A La Carte (February 22)
I made it home safe and sound and, of course, moderately jet-lagged, from my trip to Poland. I’m thankful for traveling mercies (perhaps especially after being in a country with a speed limit of 140 km/h).
There are a few new Kindle deals for the collectors.
Kate Forbes: Would a Christian be permitted to lead Scotland?
“With a Hindu as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and a Muslim as the mayor of London, it would seem that the UK is at last fulfilling the promise of a multi-cultural society. Yet events in Scotland suggest that there is one group who are in effect banned from meaningful political leadership – Christians who actually believe what Jesus says!”
The Devil Is Real
“Recently, the devil visited the Grammys. From the amount of press coverage, it seems he won an award. If you haven’t seen Sam Smith and Kim Petras’s controversial live performance of the song ‘Unholy,’ don’t bother. It’s not worth your time. However, the celebration of this performance does bring up two points that are worth our attention.” Jonathan Noyes explains what they are.
The Respiration of Internet Culture
Chris Martin has an interesting look at the history of the internet here.
“Have you ever considered advice to be a dangerous gift?” Tolkien did, and perhaps we should as well.
What Does Faith Do? It Depends
“Theology is much like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. There are all these different pieces. They do fit, but we don’t always right away realize how. The key is to pay attention to the clues. These are given to us in Scripture.”
I’ll See You in Heaven
We have such hope through the gospel…
My eyes strain to see it, my ears to hear it, my hands to grasp it. Home, sweet home. Home where my God is. Home where my heart is. Home where my father is. Home where my son is. Simply, wonderfully, eternally home.
The fear of God is a profound respect for His holiness, which includes a fear of the consequences of disobeying Him. —Randy Alcorn
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Her Weakness Is Her StrengthBy Tim Challies — 12 months ago
Have you ever known a family who has learned that it will soon welcome a child with special needs? It could be that prenatal testing has shown a developmental abnormality or it could be that they have deliberately chosen to adopt a child with disabilities. But either way, the family will necessarily undergo a time of preparation as they ready themselves for the inevitable special challenges to come. They will prepare their home, they will prepare their community, they will prepare themselves.
And when the day comes that the child arrives, you may observe that the entire family begins to accommodate themselves to her weaknesses. Not just over the course of her early days but over the entire duration of her life, they give her their help. If she cannot see, they become her eyes; if she cannot hear, they learn to sign; if she cannot walk, they carry her from place to place; if she cannot make decisions on her own, they make them lovingly on her behalf.
You may observe as well that there is a special kind of love given to this one child. The other children in the family may love one another, but each of them has a special affection for this sister. The mother loves all of her children equally, yet there is a special tenderness for this one who is especially needy. The father makes accommodation for all of his children in his final will and testament, but ensures special provision has been made for her. No one else is so well loved, so safely protected. Her weakness is actually her strength for it draws to her the love and help of the entire household.
The Bible refers to the church as “the household of God.” As we come to Christ we form a kind of family in which God is our father and Christ our elder brother. We are to relate to one another as fathers to sons, mothers to daughters, siblings to siblings. We are to feel and express the kind of love, care, and affection for one another that is usually reserved for members of the same family.
Within every church there will be some who are especially weak. They may be physically weak, marked by some kind of a severe bodily disability. They may be intellectually weak, having some kind of significant mental disability. They may be emotionally weak, grappling with an advanced mental illness. They may be weak in any other number of ways, perhaps through the effects of childhood neglect, or the consequences of a lifetime of making poor decisions, or the infirmities of old age. Or maybe even just through spiritual immaturity.
Regardless of the cause or degree of the weakness, these are the ones who are to be the special objects of our love, protection, and affection. These are the ones we must accept as a special gift of God to the church. It is to the weakest that we owe the greatest honor, to the frailest that we owe the greatest allegiance, to the ones most likely to be overlooked that we owe the greatest attention. The Apostle Paul switches to a different metaphor to explain that “the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require.” God has deliberately composed the human body and Christ’s body alike so that we are to give “greater honor to the part that lacked it” (1 Corinthians 12:22–24).
