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A La Carte

March 30, 2016

 

Hope for a Hopeless Marriage

This story of hope in a hopeless situation may be an encouragement to you.

The Joy and Pain of Consistent Parenting

Parenting in a nutshell: “This morning I awoke at 12:30AM to the blood-curdling screams of my two-year old daughter. She wanted a new band-aid for her toe. Her screaming fit caused her one-year old brother to wake up as well.”

6 Great Threats to the Christian Family

“The Christian family is under constant assault. Western hemisphere Christians have awakened to this reality in recent years as Western nations embrace everything from homosexual union as marriage, to legally forbidding parents from disciplining their own children, to restricted parental rights regarding health care. As serious as these issues remain, some of the deadliest enemies of the Christian family come from within rather than from without.”

Preaching or Counseling?

Pastors and church leaders would do well to read and consider Ed Welch’s article on preaching and counseling.

Four Warnings for Your Twenties

“The same temptations that were murdering the believers under Moses are waging a spiritual war against believers today: entertainment, sexual immorality, impatience, and contentment. … These four warnings were lived out by Israel, but meant by God for you, and for me.”

This Day in 1661. 355 years ago today, Presbyterian preacher and author Samuel Rutherford died. *

Are You a Self-Starter, But Not a Self-Finisher?

It’s a question that’s well worth asking yourself. If you don’t know the answer, ask a few people who know you well. (I recently had some trusted friends tell me something very similar to this.)

5 Ways To Protect Your Kids At Church

All of these ought to be implemented in every church.

Exercising an Idle Mind

I’m really enjoying Kelly Needham’s writing these days. “Most days my mind is ready and active to tackle the challenge of overanalyzing any situation, whether it be my marriage, my children, recent conversations or exchanges I had with so-and-so, future plans, and more. There’s never a lack of things to think about. But an idle, purposeless thought life creates a downward spiral of self-focused thoughts and fantasies about problems that aren’t yet in existence. An idle mind can very often be the devil’s playground.”

Watson

One scandalous hypocrite makes the world suspect that all professors are so. —Thomas Watson

March 29, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include A Model of Christian Maturity by D.A. Carson ($2.99); Preaching to a Post-Everything World by Zack Eswine ($2.99); Doxology and Theology by Matt Boswell ($2.99); Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job by Hugh Ross ($2.99); Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax ($2.99). New from GLH Publishing is Walking with God by Richard Baxter which is starting out at $0.99.

Ligonier is offering this month’s issue of Tabletalk as a free download in various formats. It deals with the timely subject of Islam.

15 Reflections from My 15 Years of Experience as a Pastor

Brian Najapfour offers up 15 excellent reflections based on his 15 years of pastoring.

Faithlessness Shrinks You Down To a Grasshopper

Trevin Wax: “Thinking too little of God sometimes leads you to think too little of yourself. For years, I thought it was the other way around. I always thought that seeing God as big meant I needed to see myself as small. Or, to put it another way, the bigger my vision of God grows, the more my vision of myself will shrink. Wrong.”

Will Phoebe Have Down’s Syndrome in Heaven?

This is a short but powerful reflection in which a father answers his son.

The Hardest Thing About Being a Missionary

It turns out that the hardest thing about being a missionary is also the hardest thing about being a pastor. That leads this pastor/missionary to a meditation on loving people even when it is difficult.

Love and Entitlement

Over the last little while, Melissa has been penning a lot of small articles like this one that reflect on the nature of true love compared to versions that are fraudulent or ridiculous. This time it’s “making sure that our relationships are about US getting what WE want, and if the other person can’t deliver on our list of demands, then they just aren’t worthy of us.”

This Day in 1788. 228 years ago today, evangelist and hymn writer Charles Wesley died. *

Homophobia Has No Place in the Church

“Simply put, homophobia means a fear of homosexuality and, more specifically, homosexual people. And while it is not the same as loving, biblical opposition to certain behaviors or beliefs, this fear-based attitude often leads to unhelpful stereotypes, prejudice, and even cruel mistreatment. So let’s call a spade a spade. Homophobia exists, and it has no place in the church.”

