May the Lord be with you and bless you today.
On sale at Westminster Books this week is an excellent new daily devotional from Alistair Begg.
I very much enjoyed this dispatch from afar.
Melissa often makes me laugh. “The middle years, where any guess about my age is likely to be wrong one way or the other, depending on ridiculous things like how much water I’ve been drinking or how much I spent on my current anti-aging moisturizer.”
“Somehow my oldest child is a freshman in high school. As I’ve experienced those where-did-the-time-go emotions that come with such minor milestones, I’ve started to feel a deep, preemptive loss.”
This is quite an interesting look at how public health is likely to change in a post-Christian era. “It is my contention that public health should be recognized for what it has become, not what it set out to be.”
Mark Hampton: “In the modern West the church has an issue with its public image. With the rise of digital media and heightened technophilia, the image we often present to the world is not Christ but ourselves. We build up mini-celebrities in Jesus’s name, calling for the world to follow along. At times, whether Jesus is actually glorified can become negligible.”
Mark Dever says that “if you are looking for a good church, the role of the preacher of God’s Word is the most important thing to consider. I don’t care how friendly you think the church members are. I don’t care how good you think the music is. Those things can change. But the congregation’s commitment to the centrality of the Word coming from the front, from the preacher, the one specially gifted by God and called to that ministry, is the most important thing you can look for in a church.”
So much of the Christian life comes down to the matter of identity. At heart, who are we? Who or what has the right to define us? What is our deepest identity?
Spiritual work is taxing work, and men are loath to do it. Praying, true praying, costs an outlay of serious attention and of time, which flesh and blood do not relish. —E.M. Bounds
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By Tim Challies — 1 week ago
The beginning of a new month is just the right time to consider that right now, today, at this very moment, God is reigning upon his throne.
There’s a good little list of Kindle deals to work through.
You Can’t Channel Him Because He’s Not Dead
Anne Kennedy: “A dear and wonderful friend sent me an article about the most fantastical religious trend I think I’ve come across to date. In all my wandering around the cyber highways and byways of American religious culture, I have clicked on a lot of surprising beliefs and hashtags, but this one beats them all.”
Ten Reasons Why Nursing Homes Are Great Places to Minister
Here’s a fairly thorough explanation of why nursing homes are a very good place for churches to minister.
As Long as it is Called Today
I am really thankful for this strong call away from procrastination. It turns out I needed to read it…
22 Questions That Reveal Character
“It’s hard to discern a potential leader’s character, even in our native cultures. Unlike physical features, the terrain of character is invisible, demonstrated over time through a person’s life.” Here’s a series of questions that can help, no matter your culture or place.
Holiness Means More Than Killing Sin
This is a helpful article from Sinclair Ferguson about putting sin to death and coming alive to righteousness. (For more of Ferguson’s thoughts on the subject, you can read his excellent book Devoted to God.)
Bask in Your Identity
“Is it selfish and self-centred to spend time reflecting on and enjoying the new identity we receive in Christ? I’ve sometimes heard people suggest it is. To do so, some would claim, is to put ourselves at the centre rather than God. It is to imply that we are more important than him, and that the gospel is about us rather than about God. To focus on ourselves is to come perilously close to the very heart of sin – putting something other than God in God’s place.”
Flashback: Services Shaped Like an Hourglass
We begin our service distracted, narrow our focus to Jesus Christ, then broaden our gaze to living in this world for God’s glory. We do it again the next week, and again the week after that.
At the point when we begin to think of God as being anything other than holy is the moment we are imagining a completely different god altogether. —Jackie Hill Perry
By Tim Challies — 3 weeks ago
May the God of love and peace be with you today.
(Yesterday on the blog: The More We Drink, The More We Thirst)
Walking the Streets of Gold
I love simple stories like this one. “Last week I preached the funeral of a dear friend and sister in Christ. The Lord used her as a constant reminder of his amazing grace to me and so many others. I knew her as Mrs. Jo, and she passed away at the age of ninety-eight.”
Defending Sound Doctrine Against the Deconstruction of American Evangelicalism
There’s a lot to ponder in Jonathan Leeman’s long article about sound doctrine and the deconstruction of American Evangelicalism.
The Death of Hospitality
Kudos to the author for the originality of this article.
What is Attractional Ministry?
