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A La Carte

June 13, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include several Father’s Day deals from Crossway: Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes ($2.99); The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Witmer ($2.99); Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham ($3.99); Man of God by Jack Graham ($1.99); No More Excuses by Tony Evans ($3.99). Also consider: Becoming Worldly Saints by Michael Wittmer ($2.99); Margin by Richard Swenson ($3.99); Finally Free by Heath Lambert ($3.99); The Gospel at Work by Greg Gilbert ($2.99).

Can We Still Weep Together After Orlando?

Russell Moore writes for TIME in the aftermath of the shootings in Orlando. “Our national divisions increasingly make it difficult for us not just to work together, but even to pause and weep together. We become more concerned about protecting ourselves from one another’s political pronouncements than we do with mourning with those who mourn.”

A Quick Guide to the Trinity Debate

You may have noticed a little Trinity debate racing through social media last week. Andrew Wilson provides a reader-friendly recap and explanation.

My Neighbors Ate My Dog, and I am Sad

You know (or hope, at least) you’re reading a missionary blog when the article has a title like that.

Selah: What does it mean in the Psalms?

Chris briefly lays out the possible and probable meanings for that little word selah that appears so often in the psalms.

Mecca Goes Mega

“The Italian photographer Luca Locatelli, visiting Mecca this year during the umrah period, captured how radically the city has changed to accommodate this growing influx of pilgrims.” It’s a neat photo essay and a sad testimony to works righteousness.

This Day in 1525. 491 years ago today, German reformer, Martin Luther, formerly a monk, married Katherine von Bora, formerly a nun, who had escaped from her convent in a fish barrel. *

Lord, Make Me Viral

Barnabas Piper shares a poem about being viral.

Little Eyes Are Watching in Worship

“Three small communion cups, drained empty, are stacked together in my hand. My two little girls sit on my right, not so little anymore.”

Flashback: It’s Not a Blind Faith

We don’t need faith when we have all the answers. We need faith when we don’t have all the answers.

Spurgeon

Do what the Lord bids you, where he bids you, as he bids you, as long as he bids you, and do it at once. —C.H. Spurgeon

June 11, 2016

This weekend’s Kindle deals include Hide or Seek by John Freeman ($0.99); The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper ($1.99); When Lightning Struck by Danika Cooley ($3.99); Treatise on Good Works by Martin Luther ($3.99); Atlas of the European Reformations by Tim Dowley ($7.99).

Change the Definition, Claim the Right

This is exactly what has been happening in a few of our recent cultural conversations: First you change the definition, then you claim the right.

California Bill Threatens Freedom of Religious Colleges

Joe Carter provides one of his FAQs: “Legislation pending in the California State Senate threatens to strip some private colleges and universities of an exemption that protects them from lawsuits and allows them to function as faith-based organizations.”

Help Launch TGC Canada

A movement is afoot to launch The Gospel Coalition Canada. Canadians will want to be sure to check out the link and consider getting involved.

Read Scripture: Ecclesiastes

The Bible Project has moved to Ecclesiastes in their series of short videos giving an overview of each book of the Bible.

“Um” and “Like” and Being Heard

Seth Godin provides wise (and practical) counsel on ridding your speech of those little filler words. These are the words you don’t notice that drive everyone else crazy.

Tomorrow in 1744. 272 years ago tomorrow, David Brainerd was ordained a missionary at age 26 to the Indians in Colonial New England by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge (SPCK). *

Surprised by Suffering

R.C. Sproul shares some of what he has been learning as he has grappled with serious health concerns.

Flashback: When My Fashion Accessory Told Me To Take a Hike

“There was a day when one of my fashion accessories talked back. It told me to take a hike. I had said something about it on Facebook or Twitter or snapped a picture of it for Instagram and it was none too pleased. It said it to me nicely enough, but the point was clear: cut it out.”

What Type of Vacation Reader Are You?

My thanks goes to The Good Book Company for sponsoring the blog this week with “What Type of Vacation Reader Are You?”

Ferguson

Repentance is not a discrete external act; it is the turning round of the whole life in faith in Christ. —Sinclair Ferguson

June 10, 2016

This week’s deals from Westminster Books feature the complete collection of books published by Cruciform Press (which, as you know, I co-founded). You’ll find a lot there, of course, including my books Sexual Detox and Do More Better.

