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A La Carte

November 18, 2013

The Schedule Makers - “Major league baseball’s schedule affects the lives of millions of Americans. For 25 years, the masterminds behind the massive undertaking were The Stephensons. A husband and wife duo working with a computer, a pencil and a great deal of cooperation.”

You Can’t Catch Sin - “Sometimes, in our zeal to maintain our own purity and holiness, we conscientiously avoid spending time with people engaged in sexual immorality.” Matt Chandler tells us to do better.

A Christian Mind - J.P. Moreland: “’I want to develop a Christian mind, but I don’t know how.’ This attitude is both common and understandable. That we are to develop our minds as Christians is not in doubt. We are admonished to love God with our mind (Mt 22:37), be transformed by its renewal (Rm 12:2), and be prepared to give thoughtful answers to questions about the faith (1 Pt 3:15).”

What To Look For In a Church - R.W. Glenn offers some counsel on what to look for in a church.

Broken Vows, Broken World - “For months following my divorce, it felt like I was wearing a scarlet “D” on my chest in church. I imagine it’s somewhat like walking into a prosperity-gospel church with holes in my clothes and a case of the measles. I can’t be counted among the faithful if their theology dictates that faithful living means surviving unscathed.”

Farm Pop - Are you a black sheep who is not worth a hill of beans? Does it get your goat that I even ask? Here are the orgins of the idioms we use that relate to farming.

The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not moments of self-satisfaction but self-forgetfulness. —John Piper


November 16, 2013

The Economics of Infomercials - “Nothing good is on TV between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., and for good reason. Nobody’s trying.” So what about all of those informercials that clog the air in those times?

Noah - Here is the trailer for the Noah movie that will be released next year. I don’t remember all of that from the biblical story. However, it’s probably still more Bible-based than Heaven Is For Real which is also coming our way next year.

Effective Personal Evangelism - Jeremy Walker has completed his series of articles on effective personal evangelism. He gives us a lot to think about!

Far Too Easily Displeased - Jon Bloom admits he is a grumbler by nature and reflects on what it is that makes us grumble.

Craig Keener on Strange Fire - Craig Keener has a long review of John MacArthur’s Strange Fire; he highlights both plusses and minuses. Sadly, the site it is on decided to paginate it over 24(!) pages, each of just a couple of paragraphs. Bad form!

Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully. —Phillips Brooks


November 15, 2013

Here are a couple of book deals that may interest you. Monergism has J.C. Ryle’s Thoughts For Young Men free in various ebook formats; the latest book from GLH Publishing is The Jerusalem Sinner Saved by John Bunyan ($0.99).

On the Loss of our Daughter - Fred Zaspel has some moving reflections on the death of his daughter. “We are hurting for our loss. The pain is massive, and on one level I’m sure it will never be absent in this life. But deep as this hurt is, we are not left adrift.”

Gospel-Centered Sex - I really appreciated Marci Preheim’s reflections on the gospel and sex. She is both wise and winsome.

Steve Lawson on the Gospel - Here is an amazing, impromtu gospel presentation from Steve Lawson.

Contagious Chain of Missionary Zeal - “The missionary spirit is utterly contagious. Even just one life burning brightly for the gospel can ignite the hearts of hundreds of others for generations to come. What a powerful thing it is to contemplate that reality in the history of missionary work! Consider, for example, the following chain of gospel influence…”

Theology Q&A - First Presbyterian Church is hosting a Q&A night with Derek Thomas. You can submit a question at their web site or via Twitter.

Abortion Stories - From NY Magazine: “One in three women has an abortion by the age of 45. How many ever talk about it? New laws, old stigmas. 26 stories.” 

Bibles in North Korea - Here is an interesting and unusual way of getting God’s Word into North Korea. “On a rainy afternoon last Spring, American pastor Eric Foley and his wife stood in a muddy field near the North Korea border and prayed – their hands clasped to a 40-foot homemade balloon that would carry Bibles to the communist dictatorship’s underground Christians.”

When death becomes the property of the believer it receives a new name and is called sleep. —William Arnot


November 14, 2013

9 Myths of Discipleship - “We’re called to be disciples and make disciples, but this call often feels overwhelming. However, discipleship doesn’t have to feel this way. Our tendency is to overcomplicate it and think of it as something it’s not. Here are nine common myths we believe about discipleship…”

Crossway’s 75th - Crossway is celebrating its 75th anniversary by giving away the ESV Study Bible Web App for free through the end of November. “This award-winning resource features the study notes, maps, charts, illustrations, and theological articles found in the print edition—all integrated into ESVBible.org’s easy-to-use web interface.”

Verses for Administrators - At one time or another we all spend time doing administration and for that reason I appreciate this collection of verses for administrators.

ENDA FAQ - Joe Carter provides a helpful little FAQ on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

How to Be a Man at Home - Here are five simple pointers.

