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A La Carte

July 23, 2016

Once again it has been rather a slow week for Kindle deals. I’ll keep my ear to the ground next week and hope for better things! Until then, here are some links I think you’ll enjoy.

The Perfect Spouse Will Not Complete You

So true: “If you asked most people, they would affirm that there is no such thing as a perfect spouse. However, I’m betting that most of those same people would probably also affirm the ‘perfect-for-me’ theory of spousal selection. That is the idea that there is some perfect person somewhere on the planet, and if they could just find them, the two would be perfectly happy together. Their interests, strengths, and shortcomings would all blend in perfect relational harmony.”

Pastoral Burnout: Its Causes and Its Cure

“What is a pastor to do when feeling ‘exhausted and depleted’? Should pastors entering the ministry do so on the assumption that they will one day burn out and throw in the towel? Where can such tired ministers turn? Where can discouraged shepherds go for the shepherding of their own souls?”

World-Building in The Lord of the Rings

This video explores and explains Peter Jackson’s successful world-building in The Lord of the Rings. (Note: I just noticed there’s a dumb, off-color little phrase in the final second of the video, following the credits.)

New Studies in Biblical Theology

Logos users will want to check out this sale on the NSBT series, edited by D.A. Carson. “Each volume in NSBT explores an important biblical theme, tracing its development across a biblical book, biblical writer’s work, or the entire canon of Scripture.”

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

It is still baffling that a modern airliner could just completely disappear. Popular Mechanics says, “We’ve gone through two years of clues and conspiracy theories and false starts. But to understand how we’ve come to this point, it’s necessary to review the clues that search officials possessed, and how they interpreted them.”

This Day in 1846.170 years ago today, Canadian hymn-writer William R. Featherstone was born. He composed “My Jesus, I Love Thee” before turning 16. *

Stop Trying to Make the Bible Relevant to Teenagers

Eric McKiddie says, “In my years in youth ministry I’ve seen unhelpful and even harmful methods of trying to make Scripture relevant.”

Should Your Church Build a Bigger Building?

Jonathan Leeman answers a question from someone concerned that his church is expanding its building.

Flashback: Jesus Repulses, Jesus Draws

When we preach Jesus today, we preach for a response. And there is always a response. Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. But an encounter with Jesus never accomplishes nothing.

God’s Mysterious Ways

My gratitude goes to P&R for sponsoring the blog this week with “God’s Mysterious Ways.”

Newton

How unspeakably wonderful to know that all our concerns are held in hands that bled for us. —John Newton

July 22, 2016

Westminster Books is offering a great discount on Behold Your God, a video series that features some excellent teachers and preachers. You may also want to check out their most recent list of book deals.

On the Kindle front I couldn’t see much beyond Choosing To See by Mary Beth Chapman which may interest some. Those who enjoy historical fiction may appreciate Douglas Bond’s new book The Revolt. Click here to see the deals.

Divine Simplicity and the Trinitarian Controversy

“Given the confusion that has surrounded the recent trinitarian debate, I thought it would be useful to find someone who could write a relatively straight forward post explaining the different terms being tossed around in this debate so far.”

7 Ways to Deal with Doubt

Michael Patton offers seven principles to consider when dealing with doubt.

14 Tools to Help You Avoid Distractions

“As hard as it might be to avoid every kind of distraction, though, at least we have tools that can give us a boost when our willpower starts to waver. Try one of these distraction-busting tools to get back to doing what matters most.”

Daily Slogging in the Power of the Spirit

Ray Ortlund: “I am not impressed by young pastors who seem too eager to publish books and speak at big events and build ‘a platform.’ They are doing the work of the Lord, which is good. But I’m not impressed. What impresses me is my dad’s daily slogging, year after year, in the power of the Spirit, with no big-deal-ness as the goal or the payoff.”

Rome Burned But Nero Never Fiddled

Timothy Paul Jones corrects a little piece of history.

This Day in 1926. 90 years ago today, J.I. Packer was born. What a blessing he has been to the church… 

Am I a Noisy Gong?

“Ministry would be fine if it weren’t for all the people.” That line always gets a laugh but it also reveals something concerning. Aaron Menikoff has a good article about it.

Gender, Marriage, Hell’s Gates, and Your Church Documents

Churches need to take note: “Churches presently enjoy a number of significant protections, but there is reason to believe that churches will be vulnerable to a variety of legal challenges in the years ahead, as anti-discrimination laws are updated following Obergefell. Thankfully, there are some simple things we can do to protect our gospel work against some charges of discrimination.”

