May the Lord bless and keep you today.
Chris Martin says, “We need to talk about a very real, very frightening phenomenon: a lot of people truly see their online activity and their offline activity as totally separate existences.” (And while we’re talking about Chris Martin, you may enjoy his Saturday newsletter The Funnies. It’s kind of a modern-day equivalent of the weekend comic section in a newspaper.)
Here’s a brief look at how Mary’s song stands between the OT and NT (and why it matters).
“Trees. Luminous in the forest. As the dying begins. Letting go. Piece by piece. Leaf by leaf. Orange. Yellow. Red. Beautiful. And certain. Seasons change.”
I’m really enjoying this hopeful new song from Ben Rector which says, in the chorus, “the best is yet to come.”
“Advent tells me that my idea of Christmas is manufactured nostalgia, a good portion of which is created by people who want to sell me things. They don’t want me to be satisfied, or to learn to wait, or to wrestle the darkness—they want me just the right sort of sad to buy more things. Advent as celebrated in the liturgical churches says look forwards, not backwards.”
Stephen Kneale follows up yesterday’s article about simply enjoying Christmas with some further thoughts. “The fact is, over-spiritualising stuff is a joy-killer. Everything has spiritual value if it is done to the glory of God. So long as we aren’t sinning, we can thank God for good gifts (whatever they are) and just enjoy ourselves. That is alright. Even at Christmas.”
…temptations are not entirely unpredictable, and there are certain times in life in which they are more likely to press hard than in others. Here are 4 times or seasons in which you need to be especially vigilant against temptation.
When our faith is starving, a record of answered prayer is like a trail of breadcrumbs leading us back to God’s faithfulness. —John Onwuchekwa
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By Tim Challies — 2 months ago
The Lord be with you and the Lord bless you today.
I wanted to remind you of my site SquareQuotes where you can freely download hundreds of the quote graphics I share every day.
Borrowing from the KJV Bank and Trust
This is a good article from a new site titled Text & Canon (which is associated with Phoenix Seminary). “The KJV translators were not KJV-Only. It is actually those who wish to see the venerable King James revised who are most honoring the KJV tradition.”
“The prayer meeting is the battle ground on which the church fights together for the advancement of the kingdom. Of all the reforms that a pastor can agitate for in the life of his congregation, the one that will be the lifeblood of further reformation is the gathering of the saints in a concert of prayer.”
Missional Wear: Early Black Friday Deals!
Worldwide shipping delays and supply chain challenges make it more important than ever to get your Christmas shopping done early. Check out some of the best deals of the year while they last! (Sponsored Link)
It’s Not Your body
“We’re (rightly) eager to teach our children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. We don’t want them to be abused or to abuse others. But how do we arm them intellectually to resist such abuse? Western culture tells them to oppose abuse ‘because it’s your body’.” But perhaps there is a better thing to say…
I appreciated this little acknowledgement of the sheer goodness of an intergenerational church.
How Ocean Shipping Works (And Why It’s Broken)
This helpful video explains how ocean shipping works and how it has gotten so badly broken in recent months.
Raising Little Flowers
I thorough enjoyed this story in WORLD by Emily Belz. “Crystal Hardy-Flowers always wanted her early childcare center in the low-income, high-crime neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester in Baltimore, Md., to be a safe place for the 200 children who showed up every day.”
Flashback: Give Me a Man with an Open Bible!
…as Christians, we must insist that authority is not derived first from experience, but from Scripture. Greater than our need for people who have experienced it in their lives, is our need for people who will teach it from the Word.
Unbelief is the cause of all our troubles and failures. This is the strategic point where Satan concentrates his forces against us, and therefore it is here above all that we need divine help. —A.W. Pink
By Tim Challies — 2 months ago
The final months of the year are typically not the best time for new book releases. However, this year we are seeing some special releases that are well worth investigating—including books by prominent theologians like Thomas Schreiner and Douglas Moo. With that in mind, here is my list of new and notable Christian books for November 2021. In each case I’ve included the editorial description.