Admonish One Another

“Because God hates evil and evil-doers (see Psalms 5:5; 11:5), he teaches that genuine love cannot turn a blind eye to sin, it must rejoice with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:5).”

Pastoral Ministry is About Souls, Not Stats

Jared Wilson: “The way we are typically programmed to measure the success of our ministries sets us up for hollow victory and desperate failure. But this is not to say we should never do any measuring. It is only to say that what we measure and how we measure shows where our confidence lies.”

Christian Funerals Can Be Too Happy

“We still will taste the tyranny of death. And so, grief is appropriate. But we who believe in Jesus also will experience a resurrection into eternal life. And so, we grieve with hope.”

The unBeatitudes

Sometimes we understand things best by turning them around and seeing them backward.

Summer Reading List 2016

One of my very favorite things is Al Mohler’s annual summer reading list. “My summer reading stack has multiplied into stacks, but in this list I share ten that I have found particularly interesting, timely, and worth the investment of summer hours. As usual for this annual list, the books are non-fiction and tilted toward history.” And that suits me just fine.

This Day in 1752. 264 years ago today, Ben Franklin carried out his famous electrical experiment with his kite. Thomas Kidd discusses its unexpected spiritual significance.

I Am a Thought Leader

This video is a pretty good parody of TED talks and similar productions.

Girl in the Picture

I think some of you will find a lot of hope and encouragement in this story of God’s saving grace.

Flashback: 10 Lessons from 10 Years of Public Schooling

This one goes back a couple of years now but is still true. “I spoke to Aileen and together we jotted down a bit of what we’ve learned from having three children in public schools. Here are ten lessons from ten years of public schooling…”

Horton

The Jesus admired by liberals and skeptics would never have been convicted of blasphemy and crucified. —Michael Horton

June 09, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include just two: Fear and Faith by Trillia Newbell ($0.99) and The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching edited by Scott Gibson ($1.99). I’ll keep an eye out and see if there are more as the week draws to a close.

Everything You (Might Have) Wanted to Know About Writing and Publishing

Jared Wilson fills you in. (So, too, does Mark Jones at a different site.)

Read Like a Reader

This is so true: “This strict, make-every-book-count approach drained the fun out of reading. It left no room for fiction, and I started to read fewer books overall. I grew tired of rising to intellectual heights every time I found my bookmark.”

Embracing My Adoption

This story comes from a Pregnancy Care Centre in this area. Karmyn tells what it was like to grow up as an adopted child and then meet her birth mother. She also talks about a defining moment in her life: discovering she was conceived through rape.

When Your Political Ideology Turns On You

Trevin Wax continues his skilled cultural analysis, this time looking at actvists at colleges. “In most cases, the activists and their opponents all share the same worldview. They are multicultural, educated, and liberal in their politics. But they are caught between the ideal of free expression and the reality of identity politics.”

Don’t Follow Your Passion

Mike Rowe has some good counsel for young people: Don’t follow your passion. Kind of.

Likes, LOLs, and Longing

The Washington Post tells what it’s like to grow up as a girl in this strange new age.

This Day in 1834. 182 years ago today, William Carey, the Baptist “Father of Modern Protestant Missions,” died. *

Bach, Prelude in C-sharp Major

This is a fascinating visualization of a great piece of music.

I’m an Atheist. So Why Can’t I Shake God?

Someone recently asked, “I’m an Atheist. So Why Can’t I Shake God?” That’s a great question that the Bible is happy to answer.

Flashback: The Fault in Our Stars

This was an attempt to review the mega-selling book for teens, The Fault in Our Stars. “As far as I can see, Green has not written teens as they are, but as they’d like to be perceived.”

Watson

The right manner of growth is to grow less in one’s own eyes. —Thomas Watson

June 08, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include two of the Trailblazers biographies from Christian Focus: George Whitefield and Lottie Moon ($1.99 each). Also consider The Marrow of Modern Divinity by Edward Fisher ($4.99); Grounded in the Faith by Ken Erisman ($3.99); The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler ($1.99). 

