A La Carte (August 8)

Today’s Kindle deals include a few books that may be of interest, though most of these ones tend to go on sale fairly frequently.

Become a Patron

(Yesterday on the blog: “Our Missionaries”: A Message of Thanks)

Does God Want Everyone to Be Saved?

“Universalism teaches that God saves everyone, and here is a verse that says in no uncertain terms that God’s will is for ‘all’ to be saved. So, is this text stating that everyone is saved, whether they want to be or not?”

We Shepherd Sheep, Not Beasts of Burden

This is a helpful article for pastors (and the rest of us). “More and more I find churches describing themselves by a desire to be influential. That particular word is not used, but it summarizes what is often found in the mission statements or purpose statements on church websites. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be a light in the darkness, we are not thinking clearly if we trade our focus as shepherds for one that increasingly calls its people to more and more activity. In other words, to put it plainly, our people do not exist in order to accomplish our goals for our churches.” Pastors need to think about that final sentence!

Inside the harsh lives of wolves living at the top of the world

I enjoyed this look at wolves who live at the top of the world.

Why “No Problem” Can Seem Rude: Phatic Expressions (Video)

I’m fascinated by stuff like this (though it always makes me wonder how many people I’ve inadvertently offended as I’ve traveled to different places).

The Right Coloured Ashtrays for Church

It threw me the first time I went to a church where half the people went outside for a smoke as soon as the service was over! But as Stephen McAlpine says, “You know God’s doing something special when you’re choosing the colour of the ashtrays for the church not the colour of the carpet.”

Is It Wrong to Draw Moral Lessons from OT Figures?

“It’s important to distinguish between ‘moralism’ and ‘morality.’ One is anti-gospel, the other is a byproduct of the gospel. Moralism focuses on outward behavior and is generally encouraged for personal profit and reputation. Moral transformation and conformity to the will of God is rooted in the fear of God, the pleasure of God, and is demonstrably tied to the Word of God.”

An Open Letter to Someone Considering Renouncing their Faith

Brad Hambrick: “Friend, It must be hard to put into words what you are experiencing. Your faith is important to you or you would not be that bothered by the possibility of walking away from it. I admire both the sincerity of your faith and the courage to share your doubts with me.”

Flashback: Beware (and Embrace) the Power of Story

If we are going to respond well to the new cultural ethos, we need to know God’s Story—his plan for humanity, sexuality, and marriage. We need to be fully convinced about why it matters so much. We need to be willing to suffer loss to uphold it.

Now is not the time for us to try to cohere the Christian message to a shared sensibility, to make the church fit into the surrounding cultural mold. We should keep Christianity weird. And in so doing, we just might reach our neighbors. —Elliot Clark