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A La Carte

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

September 08, 2015

Today’s Kindle deals include Recovering Redemption and Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler ($2.99). The excellent New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology series is on sale: Believer’s Baptism, The Lord’s SupperThat You May Know, Lukan Authorship of Hebrews, The End of the Law, God’s Indwelling Presence, The Ten Commandments, Future Israel, Sermon on the Mount, Enthroned on Our Praise. (If you weren’t online yesterday, be sure to check out yesterday’s big list of deals.)

The Public Reading of Scripture in Corporate Worship

Few things irk me more than a very poor public reading of Scripture. This article offers really helpful pointers on doing it right (and explains why we ought to make the effort).

Rosaria Butterfield on Sexuality and Identity

In this short video (less than 3 minutes) Rosaria Butterfield explains why we should not accept sexuality as a category of identity.

The Myth of Quality Time

I enjoyed this reflection on the importance of quantity, not merely quality, of time. “We delude ourselves … when we invoke and venerate ‘quality time,’ a shopworn phrase with a debatable promise: that we can plan instances of extraordinary candor, plot episodes of exquisite tenderness, engineer intimacy in an appointed hour.”

Faithfulness in Small Places

“As I speak in other churches, I find few that are impressive. Again, the people are great, and the ministry significant, but it always seems that things are humble, and that the real action’s taking place somewhere else. It’s tempting to wish that we were there, rather than in the small, humble places where we serve.”

HappinessPre-order Worthy: Randy Alcorn’s next major work, Happiness, releases on October 1. “In Happiness, noted theologian Randy Alcorn dispels centuries of misconceptions about happiness and provides indisputable proof that God not only wants us to be happy, He commands it.” Pre-order at Amazon.

The Drifters

Christianity Today has a neat article and photo gallery celebrating God’s hand in giving us phytoplankton. Yes, you read that right: phytoplankton.

How to Spot a Liar

It turns out that most of the old methods you’ve heard about are pretty much useless at spotting liars. “Forget body language or eye movements. There are much better ways to identify the deceitful.”

Un Petit Enfant

Sometimes I enjoy listening to worship music in other languages. Recently I came across Kim Tran (Faculté Jean Calvin) and have enjoyed his French worship songs.


Hell will be filled with people who were avidly committed to Christian values. —Al Mohler

September 07, 2015

Happy Labor Day! Today’s new Kindle deals include: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? and The Holy Spirit (free) by Kevin DeYoung ($5.99); Running Scared by Ed Welch ($0.99); The Reformation by Stephen Nichols ($2.99); Zondervan has put the whole Counterpoints series on sale at $4.99 each, and it includes: Four Views on the Book of Revelation; Four Views on Eternal Security; Four Views on God and Canaanite GenocideThree Views on Creation and EvolutionThree Views on the MillenniumFive Views on ApologeticsFour Views on Hell; Five Views on SanctificationFour Views on the Historical Adam; Two Views on Women in Ministry; Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest ChaptersFour Views on Divine Providence; Two Views on the Doctrine of the Trinity; Four Views on the Apostle Paul; Four Views on the Lord’s SupperThree Views on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament; Five Views on Law and Gospel; Four Views on Christian Spirituality; Three Views on Remarriage after Divorce; Four Views on Baptism; Six Views on Worship; Four Views on Church Government; and Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?

What Girls Should Demand

This one is targeted squarely at young ladies. “There aren’t that many things in this life that I believe we are called to demand of others. But, this thing, girls, this demand that I am laying before you today, is a big one. It is a demand that goes against everything society is telling you to do.”

When Religion Excuses You From Your Job

The Washington Post: “Can your religion legally excuse you from doing part of your job? This is one of the questions in the Kentucky County Clerk marriage certificate case. But it also arises in lots of other cases…”

What Is a Fetus?

Justin Taylor turns to Peter Kreeft to give the answers to a simple question: What is a fetus?

You Can’t Stop Me

Here’s how Andy Mineo’s song “You Can’t Stop Me” become the top walk-up song in baseball.

Sexual Immorality: My Personal Insights

If you are even beginning to consider going down the path of adultery, or if you are dabbling in deeper and deeper sexual sin, this article will give you fair warning of all the devastation you will bring.

How Sinful Is Man?

You may have encountered R.C. Sproul’s answer before, but I find it worth reading every time.

Monergism Books

Monergism continues to grow their library of excellent classic theological works. They are all free for the taking.


Prayer advertises that we are dependent and He is dependable. —Mark Dever

September 05, 2015

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the end of summer and the return of normalcy. In these parts, that transition always happens on Labor Day (or Labour Day for my fellow Canadians). Summer has been beautiful and brilliant, but I’m ready for fall.

Here are today’s links.

