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General News

March 12, 2008

Some time ago I was talking with a friend who pastors a church in this area and we discussed how much we enjoy what is being accomplished and modeled through Together for the Gospel. We talked about how we wish something like that could happen in Canada. And from there we realized that maybe, just maybe, it can happen. There are going to be plenty of Canadians attending Together for the Gospel and it seemed to us that it would be wise to try to gather them in one place, even if only for a few minutes.

And so the purpose of this post is to announce a small gathering by and for Canadians during Together for the Gospel (Louisville, Kentucky - April 15-17). This is a ministry of Grace Fellowship Church of Toronto and there are no expenses involved. It will be lead, at least initially, by my pastor Paul Martin and myself. We simply wish to invite all of the Canadians in attendance as well as anyone who has an interest in ministry in Canada, to meet with us for a short time after the day’s proceedings wrap up on the Wednesday of the conference.

We will be meeting in Room 112 at 9:30 PM on April 16 (or as soon as the day’s final session ends). This room is right within the convention center immediately below the main hall where the conference will be held. We know this will mark the end of a long day, so we will not keep you for long.

The purpose of this brief gathering will be to help network Canadian pastors and church leaders with a shared love of the Gospel as well to enable the flow of information on events and happenings between our churches. We do not wish to create another association or denomination or publication or anything of the sort and we are not formally associated with Together for the Gospel! Our goal is to help Canadian pastors network with each other at today’s event, as well as to begin a small website devoted to highlighting information of the Lord’s work that would be of interest across our country.

We will start by creating a database of names that will receive regular email updates as information is sent to us. We hope to allow your church to alert other like-minded Christians of events or needs as they arise.

If you are interested in attending, please mark the date and time on your calendar. If you’d like to ask questions, if you would like to let me know that you will be attending, or if you cannot attend but would like to be added to the email list, you can send me a note by clicking here. Meanwhile, please spread the word to anyone you know who will be at the conference and who may be interested in attending.

We hope to see you there!

February 23, 2008

Next week I have the opportunity to offer both Chuck Colson and Iain Murray. I’d love to get some feedback from the readers here about what I might want to ask them. Read on…

In a couple of months I’ll be attending and writing about the Banner of Truth Ministers’ Conference this May (it runs from the 27th to the 29th) down in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (can you believe I actually found a direct flight from Toronto to Harrisburg? I wouldn’t have believed it was possible). Though I’ve come to know Steve Burlew quite well (he heads up Banner in North America), I have never attended one of their conferences or visited their headquarters. I am looking forward to getting to know one of the original Reformed ministries! In conjunction with the conference, I’ve been given the opportunity to interview Iain Murray—one of the keynote speakers at that conference. I will be interviewing him next week.

Now Iain Murray is a hero to me. His books have impacted me deeply and have impacted many people I love and respect. I am really looking forward to interviewing him. I have a short list of questions prepared, but would be glad to accept some of yours. If you have something you’d like to ask Iain Murray, let me know and I’ll consider sending it through.

Meanwhile, Chuck Colson is about to embark on a blog tour (sound familiar?) to promote his new book, The Faith (subtitled “What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters”). Because the book was late arriving from the publisher, I haven’t yet had opportunity to read it, and my spot was bumped from day one to day six or seven. I will only be asking him one or two questions, but would like to make them count. I don’t want to toss him a softball, but would like to ask something Interesting and thought-provoking. I’ve got some ideas, but once more would love to receive some ideas. So if something comes to mind, shoot me an email or leave a comment.

January 06, 2008

For a long time now I’ve been reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams. Because the book has collided a little bit with vacation and with some “necessary” reading, it has taken me a long time to get through it, even though it is a very enjoyable read. Within the book I’ve found a couple of great quotes from the pen of John Adams—quotes that have stuck with me. Adams is in some ways a man after my own heart and he shows it in these words:

I want to see my children every day. I want to see my grass and blossoms and corn … But above all, except the wife and children, I want to see my books.”

Those words resonate with me. My books are among my greatest pleasure and when I find I do not have time to read, I miss it a lot. There is pleasure to be found both in the books and in the experience of reading them.

And again:

The only way to compose myself and collect my thoughts is to set down at my table, place my diary before me, and take my pen into my hand. This apparatus takes off my attention from other objects. Pen, ink, and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking.”

I, too, find that I can get very little thinking done, and cannot hold my attention for long, if I do not do my thinking with the assistance of pen, ink and paper.

January 01, 2008

I love the dawning of a new year. I tend to view life in “chunks,” in periods with a defined beginning and end. When driving home from Tennessee yesterday I inadvertently grouped the drive into pieces in my mind and felt relief and success with the completion of each portion—from Tennessee to Cincinnati, from Cincy to Detroit, and from Detroit to home. I do the same with periods of time, enjoying the beginning of one period and looking forward to reaching the end of it. A new year is an obvious period to focus on examining success in reaching goals and in looking towards new goals. I do not usually bother with new year’s resolutions. But I do see January 1 as a good day to focus on what I’d like to accomplish and what I’d like to prioritize in the weeks and months to come.

