A La Carte (April 3)
Good morning. Grace and peace to you.
Logos users will want to look at this month’s free and nearly-free books. You’ll also find good deals this month on some excellent commentary sets.
There’s a substantial list of Kindle deals to begin a new month.
(Yesterday on the blog: Aged Saint, Thy Form Is Bending)
The Cosmos Keeps Preaching: My Faith After Forty Years at NASA
“Have you ever landed great seats at a concert, show, or sporting event — seats right down front, near the center of the action? That’s very much how I think about my position as an employee at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center over the past forty years (now retired), a career spent assisting in the development and testing of satellite control centers and directing the operation of various scientific missions.”
Yesterday happened, but this is still true
This is a good reminder from Jacob about what is still true no matter what may have happened the day before.
Why We Follow Some Old Testament Laws but Not Others
Greg Koukl: “Critics accuse Christians of conveniently picking and choosing from Old Testament laws. We’re quick to ‘clobber’ gay people with verses from Leviticus, they say, yet we don’t keep kosher ourselves. The complaint, though, is based on a misunderstanding about the Mosaic Covenant that even Christians fall prey to.”
The Bombadil Enigma, Part Two: The Mroczkowski Letter
Keith Mathison has been trying to solve one of the mysteries of Tom Bombadil, and seems to have made a bit of a breakthrough.
5 Easter Lessons from the Trials of Jesus
Peter Mead considers some of the details of Jesus’ various trials.
What C. S. Lewis Got Wrong About the Cursing Psalms
“C. S. Lewis got a lot of things right. He also got a few things wrong. And when Lewis was wrong, he was really wrong.” Trevin Wax explains one of those ways.
Flashback: We Are Very Anxious About Our Character
I came across a wonderful quote from F.B. Meyer that…counsels us on what to do when others attack our character and seek to harm our name. In short: wait on the Lord.
I do not stop being a child of God because I am a problem child. —Bryan Chapell
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A La Carte (February 16)By Tim Challies — 4 months ago
I’m thankful for this lovely review of Seasons of Sorrow from Sola Network.
I added some Kindle deals yesterday and will keep an eye out for more today.
(Yesterday on the blog: A Family and Personal Update)
Friends Who Fell Away: When Apostasy Comes Close to Home
“The memories, on most days, seem better left forgotten. Never has remembering sweet Bible studies tasted so bitter. Flashbacks of late-night conversations and time spent in prayer press inconsiderately upon the wound. In that large group, I can still hear his profession of faith echo. I thought I heard angels sing at his surrender. So long we had prayed for his salvation. Now, he no longer walks with Jesus.”
Holiness Is Transgressive
Brett McCracken reflects on attempts to be shockingly transgressive. “Because ‘transgression’ in contemporary pop culture has become ubiquitous to the point of banality. Transgressing gender binaries in fashion, pushing the envelope of sex and nudity on TV, ratcheting up gore in horror movies, celebrating ‘completely filthy’ chart-topping singles—it’s all so pervasive by now that it’s tiresome, as ‘transgressive’ as the khaki section of Old Navy.”
How Unanswered Prayers Have Shaped My Faith
Ruth Davidar Paul considers an unanswered prayer and says, “thinking about that prayer, I realised that it has been integral in cementing my faith, as incongruous as that may seem.”
Where Can I Find a Biblical Reason NOT to Gamble?
Biblical Counseling Coalition has a series this week on gambling meant to explain why Christians should not gamble.
What to Do When You Think a Friend Is Considering Suicide
“Over the last four years, I’ve been invited to churches, schools, and conferences all over the world to speak. What do you think my number one requested talk has been? It’s not the problem of evil, homosexuality, biblical justice, or even the existence of God. It’s suicide. More than 30% of the time, my host wants to hear about suicide. Why? Why is this issue so much more popular than all the others?”
Do You Carry More Than You Should?
I appreciate this article about Jesus telling his disciples that he would be going away. “In the wait, Jesus helped them anchor themselves in the One trustworthy for each and every day. He strengthened their faith then for later. When the time did come for the disciples to bear Jesus’ death, weakness turned to power, grief to joy, and the whole world turned upside down.”
Flashback: Procrastination Is a Failure to Love
…this is exactly what makes procrastination such an ugly and offensive sin. It is inherently self-centered. It is a form of self-love.
