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A La Carte

May 20, 2016

I’ve got 3 different kinds of deals for you today: First, Kindle deals include Rise by Trip Lee ($1.99) and It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke ($2.99). Second, Logos just announced they will be adding Christianity Today to their system. (Sign up during pre-order and you’ll also get a one-year subscription to CT.) Third, Westminster Books has a J.C. Ryle bundle that’s well worth it: Iain Murray’s biography of Ryle along with Ryle’s classic Holiness. Some of Ryle’s other works are on sale as well.

Don’t Be Embarrassed by Your Ordinary Church

By definition most churches are ordinary churches, right?

Hong Kong

This video of Hong Kong is beautifully done. (Isn’t it sad to see the empty, superstitious worship…)

Is Your Pastor Happy To See You?

I think you’ll appreciate this one from Jared Wilson. (I feel the need to say that Grace Fellowship Church treats its pastors very well, so this is not much of an issue there!)

Our Respectable Sin—Laziness

“The testimony of the Bible from beginning to end says that laziness is wicked. But we don’t often look at it that way. Why is that? Why don’t we think laziness is a big deal? Why has laziness become a respectable sin among Christians?”

Tim Challies Wins Jeopardy! In Dominant Performance

I thought you might enjoy this satire from The Babylon Bee since A La Carte features prominently. (But I guess he didn’t know that Canadians are no longer allowed on Jeopardy.)

The Manchineel Tree

“You might be tempted to eat the fruit. Do not eat the fruit. You might want to rest your hand on the trunk, or touch a branch.  Do not touch the tree trunk or any branches. Do not stand under or even near the tree for any length of time whatsoever. Do not touch your eyes while near the tree. Do not pick up any of the ominously shiny, tropic-green leaves.” (Just ignore the evolutionary mumbo-jumbo.)

This Day in 1690. 326 years ago today, John Eliot died. Eliot was a missionary to the Native Americans of New England and publisher of the first Bible printed in America. *

Preacher, Teacher, Sunday Entertainer?

There are some good lines in this article like “You are boring. The Bible is not” and “Exegesis is like digging in a mine. Digging is hard work and it’s time-consuming. We don’t do it because we like holes, but because we expect to find gold.”

Flashback: A Knight in Shining Blubber

It’s a silly title but makes a serious point—a point about not missing the point.

Moody

Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. —D.L. Moody

May 19, 2016

I did not track down any Kindle deals today. However, if you are an Olive Tree user, you may be interested in picking up Visual Theology which they’ve just added to their catalog.

Why Believers Must Avoid Immoral Joking

I quite agree. “I write these very words because I, too, could easily fall into the trap of ungodly speech – and I must daily remember these truths myself. Here’s why we must fight for holiness in our joking.”

Same-Sex Marriage Cannot Deliver on Its Promise

This video of Al Mohler is all of 46 seconds long, but well worth watching. (See also David Murray’s An Al Mohler Prophecy Comes True.)

The Power of Public Prayer in the Church

Pastors (and others) would do well to read Kent Hughes’ article on the power of public prayer. It contains some helpful practical instruction.

Heron vs Catfish

They say that nature is red in tooth and claw. And beak, apparently, as you’ll note if you watch this heron go one-on-one with a giant catfish.

Are You Flexible for the Gospel?

D.A. Carson asks the question. This is such an important issue for Christians to understand and apply.

This Day in 1536. 480 years ago today, Henry VIII had his wife Anne Boleyn beheaded on spurious allegations of adultery and witchcraft. *

The Changing American Diet

This is an interesting, interactive look at the changing American diet.

Bad Motives? No Problems

“Scripture is full of surprises, but most of Scripture’s teaching on the motives of our hearts is not so surprising,” says Ed Welch.

Flashback: No Man Left Behind

“As Christians, we are charged with caring for one another—the shepherds first and every church member after them. It brings all manner of joy, comfort and security when we affirm, and when we insist, that we will not leave even one person behind.”

