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Tim Challies

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Ramblings

November 29, 2008

Yesterday I swung by Chapters, Canada’s answer to Barnes & Noble. It was actually the first time in a long while that I had been inside a real brick and mortar bookstore. Though I browse books on a near-daily basis through the internet, rarely do I actually go into a store. I had almost forgotten what a different experience it is and what a good experience it is. Aileen and I found a few books we wanted to buy as Christmas gifts for the kids. Then, as we were heading to the checkout, one of the store’s employees handed us a gift card. The card had a value of anywhere between $5 and $2500—they would tell us as we completed our purchase. We took the card and went to the cash. I was not the least bit surprised to find that the card was worth $5, the absolute minimum it could have been worth. I was not going to complain, of course, as it was still $5 back in my pocket. But there was just a little part of me that was disappointed that there were to be no grand prizes yesterday!

I say that I wasn’t surprised because I’m quite sure I’ve never won anything in my life. It’s not like I compulsively enter contests, but I do enter or participate when it makes sense to do so. And I never, ever win. Not to my recollection, anyways. I’ve heard of people who have won some great and unexpected prizes and know of a few friends who have walked away with some pretty amazing ones. But I’ve never been so lucky (lucky says the Calvinist?).

It occurs that I’m probably not the only one. Have you ever won anything exciting?

October 10, 2008

I just got handed a copy of the ESV Study Bible by a roaming Crossway marketing guru. Ah, the joys of being a reviewer. The Bible is set for release this Tuesday and you can now order it from Amazon, Westminster Books, or any other online retailer. Westminster is offering it at a ridiculous discount in each of the eight editions and is shipping it starting today.

Hardcover
TruTone Nat Brown
TruTone Classic Black
Black Bonded Leather
Burgundy Bonded Leather
Black Genuine Leather
Burgundy Bonded Leather
Premium Calfskin Leather

I hope to have a thorough review of it on Tuesday.

October 04, 2008

I receive a lot of books in the mail. A lot of books. Choosing which ones I am going to read and review is always a bit of a chore. This morning I tidying up the disaster area that is my office floor and was trying to figure out which of the books would be added to my “to-read” bookcase and which would be filed in the other bookcases unread and forlorn. I jotted down the list of books that have shown up just this week and thought I’d share it with you (maybe so you can sympathize with the difficult task of choosing the two or three I’ll actually be able to make time for). So here is a breakdown of the books I received this week along with a brief assessment of whether or not I am likely to read and review each one.

In the Beginning: The Art of Genesis: A Pop-Up Book. Likely. Undoubtedly the most unique book I’ve received in a long time, this is a pop-up book with art based on the book of Genesis. It’s beautifully done; however, there is a good bit of text that accompanies the art. Obviously my assessment of the book will have to depend on whether that text is consistent with Scripture or if the author has taken a lot of liberties. My two year-old will undoubtedly destroy the book the first opportunity she gets. Has a pop-up book ever survived a toddler?

Zion’s Christian Soldiers?: The Bible, Israel and the Church by Stephen Sizer. Very unlikely. I know very little about the topic and am just not all that interested in it.

The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller. Near 100%. This is an advance copy of the manuscript since the book isn’t due for release until October 30. I’ll almost definitely read and review this one.

Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance by Al Mohler. Near 100%. I admire Mohler a lot and a quick skim through this book was enough for it to grab my attention. I’ve read his other three books, so why stop now?

Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God by Mark Batterson. Not likely. I read the first chapter and found it slow-going. He seems to want to write like Mark Buchanan but can’t pull it off. Plus, it’s part two of another book I haven’t read, so I don’t have the proper context for it.

Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience by Thomas Williams. My conscience probably wouldn’t allow me to read a book about conscience written by a theology teacher at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism by Joel Beeke. Probable. It’s longer than I had expected and, since it’s from Beeke, it’s going to be dense. And while it’s not like I’m itching to read another introduction to Calvinism, this one does look very good.

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church. Very likely. This is Michael Horton’s forthcoming book and it looks excellent. This is only in manuscript form but at least it’s bound and not just a stack of 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper.

Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World by C.J. Mahaney. 50/50 at best. I want to read it but may not be able to squeeze it in. It has already been reviewed at Discerning Reader so that means I may need to prioritize other books.

Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow by R.C. Sproul. Probable. It’s a small book and looks very readable. The more I read of Sproul the more I come to respect him as a teacher and I’m eager to check out what looks like a good introductory book.

Embryo: A Defense of Human Life by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen. Probable if it doesn’t get too technical. I recently tried reading a book called The Cell’s Design that was interesting but obviously written for people way smarter than I am. Hopefully this one is for normal guys like me.

The Prince’s Poison Cup by R. C. Sproul and Justin Gerard. Definitely. Actually, I have already read it to the kids. I have it in PDF format and sat them down in front of my computer to read it to them. It’s an excellent book and wonderfully illustrated. The kids loved it.

The Proverbs Driven Life: Timeless Wisdom for Your Words, Work, Wealth, and Relationships by Anthony Selvaggio. Probable. I’ve yet to find a Shepherd Press book that hasn’t been worth my time.

Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World by Carolyn McCulley. 50/50. I really like Carolyn and am eager to read the book. However, another person will be reviewing it for Discerning Reader so that may make it fall off my list (just like Worldliness).

Family Worship for the Reformation Season by Ray Rhodes. Very likely. Ray’s a nice guy and even let me preach at his church once. So I’ll give the book a shot.

Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life by Caroline Pigozzi. Unlikely. It looks like a somewhat less-than-balanced life of John Paul II. I’m not too interested in reading a life of the Pope and even more so when the cover says “The Pope I Knew So Well.”

Invitation: Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched by Basyle and Aram Tchividjian. Unlikely. It’s a nice-looking book but I’ve only got so much time.

One Year of Dinner Table Devotions by Nancy Guthrie. No chance. I do not use devotionals and do not often review them.

Simple Small Groups by Bill Search. Unlikely. I am participating in a small group this year but I don’t think I’ll read a book about them.

Under God’s Smile: The Trinitarian Blessing of 2 Corinthians 13:14 by Derek Prime. Unlikely. Too niche to be of much interest to me.

Look After Your Voice: Taking Care of the Preacher’s Greatest Asset by Mike Mellor. No chance, but I will be passing it along to my pastor who has expressed interest in it and may just review it on his blog. I’m sure he’ll find it a valuable read. It does look like a good book for its niche audience.

Israel: Land of Promise, Faith and Beauty by Paul Williams and Clive Anderson. No chance, unless I find myself traveling to Israel this year. I do like these travel guides from DayOne, but I won’t review them unless I’m actually using the guide. (Note to DayOne—send me to any of these places and I’ll review your guide!)

Discipline with Care: Applying Biblical Correction in Your Church by Stephen McQuoid. Not likely. Once again, it’s a bit too niche. Plus, there are a couple of other DayOne titles that are higher on my list.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile by Rob Bell and Don Golden. Likely. I can’t stand Rob Bell’s books as his writing style really offends me. But I’ll probably plow through the book regardless. It may be burdensome, but at least it’s not long. Plus, I’ve already read two chapters.

If you do the math, you’ll see that I can’t possibly read all of the ones I’ve marked as likely or very likely. What to do…

September 26, 2008

It’s Friday and that’s a good day to ramble. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to share just a couple of items of “miscellania.”

Personal Updates

I’ve had a couple of people ask for updates as to what I’m up to these days. So here goes. My fall travel schedule is very light, for which I’m grateful. In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading to Chicago to blog the True Woman conference. Yes, feel free to make fun of me for it. It is going to be a huge conference with over 6000 women in attendance. Speakers include John Piper, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Joni Eareckson Tada, Janet Parshall, Mary Kassian, Fern Nichols and Karen Loritts. It’s hardly my usual live-blogging gig, but it should be fun nonetheless. The week after that I’ll be speaking at Chinese Gospel Church here in Toronto. Beyond that, I don’t have a lot on my schedule. And, of course, in early November I’ll be heading to Dominican Republic with Compassion International to see what they are up to over there.