I went looking today for some guidance on how to approach a new year. I found myself reading a grand old Puritan prayer and wanted to share it with you. Taken from The Valley of Vision, this prayer is known as “Year’s End.” I adapted it slightly to change antiquated language to slightly more modern language. But this is as I would pray it today…and as I have prayed it today.

O Love Beyond Compare,
You are good when you give,
when you take away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
You have loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love redeemed my soul;
You love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Your goodness has been with me during another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Your goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With you as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless you that you have veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If you have appointed storms of tribulation,
you will be with me in them;
If I have to pass through storms of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see your face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith will not fail;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify yourself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel suitable always
for your use.

What a beautiful prayer that is, that God would use us to further His purposes. Another prayer from the same book begins by saying “Length of days does not profit me unless the days are passed in your presence, in your service, to your glory.” Another year will profit us nothing if we do not live it in and through a for the Lord.

I received an email this morning and this was a suggested New Year’s text. I can hardly think of a better one for meditation on this day. It is Proverbs 30 and verses 8 and 9.

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.

Oh that God would simply sustain us through another year, giving what we need rather than what we want, and giving only that which we can handle and that which we can use for His glory. May 2008 be that kind of year for you and for your family, and for me and mine.

December 28, 2007

I’ve got two quick book updates for you. And then I’m going to relax for the rest of the morning before heading into Chattanooga for the Reality Check Conference which begins later this evening. I’ll be bringing live updates from that event from this evening until Sunday morning.

First off, my book is now in stock at Amazon. So if you’ve been waiting to buy The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment at Amazon, you can now do so and get it shipped immediately. Once you buy it, be sure to write a review and post it at Amazon (whether you love or hate it)! I’ll let you know as it becomes available at other booksellers. I believe Monergism Books and Westminster Books will have it in stock in the next few days.

UPDATE: My book is now listed at Monergism Books. You can access it by clicking here.

Second, my friends at Monergism Books are having an “End of the Year Sale” that they are proclaiming their biggest sale ever. There are well over 100 products on sale and many at pretty deep discounts. It’s worth noting that all ESV Bibles are 45% off in case you’re in the market for a new Bible.

You can see the sale by clicking here.

December 18, 2007

Some time ago (July of this year) I posted a link to a book and said it is the best $4.03 you’ll ever spend. I don’t know that I ever told you what happened after that. Basically, and as I understand it, it went something like this: Within a couple of hours, the book had sold out at Westminster Books. A short time after that, the publisher sent all the available copies in the warehouse, but those too sold out. Then the publisher sent all the available copies from their warehouse in the U.K. and those also sold out. And then the publisher had no choice but to order a reprint since the book was basically completely sold out. Well, six months later, the book has been reprinted and is back in stock. Some of those who ordered it have since confirmed that it was a very worthwhile book. So for those who were not able to get one of the books while they remained, here’s a copy of the original post and the original link. Enjoy!

I was poking around a little bit today and found what I consider to be just a great deal. I’m posting for no other reason than to tell you that this represents what I’m sure you’ll agree is the best $4.03 you’ll ever spend. It’s one of my all-time favorites and a book worth reading at least once per year.

If you disagree and are absolutely convinced that another item worth $4.03 would have been a better buy, well, tell me what it is because I don’t believe it’s possible.

That is all.

December 12, 2007

Culture Shift by Albert MohlerYesterday I received a long list of emails with announcements for books that will be published early next year. Most of these I had already heard of or found entirely uninspiring. There was one exception. I was absolutely thrilled (honestly—I’m that big of a book geek) to see that we are going to see the first book from the pen of Dr. Mohler. Yes, it is hard to believe, but this is his first “real” book. He has edited and contributed to other titles, but this is his first solo effort. The book, set to hit store shelves in mid-January, is called Culture Shift and will deal with the challenging cultural issues of our day. I cannot think of anyone who is more qualified to answer these issues.

There are few people I would rather learn from than Dr. Mohler. He is such an asset to the church and particularly so in his ability to see into the culture in which we find ourselves. I can hardly wait to read his book! Here is what the publisher says about it:

Are you prepared to address the most challenging cultural issues of your time?

Mass media and technology are exploding. Popular entertainment relentlessly pushes the envelope. Biomedicine stretches ethical boundaries. Political issues shift with the polls.

The world in which you live is in the midst of a major cultural transformation–one leading to a widespread lack of faith, an increase in moral relativism, and a rejection of absolute truth. How are we to remain faithful followers of Christ as we live in this ever-shifting culture? How should we think about–and respond to–the crucial moral questions of our day? How can we stand up for the truth?

