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A La Carte

September 19, 2015

I haven’t been able to track down any Kindle deals that are particularly exciting or noteworthy, so I suppose I will wish you a good weekend, and get straight to some interesting links.

An Earth More Beautiful than Beautiful

Jared Wilson reflects on beauty, and beauty to come.

How to End a Conversation

Because we’ve all been there a few times. Another option is to feign death until the person awkwardly walks away.

What’s Really in the Planned Parenthood Videos?

Amy Hall on the Planned Parenthood videos: “We need to be careful about how we talk about these videos. If you give people even the smallest thing to quibble with (even if it’s not ultimately relevant), that is what they will focus on, and they’ll use it to justify dismissing everything in the videos. This is what I’m seeing happen now.”

The Communist Roots of No-Fault Divorce

“Before the marriage revolution came to America, it came to Russia. And it came as a result of another revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution.” This is a really interesting article from Joe Carter.

Cultivating the Kingdom

I was recently able to be a guest on Cultivating the Kingdom podcast with Allison Burr. You can listen in if you like.

This Day in 1853. At age 21, “James Hudson Taylor sets sail from England for China where he will found the China Inland Mission” (now known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship). *

Consumerism Keeps Us Fed and Starving

“With each visit to the United States, we can never quite predict what will stand out to us. It’s been different things over the last seven years. I remember one time when I was intrigued by the mysterious new section in all of the grocery stores: Organic. On other trips, my children have had their curiosity piqued by women bus drivers, by vending machines, by the presence of church buildings, by people walking dogs in their neighborhoods, and by the dizzying varieties of Oreos.”

The Benefits of Good Posture

This will probably make you feel bad about yourself. But if posture is really that important, it’s probably worth watching.

A Large Need for Small Congregations

Thanks to MereChurch for sponsoring the blog this week.


Unbelief seizes truth, grasps it roughly, silences its voice and twists it away from God’s intended purpose. —Os Guinness

September 18, 2015

Let’s talk Kindle deals. First off, Amazon has a new Kindle Fire tablet that will do just fine for reading books while setting you back only $49.99. As for books, consider The Immigration Crisis by James Hoffmeier ($4.79) and The End of Christianity by William Dembski ($0.99). (To review the rest of these week’s deals, just click here.)

The Solar System

This took a lot of effort and ingenuity: “On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends build the first scale model of the solar system with complete planetary orbits: a true illustration of our place in the universe.”

The Desire to Be Desired

This is good stuff from Ed Welch. “At the heart of the romance novel is the thrill of being desired—irresistibly, intoxicatingly desired. And since that genre is the most frequently visited Internet category among women, there is a lot of ‘desiring to be desired’ out there. A lot. Since men’s idolatries get most of the attention, this is a short meditation aimed at bringing fairness to this imbalance.”

The Rise of Victimhood Culture

I appreciated this article’s description of the culture of victimhood we see around us today. “A recent scholarly paper on ‘microaggressions’ uses them to chart the ascendance of a new moral code in American life.”

The Most Misread Poem in America

This is an entertaining interpretation of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” and an explanation as to why most people get it wrong.

This Day in 1905. Scottish clergyman and novelist, George MacDonald, who would influence many through his writings, including C.S. Lewis, dies in England. *

Is Baptism Required for Church Membership?

Whether or not you agree with the major premise of this article about baptism and church membership, I think you’ll benefit from reading it. (For what it’s worth, I need to think more about it, but am generally inclined to agree with most of what he says.)

Ambition and a Future Target

I have been thinking about ambition a lot, and appreciate what Dave Harvey calls for here. “God wants to rescue ambition. But not to build future monuments to our own glory. I’m talking about an instinct that looks for new ways to glorify God through our dreams.”


I didn’t invite Jesus into my heart; he gave me a new heart. —Scotty Smith

September 17, 2015


Life Is Best

Be sure to check out this new 13-episode program coming this fall. “Lives are at stake. Souls hang in the balance. Some Christians are engaged in the battle, most are not. Life Is Best will thoroughly equip and inspire you to join the fight for lives and souls.”