I’m currently putting my spring schedule together. I’ll be teaching at a youth retreat in Michigan for a weekend in February. When conference season begins (typically March, April and May) I’ll be heading to The Gospel Coalition and, in all probability, the Moody Pastors Conference (in both cases to blog about them). In March I’ll be reading a paper at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship. And I’m evaluating a few other opportunities.

The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment continues to sell, I guess. It has just gone to a third printing which is a great encouragement. To be honest, I do not have much of a sense of what that translates to in numbers, so don’t ask! I am not yet working on my next book, at least beyond the “gathering ideas” stage. I just haven’t quite found that idea yet—the one I can spend a year writing about.

Incognito

It’s not like we really need proof of the increasing prevalence of pornography in our society, but if we did we could look to the newest crop of web browsers. The browser that has made the greatest splash in recent days is Google’s Chrome; it overshadowed the release of a beta version of Internet Explorer 8. And, of course, a new version of Firefox is coming soon (a minor update—3.1). One feature of all of these new browsers (and a feature Safari has had for some time) is what is known as “private browsing” or, more commonly, “porn mode.”

Porn mode allows a user to browse the internet without the browser maintaining a history. Google describes it this way when you open an “incognito window:” “You’ve gone incognito. Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.” In other words, you can browse the web without leaving on your computer any trace of what you’ve done or where you’ve been. I’ll grant that there are useful applications of this technology beyond pornography—it may be useful if you are using a computer in a public library or if you have logged onto a friend’s computer to do some quick banking. But the most obvious application and the one it will undoubtedly be used for most, is finding and viewing pornography. I’m quite convinced that this is yet another example of pornography driving technology. This presents a bit of a conundrum to parents who may be accustomed to keeping tabs on their children’s browsing habits. So parents, be warned; your kids may be going incognito.

The Solas

The SolasA little while ago I was asked to collaborate on an interesting project—writing a curriculum on the five solas appropriate for teens. So I worked with InQuest Ministries and together we came up with The Solas. “When only the best will do, then the best is all you need. The 5 Solas of the reformation that make up this study are the best means for understanding the basic theological foundation on which our faith rests. By engaging with and applying the principles covered in this 5 session study we will gain an understanding of the uniqueness of our faith and why it is the best to build our life on.” In five sessions it leads students through each of the five solas. It is available online as a downloadable product. You can find information about it at InQuest Ministries.

August 01, 2008

Today I want to point to just a couple of items that have been waiting in my Bookmarks folder.

Boring Sermons

At a recent post on her blog, Deb Burton says this: “Your child thinks Sunday morning sermons are boring. The pastor is just another talking head, like all those grown-up shows with political pundits. His body language shows it. You think the pastor is right on the money - he’s biblical, he’s topical, and he has a decent presentation.” And she is pretty well right, at least as my children go. They love and respect the pastors at our church but don’t have much interest in listening to their sermons.

Aileen and I have varied between trying to force them to sit properly while keeping their eyes focused on the front to bringing notebooks and allowing them to just write or color or whatever catches their fancy, provided they sit reasonably still. We have sometimes rejoiced at what they have drawn from the sermon and at other times despaired at what has passed them by. I am always eager to hear what other parents do and how they try to coax some tangible benefit from the sermon on behalf of their children. And so I’d like to ask, how do you, as parents, engage your children in the sermon?

What Africa Gives

I’ve been reading with some interest a series of articles written by Kevin Myers and printed in Ireland’s The Independent. While he is harsh in his judgments and while he is seemingly something of a curmudgeon, he is also refreshingly honest and counter-cultural, I think. He raises some issues that on the outside seem so black and white but, upon further reflection, become far more difficult. At the very least I think his columns are worthy of some consideration.

