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May 24, 2016

The Hidden Hours of Ministry

I’m looking forward to this series about the hidden hours of ministry. “The hidden hours lay the foundation for what happens publicly. The clamour of pastoral and teaching ministry can make it tempting to hold to public priorities, while neglecting more private responsibilities.”

Ben Zobrist Is Reinventing Himself

You’ll probably need to be a baseball fan to enjoy this one.

The Backside Blessings of Blogging

“Like the businessman whose only measure of success is the bottom line or the pastor who only looks at how many people are in his church’s pews, bloggers can also be one-dimensional in gauging the importance of their work.” Barry York looks at some of the hidden blessings of blogging.

Art Before Commerce

If you enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes (as I do and as my children do) you’ll also enjoy this video about what made his comics so successful. (Note: There’s one bad word in there.)

10 Issues in Theological Papers

Andy Naselli points out 10 issues he frequently marks when grading theological papers.

This Day in 1738. 278 years ago today, John Wesley felt his “heart strangely warmed” and trusted in Christ. *

Is Meek Weak?

You will probably benefit from reading this article about meekness. I know I did… 

The 35 Kinds of Animal

“Every animal on Earth belongs to one of about 35 groups called ‘phyla’. Some are familiar, but others are profoundly strange.”

Flashback: The Man I Am

“So there I was, traveling at 100 kilometers per hour, in the passing lane of a 6-lane highway, and I couldn’t see a thing. I had my 2 daughters with me, so I told them to pray while I tried to get over to the shoulder…”

Horton

Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing. It is not the unity which pleases God. —J.C. Ryle

May 23, 2016

Do Biological Facts No Longer Matter?

I am always interested in Nancy Pearcey’s take on contemporary issues. “The Darwinian worldview implies that the cosmos is merely a vast amoral machine. It reduces the human body to a lump of matter, a collection of atoms and molecules, not intrinsically different from any other chance configuration of matter. There can be no natural law ethic because humanity has no purpose to fulfill.”

The Importance of Integrity

I like the sound of this series by John MacArthur. “We’re going to consider what God’s Word says about integrity—how to develop it, how to nurture it, and how to guard it from the duplicitous nature of our fallen flesh.”

The Stewardship of Power

This is so important: “God gives power and position for the sake of his people, not for the privilege of the leader.”

Hospitality

I enjoyed this little reflection on the beauty of hospitality (perhaps in part because I think I know who Elle is).

Are You Ashamed of Jesus?

I appreciate Steven’s questions for himself, questions that help him think through whether he is boldly living for Jesus or quietly ashamed of Jesus.

This Day in 2007. 9 years ago today in Deerfield, IL, The Gospel Coalition kicked off their first National Conference. *

Flightless Birds

From AiG: “When we think of birds, we think of flight. But it appears the Creator had other plans, too. Along with birds of the air, He made birds that dash across the grassy plains and swim gracefully under the open sea!” 

The Oregon Trail Today

“One of America’s greatest highways is barely visible from the ground. It’s only from the air that you can pick out the remains of the Oregon Trail.” This short video proves it.

Flashback: The Ledger

Consider: Near the center of every religion is a ledger. Every religion acknowledges, on one level or another, that people do good things and bad things and every religion then maintains a tally, supposing that one day there will come a reckoning. Every religion hopes that on the day of accounting, the day of the audit, the good will outnumber or outweigh the bad.

Horton

The battle for the Christian life starts with the battle for the Christian mind. —Steven Lawson

May 21, 2016

It is a long weekend here in Canada as we pause for Victoria Day on Monday. This holiday marks the unofficial start of cottage season for those who have been so blessed. The rest of us just enjoy an extra day off and, hopefully, some time with friends and family.

How to Shepherd Every Member

The latest mailbag from 9Marks offers a helpful take on how pastors can care for every member in the church.

Women Teaching Men

I’d encourage you to give Mary Kassian’s excellent article a careful read.

A Subjective Definition of Death

“An influential cadre of utilitarian bioethicists wants to redefine it to include a subjective and sociologically based meaning. Their purpose isn’t greater scientific accuracy. Rather, by making ‘death’ malleable, they hope to open the door further to treating indisputably living human beings as if they were cadavers.”

What Is the Internet’s Favorite Book?

“Which is the better book: War and Peace or installment one of The Hunger Games? If you ask a book reviewer or look at any of the ‘Best Book’ lists compiled by critics, you would say War and Peace. But what if you asked everyday readers on the Internet?”

If We Have to Foreclose, is God Still Good?

Lore Ferguson always does transparency well, and that’s exactly the case in this article.

