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A La Carte

July 16, 2014

I remain on vacation this week, and am enjoying all the unwinding—the time with family and the time with some good books (Let’s be honest—a lot of good books.) While I get back to it, here are some new Kindle deals for you: The Storytelling God by Jared Wilson ($0.99); Peacemaking Women by Tara Barthel & Judy Dabler ($2.99); The Great Evangelical Recession by John Dickerson ($1.99); How to Preach Without Notes by Charles Koller ($1.99).

Too Hot for Google - You may have heard that Google is no longer allowing advertisements for porn sites. This article explains why. (It’s important to note that Google search results will still find porn—it’s merely advertising that they aren’t allowing.)

Three Ways to Help - Tony Payne tells you three ways that the excellent Two Ways to Live outline of the gospel can be helpful to you.

What’s All This “Gospel-Centered” Talk About? - Dane Ortlund offers an explanation (and a helpful example) of what all this “gospel-centered” talk is all about.

8 Ways to Beat Temptation - Mark Altrogge offers 8 ways to beat temptation.

The Pastor’s Kid: My Happy Childhood - I really enjoyed reading this article from a pastor’s kid who says, “I would go so far as to say that being born the son of a pastor is one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given me.”

15 Benefits of the Word of God - If you are wondering how to come to God’s Word today, or you’re feeling like you can’t be bothered, here are some things to consider.

If God were not my friend, Satan would not be so much my enemy. —Thomas Brooks


July 14, 2014

I’ve got some new Kindle deals for you today. To Live is Christ to Die Is Gain by Matt Chandler ($3.99); The Message of Acts by John Stott ($2.99); Ten Myths About Calvinism by Kenneth Stewart ($2.99);  The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever ($0.99); Learning Evangelism From Jesus by Jerram Barrs ($2.99); Reaching the Lost by Bobby Jamieson ($0.99); Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? by Thomas Miller ($2.99); Christian Focus has some of their Jungle Doctor books on sale ($2.99 each): Jungle Doctor Spots a Leopard, Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind, Jungle Doctor’s EnemiesEyes on Jungle Doctor, Jungle Doctor’s Crooked Dealings.

Does He Need to Confess Adultery? - I appreciate Russell Moore’s answer to this difficult question: Does a man who had a brief affair several years ago need to confess it to his wife?

Cheap at Sea, Pricey on the Plate - Most weekends I enjoy reading a few longform articles. This one from The Globe and Mail was quite interesting as it simply follows a lobster from the sea (where it’s cheap) to the plate (where it’s expensive).

Arminianism FAQ - Roger Olson is probably the foremost champion of Arminianism today. He has put together a helpful FAQ that answers common questions about Arminianism. Start at that link and navigate to parts 2 and following. (I remain a Calvinist, but am glad to have firm answers to these questions.)

Open Letter to Gospel-Centered Preachers - Nick has an open letter to gospel-centered preachers. What he says is worth considering.

The Wonder of the Word - Matt Boswell considers the wonder of the Word in corporate worship.

Working Out Before Work - Here, from QZ, is a complete guide to working out before work.

Little learning and much pride come of hasty reading. —C.H. Spurgeon


July 12, 2014

We arrived safely to our quiet spot in South Carolina, after a very long and scenic drive that took us through ONNYPAWVVATNNCSC. And here we are. Again, it will be light blogging for the next week as I focus on unwinding. (But I can’t not write at least a bit since it is the most relaxing part of my life.)

A shout-out goes to the folk at Bristol Caverns in Bristol, TN. We dropped by to take a tour of the caverns and met our tour guide Doug who turned out to be a reader of this site. The caverns are well worth the hour-long tour.

This Is Mindy - This is a hard-to-read article from former porn producer Donny. He describes how he recruited a girl named Mindy and then destroyed her life. The point of the article: there is a terrible hidden cost to pornography.

The Vanishing Screwball - Baseball lovers may enjoy this longform article from the New York Times on the screwball and why almost nobody throws it anymore.

The Unexpected Answers of God - Jon Bloom explains that we are often unprepared for the kind of answers we receive from God. And I think he’s absolutely right.

Foods that Taste Bad - Ever wondered why that glass or orange juice tastes unbearable after brushing your teeth? This article explains.

Theology, the Last Resort - Here is some thought-provoking stuff from J.D. Payne.

The Vatican’s Bank - Did you know the Vatican has a bank? Neither did it. Foreign Policy says that its history “reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages.”

When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which you lay your head. —C.H. Spurgeon\


July 11, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Running Scared by Ed Welch (free); The Art of Preaching Old Testament Narrative by Steven Mathewson ($2.99); Union with Christ by Todd Billings ($3.99); Promises of Grace by Bryan Chapell ($1.99); Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore (just a good, fun summer read) ($3.99).

eBooks for Sale - Westminster Books has begun offering eBooks. And to get things started, you can get 2 books of your choice published by Crossway for just $1.99 each. You can see the list of books here.