There is one song that you will sing every hour your first ten years in heaven, and the refrain of that song will be: “I am so glad God did not let me have it my own way!” —DeWitt Talmage
Do You Trust the Bible?By Tim Challies — 2 years ago
Today’s post is written by Bill Mounce and is sponsored by Zondervan. Bill is the author of Why I Trust the Bible and Basics of Biblical Greek.
The Bible makes some astonishing claims about itself. The apostle Paul tells his friend Timothy that every word of the Bible comes from the mouth of God (2 Tim 3:16). The Bible says God personally wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger (Exod 31:18; Deut 9:10). Almost five hundred times, the prophets preface their prophecies with the claim “says the Lord.” Jesus says, “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken” (John 12:49). Under normal circumstances, if someone says they speak for God, I doubt many of us would pay attention. But this is exactly what the Bible says about itself. Do you believe it?
We can no longer assume that people trust their Bible and believe what it says about itself. Western culture has shifted away from its Judeo-Christian heritage, and the popular media has launched such an attack on the believability of Scripture that many churchgoers have serious questions about the Bible. Questions like:
Did Jesus actually live?
Did the biblical writers get it right, or did they slant, massage, or even create the Bible we have today?
The Gospels were written long after Jesus lived; how can you trust them?
How can you believe a Bible that’s full of internal contradictions with itself and external contradictions with science and history?
Why should we believe the right books are in the Bible? Many books were left out, like the Gospel of Thomas.
Why trust the Bible when there are so many contradictory translations?
Wherever I travel in the world, whether I am speaking at conferences or universities or churches, there is one burning question. Can I trust the Bible? Why should I trust the Bible? Gone are the days of the veneer of a Christian culture where trust was assumed. Gone are the days when the Bible was given the benefit of the doubt. We live in a culture that aggressively attacks the Bible and those who were raised to trust it. University freshman are being challenged in every class. Parents often do not know what to do or how to help.
Some people feel it’s wrong to ask these fundamental questions; but if you never seriously ask them, you’ll never be convinced that the Bible is true and trustworthy. So I invite you to ask the hard questions, read the controversies and solutions, and decide for yourself whether you trust your Bible. Does it contain the very words of God?
I wrote the book, Why I Trust the Bible because people need to know the challenges of the day and the solutions to the questions raised. As is true of all systems of belief that deal with the ultimate questions of reality—Christianity, Islam, Materialism, Atheism—we all must have faith. I can’t prove the Bible is trustworthy, but I don’t have to put my brain on the shelf in order to believe in its trustworthiness. There are good answers to the hard questions being asked today, and none of the questions need to drive anyone to despair.
After forty-nine years of consistent and serious study of the New Testament, I am more convinced than ever that the Bible contains the very words of God and is wholly trustworthy.
This post is adapted from the Preface of Bill Mounce’s book Why I Trust the Bible. Order the book or find out more info.
Bill Mounce (PhD, Aberdeen University) lives as a writer in Washougal, Washington. He is the President of BiblicalTraining.org, a non-profit organization offering world-class educational resources for discipleship in the local church. See www.BillMounce.com for more information. Formerly he was a preaching pastor, and prior to that a professor of New Testament and director of the Greek Program at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of the bestselling Greek textbook, Basics of Biblical Greek, and many other resources. He was the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version translation of the Bible and is serving on the NIV translation committee.
What people are saying about Why I Trust the Bible:
“Bill Mounce has produced a remarkably clear, comprehensive, and level-headed resource that carefully and graciously explains each type of objection that has been lodged against the Bible, and then answers each objection with convincing facts and arguments. I expect that all who read it will gain deeper confidence in the trustworthiness of the Bible.”—WAYNE GRUDEM, Phoenix Seminary
“Ordinary believers wonder whether the Bible is really true, whether we can truly trust the Scriptures. Why I Trust the Bible represents a learned and accessible response to such questions. Many, I believe, will be assured in their faith by reading this important book.”—THOMAS R. SCHREINER, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
“We live in a time when truth is subject to a person’s preferences and what is called ‘truth’ is really just formulated montage of misinformation. We need accessible and accurate information for people from all walks of life. In Why I Trust the Bible, Bill Mounce invites Christ-followers and doubters to consider the reasonable and sound answers he provides to today’s tough questions.—ERIC MASON, Epiphany Fellowship
“This excellent volume is a treasure trove of explanations of difficult texts and answers to skeptics’ questions about the Bible. With each chapter, I found my confidence in the integrity of the biblical text reaffirmed and strengthened. Bill Mounce is uniquely qualified to respond to the many arguments against the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible, and I highly commend this book to anyone who is struggling to believe that Scripture is genuinely God-breathed.”—SAM STORMS, Bridgeway Church
Go here to order Why I Trust the Bible or find out more info.
