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A La Carte

January 01, 2014

Happy new year and welcome to 2014. I continue to take it easy through the holidays, but did put together an edition of A La Carte this morning. 

There are always lots of deals to begin a new month. Here are the ones I’ve tracked down: Union with Christ by Todd Billings ($3.99); Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton ($3.99). B&H has put their New American Commentary Studies on sale for $4.99 each: Believer’s Baptism by Thomas Schreiner; Future Israel by Barry Horner; Enthroned on Our Praise by Timothy Pierce; Sermon on the Mount by Charles Quarles; Lukan Authorship of Hebrews by David Allen; God’s Indwelling Presence by James Hamilton; The Messianic Hope by Michael Rydelnik; The Ten Commandments by Mark Rooker; The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Schreiner; The End of the Law by Jason Meyer; That You May Know by Christopher Bass.

This month’s free audiobook from ChristianAudio is the Hear the Word ESV Bible! Logos users will want to download their free book of the month (a real page-turner!), Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges: Hebrew by Frederic W. Farrar.

God With Us - I enjoyed this adaptation of a Charles Spurgeon sermon on the birth of Christ. 

Don’t Waste Your Weakness - Piper: “Since 2007, millions of people have read books and taken inventories designed to find our strengths. These are useful for positioning people in places of maximum effectiveness. But I am calling you to give attention and effort in finding your weaknesses and maximizing their God-given purpose.”

The Most Important Leadership Trait You Shun - “Imagine two lists: One contains the qualities that a business person should have, and another includes the attributes that most business people would say they wouldn’t want to have. There’s only one term I can think of that might top both lists: vulnerability.”

8 Kinds of Blog Commenter - Yup, this looks just about right.

The character of a life is not set in two or three dramatic moments, but in 10,000 little moments. —Paul Tripp

December 31, 2013

Before the year ends, let me round up a few of the best Kindle deals you’ll find right now: Running Scared by Ed Welch (free); Jesus On Every Page by David Murray ($2.99); Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung ($3.99); Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler ($3.99); Simple Church by Thom Rainer ($3.71); Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear ($3.99); The End of the Law by Jason Meyer ($4.99); Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcey ($3.99); That You May Know by Christopher Bass ($4.99); Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith (free); A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson & Dan Dumas ($3.49).

A Year-End Editorial - Read this one! “We should look beyond ourselves at the end of the year. After all, our lives are bound up with the Story of God’s redemptive plan being accomplished in history. So, as Christians, our year-end remembrances are never to be selfish exercises of navel gazing self-condemnation or self-congratulation, but a reminder that Christ is at work in history.”

Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?“That maxim has survived as a modern principle of foreign policy. It explains why states that have been at war against one another can, in a very short period of time, become allies against a common enemy.” But does it work for our cultural challenges?

Evangelizing Prosperity Gospel Adherents - From the 9Marks journal: “Sharing the gospel with people who have bought into the unbiblical message that Jesus died to make us healthy, wealthy, and successful is challenging for many reasons, but I believe two are primary…”

55 Canadianisms - Here are 55 Canadianisms you may not know or are using differently.

Our Year with the Bible - I’m very grateful for LifeChurch’s Bible app. Here’s an infographic showing a few statistics they collected this year.

40 Resolutions to Consider Making - If you’re the kind who makes resolutions, here’s a list of 40 you might consider.

What God intends, he decrees; what God permits, he has foreseen. —Arthur Custance

December 30, 2013

5 Ways to Bomb a Sermon - There is some very helpful counsel in this article. While it’s directed specifically at those who preach to young people, it’s applicable to anyone who preaches or speaks before others.

Centered On One or the Other - “What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered? That’s a popular concept these days. Good. What if we were scrambling to be law-centered? But the difference is not so easy in real terms.”

Absurd Creature of the Week - Wired highlights an absurd creature of the week. “With such a conspicuously flat body, it deftly slices through the water, wide-eyed and mouth agape like a perpetually surprised saw blade.”

One Dramatic Resolution or 10,000 Little Ones - Paul Tripp discusses the value of New Years’ resolutions and the unlikelihood that one major resolution will bear fruit.

4 Godly Disciplines - Here are four godly disciplines that are unique to this decade.

Coolest Science GIFs of 2013 - This one is just for fun: the coolest science GIFs of 2013.

Between us and heaven or hell there is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world. —Blaise Pascal

December 28, 2013

The Most Courageous Resolution - Jon Bloom on resolutions: “Resolves are intentions with strategies attached to them. You don’t just hope something is going to happen; you are planning to make it happen. To be resolved is to be determined.” He proposes a resolution for you.

