, one that looked at supplication and one that looked at confession—two other integral components of prayer.

I found the chapter on supplication—making requests of God in prayer—particularly helpful. Though I shared a few elements of that chapter in a blog post yesterday, I want to share them again today. They have already proven very helpful and practical in my own life and ministry; they have helped sharpen my understanding of why God does not just grant us the things we believe we need, but instead tells us to pray to him. They have helped me see the goodness of God in having us labor in prayer.

McIntyre tells us of four things the Lord accomplishes in us as we labor in prayer:

  • Dependence. “By prayer our continued and humble dependence on the grace of God is secured. If the bestowments of the covenant came to us without solicitation, as the gifts of nature do, we might be tempted to hold ourselves in independence of God, to say, ‘My power, and the might of mine hand, hath gotten me this wealth’ (Deut. 8:17).”
  • Communion. “The Lord desires to have us much in communion with Himself. The reluctance of the carnal heart to dwell in God’s presence is terrible. We will rather speak of Him than to Him. How often He finds occasion to reprove us, saying, ‘The companions hearken to thy voice; cause Me to hear it.’ A father will prize an ill-spelled, blotted-scrawl from his little child, because it is a pledge and seal of love. And precious in the sight of the Lord are the prayers of His saints.”
  • Preparation. “Much, very much, has often to be accomplished in us before we are fitted to employ worthily the gifts we covet. And God effects this preparation of heart largely by delaying to grant our request at once, and so holding us in the truth of His presence until we are brought into a spiritual understanding of the will of Christ for us in this respect. If a friend, out of his way (Luke 11:6), comes to us, hungry, and seeking from us the bread of life, and we have nothing to set before him, we must go to Him who has all store of blessing. And if He should seem to deny our prayer, and say, ‘Trouble Me not,’ it is only that we may understand the nature of the blessing we seek, and be fitted to dispense aright the bounty of God.”
  • Cooperation. “Once more, we are called to be fellow-laborers together with God, in prayer, as in all other ministries. The exalted Saviour ever lives to make intercession; and to His redeemed people He says, ‘Tarry ye here, and watch with Me’ (Matt. 26:38). There is a great work to be done in the hearts of men, there is a fierce battle to be waged with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Demons are to be cast out, the power of hell to be restrained, the works of the devil to be destroyed. And in these things it is by prayer above all other means that we shall be able to co-operate with the Captain of the Lord’s host.”

June 28, 2012

Take Care How You Listen - Desiring God has released a free ebook from John Piper “on listening well. It is comprised of five unedited sermon manuscripts from the preaching ministry of Pastor John. We pray this resource will serve your personal reflection as you heed Jesus’ command to ‘take care how you listen’ (Luke 8:18).” 

Able to Teach - Nathan Finn looks at one of the biblical qualifications for an elder—that he be able to teach. He offers some useful correctives to the way many people understand it.

Chris Fabry Live - I spent an hour with Chris Fabry yesterday, as a guest on his radio program. If you’ve got time and inclination, you can listen in at the link.

The SBC Family - The Southern Baptist Convention has been in the news a lot lately and much is being said about what appears to be a growing rift within it. Tom Ascol gives his take on it.

Sexual by Design - Douglas Wilson was invited to Indiana University by Clearnote Church to talk about sexuality from a Biblical perspective. Bloomington Indiana is home to the Kinsey Institute, started by Alfred Kinsey who is famous for his experiments in sexuality. They recorded videos of the full lectures, as well as the very long Q&A that followed. A large crowd of “dissenters” gathered to demonstrate their disapproval of Wilson’s message in word in action.

Praise God for those Baptisms - Erik Raymond rebukes Ed Young for mocking a Reformed that baptized “only” 26 people last year.

The doctrines of grace humble man without degrading him and exalt him without inflating him. —Charles Hodge

June 27, 2012

A few days ago I received an email from a reader of this site and I found that much of it has universal application. Each one of us struggles with these questions at times. For that reason, and with his permission, I will make my response public. Here is a part of what he sent me:

Personal situation with universal question: My wife and I are adopting 2 kiddos from Africa that have HIV. That’s all planned, no surprise, grace given to us to do so, praise be to God. Throughout this, I continuously pray for my kiddos over there. Yelling, crying, heart wrenching (I’m tearing up right now thinking about it) kind of prayers. They are very sick, and I want my babies home with me. They’re dying of starvation and little medication over there. I don’t feel like I keep praying the same prayers because I don’t believe God cares or can take care of it, I pray because it’s breaking my heart, I badly want by children home, and I want it to stay as a “top-shelf issue” in front of God. Am I wrong in my theology and practice by continuing to pray for the same thing? I sometimes feel that it’s blasphemous to re-pray something, as if I’m insinuating that God is not listening, doesn’t care, doesn’t remember, or needs to re-prioritize His to-do list.

And now my answer.

Over the past few weeks I have been reading a book by David McIntyre called The Hidden Life of Prayer and just yesterday I read a section that looks at petitioning God in prayer. McIntyre offers up some thoughts that are directly applicable to your situation. He says that the foundational reason we ought to ask God for the things that are important to us is that God commands us to. It is as simple as that. All through the Bible we are told things like “make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:6). And so we pray to God in obedience to God.

But a question remains: why? Why would the Lord choose to do things in this way, to have us ask him and even repeatedly plead with him for his blessings. McIntyre offers four reasons and I think these reasons come into sharper focus the longer and the more fervently we pray.