And so, as we relate to those who are weak, we are to ensure they do not draw our censure, our criticism, or our condemnation, all of which flow so naturally from our sinful hearts. We are to ensure we do not regard them as a trial, burden, or embarrassment. Rather, we are to accept them as a precious gift of God and to treat them with compassion, concern, and special affection. Their frailty is to be met with sympathy, their inability is to draw the love and help of Christ’s whole family. Their weakness is to be their strength as it draws the love and care of the entire household.
Inspired by J.R. Miller
New and Notable Christian Books for April 2022By Tim Challies — 11 months ago
There are lots of new Christian resources being published these days and, as is so often the case, many of them landed in my mailbox. I spent some time going through them and arrived at a list of the ones I thought might be most interesting to you. Here, then, are this month’s new and notable books (including the editorial description for each).
Gospel People: A Call for Evangelical Integrity by Michael Reeves. “A biblical case for the importance and goodness of being evangelical. The term evangelical is often poorly defined and frequently comes with cultural and political baggage. As the label has become more controversial, many Christians have begun to wonder if they should abandon it altogether. Michael Reeves argues from a global, scriptural, and historical perspective that, while it’s not necessary to discard the label altogether, Christians must return to the root of the term—the evangel, or “gospel”—in order to understand what it truly means. He identifies the theology of evangelicalism and its essential doctrine, calling believers to stand with integrity as people of the gospel.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Bible Doctrine, Second Edition: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem. “How do we know the Bible is God’s Word? What is sin and where did it come from? How is Jesus fully God and fully man? What are spiritual gifts? When and how will Christ return? If you’ve asked questions like these, then systematic theology is no abstract term. It’s an approach to finding answers every Christian needs to know. The second edition of Bible Doctrine takes a widely used upper-level textbook on systematic theology and makes it accessible. Abridged from the second edition of Wayne Grudem’s award-winning Systematic Theology, Bible Doctrine covers the same essentials of the faith, giving you a firm grasp on seven key topics: The Doctrine of the Word of God, The Doctrine of God, The Doctrine of Man, The Doctrine of Christ, The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption, The Doctrine of the Church, The Doctrine of the Future. You don’t need to have had several years of Bible college or seminary training to reap the benefits of Bible Doctrine. It’s easy to understand and packed with biblical answers to your most pressing theological questions.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care by Uche Anizor. “For many Christians, apathy can feel inescapable. They experience a lack of motivation and a growing indifference to important things, with some even struggling to care about anything at all. In Overcoming Apathy, theology professor Uche Anizor explains what apathy is and gives practical, biblical advice to break the cycle. Inspired by his conversations with young Christians as well as his own experiences with apathy, Anizor takes a fresh look at this widespread problem and its effect on spiritual maturity. This short book is an excellent resource for those struggling with apathy as well as parents, mentors, and friends who want to support someone in need.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Calls to Worship, Invocations, and Benedictions by Ryan Kelly. “Highly organized and practical, this resource for worship leaders provides hundreds of calls to worship, invocations, and benedictions and over one hundred optional congregational responses, along with seasonal and topical suggestions for worship planning. Each liturgical element is sourced or adapted directly from the Bible and indexed by topic. Quickly find appropriate passages, and draw on a broader range of Scripture in your worship services. This useful handbook also includes an overview of how churches have historically incorporated these elements into worship, with particular attention paid to early Reformation liturgies. Whether you are new to this pattern of worship or have made it a part of your services for years, you will be helped and encouraged.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
