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A La Carte

April 25, 2016

Board Game Sale

A couple of times a year Amazon puts strategy board games on sale. Today is one of those days. How did I not know there’s a game called “1812: The Invasion of Canada”?

Beautifully True

How can we know the Bible is true? John Piper responds in this artistic video.

How Facebook Plans to Take Over the World

According to The Guardian, Facebook “went from digital directory for college kids to communications behemoth – and it’s planning for prosperity with its global takeover.”

Give Us Eyes for the Lonely

“Can you see them? Do you know who they are? They sit among us in the congregation, sometimes at the heart of the body, sometimes on the fringes. They worship on Sundays and gather for Bible studies. Some come to events and activities, hoping that maybe if they come enough and do enough, they will start to belong.”

Word Matters

Podcast listeners may want to check out this new one from Trevin Wax and Brandon Smith. “Each episode takes a contested or puzzling passage of the Bible, walks through the most common interpretations, and then recommends how to preach or teach the passage effectively.”

This Day in 1800. 216 years ago today, English poet William Cowper died. Cowper (along with John Newton) wrote many Olney Hymns, such as “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood” and “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.” *

The Extraordinary Pastor

“Quite a number, if not the majority, of pastors, ministers, evangelists and preachers, for part of the time at least, are tempted to, or actually do, preach from unworthy motives, to make life harder for others, or increase their own success.”

Which Countries Are the Most/Least Overrun by Tourists?

“If you want to visit a place not overrun by tourists, where should you go? In other words, which are the least ‘touristy’ countries in the world?”

Mohler

Christ will hold us fast. But we need gospel friends to hold us close. —Albert Mohler

April 23, 2016

It was a joy to meet so many of you at the Sex, Sin, & Salvation conference here in Pittsburgh. I’m heading back to Toronto this morning and looking forward to leading a quick breakout session at the Thinking? conference later in the day.

It has been a bit of a slow week for Kindle deals, but I hear there should be some good options next week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here is some weekend reading for you.

Advice for Better Bible Memory

“Many of us know how valuable it is to memorize God’s word. But we often don’t know where to start. We get discouraged. We burn out quickly and move on to something less taxing. I’ve wrestled with these frustrations for years now. As a performer and worship leader, I’ve had to develop techniques so that I don’t drop the ball when I take the stage. I want to share a few of the methods I use regularly when memorizing God’s Word.”

10 Guidelines for Christian Voters

There’s wisdom in these guidelines for Christian voters.

Silencing God’s Megaphone

“If we are honest, virtually all of us desire to grow our influence and expand our platform, even if we don’t think about it in those terms. It may have a healthy motivation or it may be one consumed with pride. That is a determination that can only be made by God and the individual. But if your goal is to make Christ famous, instead of yourselves, have we ever wondered if achieving personal fame is the best way to go?”

Where Movie Sounds Are Born

Here’s a brief video showing how movie sounds are made.

Reformed “Spotlight”: What is Spiritual Abuse?

David Murray provides a helpful definition of spiritual abuse. “Spiritual abuse is a sinful use of spiritual authority by Christian leaders to promote, protect, or enrich a person or a Christian institution regardless of the spiritual damage done to innocent parties and the cause of Christ.”

This Day in 1982. 34 years ago today, missionary linguist and founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators Cameron Townsend died. *

Praying Together as Mentoring and Discipleship

Sometimes the most effective forms of mentoring and discipleship are the simplest ones.

On Sola Scriptura & Solus Christus

“We have derived a rich heritage from the Reformation—things for which the Reformers were ready to die, and many of them did die. Why is Christ’s death sufficient for the sins of all who trust in him? Why is God’s word greater than any of man’s tradition? In this video, James Montgomery Boice answers these questions and others.”

Does God Talk to Us? A Post by Michael Horton.

I’m grateful to Zondervan for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsors play a crucial role in keeping this site going!

Walker

Expect Satan to tempt you most viciously at those moments and periods when you are seeking God most vigorously. —Jeremy Walker

April 22, 2016

VT @ WTS

Westminster Books launched a sale yesterday that has Visual Theology marked down to just $10.

$5 Fridays

This week’s $5 Friday from Ligonier is a good one. “If you spend at least $20 on this week’s discounted resources, you will receive a $10 gift certificate for a future purchase in our store. Spend $50 or more and we will instead provide you with a $25 gift certificate.”

Reviewing a Classic

I love this review of a classic Christian work. If you haven’t read this one, you really should.

Why N.D. Wilson Writes Scary Stories for Children

“The goal isn’t to steer kids into stories of darkness because those are the stories that grip readers. The goal is to put the darkness in its place.”

Gladys Aylward – Touching with God’s Love

I’m really enjoying these mini-biographies Vance Christie has been writing. 

T4G Talks

Most of the Together for the Gospel talks are now available to watch.

How the Hillsong Cool Factor Changed Worship

This is quite an interesting article about Hillsong and how the cool factor changed worship for good and for ill.

