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A La Carte

May 10, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul ($1.99); Grant Me Wisdom by Matthew Henry ($2.99); Encountering the Manuscripts by Phillip Comfort ($0.99); Onward by Russell Moore ($4.99).

Just a final reminder that Westminster Books has discounted my book Do More Better; the price gets better still if you buy 5 or more copies.

Logos users will want to check out the May monthly sale, and especially the IVP Bible Dictionary series at 33% off and other IVP deals.

An Open Letter to Someone Having an Affair

Brad Hambrick pens a letter to someone having an affair. “An affair is a relationship built on deceit and artificially fueled by the passion-allegiance of a shared secret and not having to bear the weight of day-to-day life. The story line of ‘forbidden love’ evaporates as soon as there are ‘shared responsibilities’ and no ‘them’ to keep ‘us’ apart.”

Walking Through a Graceless Door

“For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has had Jubilee years. It is a quick way to get many people to Rome. Boost the economy, give exorbitant amount of money to the church and sustain them for decades to come.” As it happens, 2016 is a Jubilee year.

The Coyote and Rightly Assessing Social Media Influence

Mike Leake helps put things in perspective. “As I scroll through my Twitter feed I’m thinking a bit about the coyote. Social media has the capacity to create a bit of coyote in all of us. It’s easy to overestimate our influence. The whole machine is designed to place us at the center of our own little universe. Twitter is especially prone to this.”

Donald Trump’s Feud With Evangelical Leader

This is what Mike referenced in the article (above) with Trump calling out Russell Moore: Trump tweeted “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!” 

Questions Before You Lead a Meeting

“I want to grow in my ability to lead meetings - to run better meetings, and serve those I am meeting with. Here is my game plan for preparing for meetings that are productive and an encouragement to all who attend.”

This Day in 1886. 130 years ago today, Karl Barth was born. * (You may be interested in D.A. Carson’s Evangelical assessment of Barth.)

Supporting White Christians When They Attempt to Work for Racial Justice

I appreciate this from Jemar Tisby: “Even though ethnic minorities call for white, evangelical Christians to speak up and be allies for racial justice, their sincere attempts to do so often get the side-eye.”

How Much It Costs To Give Birth

This should be a simple question, right? How much will it cost to give birth in this hospital? But no, it turns out very difficult to find answers.

Flashback → Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us

I will still write this at some point. “I have had far more ideas rejected than accepted. Books on simplicity, the environment, evangelism, pornography and probably many more besides have received the trademark ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ There is one that haunts me: Ordinary: Christian Living for the Rest of Us.”

Stott

Possessions are only the traveling luggage of time; they are not the stuff of eternity. It would be sensible therefore to travel light. —John Stott

May 09, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include a selection by Kevin DeYoung: What Is the Mission of the Church? ($2.99); The Hole In Our Holiness; Crazy Busy; Taking God At His Word; What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? ($2.99 each). Also consider Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris ($1.99) and The Spirit of Revival by R.C. Sproul ($2.99).

I’m Still a Complementarian… And There’s Still That “But”

I’m glad to read people’s struggles to better understand, define, and appreciate complementarianism. This kind of discussion should prove fruitful!

How We Pray

There are lots of points made in this survey on prayer, but perhaps this is the most important: “Reid said the most striking result was the evidence that prayer habits often carry through from childhood. The survey showed that if people prayed as children, they were overwhelmingly more inclined to pray as adults, and the opposite was also true.”

9 Perspectives on Trump, Clinton, and the Evangelical Christian Voter

Just like the headline says… 

Unsolicited Advice for My Three Sons

Two caveats: This is not written by a Christian and you won’t agree with all of it. But still, there is some good stuff here.

Say Hard Things

“When was the last time someone told you you were wrong? If you can’t remember, you may have reason to be concerned. Sometimes the most loving thing someone can do for us is point out an error or inconsistency in the way we think or live.”

This Day in 1619. 397 years ago today, the six-month long Synod of Dort ended, having confirmed the authority of the “Heidelberg Catechism.” *

The Day We Discovered Our Parents Were Russian Spies

“For years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream. Then an FBI raid revealed the truth: they were agents of Putin’s Russia. Their sons tell their story.”

The Feed Is Dying

“The feed is dying. The reverse-chronological social media feed — the way you’ve read Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs (which is to say, the internet) at various points over the last decade, updates organized according to the time they were posted, refreshed at the top of the screen — no longer really makes sense.”

Flashback: Matthew 18 in a Shrinking World

From a few years ago, but still timely: “The Internet has made the Christian world much smaller, allowing more Christians to have a voice that extends across the globe. And with this new ability to communicate comes new questions about how we are to deal with conflict, how we are to deal with questions and concerns.”

