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June 02, 2016

Through Hell and Back

Relevant has a story on Rob Bell and what he’s up to now. “Five years ago, Rob Bell wrote a controversial book, left the huge church he started and moved to L.A. But he says what he’s doing now is more pastoring than ever.”

One-Thing Shops: Soda, Los Angeles

Next time I’m in Los Angeles I need to visit this store!

Beyond Original Sin

CMI critiques the work of Denis Lamoureux whose work I’ve also encountered a number of times. “In an article published in Perspectives on Science and Christian Belief, he denies the doctrine of Original Sin. Science, he believes, has shown that there never was a historical Adam and therefore there never was an original sin.”

At the Intersection of Sex and the School

I really enjoyed Al Mohler’s recent conversation with Professor Jonathan Zimmerman. They have a lengthy discussion on the history (and future) of sex education in schools.

Read More Blogs

I appreciate Seth Godin’s point here. “Good blogs aren’t focused on the vapid race for clicks that other forms of social media encourage. Instead, they patiently inform and challenge, using your time with respect.” He also tells why neither Facebook nor Google want you to read blogs.

The Way Canadians Say “About”

When I speak in the US, I try to fit an “about” or two into my introduction just to please the crowd. But maybe what you think you hear (aboot) isn’t actually what I’m saying… 

This Day in 553. 1,463 years ago today, the Second Council of Constantinople closed, having condemned Nestorian teachings. *

Seven Ways to Improve Your Preaching

Kevin DeYoung offers some tips for preachers. I especially appreciate his point about points: “Make sure your points point to something.” A sermon with a good outline is so much easier to follow than a sermon with a poor outline (or with no outline at all).

Flashback: 1 Triangle, 3 Corners, 4 T’s

To know what God says to us, and how God means for us to live, we need to do a little bit of work. Every Christian, and every preacher in particular, has to go from the text to today. We all wonder, “But what does this mean to me?” or “What does this mean to my congregation?”

Sauls

It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind. —Scott Sauls

June 01, 2016

Alarmism And Transgendered Kids

Rod Dreher writes about transgendered kids and teens: “Ten, twenty years from now, there are going to be a lot of maimed, broken people staggering around. This episode in history will be looked back on with horror.”

Why Patience Doesn’t Come Naturally

Sam Storms writes about his natural impatience. “It grieves my heart that I’m as selfish as I am. It grieves me even more that I don’t have enough confidence in the goodness and sovereignty of God and the truth of his Word that I would trust him when things don’t go my way.”

What Does It Mean to Take the Lord’s Name in Vain?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn there is much more to it than simply speaking God’s name in anger or as an insult.

7 Questions to Ask an Older Mother

These are wise questions from Melissa Kruger.

Died: Jan Crouch

Jan Crouch, cofounder of Trinity Broadcast Network, died on Tuesday. Christianity Today provides a brief overview of her life and legacy.

After 30 Years It’s Good to Be Married

This is a sweet article and one that’s good to see in a mainstream publication.

This Day in 165. 1,851 years ago today (according to tradition), apologist Justin Martyr was beheaded for his faith in Christ. *

How Budget Airlines Work

This video tells how budget airlines work and how they make so much more money than many traditional airlines.

The Benedict Option

You’ve probably heard someone talk about “The Benedict Option.” In this article Carl Trueman describes it a little bit and how it is not as silly as a lot of people make it out to be.

Flashback: The Bestsellers: The Shack

This entry in my series The Bestsellers looks at what may be the least likely bestseller of them all: The Shack. It has sold 20 million copies and will soon be released as a movie.

Spurgeon

It is easier to save us from our sins than from our righteousness. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 31, 2016

Hearing the Voice of the Lord in Your Pastor’s Sermon

“Reformed churches believe God still speaks. While we do not believe he speaks via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we believe that via preaching God’s voice is as real and vital to us as it was through the mouths and pens of prophets and apostles. How can we say this?”

My Son Taught Me About Privilege

Amy tells about a growing understanding of the blessing (and sadness) of privilege. “It hit me that one of the (many) privileges of being wealthy is the ability to see my children find their potential. And have a shot at reaching it.”

Hughes Oliphant Old: A Personal Remembrance

It’s always a joy to read a remembrance of a godly man or woman. 

Rise of Ad-Blocking Software Threatens Online Revenue

I’m linking to this article from the New York Times because it is on a subject I wrote about last week.

Why I Sit at the Front

Yes, even something as simple as where you sit at church has significance (and can be a means of loving others).

This Day in 1638. 378 years ago today, founder of Connecticut, Thomas Hooker, preached the opening sermon at First Church of Hartford. *

Fiftieth Birthday Reflections

I enjoyed David Murray’s reflections on his fiftieth birthday. (And happy birthday, David!)

The Keyhole Seven

This longform article explains a sad situation. “When a group of canyoneering beginners were swept away in a flash flood last September, it was the worst disaster in Zion’s 97-year history. And it illustrates a growing question: How far should national parks go to keep their visitors safe?”

