Good morning, my friends. Grace and peace to you today.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Last (Melodramatic) Hymn)
Samuel James: “Facebook recently announced it is changing its name to Meta—short for ‘metaverse.’ As it rebrands, it continues its movement toward posthuman ambition that has been evident for many years. For nearly a decade, Facebook has been shifting the company away from an ethos of connecting real people and toward a kind of permanent digital habitation, the contraction of life so as to fit inside algorithms.”
John Piper answers an urgent and important question here.
“Zacharias couldn’t believe his ears when the lot was cast and it landed on him. As a priest, he had performed thousands of animal sacrifices, but he had never had the honor of offering incense in the Holy Place. Over 20,000 priests served at the temple, and most would never set foot inside. To have your name drawn was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Zacharias took a deep breath as he stepped inside the hallowed chamber.”
This is an important distinction. “Simplicity is one thing, scarcity another. One is a lifestyle you choose, and the other a lifestyle forced on you.”
This is a helpful explanation of the active obedience of Christ–a key theological term.
“In June 2021, prominent Nigerian born religious leader T.B. Joshua died, leaving a large contingent of mourning followers in Africa and around the world. With an acclaimed status as a “great man of God”, the wealthy megachurch pastor earned popularity as well as notoriety.” Here is a “snapshot of the man behind the miracles.”
Why do Christians make such a big deal of Jesus? Here’s why…
The essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. —John Stott
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By Tim Challies — 7 months ago
It is surprisingly difficult to find a list of Christian books that have been released in any given month—especially if you want that list to be filtered by books released through particular publishers. That’s one of the reasons why I close each month by coming up with my list of New and Notable books. I comb through what I’ve received in the past month (and scour all the publishers’ websites) to come up with a list of titles that are interesting to me—and may just be interesting to you. Here are my picks for April. In each case I’ve included the publisher’s description.
The Wolf in Their Pockets: 13 Ways the Social Internet Threatens the People You Lead by Chris Martin. “We can hardly remember a time when we didn’t feel the influence of that back pocket device. The average social media user spends about two-and-a-half hours a day using social media. That’s more than enough time to shape our values and desires. Pastors, teachers, and parents feel their influence slipping away. We’re seeing increased loneliness, disunity, and self-absorption. But where do we go from here? In The Wolf in Their Pockets, Internet expert Chris Martin examines the many ways we are being changed by social media. With a biblically informed voice, Martin both exposes the ways the Internet is distorting our life in Christ and shows us how to faithfully respond. Martin teaches us how to care for people who are obsessed with followers, views, and likes—and how to love those whose online influences have filled them with cynicism and contempt. Martin looks at how the social Internet is changing how we understand sex and beauty—what to do about the epidemic levels of anxiety—and how to redirect our hearts to worship Jesus Christ. Shepherding and leading people has never been easy, but the social Internet has brought new challenges. We need the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit and a powerful prayer life. Martin provides the biblical wisdom, direction, and hope necessary to combat The Wolf in Their Pockets.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Classic Warfield Collection (2-Volume Set) by Benjamin B Warfield, edited by John J Hughes. “In The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, Warfield says that the Bible is ‘an oracular book . . . the Word of God in such a sense that whatever it says God says’ that all its affirmations are ‘to be esteemed as the utterance of God, of infallible truth and authority.’ Warfield’s incisive scholarship shines in this new and enhanced edition, which has been edited, formatted, and retypeset for modern readers. Its carefully prepared aids include fulsome abstracts at the beginning of each chapter, intelligent headings, smart paragraph breaks, explanatory notes, definitions of obscure terms, discussion questions, recommended reading, complete footnotes and bibliographies, and more. In The Person and Work of Christ, Warfield demonstrates that ‘it is no more possible to have a Christianity without an atoning Christ than it is to have a Christianity without a divine Christ.’ Warfield’s incisive scholarship shines in this new and enhanced edition, which has been edited, formatted, and re-typeset for modern readers. Its carefully prepared aids include fulsome abstracts at the beginning of each chapter, intelligent headings, smart paragraph breaks, explanatory notes, definitions of obscure terms, discussion questions, recommended reading, complete footnotes and bibliographies, and more.” (Buy it at Westminster Books)
Priscilla, Where Are You? A Call to Joyful Theology by Natalie Brand. “‘What we believe about God is the single most important thing about us.’ This is a call to all Christians-but especially to Christian women-to engage more deeply in the joys of theology. Priscilla was a woman of sound doctrine who wasn’t afraid to share what she knew with others. And this is the privilege of every believing woman: we can explore truth and revel in God’s mysteries; we can live as God intended, with real spiritual strength and heartfelt praise. And we too will want to share our discoveries with others. (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
