A La Carte (March 16)
May the Lord be with you and bless you today.
Today’s Kindle deals include Tom Schreiner’s excellent The Joy of Hearing.
Westminster Books has some Easter resources on sale this week.
(Yesterday on the blog: How To Ruin a Perfectly Good Friendship)
Preaching from a Place of Fullness
“I have preached from a place of emptiness and from a place of fullness, and the experience of the one makes me long for the other.” Take the time to have Andrew explain what he means.
New Missionaries, From Your Older Brother
Dave was asked to speak at a missionary training school and tells about some of the wisdom he passed along.
Rick Warren Has Done the SBC a Great Service
Denny Burk listened to a recent interview with Rick Warren and explains the tactics Warren will use to lobby for women to be allowed in all positions of leadership within the SBC.
How are Old Testament land promises fulfilled? (Video)
Dr. John Currid tells how all those promises of land relate to us today.
How “You Too” Can Heal
Zach Barnhart: “Think about the people in the church with whom you practice community. It could be a small group you are a part of, a group you are pouring into or serving, or a handful of your close friends. What if the one thing that’s holding them back from stepping into real fellowship and vulnerability with your group is your own courageous choice to walk in the light before them?”
To Love Life and See Good Days
“How many of us desire to love life and see good days? My guess is it is all of us. Only the jaded have abandoned this hope. This desire for the good life may seem like something from the self-help section, but it is directly from scripture.” Doug Eaton explains.
Flashback: Why Some People Aren’t Christians
With all of this evangelism and all these opportunities for salvation, why don’t people become Christians? Here are a few reasons I’ve observed in recent interactions.
Beauty is both a gift and a map. It is a gift to be enjoyed and a map to be followed back to the Source of the beauty with praise and thanksgiving. —Steve DeWitt
You Might also like
A La Carte (September 14)By Tim Challies — 7 months ago
Thanks for all the kind feedback on yesterday’s launch of Seasons of Sorrow. As you read it, please consider leaving a review at Amazon.
Westminster Books has deals on some new and noteworthy books.
(Yesterday on the blog: A New Song: In the Valley (Bless the Lord))
An Insight Into Influencers
“Who are the most influential people in the lives of teenagers? Most of the potential answers to that question probably haven’t changed much across centuries and cultures: parents, siblings, wider family, friends and educators. But now, in the 21st century, we have to add to that list YouTubers and social media content creators.”
Did Jesus Send Us Looking for ‘Persons of Peace’?
You’ve probably heard of the missions strategy of seeking out a “person of peace.” This article explains why this isn’t necessary.
Let’s Make Sure We Are Preaching The Gospel Of Grace Not A Gospel Of Works
This is important: “In the immediate aftermath of her death, it is inevitable and right that we celebrate her life. A degree of hagiographic overstatement is to be expected as we pay our respects. However, as gospel ministers, we need to be careful that, at this very moment at which the Christian faith and its fruits are in the public eye, we do not inadvertently create the impression that the Christian faith is a works religion, with eternal life secured by a good life of sacrificial service.”
How to have an Elders’s Retreat
Clint Humfrey: “If you’re a pastor, have you thought of having a retreat day with your elders? Likely it’s because you see the need to develop camaraderie, common vision, and to simply take a step back from the ministry of the church and evaluate together. For all of these reasons, a retreat can be a good idea. Here are six suggestions for putting on an elders retreat.”
Everyone Is Guilty, but Anyone Can Be Pardoned
“If a man kills another man, and neither of them put their trust in Jesus, how is it just that they both end up in Hell? It makes sense that the murderer is punished. The victim, however, was unjustly killed. Why should he be punished, as well?” This article answers well.
What Does “Vanity” Mean in Ecclesiastes?
This is quite an interesting take on some possible meanings for the “vanity” of Ecclesiastes.
Flashback: 7 Books To Help You Understand the Times
A new worldview based around a very particular conception of social justice is quickly gaining traction. Traditional understandings of sex and gender are being overthrown. New words and new ideas have suddenly sprung into our common parlance.