Westminster Books has the excellent Reformed Expository Commentary series at a steep discount. These are great for preachers or anyone else to read straight through.

Jennifer Knapp, Trey Pearson, and the Cross We Bear

Mike Leake writes about two musicians I’ve really enjoyed in the past. “I’m seeing more and more young people follow the path of Knapp and Pearson. It’s becoming quite the broad road. And this broad road isn’t labeled homosexuality. This broad road is labeled ‘accepting myself’. That is the foundational doctrine of this American heresy.”

A Poisonous Tree and Its Antidote

I’m sure there’s a sermon illustration here somewhere. “There are at least 11 species of plants and trees in Central America which are considered poisonous to the touch and can cause severe contact dermatitis, i.e., a horrible burning rash. There is only one, though, where the poison and the antidote grow side by side.”

Taking Back Christianese

Michael Kruger has kicked off a new series in which he’ll examine common Christian phrases and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. “We will do this by asking three questions:  (1) Why do people use this phrase?  (2) What is correct or helpful about this phrase?  and (3) What is problematic about this phrase?”

A Letter to a Doctor

This is powerful: A proud mom writes a letter to the doctor who pressured her to abort her special needs child.

The Real Reason You Can’t Date Jesus

I love this: “The biggest problem with thinking of Jesus as your boyfriend is not that the image is too intimate. Actually, it is not intimate enough.”

This Day in 1941. 75 years ago today, C.S. Lewis preached his “The Weight of Glory” sermon. Justin Taylor provides an account here.

The Ten Pleasures

David Murray takes a shot at re-framing the ten commandments from 10 vices to avoid to 10 pleasures to pursue.

Earth From Above

These are amazing photographs. “In May, the International Space Station made its 100,000th orbit of the Earth, and reached nearly 16 years of continuous human occupancy. Expedition 47 began in March, and will be completed later this month. The astronauts have been conducting experiments and taking some amazing photographs during their tour in orbit.”

Flashback: Every Test and Every Temptation

Every test is an invitation to grow in your faith and draw closer to God; every temptation is an invitation to weaken your faith and push God away. You face that battle every day.

Henry

The best way of manifesting our affection to our friends is by praying and giving thanks for them. —Matthew Henry

June 07, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson ($1.99)—a good one for the kids; The Art of Work by Jeff Goins ($2.99); and What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James White ($1.99).

Logos has 5 great deals from Eerdmans you may want to check out.

One Facebook, Two Worlds, Three Problems

Trevin Wax did a litlte digging and experimenting and tells how Facebook’s news algorithm works (and why it’s really not a good thing).

Living a Life of Stunning Significance

Richard Phillips: “What a difference it makes when a Christian man realizes that he does not have to be a fighter pilot, a movie star, or a pro athlete to have a life of significance and value.” Indeed.

Tozer vs. Lewis

Justin Taylor points to an important difference between A.W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis. 

Spirit-Leaning Worship Leading

There’s lots of good food for thought in this article from Jamie Brown. “Could I (and my worship team, or choir), and could my church, become so good at ‘doing church’ or making good music, or sticking to our liturgy, to the point that we’re no longer asking for, expecting, and depending on the empowering work of the Holy Spirit in our midst? Yes, I could.”

Why Do You Want Me Dead?

You’ll appreciate reading this 11-year-old wheelchair athlete telling the culture to get over itself.

This Day in 1891. 125 years ago today, English Baptist Charles H. Spurgeon preached his last sermon at London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle. *

The Problem with the Pinterest Dream Wedding

This is so true: “There seems to be a subtle, but growing, pressure on couples to make their wedding day better than others, a kind of competition to have the Pinterest dream wedding. No one says it outright (it would sound ridiculous). But it happens, and it seems to me like it happens a lot.”

Death Photography

Isn’t this interesting? And morbid. The BBC writes about the Victorian tradition of death photography.

Flashback: What’s in “The Look?”

“We all know the look. It’s that lust-fueled glance, the eyes that linger too long, the neck on the swivel, the hopeful glimpse of something forbidden. It may not be a full-fledged sexual fantasy, it may not be all Jesus meant when he spoke of committing adultery in the heart, but it is not far off.”