Flashback: Theological Heroes and Villains

I want my heroes to be good, only good, and my villains to be bad, only bad. I can deal with this. The trouble comes when I see vices in my heroes and virtues in my villains. That is where it all gets complicated.

Thomas

Sin tastes sweet but turns bitter in our stomachs. Holiness often tastes bitter but turns sweet in our stomachs. —Gary Thomas

July 21, 2016

I have returned home from my week-long writer’s workshop in England. It was a very interesting time and at some point, perhaps on the other side of this jet lag, I’ll let you know about it. But for now, enjoy these articles:

Christian Audio $4.99 Sale

Christian Audio has a whole load of books at just $4.99 each and quite a few of them are even new releases. (Also, don’t forget about the bundle I created with them to get you started on a free trial membership).

CBMW’s New President

Yesterday CBMW announced that Denny Burk has become the new president. Here he talks about his vision for the organization.

Which Countries Have the Most Immigrants?

There’s lots of politicizing in this article, but also lots of interesting facts. Naturally, I found the comments about Canada especially interesting.

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Prayer

Melissa offers a few common sense tips on prioritizing prayer even as a busy mom.

As Seemed Best to Them…

And, on the subject of parenting, Nick Batzig offers some helpful thoughts as well. “Most of us would admit, if we were honest, that we often wish that the Scriptures were a detailed handbook for what to do in each and every interaction with our children. While the Bible speaks both directly and indirectly to every aspect of parenting, it does not give us a detailed checklist that–if husbands and wives would simply consult in each and every interaction with their children–would guarantee a favorable outcome.”

Back to the Early Church?

“While there were some great things happening then, I’m not so sure that I am eager to get back to the early church days. They, too, had their problems. Here are a few reasons why we might put the brakes on the glamorization of the early church.”

When We Say, “I Forgive You”

“What do we mean we say, ‘I forgive you’? More importantly, do we mean what the Bible means? When we really dig into Scripture’s teaching on forgiveness, we find that it stretches and challenges us, forcing us into the uncomfortable territory of being more like Jesus.”

This Day in 1936. 80 years ago today, American missionary to the Congo, Bill Chesney, was born. He would be martyred by rebel groups at the age of 28. *

Why Red Light Cameras Don’t Work

Or, at least, why they aren’t an awfully good solution overall.

Flashback: 7 Different Ways to Read a Book

Just like the title says: Here are 7 different ways to approach a book.

MacArthur

The single greatest support of truth in your preaching is the power of an exemplary life. —John MacArthur

July 20, 2016


Genie, the Feral Child

“More than four decades after she appeared in a Los Angeles County welfare office, her fate is unclear – but she has changed the lives of those who knew her…”

Recovering the Priority of Personal Holiness

“What gave John Owen success in ministry was not so much his oratory skill, nor his evangelistic zeal, nor even his love for the people he shepherded. John Owen was used mightily by God in all these ways because he was a man characterized by personal holiness.”

Does A Husband Have the Authority?

Mary Kassian engages some questions posed by a leading egalitarian: “Does a husband have the authority to take his wife’s phone away, preventing her from making calls? Does a husband have the authority to take his wife’s car keys? House keys? Does a husband have the authority to physically prevent his wife from leaving the home? Does a husband have the authority to take the wife’s personal property without consent?”

A Word About Polite Abusers

On a similar note, it is important to make these distinctions: “Not all abuse evidences itself in bruises, and not all abusers manifest their desire for control with fists.”

8 Reasons to Preach Through Books of the Bible

Jared Wilson: “While there’s no need to be dogmatic about this kind of sermon delivery, and while I think taking time for short topical sermon series or strategic ‘stand-alone’ messages can be good and helpful, I do think it is generally wise for a pastor not just to preach expositionally, but to preach expositionally through entire books of the Bible. I think every preacher ought to endeavor to feed his flock this way. And here are eight reasons why…”

This Day in 1969. 47 years ago today, Buzz Aldrin, a Presbyterian elder and astronaut, took communion on the moon during the Apollo 11 landing. *

The Terrifying Danger Of Falling Off My Own Platform

No one is too big or too small to consider important lessons. “It’s not just those who preach to big crowds, write bestselling books, or are sought-after conferences speakers. Countless other pastors and ministry leaders crash every day. We’ll likely never hear of them, but I’d guess the process is much the same in every case.”