The Promise of God in Threatening Pain

Garrett Gilkey: “Last night, I bolted onto the football field to face the Miami Dolphins. I was eager, surging with life, energy, and strength. It was the last preseason game of my third season in the NFL. The ball snapped, and with a snap of his fingers, God mercifully showed me how small and weak I am compared to his grand and glorious sovereignty over all creation.”

Church Discipline, Contemporary Grace Style

A couple of days ago Rick Phillips posted an article in which he made some public comments about Tullian Tchividjian and the unfolding of his situation. Ray Ortlund replied with Can a label edify?. I count it as a helpful interaction.

How I Learned to Live Joyfully

J.I. Packer lets us in on how he learned to live with joy.

What the Duggars Get Wrong About Chastity

This article comes from a Roman Catholic perspective (judging the he quotes from the Catholic Catechism). It helpfully outlines some concerns with elevating chastity and making it an ultimate virtue. “Chastity allows the soul to govern the body so that a person can give of him or herself to others properly in every context. A sexual ethic based on fear, on the other hand, keeps us away from others. Love and fear are mutually exclusive.”

This Day in 1651. Obadiah Holmes received the punishment of 30 lashes for holding a Baptist service in Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, he would move to Rhode Island and, for 30 years, serve as pastor at Newport Baptist Church, America’s second-oldest Baptist congregation. *

How Many Trees Are There?

Apparently all of our past guesses have been wrong. There are a lot of trees on earth!

Should Adulterous Pastors Be Restored?

The North American church is seriously vexed by the question, “What shall we do with an adulterous pastor?” Kent Hughes and John Armstrong provided a strong answer at Christianity Today.

Do You Pray For The President?

Sure you do. But do you pray for him as much as you complain about him?

The Line between Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience

If you want to catch up a bit on the situation in Kentucky with Kim Davis, and if you would like to know how Christians are responding, Amy Hall’s article will help.

The Myth of Faith Versus Reason

Thanks to PilgrimsRock for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsorships keep the site’s doors open and lights on!


No one has ever come to Christ because they lost a debate on Twitter. —Russell Moore

September 04, 2015

I woke up this morning to find that the service I use to collect and organize links had decided to take the day off. So I have reconstructed it to the best of my ability, right down to the bizarre bird calls.

Q&A on Sexual Abuse

Cecelia Bernhardt will be a speaker at this year’s CCEF conference, and in this Q&A she gives some comfort and encouragement when it comes to counselling those who have been victims of such abuse.

Why Do So Many Walk Away?

Mez’s response and challenge is as simple as it gets, but it is also just what I needed to hear. “I remember vividly my early days in the church. Everything was new and fresh. There was a large young people’s group and there was a real buzz, about the place. It was exciting being a Christian around people like that. It made church seem like the place to be.”

11 Easy Steps to Repenting on the Internet

Whether Barnabas Piper means this seriously or tongue-in-cheek, he accurately shows how people deal with scandal in this digital world.

This Day in 1847. Henry Francis Lyte preached his final sermon. Lyte was weak from Tuberculosis and gave his farewell address to his congregation, knowing he had little time left. That evening he handed a relative a final hymn he written, titled “Abide with Me.” The hymn would far outlive the name of its author. I am partial to the version adapted by Indelible Grace. *

How to Care for Women Who Have Miscarried

“There is no magic bullet that can make the pain of having a miscarriage disappear. However, in my quest to love women who have experienced this loss (Romans 12:15), and as a woman who has been touched by it herself, there are a few things that have been comforting reminders of how the Lord uses his people to care for one another.”

“In this World You Will Have Trouble” — Welcome to Rowan County

Al Mohler: “The Commonwealth of Kentucky is now the setting for a dramatic display of judicial arrogance, even as the larger story points to the sweeping moral change that is transforming the nation’s landscape.” Indeed.

The Most Timeless Songs

Digging into Spotify data allows us see which songs from each era are considered timeless.

Dumb-Sounding Birds of North America

You’re welcome.

HB Charles

We face a changing culture by faith in a changeless Christ. —H.B. Charles Jr.

September 03, 2015

There are just a couple of Kindle deals to share today: Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story, the newest book by Trip Lee, is just $2.99; Hope Reborn by Tope Koleoso & Adrian Warnock is $3.82. Also, a few different Kindle devices are on sale at the moment.

Sister Wives Star Cites Gay Marriage Ruling

Well, this is hardly a surprise, is it? “The polygamous family starring in the hit TLC reality show Sister Wives believes the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage gives them grounds to live their lifestyle unpunished, according to an appeal filed last week.”


This is a beautiful look at Iceland under the midnight sun. There is no greater artist than God!

How Do I Talk to My Kids about Abortion?

Randy Alcorn and his team have some suggestions for speaking to children about abortion. “As the video exposes about Planned Parenthood continue, those with children may be wondering how they can talk to them in age-appropriate ways about the value of life and the reality of abortion.”

