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A La Carte

August 10, 2016

Yesterday morning my family climbed aboard a plane and jetted off to Vancouver, B.C. (Shout-out to Air Canada and their air miles program!) We are here to explore, relax, and have fun as a family. What you read on the blog this week has been largely queued up in advance and includes a couple of guest articles I think you’ll enjoy. I’ll be back to business as usual next week. Kindle deals will be updated through the week.

Ten Things Pastors Love to Hear

Thom Rainer: “It is a simple question. What do you hear from your church members that gives you the greatest encouragement? The responses from the pastors were amazingly similar.”

The Tyranny of Pop Music

You may enjoy this little video about the utter tyranny of pop music. Even if you don’t agree with all of it, you’ll admire some of the one-liners.

Older Women, Teach Us to Pray

“Reluctance to pray publicly can arise for several reasons—fear of public speaking, awareness of spiritual weakness, lack of interest, ignorance of how to pray aloud—but it is always worth overcoming.”

Do I Have to Pray for Politicians I Oppose?

“With today’s ever-changing political environment, it is very easy to complain and not pray for our leaders. And, yes, many are deserving, sadly, of the comments they receive. Yet, the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders…”

Themelios

Committed readers will want to grab (and read) the new issue of Themelios.

This Day in 1897. 119 years ago today, William Walsham How, known as “the poor man’s bishop” died in England. An Anglican clergyman, he authored the outstanding hymn “For All the Saints.” *

U.S.S. Enterprise

This fun little video shows the restoration of the U.S.S. Enterprise that was used in all 79 episodes of the original Star Trek television series.

Flashback: The Man Who Is Most Free

True freedom is not found in pursuing sin but in rejecting sin. The man who is most free is the one who is freed from the power of sin.

Thompson

Surround yourself with people who feed your soul, not your ego. —B.J. Thompson

August 09, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include: All 3 available gospel commentaries in the excellent ZECNT series: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Also consider Romans by R.C. Sproul, Beating the College Debt by Alex Chediak. Check them out here.

Southern Seminary’s Skeleton In The Closet

Here’s an article about a mummy that “arrived on the doorstep of Louisville’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where it was — for the better part of 120 years — a literal skeleton in the closet.”

Awkward People

“There was this one time during my freshman year when I invited my friend Rebecca and her non-Christian friend to have lunch with me. When she and her friend sat down, I panicked, fearing they might think I was coming on to them. I decided to clear things up.” Awkward!

I Am Not…

“I feel like if I were to again label myself as “gay”, I would be embracing the idea that my [broken] sexuality is a defining mark of who I am as a person. And I don’t want to operate in a mentality in which my sexual desires have identity-shaping power in my life.”

Video Games As Scapegoat

Ouch. “Is it sad when a Millennial man finds his life’s purpose in video games? Sure. But let’s stop pretending that’s more pathetic than a 50-year-old man who finds life’s purpose in his work.”

Why We Project Our Scripture Readings

I like the way Jamie Brown thinks through this issue.

Memorial Service

How do you conduct a memorial service for an entire family? Bethlehem Baptist released the video of the service for Jamison & Kathryne, Ezra, Violet, and Calvin Pals.

This Day in 1788. 228 years ago today, Adoniram Judson was born. He spent 38 years as a missionary in Burma and translated the Bible in Burmese by 1834. *

A Badminton Rant

You’ve got to watch this one a little bit to see it transform into a pretty good bit of comedy.

Flashback: Why Satan Is So Skilled at Tempting Us

Satan is a formidable foe. He opposes all those who are created in the image of God and is bent on their complete and utter destruction. What makes Satan so skillful at tempting us to sin?

Spurgeon

The man who only repents of this and that glaring offence, has not repented of sin at all. —C.H. Spurgeon

August 08, 2016

There are some noteworthy Kindle deals today. They include NIV Application Commentary on each of the gospels; The Spirit of Revival by R.C. Sproul; God’s Grand Design by Sean Michael Lucas; Heaven on Earth by Stephen Nichols; A God Entranced Vision of All Things by John Piper; The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink * and a few others. Get them here.

Should Christians Save for Retirement?