Duck Dynasty Wins - WORLD: “The gay lobby’s power is limited. The A&E television network late Friday afternoon, facing a backlash and threatened boycott, reversed its decision to suspend Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. The Robertson family offered no immediate comment.”

Beautiful in its Time - R.C. Sproul Jr reflects on what he remembers and what he forgets. “I don’t remember everything I read. I don’t remember the great names and dates of history. I do, however, remember the layout of the basement of a family’s house we visited once, when I was nine.”

Communicating With People Who Have Dementia - Communicating with people who have dementia can be a real challenge. Here is some counsel.

Are You Faking or Trying? - “Plenty of people fake it in their spiritual lives. They want to look like healthy Christians or to make it through church without anyone looking askance at them or asking a personal question. That comes from a heart of pride and deceit. Trying until it pays off is different.”

Pray For Your Daughter - Mike Leake is beginning a 31-day pray for your daughter challenge. It kicks off January 1.

December 27, 2013

‘Tis the season to discuss Bible-reading plans for the year to come. Justin Taylor offers a long list of options; Ligonier does as well and includes downloadable guides; Peter Krol has some suggestions as well as a list of benefits.

CROSS - The CROSS conference kicks off this afternoon (schedule); you can watch it all via live-streaming.

Someone For Some People - Check out this little bit of verse taken from the book From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. (Note: Rebecca formatted it as verse.)

This Video Will Hurt - This video takes a fascinating look at the nocebo effect which illustrates both the power and the weakness of our minds.

Fourteen Generations - Have you ever wondered why the genealogy of Matthew 1 contains 3 groupings of 14 generations? Mitchell Chase takes a look and offers an explanation.

Clearing Things Up - Todd Pruitt offers a helpful clarification regarding the Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson debacle. He suggests that much of the discussion has blurred the distinction between two categories.

The People Who Challenged My Atheism - Here’s an interesting article from The Guardian: The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes. I’ve been reminded that life is not as rational as Richard Dawkins sees it. Perhaps atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy…”

Restoration as Gospel Priority - Ray Ortlund looks to 2 Corinthians and shows that for Paul  “aim for restoration was ideal as an all-encompassing intention.  For any gospel-defined church, then or now, restoration is an obvious priority.”

December 26, 2013

Here are a few Kindle deals you may want to check out: The Quiet Place by Nancy Leigh DeMoss ($2.99); A Life Observed by Devin Brown ($2.99); 50 People Every Christian Should Know by Warren Wiersbe ($3.99); The Scriptures Testify About Me edited by D.A. Carson ($3.99); Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung ($3.99). Also be sure to check out this list and this list for more great deals.

Dude, Where’s Your Gravitas? - “Our culture wants men to be featherweights when it comes to conviction, seriousness, responsibility, discipline, courage, and truth. The Creator of these men does not. He wants gravitas.” Obviously we can overcorrect here, but it’s well worth thinking about this article.

Earthrise - Here’s a video about the iconic photo of earthrise taken by the crew of Apollo 8.

Teaching Doctrine to the Poor - Mez McConnell has been asked whether the poor really need doctrine or if they just need to be told that Jesus loves them. He responds here.

The Files - Here’s a video interpretation of Josh Harris’ dream/story “The Room.” It’s quite well done.

I’ve Already Won - Edward Snowden says he’s already won and I’m inclined to agree. “As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated,” Snowden told the Post. “Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”

We Need Gospel Patrons - Yes to this! We need gospel patrons.

Daily inspirational quotes will return next week. —Tim Challies

December 24, 2013

There are some new Kindle deals today: Resisting Gossip by Matthew Mitchell (one of my favorite reads of 2013) is $3.99; Does God Desire All To Be Saved? by John Piper ($1.99); Effective Bible Teaching by James Wilhoit & Leland Ryken ($3.99); A Better Way by Michael Horton ($3.99); 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever ($3.99); 

The Violence of Christmas - “Do yourself a favor before Christmas. Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth. Then read Genesis 1-3. Then read Revelation 12. Then throw in Romans 16:20 for good measure. That’s the whole Christmas story. It’s not simply the poetic and sweet story of a child’s birth, welcomed by stars and angels. It’s a violent war story.”

Losses at Christmas - Carolyn McCulley reflects on losses at Christmas. “Even though we daily receive new mercies from Him, Jesus is not going to patch up this broken world. He is going to give us something much better: a new heavens and a new earth where there are no more tears and no more death.”