Truths and Tips for Engaging with Families in Your Church

Timothy Paul Jones shares truth and helpful tips for families.


I don’t mind admitting that McDonald’s breakfast is one of my favorite meals. (Has anything ever so perfectly mastered the salt / sugar / fat combination as a McDonald’s hash brown?) So I quite enjoyed this article on the company and its franchisees.

The Next Story

If you’ve never gotten around to reading my book The Next Story, this review will let you know about its strengths and weaknesses. If you buy it, be sure to get the second edition.

The New Socialists and the Social Ownership of Money

Joe Carter talks about Bernie Sanders and the social ownership of money.

MacArthurPre-Order Worthy. Next month will see the release of John MacArthur’s book Parables. “Master expositor and Bible commentator John MacArthur has spent a lifetime explaining the Word of God in clear and comprehensible terms. In Parables he helps Christians understand the essential lessons contained in the most famous and influential short stories the world has ever known.” Pre-order at Amazon.

Pascal’s Triangle

If you’ve got a math brain, or even if you don’t, you’ll enjoy this video. “Pascal’s triangle, which at first may just look like a neatly arranged stack of numbers, is actually a mathematical treasure trove. But what about it has so intrigued mathematicians the world over?”

Icons and Symbols of Catholicism

This photo essay about the icons and symbols of Catholicism will remind you why the Reformers were so set on simplicity of worship.


Jesse Johnson reviews the new movie Captive which is all about “a jail break 10 years ago that helped make Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life one of the best selling books of all time.”


When God has given you your heart’s desire, what have you done with your heart’s desire? —Jeremiah Burroughs

September 16, 2015

New from GLH Publishing is Martin Luther’s Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer ($0.99). Other Kindle deals include Creation & Evolution by Jay Seegert ($2.99); Fierce Convictions by Karen Swallow Prior ($1.99); The Love of Money by Rodney Ballance ($1.59); Galileo by Mitch Stokes ($1.99); Defiant Joy by Kevin Belmonte ($1.99).

Tissue Sales or ‘Donation for Remuneration?’

WORLD has a description of the latest undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress. Apparently fetal tissue procurement companies that pay Planned Parenthood for pieces of aborted babies are making a “donation for remuneration…”

2016 Ligonier Ministries National Conference

Ligonier Ministries just announced their 2016 National Conference. In addition to the regular conference sessions, they are also hosting an apologetics seminar for youth and families, with the aim of preparing young people to defend the truth of the gospel in an increasingly hostile culture. I look forward to leading one of those sessions.

Protect Your Children

This week, Westminster Books has deals on some very important books about a very important topic: Protecting your children from abuse (and, additionally, helping those who have suffered abuse).

How Can We Best Love the Poor?

I appreciated this boots-on-the-ground reflection on how we can best love the poor. “It was much easier to consider this while living in the States where there were no people living in houses made of mud and sticks right next door to me.”

This Day in 1620. The Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England to the New World with 102 passengers—some of which are Separatist Pilgrims. *

Hoax Hunter

I enjoyed reading about this hoax hunter who busts people who fake illnesses (or entire lives and families) online. “A few of the hoaxers were scammers trying to make money, but the majority manipulated people online just for the attention that comes when you have a sob story.”

Inerrancy and the Death by a Thousand Qualifications

Here is why you don’t need to fear the task of qualifying what you mean by inerrancy or other theological terms.

A Tribute to R.C. Sproul

I appreciate this kind tribute to R.C. Sproul and could echo many of the same things. God is good to give us teachers and role models, and we do well to acknowledge them.


One of these days you may be unable to get rid of those habits which you are now forming. —C.H. Spurgeon

September 15, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include: The Pastor’s Kid ($1.99) and Help My Unbelief ($4.61) by Barnabas Piper; From the Resurrection to His Return by D.A. Carson ($2.99); Reclaiming Christianity by A.W. Tozer ($1.99); George Washington Carver by John Perry ($1.99); D.L. Moody by Kevin Belmonte ($1.99); Managing Your Family’s High-Tech Life by Arnie Cole ($2.99); The Man Called CASH by Steve Turner ($1.99).