Scaring Off Millennials - David Murray: “I must admit when I see Washington Post headlines like 5 Church Phrases That Are Scaring Off Millennials, my first instinct is ‘Tell me what they are, so I make sure to use them all in my next sermon!’ I know, I know, that’s a perverse and twisted reaction; but it eventually passes, sanity and reason return, and I try to listen for the truth in the midst of all the over-sensitivity.”

Child of God, you cost Christ too much for him to forget you. —C.H. Spurgeon

Child of God

November 13, 2013

What’s the Big Story? - The newest issue of Credo magazine looks at biblical theology and includes contributions from Justin Taylor, Darian Lockett, Edwards Klink III, David Murray, Stephen Dempster, James Hamilton, T. Desmond Alexander, Stephen Wellum, Peter Gentry, G. K. Beale, Graham Cole, and many others.

John Piper on Strange Fire - John Piper has begun to answer some questions about John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference. (Here is a second Q&A)

Resolving Supposed Contradictions in Scripture - Derek Thomas offers a couple of examples of how to resolve supposed contradictions in Scripture.

The Doctrines of Grace - James Montgomery Boice’s book The Doctrines of Grace is down to $2.99 for Kindle. Meanwhile, Westminster Books has some good deals right now including John Piper’s latest book Five Points (which I am reading and thoroughly enjoying). Also, Douglas Moo’s new commentary on Galatians has just begun shipping. You won’t find discounts on it, but it seems likely to be a top-five (maybe top-two or -three) commentary on Galatians (Amazon, Westminster Books).

Soak the Next Generation in God’s Word - Jani Ortlund asks and answers this question: How can we raise Bible soaked and saturated children, teenagers, and young adults?

The Operating System of Life - This is pretty amazing and gets me just one step closer to learning what I never figured out in tenth grade.

Osteen Uses God’s Bandwidth - Erik found that a bunch of students were using the bandwidth from his wifi signal and thinks Joel Osteen is doing something similar: “He just kind of hangs out on the stoop of Christianity with his God-talk giving hat-tips to Jesus and a Bible story every now and then. But you know what? He is dragging down our bandwith. He is convoluting the message. He is hindering communication.”

No soldiers of Christ are ever lost, missing or left dead on the battlefield. —J.C. Ryle

Christian Soldiers

November 12, 2013

Here are a few good Kindle deals: How Sermons Work by David Murray ($4.39); The Joy of Calvinism by Greg Forster ($2.99); With Calvin in the Theater of God, edited by John Piper ($2.99); Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul ($3.99); Boring by Michael Kelley ($4.99).

Men As Providers - Here’s a great article from CBMW: “Whatever a man thinks he is ‘called’ to, this much is clear – he is called to provide for his family. One of the most God-glorifying pictures of the gospel is when a man puts his childhood dreams to the side, steps up to the plate, gets a job, and valiantly cares for his family. This man should be honored and his work should be appreciated.”

Missions Is Not for Wimpy Women - John Piper reflects on a week in Ethiopia.

Born Friends - Your feel-good YouTube video du jour.

What Did Jesus Say? - Todd Pruitt: “I keep hoping that the fascination with Sarah Young’s bestseller Jesus Calling will fade away.” But it isn’t, so you may want to read his concerns.

He Opened His Mouth - Bill Mounce: “Does the phrase ‘to open one’s mouth’ have any meaning, or is it so redundant that it should be skipped in translation? I think that there is enough of a pattern to show that it was a way of adding solemnity to what was to be said.”

7 Habits of a Highly Effective Date Night - With a title like that, you know you need to click it. Matt Heerema shares a few essentials of a good date night.

How Should Christians Engage With Technology? - Andy Geers recently did a talk on Christians and Technology. If you haven’t read The Next Story or another book on Christians and technology, this will give you the basics of a Christian view of technology.

Conference on Sanctification - If you’re within range of Indianapolis, you may be interested in a conference David Murray and I will be speaking at this weekend. We’ll be looking at modern challenges to sanctification.

It must not be expected that the devil will let those rest who are laboring to destroy his kingdom. —Thomas Watson


November 11, 2013

6 Reasons Not to Abandon Expository Preaching - D.A. Carson: “There are a number of reasons why expository preaching deserves to be our primary method of proclamation.” He goes on to give six of those reasons.

50 Shades of White - Simone Richardson writes about erotic fiction for women. “The kind of erotic romances that feature on the current bestseller lists fall far short of the Bible’s standard… we can expect them to have negative effects on our lives.”

A Mommy’s To-Do List - “We live in a culture that celebrates productivity and efficiency. We like to see results. We like to get things done. We like when we accomplish something big. It makes us feel important. At least it does for me. But here is something I’ve learned in my first year as a mommy. Babies don’t like to-do lists.”

Secret World of Cargo Ships - Maybe it’s just me, but I found this interesting: “On a modern shipping vessel, what’s in the hold is unknown — even to the people moving it.”

Love the Unlovable - “I was a young pastor, and I was sure everybody in the church was kind, gracious, and Christian. Everybody would treat everybody else with the love of God. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to learn that even in the church are people who don’t quite get there. Some people are really hard to love.” But it’s always the other person, isn’t it?