How Clinton’s Email Scandal Took Root

The Washington Post has a long and interesting explanation of how Hillary Clinton’s email scandal began and took root.

Syria and My Prayerlessness

I think we have all had these moments: “My heart sank on Sunday morning when someone prayed aloud for the Syrian refugees. I had forgotten all about them.” I appreciate Laura Booz’s reflection and determination.

Greear

In the Bible we find no gap between the call to follow Jesus and the call to engage in mission. —J.D. Greear

March 28, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include 3 titles by Philip Ryken: Grace Transforming, Kingdom Come!, and Loving Jesus More at $1.99 each. Also consider the brand new book Expository Apologetics by Voddie Baucham which is just $2.99 for a few days.

Logos users will want to vote in the championship round of March Madness (vote Packer!) and check out the 50% off deals for those who were eliminated in round 5.

10 Common Ways Churches Get Off Mission

Jared Wilson: “The Lord has called his people to be on gospel mission for the sake of his glory. Most churchfolk will readily acknowledge this, and yet many churches have drifted away — often subtly — from thinking of themselves as missionaries in their respective communities and beyond. Here are some common ways churches engage in ‘mission drift.’”

On Disney, Dreams, and the Dream to Come

I can identify with this report on a visit to Disney World. “You see, Disney was very magical. And also very not. My husband and I spent most of the time parenting our way through it. We went to Disney World and my sin came out. Big time.”

Three Biblical Practices for Prayer

“Jesus was in the habit of praying. And if it was important to him, it’s important to us. Though we can find many lessons throughout the Bible on how to pray, here are just three elements of prayer that we can put into practice now.”

Suicide Bomber Kills 65

You may have heard about a suicide bomber devastating a Christian gathering in Pakistan. Christianity Today reports.

Beware of Quicksand

This is a good reflection on one of those little moments of danger in life and marriage.

This Day in 1937. 79 years ago today, a nervous Billy Graham preached his first sermon. *

How Do the Sacraments Help Us?

R.C. Sproul explains how the sacraments help us.

The Unappreciated Blessing of Busyness

Is busyness always a bad thing? Not necessarily, depending how you define it.

Doriani

Spiritual authority depends more on care given than on power wielded. —Daniel Doriani

March 26, 2016

Kindle deals today include The Story of God’s Love for You by Sally Lloyd-Jones ($1.99); It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke ($1.99); Saved Without A Doubt by John MacArthur ($2.99); Song of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko ($2.99); God’s Love and The Work of Christ by R.C. Sproul ($1.99 each); How We Got the Bible by Neil Lightfoot ($1.99).

History Today: George Whitefield Founds an Orphanage

This is actually History Tomorrow now, but it’s a good overview of Whitefield’s orphanage.

Don’t Like Diversity? You’ll Hate Heaven

The title about says it all, doesn’t it?

A Horribly Beautiful Friday

Paul Tripp: “At the center of a biblical worldview is this radical recognition: the most horrible thing that ever happened was the most beautiful thing to ever happen.”

AIRTIME

“Set in the desert of Dubai, the urban spaces of Hongkong or the stunning landscapes of Hawaii, ‘AIRTime’ is a 4K drone film, which chronicles a mix of travel experiences filmed across 12 countries over 7 months.” It is stunning.

Tomorrow in 1536. 480 years ago tomorrow, Swiss Protestants in Strassbourg and Constance signed the First Helvetic Confession. *

Bringing Their Faith to Work

WORLD has an article about and for public school teachers who bring their faith to work.

We Will Live Again

This 12-minute video shows the work of the Cryonics Institute as they attempt to preserve bodies for a future where they will be able to revive them and reverse the effects of disease and aging. There are all kinds of spiritual lessons to draw from it!