Helpers for Unfinished Husbands

“It might take many years of sanctifying marriage for a husband to learn Christlike headship, and even then it will be imperfect. Wives, as helpmates, come alongside their husbands in this unfinished work.”

Don’t Lose Spiritual Disciplines for Fear of Legalism

There are some good challenges in this article. “For fear of being legalistic, we can rob ourselves of the benefits of a regular pattern (or ‘spiritual disciplines’) of walking with God. Is this biblical or beneficial? Not at all!”

9 Things You Should Know About Refugees in America

Here’s Joe Carter keeping you informed on today’s headlines.

For the Church

A couple of weeks ago was the initial For the Church conference. They have just released conference audio and video. Speakers include David Platt, Russell Moore, and H.B. Charles Jr, and Darrin Patrick.

This Day in 1648. “The Larger and the Shorter Catechisms—both prepared by the Westminster Assembly the previous year—were approved by the British Parliament. These two documents have been in regular use among various Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists ever since.” *

The Indian Liberace

If you enjoy history, you may enjoy this tale of how a black man from Missouri transformed himself into the Indian Liberace.

I Am Donald, Hear Me Roar

A Canadian former politician tries to get to the bottom of the Donald Trump phenomenon: “Donald Trump has them flummoxed. The media, his Republican and Democratic opponents, they don’t know what to do with him. And because they don’t, more and more Americans like him.”


We should more quickly doubt our love for our own children than doubt God’s love for us. —Burk Parsons

September 14, 2015

Here are 4 new Kindle deals to start the week: Modesty: More Than a Change of Clothes by Kent Keller & Martha Peace ($2.99); How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Mark Strauss ($4.99); Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Ed Welch ($1.99); Good News for the Poor by Tim Chester ($2.99).

10 Things you Can’t Expect from Church Volunteers

Church leaders may benefit from reading this list. “Expect too little and they don’t see their contribution as important and flake out. Expect too much and risk losing the very people you desperately need.”

Pastor-Scholar? Not Likely…

Mark Jones does well at taking a contrary view, and he does that here when discussing the idea of the pastor-scholar. “This is a term I’m starting to feel a little suspicious about, especially if the words ‘pastor’ and ‘scholar’ are not going to be diluted regarding their meaning or compromised regarding the quality demanded of each ‘job’.”

Sex is Less Significant Than You Think

Tim Chester has a good one today: “Sex does its job beautifully. It binds couples together in life-long union. And it does that job wonderfully. But don’t make sex do a job it’s not designed to do. Sex is very significant, but it’s not that significant – it’s not a substitute for God.”

This Day in 407. Possibly the greatest preacher of his era, John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, was martyred having been forced to march into remote exile despite severe illness. *

The Mind-Bending Physics of a Tennis Ball’s Spin

This article helps explain why I wasn’t ever much of a tennis player. “Tennis has been called the game of inches, of kings, of poets, of love, of errors, of endurance, of a lifetime. But those are mostly metaphors. Really, tennis is the game of spin.”

Love is Not a Verb

With apologies to D.C. Talk. “I think it’s time to dispel a popular platitude infecting many Christian pop songs, sermons, blog posts and other half-baked but well-intentioned mediums. Love is not a verb.”

At What Point Does the Homosexual Agenda Become a National Religion?

Daniel Horowitz asks what is becoming an increasingly important question: At what point do old religions get run over by this new one?


Our social media presence should be an outgrowth of, not alternative to, local ministry and friendship. —Gavin Ortlund

September 12, 2015

Welcome to the weekend! And thanks for taking a little bit of it to read A La Carte. I post this just before heading to my church’s morning of prayer, an event I have been looking forward to all week long. Praying and praying together—these are precious gifts.

Giving Your Pastor Feedback After a Sermon

I suppose it would be easy enough to overthink it, but I do appreciate this guidance on giving your pastor feedback on his sermon. Sometimes words that seem helpful actually aren’t.