A Biblical Case against Theistic Evolution by Wayne Grudem, General Editor. “Even Christians strongly debate Scripture’s account of creation, with some declaring that major events in the book of Genesis—from the origin of Adam and Eve to God’s curse on the world—were purely symbolic. Several respected scholars endorse this theory, but is it consistent with the Bible’s teaching? In A Biblical Case against Theistic Evolution, condensed and adapted from Theistic Evolution, Wayne Grudem and other leading scholars challenge the belief that Genesis is mostly symbolic, rather than a true, historical narrative.” (Buy it at Amazon)
The God Who Hears: How the Story of the Bible Shapes Our Prayers by Sarah Ivill. “Author Sarah Ivill contends, “As we study prayer through the lens of the unfolding story of Scripture, it will teach us how to pray, but more importantly it will reveal the Covenant God to whom we pray.” And just such an endeavor provides the foundation and motivation necessary to enrich our prayer life. See how Old Testament prayers find their fulfillment and transformation in Christ. Discover boldness and joy in prayer because Christ is the high priest who gives us access to the throne of grace. Moreover, look forward to an eternity in which our prayers will consist of unhindered praise.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
R.C. Sproul: Defender of the Reformed Faith by Nate Pickowicz. “R.C. Sproul: Defender of the Reformed Faith traces the five decades of R.C.’s public ministry, observing a thematic connection to the five solas of the Reformation. While much has already been written, with much more to come, this book takes a unique look at R.C. Sproul as doctrinal defender. In a cultural climate where doctrinal disagreements can easily descend into personal attacks and division, R.C. models the utmost care for doctrinal precision without sacrificing the love and grace needed to be kind to those with whom we disagree. Even after his passing, R.C. still has much to teach us about what it means to contend earnestly for the faith.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
I also wanted to mention a new series from P&R and Third Millennium Ministries called Christian Essentials. “Produced by Third Millennium Ministries for a global, multilingual, evangelical audience, the books in the Christian Essentials series make highly vetted, master’s-level theology clear, personal, and accessible to a broad spectrum of readers.” The series has begun with three volumes:
Weekend A La Carte (February 25)By Tim Challies — 4 weeks ago
My gratitude goes to TGC for sponsoring the blog this week to let you know about another series of their always-interesting Good Faith Debates.
Today’s Kindle deals include a good selection of titles.
(Yesterday on the blog: Navigating the Space between Singleness and Marriage)
Hope for Those Tempted to Control Their Children’s Spiritual Lives
This is so important. “So much of our parenting is built on control, which is not always a bad thing. We want to control the influences around our child, so we don’t let them watch inappropriate TV shows. We filter the internet in our home, we get to know the parents of the friends they hang out with, and we tell them not to walk anywhere alone or to talk to strangers. But control in parenting can easily take a negative turn.”
‘No Celebrities Except Jesus’: How Asbury Protected the Revival
Hopefully you’ve got the ability to read this article at CT about the revival and how the administration at Asbury did their best to foster and protect it.
From WEIRD to Absurd
“As I watch the debates in Scotland, and talk with my Anglican friends – agonizing as they are over the implications of their bishops’ absurd decisions around same-sex blessings – I grieve but also feel a growing conviction that we shouldn’t take any of this too seriously. The devil loves to be taken seriously, he hates to be mocked. What we are living through is ridiculous, absurd, and passing.”
One Year Later, Moscow Pastor Says, ‘I Know God Is Going to Judge Us All’
“The first week after Russia began ‘special military operations’ in Ukraine, Russian pastor Evgeny Bakhmutsky couldn’t sleep.” My Worship Round the World journey was meant to take me to this church though, for obvious reasons, we’ve had to go elsewhere.
Facts Don’t Care About Your Healings
This is yet another interesting and challenging reflection from Samuel James.
Rethinking the Value of Potential
Melissa has “noticed that a common pro-life talking point needs reforming.”
Flashback: Only the Christian Faith Begins At the Top
Only the Christian faith begins at the top. We are made right with God first, then obey his law as it is suspended from above, as it is revealed from the heavens.
As I go into a cemetery I like to think of the time when the dead shall rise from their graves… Thank God, our friends are not buried; they are only sown! —D.L. Moody