In his first article, he says, with a bit of hyperbole, that Africa is giving nothing to anyone — apart from AIDS. He wonders at the usefulness of sending aid to African nations and points to the example of Ethiopia. You remember, I’m sure, how in the mid-80’s the Western world rallied to send aid to Ethiopia to save her starving children. That assistance allowed Ethiopia to surge in population from 33.5 million to 78 million in just those few short years. Myers says, “Unlike most of you, I have been to Ethiopia; like most of you, I have stumped up the loot to charities to stop starvation there. The wide-eyed boy-child we saved, 20 years or so ago, is now a priapic, Kalashnikov-bearing hearty, siring children whenever the whim takes him. There is, no doubt a good argument why we should prolong this predatory and dysfunctional economic, social and sexual system; but I do not know what it is. There is, on the other hand, every reason not to write a column like this.”

His concerns are many.

Africa’s peoples are outstripping their resources, and causing catastrophic ecological degradation. By 2050, the population of Ethiopia will be 177 million: The equivalent of France, Germany and Benelux today, but located on the parched and increasingly protein-free wastelands of the Great Rift Valley.

So, how much sense does it make for us actively to increase the adult population of what is already a vastly over-populated, environmentally devastated and economically dependent country?

How much morality is there in saving an Ethiopian child from starvation today, for it to survive to a life of brutal circumcision, poverty, hunger, violence and sexual abuse, resulting in another half-dozen such wide-eyed children, with comparably jolly little lives ahead of them? Of course, it might make you feel better, which is a prime reason for so much charity. But that is not good enough.

As the “begging bowl” is passed to the West one more time and as African nations come looking for foreign assistance (assistance that is necessary should they wish to avoid widespread famine), Myers asks “why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none.”

Needless to say, this article ignited a good deal of criticism. In a second article he justifies his first. And again, he raises interesting issues of morality.

Ethiopia has effectively gained the entire population of the United Kingdom since the famine. But at least 80pc of Ethiopian girls are circumcised, meaning that no less than 24 million girls suffered this fate, usually without anaesthetics or antiseptic. The UN estimates that 12pc of girls die through septicaemia, spinal convulsions, trauma and blood-loss after circumcision which probably means that around three million little Ethiopian girls have been butchered since the famine — roughly the same as the number of Jewish women who died in the Holocaust.

So what is the moral justification for saving a baby from death through hunger, in order to give her an even more agonising, almost sacrificial, death aged eight or 13? The practice could have been stamped out, with sufficient political will, as sutti in India once was. And the feminists of the west would never have allowed such unconditional aid to be given to such a wicked and brutal society if it had been run by white men.

But, instead, the state was run by black males, for whom a special race-and-gender dispensation apparently applies: thus the two most politically incorrect sins of our age — sexism and racism — by some mysterious moral process, akin to the mathematics of the double-negative, annul one another, and produce an unquestioned positive virtue, called Ethiopia.

This next paragraph has haunted me since I read it:

I am not innocent in all this. The people of Ireland remained in ignorance of the reality of Africa because of cowardly journalists like me. When I went to Ethiopia just over 20 years ago, I saw many things I never reported — such as the menacing effect of gangs of young men with Kalashnikovs everywhere, while women did all the work. In the very middle of starvation and death, men spent their time drinking the local hooch in the boonabate shebeens. Alongside the boonabates were shanty-brothels, to which drinkers would casually repair, to briefly relieve themselves in the scarred orifice of some wretched prostitute (whom God preserve and protect). I saw all this and did not report it, nor the anger of the Irish aid workers at the sexual incontinence and fecklessness of Ethiopian men. Why? Because I wanted to write much-acclaimed, tear-jerkingly purple prose about wide-eyed, fly-infested children — not cold, unpopular and even “racist” accusations about African male culpability.

The population surge in an area that cannot sustain such numbers is leading to inevitable trouble. “We are heading towards a demographic holocaust, with a potential premature loss of life far exceeding that of all the wars of the 20th Century. This terrible truth cannot be ignored.”

Myers does not suggest that we allow African children to simply starve, as if this would be pragmatically moral. Rather, he writes all of this to make the world aware of the complexity of the various possible responses. “I am lost in awe at the dreadful options open to us. This is the greatest moral quandary facing the world. We cannot allow the starving children of Ethiopia to die.”