In Culture Shift, Dr. R. Albert Mohler–one of today’s leading Christian thinkers and spokespersons–addresses these tough topics clearly, biblically and passionately:

  • Christian faith and politics
  • The Supreme Court and religion
  • The truth about terrorism
  • Christian parents and public schools
  • The abortion debate
  • Christian response to global tragedies
  • And many more

Here is trustworthy help for developing a comprehensive Christian worldview. It’s timely information powerfully connected to timeless truth that will equip you to stand strong and speak out.

As you’d expect, the book comes with some great endorsements.

“From grade inflation to global calamities, Albert Mohler is a steady guide. From the psychological coddling of the American ego to the hollowing of the American conscience, Mohler is unremittingly clear-headed. From Nineveh to New Orleans, Mohler holds the mirror at a blazing fortyfive-degree angle between heaven and earth. The burning light of divine wisdom illumines a hundred shadows of our human folly. And at the center of the blaze is the mighty cross of Jesus Christ defining the final meaning of everything. I thank God for Albert Mohler.” —JOHN PIPER, pastor for preaching and vision,Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN

“Al Mohler is a unique gift to the church. His writing combines penetrating theological discernment and insightful cultural analysis with a passion to faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m delighted that Al’s wisdom is now available in this book. May it be the first of many.” —C. J. MAHANEY, Sovereign Grace Ministries

“We all know, as Dorothy said to Toto, that ‘we are not in Kansas anymore.’ But how to apply the deep truths of our Christian faith to a culture that seems to be transmogrifying before our very eyes, well, that’s perhaps the most difficult question facing the church today. In this well-written book, Al Mohler surveys the landscape and offers insight and wisdom that helps us do just this. A manifesto for responsible Christian engagement!” —TIMOTHY GEORGE, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and senior editor of Christianity Today

“Thoughtful Christians seeking to engage the culture from a well-informed and thoroughly bibilical perspective will find an impressive resource in this new work by R. Albert Mohler. Culture Shift is an outstanding contribution, which I heartily recommend.” —DAVID S. DOCKERY, president, Union University

“Dr. Albert Mohler brings his intellectual brilliance, moral wisdom, and theological insight together in a book that belongs on the shelf of anyone who is interested in both understanding the shifting sands of morality in our culture and how to deal with it. If you are in that category this is a must read.” —JAMES MERRITT, pastor of Cross Pointe Church, Duluth, GA, and host of Touching Lives media ministry

“Understanding our culture is a matter of Christian responsibility. Culture Shift helps us to do that and do it well.” —DANIEL L. AKIN, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC

I am looking forward to getting a copy of this one and will have a review completed in the near future. In the meantime, you may wish to pre-order a copy from Amazon.

November 03, 2007

It has been a busy weekend…and it’s only Saturday afternoon. Yesterday evening I took my son and one of our young neighbors to a hobby show where an old friend was working. We had fun watching the planes, trains and automobiles on display. We got home late and then spent the morning preparing for my daughter’s birthday party. We’ve just returned from building a craft and celebrating her birthday at a nearby store. Now the kids are playing with new toys, the baby is napping, and I’m catching up on email and blogging.

Early this morning I made some mostly-unnoticeable but important changes to this site. I finally went ahead and upgraded the site’s hosting, so it’s now on a faster and better server. I’ve said goodbye to budget hosting forever, I hope. I also upgraded to the latest version of the Movabletype software that runs this site. It was quite a smooth move, but there are bound to be bugs here and there. So I apologize in advance if you run into any strange problems when using the site.

Fonts and Browsers

I also took the opportunity this morning to change a few of the fonts so that those of you who happen to have Calibri installed will now see that as the primary font (and if not it will default to Georgia—the font it has been for the past few months). If you don’t have that particular font (i.e. if you don’t have Windows Vista or Office 2007) you can download it and a few others by clicking here to get the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. Calibri is Microsoft’s replacement for the somewhat tired Times New Roman font that has been the default Windows font for a long, long time now. It’s a great font.

As I was making a few changes to the site I did some testing in Internet Explorer 6 and have concluded that if you use Internet Explorer 6, it’s time to upgrade to either Firefox or Internet Explorer 7. Both are free and both are worlds better than the older version of the browser. Do yourself a favor and upgrade. You’ll be surprised at how much better things look!

Reformation Day Symposium Winners

Last week’s Reformation Day Symposium was a great success (I thought). When it came right down to it, it was difficult to choose winners. In the end I really chose somewhat randomly as I really didn’t feel there were three posts that stood head and shoulders above the rest. There were plenty of good contributions. Having said that, here are three that I thought merited a bit of recognition. Each of these three people will receive a free print from Reformation Art.

Musings of the Dings - The strategy here worked—brownie points were awarded for including a five-year old in the symposium.

Wiser Time was one of a few people to focus on John Huss. This brief biography of Huss was one of my favorite posts.

Allen Mickle wrote a good post asking and answering “Are Baptists Part of the Protestant Reformation? His brief history of the baptist involvement in the Reformation made a unique contribution.

So congratulations to the three of you. Drop me an email and I’ll get the prizes on their way to you.