Evangelicals and Toxic Masculinity

This is a good word. “Before confessional Christians can speak prophetically to toxic masculinity out there, we must first be honest about it in here.”

This Day in 1864. 152 years ago today, American coinage first displays the motto “In God We Trust.” *

Ultra High Definition (4K) View of Planet Earth

Beautiful.

Ministering to the Sick

Paul shared some helpful bullet points on ministering to the sick, and especially to those who are in the hospital.

Finn

If the message you preach isn’t good news for every person from every tribe, tongue, & nation, then it isn’t the real gospel. —Nathan Finn

April 21, 2016


Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman will soon be on the American $20 bill, so perhaps you should read this quick refresher from Christianity Today. (And, of course, there is Joe Carter’s 9 Things You Should Know about her.)

10 Reasons Pastors Must Be Prayer Warriors

Pastors, please make prayer a crucial part of your ministry. Congregations, please free your pastor from other responsibilities so he can dedicate time to prayer.

Book Tribalism

I think you’ll appreciate the challenge Jim Elliff brings in this little parable.

Drinking Deeply of the Tenderness of Christ

This video is a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Conscience

“Your conscience can function like a moral version of your nervous system. The guilt that your conscience makes you feel when you sin should lead you to turn from your sin to Jesus. That sense of guilt is for your good. And it is some­thing that God—not your mother or father or anyone else—gave you.” (Excerpted from the new book Conscience)

Should You Use Illustrations from Movies?

Here’s one for preachers to consider.

This Day in 1897. 119 years ago today, A.W. Tozer was born. Tozer was an influential pastor in the Christian & Missionary Alliance and author of The Pursuit of God. *

Timeshares and Manipulation

Ed Welch: “They promise what I want, which is a reasonable vacation, in a nice place, where we can take our daughters and their families. Sometimes I merely want that. At those times I am in my right mind. Other times I really need it, well I almost need it. At those times I go into a hypnotic trance, induced by the voice of one who tells me everything I want to hear.”

Something Rotten in the Local Church

Lore Ferguson says, “As humans we can be tempted to respond in a few different ways to conflict within the local church. Philippians 4:1-9 has a clear pathway for how Christians walk through conflict.”

Piper

This is a very serious act of treason: when you love other things more than you love God. —John Piper

April 20, 2016

Why We Need Anonymous, Plodding Church Planters

This is so good and so important. “Unfortunately, for us to plant the kinds of churches we need to plant the men who feel called to planting must change their expectations and their definition of ‘success.’ We cannot bear another generation of church planters who want to be the next big thing. Men hungry for acclaim will do nothing to make a dent in the number of people in our culture who do not know Jesus.” (Jared Wilson’s article Listen to the Little Guy Too is complementary.)

When Her House Was Scheduled for Demolition

I love to hear of the lives and faith of Christian brothers and sisters from far across the world.

Making Manuscripts

This video from Getty Museum shows what went into making a medieval mansucript. It is incredibly labor intensive!

Reformed Theology is Indigenous to African American Christianity

“No matter how you define it, the core tenets of Reformed theology are woven into the fabric of African American Christianity. The sovereignty of God over all of life, his special prerogative in issues of salvation, and the authority of the Bible are endemic to the black church tradition.”

Isolation from the Church Is Dangerous

I can’t tell how many times I’ve seen the pattern: First people isolate themselves from the church, then they begin to distance themselves from Christ.

This Day in 1718. 298 years ago today, David Brainerd, missionary to New England’s Native Americans, was born in Connecticut. *

Theological Primer: The Holy Spirit

Kevin DeYoung put together a 1,000-word primer on the Holy Spirit.

Secret Shame Of The Middle Class

Rod Dreher on the way we spend our money: “I think this must be an extraordinary thing, in terms of history: people who spend recklessly to give themselves the lives they think they deserve. If you think about it, though, our culture, which valorizes Authenticity, encourages this.”

A Response to Swaim’s “Stott Bowdlerized”

Since I linked to the original article it’s only fair that I link to the response from Eerdmans.

DeYoung

Make no mistake: to be at peace with your sin is to be at war with God. —Kevin DeYoung

April 19, 2016

Living an Others-Oriented Life

Here’s Mark Dever on living a life oriented away from self and toward others. (It’s an excerpt from his new book Discipling.)

Aurora Borealis from Space in Ultra-High Definition

Wow. Here’s the Aurora Borealis shown from Space in ultra-high definition.

Preaching and Preachers

If you are into podcasts, you may want to add Jason Allen’s new podcast Preaching and Preachers to your list.

Ten Principles for Personal Productivity

John Piper shares some helpful tips. “Give 10% of your focus in life to avoiding obstacles to productivity and 90% of your focus to fastening on to great goals and pursuing them with all your might.”

Why a Short White Man Isn’t a Tall Asian Woman

It shouldn’t be difficult to explain why a short white man isn’t a tall asian woman. But today’s students just can’t tell you.

