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A La Carte

June 04, 2016

It is a joy to be in Seattle for the Ligonier Ministries West Coast Conference. I played my part yesterday by teaming up with Nathan Bingham on a pre-conference dedicated to being digital disciples. Today I head home just in time to watch my daughter perform at her ballet recital. While I travel, you read. Here are some suggestions:

Retirement Reexamined

“This kind of carefree, work-free post-retirement life is a widely shared dream today, but it does not align with a Christian understanding of work and vocation. Retirement and old age do not signal the end of one’s vocation…”

How Do I Trust My Spouse After Adultery?

“It is right, healthy, and normal to feel the weight of this sorrow and to take your time to process all that has happened to you. It is possible, however, over time, and with help, to overcome the broken trust and renew a healthy relationship. The key to rebuilding trust is to give it in stages.”

Play Hard

I hadn’t thought of it this way before: “The spirit of play is part of the creativity of rest.”

13 Reasons We Need Church History

Matt Hall offers 13 reasons we can’t afford to forget about church history.

A New Journal

Reformed Theological Seminary has just announced a new online theological journal titled Reformed Faith and Practice (RF&P). It’s free for the taking!

Contraband Corned Beef

That time an astronaut brought his own lunch into space.

This Day in 1820. 196 years ago today, Elvina Hall died. She wrote the hymn, “Jesus Paid it All.” *

A Fatal Theological Oxymoron

Peter Jones explains why “gay Christian” is a fatal oxymoron.

Faithfulness and Fruitlessness in Ministry

I think pastors will be both challenged and encouraged by Jeremy Walker’s article on faithfulness and fruitfulness in ministry. I especially appreciate his second call: Make sure you are preaching Christ, not just about Christ.

Flashback: When It’s Time for the Talk

I am often asked about resources to help when it’s time for “the talk.” Here are some suggestions.

Horton

The church is not only where disciples go once a week; it’s where disciples are made. —Michael Horton

June 03, 2016

I did not find much noteworthy today for Kindle deals. However, you may want to note that Westminster Books has a good deal on a new book titled Unshakable that looks ideal for students. They have discounts on a few other related titles.

The Sun Is Always Shining in Modern Christian Pop

“Jamie Grace’s ‘Beautiful Day’ was one of the top 10 Christian songs of 2014 and has a typically peppy chorus: ‘This feeling can’t be wrong / I’m about to get my worship on / Take me away / It’s a beautiful day.’ Switch it out for Pharrell’s ‘Happy,’ and a congregation might not be able to tell the difference.”

Died: Robertson McQuilkin

It seems fitting to include a link to this after the previous one. “Robertson McQuilkin, who stepped down from the presidency of Columbia Bible College and Seminary (now Columbia International University) in 1990 to care fulltime for his ailing wife, Muriel, has died. He was 88.”

Legalism

The current issue of Tabletalk deals with legalism. You can read many of the articles for free online.

How Is Your Phone Changing You?

In every way, basically. This video explains.

Four Warning Signs You May Be Wandering from the Truth

“You don’t want to be that person. So, you need to be alert to the danger. You may know someone who is wandering, and God may use you to bring a wanderer back and help them get rooted in the truth.”

This Day in 1905. 111 years ago today, founder of the China Inland Mission, Hudson Taylor, died. *

The Politics of Never Growing Up

Samuel James considers for a moment the portrait that is currently emerging of the young American adult.

Untangling the Air Traffic Network

Here are some neat visualizations of the world’s air traffic.

Flashback: The Cost of Radical Generosity

“I was actually just starting to feel a little sorry for myself. I was on the sidelines at my daughter’s soccer game while a group of parents stood behind me laughing and chatting.”

Thomas

Grateful law-keeping is the saved sinner’s response to received grace. The rest of our lives are a way of saying, “Thank you.” —Derek Thomas

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