First Pitch

“On the night of Oct. 30, 2001, President George W. Bush stepped onto the mound at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch at Game 3 of the World Series, just six weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” This excellent little video recounts the event and its importance. (Note: There is one beeped-out swear word.)

The Viability of Babies Not Considered Legally ‘Human’

“A new study published Sept. 8 found that more infants born before 28 weeks gestation are surviving without disease or other complications compared to 20 years ago. The findings cast further doubt on the adequacy of the viability standard for protecting the unborn.”

Tomorrow in 1541. John Calvin returns to Geneva, having been banished by Geneva’s City Council. After the 3 year separation, Calvin picked up preaching the very next verse from where he left off. *

The Best Day of the Week

“Lord’s Day worship isn’t a burden to endure, but a joyful offering from God to receive.” I enjoyed this refresher on the joy of the Lord’s Day.

How Heaven Became a Secular Word

The Atlantic has quite an interesting article on heaven tourism and 90 Minutes in Heaven. “The movie spends a good number of minutes imagining scenes from the beyond, filled with trippy pastels and all the smiling white people you’ll supposedly see in heaven. According to Polish, these images are at least somewhat based on those described in the Christian scriptures, but they’re light on concrete details—Jesus, for example, is nowhere to be found.”

What’s Up With That?

Why is it so difficult to catch your own typos? According to this Wired article, it’s all your brain’s fault.

Learn More In Less Time

My thanks goes to Books at a Glance for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsorships are the sole form of advertising at Challies.com and, therefore, the way the site stays afloat. I am grateful for each and every sponsor.


I am a free man, the slave of Christ. —John MacArthur

September 11, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include 3 from Christian Focus Publications: The First Chapters of Everything by Alasdair Payne ($2.99); Big God by Orlando Saer ($2.99); The Top 100 Questions by Richard Bewes ($2.99). Also consider 150 Quick Questions to Get Your Kids Talking by Mary DeMuth ($2.99) which I’m not familiar with, but which sounds helpful.

Planting Seeds of Truth in Your Public School

This isn’t an article about where or how to educate your children, but about how to reach into public schools. “For many years, our public schools have been seen as battlefields. Nothing much grows on a battlefield, though. Instead, our schools should be viewed as gardens to cultivate. Tending your garden involves nurturing relationships with a small number of people within your immediate sphere of responsibility.”

The Five-Second Rule

You know the five-second rule for dropped food, right? Here’s a scientific investigation of whether or not that five seconds makes a difference. And now you know…

Divorce for Pornography?

I was interested to read David Murray’s article about the question of divorce when there is rampant use of pornography by one spouse. The subsequent discussion is equally interesting. David says: “Until last week, I’ve usually come down on the ‘No’ side, but having seen and heard more and more about this kind of sin, last week, for the first time, I found myself moving towards a hesitant ‘Yes’.”

Redemption Accomplished and AppliedA New/Old Book. One of the best books you will ever read—and a book every Christian ought to read—now has a great new cover (finally!), new typesetting, and a new foreword by Carl Trueman. It’s a great refresh. Be sure to check out this new edition of John Murray’s classic Redemption Accomplished and Applied.

Extemporaneous Preaching

Nick Batzig reflects on 8 years of extemporaneous preaching. I love the article and the idea, but have never been brave enough to try it!

Christian Virtue in the Age of Authenticity

Kevin DeYoung: “In a day where people disdain hypocrisy more than any other vice and prize transparency more than any other virtue, you can be as obnoxious as you want to be, fail spectacularly, and sin repeatedly, as long as you never pretend to be any better than you really are.”


I think you will appreciate Randy Alcorn’s reflections on God’s kindness expressed in our utter dependence.


From biblical times to our time, godly people have always been spiritually disciplined people. —Donald Whitney

September 10, 2015

I wasn’t able to dig up any noteworthy Kindle deals today, so will hope for better things tomorrow. In the meantime, let me remind you that most Shepherd Press books remain marked at around $3.99 or $4.99, and they include such parenting helps as Shepherding a Child’s HeartInstructing a Child’s HeartEveryday Talk, Time for the TalkGet Wisdom, Get Offa My Case, and Get Outta My Face.