Carson

Sometimes the most godly thing a mouth may do is keep silent. —D.A. Carson

June 06, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Worship Matters and True Worshipers by Bob Kauflin ($3.99 each); Rhythms of Grace by Mike Cosper ($3.99); The Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology by Millard Erickson ($2.99); Beating the College Debt Trap by Alex Chediak ($2.99); Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius ($3.99); The Last Christian on Earth by Os Guinness ($1.99).

Talking to Your Children About Transgender Issues

Russell Moore discusses what “Christian parents need to do when discipling their children to think about gender identity questions, and why hard conversations about controversial topics are essential.”

The Sims

Speaking of which, this is important news if your children play The Sims. “An update for the latest version of the game, The Sims 4, released on Thursday, dismisses gender boundaries altogether.”

When Did the Animals Exit the Ark?

Answers in Genesis tries to pin down a tentative dating for Noah’s ark.

5 Distinguishing Marks of a Fruitful Church

Jared Wilson distinguishes between marks that may mark a fruitful church and marks that definitely do.

Why Do Mosquito Bites Itch?

“Mosquitoes have been much in the news lately because their bites can spread nasty diseases like the Zika virus, but regardless of whether mosquitoes are carrying a dangerous pathogen, their bites can be exasperating for a simple reason: They itch.” Here’s why.

This Day in 1844. 172 years ago today, English merchant George Williams founded the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) out of his London meetings for prayer and Bible reading. *

Evangelical History Blog

Justin Taylor and Thomas Kidd have begun a new blog together titled “Evangelical History.” It should be a good one!

Gifting My Body to Science

John Piper recently explained why he believes Christians should not be cremated. He returns to a similar subject: Can I gift my body to science?

Flashback: Satan Loves to Sail with the Wind

This short reflection on Satan is so very important. Here’s how it begins: “Satan loves to sail with the wind, and to suit men’s temptations to their conditions and inclinations. If they be in prosperity, he will tempt them to deny God; if they be in adversity, he will tempt them to distrust God; if their knowledge be weak, he will tempt them to have low thoughts of God…” 

Horton

The gospel is not wishful thinking. It’s not just optimistic or sentimental uplift. It’s the announcement of a fact. —Michael Horton

June 04, 2016

It is a joy to be in Seattle for the Ligonier Ministries West Coast Conference. I played my part yesterday by teaming up with Nathan Bingham on a pre-conference dedicated to being digital disciples. Today I head home just in time to watch my daughter perform at her ballet recital. While I travel, you read. Here are some suggestions:

Retirement Reexamined

“This kind of carefree, work-free post-retirement life is a widely shared dream today, but it does not align with a Christian understanding of work and vocation. Retirement and old age do not signal the end of one’s vocation…”

How Do I Trust My Spouse After Adultery?

“It is right, healthy, and normal to feel the weight of this sorrow and to take your time to process all that has happened to you. It is possible, however, over time, and with help, to overcome the broken trust and renew a healthy relationship. The key to rebuilding trust is to give it in stages.”

Play Hard

I hadn’t thought of it this way before: “The spirit of play is part of the creativity of rest.”

13 Reasons We Need Church History

Matt Hall offers 13 reasons we can’t afford to forget about church history.

A New Journal

Reformed Theological Seminary has just announced a new online theological journal titled Reformed Faith and Practice (RF&P). It’s free for the taking!

Contraband Corned Beef

That time an astronaut brought his own lunch into space.

This Day in 1820. 196 years ago today, Elvina Hall died. She wrote the hymn, “Jesus Paid it All.” *

A Fatal Theological Oxymoron

Peter Jones explains why “gay Christian” is a fatal oxymoron.

Faithfulness and Fruitlessness in Ministry

I think pastors will be both challenged and encouraged by Jeremy Walker’s article on faithfulness and fruitfulness in ministry. I especially appreciate his second call: Make sure you are preaching Christ, not just about Christ.

Flashback: When It’s Time for the Talk

I am often asked about resources to help when it’s time for “the talk.” Here are some suggestions.

Horton

The church is not only where disciples go once a week; it’s where disciples are made. —Michael Horton