When Honor Becomes Toxic

Even good things can become bad things eventually. That is exactly the case with honor.

This Day in 1832. 184 years ago today, Hudson Taylor was born. Taylor was an English missionary to China and founder of the China Inland Mission. *

Women and Concussions

Somehow studies like this, which on the one hand are completely unsurprising, seem very surprising at a time when differences are so downplayed. “In sports like soccer and basketball in which girls and boys play by the same rules, with the same equipment and the same facilities, girls have higher concussion rates than boys.”

Flashback: The Danger of Lectio Divina

“Over the past few years an old form of Bible reading and interpretation has resurfaced and made quite an impact.” Here is what I consider a helpful and level-headed critique of one of its shortcomings.

Why Pastors Need to Help Their People Connect Faith and Work

I’m thankful to Made to Flourish for sponsoring the blog this week.

Marsh

We are justified freely, by grace; meritoriously, by Christ; instrumentally, by faith; evidentially, by good works. —William Marsh

May 20, 2016

Don’t Be Embarrassed by Your Ordinary Church

By definition most churches are ordinary churches, right?

Hong Kong

This video of Hong Kong is beautifully done. (Isn’t it sad to see the empty, superstitious worship…)

Is Your Pastor Happy To See You?

I think you’ll appreciate this one from Jared Wilson. (I feel the need to say that Grace Fellowship Church treats its pastors very well, so this is not much of an issue there!)

Our Respectable Sin—Laziness

“The testimony of the Bible from beginning to end says that laziness is wicked. But we don’t often look at it that way. Why is that? Why don’t we think laziness is a big deal? Why has laziness become a respectable sin among Christians?”

Tim Challies Wins Jeopardy! In Dominant Performance

I thought you might enjoy this satire from The Babylon Bee since A La Carte features prominently. (But I guess he didn’t know that Canadians are no longer allowed on Jeopardy.)

The Manchineel Tree

“You might be tempted to eat the fruit. Do not eat the fruit. You might want to rest your hand on the trunk, or touch a branch.  Do not touch the tree trunk or any branches. Do not stand under or even near the tree for any length of time whatsoever. Do not touch your eyes while near the tree. Do not pick up any of the ominously shiny, tropic-green leaves.” (Just ignore the evolutionary mumbo-jumbo.)

This Day in 1690. 326 years ago today, John Eliot died. Eliot was a missionary to the Native Americans of New England and publisher of the first Bible printed in America. *

Preacher, Teacher, Sunday Entertainer?

There are some good lines in this article like “You are boring. The Bible is not” and “Exegesis is like digging in a mine. Digging is hard work and it’s time-consuming. We don’t do it because we like holes, but because we expect to find gold.”

Flashback: A Knight in Shining Blubber

It’s a silly title but makes a serious point—a point about not missing the point.

Moody

Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. —D.L. Moody

May 19, 2016

I did not track down any Kindle deals today. However, if you are an Olive Tree user, you may be interested in picking up Visual Theology which they’ve just added to their catalog.

Why Believers Must Avoid Immoral Joking

I quite agree. “I write these very words because I, too, could easily fall into the trap of ungodly speech – and I must daily remember these truths myself. Here’s why we must fight for holiness in our joking.”

Same-Sex Marriage Cannot Deliver on Its Promise

This video of Al Mohler is all of 46 seconds long, but well worth watching. (See also David Murray’s An Al Mohler Prophecy Comes True.)

The Power of Public Prayer in the Church

Pastors (and others) would do well to read Kent Hughes’ article on the power of public prayer. It contains some helpful practical instruction.

Heron vs Catfish

They say that nature is red in tooth and claw. And beak, apparently, as you’ll note if you watch this heron go one-on-one with a giant catfish.

Are You Flexible for the Gospel?

D.A. Carson asks the question. This is such an important issue for Christians to understand and apply.

This Day in 1536. 480 years ago today, Henry VIII had his wife Anne Boleyn beheaded on spurious allegations of adultery and witchcraft. *

The Changing American Diet

This is an interesting, interactive look at the changing American diet.

Bad Motives? No Problems

“Scripture is full of surprises, but most of Scripture’s teaching on the motives of our hearts is not so surprising,” says Ed Welch.

Flashback: No Man Left Behind

“As Christians, we are charged with caring for one another—the shepherds first and every church member after them. It brings all manner of joy, comfort and security when we affirm, and when we insist, that we will not leave even one person behind.”