This Day in 1752. It’s a trick! There was no “this day” in 1752, nor were there the next 10 days (in Great Britain, that is). This was to adjust from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.*

True Worshipers

Bob Kauflin’s new book True Worshipers highlights this week’s deals from Westminster Books. There are deals on other worship-related books as well.

When I Don’t Feel Forgiven

Ian Hamilton: “One of the most disturbing experiences a believer can face is losing the felt sense of God’s forgiveness. This desolating experience has touched the lives of many Christians throughout the ages.”

How Telephone Etiquette Has Changed

Every new technology ushers in a period of cultural negotiation during which we decide together how to use those devices. We are in that period now with our mobile phones.


People tell me “Judge not lest ye be judged.” I always tell them, “Twist not scripture lest ye be like Satan.” —Paul Washer

September 02, 2015

Here are some Kindle deals that may be worth a look: The Apologetics Study Bible ($2.99); God’s Not Dead by Rice Broocks ($2.99); On Guard by William Lane Craig ($0.99); A Handbook for Minister’s Wives by Dorothy Patterson ($0.99); Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber ($2.99).

Youth-Driven Culture

Stephen Nichols has an important article about the way we perceive age and youth. “There is something about being young that makes the young think they are immune to the mistakes or missteps of those who have gone before. We all think too highly of ourselves and our capacities. Simply put, we need the wisdom of the past and of the elderly.”

My Goal in Every Conversation with Mormons

Here is some helpful counsel for the next time you interact with Mormon missionaries. The point: Don’t expect that one brief conversation will immediately convert them, and don’t let that fact cause you to give up.

A Dangerous Posting

I am quite inclined to agree with Mark Jones here. He finds himself concerned by Paul Tripp’s public statement about Tullian Tchvidijian and the necessity of making such information public.

Word Biblical Commentary Sale

Logos users will want to check out this outstanding sale on the Word Biblical Commentary series which are down to just $9.99 each. Genesis, Psalms, Colossians, the Pastorals, Hebrews—they all come highly recommended by the commentators on the commentaries.

God Made All of MePre-Order Worthy: God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb is available for pre-order and ships next week. It is written for young children to help them recognize and respond to sexual abuse. (Amazon, Westminster Books)

Once In a Blue Moon

Enjoy this incredible footage of a moon rise over Australia. 

Should We Go Down the Ashley Madison Rabbit Hole?

Erin Straza wrestles with an important question: When information is made public, as in the Ashley Madison dump, does that give us the right or responsibility to search through it? What are the consequences if we do?


The true measure of spiritual growth is not how much knowledge you’ve gained in the past year, but how much you’ve grown in holiness. —Mike Bullmore

September 01, 2015

There are lots of new Kindle deals today: Jesus, Continued by J.D. Greear ($1.99); Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel ($2.99); Wired for Intimacy by William Struthers ($2.99); Preaching to a Shifting Culture by Various ($1.99); The Gospel of John by William Barclay ($2.99). You may also like to sort through Amazon’s new batch of monthly deals. Free for Logos users this month is a solid commentary on Amos. (You can get a second commentary for $1.99, but the deal doesn’t seem to work yet.)

Ligonier Suspends R. C. Sproul Jr. over Ashley Madison Visit

I was sickened and so sorrowful to hear this news. Christianity Today reports “Ligonier Ministries has suspended R. C. Sproul Jr. until July 2016 due to his admission that he visited the adultery matchmaking website Ashley Madison.”

The Weakness of Ruth Is Greater than the Strength of Samson

I really enjoyed reading this one. “If the book of Judges were all we had to capture this time in Israel’s history, it would be a dismal piece of history indeed. But there’s another story, a hidden sub-plot, to what’s going on in Judges. It’s the tiny companion volume known as Ruth.”

The Word Study Fallacy

William Barrick writes about a common fallacy. “Word studies are also subject to radical extrapolations and erroneous applications. It is not always possible to strike exegetical gold by extracting a word from the text for close examination. Word studies alone will not suffice.”

This Day in 1957: Billy Graham’s New York Crusade came to an end. For sixteen weeks he had preached six nights a week, drawing capacity crowds to Madison Square Gardens. By the time it was over, some two million people had attended.

Growing in Christ, Serving in Ministry

This month’s Tabletalk interview features Sinclair Ferguson, who invariably has insightful things to say.

The Most Popular Bible of the Year

It sounds strange to hear about “the most popular Bible of the year,” doesn’t it? Nevertheless, the Washington Post writes about the enduring popularity of God’s Word and a brand new study Bible.

Protect Your Children, Protect Mine

Melissa makes a very important point: “When you protect your child from the porn industry, you also protect mine.”

I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)

Lately I’ve really been enjoying the song “I’m Going Free” by Vertical Worship. (Occasionally I just need to listen to some loud modern worship music!) I especially appreciate that tiny little line, “The judge is my defense.” What a great salvation.


Praying without ceasing isn’t meant to burden us but to liberate us from all our burdens. —Burk Parsons