The lowest laborer who has grace and fears God, is a nobler being in the eyes of his Creator than the King, ruler, or statesman, whose first aim it is to please the people. —J.C. Ryle
Grace for Sinners to Love Like SaintsBy Tim Challies — 10 months ago
I am often asked how I read so many books. My pat answer is something like this: “The more you read, the easier it gets. When you’ve read 8 books on marriage, the 9th goes really quickly.” The point is that there is a kind of sameness to Christian publishing where books tend to focus on the same themes, exposit the same passages, quote the same authors, and in the end say roughly the same things. It’s awfully refreshing, then, when you encounter a book that is different and distinct. And that’s exactly the case with Chad and Emily Van Dixhoorn’s Gospel-Shaped Marriage: Grace for Sinners to Love Like Saints.
“This is a book for couples, but not just couples,” they say. “The institution of marriage is an integral part of the life of the Christian church. Time spent thinking about marriage will help some of us be more thoughtful about married life and all of us be more prayerful. For that reason, we appeal directly to married people throughout, but we also have in mind those who are only thinking about marriage or who want to support married people. There are no R-rated scenes. There are only helps for the married, prompts for those who want to pray, and encouragements for those who wish to defend and promote the institution of marriage, this gift from God that every church member ought to treasure, whether married or not.”
There are a few features of the book that the authors point out as distinguishing it from many others: its brevity (it’s just 160 pages), its focus on Christian spouses as being both sinners and saints (and therefore capable of great sin but also true holiness), and the way that, instead of drawing from contemporary books on marriage, it looks instead to the distant past (and especially to William Gouge’s classic Domestical Duties).
Gospel-Shaped Marriage begins with a brief explanation of what the Bible says about marriage—the basics that we can no longer take for granted in this age of confusion and deliberate deconstruction. They then set marriage in its redemptive-historical context, using Augustine of Hippo’s framework to show how marriage is different in its garden variety, in its fallen state, in its redeemed state, and in its future state. “The marriage of eternity is better than the marriage of time. In heaven, the all-fulfilling relationship will not be between man and woman, but between God in Christ and the church as his bride. It was not good for Adam to be without Eve in the garden, but it will be fine for him to be without her in the new heavens and the new earth. Marriage is eternal in its significance, not because it lasts for eternity, but because it can be used to equip us for eternity.”
The third chapter is an important one as it deals with grace in marriage and the tricky matter of mutual submission. They draw some fascinating insights from Gouge that “Ephesians 5 is not an improvement guide for spouses … On the contrary, we are told one another’s duties for the purpose of making their work a joy to them—just as Scripture puts it, in another context, for ministers and church members (Heb. 13:17).” There are very practical consequences to this: “Are husbands to love their wives (to pick one example of a duty)? Then wives are to make themselves as lovable as possible, for this is the principal way of helping a husband with his own duty to love her. Is a wife supposed to respect her husband? Then he needs to do his best to be worthy of respect in order to help her respect him.”
The subsequent chapters turn to the particular place of women in marriage, then to the particular place of men, focusing still on the New Testament’s key verses on marriage from Ephesians 5. A chapter titled “Winning in Marriage” looks at troubled marriages, “Family and Marriage” discusses leaving parents and adding children, while “Bedtime in Marriage” turns to intimacy and sexuality—topics that are covered with appropriate levels of detail and discretion. It wraps up with “Growing in Marriage,” which is about mutually growing in grace.
Gospel-Shaped Marriage is as good a book on marriage as any I’ve read and one I plan to recommend often and read alongside others. Though it could be a good option for pre-marriage reading, it would definitely be a perfect option for a mid-marriage refresher. If I was asked to offer an improvement, I might suggest that, while the word should is used frequently, it is not always clear how that word of moral obligation is linked to biblical commands. Yes, we can have confidence that “the first thing we should look for in a marriage is someone of the opposite sex,” but I’d say it is more difficult to demand that “Christian couples should ask how they can pray for each other in the morning.” While one of these is a biblical mandate, the other is merely a wise suggestion, and I always consider it helpful to distinguish between the two.
Over the past few years we have seen a sudden outburst of gospel-driven, gospel-focused, gospel-shaped, and other gospel-hyphenated books. Gospel-Shaped Marriage is among the best of them and, I suspect, among the few that will have some longevity—and that’s because marriage truly is shaped by the gospel since it exists to display the gospel. It combines sound biblical teaching with helpful real-life application and does so in a way that can help change, improve, and perhaps even transform any marriage.