 

Horton

Racism is nothing more than collective narcissism: I love my group above all others because I love myself. —Michael Horton

May 07, 2016

Westminster Books sent out a newsletter yesterday featuring Do More Better and offering it at a great price (especially if you buy 5 or more copies). They’ve also got deals on other books about stewarding God’s good gifts.

I speak each January at the G3 Conference in Atlanta; next year’s event is moving to a better venue and is expanding the speaker list (Voddie Baucham, D.A. Carson, Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, Paul Washer, etc.). You may want to consider attending this year as it promises to be quite an event.

Women’s Sanitary Bins & Bathroom Theology

Peter Jones says that in light of today’s sex and gender confusion “While we’ve never needed bathroom humor, presently we do need some serious bathroom theology!” Indeed.

What Can We Learn from ‘Black Lives Matter’?

John Piper: “One of the main things to learn from the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement is the need to distinguish between, one, the plain truth of the slogan, two, the ideological origin of its nature, and, three, the strategies of action that it unleashes on the street. We need to distinguish those when we talk about this.”

The Best Pastoral Advice I Ever Received

“I was recently asked by a younger minister just starting out on his first ministry assignment what was the best advice I had ever received in ministry. I did not need to work hard to ponder that answer; I was ready even before the last words of his question were out of his mouth.”

Give Elsa a Girlfriend

There’s a movement afoot to give Elsa (of the movie Frozen) a girlfriend in Frozen 2. “Some people, including many Christians, were surprised at the news. I, for one, found their surprise a little surprising. In fact, anyone shocked by this news hasn’t been paying attention to what’s going on in the culture.” (My guess is that they won’t do it for financial reasons—they can’t afford to lose the Evangelicals who would not watch the movie, buy the merchandise, etc.)

Yelling at Kids

Yelling at kids is an ineffective (and unbiblical) practice, as this article says.

Tomorrow in 1845. 171 years ago tomorrow (May 8), the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest denominations in America, organized in Augusta, Georgia. *

Looking At The Sun Through A Telescope

Don’t do it because, as this video demonstrates, it’s not going to go well.

What If I Can’t Find Jesus in the Passage?

Thanks to Westminster Seminary for sponsoring the blog this week with “What If I Can’t Find Jesus in the Passage?”

Flashback: When Gifts Lose Their Luster

“Children. Vocation. Location. Everything I love, every good gift, can fade in time.” Here’s what to do about it.

Finally, a note for those who are taking the Logos course (Introducing the Gospels and Acts) with me. You should now be coming to the end of the first of the eight sessions so you can begin session two by Monday. The first session has been excellent! If you haven’t signed up but would like to, you can do so here.

Keller

Legalistic remorse says, “I broke God’s rules,” while real repentance says, “I broke God’s heart.” —Tim Keller

May 06, 2016

I have no Kindle deals to share with you today, but you can always breeze back through the A La Carte archives to find any you missed earlier in the week. I’m sure there will be some good ones next week as well.

Crisis in American Democracy

Al Mohler says, “When the essential institutions of society are no longer respected, government demands that respect for itself. That is a recipe for tyranny.”

American Christians, You Might Need to Start Living Like Missionaries

Grace is an American living in Tanzania and tells how Americans may need to begin living a little bit more like she does even in their own land.

The Danger of “Fast Food” Conversation

“How many families coexist for long periods of time living on ‘fast food’ interactions? These conversations are quick, easy, and immediate. We talk about what is necessary to keep the family going. We say enough to make decisions, get through the day’s busy routine, or to provide correction to a child’s behavior. But we rarely stop and offer something constructive or something that edifies or gives grace.”

7 Tips To Wake Up Without Coffee

I do enjoy my morning cup of coffee, but these tips look like they might work just as well.

Inner Revolution

I was recently a guest on the Inner Revolution podcast to discuss productivity. It was a fun and low-key conversation.

Moving Prayer to the Center of Ministry

There are lots of good suggestions here for churches to move prayer to the center of ministry.

This Day in 1619. 397 years ago today, the Canons of Dort, a Calvinist response to the Arminian Remonstrance, are promoted and taught in Dort’s Great Church. *

The Elisha Foundation Conference

The Elisha Foundation (TEF) is partnering with Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA to host a conference on disability that serves parents or caregivers of people with disabilities. It begins next Friday.

Stop Calling Your Wife Hot

Exactly. When you call her hot you force the rest of us into an unfair situation. It’s going to be weird whether we agree or disagree with your assessment!

Anti-Catholic or Pro-Gospel?

This article was written in response to Roman Catholics who took issue with my understanding of their theology. So I looked at it from the other angle: What does official Roman Catholic teaching say about what I believe?