My Family, In Black and White - “In the photograph, a little girl—5 years old, her blonde hair in two braids—sits between a man and a woman who look markedly different from her. And that’s where the trouble started.”

Those sins that seem most sweet in life will prove most bitter in death. —Thomas Brooks


November 09, 2013

3801 Lancaster - The 3801 Lancaster Film Project is an ongoing documentary series about Kermit Gosnell, the Women’s Medical Society, and the cover-up by state and local oversight agencies. They have just released a trailer for part two.

Redeeming Church Conflicts - Redeeming Church Conflicts by Tara Klena Barthel and David Edling is on sale for just $3.99 (Kindle edition).

Charismatic Debate - Here is a debate between Michael Brown and Sam Waldron, moderated by James White. They debate this: Have the New Testament charismatic gifts ceased?

Opportunities Busy Pastors Miss - Here are “three opportunities busy pastors might miss when they get too task focused. I’ll warn you, these are mundane, but their normalness ensures that every pastor faces them.” Pastors may also want to check out Kevin DeYoung’s John Reed Miller lectures from RTS.

Cruciform Press Pre-Holiday Sale - Cruciform Press (the company I co-founded) is offering 50% off everything through 11/18, plus free shipping through 11/13, unlimited quantities. While the deal is a little more complicated than that, this is a great opportunity for stocking-stuffers, book clubs, church book tables, and the like. Also, unrelated, Kress Biblical Resources is having a sale. Use the coupon code BR60833557256 and you’ll get 65% off!

Annoying Email Habits - Here are twelve annoying email habits you should think about quitting.

Five Ways to Refresh the Saints - Jon Bloom: “When reading Paul’s letter to Philemon this week I saw a theme I hadn’t really seen before. This letter is an instruction on how to refresh the saints.”

The servants of the Lord are to sing his praises in this life to the world’s end; and in the next life world without end. —John Boys


November 08, 2013

Free To Say We’ve Sinned - “When you hide your sin, pretending to be a perfect Christian, you’re actually telling the world that God is a liar. Did Jesus, or did Jesus not, need to suffer and die for your present sins? When you feign perfection, you’re saying you didn’t need Him to do this for you.”

America’s Media Guzzling Ways - “A new report on media consumption in the United States demonstrates the incredible scale of media available to us — while also confirming TV’s continued prominence.”

Banner of Truth - Banner of the Truth has a big Christmas sale going on where they’ve discounted some great books.

What That Empty Seat Says - “We’ve all done it. We shuffle down a row of chairs and, just before we arrive at a person, we stop one chair short. We leave an empty seat between us and the other person, secretly hoping an usher won’t ask us to ‘scoot in.’ What does that empty seat say? Why are we compelled to leave that ‘safe seat’ between us and others?”

$5 Friday - Ligonier has some good items in their $5 Friday sale. They include books by Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson and a commentary by R.C. Sproul. Also, while we’re on the subject of Ligonier, you can now take a free online class with R.C. Sproul Jr on God’s sovereignty in suffering.

Who Cares About Motives - “Human beings have a complex inner life of motives and intentions. If we ignore them, we won’t understand people. But sometimes—we just don’t care about people’s motives.”

The New Testament without the miracles would be far easier to believe. But the trouble is, would it be worth believing? —J. Gresham Machen


November 07, 2013

Here are a few Kindle deals. The first two are pretty much must-reads: How Long, O Lord? by D.A. Carson ($4.99); The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross by A.W. Pink ($2.99); Christless Christianity by Michael Horton ($3.99).

Influence and Truth - Erik Raymond has some good reflections on influence and truth. “On the one side folks want to limit their full affirmation and support of a teacher and ministry to those within their ‘tribe’ (referring to people just like them). Others, resisting this, build a big tent and welcome as many people in there as they can.”

Why You Judge “Prostitutes” - Heartbreaking. “One of the most common questions I get about sex-trafficking is, ‘But don’t some of the women in the sex industry choose that lifestyle?’ I know at that point the questioner’s knowledge of the sex-industry comes from Pretty Woman and other glamorized entertainment (including billboards & ads, no matter how air-brushed they are).”

Piper on Pastors’ Pay - One of the things I most admire about Piper is his handling of money and this interview covers some of that. (Though, of course, this is a matter of wisdom and preference, not the one and only way to do it).

Whatever Happened to Bible Study? - I actually think plain old Bible study is making a comeback, but I did appreciate the reminder in this article: There is a lot of value in simply studying God’s Word together (without a curriculum to follow).

Quote Graphics - Several people have asked me where they can find the graphics I am sharing day-by-day. You can find them all at my Pinterest account and are free to use or share them however you see fit.

How Long - I really enjoyed this song (from William Cowper) and the treatment by Wayfarer / Pacific Gold. You can get it on their sampler at NoiseTrade.

A man can no more extract blessedness out of sin than he can suck health out of poison. —Thomas Watson