Sentiment and Principle

Jeremy Walker provides a helpful reflection on sentiment and principle: “Sentiment can be swayed, one way or the other. Sentiment in one direction can be turned back by an opposing sentiment that seems equally reasonably. Sentiment tends to be reactive; it is rarely proactive. It bubbles up in a moment and melts away just as quickly.”

Doctrine 101

This week’s deals from Westminster Books include some great reader-friendly books on doctrine. There isn’t a bad book among them.

Review: War Room

I haven’t seen War Room (and, in fact, can’t even find it in theaters in this area), but this review by Jesse Johnson seems to cover it well. He points to a couple of minor concerns, but generally appreciates it.

Natural Law

In Tuesday’s edition of The Briefing, Al Mohler touched on a critically-important but overlooked aspect of the Kim Davis debacle. If you’d rather read then listen, you can find the transcript here. You’ll want to find the show’s second segment.

This Day in 1718. “Founded in 1701 by Congregationalists who feared Harvard was straying from its Calvinist roots, The Collegiate School at New Haven, Connecticut, changes its name to Yale.” *

Get a Basic Overview of the Bible

R.C. Sproul recommends books of the Bible to read if you’d like to get an overview of the Bible (in place of reading the whole book).

How Marginalization Can Empower Christians On Mission

Trevin Wax: “If the university is a microcosm of the rest of society and a sign of where our culture is headed, then Christians can expect hostility and marginalization to increase in the coming years. The good news is: if Christian organizations on campus are any indication, this marginalization could become the catalyst for more effective mission.”


Compassion without conviction is capitulation and compromise. —Stephen Nichols

September 09, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include The Shape of Preaching by Dennis Cahill ($2.99); Real: Owning Your Christian Faith by Dan Darling ($2.99); Jesus, Continued by J.D. Greear ($1.99); The Doctrines that Divide by Erwin Lutzer ($1.99); Contending with Christianity’s Critics by William Lane Craig ($2.99); The Mentor Leader by Tony Dungy ($2.99).

“You’ve Ruined My Life, Professor Craig!!”

What a great email exchange this is between William Lane Craig and one of his former students. Here’s my favorite line: “Jesus is a tremendously attractive person in the wisdom of his teaching, in his character, and in the authenticity of his life.” Indeed, he is!

Conservative Dissent Is Brewing Inside the Vatican

I found this an illuminating look at the conflict between the liberal and conservative wings within the Roman Catholic Church. It tells of a “growing sense of alarm among strict conservatives, exposing what is fast emerging as a culture war over Francis’s papacy and the powerful hierarchy that governs the Roman Catholic Church.”

The First Cut Is The Deepest

Sharon Dickens offers a helpful look at self-harm, what drives people to it, and how you may be able to help them overcome it.

Outdo One Another in Showing Honor

Like Ray Ortlund, “I am grateful for so many who are located elsewhere within the Body of Christ. … Many disparate believers, in many ways, have helped me toward the Lord. How could I be ungrateful?”

Today in History. Queen Elizabeth passes Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch in the history of Great Britian, marking 63 years and 218 days on the throne. God save the queen! *


I think you’ll enjoy this short time-lapse showing the incredible transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.

Book Reviews

I have been a bit lax in book reviewing lately. Here, from two trusted reviewers, are reviews of a couple of new books: God Made All of Me by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb (reviewed by Aaron Armstrong) and A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame (reviewed by David Steele).

How Making Time for Books Made Me Feel Less Busy

Speaking of being lax with book reviews, you may appreciate learning how this writer discovered that making time for books made a big difference in his life. “Reading books again has given me more time to reflect, to think, and has increased both my focus and the creative mental space to solve work problems. My stress levels are much lower, and energy levels up.”


We are secure, not because we hold tightly to Jesus, but because He holds tightly to us. —R.C. Sproul