Keller

Friendship does not flow out of great sexual chemistry. Sexual chemistry grows out of terrific friendship. —Tim Keller

May 18, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Putting Amazing Back Into Grace by Michael Horton ($2.99); The Original Jesus by Daniel Darling ($1.99); Faithful Preaching by Tony Merida ($2.99); The Answers Book for Kids, Volume 5 by Ken Ham ($2.99). If you’re interested in learning about New Testament Textual Criticism, you may want to check out this course from Credo Courses.

Arguments For and Against Anxiety

Justin Taylor: “An important lesson of the Christian life is that the heart of the battle is a fight not between abstract commands (do this! don’t do that!) but rather arguments. Unbelief does not just offer dictates; it offers reasons why we don’t need to trust the Lord. And to counter that, gospel-flavored belief argues with our unbelief. In other words, it provides reasons for why trusting the Lord is always the good and wise things to do.”

10 Reasons Why the Church Gathers

Short, simple, and important.

The Spiritual Gift You Don’t Notice Until It’s Gone

“If administration feels uninspiring, here are six images for six ways God blesses his people through your gift. And if administration isn’t your thing, these images will help you recognize and celebrate God’s gift to you in these people.”

A Few Thoughts About Education

Bob Thune looks at recent developments and says, “In my opinion, these mandates place a crucial fork-in-the-road before Christian parents, Christian administrators, and Christian teachers.” I quite agree.

Who Gave Paul His Thorn?

Andrew Wilson says this: “It might sound like a slightly obscure, angels-on-a-pinhead question, but it is actually very significant, because it cuts to the heart of questions about divine sovereignty, suffering, goodness and the agency of the devil. Does God send adversity, to teach us or bring us to maturity? Do God and Satan work together, in some weird way?”

This Day in 1896. 120 years ago today, missionary Samuel Zwemer married missionary nurse Amy Wilkes in Baghdad. *

Cell Phone Tower Trees

Here, just for fun, is a look at America’s least convincing cell phone tower trees.

An Encouragement to Serve Others

I appreciated this small encouragement to serve others (and an interesting way of doing so).

Flashback: How To Backslide in 9 Easy Steps

Here’s an explanation of how people “suddenly” find themselves backsliding.

Akin

Christian character is not created in the moment of adversity. Christian character is revealed in the moment of adversity. —Daniel Akin

May 17, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include The God Who Justifies by James White ($3.99); Grounded in the Gospel by J.I. Packer ($2.99); Gray Matters by Brett McCracken ($1.99); The Art of Work by Jeff Goins ($2.99); Perspectives on the Extent of the Atonement edited by Andy Naselli ($2.99).

Persistent Prayer to a Loving Father

“Persistent prayer proves hard for many Christians. We may labor on our knees for years as we pray for our unbelieving child, an empty womb, our spouse to be converted, the friend battling cancer, depression to no longer have a hold, a sin to lose its grip, or the gift of just one good friend.”

The Prayers of One Faithful Lady

I enjoyed this little story from the life and ministry of D.L. Moody.

Why Do Old Books Smell So Good?

This short video explains that distinctive odor.

Absurd Creatures

God sure did create some amazing creatures, like this frogfish. (And some disgusting ones, like this sea snail.)

Why Legalistic Preaching Doesn’t Work

David Prince: “The goal of much preaching in both liberal and conservative churches is to make good people a bit better, but it never works. Legalistic, moralistic preaching exacerbates sin rather than killing it. Consider some of the reasons why.”

This Day in 2005. 11 years ago today, The Gospel Coalition kicked off their first Council Conference. *

From 1970s-Era Academic ‘High Theory’ to Transgender Bathrooms on Campus

There’s an important warning in this historical look at how we got to where we are today.

Mothers, Bathrooms, and the Idol of Feelings

It is so interesting to see how different Christians are processing transgenderism and the new rules surrounding it. I appreciate much of what Abigail says in this article. (See also John Piper: Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?)

Flashback: 8 Features of the Best Kind of Calvinism

Here are 8 fundamentals for the best kind of Calvinism.