Randy Alcorn asks some good questions: “Is this reasonable planning, exercising foresight as Proverbs commends? Or is it an alternative to trusting God, a backup in case God doesn’t come through? How is maintaining a generous retirement plan fundamentally different from the rich fool storing up for his later years to live out his life in comfort and security?”

Emotions Are a Language

Writing specifically for counselors, Ed Welch says to “Think of emotions as a language. They say something—something very important—and part of our job is to figure out what they are saying.”

John Piper’s Prayer

“Last Sunday morning, at around 11:30, an entire family entered heaven together. Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their small children were driving from Minneapolis to Colorado for final preparations as missionaries to Japan. … Tragically, the entire family died at the scene, including Jamison and Kathryne, both 29, and their three young children, 3-year-old Ezra, 23-month-old Violet, and 2-month-old Calvin. … John Piper was asked to deliver the pastoral prayer. Here’s what he said.”

Pedophilia as a Sexual Orientation

Denny Burk writes about a new book that seems to be part of a new movement to normalize pedophilia. It does this by considering it a sexual orientation.

Are We Reaching the End of World Records?

This question is asked around the time of every…single…Olympics. And somehow records continue to fall.

Throwing Sheep Into a Pit

Yes! An Egyptian visitor was expressing something like this to me at church yesterday: “We don’t rest to maximize our productivity later. We rest to remember that our worth does not hinge on our productivity.”

The Bible Is Not Boring

Ryan Higginbottom: “If God’s word seems boring, there’s either a problem with the reading or the reader.”

Flashback: The Book Glutton

Here is some counsel I offered on libraries, book collections, and book gluttons.

Smith

If God gave you the whole world, but did not give Himself, that would not be enough. He is more than all the world to His people. —Colin Smith

August 06, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include: Greater Than Gold: From Olympic Heartbreak to Ultimate Redemption by David Boudia; Grace, Gold, and Glory by Gabrielle Douglas; and Rediscovering Holiness: Know the Fullness of Life with God by J.I. Packer. Get them here.

Family Killed on Way to Missionary Training

Here’s a sad, sad story: “This weekend, members and friends of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis will gather for an event nearly unimaginable a week ago: the funeral service for a family of five killed in a car accident on their way to train for missionary service to Japan.”

6 Christian Athletes to Watch

If you want to cheer for the good guys, here’s a list of a few Christian athletes competing at the Olympics.

How To Pray for God’s Favor

Denny Burk: “What does all of this mean? What would it mean for us to pray a similar prayer? It means that we approach God on the basis of his gracious favor toward us. His drawing near to us precedes and grounds our drawing near to him.”

Apple Campus

Whether you love or hate Apple (and no one is really ambivalent about Apple, are they?) you can’t deny that this is one amazing new campus they are building.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Become a Christian?

“As parents we do have some guidance in knowing if our children are truly in the faith. Everything that would be present in an adult’s conversion will be present in a child’s conversion, but it will show itself in a different manner.”

Directions For Profitable Bible-Reading

Here are a number of wise points about making the most of reading the Bible.

Which Sunscreen Should You Choose?

In my case, all of them.

Three Models for Family Ministry

You may benefit from this video from Timothy Paul Jones where he lays out three different models for family ministry.

This Day in 1801. 215 years ago today, 25,000 attended the revival services at the Presbyterian camp meeting in Kentucky. It was the largest camp meeting of the Second Great Awakening. *

Responsiveness in Marriage

Another study backs up the obvious: There is a connection between sexual intimacy and relational intimacy.

Flashback: Keeping the Spark Alive

On a similar note, here’s a flashback from two years ago protecting and enhancing the sexual relationship within marriage.

DAC

God may not do what we ask, but we must never think it’s because He is not able to do it.—D.A. Carson

August 05, 2016

I did not track down any new Kindle deals today, but you can check out all of the ones from earlier this week on the Kindle deals page. Logos users may want to pick up The Basics of the Faith series at 45% off as well as a 5-volume D.A. Carson series at 30% off.

Holiness Is Not Our Goal

Ed Welch makes an important point here: “Obedience, however—our growth in holiness—is not our goal. It is only a means to an end.”