Why do I write about his columns? Simply because I feel he points to an issue that quickly dissolves from black and white into various shades of gray. There is often much more to an issue than it may seem at first. There must be a better way of dealing with the coming crises in Africa.

July 11, 2008

On the last day of the first round of my summer vacation, I want to offer up some links that have been collecting in my Bookmarks folder.

NoiseTrade

NoiseTrade is a site co-founded by Derek Webb that offers good music for “a few friends or a few bucks.” Their music is free to download if you pass along information about it to three friends or if you pay what you think it is worth. There are several good albums available and lots more I haven’t yet sampled. Among the ones that may interest you are Derek Webb’s The Ringing Bell, Sandra McCracken’s Gravity Love, Matthew Perryman Jones’ Throwing Punches in the Dark and Sixpence None the Richer’s My Dear Machine EP. Most of the albums are Folk, Folk Rock, Indie and the like.

Keep Silence

David Thacker recently sent me a couple of tracks from Keep Silence an album he recorded (with Roger Hooper, I believe) that features hymns arranged for the violin and piano. I undoubtedly do not have the most discerning ear, but I thought the arrangements were beautifully done. The songs are very mellow and worshipful.

The album is available from iTunes or Amazon (where you can also listen to samples if you’re interested).

Young, Restless, Deformed

For some time now I’ve been pondering this whole “young, restless, Reformed” movement in the church which is seeing so many younger people gravitate towards Reformed Christianity. All the while I’ve been wondering, are we really Reformed? It seems to me that the Reformed churches I attended as a child bore little resemblance to much of what is Reformed today. Is it possible that we’ve co-opted a word and ripped it out of its historic context? Not too long ago I was speaking with a seminary professor and was describing to him my experience of young, restless, Reformed and he, a Scotsman by birth (and at heart) insisted that this is not Reformed, at least in its historic sense.

It was inevitable that others would notice this and have things to say about it. In a recent [and excellent and must-read] article entitled A Little Bit of Comfort for Machen’s Worrier Children, Carl Trueman touches on this issue in his own distinctive way.

Nevertheless, I confess to ambivalence, to both encouragement and concern, at what Hansen describes. On the encouragement side, it is clearly wonderful that the old theology of the Reformed Orthodox and the Puritans continues to speak today. This is not a surprise to those of us who believe it is, well, basically true (forgive the outdated modernist use of the word `true’ at this point but, hey, I am an outdated modernist after all. So what do you expect?). It is also exciting to realize that this new zeal for solid theology does not always have to be combined with an uptight social and political conservatism that longs for the enlightened days of Genghis Khan’s domestic and foreign policies (hey, he was kind to his grandchildren…..) and the kind of women’s fashions made popular by Little House on the Prairie. Even better - the good news for us men is that, no, there is no necessary connection between vital Christian faith, drinking only Lite Beer, and buying your clothes based on recommendations from the fashion pages of Professional Librarian Monthly, no matter what the excess of wide-lapelled plaid jackets, kipper ties, curly sideburns and horn-rimmed glasses on your local church’s session might indicate.

Yet, as I note above, I am ambivalent at points. There are causes for concern even amidst all the good news…

He points out a few concerns that we would do well to consider. For example, he notes, rightly I think, that at the center of this whole move are a few forceful personalities. He notes also the absence of the church in certain key points.

I noticed recently that Dr. Scott Clark has a book coming out soon titled Recovering the Reformed Confession. Kim Riddelbarger says, “this volume will provoke much discussion about what it means to be Reformed in our doctrine, as well as in our practice (preaching, sacraments, catechism, worship, and piety).” I think books like this one will go far to help us understand this movement that is afoot!

June 07, 2008

A couple of months ago my son got his first job—a paper route. Three times a week he loads a stack of Oakville Beaver’s in a wagon and drags it around the neighborhood. The Saturday and Wednesday papers are typically pretty small. Fridays, though, are when all the fliers are released upon the local population. There are typically six or seven of them—the regulars: Best Buy, local grocery stores and maybe Staples and a sports store. But the week before special occasions, the number of fliers can grow exponentially.