Spurgeon

A Jesus who never wept could never wipe away my tears. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 16, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include several books on marriage from Crossway: This Momentary Marriage by John Piper ($2.99); No Ordinary Marriage by Tim Savage ($2.99); Marriage and the Family by Andreas Kostenberger ($3.99); Love That Lasts by Gary & Betsy Ricucci ($3.99); What Did You Expect? by Paul Tripp ($4.99). Also consider Translating Truth by Various ($1.99); Jesus, Continued… by J.D. Greear ($1.99); Get Real by John Leonard (free). New from GLH Publishing is The Good Fight of Faith by Thomas Boston ($0.99).

Are You a Closet Annihilationist?

Denny Burk comments on an article that discusses changing Christian views on hell.

The Power of Conformity

Rod Dreher shares a letter from one of his readers that explains some of the radical change we see around us (and why it should concern us).

The Tender Heart of a Woman

Melissa appeals to both husbands and wives in this article.

Doctors Opting Out

Here’s a pressing issue for Canadian doctors: “Naylor has no desire to quit medicine. But she says she is appalled at the thought she could be forced to refer patients seeking assisted death to an obliging doctor.”

On Apple Music

This article neatly summarizes a lot of my concerns with Apple Music and, beyond that, with some of the loss that has come with digital music.

The Continental Divide of Theology

Steve Lawson: “Geography is not the only place we find a great divide. There is a high ground that runs through church history as well—a Continental Divide of theology. This great divide of doctrine separates two distinctly different streams of thought that flow in opposite directions.”

This Day in 1805. 211 years ago today, Henry Martyn arrived in India to aid William Carey with translation work. *

You Can’t Mess It Up

There’s a lot of comfort in knowing that you can’t actually mess it up.

Flashback: How Far Is Too Far?

“I am accustomed to giving the easy answer: ‘It’s not about how far can we go, but how holy we can be. You are asking all the wrong questions!’ That may make me feel smart and a little bit godly, but it’s not exactly a satisfying or helpful answer.”

Carson

The price of diluting God’s wrath is diminishing God’s holiness. —D.A. Carson

May 14, 2016

I am glad to be preparing this A La Carte in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am here to speak at a conference through the afternoon, then will fly home this evening so I can worship with Grace Fellowship Church tomorrow. It should be a good weekend. As always, your prayers are appreciated.

Regulating Screen Time

Here’s one for parents: “The blunt force tool of ‘screen time’ doesn’t really do much to help us avoid the damaging uses of screens or habituate us away from the tendencies toward vapidness and self-focus that are so common on screens.”

15 Discernment Diagnostics

Kevin DeYoung: “Biblical discernment takes years of prayer, preaching, and practice. But there are certain questions that may be help us sift the good from the bad. Here are 15 discernment diagnostic questions I suggested to my congregation.”

Singing Songs from Questionable Sources

Bob Kauflin answers this question: “For the past year, I’ve struggled with the idea of playing ‘good’ songs (obviously room for defining some terms there…) from questionable ministries. In playing their songs, am I advocating for their entire ministry? In playing their songs, am I necessarily pushing my people towards their church (i.e., when the CCLI info pops up at the end of the song)?”

Transgendered Men Do Not Become Women

“Transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men,” he said. “All (including Bruce Jenner) become feminized men or masculinized women, counterfeits or impersonators of the sex with which they ‘identify.’ In that lies their problematic future.”

Why Do We Major in the Minors?

R.C. Sproul offers a compelling answer.

Explainer: Federal Government Issues Letter on Transgender Policy

Joe Carter takes on his persona as The Explainer to tell what happened here: “On Friday, May 13, the Obama administration sent a letter to all public schools in America notifying teachers and administrators of the regulations they must comply with in regards to their students’ ‘gender identity.’”

Tomorrow in 1984. 32 years ago tomorrow (May 15), Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer died. Schaeffer was also a prolific author and the founder of L’Abri (“the shelter”), a ministry to intellectuals *

Share In Suffering as a Good Soldier

Ray Ortlund: “Sharing in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus is wonderful to me, because he is. I know you feel the same way.”

Flashback: 8 Items for Christian Parents to Ponder

“He wants you, the parent, to seriously consider the responsibility that God has entrusted to you for each one of your children. And, at least for me, each of them felt like a gut-punch.”

Confronting the Current Church Leadership Crisis

Thanks to Biblical Eldership Resources for sponsoring the blog this week!