Is Crowdfunding the New Church?

This is an intriguing question. “For every major religion, giving to the poor is a fundamental pillar. And yet it seems like technology, rather than church, is augmenting charitable giving these days.”

Praying for the Police

Karen Swallow Prior shares an experience and a prayer meeting.

How Not To Grow Weary In Doing Good

We all do at times, don’t we? “You would not think that we who believe in Jesus would grow weary of doing good. He’s been so good to us. When we do good it brings him joy and he rewards us. Yet Paul warned the Galatians not to grow weary in well-doing. Why?”

How To Please People Without Pleasing People

There’s a famous saying by the poet John Lydgate: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” What the Bible says about pleasing people is less catchy but far more important.

This Day in 1604. 412 years ago today, John Eliot, “Apostle to the American Indians,” was baptized. He would eventually publish the Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever printed in America. *

No Free Passes

WORLD interviews Rosaria Butterfield about what life has been like after the release of her controversial biography.

Religion and the Olympics

This is a very interesting look at the history of religion at the Olympics as well as the Olympics as a religion of its own.

A 7-Circle Roundabout

This is madness: A 7-circle roundabout. It actually exists!

Flashback:The Complacent Christian

Do not underestimate the value of a few zealous Christians. Do not underestimate their power to stir up a great fire.

Derek

Far too much theology operates under the assumption that God is simply a much larger version of ourselves. —Derek Rishmawy

August 04, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include: Many volumes in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series, The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by Kenneth Curtis and Jesus Revealed by Mark D. Roberts. Get those deals and others here.

Westminster Books has their annual sale on the excellent Resources For Changing Lives booklets. They’ve got a number of associated books on sale as well.

God’s Sovereign Grace in Timbuktu

Randy Alcorn tells a neat little tale and he tells it well.

How Can You Get a Mentor?

“I often hear from Christians who want to find a mentor, but aren’t sure how to go about that. Often these believers know they would benefit from this kind of relationship, but they don’t know how it starts or what they should be doing. Here is some guidance on finding a mentor…”

Religious Liberty In Canada

Paul Carter did some research and found the situation is pretty good when it comes to the legal protection of religious liberty here in Canada.

Four Reasons to Pray for Your Pastor Daily

Please do!

Don’t Write It Off As Law

Please don’t! “We ought not to be too hasty in labeling everything ‘Law’ for fear that it may contradict the balm of grace. Don’t write off the commandments of God as being somehow anti-grace and, therefore, anti-gospel.”

This Day in 1892. 124 years ago today, Sir Wilfred T. Grenfell arrived in Labrador, Newfoundland where he laboured as a missionary and physician for 42 years, helping build orphanages, hospitals and other community organizations. *

4 Ways the World Will Pressure You To Conform

Trevin Wax came across some useful materials in which the author “lays out four ways in which the Babylonian empire sought to bring the Jewish exiles in line with their pagan ways. These strategies show us how the world, in every era, can pressure Christians to conform.”

America’s Largest Outdoor Theatre

Atlas Obscura (a site I really enjoy) writes about America’s largest outdoor theatre and how it’s filled with 700 lip-syncing Mormons.

Cry Out!

True Woman is hosting a simulcast event later this year that may be of interest to you. “What could be more vital at this critical time, than for women to bow together before the God of heaven and earth and cry out to Him for mercy and supernatural intervention in our world, our nation, our churches, our cities, and our homes.”

Flashback: Help, Lord—The Devil Wants Me Fat!

Here’s an old Christian book meant to help you lose weight. It’s…different.

Schaeffer

Biblical orthodoxy without compassion is surely the ugliest thing in the world. —Francis Schaeffer

August 03, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals are pretty good. We’ve got Exploring Christian Theology by Michael Svigel; How Could a Loving God? by Ken Ham; Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear; Cross edited by John Piper; and Harmony of the Gospels by Kendell Easley. Get them here.

America’s Lost Boys

“Where have America’s young men gone? According to Erik Hurst, an economist from the University of Chicago, they haven’t gone anywhere—they’re just plugged in. … The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of twelve, and sometimes upwards of thirty hours per week.”