The Evangelical Drug of Choice

Ponder this: “While many evangelicals are quick to condemn alcohol and drug abuse, our drug of choice has become entertainment and fantasy. It softly distracts and weakens Christians daily.”

Flashback: With Purity and Dignity

“The area of lust, especially as it is so commonly expressed in pornography, may be the clearest example of the value of putting sin to death as an expression of love for others.”

Lawson

At the core of any healthy congregation is a vibrant exposition of God’s Word. —Steven Lawson

July 19, 2016

I have been a guest on a couple of different podcasts recently: Tech Reformation where we discussed social media, news, and blogging. Then I was also on These Go to 11 where they asked me questions to American politics but from a Canadian perspective.

The Immaturity of Addiction

“When someone begins to abuse substances repeatedly, they are often exchanging responsibility for pleasure.” This can be seen as an expression of immaturity.

Lemonade Stands Ethics: Serious Questions and Answers

This is just serious enough to make the point. “It’s that time of year when we again consider Christian morality and lemonade stands. Below find answers to common questions.”

The Legacy of One-Point Calvinism and Casual Churchianity

John Piper: “I grew up among a few million ‘one-point Calvinists’ who misunderstood their one point: ‘once saved, always saved.’ In general, it meant, if Johnny asked Jesus into his heart at age six, left the church at sixteen, mocked Jesus for ten years, and died in Vietnam with a bullet hole through his playboy bunny, he was in heaven.”

4 Simple Steps for Doing Bible Word Studies

George Guthrie follows up a previous post with an instructive one on doing word studies.

Stargazer Fish

Stargazers have eyes on the top of their heads. They bury themselves in the bottom of the sea and just wait for something to blunder on by. Check out the video.

If It Makes You Happy

This article at Reformation21 really digs down to the bottom of the “if it makes you happy” way of thinking that’s so pervasive today.

This Day in 1649 367 years ago today, Edward Winslow helped organize the Society for Propagating the Gospel in New England for the purpose of bringing the gospel to American Indians. *

Five Things I Pray I Will Not Do as a Senior Adult in the Church

Thom Rainer is thinking about being a senior (which is coming right up) and considering the kind of senior he does not want to be. “I have five specific prayers. They are for me. They are for my attitude about my church. They are reminders I will need to review constantly.”

Flashback: So You Want To Sin, Do You?

So you want to sin, do you? I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve been there today. And yesterday. And the day before. Can I beg just four or five minutes of your time? Then you can go and sin all you want. But first I want you to read just a few words and take a moment to consider them.

Luther

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me. —Martin Luther

July 18, 2016

 

Encouragement, Confession, and Concern

Garrett Kell was at this weekend’s big event on The Mall and writes out his thoughts on it. “I didn’t see or hear everything during those seven hours, but I saw much of it. And as I watched, I found myself encouraged, convicted, and concerned.”

5 Principles for Studying the Trinity

Gavin Ortlund: “The Trinity has been ‘trending’ lately in the blogosphere. I think that is a good thing insofar as theological debate often leads to greater theological clarity. Rather than wade into the contested areas, I thought it might be helpful to offer a broader, more constructive post for those of us (like myself) who, particularly in light of the controversy, see our need to keep “beefing up” our understanding of the Trinity.”

The Fjords of Norway

Here’s a beautiful timelapse film of Norway. And then here’s a haunting one of Fukushima.

The Calvary Option?

Carl Trueman: “The world around may legitimate whatever sleaze, self-indulgence and self-deception it may choose. It may decide that black is white, that up is down, and that north is south, for all I care. The needs of my congregation—of all congregations—will remain, at the deepest level, the same that they have always been, as will the answers which Christianity provides.”

The L.E.D. Quandary

Here’s an interesting one on L.E.D. lights. “Building bulbs to last turns out to pose a vexing problem: no one seems to have a sound business model for such a product. And, paradoxically, this is the very problem that the short life span of modern incandescents was meant to solve.”

This Day in 1965. 51 years ago today, R.C. Sproul was ordained by the Pittsburg Presbytery in the United Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A.

“Forced Love” Is the Wrong Way to Look at It

Yes, let’s be done with this unfair caricature of Calvinism.

Headphones Everywhere

“Anyone who has recently spent time in a public space—traversing the aisle of an airplane, say, lurching toward your seat adjacent to the toilet, trying to shift your backpack without thwapping a fellow traveller on the forehead—has likely noticed the sudden and extraordinary ubiquity of headphones.” Indeed.

