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May 13, 2016

The Moral Revolutionaries Present Their Demands

Al Mohler says, “The terms of moral surrender have been delivered to us, and they are absolute and unconditional. Just ask Japan and Germany what that means.”

The Family Idols

There is an important challenge in this article from Nick Batzig. He shows that even something as good as family can disguise idolatry.

Abortion and the Problem of Personhood

Jonathan Leeman and Matthew Arbo get right to the heart of the issue. “One way or another, whether in the language of science (what is a human?) or philosophy (what is a person?), we find some way to demote ‘it.’ The zygote, the embryo, the fetus—words that belong in an alien movie—are not fully us.”

Should I Tell My Spouse about Struggles with Sexual Purity?

That’s a pressing question within many marriages. Garrett Kell offers a wise answer that gives leeway for different marriages.

3 Neglected Objects of Stewardship

It’s not just money we are to steward for the glory of God.

This Day in 1963. 53 years ago today, Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor and author A.W. Tozer died. Tozer wrote classics such as The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy*

President Obama: Accept Transgenderism or Else

Denny Burk responds to the news that “President Obama has released a letter directing every public school in the country to recognize and accept transgender identities.” You may also want to read Joe Carter’s Glossary for the Gender Revolution (which really reads like a dictionary of depravity).

Baby Bison vs Wolf

It’s nice to see that sometimes the good guy wins.

Flashback: The Difficult Goodbye

“She had been weeping for the entire half hour it took us to travel from home to the airport. Her cheeks were stained by tears, her eyes full of them, when she hugged me and kissed me and kissed me again. ‘I love you daddy. I’m going to miss you so much…’ And a moment later, ‘Daddy, why is it so hard to say goodbye?’”

Greear

Standing in the presence of God with sin would be like tissue paper touching the surface of the sun. —J.D. Greear

May 12, 2016

Troubleshooting the Celebrity Pastor Problem

I appreciate Jared Wilson’s thoughts on the celebrity pastor problem in today’s church.

Goose Finds Cop

Can this actually be real? “On Monday, Givens was sitting in his patrol car in a parking lot when he was accosted by one very unexpected visitor who seemed dead set on getting his attention.”

Two Methods of Bible Study

I think we know these two methods intuitively, but it’s still good to have them both laid out like this.

Stop Complaining

Yes, just stop complaining. “This pervasive discontentment colors virtually every area of modern life. Man’s rebellious default setting is to grumble, complain, argue, and whine about anything and everything he doesn’t like.”

The Style of Black Preaching

Here’s an interesting look at the distinct features of traditional African American preaching.

Eight Tips for Beginning Preachers

Jason Allen: “Looking back, there are a few tips I wish I had been given as a beginning preacher. Let me share eight of them with you…”

This Day in 1792. 224 years ago today, “Father of Modern Missions” William Carey publishes his highly influential book on the importance of evangelism. *

Stephen Curry’s Ultimate Career Mixtape

I’m no fan of basketball, but I do appreciate athleticism. And, wow, this guy is an athlete.

Jack Chick Really Means Business

Here’s an interesting look at some of the ethos behind Jack Chick and his infamous tracts.

Flashback: Drinking It Straight

Thinking back to the days when I attended churches where the pastors felt the need to make sure we weren’t “drinking” the Bible straight…

Alexander

Thank God that He doesn’t wait until we take an interest in Him before He takes a profound interest in us by His grace. —Eric Alexander

May 11, 2016

Restroom Laws and Jim Crow

It’s a big question today: Are restroom laws that respect privacy the equivalent of Jim Crow laws?

Planetary Transit

NASA got some amazing footage of Mercury making its way between us and the sun, something that happens just 13 times each century.

Where’s Your Heart?

Randy Alcorn: “Do you wish you cared more about eternal things? Then reallocate some of your money, maybe most of your money, from temporal things to eternal things. Put your resources, your assets, your money and possessions, your time and talents and energies into the things of God. Watch what happens.”

