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A La Carte

July 01, 2016

Before I do anything else today I want to express gratitude to Al Mohler for another season of The Briefing. The final episode of this season is right here and is an excellent look at some of Pope Francis’ recent statements about marriage, homosexuality, and the end of the Reformation. The Briefing will return with a new season on August 1.

Also, Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians! I trust it will be a day of fun, of rest, of relaxation, and of giving thanks to God for the nation he’s given us.

This month’s free book from Logos strikes me as a bit of an odd choice, but you may still want to add it to your library. Far more exciting are their monthly deals which include The Charles Spurgeon Collection and The Biblical Counseling Collection.

Christian Audio’s free book this month is Matt Chandler’s The Mingling of Souls. It is free for the taking.

Ask Jesus into Your Heart

Thomas Kidd looks into the noble and ignoble history of the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart.” I bet you didn’t know it began with the Puritans… 

Who Needs Creeds When I’ve Got a Bible?

Michael Bird explains why he needs creeds and why we do too.

2016 PCA General Assembly: Moving Forward Together

The PCA General Assembly met recently and Richard Phillips offers up some measured and encouraging reflections. 

How Should Christians Think About Corporate Apologies?

Kevin DeYoung says rightly that it is a busy season for corporate apologies. He offers some thoughts on them.

California’s State Religion

Wow. “In a state ruled by a former Jesuit, perhaps we should not be shocked to find ourselves in the grip of an incipient state religion. Of course, this religion is not actually Christianity, or even anything close to the dogma of Catholicism, but something that increasingly resembles the former Soviet Union, or present-day Iran and Saudi Arabia, than the supposed world center of free, untrammeled expression.”

This Day in 1798. 218 years ago today, Mary Webb was baptized. She had been reluctant to take this public step of faith because of a physical deformity which bound her to a wheelchair. At the age of 21, she would organize the first women’s mission society in the United States. *
Window into Piper’s Writing

In this video you’ll see John Piper tell how, when, and where he does his writing.

Grandparents, We Need You!

I like this one: “Grandparents carry tremendous influence with their grandchildren. Here are three ways I’m praying my kids learn from their grandparents.”

Flashback: You Don’t Really Know Who Your Friends Are Until…

You don’t really know who your friends are until their relationship with you becomes a liability instead of a benefit. Many celebrities, and even Christian celebrities, have learned this lesson the hard way.

Pearcey

Christianity is the key that fits the lock of the universe. —Nancy Pearcey

June 30, 2016

There are a few new Kindle deals today and should be more tomorrow with the start of a new month. Exploring Christian Theology (which has very strong endorsements) by Nathan Holsteen and Michael Svigel ($1.99); Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke ($2.99); God’s Not Dead by Rice Broocks ($2.99).

Parenting a Difficult Child

Here’s hope and encouragement for those of us parenting a difficult child.

Russia’s Proposed Law

Christianity Today: “Christians in Russia won’t be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or to evangelize in their own homes if Russia’s newest set of surveillance and anti-terrorism laws are enacted.”

Steve Lawson Discovers William Tyndale

I enjoyed this little video where Steve Lawson recounts discovering William Tyndale. Kind of. (Also, watch/listen/read him tell how fulfilled prophecy demonstrates divine inspiration.)

How to Make Your iPhone or iPad Read Kindle Books to You

“In the evenings, Charles Spurgeon’s wife would sit on a cushion at his feet and read to him. So far, I have been unsuccessful in persuading my wife to do the same for me, but I think I may have found an alternative solution.”

Preacher’s Toolkit: Should I Learn Hebrew and Greek

Do all of the new tools at our disposal mean that preachers no longer need to learn Hebrew and Greek? It’s a great question to ask.

RefNet

Are you aware of RefNet? It’s Ligonier’s 24-hour Christian internet radio featuring biblical preaching and teaching. They curate it for you so you can just listen and enjoy.

This Day in 1973. 43 years ago today, in Korea, the Far Eastern Broadcasting Co. began transmitting the Gospel from HLAZ, its first radio station in this country. FBEC is active today through radio missions outreach, and focuses its work among the islands of Eastern Asia and the Pacific. *

Exercise Isn’t the Best Way to Lose Weight

Exercise isn’t the best way to lose weight, but you probably learned that on your own.

Fairytale Castles

Here’s some amazing drone footage of some of Europe’s most beautiful castles.

Flashback: Television’s Rape Epidemic

If Christians won’t allow explicit scenes of sexual violence to keep them from watching television shows, what will? If scenes of rape are not over the edge, what is? If we won’t draw the line there, will we draw it anywhere?