Flashback: Well-Planned, Hard, Sweat-Inducing Prayer and Work

Do you find prayer difficult? Then take that as a challenge, not as a reason to give up! “Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge to Satan.”

Carson

It is better to pray often with brevity than rarely but at length. —D.A. Carson

May 30, 2016

No Small Breaches

John MacArthur explains that “integrity isn’t usually forfeited in a single moment of spectacular failure. Instead it’s slowly chipped away at by small compromises repeated over time, until the façade of righteousness collapses and the secret hypocrisy is exposed.”

The Summer of Great Family Reads

Redeemed Reader has suggestions for you and your family.

10 Things You Should Know About Satan

Sam Storms rounds them up for you.

Which Animals Were On the Ark with Noah?

This article explains how you can reconcile a relatively small ark with a massive number of animals. “Which animals boarded the Ark with Noah? Did any of them fail to make it? Could millions of animals really have squished themselves in Noah’s ship for a yearlong voyage in the rough and open seas? Though Genesis 6–7 do not enumerate the creatures on the Ark with Noah, these chapters give us clues to their silhouettes. The images that emerge are striking.”

Beware the Busyness of Summer Break

“I have heard so many people say things like, ‘I was reading my Bible and praying consistently until summer, and then things just got too busy.’ Most churches experience less attendance, less excitement, and less generosity during June, July, and August.”

The Left Won the Culture War

“Ideological lines in U.S. politics are shifting and blurring rapidly: The rise of Donald Trump, the popularity of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the resurgence of libertarianism prove at least that much. It’s reasonable to assume that religious conservatives, too, are rethinking their role in American society and politics.”

This Day in 1972. 44 years ago today, Chinese evangelist, Watchman Nee, died in prison. *

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Graphic Design

This is really neat: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s ‘listening guides’ make use of symbols and morse code-like notation to aid the experience of a live performance.

Flashback: The Soul’s Thirst

“Every soul thirsts. This thirst may not be obvious in every moment, but at some point and to some degree every soul thirsts after something, something it does not have. We are rarely content in our current condition, rarely content just the way we are.”

Horton

It was Satan who first corrupted God’s word by addition, then by subtraction, and then finally by direct contradiction. —Michael Horton

May 28, 2016


Why Is Clinton Disliked?

Yes, the question has to do with politics, but there is a bigger point we can all consider: “Even a socially good vocation can swallow you up and make you lose a sense of your own voice. Maybe it’s doubly important that people with fulfilling vocations develop, and be seen to develop, sanctuaries outside them: in play, solitude, family, faith, hobbies and leisure.”

7 Preaching Pitfalls

Michael Kruger outlines 7 common preaching pitfalls that preachers will want to avoid.

The Hidden Science of Elevators

This is a surprisingly interesting article on how elevators actually decide when and how to come and pick you up.

You Are Not Your Sexuality

Sam Allberry: “It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.”

What American Christians Believe

“Earlier this month, the Pew Research Center published some data on what American Christians value in everyday life. The data is fascinating,” and Chris Martin explains it.

Mulims Turning to Christ

We just keep hearing more and more reports of Muslims turning to Christ. What an encouragement!

This Day in 1954. 62 years ago today, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill which added the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. *

Unsung Heroes

The Smithsonian says that the Merchant Marine were the unsung heroes of World War 2. “These daring seamen kept the Allied troops armed and fed while at the mercy of German U-boats.”

Flashback: The Tone Deaf Singer

“The prosperity gospel has not produced a new generation of great Christian hymns. Neither have Positive Thinking or Progressive Christianity. There is a reason we would not expect them to.”

Reformed Dads and Grads Gift Ideas

I’m thankful to Missional Wear for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsors play a crucial role in keeping the blog going, so I’m grateful to each one of them.

Horton

The fear of God is the death of every other fear; like a mighty lion, it chases all other fears before it. —C.H. Spurgeon

May 27, 2016

Eternity Etched On My Eyes

This is a powerful bit of writing. “‘I’m so weak. I’m so weak. I’m so weak,’ I whispered from the floor where I lay in my room, overwhelmed with the ongoing pain day after day. I looked up at my nightstand where the little orange bottle sat containing the narcotic medication. If I took a bunch, I wouldn’t feel the pain anymore. I slowly lifted myself off the floor and sat on the edge of my bed.”

Don’t Dismiss Housework

So good: “The work of a stay-at-home mom—as well as the labor done by many domestic workers—is often disdained by our society because it fixates on and around the home. Yet traditionally, the home was not a place to be despised.”

Multi-Site Church Video Screen Utterly Fails At Pastoral Counseling

In my mind this is a great example of what satire can accomplish so well. “Going to the screen from which they get their weekly Sunday messages, the couple began pouring out their marital issues to the inanimate object, including Judy’s spending and Derrick’s untidiness. However, after a good half-hour with no response from the video screen, the couple’s discussion stalled, and they left discouraged.”