Buy from Amazon
Have You Believed The False Gospel of Productivity?By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
Today’s post is written by Sean McGever and is sponsored by Zondervan. Sean is the author of The Good News of Our Limits.
You may believe in a false gospel and not even know it. Worse yet, this message may have come from your favorite Christian books, sermons, and Bible studies. False gospels are nothing new; they are as old as the good news itself.
I wonder, have you believed in the false gospel of omni-productivity? Purveyors of this news sell it to us as an elixir for our desire to do more and be more. I have a response to this message. In The Good News of Our Limits, I show readers how to spot these lies and provide practical ways to embrace our God-given limited design.
The temptation of omni-productivity is nothing new. Our God-given inability is an obvious target for Satan’s schemes. The serpent successfully lured the woman by claiming, “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5). Woven into the serpent’s temptation is an echo in many of our hearts today. Like the proverbial carrot on a stick in front of a horse, I hear repeatedly, “what if I just could do a little bit more,” or worse, “what if I just could be a little bit more?” Be more? Impossible. Yet, so tempting.
Our depraved nature seeks capacities that belong to God alone. On the first page of Calvin’s Institutes, he writes, “the infinitude of good which resides in God becomes more apparent from our poverty. In particular, the miserable ruin into which the revolt of the first man has plunged us compels us to turn our eyes upwards.” Calvin explains that our failings and shortcomings should alert us to our desperate need for God. Our shortcomings are designed to show us our need to turn heavenward. Yet, countless voices tell us to look inward rather than upward.
We search for solutions using optimization techniques, attempting to fit more and more into our already full days. We try to craft efficiently maximized lives, but these methods always fail, not because they are ill-intentioned, but because they do not go far enough. The Good News of Our Limits provides practical steps for biblical productivity rooted in a theological understanding of our humanity.
The true gospel resides in the earliest confession of the church: Jesus is Lord. Our culture, including our church cultures, surround us with messages to do and be more. This is a false gospel. We cannot be more. All humans are limited in what we can do. Jesus is Lord; I am not. We find greater peace, joy, and effectiveness when we embrace our own inadequacies and delight in the adequacy of our Lord.
Go here to order The Good News of Our Limits or find out more info.
Sean McGever (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is area director for Paradise Valley Arizona Young Life and an adjunct faculty at Grand Canyon University. He speaks, teaches, and ministers across the United States, Canada, and the UK.
What people are saying about The Good News of Our Limits:
“God is God. We are not. He is limitless. We are limited. On the surface, this sounds depressing. But as this book makes clear, this truth is wonderfully freeing as it eradicates the life-sucking pressure to be everything to everyone, everywhere. I’m so glad Sean wrote this book!”
—JORDAN RAYNOR, national bestselling author of Redeeming Your Time, Master of One, and Called to Create
“Sean McGever has been a lifelong bearer of good news. Here, he has done it again, this time proclaiming a refreshing declaration of freedom: ‘It’s okay to be a human being!’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded us that we humans will always be limited in our understanding because we are creations. McGever has developed this idea and expanded it by encouraging us that part of being ‘beautifully and wonderfully made’ (Ps. 139) by the Creator includes our limits. They are a part of the design, not a flaw. ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free’ (Gal. 5:1).”
—SCOTT LISEA, campus pastor at Westmont College
“McGever digs into the ‘hustle-pause spectrum’ of our lives, emphasizing the reality of human limitation. According to McGever, our limitations do not pose a threat to kingdom work but are rather a reminder that God is King and we are his image bearers. I found much needed purpose and relief in reading this book.”
—RACHEL JOY WELCHER, editor at Fathom magazine and author of Talking Back to Purity Culture
“The Good News of Our Limits is a refreshing encouragement to embrace how God intentionally designed us as finite human beings. Through relatable stories and illustrations, McGever helps us all discover joy in our inadequacy.”
—DREW HILL, pastor and award-winning author of Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel
Go here to order The Good News of Our Limits or find out more info.