Good morning and happy Monday! Grace and peace to you today.
Today’s Kindle deals include some good picks from Crossway.
I know there are many of us who want to read more than we actually do. Tony Reinke has some tips for us—tips on how to find and protect the time we need to get that reading done.
Reuben considers the recent upsurge in attention to the importance of gratitude and says, “In some respects, the broad recognition of the importance of gratitude is remarkable. When we see in Scripture how fundamental thankfulness should be in the life of a believer who fears God, it is striking to find the same emphasis among those who don’t know God through Christ.”
Lois offers some thoughts on what to do when you are longing for some encouragement.
Elizabeth Turnage: “When I tell people I’ve written a book about preparing for glory, about living and dying in the hope of heaven, I get mixed reactions. Some people wonder why we would need to ‘prepare’ for glory. Others wonder, frankly, if I’m being morbid. Good questions.”
“Preaching is a tricky business. It’s something I’ve done a lot of over the past thirty years but I still sometimes feel like a novice. Learning about preaching from other preachers is essential, both listening to their sermons and reading what they write about the craft.” Here are a few graphic-based tips.
Should Christians pray those “vengeance Psalms?” Different Christians have taken different perspectives on the question as Dan Crabtree shows here.
Wisdom gently whispers there is an Author telling a story whose end will be as wonderful as its beginning, whose final chapter will be as breathtaking as its first.
If all men’s sins were divided into two bundles, half of them would be sins of the tongue.
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By Tim Challies — 1 day ago
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you today.
If you ever find yourself struggling to delight in the Old Testament, Westminster Books has a deal on just the book for you. They have quite a lot of other OT-related material on sale as well.
Mark David Hall reviews a new film. “If there is a central message of God & Country, it is that we should be afraid. Very, very afraid. This feature length film billed as a documentary contends that America’s experiment in constitutional self-government is on the brink of collapse and it is possible, even likely, that the United States will become a fascist theocracy in the near future. The culprit, of course, is ‘white Christian nationalism.’”
I really appreciate what Jacob says here about the connection between order, preparation, and the Spirit’s leading.
Coram Deo is a Latin phrase meaning “before the face of God.” The phrase is often associated with John Calvin and other Reformers who summoned the Christian to live all of life in God’s presence (Ps. 56:13). More specifically, pastors have been charged in the presence of God to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:1-2). This conference aims to remind pastors of our great God, to recharge the preacher for teaching with clarity and conviction, and to reinvigorate the weary soul for a life of ministry faithfulness before the face of God. (Sponsored Link)
“The controversy surrounding the recent funeral for Cecilia Gentili at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York has been well-documented in the press” says Carl Trueman. “The incident is eloquent testimony to the nature of this moment in American, even Western, culture.”
John Piper answers a question about why God stigmatized the disabled in the Old Testament.
Trevin offers some really interesting insights based on a popular song. “NF’s confession captures the tendency of young people to self-diagnose, to base their identities in their issues, whatever they may be. Once you make this turn, you feel a visceral reaction to the hope of healing. You’re both attracted and repelled by the thought. You can get to a point where you so strongly identify with your pain and struggle that the prospect of healing feels like a threat to your identity. Overcoming the suffering would mean losing yourself.”
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article like this one before: One in which Christian parents reflect on errors they made that may have contributed to their adult children leaving the faith.
Think of what you read when you’re browsing online. Think of the books and television you enjoy. Think of your last 100 Facebook posts. Do you love good, or are you mesmerized by evil?
Whether our lot seems humble or exalted, let us work with all our heart, for the Lord knows and rewards all faithful labor.
By Tim Challies — 3 months ago
As another year draws to a close, I wanted to take some time to consider the books I read in 2023 and to assemble a list of my top picks. Apart from the first book, which I consider the best I read this year, the rest are in no particular order. In each case I’ve included a brief excerpt from my review. (You can read my reviews of these books and many others here.)
Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal by Matthew Martens. I rank this as the best largely because it got me to think about things I’ve never really considered before and pushed me to think about them in a distinctly Christian way. Most of us probably assume that the criminal justice system in our country is generally sound. We may believe that it needs some tweaks here and there. We may understand that because it exists in a fallen world it will in some ways reflect the sins and weaknesses of the people who control and oversee it. But rarely do we pause to ask questions like this: If we had to design a criminal justice system from scratch and do so in a way that is consistent with Scripture, what might it look like? What principles would we embed within it? And how closely would it resemble the system we currently have? These are the question this fascinating book answers from a distinctly Christian perspective. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
Digital Liturgies: Rediscovering Christian Wisdom in an Online Age by Samuel James. Samuel James’ Digital Liturgies is meant to help you think about digital technologies and the social internet they enable. For these are not harmless or inconsequential tools. Neither can they be exactly compared to any tools that we have previously experienced in human history, for they alone provide a “disembodied electronic environment that we enter through connected devices for the purpose of accessing information, relationships, and media that are not available to us in a physical format.” Our use of these technologies and our increasing immersion in them essentially brings us into a whole new kind of world in which we leave aside so much of what makes us who we are. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
David Livingstone: Missionary, Explorer, Abolitionist by Vance Christie. There are some historical figures whose every sin seems to get overlooked and whose every virtue seems to get amplified. Conversely, there are other historical figures whose every virtue seems to get overlooked and whose every sin seems to get amplified. I would place the modern understanding of David Livingstone squarely in the latter category. Though he was most certainly a flawed individual, it seems that today he is known only for those flaws rather than for his many strengths. It’s for this reason that Vance Christie’s weighty new biography of Livingstone is so timely and so important. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
Timothy Keller: His Spiritual and Intellectual Formation by Collin Hansen. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did. I enjoy reading a good biography as much as anyone, but was perhaps a bit skeptical about a book that, instead of focusing on an individual’s life and accomplishments, instead describes his spiritual and intellectual formation. Yet what could have been a mite dry was actually very compelling. Whether you have been influenced by Keller or not, whether you admire him or not, I believe you will enjoy this account of his life framed around his intellectual and spiritual development. Told through the pen of an especially talented a writer, it is a fascinating and compelling narrative. It may just get you thinking about who has formed you and compel you to praise God for the people, the preachers, the books, and the organizations that have made you who you are. (Buy it at Amazonor Westminster Books; read my review)
The Gender Revolution: A Biblical, Biological and Compassionate Response by Patricia Weerakoon, Robert Smith, and Kamal Weerakoon. This is a book that has been written to provide a biblical, biological, and compassionate response to the modern day gender ideology that has been flooding our world and sweeping away so many victims. It is written by a fascinating combination of authors: Patricia Weerakoon who is a now-retired medical doctor, counsellor, sex therapist, speaker, writer and academic; Kamal Weerakoon (Patricia’s son) who is a missions director at a Presbyterian church; and Robert Smith who is a long-time lecturer in theology, ethics and music ministry at Sydney Missionary & Bible College. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
Remaking the World: How 1776 Created the Post-Christian West by Andrew Wilson. The book’s big idea is that the year “1776, more than any other year in the last millennium, is the year that made us who we are.” In this case, the “us” refers to those who live in what we might call the modern, industrialized West. I very much enjoyed reading Remaking the World. It is an enjoyable book, a well-paced book, and one written with verve. It takes on an audacious thesis and, as far as I can tell (even while admitting I’m entirely unqualified to judge), one the author defends well. I think you’re likely to enjoy it just as much as I did. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
Memorable Loss: A Story of Friendship in the Face of Dementia by Karen Martin. This is Karen Martin’s account of the days from immediately prior to her friend Kathleen’s diagnosis of dementia all the way to her passing. It explains Alzheimer’s and dementia and shows how though they necessarily reduce the patient’s capacities, they do not reduce her personhood. It tells of some of the trials that caretakers must endure and some of the agonizing decisions they need to make on behalf of the one they love. And it does all of this through the highest quality of prose. It’s an achingly beautiful account that leaves the reader groaning with the sorrow of this world but rejoicing in its delights and longing for the day when death and mourning, when crying and pain, will have passed away. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
You Are Still a Mother: Hope for Women Grieving a Stillbirth or Miscarriage by Jackie Gibson. There is no path through this life that does not involve hardship. There is no path through this life that does not involve sorrow and loss. One of the most common sorrows, the most common losses, is that of a child who dies through miscarriage or stillbirth. So many parents are familiar with the agony of losing a child they never truly got to know, yet loved with their whole heart. Writing specifically for mothers who have become members of a club that no one wants to join, Jackie Gibson’s message to them is this: You are still a mother. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books; read my review)
By Tim Challies — 3 weeks ago
My gratitude goes to Thomas Nelson for sponsoring the blog this week so you could learn about the new Timeless Truths Bible which is designed with the history of the Christian church in mind. “It will remind you that, as you read the Word of God, you’re a part of a sacred communion made up of believers past and present. Not only is this particular Bible beautifully designed, it has also been carefully crafted with selected features to help you in your journey through the text.”
There are, indeed, some new Kindle deals to look through today.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Deconstruction of Christianity)
“You have heard it said, ‘The Gospel is not about going to heaven when you die.’ Don’t sing about ‘flying away’ when this life is over. Don’t preach about God’s celestial shore or the mansion for His children in the air. These sermons are ‘escapist’ and Christians who listen to them become apathetic about this life, ignore injustice, or shrug their shoulders about the misery of the poor. If we keep preaching this false gospel, the Church will only care about getting to heaven, not doing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.”
Stephen McAlpine says that we need more “repellently attractional” churches. And while his context is Australia, I think there’s lots for us to learn on this side of the globe as well.
Brad Hambrick considers the sin of partiality. “God isn’t showing partiality toward the poor to “balance the scales of history.” The harder road to faith for the affluent isn’t a punishment from God. The experience of wealth tends to create a façade of self-sufficiency that makes it less likely for some to see their need for a Savior. When it comes to being an heir to the kingdom, being poor is an advantage.”
What is the single most encouraging thing for a pastor to see among the people he serves? I’m very much inclined to agree with Steve’s take on it.
This is a fantastic telling of the friendship between John Newton and William Cowper.
If you’ve ever wondered what biblical typology is all about, this will serve as a helpful explanation.
God does not call only elders or prospective elders to be “sober-minded, self-controlled, and respectable”—He calls every Christian to pursue these traits.
Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again, you will never come to the bottom of these depths.
—Robert Murray M’Cheyne