Keller

Friendship does not flow out of great sexual chemistry. Sexual chemistry grows out of terrific friendship. —Tim Keller

May 18, 2016

Arguments For and Against Anxiety

Justin Taylor: “An important lesson of the Christian life is that the heart of the battle is a fight not between abstract commands (do this! don’t do that!) but rather arguments. Unbelief does not just offer dictates; it offers reasons why we don’t need to trust the Lord. And to counter that, gospel-flavored belief argues with our unbelief. In other words, it provides reasons for why trusting the Lord is always the good and wise things to do.”

10 Reasons Why the Church Gathers

Short, simple, and important.

The Spiritual Gift You Don’t Notice Until It’s Gone

“If administration feels uninspiring, here are six images for six ways God blesses his people through your gift. And if administration isn’t your thing, these images will help you recognize and celebrate God’s gift to you in these people.”

A Few Thoughts About Education

Bob Thune looks at recent developments and says, “In my opinion, these mandates place a crucial fork-in-the-road before Christian parents, Christian administrators, and Christian teachers.” I quite agree.

Who Gave Paul His Thorn?

Andrew Wilson says this: “It might sound like a slightly obscure, angels-on-a-pinhead question, but it is actually very significant, because it cuts to the heart of questions about divine sovereignty, suffering, goodness and the agency of the devil. Does God send adversity, to teach us or bring us to maturity? Do God and Satan work together, in some weird way?”

This Day in 1896. 120 years ago today, missionary Samuel Zwemer married missionary nurse Amy Wilkes in Baghdad. *

Cell Phone Tower Trees

Here, just for fun, is a look at America’s least convincing cell phone tower trees.

An Encouragement to Serve Others

I appreciated this small encouragement to serve others (and an interesting way of doing so).

Flashback: How To Backslide in 9 Easy Steps

Here’s an explanation of how people “suddenly” find themselves backsliding.

Akin

Christian character is not created in the moment of adversity. Christian character is revealed in the moment of adversity. —Daniel Akin

May 17, 2016

Persistent Prayer to a Loving Father

“Persistent prayer proves hard for many Christians. We may labor on our knees for years as we pray for our unbelieving child, an empty womb, our spouse to be converted, the friend battling cancer, depression to no longer have a hold, a sin to lose its grip, or the gift of just one good friend.”

The Prayers of One Faithful Lady

I enjoyed this little story from the life and ministry of D.L. Moody.

Why Do Old Books Smell So Good?

This short video explains that distinctive odor.

Absurd Creatures

God sure did create some amazing creatures, like this frogfish. (And some disgusting ones, like this sea snail.)

Why Legalistic Preaching Doesn’t Work

David Prince: “The goal of much preaching in both liberal and conservative churches is to make good people a bit better, but it never works. Legalistic, moralistic preaching exacerbates sin rather than killing it. Consider some of the reasons why.”

This Day in 2005. 11 years ago today, The Gospel Coalition kicked off their first Council Conference. *

From 1970s-Era Academic ‘High Theory’ to Transgender Bathrooms on Campus

There’s an important warning in this historical look at how we got to where we are today.

Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings

It is so interesting to see how different Christians are processing transgenderism and the new rules surrounding it. I appreciate much of what Abigail says in this article. (See also John Piper: Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?)

Flashback: 8 Features of the Best Kind of Calvinism

Here are 8 fundamentals for the best kind of Calvinism.

Spurgeon

A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 16, 2016

Are You a Closet Annihilationist?

Denny Burk comments on an article that discusses changing Christian views on hell.

The Power of Conformity

Rod Dreher shares a letter from one of his readers that explains some of the radical change we see around us (and why it should concern us).

The Tender Heart of a Woman

Melissa appeals to both husbands and wives in this article.

Doctors Opting Out

Here’s a pressing issue for Canadian doctors: “Naylor has no desire to quit medicine. But she says she is appalled at the thought she could be forced to refer patients seeking assisted death to an obliging doctor.”

On Apple Music

This article neatly summarizes a lot of my concerns with Apple Music and, beyond that, with some of the loss that has come with digital music.

The Continental Divide of Theology

Steve Lawson: “Geography is not the only place we find a great divide. There is a high ground that runs through church history as well—a Continental Divide of theology. This great divide of doctrine separates two distinctly different streams of thought that flow in opposite directions.”

This Day in 1805. 211 years ago today, Henry Martyn arrived in India to aid William Carey with translation work. *

You Can’t Mess It Up

There’s a lot of comfort in knowing that you can’t actually mess it up.

Flashback: How Far Is Too Far?

“I am accustomed to giving the easy answer: ‘It’s not about how far can we go, but how holy we can be. You are asking all the wrong questions!’ That may make me feel smart and a little bit godly, but it’s not exactly a satisfying or helpful answer.”

Carson

The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness. —D.A. Carson