Lye

The man that is most busy in censuring others is always least employed in examining himself. —Thomas Lye

May 05, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include just two: Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley ($2.99)—this is the latest edition of a solid introduction to church history; and Alone With God by John MacArthur ($2.99). 

Westminster Books has some good deals this week, highlighted by John Piper’s excellent new book Living in the Light: Money, Sex & Power. Other deals include a selection of books on productivity, and my book Do More Better is among them. Also, R.C. Sproul has just released his 100th book, The Knight’s Map: Buy it or watch the trailer.

The Rise of the Anti-Culture

Carl Trueman: “Let’s face it: We now live in a world where refusing a man the right to expose himself in a woman’s toilet is enough to risk your city losing the right to host a football game. Even to suggest there might be a debate to be had about such a thing is enough to render one liable to accusations of irrational hatred and dismissal as a benighted bigot. Culture did not bring that about. Anti-culture did.”

4 Approaches to a Balanced Complementarianism

Rick Phillips offers “four approaches that will help us practice the Bible’s gender teaching while avoiding harmful and unbiblical excesses.” He does really well.

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife

On a similar note, Mary Kassian has an amazing review of Ruth Tucker’s book Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. It includes an important appeal to Tucker herself—one I hope she accepts.

The Bible Project: Proverbs

The Bible Project has a nice little video summary of the book of Proverbs.

Is Multitasking Preventing Us From Being Faithful Stewards?

“Faithful stewardship of the mind will require intentionally adapting work habits. It may not be easy, given your current work atmosphere, but start small and work toward adapting what you can.” You may even need to stop your mostly futile attempts at multitasking.

Bible Translation Tribalism

I appreciate this call away from Bible translation tribalism. “Imagine there was only one English Bible translation and that it had never occurred to you that there might be another. The truth is that even if we were stuck with your and my least favorite translation on the chart above, we’d still have an inestimable treasure. We would still have God’s words.”

This Day in 1816. Exactly 200 years ago today, the American Bible Society gathered in New York to distribute the Bible throughout the world. They have distributed hundreds of millions of Bibles in thousands of languages worldwide since then. *

A Helpful Way To Think About Personal Discipleship

Just like the title says, this is a helpful way to think about personal discipleship (and much else in life).

Flashback: I Miss the Absurdity

“Monday morning. 5:40. Cup of coffee. My desk in a corner of the basement. Life is good. And this morning I find myself pondering the fact that my kids are getting older.” I wrote this two years ago and got a little emotional reading it again this morning… 

Smith

The gospel calls us to “man down” more so than to “man up.” There is no masculinity without a core of humility. —Scotty Smith

May 04, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Joni and Ken by Joni Eareckson Tada ($1.99); Scientific Creationism by Henry Morris ($2.99); 50 Women Every Christian Should Know by Michelle DeRusha ($0.99). New from GLH Publishing is Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Oswald Chambers ($0.99).

Logos users will want to be sure to check out this month’s deals from IVP including the IVP Bible Dictionary series.

The Black People in the Middle of Nowhere

What an interesting little snapshot of history from the National Post. “Established in 1909 at a spot 170 km north of Edmonton, the short history of Amber Valley is that a bunch of American blacks got tired of all the racism and decided to do like Eastern Europeans and strike out for homesteads on the Canadian Prairie.”

Bodies that Fight to Regain Weight

“Contestants lost hundreds of pounds during Season 8, but gained them back. A study of their struggles helps explain why so many people fail to keep off the weight they lose.”

Initiating a Conversation about Special Needs

When you are involved in children’s ministry, how do you initiate a conversation with a parent about their child’s special needs?

Forgiving Fallen Pastors

John MacArthur: “What about forgiveness? Shouldn’t we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience.”

7 Preacher Landmines

“In the path of the preacher there are many landmines – hidden explosives that can do untold damage to your ministry.  Whether you’ve been preaching for a couple of years or for half a century, why not take some time to prayerfully work through this list?”

This Day in 1856. 160 years ago today, “A committee at Mount Vernon Church, Boston, reluctantly accepts Dwight L. Moody into church membership, having already rejected him once because of his complete ignorance of Christian truth.” *

A Conversation About Productivity

I recently enjoyed a conversation about productivity with Fred Zaspel of Books at a Glance.

Flashback: The Bestsellers—The Prayer of Jabez

As part of a series called “The Bestsellers” I took a look at The Prayer of Jabez and then look as well as at the bizarre aftermath.

Spurgeon

Do not be all sugar, or the world will suck you down; but do not be all vinegar or the world will spit you out. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 03, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include The Story of Everything by Jared Wilson ($2.99) along with The Insanity of God and The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken ($0.99 each). Also, yesterday I incorrectly linked to Christian Audio and their free audiobook, so here’s a correct link to download Tozer’s Delighting in God.