None of Us Will Ever Forget What You DidBy Tim Challies — 1 year ago
The young man had forsaken his father, claimed an early inheritance, and blown it all in reckless living. Having fallen from riches to poverty, this prodigal son was now in the most desperate of straights—working hard, eating little, spiraling ever downward.
But on one brutal day, when he was as low as low could be, a thought suddenly flashed into his mind: “At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and I’m here dying of hunger!” The thought birthed an idea: “I will go home to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.’” He understood that though he was no longer worthy to be considered his father’s son, he would gladly take a place as his father’s slave.
So he set out to return home and at last arrived at the outskirts of his father’s holdings. As his foot hovered beside the boundary marker, he paused for just a moment to run over his plan and rehearse his words. “I have sinned. I am not worthy. Make me your servant. I have sinned. I am not worthy. Make me your servant.” With a whispered prayer, he steeled his gaze and began to shuffle forward.
He had taken only a few steps when suddenly, in the distance ahead, he saw someone approaching, running, almost sprinting in his direction. His arms looked to be open wide in a gesture of embrace. As the form came closer, there was a flash of recognition: his older brother. He must have been overseeing the field servants nearby when he spotted his younger sibling and came running toward him. Now, as he approached, the younger man saw that his brother’s arms were not open in embrace, but open in the universal gesture for “stop.” In just a few moments the two stood face-to-face.
The older spoke first: “What on earth are you doing here? After all you’ve done, how dare you set foot on this land?”
“I know I blew it,” the younger replied meekly. “I know I sinned. But I have nothing left. I’ve come to ask dad if he will let me be his servant.”
“Do you know what you did to dad when you left? Do you know how badly you shamed and embarrassed him in front of the entire community? He wants nothing to do with you.”
“I know he won’t ever take me back into the family. I wouldn’t even ask. But I know that he’s kinder to his slaves than most people are to their sons. I don’t need privileges. I just need kindness.”
“He doesn’t love you anymore. He doesn’t want you anymore. You’re dead to him.”
“I just want to talk to him. I just want to plead with him. I have seen him extend mercy to others—maybe he’ll extend it to me as well.”
“Mercy? To you? You’re an absolute disgrace. You disgust me and you’ll disgust him. You’re filthy. You stink.”
“I know. I know I do. I’ve been sleeping in barns. I’ve been eating with animals. I’m starving. I’m broken. I’m done.”
“I’m the future of this family. I’ve done everything dad has asked of me. I’ve obeyed his every word. It’s me he loves.”
“I know. I know you’re worthy of dad’s love. I know I’m not. But maybe dad has some love for the unworthy. I just want to ask. I just want to beg.”
“Come on! You know how just and fair dad is. He can’t just pretend you didn’t betray him. And he certainly hasn’t forgotten what you did to him. He won’t forget. He can’t forget.”
“I know. I can’t either.”
“None of us will ever forget what you did. None of us will ever forget who you are.”
As a tear cascaded from the young man’s eye, his older brother spoke once more: “Tell you what: You march yourself back up that road. I don’t want you to even think about coming back until you’ve cleaned yourself up, until you don’t stink anymore, until you’ve put on some decent clothes, and until you can reimburse dad every single penny you took from him. Then maybe, just maybe, he’ll be willing to see you.”
“I guess it’s only fair.”
“Go. Get out of here. You’re lost—don’t come back until you’ve found yourself.”
“You’re right. I’ll go. I’ll try to clean myself up. I’ll try to earn it all back. And if I do, I’ll return and prove myself to dad.”
And with that, the younger son turned around. He headed back up the roadway and past the boundary marker, each step extending the distance between himself and his father. His brother stood and watched him go, a satisfied grin on his face.
“I think I’m going to throw myself a little party,” he said. “I deserve it.”
(Author’s note: Have you ever considered what might have happened if the prodigal son met his older brother before his father?)