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A La Carte

March 31, 2011

I am in Grand Rapids today, at the Author Lounge here at Zondervan. I’m surrounded by hundreds of copies of my book, each of which is awaiting a signature. Strange stuff, this. It’s a rather odd feeling to be surrounded by copies of your own book. Uncomfortable.

Slander - In this rather emotional interview, Rob Bell says that other Christians have slandered him. It always amazes me how quickly the criminal becomes the victim—how the person who sins so quickly tried to deflect the attention away from himself.

Why Canadians Shop in the US - I enjoyed this article since I’m a Canadian who lives near to the US border and who has been known (occasionally) to do some shopping over there.

Economics - Calvin & Hobbes on America’s economic issues.

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly offers a review of my book. “As we ‘approach a frontier,’ Challies cautions readers to consider potential behavioral changes before they are written into our history. While he does not draw definitive conclusions, the questions he poses will give readers necessary pause and help them to take a careful look at technology’s place in their lives.”

Hard to Measure - John Knight: “In the pile of papers I referenced yesterday were some old test scores.  Since Paul attends public schools, they assess his educational progress as mandated by various federal and state bodies. The things they want to measure, he can’t do.  His scores on reading, reading comprehension, math, math concepts and the like were as low as you can score and still be breathing.”

God is more interested in our holiness than in our comfort. He more greatly delights in the integrity and purity of his church than in the material well-being of its members. He shows himself more clearly to men and women who enjoy him and obey him than to men and women whose horizons revolve around good jobs, nice houses, and reasonable health. He is far more committed to building a corporate “temple’ in which his Spirit dwells than he is in preserving our reputations. He is more vitally disposed to display his grace than to flatter our intelligence. He is more concerned for justice than for our ease. He is more deeply committed to stretching our faith than our popularity. He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leaders to death, while the former leads to life.D.A. Carson

March 30, 2011

I get to spend the day in Grand Rapids, hanging around the Zondervan offices and trying to plot out my next book. A few days ago I solicited some suggestions. Thanks to those who sent them along; several of them were quite good! I hope that today brings some clarity.

Sexting Epidemic - Denny Burk writes about the sexting epidemic among young people today. “Christian parents have to be absolutely committed in a counter-cultural kind of a way to providing guidance to their kids. Dads, that means that you have a special responsibility for the protection of your daughters and the leadership of your sons.”

The Next Story - Here, if you’re interested, is an early (and encouraging) review of The Next Story.

Thriving at College - My friend Alex Chediak has a new book out that is garnering great reviews and endorsements. And as it happens, it’s currently available at a great discount.

6 Keys to Poor Preaching - Darryl Dash lists them. [insert hilarious joke if you’ve ever heard Darryl preach]

He Hasn’t Even Died - Carl Trueman makes me laugh.

Piper & Sproul - At the recent Ligonier Ministries National Conference, John Piper and R.C. Sproul had “A round table discussion on the valuable lessons learned by each man throughout their ministry experiences as well as advice to the next generation of Christians and leaders in the church.” Justin Taylor wrote up an introduction to their ministries that’s well worth reading.

To Love Your Neighbor - A radical suggestion from an article at Gospel Coalition.

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.C.S. Lewis

March 29, 2011

I tell you, I just never know what I’m going to find waiting in my RSS reader in the morning. Some of today’s stories are just plain amusing—about how going to church is associated with weight gain and about how PETA is trying to make the Bible more animal friendly. Enjoy!

Going to Church Makes You Fat - If you came to last Sunday’s Fellowship Lunch at Grace Fellowship Church you’d understand why this is!

Don’t Call Animals It - This made my morning. “PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is calling for a more animal-friendly update to the Bible. The group is asking translators of the New International Version (NIV) to remove what it calls ‘speciesist’ language and refer to animals as ‘he’ or ‘she’ instead of ‘it.’”

Fukushima Fifty - “The extraordinary courage of the ‘Fukushima Fifty,’ the skeleton crew risking their own lives to save their country from nuclear disaster, has gripped the world. But the Fifty themselves – or the several hundred, in fact, with shifts and rotations – have been the invisible heroes, the darkness at the centre of the spotlight. Until now.”