Stop Saying “I Feel Like”

This is fascinating and well-reasoned: “Here is the paradox: ‘I feel like’ masquerades as a humble conversational offering, an invitation to share your feelings, too — but the phrase is an absolutist trump card. It halts argument in its tracks.” 

Puritans on the Potomac

Timothy George has penned a great profile of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. “To reverse the fortunes of a flagging downtown congregation required skill, pluck, and some sanctified grit. [Mark] Dever had all of these, but he also put in place a strategy that most church growth gurus would have deplored.”

A Q&A with the Apostle Paul

Justin Taylor somehow convinced the Apostle Paul to take time out of his busy schedule to do a bit of Q&A.

The Preacher and Personal Productivity

I was a guest on a new episode of Jason Allen’s podcast Preaching and Preachers. We discussed pastors and personal productivity. Speaking personally, I really enjoyed the conversation since it was obvious that Allen has thought deeply about these issues.

You Are What You Eat

“The nation’s most popular recipe site reveals the enormous gap between foodie culture and what people actually cook.” The article has some stellar lines in it like this: “The casserole tasted exactly as you’d imagine: an alchemy of salt and lipids designed to flow to the pleasure centers of your brain before, shortly afterward, migrating to the shame centers and then hardening in the arteries.”

Aimee Semple McPherson and Early Pentecostalism

Robert Godfrey tells the bizarre story of Aimee Semple McPherson’s disapperance and offers his guess as to what really happened.

7 Troubling Questions About Transgender Theories

Trevin Wax: “These newfound controversies are complicated, at least in part because of transgender theory itself. The unmooring of ‘gender identity’ from ‘biological sex’ leads to a number of unresolved questions, as well as troubling inconsistencies among advocates of transgender rights.”

This Day in 1738. 278 years ago today, preacher and evangelist, George Whitefield, arrived in the United States for his first of seven ministry tours. *

Why American Passenger Trains Are So Bad

“Amtrak turns 45 today, leaving many people wondering how is it that a rich and powerful country that was a pioneer in railroad adoption in the 19th century has such terrible passenger trains today.” It’s not like the Canadian equivalent is any better.

Owls’ Silent Flight

This is an amazing little video from the BBC.

Flashback: Little Jumps in Studios

President Obama slow-jammed with Fallon and danced with Ellen. Prime Minister Thatcher refused to make a little jump. Here’s why it matters and why I admire her for it. (Note: Readers have requested that I link to my daily “Flashback” in A La Carte. I’m going to try it…)

Carey

I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter. —William Carey

May 02, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full and Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman ($3.99); Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney ($2.99); The Christian Mom’s Idea Book by Ellen Elwell ($2.99). Also consider John by John MacArthur ($0.99) and Lincoln’s Battle with God by Stephen Mansfield ($1.99). You’ll also find a new list of general market monthly deals for $3.99 or less.

This month’s free book from Logos is Alister McGrath’s Why God Won’t Go Away. Free from Christian Audio is A.W. Tozer’s Delighting in God.

The Lost Art of Christian Polemics

Conrad Mbewe: “The tragedy on today’s ecclesiastical landscape is the number of heretics who are thriving inside evangelicalism. They are having a field day and hardly anyone is raising a voice against them.”

The Modern Man’s Fantasy World

“Is there any wonder why there is such a decline in biblical masculinity in the church? It is a shame that many men are far too busy conquering fake lands, looking at fake women, and winning fake championships to follow Christ’s path of self-denying, cross-bearing, service.”

Steph Curry’s Joy in Adversity

I enjoyed this article from Bethany Jenkins: “On Wednesday, as Curry sat the bench, he wasn’t morose or sullen. He didn’t appear jealous of his teammates or hesitant to celebrate their successes. In fact, he seemed like the happiest person in the arena.”

Is This For Real?

I love posts like this one. “Our lives here in Cameroon are becoming our ‘new normal’ but every once and a while we look at one another and say, ‘Is this for real?’ Here are some funny examples…”

Preaching for the ‘Home Run’

Perhaps this will serve as Monday morning encouragement for pastors (both as they think about yesterday’s sermon and as they begin to think about next Sunday’s).

This Day in 373. 1,643 years ago today, church father, Athanasius, died. He was known for fighting against the heresy, Arianism (and winning), and for being the first to list the New Testament canonical books as we know them today. *

How To Remember Someone’s Name

I’m a chronic name-forgetter. For that reason I try to do all three of these things.

How the Federal Government Is Transforming Public Education

This seems inevitable: “Parents cannot be caught flat-footed. Action taken by the courts will inexorably work their way down to every local district and school.”

Davis

Your help is in the name of the Lord, not in the name of your favorite Christian hero. —Dale Ralph Davis