5 Reasons Why We Need to Rest

I find that I need to remind myself of truths like this each and every week. Rest is just so easy to neglect!

Toronto Workshop on Biblical Exposition

If you’re in or near Toronto and if you teach or preach God’s Word, be sure to check out these workshops. 

This Day in 1529. 487 years ago today, German Lutheran Reformers were first called “Protestants” at the Diet of Speyer in Germany. *

The Local Church Isn’t Going Anywhere

No, the local church isn’t going anywhere no matter way the doomsdayers and naysayers tell us.

Real-Time Titanic

Here’s an interesting animation that shows the sinking of the Titanic in real-time.

McGowan

People may not agree with our theology but they shouldn’t be able to argue with our lives. —John McGowan

April 18, 2016

Covenant College Women’s Tennis

I admire this resolve. “On Sunday, Kyle Taylor released a statement as director of athletics for Covenant College about the upcoming championship match. The match was scheduled for the Covenant women’s tennis team, a group that deserves a great deal of respect for a remarkable season, standing 15-5 overall and 11-1 within their conference. The problem arose, however, when the team was slotted to compete for the championship on April 17th, a Sunday, against Methodist.”

The Tragic History of RC Cola

Why is RC Cola a has-been instead of a major player in the soda wars? This article explains. It also tells why RC missed its big chance.

Outsourcing Memory and Wired for Distraction

Make sure you don’t just skim this one: “Over the last few years I have had a minor, but growing, niggle about my ability to remember and make connections with clarity and sharpness. Was it simply growing older, or the impact of several general anaesthetics in a short space of time, or was it something else?”

Was C.S. Lewis an Evolutionist?

“Was C.S. Lewis an evolutionist? I’ve heard this charge laid against him more than once, sometimes by admirers but more often by those who would prefer us to be reading and quoting someone else. The best way to answer this question is to look not just at one-off comments, but at Lewis’s intellectual trajectory as a whole.”

Farm to Fable

The long and short of this longform article is that many or most restaurants lie when they tell you that they use local ingredients.

This Day in 1587. 429 years ago today, John Foxe, known for his Book of Martyrs, died at 71. *

Does Satan have Access to our Minds?

Allan Murray: “This is a very important question for the christian. To answer it we have to go back to the basics of human existence in the fallen state.”

Be Quick to Read and Slow to Comment

Nathan has a challenge for those of us who comment online. “When a Christian comments without reading an article, it suggests they don’t value their brother or sister in Christ. To comment before reading an article is to elevate your words above those of the author. And to make it more dishonoring, it is often done on a platform they built—it’s their blog or Facebook page after all.”

Powlison

Christ-less, grace-less attempts at change conclude either with the praise of your own glory or with your shame. —David Powlison

April 16, 2016

Pray Together with Your Guests

This is a helpful admonition about making sure you pray when you have guests in your home. It’s encouragement for other believers and evangelism for unbelievers.

The Minecraft Generation

The New York Times has a long and interesting piece about Minecraft. “At a time when even the president is urging kids to learn to code, Minecraft has become a stealth gateway to the fundamentals, and the pleasures, of computer science. Those kids of the ’70s and ’80s grew up to become the architects of our modern digital world, with all its allures and perils. What will the Minecraft generation become?”

Stott Bowdlerized

Here’s an alarming look at what Eerdmans has done to “improve” John Stott’s classic Basic Christianity. “My curiosity aroused, I went through the new book and compared it, sentence by sentence, with the old one. The sheer amount of revision is startling. Two out of every three sentences, I estimate, involve some new wording.”

Jesus Paid it All

You may enjoy this video they showed at Together for the Gospel—elder DJ Ward preaching on “Jesus Paid It All.”

Ten Tips for Leading Church Well

You probably won’t agree with everything here, but you’ll still find some sound wisdom on leading church services well.

What’s Your Conscience Worth?

“Bruce Springsteen says he won’t perform for North Carolina, as long as the state upholds its recently passed law regarding gender and public restrooms. Springsteen is doing what millions of Americans are taught, in classrooms and in culture, to do: Standing up for his conscience, and drawing lines accordingly. But in our era, the question becomes: If this is counted to Springsteen as righteousness, why is it counted as sin to North Carolina?”

Tomorrow in 387. 1,629 years ago tomorrow, Saint Augustine of Hippo was baptized. *

The Great Monarch Butterfly Migration

Sometimes this great butterfly migration stops in our yard. It’s an amazing thing to see every tree blanketed in butterflies.

Everyone Files Their Taxes At The Last Minute

“Americans are a nation of procrastinators. Our tax returns prove it. Last year, 21.5 million Americans waited until the last minute – or at least the last week – to submit their tax returns. That’s roughly one in seven filers, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.”

Spurgeon

What I have found of God in Jesus Christ is so wonderful, I am eager for others to know it too—and to know him. —C.H. Spurgeon