Love the Season You’re In

This is a good exhortation from Kim Shay: Love the season you’re in and don’t wish you were in a different season of life.

Essentials in the Ministry of the Lord

Geoffrey Kirkland: “I like to make it a habit to read through the Pastoral Epistles regularly and in one sitting so that the Spirit of God exhorts my soul with truths from Holy Scripture regarding the ministry of the Lord. I want to remain on track. I want to major on the essentials. I must prioritize what God tells me to focus on and avoid what He tells me to flee from. Today I want to highlight seven essentials in the ministry of the Lord.”

Teaching: Ten Top Tips?

Andrew Wilson has ten great tips on confidently studying and teaching God’s Word but without getting yourself into interpretive trouble.

This Day in 330. 1,686 years ago today, “Roman emperor Constantine, the first Christian emperor, inaugurates Constantinople as his capital on the site of the Greek city of Byzantium.” *

Pixar - What Makes a Story Relatable

This is a great look at Pixar movies and what makes them so good.

Flashback: The One Sure Mark of Christian Maturity

“What does it mean to be a mature Christian? I think we tend to believe that mature Christians are the ones who know a lot of facts about the Bible. Mature Christians are the ones who have their theology down cold. But…” 

Ryle

Prayer and sinning will never live together in the same heart. Prayer will consume sin, or sin will choke prayer. —J.C. Ryle

May 10, 2016

An Open Letter to Someone Having an Affair

Brad Hambrick pens a letter to someone having an affair. “An affair is a relationship built on deceit and artificially fueled by the passion-allegiance of a shared secret and not having to bear the weight of day-to-day life. The story line of ‘forbidden love’ evaporates as soon as there are ‘shared responsibilities’ and no ‘them’ to keep ‘us’ apart.”

Walking Through a Graceless Door

“For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has had Jubilee years. It is a quick way to get many people to Rome. Boost the economy, give exorbitant amount of money to the church and sustain them for decades to come.” As it happens, 2016 is a Jubilee year.

The Coyote and Rightly Assessing Social Media Influence

Mike Leake helps put things in perspective. “As I scroll through my Twitter feed I’m thinking a bit about the coyote. Social media has the capacity to create a bit of coyote in all of us. It’s easy to overestimate our influence. The whole machine is designed to place us at the center of our own little universe. Twitter is especially prone to this.”

Donald Trump’s Feud With Evangelical Leader

This is what Mike referenced in the article (above) with Trump calling out Russell Moore: Trump tweeted “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!” 

Questions Before You Lead a Meeting

“I want to grow in my ability to lead meetings - to run better meetings, and serve those I am meeting with. Here is my game plan for preparing for meetings that are productive and an encouragement to all who attend.”

This Day in 1886. 130 years ago today, Karl Barth was born. * (You may be interested in D.A. Carson’s Evangelical assessment of Barth.)

Supporting White Christians When They Attempt to Work for Racial Justice

I appreciate this from Jemar Tisby: “Even though ethnic minorities call for white, evangelical Christians to speak up and be allies for racial justice, their sincere attempts to do so often get the side-eye.”

How Much It Costs To Give Birth

This should be a simple question, right? How much will it cost to give birth in this hospital? But no, it turns out very difficult to find answers.

Flashback → Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us

I will still write this at some point. “I have had far more ideas rejected than accepted. Books on simplicity, the environment, evangelism, pornography and probably many more besides have received the trademark ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ There is one that haunts me: Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us.”

Stott

Possessions are only the traveling luggage of time; they are not the stuff of eternity. It would be sensible therefore to travel light. —John Stott

May 09, 2016

I’m Still a Complementarian… And There’s Still That “But”

I’m glad to read people’s struggles to better understand, define, and appreciate complementarianism. This kind of discussion should prove fruitful!

How We Pray

There are lots of points made in this survey on prayer, but perhaps this is the most important: “Reid said the most striking result was the evidence that prayer habits often carry through from childhood. The survey showed that if people prayed as children, they were overwhelmingly more inclined to pray as adults, and the opposite was also true.”