Mohler

Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible. —Albert Mohler

June 29, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include just one of note: Coming to Grips with Genesis by Terry Mortenson ($2.99). Be sure to check in with Westminster Books for a sale on The Vine Project, the long-awaited follow-up to The Trellis and the Vine.

Fear Not, the Universe Is Wildly Out Of Your Control

Here’s comfort: “Things are wildly out of my control but they are not out of control. These things are set in place. Designed. Ordered. Governed.”

When a Christian Feels Dry

And we all do from time to time, don’t we?

Canada Day

To celebrate Canada (July 1), access to all national parks and national historic sites managed by Parks Canada will be free.

50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die

This is a neat account of how John Piper’s book 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die has impacted the world.

The False Heaven of a Successful Ministry

“Don’t settle for the false heaven of a ‘successful ministry.’ Because real success is faithfulness. Big church or small church, growing church or declining church, well-known church or obscure church—all churches are epic successes full of the eternal, invincible quality of the kingdom of God when they treasure Jesus’ gospel and follow him.”

Generosity – More Than Money Can Buy

“There’s nothing wrong with donating to churches and charitable organizations, but to define generosity so narrowly—as giving money alone—is a mistake. Every person has something of value to give, and we always have the opportunity to be generous to others, regardless of financial resources.”

This Day in 1900. 116 years ago today, Meng Ch’ang-ch’un, a prominent Chinese pastor during the Boxer Rebellion, was martyred for his faithfulness to the gospel and his devotion to the missionaries serving in Pao-ting Fu: “Our missionaries have remained with us; we will stand by them, and live or die together.” *

Heresy and Humility

Al Mohler offers some thoughts on the current Trinity controversy. He mentions his own position but focuses on concerns related to the tone of the conversation. (And Carl Trueman replies.)

A Theological Add-On

Here’s a theological add-on to my 2016 reading challenge if you’re interested in forcing your reading to be a bit more theological. 

Flashback: When God Flips That Switch

I love what this text displays: When we take action, we find only destruction. When God begins to move, we are given grace.

Furman

The gospel keeps me relating to God on the basis of Jesus’s perfections, not on the illusions of my religious achievements. -Gloria Furman

June 28, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include: The Forgotten Trinity by James White ($1.99); The Cross and Christian Ministry by D.A. Carson ($1.99); Radically Normal by Josh Kelley ($1.99). New from GLH Publications is Counsel for Mourners by John Flavel ($0.99).

Supreme Court Rules on Texas Abortion Case

Joe Carter has a FAQ about yesterday’s troubling ruling from the Supreme Court.

Abortion Forever

On the same subject, Rod Dreher says this: “The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Supreme Court will never let any state restriction stand meaningfully in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Ever. No federalism, no democracy, not when it comes to defending the Sexual Revolution.”

7 Lies We Tell Our Children

“We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help. Sometimes it’s because we’re idiots and just don’t realize what we’re doing. Here are seven of the most common lies parents tell kids.”

The Trinitarian Debate: Some Reflections and Cautions

This is a great word from Iain Hamilton. “In no sense am I denigrating passionate debate or seeking to downgrade the importance of doctrinal accuracy. I am, however, pleading for theological debate between brothers that is courteous without being anodyne, passionate without being derogatory, Catholic spirited without being partisan.”

Past the End of My Rope

Charlene Nelson shares a blog and poem that come from past the end of her rope.

Calvinist Batman

I recently recorded a podcast with Calvinist Batman. Yes, Calvinist Batman. You can listen in here.

This Day in 1851. 165 years ago today, Eliza E Hewitt, American Presbyterian church worker and devotional author was born. Four of her hymns still endure. Had she never been bed-ridden, she might not have written them. Among the best known are: “Give Me Thy Heart, Says the Father Above,” “Sunshine in My Soul,” and “Will there be any Stars in My Crown?” *

Mary Willson on Domestic Violence

Here’s a brief clip from TGC.

Exhortation to Students of Theology

Danny Hyde: “Since theological seminaries have recently held graduations and a new class of students will soon enter, I thought it would be a fun exercise to write a post on ‘the learned Doctor’ William Ames’ advice to theological students.”

Flashback: Death Is No Escape

Seven years ago today I was reflecting on attrocities and assuring myself and others that death is no escape from justice.