The Joy of Hearing: A Theology of the Book of Revelation by Thomas Schreiner. “Join New Testament scholar Thomas Schreiner as he explores the meaning and purpose of the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation can feel more intimidating to read than other books of the Bible. It invites readers into a world that seems confusing and sometimes even strange: golden lampstands, seven seals, a dragon, and a rider on a white horse. But at its core, Revelation is a message of hope written to Christians facing hardship, and it’s worth the effort to read it and understand it. In this first volume in the New Testament Theology series, trusted scholar Thomas Schreiner walks step-by-step through the book of Revelation, considering its many themes—the opposition believers face from the world; the need for perseverance; God as sovereign Creator, Judge, and Savior—as well as its symbolic imagery and historical context. The Joy of Hearing brings clarity to the content and message of Revelation and explores its relevance for the church today.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
A Theology of Paul and His Letters by Douglas Moo. “This highly anticipated volume gives pastors, scholars, and all serious students of the New Testament exactly what they need for in-depth study and engagement with one of Christian history’s most formative thinkers and writers. A Theology of Paul and His Letters is a landmark study of the apostle’s writings by one of the world’s leading Pauline scholars Douglas J. Moo. Fifteen years in the making, this groundbreaking work is organized into three major sections: Part 1 provides an overview of the issues involved in doing biblical theology in general and a Pauline theology in particular. Here Moo also sets out the methodological issues, formative influences, and conceptual categories of Paul’s thought. Part 2 moves on to Paul’s New Testament writings, where Moo describes each Pauline letter with particular relevance to its theology. Part 3 offers a masterful synthesis of Paul’s theology under the overarching theme of the gift of the new realm in Christ. Engaging, insightful, and wise, this substantive, evangelical treatment of Paul’s theology offers extensive engagement with the latest Pauline scholarship without sacrificing its readability. This volume brings insights from over thirty years of experience studying, teaching, and writing about Paul into one comprehensive guide that will serve readers as a go-to resource for decades to come.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
What Jesus Did: 31 Devotions about the Life of Jesus & What Jesus Does: 31 Devotions about Jesus and the Church by Sinclair Ferguson. This is a pair of related books that tell stories. “Since before the beginning of time God has been at work. He created the world; he promised to send a saviour; and he sent his Son to die for us. With these 31 devotions and prayers you will see the impact of the life of Christ from before Creation to the Resurrection. Find out What Jesus Did through stories such as: Making Christmas Last; When Jesus Became a Refugee; and How Do I know Jesus Loves me?” As for the second book: “What is a life with Jesus like? How does the Son of God impact me? Through 31 devotions about Jesus, family and the church we discover what being friends with Jesus really means. Find out about Jesus, his friends and family, the disciples and the church through stories such as: Jesus Knows Your Name; Ready Steady Think; and Who Loves Church?” (Buy What Jesus Did at Amazon or Westminster Books; Buy What Jesus Does at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Rescue Plan: Charting a Course to Restore Prisoners of Pornography by Deepak Reju & Jonathan Holmes. “Pornography addiction is a pervasive problem—even in Christian circles—and many destructive misunderstandings surround it. If you want to help someone who has become a prisoner of this sin, you’ll need to know your enemy and the terrain on which you’ll be fighting. What makes a woman’s encounter with pornography different from a man’s, and how do you counsel her? What guidance do you give a struggler who is currently dating—or married? How can you help a parent who has discovered that their young child has been exposed to porn? Rescue Plan draws on the research and experience of two biblical counselors, giving concrete information and helping you to shape an effective plan of attack for strugglers in these diverse circumstances. Although it can stand alone, Rescue Plan pairs with Rescue Skills, also by Reju and Holmes, for maximum effectiveness. Together these two books show how to develop and execute a comprehensive plan for fighting pornography addiction in a wide range of situations.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Rescue Skills: Essential Skills for Restoring the Sexually Broken by Deepak Reju & Jonathan Holmes. “Do you know someone who is struggling with sexual addiction? Unfortunately, given our hypersexualized culture and the accessibility of pornography, it’s likely that you do. Recovery is a difficult journey—one that none should take alone. How can you help? In this practical handbook, counselors Deepak Reju and Jonathan Holmes provide a treasure trove of straightforward, biblical strategies for guiding a fellow believer—male or female, old or young—toward recovery. You’ll learn how to listen well, develop a plan, encourage good accountability, provide support during relapses, and, by God’s grace, keep your friend focused on Christ throughout. The conversations may be uncomfortable, but this is a matter of eternal importance! Although it can stand alone, Rescue Skills pairs with Rescue Plan, also by Reju and Holmes, for maximum effectiveness. Together these two books show how to develop and execute a comprehensive plan for fighting pornography addiction in a wide range of circumstances.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Trial of the 16th Century: Calvin & Servetus by Jonathan Moorhead. “The execution of Michael Servetus (1511-53) is one of the most debated events in the life of John Calvin (1509-1564). It has left an indelible stain on Calvin’s reputation, and unfortunately, the retelling of the story is often dependent on the historian’s relationship to Calvinism. Jonathan Moorhead here seeks to give a faithful narrative of the role of John Calvin in the execution of Michael Servetus. He examines the life of Servetus, with emphasis given to his education, publications, and relationship with John Calvin. Moorhead also gives attention to the role of Calvin in Servetus’ arrests, trials, and execution. Understanding the extent of Calvin’s power in Geneva at the time of the trial is critical to understanding the events, as is the context of executing heretics throughout history, and in particular, in the 16th Century. This book will challenge readers to think critically about the ethics of telling history, the standards of properly judging previous generations, and the benefits of this study for the building up of the Body of Christ.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