Thanks to This Week’s Sponsor

Thanks to Tabletalk for sponsoring the blog this week. Get a free trial and CD set on Islam now.

Edwards

The resurrection of Christ is the most joyful event that ever came to pass. —Jonathan Edwards

March 25, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include Cold-Case Christianity ($1.99) and God’s Crime Scene ($3.99) by J. Warner Wallace; The Jesus Storybook Bible and Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones ($1.99 each); Long Story Short and Old Story New by Marty Machowski ($2.99 each).

When I Didn’t Love My Adopted Child

I appreciated this honest bit of writing. “That maternal instinct God gives mothers is an incredible force for good—and something I didn’t have with our adopted daughter like I have with my other kids.”

What Do Expiation and Propitiation Mean?

Let Dr. Sproul explain those important terms which are especially appropriate to consider on Good Friday.

How To Preach A Terrible Easter Sermon

“Like the spirits who plagued the Demoniac, my mistakes in Easter-preaching have been legion. The subject is always lively, but the preaching is sometimes grave! So in a deeply ironical tone, neither to be copied or encouraged, here are seven ways to preach a terrible Easter sermon. Please, I beg of you, do not try this in your pulpit this Sunday.”

Smithsonian Magazine’s 2015 Photo Contest

There are some pretty amazing shots in Smithsonian’s photo contest.

The Quran’s Deadly Role

Nabeel Qureshi writes for USA Today and explains “Western recruits for jihad are inspired by the literal interpretation of Muslim sacred texts. This is what we must fight.”

This Day in 1951. 65 years ago today, missionary and martyr Jim Elliot wrote, “When it comes time to die, make sure that all you have to do is die.” *

How Nike lost Steph to Under Armour

You’ll probably need to be a sports fan, though not necessarily a basketball fan, to find this one interesting.

Adam Young Scores

If you enjoy the music of Adam Young (aka Owl City) you might appreciate this one-year project he has taken on. Every month he is creating a score to go along with a major event, Apollo 11 last month and the Titanic this month.

Keller

Wedding vows are not a declaration of present love but a mutually binding promise of future love. —Tim Keller

March 24, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include A Simple Christianity by John MacArthur ($1.99), Resurrection by Hank Hanegraaff ($1.99), and two by Michael Kelley: Boring and Wedesdays Were Pretty Normal ($2.99 each).

Logos March Madness has come down to the final four. You can vote for your picks here: Bock vs Wright and Packer vs Marshall. You can also get 45% off authors who were eliminated in the last round.

The Message of Islam vs. The Gospel of Jesus

Don Carson, Graham Cole, Douglas Sweeney, and Harold A. Netland teamed up to write this article that compares Islam and Christianity. “Rather than trying to answer directly whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God, it’s more helpful to consider similarities and differences in the beliefs of Muslims and Christians, noting areas of both agreement and disagreement.”

Shouting “Christ Is Risen!”

Vance Christie writes about William Sangster: “When he learned of the diagnosis, he made four resolutions: ‘I will never complain. I will keep the home bright. I will count my blessings. I will try to turn it to gain.’ Later he wrote: ‘There have been great gains already from my sickness. I live in the present. I am grateful for little things. I have more time – and use it – for prayer.’”

Christ or Chaos?

Check out this week’s deals at Westminster Books for some good deals on apologetic books for new and young believers.

Brussels Points Us to Calvary

It its own way, the tragedy in Brussels points us to Calvary.

Spider Web Time-Lapse

BBC: “We filmed a garden orb web spider building their amazing spider web in this time lapse as well as slow motion footage as they capture their first prey with it!”

Three Mistakes to Avoid in Good Friday Preaching

Pastors preparing that Good Friday message may wish to give this article a read to ensure they aren’t making these mistakes.

This Day in 1820. 196 years ago today, blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby was born. *

Abiding Beats Busywork

There is a good challenge here for pastors. And, as it happens, this passage was in my morning Bible reading, so I especially appreciated the application.