“It’s become popular to stomp all over ‘attractional’ ministry. These types of easy-takedowns usually contrast legalism with grace, man-centered teaching with Bible-centered teaching, and fun events with intentional discipleship. In this way, the critics are bolstering their own ministry philosophy as grace-drive, Bible-centered, and discipleship-focused, while attractional youth workers are the exact opposite.”
Dear Younger Me, Remember Your Most Important Work
Amber has written a letter to her younger self. I expect we’d all have some good words to say to the “ourselves” of ten years ago.
What Is an Apologist?
William Boekestein is writing a whole series on apologetics for Reformation21. He’s now two entries into the series, so this is a good time to get caught up.
Thanksgiving in Everything, Not for Everything
There’s a key distinction to be made in being thankful in everything and for everything.
Flashback: A Call for Christian Extremists
We are to bring glory to God by doing good for others. Allah may be glorified in maimed bodies and blood-soaked city streets, but God is glorified in acts of love and deeds of kindness.
There is perhaps no greater secret of progress in Christian living than a healthy, hearty spiritual appetite. —John Stott
By Tim Challies — 3 months ago
With summer fading into the rear view and the busy winter publishing season approaching, we are beginning to see publishers release some very interesting books. I sorted through the many books that came to my door in August and wanted to share about some of this month’s new and notable releases. In each case I’ve shared the editorial description.
The Grace and Truth Study Bible NIV edited by Albert Mohler. “Dr. R. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the foremost voices for evangelicals worldwide, heads up the editorial team for the NIV Grace and Truth Study Bible. This group of scholars and pastors is committed to delivering a trustworthy and approachable guide to Scripture to Bible readers. The warmhearted and faithful notes will provide first-time Bible readers reliable guidance while simultaneously nourishing veteran students of the Word with fresh insights. Unwavering in its commitment to evangelical steadfastness, this study Bible paints a stunning canvas of the goodness of God’s redemptive plan revealed in the gospel of Jesus. As a study Bible intended for the greatest range of English-speaking Christians, it is set in the New International Version (NIV) text, today’s most widely read contemporary English translation, and typeset in Zondervan’s exclusive easy-to-read NIV Comfort Print typeface.” (Buy it from Amazon)
Rediscover Church: Why the Body of Christ is Essential by Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman. “Since a global pandemic abruptly closed places of worship, many Christians have skipped church life, even neglecting virtual services. But this was a trend even before COVID-19. Polarizing issues, including political and racial strife, convinced some people to pull away from the church and one another. Now it’s time to recommit to gathering as brothers and sisters in Christ. In Rediscover Church, Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman discuss why church is essential for believers and God’s mission. Through biblical references and personal stories, they show readers God’s true intention for corporate gathering: to spiritually strengthen members as individuals and the body of Christ.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
Consider Your Counsel: Addressing Ten Mistakes in Our Biblical Counseling by Bob Kellemen. “Biblical counseling is not an easy calling. How do you effectively communicate the gospel to hurting people? Theological training and learning from other counselors are both key to growing in the wisdom, love, and skill needed to apply Scripture to yourself and others. Preparation is key, but sometimes the most effective training comes after you’ve jumped into the ring—when a coach puts his arm around your shoulder and helps you take a look at what you’ve done well and where you can grow. In Consider Your Counsel, Bob Kellemen comes alongside counselors and shares where he and others have missed the mark. Drawing on more than three decades of counseling supervision experience, he unpacks ten of the most common missteps that he has noticed in his own counseling, as well as those he has mentored. From teaching before listening to targeting sin but not suffering, Kellemen helps counselors of all ages see where they may need to reassess their methods and continue to grow. Each chapter briefly discusses a typical counseling mistake, then delves into a discussion of alternative approaches and practical suggestions for maturing as biblical counselor. This uniquely helpful book will help readers do an honest assessment of their counseling and encourage them to grow as counselors and friends.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care by Eliza Huie & Esther Smith. “Many of us live at a pace that is impossible to keep. Unrelenting busyness might feel necessary, but it can lead to chronic stress and burnout that hinders our love for God and others. Instead of adding more to our long to-do list, counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith guide readers in how to think biblically about their whole life. They give Christians a framework for biblical self-care that will help them live for Christ by stewarding the spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical aspects of life. The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care outlines a balanced life of stewardship, offering practical strategies for Christians to grow in honoring God and caring for others. The authors focus on six key areas: faith, health, purpose, community, work, and rest. Each chapter addresses a specific topic and guides readers in thinking biblically about their whole life. Breaking down the misconceptions that self-care is not biblical, The Whole Life reveals that caring for yourself doesn’t mean you are being selfish or lazy. Instead, it’s a way of stewarding every part of your life for God’s glory and the good of others. Contrary to what our culture might lead us to believe, exhaustion and burnout are not unavoidable pitfalls of a faithful Christian life. Instead, they are warning signs that we need to turn to God for daily help. This book will reorient readers to the core value of resting their heart, mind, and strength in Christ.