Stiles

The most loving thing we can do for people is to introduce them to Christ. —Mack Stiles

May 13, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include A Quest For More by Paul Tripp ($1.99); The Silent Shepherd by John MacArthur ($2.99); Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson ($3.99). Also, Eric Metaxas’ 7 Men and 7 Women are on sale at $3.99 each—they are solid character portraits though I don’t love all of his choices for heroes of the faith.

The Moral Revolutionaries Present Their Demands

Al Mohler says, “The terms of moral surrender have been delivered to us, and they are absolute and unconditional. Just ask Japan and Germany what that means.”

The Family Idols

There is an important challenge in this article from Nick Batzig. He shows that even something as good as family can disguise idolatry.

Abortion and the Problem of Personhood

Jonathan Leeman and Matthew Arbo get right to the heart of the issue. “One way or another, whether in the language of science (what is a human?) or philosophy (what is a person?), we find some way to demote ‘it.’ The zygote, the embryo, the fetus—words that belong in an alien movie—are not fully us.”

Should I Tell My Spouse about Struggles with Sexual Purity?

That’s a pressing question within many marriages. Garrett Kell offers a wise answer that gives leeway for different marriages.

3 Neglected Objects of Stewardship

It’s not just money we are to steward for the glory of God.

This Day in 1963. 53 years ago today, Christian and Missionary Alliance pastor and author A.W. Tozer died. Tozer wrote classics such as The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy*

President Obama: Accept Transgenderism or Else

Denny Burk responds to the news that “President Obama has released a letter directing every public school in the country to recognize and accept transgender identities.” You may also want to read Joe Carter’s Glossary for the Gender Revolution (which really reads like a dictionary of depravity).

Baby Bison vs Wolf

It’s nice to see that sometimes the good guy wins.

Flashback: The Difficult Goodbye

“She had been weeping for the entire half hour it took us to travel from home to the airport. Her cheeks were stained by tears, her eyes full of them, when she hugged me and kissed me and kissed me again. ‘I love you daddy. I’m going to miss you so much…’ And a moment later, ‘Daddy, why is it so hard to say goodbye?’”

Greear

Standing in the presence of God with sin would be like tissue paper touching the surface of the sun. —J.D. Greear

May 12, 2016

Westminster Books has an amazing deal on open box Bibles. And over at the Visual Theology store we’ve got some new posters and prints that may interest you. As for Kindle, consider Preaching by Calvin Miller ($1.99) or Persuaded by the Evidence by Doug Sharp ($2.99).

Troubleshooting the Celebrity Pastor Problem

I appreciate Jared Wilson’s thoughts on the celebrity pastor problem in today’s church.

Goose Finds Cop

Can this actually be real? “On Monday, Givens was sitting in his patrol car in a parking lot when he was accosted by one very unexpected visitor who seemed dead set on getting his attention.”

Two Methods of Bible Study

I think we know these two methods intuitively, but it’s still good to have them both laid out like this.

Stop Complaining

Yes, just stop complaining. “This pervasive discontentment colors virtually every area of modern life. Man’s rebellious default setting is to grumble, complain, argue, and whine about anything and everything he doesn’t like.”

The Style of Black Preaching

Here’s an interesting look at the distinct features of traditional African American preaching.

Eight Tips for Beginning Preachers

Jason Allen: “Looking back, there are a few tips I wish I had been given as a beginning preacher. Let me share eight of them with you…”

This Day in 1792. 224 years ago today, “Father of Modern Missions” William Carey publishes his highly influential book on the importance of evangelism. *

Stephen Curry’s Ultimate Career Mixtape

I’m no fan of basketball, but I do appreciate athleticism. And, wow, this guy is an athlete.

Jack Chick Really Means Business

Here’s an interesting look at some of the ethos behind Jack Chick and his infamous tracts.

Flashback: Drinking It Straight

Thinking back to the days when I attended churches where the pastors felt the need to make sure we weren’t “drinking” the Bible straight…

Alexander

Thank God that He doesn’t wait until we take an interest in Him before He takes a profound interest in us by His grace. —Eric Alexander