9 Perspectives on Trump, Clinton, and the Evangelical Christian Voter

Just like the headline says… 

Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons

Two caveats: This is not written by a Christian and you won’t agree with all of it. But still, there is some good stuff here.

Say Hard Things

“When was the last time someone told you you were wrong? If you can’t remember, you may have reason to be concerned. Sometimes the most loving thing someone can do for us is point out an error or inconsistency in the way we think or live.”

This Day in 1619. 397 years ago today, the six-month long Synod of Dort ended, having confirmed the authority of the “Heidelberg Catechism.” *

The Day We Discovered Our Parents Were Russian Spies

“For years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream. Then an FBI raid revealed the truth: they were agents of Putin’s Russia. Their sons tell their story.”

The Feed Is Dying

“The feed is dying. The reverse-chronological social media feed — the way you’ve read Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs (which is to say, the internet) at various points over the last decade, updates organized according to the time they were posted, refreshed at the top of the screen — no longer really makes sense.”

Flashback: Matthew 18 in a Shrinking World

From a few years ago, but still timely: “The Internet has made the Christian world much smaller, allowing more Christians to have a voice that extends across the globe. And with this new ability to communicate comes new questions about how we are to deal with conflict, how we are to deal with questions and concerns.”

 

Horton

Racism is nothing more than collective narcissism: I love my group above all others because I love myself. —Michael Horton

May 07, 2016

Westminster Books sent out a newsletter yesterday featuring Do More Better and offering it at a great price (especially if you buy 5 or more copies). They’ve also got deals on other books about stewarding God’s good gifts.

I speak each January at the G3 Conference in Atlanta; next year’s event is moving to a better venue and is expanding the speaker list (Voddie Baucham, D.A. Carson, Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, Paul Washer, etc.). You may want to consider attending this year as it promises to be quite an event.

Women’s Sanitary Bins & Bathroom Theology

Peter Jones says that in light of today’s sex and gender confusion “While we’ve never needed bathroom humor, presently we do need some serious bathroom theology!” Indeed.

What Can We Learn from ‘Black Lives Matter’?

John Piper: “One of the main things to learn from the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement is the need to distinguish between, one, the plain truth of the slogan, two, the ideological origin of its nature, and, three, the strategies of action that it unleashes on the street. We need to distinguish those when we talk about this.”

The Best Pastoral Advice I Ever Received

“I was recently asked by a younger minister just starting out on his first ministry assignment what was the best advice I had ever received in ministry. I did not need to work hard to ponder that answer; I was ready even before the last words of his question were out of his mouth.”

Give Elsa a Girlfriend

There’s a movement afoot to give Elsa (of the movie Frozen) a girlfriend in Frozen 2. “Some people, including many Christians, were surprised at the news. I, for one, found their surprise a little surprising. In fact, anyone shocked by this news hasn’t been paying attention to what’s going on in the culture.” (My guess is that they won’t do it for financial reasons—they can’t afford to lose the Evangelicals who would not watch the movie, buy the merchandise, etc.)

Yelling at Kids

Yelling at kids is an ineffective (and unbiblical) practice, as this article says.

Tomorrow in 1845. 171 years ago tomorrow (May 8), the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest denominations in America, organized in Augusta, Georgia. *

Looking At The Sun Through A Telescope

Don’t do it because, as this video demonstrates, it’s not going to go well.

What If I Can’t Find Jesus in the Passage?

Thanks to Westminster Seminary for sponsoring the blog this week with “What If I Can’t Find Jesus in the Passage?”

Flashback: When Gifts Lose Their Luster

“Children. Vocation. Location. Everything I love, every good gift, can fade in time.” Here’s what to do about it.

Finally, a note for those who are taking the Logos course (Introducing the Gospels and Acts) with me. You should now be coming to the end of the first of the eight sessions so you can begin session two by Monday. The first session has been excellent! If you haven’t signed up but would like to, you can do so here.