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Path to Being a Pastor: A Guide for the Aspiring Pastor by Bobby Jamieson. “A man who’s been transformed by Christ and desires to preach the gospel might say he feels called to be a pastor. This personal conviction, while heartfelt, doesn’t acknowledge important, challenging steps necessary to be a qualified leader. So where should full-time ministry begin? In The Path to Being a Pastor, Bobby Jamieson explains why it’s better to emphasize ‘aspiration’ over ‘calling’ as men pursue the office of elder and encourages readers to make sure they are pastorally gifted before considering the role. Emphasizing the importance of prayer, godly counsel, and immersion in the local church, Jamieson encourages men to ask Am I qualified? instead of Am I called? when considering a life in ministry.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
Lead Them to Jesus: A Handbook for Youth Workers by Mike McGarry. “Do you feel overwhelmed with the logistics of starting or keeping a youth ministry going? What about the tricky theological questions that keep you and your fellow youth workers on your toes? It’s a lot for what is usually an ‘all-volunteer army.’ Help is here! Veteran youth pastor Mike McGarry offers a practical, comprehensive tool to jumpstart your youth ministry and help youth workers with biblical answers to the tough questions students ask. In a two-part approach, he tackles both the practical skills and biblical depth needed for effective gospel-centered ministry to today’s youth. He leads readers through twenty theological truths they should be equipped to discuss with students and offers twenty practical skills every youth worker should cultivate. Lead Them to Jesus offers insight into the religious worldview of Gen Z and illustrates how to connect the gospel to their questions and core desires. Not only are young people ready to discuss hard issues such as suicide, suffering, and navigating difficult relationships, they are looking for authentic leaders who are committed to speaking truth and investing into their lives. McGarry prepares both youth pastors and ministry volunteers to go deep with students about what they believe and why. He also helps them think through the strategic role of fun and games and shares how to navigate conflict and cliques. Lead Them to Jesus shows youth workers how the gospel shapes every part of how they do youth ministry and will get your whole team on the same biblical and logistical page.” (Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
Wonderfully Made: A Protestant Theology of the Body by John W. Kleinig. “Why do we have bodies? When it comes to thinking about our bodies, confusion reigns. In our secular age, there has been a loss of the body’s goodness, purpose, and end. Many people, driven by shame and idolatry, abuse their body through self-harm or self-improvement. How can we renew our understanding and see our bodies the way God does? In Wonderfully Made, John Kleinig forms a properly biblical theology of our bodies. Through his keen sensitivity to Scripture’s witness, Kleinig explains why bodies matter. While sin has corrupted our bodies and how we think of them, God’s creation is still good. Thus, our bodies are good gifts. The Son took on a body to redeem our bodies. Kleinig addresses issues like shame, chastity, desire, gender dysphoria, and more, by integrating them into the biblical vision of creation. Readers of Wonderfully Made will not only be equipped to engage in current issues; they will gain a robust theology of the body and better appreciation of God’s very good creation.”(Buy it from Amazon)
Covenant: The Framework of God’s Grand Plan of Redemption by Daniel Block. “Leading scholar Daniel Block helps students of the Bible understand the big picture of God’s covenants with humanity as they play out in both the First and the New Testaments. After fifty years of teaching and preaching around the globe, Block brings a lifetime of study and reflection on the First Testament and relationship with God to this comprehensive volume. The book focuses on God’s covenants as the means by which God has reached out to a fallen humanity. It examines the heart and history of God’s redemptive plan and shows why the covenants are essential for our understanding of the Bible.”(Buy it from Amazon or Westminster Books)
When Prayer Is a Struggle: A Practical Guide for Overcoming Obstacles in Prayer by Kevin P. Halloran. “A struggle to pray reveals a desire to pray, and when you have that desire, you can address the obstacles to prayer by facing them head on. Writing as a sympathetic and practical guide, Kevin Halloran helps you to pinpoint areas of weakness in your prayer life and take immediate steps to overcome them. Examine your heart, implement practical measures, and experience the joys of faithfully drawing near to God.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)