China Beachhead - WORLD has an important report from China: “Pro-life efforts are growing in the nation with the most abortions. But saving lives in the womb is an enormous challenge—even within the church.”

Don’t Touch the Button - Here’s why you should never touch the elevator buttons when you’re in a hospital.

Unbroken - Here’s a trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of Unbroken. (The book is just $4.99 at Amazon.)

Entangled in Photons - “If you’re after science that makes you question your place in the universe, focus on that phrase ‘light years’, one that astronomers use so casually.”

How Do You Prepare Your Teenager for Adulthood? - Here are a couple of suggestions from Brian Croft.

Our little time of suffering is not worthy of our first night’s welcome home to Heaven. —Samuel Rutherford


July 10, 2014

My vacation begins today and that means I’ll be scaling back my writing for a week or so. It will be either A La Carte or another article most days, not both. I’d love your prayers since we have a lot of driving to do while we head very far south (and since we’ve got Aussies, of all people, taking care of our place while we’re gone!).

Here are some Kindle deals: Reckless Abandon by David Sitton ($0.99); 7 Truths That Changed the World by Kenneth Samples ($2.99); From Tyndale to Madison by Michael Farris ($2.99); Christless Christianity by Michael Horton ($3.49); Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton ($2.99).

Comfort for Christian Parents of Unconverted Children - Jim Elliff: “All Christian parents wish that God would show us something to do to secure our child’s salvation, and then ‘we’ll do it with all our might’ because we love our child so much. Yet, God has not made salvation the effect of somebody else’s faith; our son or daughter must come to Christ on his or her own.”

Why Do Catholics Pray to Mary? - This episode of Ask Pastor John has Michael Reeves as a guest and he explains the history behind Roman Catholics and their devotion to Mary.

War on Religious Liberty - Denny Burk points to a chilling new front in the war on religious liberty in the United States.

Married to Darwin - Marvin Olasky: “Theistic evolutionists say we must bend or die, but when we bend on something so basic, where do we stop? Is our chief task to glorify our Creator or to be glorified by other creatures? When Darwin trumps the Bible, what are we worshipping?”

A Sexual Revolution for Young Evangelicals? - Are we in the midst of a sexual revolution for young evangelicals? Russell Moore says no.

Evangelicals Who Are Not Evangelicals - Thomas Kidd says “There are at least four types of Christians who often get cast as evangelicals who really are not evangelicals, if that term has any meaning.”

I would not give much for all that can be  done by sermons if we do not preach Christ by our lives. —D.L. Moody


July 09, 2014

The Perfect Family - That Greg Lucas guy can flat out write. “God in His sovereignty builds families. They are His work, His masterpiece, for His glory and our highest good. God makes a place for the destitute. He fathers them, defends them, rescues them—and He gives them to us for a family. What a lovely, messy, wonderful, disorganized, beautiful, loud, perfect group we are!”

A Company Liberals Could Love - Ross Douthat offers some important points about Hobby Lobby.

Evangelicals and Cities - I quite agree with Kevin DeYoung: “The evangelical advocacy for the city is a discussion in dire need of clarity.” If you’ve got some extra time, some of the comments are helpful as well.

Designer Babies - This is an interesting article about designer babies. Though it doesn’t look at the issue from a biblical perspective, it highlights some very legitimate concerns.

First Among Equals - What does it mean for one elder (or pastor) to be first among equals? Jonathan Leeman answers.

Exodus: Gods and Kings - “From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire.” It releases in December, I believe.

Only God is capable of telling us what our rights and needs are. You have to surrender that right to Him. —Joni Eareckson Tada


July 08, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Seeing the Unseen by Randy Alcorn (free); Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem ($5.99); Old Story New by Marty Machowski ($3.82); Zondervan has the “How to Read” series at $3.79 each: How to Read The Bible Book by Book; How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens; How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth; How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth.

Put Your Phone Down - Exactly! “As a people we have lost the plot. Because we can document everything, we will, and we can’t stop.” So stop already!

Complete Cardiac Transplant - Don’t click this link if you’ve got a weak stomach! But if you can stomach it, well, marvel at the human body as you watch a complete cardiac transplant.

I am Ryland - This is a very important, very interesting article on a little girl who today might just be labeled transgender.

How Churches Became Cruise Ships - Here’s an interesting look at how churches somehow became just like cruise ships.

Can I Really Trust the Bible? - This is about the best book promo you’ll see. (You can buy the book here; the entire series is worth checking out.)