What Was It Like to Hear Billy Sunday Preach?

Justin Taylor provides a fascinating look at what it was like to hear Billy Sunday preach.

136 Years of Baby Names

Here are some neat interactive visualizations showing 136 years of baby names in America. You can even search for your name to track its history.

Six Practical Reasons ‘Free Will’ Matters

John Piper continues his mini blog series on free will.

Don’t Despise Small Beginnings

Mark Altrogge has a brief word of encouragement.

This Day in 1858. 158 years ago today, Maltie D. Babcock, American Presbyterian clergyman, was born. He is remembered today for his hymn, “This is My Father’s World.” *

The International Bestseller Written in Three Days

Mindy Belz digs up a surprise bestseller from a few decades ago. “Later in life Wurmbrand declared Tortured for Christ ‘has no literary value.’ He acknowledged only that it was written ‘with pen and tears.’ And that, in a nutshell, is its secret formula for success.”

How Much Should a Pastor or Elder Tell His Wife?

A lot of pastors and elders struggle with this question. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to it.

Why Did the Concorde Fail?

The Concorde was a technological marvel that was far ahead of its time. Why did it fail? This 10-minute video explains.

Flashback: Through New Eyes

One of the great joys of being a Christian is the ability we gain to look at the Bible and, through the Bible, to see the world in the way God sees it. It is like the Bible is a pair of glasses through which we gain God’s vision and God’s perspective.

Spurgeon

A little sin, like a little pebble in the shoe, will make a traveler to heaven walk very wearily. —C.H. Spurgeon

August 02, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals are excellent! They include Gospel Assurance and Warnings by Paul Washer; Raised? by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson; Proof by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones; Worldly Saints by Michael Wittmer (I highly recommend this one); The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission by John Dickson; Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin Holcomb; The God I Don’t Understand by Christopher Wright; The MacArthur Study Bible (NKJV). Get them here.

Logos users may want to grab this month’s free book. There are also some monthly deals to be had. I will sort through them later this week and make some recommendations.

What Are America’s Largest Seminaries?

The results are interesting. So too are the comparisons to 20 years ago. (Joe Carter interprets the results.)

10 Things You Should Know About General Revelation

I’m a sucker for Sam Storms’ “10 things” posts. In this one he discusses general revelation. “Because of our focus on the inspiration and inerrancy of God’s written revelation, the Bible (i.e., Special Revelation), we often tend to ignore the other ways in which God has made himself known more generally to all mankind.”

Big Families Lift Burdens

Even with all of 3 children we get stares in our middle-class, two-child town. “Underlying our culture’s distaste for large families is, among other things, the assumption that couples should only bring enough children into our overcrowded world to replace themselves. That is to say, no family really needs to have more than two children.”

Idolatry’s X-Ray

Maybe I’m just sharing this one because I’m hungry. “Cheesecake is not an abomination; cream cheese and graham cracker crumbles are gifts from the Creator (1 Tim. 4:4). God has given us many gifts to enjoy. Sports, laughter, mountains, and music are all gifts from God. Yet, we are able to twist his gifts, contort, and reshape them into an idol, spitting in the face of the Giver.”

Why Are So Many Corpse Flowers Blooming at Once?

The corpse flower is apparently just about the stinkiest plant in the world. The question is, why are so many blooming at once?

This Day in 1947. 69 years ago today, Chinese Protestant leader Liu Tingfang died of tuberculosis. His strong faith and intellectual gifts left a lasting mark on Chinese Christianity. *

What to do When You Are in a Spiritual Dry Spell

You must know these times: “We sing in worship and feel nothing. We read the Bible and stare blankly at the words. We pray and think we are talking to ourselves. The joy is not there, and it seems as if God is a thousand miles away.”

Yes Christian, You Need the Church

You know this, I’m sure, but it’s good to be reminded.

Flashback: An Angry God

God’s wrath is revulsion. It is not mere emotion and is not at all irrational. It is so much more than emotion.

Ryle

A Christian is a walking sermon. We preach far more than a minister does, for we preach all week long.J.C. Ryle