Flashback: 10 Ways To Resist The Devil

It is one of the Bible’s many sweet and powerful promises: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The question is, though, how do we do this? In very practical ways, how do we resist the devil? Here are 10 of them…

Spurgeon

When your will is God’s will, you will have your will.C.H. Spurgeon

July 16, 2016

 

Why the Planned Parenthood Videos Didn’t Change the Abortion Debate

It was a year ago that the Planned Parenthood videos were released. “The videos garnered a surprising among of media attention, sparked congressional hearings, and launched dozens of investigations into Planned Parenthood (PP). But a year later, not much has changed. And many people are wondering what went wrong.” He speculates on what happened.

The World’s Largest Model Railroad

There are some terrifically eccentric people out there and this is one of them. (His model railroad is huge but kind of low quality, isn’t it?)

Church Aflame

You may enjoy, and may even need, this call to evangelism. “If Christianity is simply about being nice, I’m not interested. What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside-down? I’m ready for a Christianity that ‘ruins’ my life, which captures my heart and makes me uncomfortable.”

A Love Like That

This is a sweet description of the love of Charles and Sarah Hodge. Kevin DeYoung brings the application: “Married couples, if you imagine that your final moments together will be like this, rejoice and again I say rejoice.”

I Tripped and Fell at the Olympics

Jim Ryun: “I tripped and fell at my final Olympics. It was one of the best things to happen to me.”

Eight Mistakes Churches Make on Their Websites

I’m sure I’ve seen all of these at one time or another. Most of them I’ve seen recently…

This Day in 1674. 342 years ago today, Isaac Watts was born in Southampton, England. He would write over 600 hymns. *

The Incredible Complications of Living Atop the U.S.-Canada Border

What happens if your town, or even your house, spans an international border? This article tells about a guy whose backyard is in the US while his front yard is in Canada.

Flashback: 3 Helpful Instructions on Keeping a Journal

It’s not meant to “advocate a tell-all diary, but a prudent, humble, and appropriate record of our experiences and observations of God’s providence.”

Pulpit Aflame

My gratitude goes to Reformation Heritage Books for sponsoring the blog this week with “Pulpit Aflame.”

Watson

Are there not millions of us who would rather go sleeping to hell; than sweating to heaven? —Thomas Watson

July 15, 2016

Westminster Books is having an open box sale on ESV Bibles with many of them up to 70% off. You’ll need to act fast because they will be gone quickly. And now, some links for your reading pleasure:

Ten Key Questions for Sermon Preparation

Darryl Dash offers some great questions for preachers to consider.

The Gospel of the Kingdom Is Like an Old Hymn

Jared Wilson: “The gospel is an old hymn. The gospel is sheet music printed in antiquarian typeface on a yellowed page in a dusty book. It’s the ‘old, old story’ and the ‘old rugged cross.’ It is four verses—and please don’t skip the third verse to expedite the invitation!”

4 Reasons Why Every Bible Reader Should Do Word Studies

George Guthrie says “In this post I want to make a case for learning the basics of doing word studies, whether we are pulling out the shovel of deeper Bible study or the trowel of basic Bible reading. Here are 4 motivations…”

Searching for a Soul Mate

You’ve heard the concept of soul mate, but do you know where it came from? Its origin highlights why it’s mostly an unhelpful and unrealistic concept.

Harambe, Human Value, and Palatable Civil Religion

Canon and Culture looks at recent incidents of human violence and compares them to incidents of animal violence. “These incidents provide a window into our society and, despite the unthinkable and horrific nature of their tragedy, provide opportunities for reflection.”

This Day in 1852. 164 years ago today, following the Great Awakening, Hawaii sent out its first missionaries to the Caroline Islands. *

The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times

Here’s the tale of a sound so loud it circled the earth four times. It is the loudest sound ever heard on earth.

Jesus’ Delay and Jairus’ Daughter

Why would Jesus have delayed in healing that girl?

Flashback: Looking Forward to the Reward

“Is it wrong to be motivated by rewards? Somehow in my mind it seems like the reward must negate the joy or the purity of obedience, and especially when it comes to the way I handle money. Shouldn’t I want to give out of the joy of obedience? Shouldn’t I want to give simply because I love the God who commands me to give generously?”

Dyer

To bless God for mercies is the way to increase them; to bless Him for miseries is the way to remove them. —William Dyer