How Many Trees Are There?

How many trees are there in the world? This video takes a shot at an answer. Turns out that previous estimates were way off.

Spurgeon

Fighting sheep are strange animals, and fighting Christians are self-evident contradictions. —C.H. Spurgeon

March 23, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include a few titles: HarperCollins Atlas of Bible History ($1.99); Evolution Impossible by John Ashton ($2.99); Risen: 50 Reasons Why the Resurrection Changed Everything by Steven Mathewson ($1.99); Why People Don’t Believe by Paul Chamberlain ($0.99).

Brussels Pastor: ‘Our City is in Pain’

WORLD magazine talks to a Brussels pastor about the events that unfolded there yesterday.

Rob Ford: 1969-2016

Toronto’s former mayor, Rob Ford, died yesterday. Though he made himself an international laughing stock, please keep his family and young children in prayer. His family has many connections to local churches and Christians, so pray that the Lord would use this for his glory.

Honor Your Wife as the Weaker Vessel

John Piper takes on this tricky text in his most recent Look at the Book.

Political Correctness

Steven Harris looks at the good and the bad of political correctness. “Nevertheless, it is important that we, as evangelicals, realize our dual role in such a chaotic PC culture—advocate and herald.”

Donald Trump: Do Character, Morality and Kindness Still Matter?

I link to very little related to American politics. However, when Randy Alcorn speaks I tend to listen. This article is worth a read. He asks this: What are Trump’s character qualities and moral standards, and should they matter to Christ-followers?

This Day in 1775. 241 years ago today, Patrick Henry (who was a committed Christian) delivered his speech with the famous line, “Give me liberty or give me death.” *

Early Underwater Warfare

“Like the innards of some hellish behemoth gutted on the banks of the Tyne, these photographs show the cramped, claustrophobic interior of U-boat 110.” 

Expositional Imposters

This article has some helpful information on common expositional mistakes.

Carson

The better we know God, the more we will want all our existence to revolve around him. —D.A. Carson

March 22, 2016

I found just one Kindle deal today, but you can’t get a better price: Anthony Carter’s book Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes Our Salvation, an ideal pre-Easter read, is free for a limited time.

The Bible Returns to Cuba

This is exciting to hear! “For the first time since diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba were restored, one of the world’s largest private Bible collections was made available to all Cuban people – free and open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. – on display from February 6 – March 13.”

20 Questions You Never Thought to Ask about the Gospels

Though the questions are actually an advertisement for a course, they are great questions.

A Gentle Political Recalibration

Erik Raymond: “Without minimizing the importance of the election or impugning anyone who is a political junkie, I want to offer a gentle reminder for Christians who might be getting a little too wrapped up in the election. Call it a gentle calibration.”

The Christian Life Isn’t Meant to Be Effortless

Donald Whitney explains how and why God “calls us to live the Christian life with the full—though God-centered—use of our minds and judgment and everything else that is a part of our humanity.”

Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit

This is a good bit of writing: “In the storyline of the Bible, this question pierces to the heart. Will you trust God? In some ways, this question is the very essence of true discipleship. Jesus calls each of us to turn from our former lives of death and sin and turn to a life of following him. That is predicated on this very question: do you trust God?”

This Day in 1758. 258 years ago today, pastor and scholar Jonathan Edwards died in New Jersey. *

Was the New Testament Written Early?

“Atheists and skeptics usually try to discredit the New Testament by indicating that it was written hundreds after the events. Is there evidence for this claim?” Frank Turek answers.

Tullian Tchividjian Confesses Second Affair

This ugly news broke yesterday: “This weekend, Tullian Tchividjian’s past two churches confirmed rumors that the Florida pastor had another affair prior to the one that prompted his resignation last summer.”

Lawson

Depth in the word produces height in worship, length in ministry, and breadth in outreach. —Steven Lawson