More Than A Story: Old Testament & More Than A Story: New Testament by Sally Michaels. I’ll provide the description for the NT version and allow you to figure out what the OT one is about. “More Than a Story: New Testament is a new kind of Bible resource for children (ages 6-12)—taking them on a chronological journey through the Bible with a God-centered, gospel-focused, discipleship-oriented, theologically grounded perspective. The glorious account of the birth of God’s Son and the sobering account of Jesus’ death on the cross; bread and fish multiplied to feed 5,000 and living water offered to a Samaritan woman; Jesus preaching openly and the Pharisees plotting secretly; a crowd singing praises in the streets and an angry mob calling for crucifixion; a blind man receives his sight and a persecutor of the church is blinded by light; an apostle is freed from prison and another is put in chains – the pages of this book are filled with stories from the Bible, all of them absolutely and eternally true, telling one grand story. More than a storybook, this 346-page book displays Christ’s manifold character as well as His glorious deeds, righteous commands, sure promises, severe warnings, and gracious plan of redemption. Though the Bible is full of stories, it is MORE THAN A STORY. It is the authoritative Word of God that, throughout its pages, proclaims and magnifies the majestic character of God, His work in this world, and His plan of redemption for sinful men through His Son, Jesus.” (Buy the OT volume at Amazon or Westminster Books; Buy the NT volume at Westminster Books)
After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ by Brian Tabb. “Did the Old Testament simply point to the coming of Christ and his saving work, or is there more to the story? After his resurrection, the Lord Jesus revealed how his suffering, glory, and mission plan for the nations are in fact central to the biblical story of redemption. After Emmaus shows how Christology and missiology are integrally connected throughout Scripture, especially in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Brian Tabb explains what Luke 24:46–47 reveals about God’s messianic promises in the Old Testament, their fulfillment in the New Testament, and the purpose of the church. By understanding Jesus’s last words to his disciples, Christians today will be motivated to participate in the Messiah’s mission.” (Buy it at Amazon)
By Tim Challies — 4 months ago
In his book Lessons from the Upper Room, Sinclair Ferguson provides an allegory he titles “The Stranger in Smokeland”—an allegory he says needs little interpretation. For that reason, I will provide it as-is, without commentary. I think you’ll enjoy it.
The Stranger had lived all his life in the Highlands. Here streams of crystal-clear water run; the flowers and vegetation are luxuriant; the mountain air is pure; the atmosphere is unpolluted. No one who lives here has ever died.
But the Stranger’s father had told him of a distant land where the air is polluted, and the inhabitants die young. The pollution and death are caused by a plant the citizens roll into tube-shapes, light, and place in their mouths, and then they inhale its vapors—they do not realize they are poisonous. Instead, they find their highest pleasure in this; they believe it keeps them healthy and that it protects them and is essential to a good life.
The parliament of the country has never enacted a law to this effect, but it is universally regarded as unacceptable for a citizen not to smoke. Now they have become so addicted to the lighted plant that they can no longer smell the odor it leaves on their bodies, their hair, and their clothes. They think that its effect on their skin and eyes enhances their attractiveness.
The Stranger and his father feel pity for this land. They decide that the Stranger should visit it, instruct its people, offer to rid the land of its pollution, and make a treaty for them that will guarantee clean air, good health, and endless life.
And so, the Stranger comes to Smokeland.
The citizens see that the Stranger never smokes. This makes them feel uncomfortable. He begins to talk to them about a land where no one smokes, where the air is fresh, the rivers are crystal clear, and everyone is healthy. He tells them that in this kingdom no one has ever died. He also tells them that his father, who reigns over the land from which he has come, sent him to Smokeland to set its citizens free from smoking and to rid their land of its noxious atmosphere. The air, he promises, will become pure, their breath will become clean, their clothes will no longer be impregnated with the odor of the plant—they will feel like new people altogether!
But instead of admiring his obvious health and listening to his message, the citizens of Smokeland become angry. They refuse to believe the Stranger; they tell him his claims cannot be true. They deny that they are unhealthy; they enjoy the smell of their clothes; they reject his message.
Nevertheless, despite the mounting opposition to him the Stranger continues to speak. He pleads with them to listen. But this simply angers the people. Now they plan to silence him.
One day they surround him, exhaling their smoke, breathing it over him. “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke like us!” they chant.
He refuses, but they insist. And when he still will not smoke, they surround him in even greater numbers. They press in on him, jeering, blowing the smoke of the lighted plant onto his face and into his eyes. They try to push the lighted tubes of it into his mouth. But he refuses to inhale. They persist. His clothes are now reeking from their polluted smoke, his face is surrounded by their exhaling, and he is covered in their spittle. His eyes are watering, and his heart is longing for relief and for the fresh air of home. But he refuses to smoke.
At last, the Smokeland citizens’ anger flares up into mob-rage at the Stranger’s persistence. Some of them seize him and hold him while others begin to stab at his body with their lighted tubes of the noxious plant. Finally, one of them pours flammable liquid over the Stranger’s head. They take the small flares they use to light the plant, and set his clothes ablaze. He is burned to ashes before them… he has endured the intolerable smoke to the end without yielding to the Smokers. They do not realize that he will rise again, phoenix-like, from the ashes.
(You can purchase Lessons from the Upper Room at Ligonier Ministries or Amazon)