Yesterday, the lead-up to Father’s Day, was by far the most we’ve had to deal with. The papers were so thick with all of the fliers that we had to get the whole family stuffing, rolling and elasticing the papers to keep them from exploding all over the neighborhood. I couldn’t help but notice that almost every one of those fliers had something on it about Father’s Day. The electronics stores were out in force, trying to get mom to buy a TV or a Blu-ray player or a Playstation 3 for dad; the grocery stores were featuring steaks and ribs; the big box stores were selling barbecues and tools. Every store wanted a piece of the family’s financial pie for this Father’s Day.

Looking for evidence as to who benefits most from Father’s Day? Look no further than your local newspaper. Here are the fliers from ours:

Fathers Day

(And, ironically enough, look just below this post and you’ll see…you guessed it…an ad for Father’s Day stuff at Amazon).

May 30, 2008

I returned home last night from my final conference of the year (or of the spring season, at least). At this point I’ve got only one tentative date on my calendar through the rest of 2008. While I’ve thoroughly enjoyed going to this year’s conferences, I’m not sorry to have a rather barren travel schedule for a while. Looking back at my calendar I can see that this spring I was in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee.

I enjoyed the Banner of Truth experience. It’s certainly unique as the conferences go, with a very conservative constituency, yet a very vibrant faith obviously active in the hearts of those in attendance. It was good to revisit some old hymns and Psalms I haven’t sung for many years and to catch up with some old friends I haven’t seen for just as long. Yesterday my friend Steve Burlew, who heads up Banner in the U.S. drove me over to the Banner offices and warehouse and it was good just to poke around there for a few minutes. In case you are not aware, they have an extensive “damaged book” section there where you can get some really good deals on books that have been damaged. The damage may include nothing more than the tiniest tear on the jacket, yet it will get you a great discount. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth dropping in just to look for a bargain.

May Giveaway Winners

This morning I sent out an email announcing the winners of the May giveaway. The following three people have won the Monergism Books gift certificates (and will need to send me an email to claim them!):

  1. Rick Aldrich
  2. Mike Driskill
  3. Christa Allan

The Seven Sayings

I apologize to those who are reading with me The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross. As I was traveling yesterday I did not manage to post my reflections on the chapter. I had good intentions but they just didn’t work out. I’ll pick up again next Thursday.

This Site

I’m hoping that by next week this site can return to normal, whatever normal means in this context. I apologize that the content around here has been just a bit “light” over the past week or two.

May 03, 2008

It is a rainy Saturday afternoon here in the Toronto area. I’m supposed to be heading out to coach a baseball practice at 2 PM but it’s looking rather doubtful at the moment. It seems like the kids are going to head into their first game with only one practice under their proverbial belts. It should be an interesting game to say the least. I’d guess at least 2 out of every 3 outs will come via the strikeout as the kids try to adjust to a pitching machine set at around 40 to 45 MPH.

Last month saw more visitors to this site than any other in the site’s history and readers took in over a quarter million pages. For the first time a long while (I’m a bad blogger, I know) I spent a few minutes trying to see what all those people were reading. I culled a list of the top ten articles from the last week, many of which are representative of the top articles from the last month. It is interesting to me to see how those book reviews continue to be read. Here’s the list:

We’ve got a double birthday in the family today, with Michaela celebrating the big number 2 and Aileen celebrating a birthday significantly higher than 2. Aileen is spending much of the day helping paint a neighbor’s house. But she’ll be back before too long and we’ll be doing what we can to make this a special day for her.

Enjoy your weekend!

April 26, 2008

It’s funny how Saturdays, which used to be the most relaxing day for me, have become so busy. I am coaching Nick’s baseball team this year and we were on the field early this morning for our first practice. This season the kids are staring from the plate to a pitching machine and seeing pitches whistling in at 40 miles per hour. This is a substantial step up from last year’s coach pitch league where the balls were lobbed from about 10 feet away. Each of the kids got ten pitches from the machine and most of them flailed helplessly at all ten. Now that practice is over, we’ve got to get ready for Nick’s birthday parting at a nearby bowling alley. His birthday was a few weeks ago but this was the earliest we could book some lanes for him…and he really wanted to bowl for his birthday. So it is going to be a good but busy day.