Spurgeon

If we never have headaches through rebuking our children, we shall have plenty of heartaches when they grow up. -C.H. Spurgeon

June 27, 2016

Crossway has several books on sale that relate to counseling: Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns ($2.99); Side by Side by Ed Welch ($3.99); Pursuing Peace by Robert Jones ($3.99); The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre & Deepak Reju ($3.99); You Can Change by Tim Chester ($2.99). Also consider Love Your Enemies by John Piper ($2.99).

Crossway will give you a free electronic copy of John Owen’s Communion with the Triune God in exchange for filling out a quick survey.

Our Impatience Is Worth Billions

The New Yorker uses games like Clash of Clans to display how people are willing to pay billions of dollars to relieve their impatience. Personally, I have a deep loathing for any games built around that financial model!

Read Scripture: Esther

The Read Scripture series of videos advances to Esther, definitely one of the most unexpected books of the Bible.

Identity Theft

Jim Elliff considers the important matter of the Christian’s identity: “Certainly what we are is entirely based upon God’s presence in us and His power bequeathed to us. We are nothing on our own. But in Christ, we are something beyond imagination.”

The Calvinist’s Ultimate Concern

Joel Beeke attempts to reduce Calvinism to one core concept.

California’s Religious Liberty Moment

Ed Stetzer writes about how California’s religion liberty moment could soon be coming to a state near you.

This Day in 1736. 280 years ago today, George Whitefield preached his first sermon. In his lifetime, Whitefield preached at least 18,000 times. He addressed perhaps 10,000,000 hearers. *
How to Handle Difficult People

Mike Ayers shares some wisdom.

Independence Day

You’ve got to have some history with 90’s-era Christian music to enjoy this one, but here’s John Schlitt of Petra singing the Whiteheart hit “Independence Day” (with Billy Smiley of Whiteheart on guitar).

Flashback: Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers

It was two years ago that I posted this article which quickly became the most popular in the site’s history (with over 7 million reads now).

Horton

If we are interested in God, we should be interested in theology. —Michael Horton

June 25, 2016

I am enjoying my time out here on the west coast though, as usual, these trips are just a bit too short. Still, it’s always a joy to be with brothers in Christ and I’m looking forward to speaking today at Men for God. Of course I will also be glad to be home very late tonight… 

When Your Spiritual Gift Isn’t Changing Diapers

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to use our gifts to serve our church family. But then again, who would say they have the spiritual gift of changing diapers? Holding doors open? Setting up chairs?”

Seven Lessons from Europe

John Piper returns from several weeks in Europe having learned seven interesting lessons.

Caterpillar to Butterfly

Here, in 3 minutes, is a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. It never gets any less impressive, does it?

A Short History of Bible Clutter

Tony Reinke speaks with Glenn Paauw, the Executive Director of the Biblica Institute for Bible Reading, to discuss how our modern Bibles ended up being so cluttered.

Protecting Our Children

Randy Alcorn: “I wonder how many dads have failed to protect their daughters and sons because they craved their approval.” Too many parents make that very mistake.

This Day in 1865. 151 years ago today, English missionary J. Hudson Taylor formed the China Inland Mission (later known as OMF, Overseas Missionary Fellowship International). *

Portraits of Jesus: ‘God’s Only Son’

Andy Naselli walks through one of the best-known passages in the Bible to model proper interpretation.

Sexuality, Identity, Sin, and Denying Ourselves

Amy links to and summarizes an important talk by Sam Allberry. “He has much to say that is relevant to everyone (not just those with same-sex attractions) and relevant to all temptations and sin (not just those related to sexuality).”

Flashback: 7 Good Reasons to Stop Looking at Porn Right Now

My goal for today is simple: I want to give you 7 good reasons you need to stop looking at porn right now.

The Bible You Have in Your Hand

My thanks goes to 10ofThose for sponsoring the blog this week.

Thomas

There must be a radical destruction of sin. Kill it; strangle it; starve it of oxygen until it cannot breathe again. There is no other way. —Derek Thomas

June 24, 2016

Yesterday, right after I posted my daily article, my server experienced what the host described as “catastrophic hardware failure.” For that reason the site was unavailable most of the day. I believe the problem has now been fully fixed. Finally, after years of paying for backups, it was proven worth it!

And now some links, beginning with Westminster Books which has a great deal on the ESV Heirloom Bible.

TGCW16 Conference Media

The Gospel Coalition has just released the audio and video from the recent women’s conference. It is free for the taking.

Is Your Worship Service Upside Down?

