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A La Carte

August 17, 2011

Gold Box - Just about every day I check Amazon’s gold box deal just to see what’s there. 99% of the time I’ve got no interest in what they are offering, but today’s deal looks like a really good one. It’s a Milwaukee M12 12-Volt Cordless Drill and Fork Meter Combo Kit for $139 off the regular price. While on the subject of deals, Westminster Books has the Gospel Coalition series of booklets discounted this week.

Democrats and Universities - Here’s an infographic asking why Democrats outnumber Republicans in the academy. “Some argue that the lack of diversity among professors leads to an unbalanced and one-sided education, while others argue that conservatives self-select themselves out of this liberal profession. We dived into this issue, and the research suggests that this might not be an either-or situation.”

Adam and Eve - NPR recently did a story on the existence of a historical Adam and Eve. I’ve said often that this may well be the big theological challenge we will find ourselves facing over the next few years. There are many people, even those who consider themselves evangelical, who want to deny that Adam and Eve ever existed.

The Male Gossip - I found this article challenging. “Close your eyes and picture a gossip. Whom do you see? I see a cluster of spinsters in old lace gloves sweetly spitting vitriol over tea. Perhaps I read too much Agatha Christie. But even if you don’t have visions of British spinsters, your vision is most likely female. Am I right? Counter to our preconceived notions, in my (unfortunate) experience there are just as many male gossips as female gossips.”

Bored with Social Media - This is interesting but not surprising to me: “A key group of young users of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube users are using the site less and less, according to new research. One in four 18-29 year-olds told Gartner that their use of social media had declined since they signed up, with many citing boredom as their reason for the decline.”

Guarding Your Soul - I was recently a guest on the Haven Today radio program. If you listen in, you’ll hear me talking about guarding your soul in a digital age.

Depression - Yesterday I posted a review of David Murray’s book on depression. Here’s a short video in which he discusses depression.

Hope is the only tie which keeps the heart from breaking. —Thomas Fuller

August 16, 2011

Individuals Interpreting Scripture - Bill Mounce: “2 Pet 1:20-21 are important verses for our doctrine of Scripture, and so it should come as no surprise that there are some differences of opinion on the meaning of the passage.”

Mind Your Ens and Ems - Bloggers would do well to read this article from Smashing Magazine. “Handling these typographic details on the Web brings new challenges and restrictions that need to be considered. Below are a few rules of thumb that will have you using typography more lucidly than ever before.”

Single Column Week - Here’s an issue I can get behind, from one of my favorite niche blogs. “Why am I so passionate about single column settings? It’s simple, really. Books we read are set in single columns. Books we look stuff up in are set in double columns. Reading = single. Reference = double.”

Was Blind But Now I See - Read it. “You may have read about my daughter Violet being born blind. As you can imagine a ton of emotions and fears and hopes have been working through our family the last month or so. I’d love to share with you some great news and hopefully encourage your heart a bit.”

A Memo - This ordinary pastor continues what I think is a fascinating exchange between John MacArthur and the Young, Restless, Reformed crowd. “After an early morning meeting with our leaders in our church plant, I was driving home. My phone began erupting with messages about a certain article written by one of my living heroes in the faith where he referenced me unfavorably.” GTY responds here.

Where’s the Methane? - Interesting, this. (Hey, it’s been a while since I let my global warming skepticism show) “One of the major greenhouse global warming gases is methane. Scientists have discovered that there is not nearly as much methane in the atmosphere as their computer models predicted there should be.”

Have You Eaten? - Tim Hawkins makes me laugh.

If you’re not accountable in life that means ultimately that your life doesn’t count. —R.C. Sproul

August 15, 2011

4 Kinds of People - According to Tim Keller, there are four kinds of people in the world. Read the article to find out who they are and what they believe.

Lonely Me - “I am lonely. Any echo in your own heart, or is it just me? Those who know me casually might be surprised to see such a confession. After all, I am a pastor leading a bustling church, and my life is a swirl of people and relationships. On any given night, there are hundreds of homes I could call or stop by for a warm welcome. I am living proof that you can be lonely in a crowd.”