Amazon’s Kindle

I have been thinking about buying a Kindle (which Amazon finally has in stock after many months of distribution problems). Though the reviews on the Kindles are decidedly mixed, I do think it could solve a couple of problems for me.


One problem is that I am just about out of room to store books in my office. When we first moved into this house two years ago, I had three or four bookcases in the office and my books fit. Today I have seven full and two half bookcases and they are almost all full. Of greater concern is the fact that I am out of walls against which I can place more bookcases. The photo above was taken a couple of months ago. Even since then things have gotten worse. Books are beginning to stack up on top of the bookcases. I am going to go through and cull some of the junk, but I know it will not take long for the problem to return.

All of this to say that a Kindle may just offer me the ability to read at least some of my books in a “soft” format rather than a printed format.

The second issue, and the one that is probably more likely to be solved by a Kindle, is that I have stacks of manuscripts to read through and it might be nice to read some of those on the Kindle rather than on printed 8.5 x 11 inch paper or in PDF files on my computer.

And so I ask…does anyone out there own a Kindle? What is your user experience like with it? Is it worth the rather steep price of $400? What I really need is to find a friend who can loan me one for a while…

Strange Places

Last week I shared a couple of photos of my book in strange places. The very next day I received not one but two photos of the book in Mongolia, of all places. And the two people who sent the photos are not, to my knowledge, connected to one another. So here is the photographic proof of the book in Mongolia. If you have a picture of my book in a strange place, feel free to send it along.


New Music

A CD I’ve been enjoying a lot in the past week is Before the Throne by Sojourn (Sojourn Community Church of Louisville, KY). It is a CD that earned a rare five star review from Christianity Today. The reviewer said, “Every once in a while, I receive an album that pleasantly surprises me on all fronts. Not only is the packaging impeccably and cleverly designed on Sojourn’s Before the Throne, but the worship band for Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky also managed a far more impressive feat: They actually wrote worship music that I didn’t feel like I’d already heard a million times before. Hard to imagine, I know.” The album features ten original songs and one cover and the songs represent a wide variety of musical styles. Personal favorites are “We Are Listening” (Morning and evening we come / To delight in the words of our God / Give us eyes to see / Give us faith to hear / …that the Word has come / …that the Word is here) and “In the Shadow of the Glorious Cross” (These crowns I’ve clenched with fisted hands / I cast them down before the throne / Of Christ my God the worthy lamb / Christ crucified, the Great I AM / Hallelujah, Hallelujah). You can learn more about it at sojournmusic.com. You can download several songs for free (including my favorite tracks) if you’d like to sample the album.

Sojourn has just announced that their next project will be a 2-CD set of hymns inspired by Isaac Watts, “The Father Of English Hymnody.” The assignment for the songwriters was to “rewrite the Isaac Watts hymnal … Take these lyrics as a springboard and rewrite the words and melodies. Capture the language of our time and place and keep vibrant the message of the songs. Look for ways to refresh metaphors and imagery in the songs … and write melodies that will fit contemporary song arrangements.” This will prove quite the challenge, I am sure, and I look forward to hearing the result!

Another new and good CD is one you’ve seen advertised right here—Come Weary Saints by Sovereign Grace Music. “Come Weary Saints is an invitation to redirect your focus to the God whose love has been forever demonstrated at the cross of Calvary. As you listen to these songs, may your faith and joy in the Savior be strengthened for the challenges you face, now or in the future.” It features songs by the usual cast of characters, including Bob Kauflin, Mark and Stephen Altrogge, Steve and Vicki Cook and Pat Sczebel. It is perhaps not insignificant that the first time I listened to the album was in a hospital bed while cradling a sleeping but very sick little girl. It was an encouragement to me then and has been in the couple of weeks since.

You can listen to song samples and purchase the album right here. Personal favorites are “So I Will Trust You,” “I Have a Shelter,” and “Through the Precious Blood.”

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