Jared Wilson is right in his wheelhouse writing about things like this. “Our church worship gatherings ought to be welcoming and comprehensible to unbelievers who are present, but many churches actually structure the entire worship service around them. There is no real biblical precedent for this, and furthermore, it’s not the most effective way for your church to reach lost people, anyway.”

21 Questions With Barronelle Stutzman

“Barronelle Stutzman is the Washington florist sued by a gay man, a friend and client of almost a decade, who was outraged by her refusal to do the flowers for his same-sex wedding. Whatever you think you know about her case, I bet you don’t know a lot of things in that short three-minute video.”

How to Resist Sins of Conformity

“Sins of conformity happen when, because of the pressure to fit in, you adopt the sinful action or inaction of a group.” We are all prone to such sins.

Why the Trinitarian Controversy Was Inevitable

This is way above my pay grade, but still awfully interesting. “While others have covered the ins and outs of the controversy with some depth, I am more interested in why this clash is happening, and why it is happening now. Michael Bird has said that this is about to be a ‘miniature civil war’. While that may be an exaggeration, the clash was inevitable for several reasons.”

This Day in 64. 1,952 years ago today, Nero began the first Imperial persecution of Christians. *

On Anonymity

Courtney Reissig: “I’m no historian, but I wonder if there has ever been a time where a longing for significance and fame has been so present for all of us.” Can we be content to be anonymous in a world that wants us to try to make a name for ourselves?

The Orchid Mantis

It’s a pretty flower, right? No, wait, it’s munching on that bug…

What Happened to Beauty?

R.C. Sproul asks what happened to beauty when it comes to our places of worship.

Flashback: What It Takes To Be An Evangelical Leader

“In brief, an evangelical is a person who believes the ‘three rs’: ruin by the Fall, redemption through Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit. It follows that an ‘evangelical leader’ is a person who stands out in the advancement and defence of those truths.”

Ryle

I have often been told that “broad” views are wanted in the present day. I wish to be as broad as the Bible, neither less nor more. —J.C. Ryle

June 23, 2016

This evening I’ll be heading to Vancouver for the Men for God conference. I’d be grateful for your prayers that I would serve well as I speak on discipleship and gospel freedom. If you are going to be there, be sure to say hi.

Today’s Kindle deals include Christless Christianity by Michael Horton ($2.51); All the Names in the Bible ($3.49); The NIV Zondervan Study Bible edited by D.A. Carson ($3.99).

Defining Decency Down

“If a horrific act of murder happens somewhere in the world, but you don’t blog within minutes about it, or Tweet about What It All Means…do you still care?” This is the kind of question we need to ask in a social media world.

In the Shadow of the Valley

This episode of The Mortification of Spin deals with an ugly topic (sex trafficking) but in a very helpful way. I was both grieved and encouraged in listening to it.

Can We Trust the Gospels, Even If They Were Transmitted Orally?

J. Warner Wallace: “Even if the gospels were written early enough to have been authored by eyewitnesses, wouldn’t 15-20 years be enough time for the authors to forget something important or add something errant, especially if they were only retelling the story orally?”

Pulp Friction

“There’s more than a little irony to the impending collapse of Barnes & Noble. The mega-retailer that drove many small, independent booksellers out of business is now being done in by the rise of Amazon. But while many book lovers may be tempted to gloat, the death of Barnes & Noble would be catastrophic—not just for publishing houses and the writers they publish, but for American culture as a whole.”

When Your Child Dates an Unbeliever

Kim Shay: “I recently read a woman’s view that as long as one sheltered her children from unbelievers enough, she would never need to worry about kids dating unbelievers or dabbling in the world. I still squirm at the notion that our children’s spiritual development is simply a matter of controlling their environment. The reality is that good parents raise kids who do unwise things. When we’re young, we’re tempted to think our kids will never do that! Sometimes, they do. I hope this provides encouragement for some today.”

Eight Passages Every Christian Should Memorize

Here is a great place to begin with Scripture memorization.

This Day in 1954. 62 years ago today, Randy Alcorn was born. Happy birthday, Randy!

How Waze Works

I guess it may be a bit of a commercial, but I really enjoyed this video on how the traffic app Waze works.

The Trinity Debate in 200 Words

Here’s another attempt to distil it down to its essence without using any of the Latin words.

Flashback: Why Making Decisions Is So Hard

“Why this fear? Why this agony? Why these sleepless nights? It is the uncertainty of it, I’m sure. It is the uncertainty of where our choices may lead.”

Horton

Nobody today seems to think that God is dangerous. And that is itself a dangerous oversight. —Michael Horton