Sola 2011 - I’m really excited to see this conference coming to Quebec. “November 17 to 19, 2011, hundreds of Christians from evangelical Churches and youth groups all over Quebec will be meeting at the Palais des congres de Montreal to declare the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and strengthen their foundations in this glorious message.”

WW2 in Photos - This excellent photo retrospective continues.

Earth Landscapes - On a cheerier note, here are some beautiful landscape shots.

Only One Right Person - Joshua Harris on a day we all look forward to: “Everybody else in heaven will be wrong in a million different ways about a million different things. The Bible tells us that only those who trusted in Jesus Christ, who turned from sin and believed in him, will be in God’s presence. But on a host of secondary matters, we’ll all discover how much we got wrong.”

There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.  —Elizabeth Elliott

August 13, 2011

We’ve got one more day in the South before we begin to head north again. We’ll miss the people, but probably won’t miss the intense heat. Not that Toronto is all that much better this time of year. But still, a degree here and a degree there can make all the difference.

Dangerous Influences - Nancy Pearcey: “The take-away from Ryan Lizza’s hit piece on Michele Bachmann in the New Yorker is this: ‘Dominionist’ is the new ‘fundamentalist — the preferred term of abuse, intended to arouse fear and contempt, and downgrade the status of targeted groups of people.Bachmann told Lizza that a major influence on her thinking was my book Total Truth (‘Bachmann told me [it] was a ‘wonderful’ book’), along with the work of Francis Schaeffer, who I studied under.”

Legal Considerations - “Some of our pastoral staff recently attended a seminar for pastors provided by a trusted law firm in our area. Although our applications from this seminar might be different in other parts of the world, I thought I would share three action points we plan to take. I don’t offer any of these as legal counsel but as items worth considering.”

Not Able to Pastor - Jim Elliff writes about what happens (and what can be done) when a pastor can’t pastor his people.

Train the Untrained - I love the title of this one (the content is pretty good too): “Train the Untrained to Reach the Unreached.” “Why take the time train people to be faithful teachers of Scripture when untold millions are going to hell? That is a helpful question for me to wrestle through as I spend a good deal of my time training international pastors and church leaders.”

The Business of the Church - Eric Landry was at the Willow Creek Association’s Global Leadership Summit, an annual event hosted by Willow Creek Community Church and its pastor, Bill Hybels; he files an interesting report.

Dadaab Refugee Camp - “I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps.”

When sin is your burden, Christ will be your delight. —Thomas Watson

August 12, 2011

Protect the Little Ones - John Knight: “Prenatal tests are not the problem. The problem is the bias of our culture against the lives of little ones born with Down syndrome. Our culture does not think that these littles ones should be given the opportunity to live.”

Pregnancy Reduction - Denny Burk writes about pregnancy reduction. “In case you have never heard the term, here’s what pregnancy reduction is in a nutshell. When a pregnant mother is carrying two or more babies in her womb, she can choose to kill one or more of those babies while allowing others to live.”

Christianity and the Crusades - Here are a couple of different answers to this question: Was Christianity responsible for the Crusades?

Respond to Every Email? - Should you respond to every email? Several experts offer their take.

The Truck Driver - This article may descend into a bit of melodrama, but it still has some good things to say. “Let me tell you a little about the truck driver you just flipped off because he was passing another truck, and you had to cancel the cruise control and slow down until he completed the pass and moved back over.”

God in Moby Dick - R.C. Sproul’s contribution to this month’s Tabletalk is an interesting one. “It seems that every time a writer picks up a pen or turns on his word processor to compose a literary work of fiction, deep in his bosom resides the hope that somehow he will create the Great American Novel. Too late. That feat has already been accomplished and is as far out of reach for new novelists as is Joe DiMaggio’s fifty-six-game hitting streak or Pete Rose’s record of cumulative career hits for a rookie baseball player.”

Till men have faith in Christ, their best services are but glorious sins. —Thomas Brooks

August 11, 2011

We have enjoyed our time in Chattanooga (particularly the two visits to McKay’s used books); today we are heading to Woodstock, Georgia to spend a couple of days with my sister and her family. And then we’ll be heading north again…

Looters: Them or Us? - Mike Ovey offers an interesting and biblical perspective on the looting going on in Great Britain. “The disorders straight after the death of Mark Duggan may have been riots with the associations of protest that brings, but by now a better word than rioters is looters, because the focus seems so strongly on violent theft.” Here’s another that is less biblical but no less interesting.