Whatever It Takes - Here’s a story of a father’s love for his son.

14 Things Not To Say To Your Pastor - Here’s a lighthearted look at some things not to say to your pastor.

And He Dwelt Among Us - Logos users will want to grab this free Christmas gift from Logos. Use coupon code 12DAYS2013.

The Hobbit 2 - I plan to see The Hobbit 2. For now, though, I enjoyed Gene Veith’s take on it.

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayers and worn with thanks. —Thomas Goodwin

December 23, 2013

Christian Focus has put Kindle editions of their list of great John Owen titles on sale for $3.99 each: Assurance, Communion With God, The Glory of Christ, The Holy Spirit, The Priesthood of Christ. They’ve also put many of their Torchbearers titles (histories and biographies for kids) on sale for $3.99: William Tyndale, Nate Saint, The Two Margarets, James Chalmers, Polycarp, Jim Elliot, and Titanic: Ship of Dreams. Relationships, a Mess Worth Making by Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp is free. Called to Stay by Caleb Breakey is $3.03. 

Toronto Ice Storm - My family headed south for Christmas Saturday morning; this hit our city Saturday evening. I’m glad we fled when we did!

5 Things Christian Should Stop Saying - Jason Johnson: “We mean well, don’t we? But sometimes our attempts to say something spiritual actually come out unbiblical, or at a minimum, not very helpful. Here’s the 5 I hear the most…”

Why Aren’t People Changing? - Mez McConnell answers some good questions: “Why do some people grow quickly and move on in the Christian life and others drift away or always seem stuck in neutral? Why do 2 young addicts profess faith, get involved in the life of the same church, have the same discipleship opportunities, gain new friendships and yet one quickly begins to flounder whilst the other grows and excels in their Christian life?”

A Christmas Memory - I enjoyed reading Ed Welch’s remembrance of a Christmas long ago.

Angels and Demons - Foreign Policy offers a warning: “Pentecostalism is the world’s fastest growing religious movement. But in much of Africa, it’s fueling witch-hunts and the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Master of His Virtual Domain - I guess there’s not necessarily a huge amount of value in this article, but it does warn of the addictive power of some of today’s video games (which are constructed to be addictive).

What about putting Christ back into Christmas? It is simply not necessary. Christ has never left Christmas. —R.C. Sproul

December 21, 2013

Aren’t There Enough Christian Books Already? - We’ve probably all asked the question at one time or another. Barnabas Piper answers well. “So, are there enough Christian books out there? Yes – of the boring, repetitive, prescriptive variety. Yes – of the all flash, no substance type. Yes – of the boring type. But that’s always the case.”

Tweeting Myself to Death - There is lots to reflect on in this article about the rise and fall of @prodigalsam

500 Book Mega Pack - Logos asked me to let you know about their 500 book mega pack that is on sale until December 31.

Must Christians Believe in the Virgin Birth? - “With December 25 fast approaching, the secular media are sure to turn their interest once again to the virgin birth. Every Christmas, weekly news magazines and various editorialists engage in a collective gasp that so many Americans could believe such an unscientific, supernatural doctrine.” Indeed.

The Soil of the Prosperity Gospel - The heart of this article from 9Marks is the answer to this question: “How did we get to a place where such a clearly debased form of Christianity holds sway with so many people?”

9 Reasons to Pray - Jason Helopolous gives us 9 good reasons to pray.

We never need be ashamed of our poverty unless our own sins have brought it upon us. —J.C. Ryle

Ryle

December 20, 2013

Top-Ten Theology Stories - Collin Hansen says, “before we turn to 2014, it can be encouraging or at least instructive to take stock of the last 12 months. Perspective is a rare gift in our social media age.” To do that, he offers up this top ten theology stories from the past year.

Historical Theology - Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology, a companion to Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, is just $5.99 for Kindle.

I Offended You? So What? - Jay Watts talks about what it means to be offended.

Harding-Kerrigan 20 Years Later - This was an interesting read: “The Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan affair began with unchecked ambition, unbridled greed and a whack to the knee. It ended with four men in jail, a broken shoelace and a highly publicized mouthing-off, at Disney World. In between, there was a media frenzy reserved for only the most outrageous circuses.”

Based on a True Story - How Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks, and 12 Years a Slave stack up against reality.

The Year of No Complaining - If you’re a leader in a church, 2014 can be a complaint free year. Here’s all you have to do…

Facebook Is Broken - This article explains that even while Facebook continues to grow, it is crumbling under the weight of its own success.

It is more significant that God walked on earth than that man walked on the moon. —Rob Frost

Frost

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