Another Review - Ed Stetzer has posted a useful review of Love Wins. “My exhortation (to all of us) from the Bell conversation is that we (re)learn how the scriptural truths of the love of God and the holiness of God are held simultaneously in the scriptures.”

Allah - Here’s another book review of a book that may prove to have a very significant impact: Miroslav Volf’s, Allah: A Christian Response.

Ask This Question - Chris Brauns begins with my review of Heaven Is For Real and suggests one very important question to ask about any book.

Functional Universalism - From David Platt.

The more I learn about God, the more aware I become of what I don’t know about him.R.C. Sproul

March 28, 2011

This is the week I will have to choose the topic of my next book. Odd, isn’t it? One book releases (this Friday!) and at the same time I need to figure out what the next one will be about. The funny thing is that I really have very few ideas at the moment. So if you know the book I need to write next, do tell me!

A War By Any Name - An interesting column from the New York Times. “But by any name or euphemism, the United States has gone to war, and there are questions that the president must answer. Here are the four biggest one…”

What Is Heresy - Heresy is often used but seldom defined. Here Ian Clary provides some of Michael Haykin’s thoughts on the word and its right definition.

Preaching Hangover - Here’s one for preachers. “You may call it something different, but every pastor knows about it.  It is the mental, emotional, and spiritual crash that takes place the next day (Monday) as a result of pouring your heart and soul out in the proclamation of God’s Word to God’s people the day before. Personally, it has affectionately become known as, ‘The Preaching Hangover.’ There is no easy remedy, medication, or quick fix that can prevent it.  There are, however, several practical efforts I make every Monday that are tremendously helpful to fight through the fog.”

The Hobbit Begins - Finally.

RIM - This article gets progressively less interesting, but the early parts are quite useful as the writer discusses why RIM is losing market share against Apple in the smartphone wars.

Blogging Theologically - I’m a relative newcomer to Aaron Armstrong’s blog “Blogging Theologically.” I want to commend it to you. It’s not often that I find a guy willing to put in as much effort as Aaron…or a guy who has so many interesting things to say.

My grand point in preaching is to break the hard heart, and to heal the broken one. —John Newton

March 26, 2011

Here are a few links for a Saturday morning. I’m enjoying the last day of the Ligonier Ministries National Conference and looking forward (mostly) to heading home this evening. But first we get a double-dose of John Piper. You can catch it online if you like.

Japan’s Disaster and Your Wallet - Obviously this is a small concern when looking to the disaster in Japan. CBS writes about some of the international financial impact of the disaster.

The Organized Heart - Becky Pliego has a review of Staci Eastin’s book The Organized Heart. “Be encouraged, my friends, to read this book before the other one that teaches you ‘how to organize your closet in 24 days and live happily ever after’.”

Jerusalem Bomb Victim - “Mary Gardner, the British woman killed in the Jerusalem bus bombing, was an evangelical Christian who had been living in Togo, west Africa, translating the New Testament into the local Ifé language.” The Guardian memorializes her.

New York Times - This article tells why the New York Times pay model is bound to fail. “The New York Times has shot itself in the foot with this paywall. It’s easy to defeat because frankly, that’s the way it was built. I want the Times to succeed. But if there is any chance of success, the company will have to drastically rethink its subscription service.”

5 Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Church - Here they are, courtesy of Thomas Weaver.

You can’t open your eyes in this universe without seeing a theater of divine revelation.R.C. Sproul

March 25, 2011

It’s looking like another great day in Orlando. It’s quite a conference Ligonier puts on and I’m enjoying it thoroughly. I’ve also enjoyed meeting quite a number of readers of this blog as well. And I suppose I’ll meet a few more when I do a book signing a bit later in the day. If you’re down here at the conference, drop by and say hi, won’t you?

Ligonier Conference - The Ligonier Ministries National Conference will be live streaming all day today. Speakers today include R.C. Sproul, Steve Lawson and John Piper. Tonight’s discussion between Piper and Sproul looks like it will be particularly interesting.