Facebook Guidelines - This is a very helpful article for pastors. “How should Pastors use networks like Facebook and Twitter? My first recommendation is that if you’re married your spouse should have full access to your Facebook account. I recommend this for all married people not just pastors. My wife and I share one Facebook account. Beyond this, consider some Do’s and Don’ts for pastors who update and tweet.”

Ten Questions - Donald Whitney’s 10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health is free for Kindle. You can also get Mitchell Chase’s The Gospel Is for Christians at $0.99. While you’re at it, you may want to pre-order Tim Keller’s new book which looks fantastic.

PhotoBlog - “This is by far the most amazing story I have ever been a part of. I’m still awestruck as I write this, but I am so very happy to be able to tell it. … Twenty-plus kids from the youth group sobbed uncontrollably and prayed on the sand during the search, a truly heart-wrenching sound.”

Pronunciation Guide - Here’s a helpful YouTube channel. 

Amazing Old - Jim Elliff writes about preparing to be an amazing old man or old woman.

Sin is a plague, yea, the greatest and most infectious plague in the world; and yet, ah! how few are there that tremble at it, that keep at a distance from it! —Thomas Brooks

August 10, 2011

Beer, Bohemianism and True Christian Liberty - John MacArthur continues his series to the Young, Restless and Reformed crowd: “If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.”

Students Love Technology - “Is the idea that students love technology surprising? No, but this infographic sheds a little light on this gadget-addicted generation.”

Enough About Us Already - “ ‘They like you,’ according to Christianity Today‘s latest cover story (August 2011), by Bradley R. E. Wright, a University of Connecticut sociologist. Wright challenges the alarmist rhetoric of some in recent years who have created the impression that our fellow Americans hate us and we need a public relations makeover. Taking issue with George Barna among others, he argues that we have a persecution complex-or at least an almost pathological need to be loved.”

What You Are Against - “I spent a brief portion of my pastoral ministry under an ‘angry prophet.’ You know… ‘that guy.’He’s the preacher-pastor who somehow finds his way to the kindling and accelerant in every sermon, or writing project. The ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ is on a loop in the background of his life. I loved the gentlemen and still do. He loved Jesus Christ and still does. He was well intended. I learned an awful lot from his ministry and am grateful for almost all of it. But, some things I have had to unlearn.”

The Wrong Body Language - I found this gallery of body language kind of interesting.

Joshua Tree Under the Milky Way - I love these stop motion videos.

The saint most ripe for heaven is the most aware of his own shortcomings. —C.H. Spurgeon

August 09, 2011

Well, we made it down to Chattanooga, where it’s really, really hot. Kentucky threw 3 thunder storms at us, one after the other, with a couple hours of blinding rain, but we drove on and made it through. So here we are, in the South. I intend to catch up on some sleep today, and then go looking for second-hand bookstores tomorrow.

How Long Should Sermons Be? - Brian Croft answers. “The pressure to answer can be self-imposed, or forced by those in your church who complain your sermons are too long. The problem is there does not seem to be one right answer. The answer to this question largely depends on the kind of pastor you are, the quality of preacher you are, and the kind of congregation you serve.”

Where Did Verse 4 Go? - Bill Mounce talks about the case of a missing verse.

Social Media and Temptations to Sin - From my buddy Julian: “Here are just a few of the immediate temptations we need to be aware of that come hand-in-hand with participation in social media…”

Fire Boring Preachers - Carl Trueman: “I was talking to a friend recently who told me of a Sunday school class on providence which he had attended. The presentation, while precise and correct at the level of formulation, left my friend cold. Nothing of the glory or the grace or the mercy or the patience of God had been conveyed in the presentation. There was nothing to call forth a response of praise and adoration.”

Definitions, Not Rights - “One common misconception in the same-sex marriage debate is the idea that the traditional legal definition of marriage is a violation of equal rights. Since this is an extremely emotionally charged accusation, it’s difficult to get past it into a real discussion of the issue.”

I will hold no man responsible for his dreams; but, if there were no sin in us, we should have no sin even in our dreams. —C.H. Spurgeon