Keller

Legalistic remorse says, “I broke God’s rules,” while real repentance says, “I broke God’s heart.” —Tim Keller

May 06, 2016

I have no Kindle deals to share with you today, but you can always breeze back through the A La Carte archives to find any you missed earlier in the week. I’m sure there will be some good ones next week as well.

Crisis in American Democracy

Al Mohler says, “When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.”

American Christians, You Might Need to Start Living Like Missionaries

Grace is an American living in Tanzania and tells how Americans may need to begin living a little bit more like she does even in their own land.

The Danger of “Fast Food” Conversation

“How many families coexist for long periods of time living on ‘fast food’ interactions? These conversations are quick, easy, and immediate. We talk about what is necessary to keep the family going. We say enough to make decisions, get through the day’s busy routine, or to provide correction to a child’s behavior. But we rarely stop and offer something constructive or something that edifies or gives grace.”

7 Tips To Wake Up Without Coffee

I do enjoy my morning cup of coffee, but these tips look like they might work just as well.

Inner Revolution

I was recently a guest on the Inner Revolution podcast to discuss productivity. It was a fun and low-key conversation.

Moving Prayer to the Center of Ministry

There are lots of good suggestions here for churches to move prayer to the center of ministry.

This Day in 1619. 397 years ago today, the Canons of Dort, a Calvinist response to the Arminian Remonstrance, are promoted and taught in Dort’s Great Church. *

The Elisha Foundation Conference

The Elisha Foundation (TEF) is partnering with Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA to host a conference on disability that serves parents or caregivers of people with disabilities. It begins next Friday.

Stop Calling Your Wife Hot

Exactly. When you call her hot you force the rest of us into an unfair situation. It’s going to be weird whether we agree or disagree with your assessment!

Anti-Catholic or Pro-Gospel?

This article was written in response to Roman Catholics who took issue with my understanding of their theology. So I looked at it from the other angle: What does official Roman Catholic teaching say about what I believe?

Lye

The man that is most busy in censuring others is always least employed in examining himself. —Thomas Lye

May 05, 2016

The Rise of the Anti-Culture

Carl Trueman: “Let’s face it: We now live in a world where refusing a man the right to expose himself in a woman’s toilet is enough to risk your city losing the right to host a football game. Even to suggest there might be a debate to be had about such a thing is enough to render one liable to accusations of irrational hatred and dismissal as a benighted bigot. Culture did not bring that about. Anti-culture did.”

4 Approaches to a Balanced Complementarianism

Rick Phillips offers “four approaches that will help us practice the Bible’s gender teaching while avoiding harmful and unbiblical excesses.” He does really well.

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife

On a similar note, Mary Kassian has an amazing review of Ruth Tucker’s book Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. It includes an important appeal to Tucker herself—one I hope she accepts.

The Bible Project: Proverbs

The Bible Project has a nice little video summary of the book of Proverbs.

Is Multitasking Preventing Us From Being Faithful Stewards?

“Faithful stewardship of the mind will require intentionally adapting work habits. It may not be easy, given your current work atmosphere, but start small and work toward adapting what you can.” You may even need to stop your mostly futile attempts at multitasking.

Bible Translation Tribalism

I appreciate this call away from Bible translation tribalism. “Imagine there was only one English Bible translation and that it had never occurred to you that there might be another. The truth is that even if we were stuck with your and my least favorite translation on the chart above, we’d still have an inestimable treasure. We would still have God’s words.”

This Day in 1816. Exactly 200 years ago today, the American Bible Society gathered in New York to distribute the Bible throughout the world. They have distributed hundreds of millions of Bibles in thousands of languages worldwide since then. *

A Helpful Way To Think About Personal Discipleship

Just like the title says, this is a helpful way to think about personal discipleship (and much else in life).

Flashback: I Miss the Absurdity

“Monday morning. 5:40. Cup of coffee. My desk in a corner of the basement. Life is good. And this morning I find myself pondering the fact that my kids are getting older.” I wrote this two years ago and got a little emotional reading it again this morning… 

Smith

The gospel calls us to “man down” more so than to “man up.” There is no masculinity without a core of humility. —Scotty Smith