The Live Room Sessions - I’m kind of a fan of the band Needtobreathe and think their newest album is absolutely brilliant. If you like them, you’ll enjoy these Live Room sessions (which are being released one per week).

Engaging Cult Members - Here’s Greg Koukl with some sound counsel on engaging cult members (like Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons).

Christ did not suffer so you wouldn’t suffer. He suffered so when you suffer you will become like Him. —Tim Keller


July 07, 2014

There are lots of new Kindle deals today: Yawning at Tigers by Drew Dyck ($1.99). Crossway has their “Theologians on the Christian Life” series on sale ($1.99 each): Schaeffer on the Christian Life, Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life, Calvin on the Christian Life, Warfield on the Christian Life. Zondervan has some great deals as well: Four Views on the Historical Adam ($3.99), Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy ($3.99); Three Views of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament ($3.99); Four Views of Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology ($3.99); Journey into God’s Word by J. Scott Duvall & J. Daniel Hays ($3.99); An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Walter Kaiser & Moises Silva ($3.99); Is There a Meaning in this Text? by Kevin Vanhoozer ($3.99).

Forsaken Faith - Randy Alcorn provides thoughts on why an astounding number of college students are abandoning their faith in Christ. (I think a foundational and often-overlooked key is that a lot of students are not rejecting the true and deep faith of their parents, but their parents’ nominal faith.)

Deconstructing the Perfect Burger - It turns out I’ve been grilling my burgers all wrong.

Bound to  Work - Here is why you shouldn’t attempt to bind Satan (and especially when you pray).

When the Transgender Issue Comes Home - Josh Bishop has a really helpful article on what to do when the transgender issue comes home.

The Handcrafted Gospel - Christianity Today wants you to meet the craftsmen reclaiming the honor of manual labor.

4 Things That Don’t Happen - A comic from Adam4D.

When we stare into the spotlight of success, sin sits comfortably in the front row cheering us on.D.A. Horton 


July 05, 2014

We have just finished our first week of summer vacation here in Canada—the kids’ classes went all the way until June 27. But now they are free until after Labor Day! We will be heading out of town before long, with some Aussies taking over our house while we’re gone. Fun!

For those interested, I have updated my speaking itinerary page; it would be great to meet you if I end up in your neck of the woods in the next year.

And now, here are some links that caught my eye over the past few days:

Christians have not always done well with helping people with mental illnesses. Michael Horton’s thoughts on Faith and Mental Illness are well-formed and represent some clear thinking on the issue.

This video attempts to simply explain your immune system and explain why you aren’t dead yet. (Note: You’ll have to overlook a bit of the language of evolution.)

Drew Dyck says (rightly!) that Millennials Need a Bigger God, Not a Hipper Pastor. I find this fascinating: “The number one predictive factor as to whether or not a young Christian will retain his or her faith is whether that person has a meaningful relationship with an older Christian.”

Tony Reinke asks whether feminine modesty is about sex. He takes this as the main premise of most discussions on modesty, and challenges it: “Here’s the main assumption: Feminine modesty is about sexual provocation. If a woman’s skirt is too short or blouse is too low, it will cause her Christian brother to lust.”

The Guardian has an interesting article on assisted dying. While the author does not necessarily object to euthanasia, he does fear the consequences that will come. And he is exactly right in his concerns, I’m sure.

Here’s a video of Our Earth looking absolutely stunning from far above its surface.

We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows. —Tim Keller


July 04, 2014

Here are a handful of new Kindle deals: Magnifying God in Christ by Thomas Schreiner is a steal at $4.99; Seeing the Unseen by Randy Alcorn ($2.99); Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views by Various ($3.99); The Ever-Loving Truth by Voddie Baucham ($2.99).

Zamperini’s Greatest Victory - “Zamperini saw his conversion as the hinge for all that went before it, and all that followed in his long life. He wanted as many other people as possible to hear about salvation through Christ through his own story: ‘That’s the message of the book’.”

I Could Have Sued and Won - Tara Barthel writes about having to put her own teaching into action.

When We Best Learn the Bible - This is good stuff: “Sound Bible study is rooted in a celebration of delayed gratification. Gaining Bible literacy requires allowing our study to have a cumulative effect — across weeks, months, years — so that the interrelation of one part of Scripture to another reveals itself slowly and gracefully, like a dust cloth slipping inch by inch from the face of a masterpiece.”

Burial or Cremation - Here’s an interesting look at the burial vs cremation debate.

The Landlord - Lore Ferguson: “I was called the The Responsible One yesterday. But I haven’t felt responsible in a year or more. I’m backtracking and highlighting and caveating and trying to figure out where I misplaced responsibility.”

He counts the stars and calls them by name, yet he heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds. —C.H. Spurgeon