Must a Pastor Be Married? - The New York Times recently had an article accusting Christian churches of discriminating against non-married pastors. Here Al Mohler responds to the article and to his comments that were quoted in it.

Christian Book Awards - The ECPA has released its list of finalists for the 2011 Christian Book Awards.

Flash Mobs - Ed Stetzer’s blog has an interesting article about flash mobs (an Internet phenomenon).

Matrix - This is purely entertainment but is strangely intriguing.

A Surveillance Society - Computer World writes about all the data we leave behind us today and what companies are doing with it. “By looking at data over a period of years, corporations can know how you spend your time, where you work, and who you typically spend time with.” And that’s just the start.

We don’t really begin to love God until we love God for who he is.R.C. Sproul

March 24, 2011

God is good. Despite my trip to Orlando (for the Ligonier Ministries National Conference) coinciding with what is surely the worst late-March snowstorm we’ve seen for many years, Aileen and I made it safely and only a little bit late. The question now is whether we can adjust to an 80 or 90 degree temperature swing between there and here.

Here are a few links before we head to the conference.

Two Cents and Not a Penny More - Greg Gilbert waited a lot time to write about the Rob Bell situation, but his few comments are well worth the read. Meanwhile, Albert Mohler responds to an article in which Brian McLaren defends Bell and his book.

From Hymns to Hip Hop - Anthony Bradley: “If you are looking for theologically saturated Christian music that has the greatest potential for widespread appeal, your best option may be Christian hip-hop. Because of its form—a high volume of words with little repetition—hip-hop may provide one of the best modes of music to convey propositional truths and doctrinal content that at the same time connects to a younger generation.”

Nominal Christians - Gene Edward Veith writes about an interesting study regarding nominal Christians.

Christian Parallel Universe - “I think there are parallel universes.  At least, it seems that way to my eyes. What I mean is that Christians in the USA seem to have created a universe parallel to the secular one. There are more obvious versions of this — the Christian Yellow Pages being foremost in my mind — but there are subtle versions too.”

Talking Tech with Trevin - Trevin and I recently had a conversation about technology and about my new book. It may prove somewhat interesting to you.

Beautiful Minds - This is a fascinating video about a man with a disability and a gift.

March 23, 2011

My parents made the drive up from Tennessee yesterday and arrived just minutes ahead of a big snow storm. So here we are on March 23 with the schools closed and the kids at home. Tonight Aileen and I hop a plane and head for Orlando (for the Ligonier conference). From snow storms to sun and humidity. Sounds nice.

Challenges Facing the Gospel Coalition - Darryl Dash offers some interesting thoughts on challenges that will face The Gospel Coalition and the New Calvinism.

The Canary - Michael Wittmer: “Sexual sin is the canary in the coal mine, the first sign that something has gone haywire in our walk with Christ. Don’t laugh at lust. Repent before you do something really dumb.”

The Rapper in Rehab - Christianity Today has a good interview with rapper Lecrae. “Theology and rap are hardly kissing cousins. One is the purview of academics laboring in seminaries, the other was born in the South Bronx in the 70s. Turns out they were made for one another. Rising rap star Lecrae seamlessly blends gospel-saturated lyrics with the hooks of southern style hip-hop, and the result is something you have to hear to believe.”

Video Broadcasting on a Budget - My friend Jesse has written an article about how to get your church’s services out via the Internet without spending a lot of money. He’s clever like that. “This may come as a surprise, but getting our church’s services broadcast on the Internet was neither difficult nor expensive. Our church didn’t have a budget for video broadcasting, but it was something I really wanted to see happen; we’ve got several people in church who can’t come to the services because of their failing health, and I imagined the joy it would bring them to be able to watch the services live from their own home.”

Christian Beliefs - Clear Cut Media has done a DVD of Wayne Grudem’s Christian Beliefs. Piper says “Wayne Grudem is one of those very rare pastor-theologians who speaks and writes with equal clarity and faithfulness. That’s why listening is often even more satisfying than reading. I am glad his voice (and heart) is now available in this way.”

Chimby and Church - Ali and her African Adventures find themselves in a church service in the jungles of Peru.

VW Factory - This is pretty much amazing.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. —Corrie ten Boom