We Are Not Entitled to the World’s Respect

“If we genuinely are willing to take our cues from the New Testament, rather than instinct, we might be surprised to find the way the apostles would have us to engage with our society.”

Grieve and Receive the Gift of Special Needs

Andrew Wilson writes movingly of both the grieving and the gift of children with special needs.

4 Ways to Categorize Complaints in the Church

Here’s one for pastors and church leaders to consider.

This Day in 1564. 452 years ago today, French Protestant Reformer John Calvin died. *

How to Glorify God by Being a Generalist

I really appreciate what Joe Carter says here about the value of being a generalist (as opposed to a specialist).

Flashback: To The Other Woman’s Embrace

“I sometimes wonder what it was like for Sarah as she watched Abraham and Hagar walk into that tent together—what she thought, what she felt. What was it like for the wife to watch her husband seek privacy with that other woman, knowing exactly what they were about to do?”

Horton

Men’s ideas of the wrath to come may be judged of by the earnestness with which they exhort others to fly from it. —J.C. Ryle

May 26, 2016

Actively Serving Christ in Older Age

Here’s a challenge for all of us: “One of the characteristics that has always impressed me about highly committed servants of Jesus Christ is that they continue to actively serve Him to the very end of their lives. Long after others have retired from their vocations and various forms of Christian service, these deeply dedicated Christian servants continue right on actively ministering for the Lord in whatever ways they are able.”

An Air Assault from a Persistent Widow

This seems appropriate in light of the last link: “a lesser known part of the Henry legacy is the role of the persistent prayers of a widowed secretary in the converting work of God in Henry’s life.”

New Studies in Biblical Theology

Westminster Books is having a great sale on the excellent New Studies in Biblical Theology series which is edited by D.A. Carson.

To the Women Who Wish Their Husbands Were Spiritual Leaders

“I get it. You see who your husband COULD be. If only he prayed more. If only he led the family to go to church. If only he read his Bible daily. If only he was the spiritual leader that you know your family needs.”

What Should Christians Think about Cremation?

Richard Phillips takes a look at Christian views of cremation. “The assumption seems to be that cremation versus burial is a matter of complete indifference, a subject about which the Bible has little or nothing to say.” He disagrees.

This Day in 735. 1,281 years ago today, The Venerable Bede, “father of English history,” died. *

How A Gutenberg Press Works

This quirky individual demonstrates the Gutenberg press using a rare (or perhaps unique) working model. That simple machine changed the world!

Global Warming and ‘Climate Change’

Creation Ministries International takes a look at recent developments related to climate change science and offers guidelines for discernment.

Horton

Grace must raise the temptation to think we can sin as we please; if it does not, we have not understood the true extent of grace. —Derek Thomas

May 25, 2016

Devotional Theology

I like the sound of this series: “From the fallible, presumptuous words of Jesus Calling to the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer, eager Christian women everywhere are desperately seeking to know God better. However, the one thing we’re lacking is the one thing that’s sitting right under our noses—the Word of God; and further, a right understanding and application of it.”

Why Your Pastor Should Say “No More to Beth Moore”

Josh Buice highlights common (and important) concerns with Beth Moore. “Although concerns have been raised through the years, Beth Moore continues to be welcomed into the study groups within local churches where women read her books, study guides, and watch her videos with limited, if any, oversight from the pastoral staff.”

Reading Writers

Aaron Armstrong invited me to be a guest on his podcast to discuss the joys of reading. We also discuss how and where I read and I insult him for reading comic books, I mean graphic novels.

Children of the Heroin Crisis

Here is a sad look at grandparents who have been forced to raise their grandchildren because the parents have been consumed by the heroin crisis. “With the rise in heroin use, grandparents are increasingly raising their grandchildren because the parents are either dead, in jail, in rehab or otherwise incapable of taking care of their children.”

Submission Is a Mark of Maturity

This is true no matter who you are or who you are called to submit to: Maturity matters.

This Day in 1865. 151 years ago today, John Mott was born. Mott served with the Y.M.C.A. for 40 years and chaired the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference. *

The Vanity of Conspiracy Theories and the Banality of Real Evil

I’ve linked in the past to Carl Trueman’s thoughts on conspiracy theories. In general, I agree with what he says (though here the term is not defined, something that would have been helpful).

Reboot Your Phone with Mindfulness

Even if you don’t buy into the wider philosophy behind this article, there is lots of good advice on setting up your phone in such a way that you reduce distraction and do away with many of your thoughtless or subconscious interactions with it.

Flashback: Can You Help Me Find a Good Church?

“It may be the email I get more than any other: Can you help me find a church?”

Horton

Never presume God will grant you apart from prayer what he has ordained to grant you only by means of prayer. —Sam Storms