On Theology: Explorations and Controversies by John Frame. “John Frame is remarkable for his ability to pair profound thought with lucid prose. On Theology: Explorations and Controversies gathers concise reflections on wide-ranging matters of theology, philosophy, and ethics, divided into eight parts: Theological Method; The Thomist Controversy; Systematic Theology; Essays from Lexham Survey of Theology; Essays from The Gospel Coalition’s Concise Theology; Philosophy and Apologetics; Ethics and Politics; Personal Reflections. Whether considering age-old questions or current debates, Frame evokes deep thinking about Christian theology in a style that is accessible and engaging.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Say the Right Thing: How Your Words Can Glorify God and Encourage Others by Carolyn Lacey. “Words are powerful. They sink deep into our minds and our spirits. They can build others up or put others down. Many of us want to “say the right thing” and make a difference to others with our words, but we don’t know how to. Others of us struggle to control our speech and want help to be more godly in this area of our lives. This positive, constructive book delves into the Bible to show us how to overcome specific temptations, such as gossip or angry words. But it also goes much further. It shows us how we can use our speech to bring beauty, hope, truth, and comfort into the lives of those around us—and to give glory to God. Full of gracious words and practical help, this book will help readers to find out how to let the gospel shape their speech and enjoy the blessings that flow from this. (Buy it at Amazon)
Sharing the Gospel with a Mormon by Tony Brown. “How do you share the gospel with those who believe it’s their mandate to evangelise to you? Mormons are eager to talk about their faith with anyone who will listen, so encounters with them are a great opportunity to discuss what the Bible really says. But if we’re not familiar with their beliefs, it can feel safer to avoid these conversations, and we can miss out on the chance to share the true gospel with them. Tony Brown spends his time conversing with and evangelising to those caught in New Religious Movements. In this thorough guide to sharing the gospel with a Mormon, he lays out the foundations of the Mormon faith and explains how their doctrines are not reconcilable with the Bible, despite their claims. He does so with a great love for Mormons, concluding that they are a lost people who need to hear the true gospel. If you’ve ever wondered how to share the gospel with a Mormon, then this book will give you the practical knowledge you need to start those conversations and point Mormons to the Jesus of the Bible.” (Buy it at Amazon)
When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Second Edition) by Edward Welch. “Five college students pitch a tent by their car one dark night, not realizing they’ve set up camp by a military runway. They awake from a deep sleep to the shaking of the earth and a roar like mountains falling―the sound of a military transport plane taking off right over their heads. Can you imagine the visceral terror of that moment? For author and biblical counselor Edward Welch, it was a glimpse of what the Israelites experienced in God’s presence at Mount Sinai. Our God is a consuming fire. His holiness and relentless love put our sin, our weakness, and our fears in perspective. If we can learn the fear of the Lord―a fear that in Christ is filled with gratitude, love, and devotion―we can break free of the fear of other people that so easily entangles us. We can experience joy in our Christian lives as we need other people less and love them more. This groundbreaking work has helped countless numbers of people to confront their fear of man and live in freedom. The new edition features clarifying additions, new material, and revisions throughout.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Stronger Together: Seven Partnership Virtues and the Vices that Subvert Them by Dave Harvey. “Networked churches are the primary church planting force in evangelicalism today—but what makes them so effective, why do they remain so under-appreciated, and what are the common pitfalls that can ensnare them? In Stronger Together, veteran church planter and pastor Dave Harvey draws from his experiences and study of networks to walk Christian institutions, church leaders, and planters through tested strategies for starting and sustaining healthy and biblical church partnerships. By focusing on key virtues and shedding light on the pitfalls that oppose them, Harvey unpacks seven dichotomies that offer a practical roadmap to healthy patterns. When churches are vitally connected to other churches, they thrive, multiply, and last longer. Scripture exemplifies this, and research proves it. Stronger Together—part of the Exponential series on ministry growth and discipleship—will teach you exactly how to pursue biblical collaboration that will allow your church to flourish and your ministry to grow.” (Buy it at Amazon)
True to His Word: 100 Meditations on the Faithfulness of God by Jon Bloom. “The Bible teaches that God is always faithful, that He’s always TRUE to HIS WORD. Saints throughout history have affirmed it, and hymns and worship songs celebrate it. But what if it doesn’t look that way to you? You’re not alone. The Bible is full of examples of God’s children struggling to trust him in seasons of disappointment, discouragement, danger, disaster, depression, and deep grief—only to see God’s faithfulness to them manifest in surprising ways. These meditations are designed to help you grow in your ability to recognize God’s faithfulness in places you may not typically look, at times you don’t expect, and in providences— especially the most disturbing and devastating ones—that often don’t look like God’s faithfulness. Because the more you see it, the more wonderful God’s faithfulness becomes to you. And the more you’ll realize that ‘all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness’ (Psalm 25:10). (Buy it at Amazon)
Unconventional by Sharon Dickens. “Discipling women is vital in every church. But it’s all very well knowing the theory — how do you actually get on and do it in practice? Unconventional is an honest look at beginning and sustaining a vibrant women’s ministry that works. Author Sharon Dickens shares how she started a women’s ministry from scratch — with all the frustrations and joys along the way — enabling you to learn from her mistakes and benefit from her extensive experience.” (Buy it at Amazon)
By Tim Challies — 6 months ago
Today’s post is sponsored by P&R Publishing and written by P&R’s editorial director, Amanda Martin.
I learned a new word last year, as I often do when talking to my dad. Diatessaron. Five syllables of majestic-sounding Greek. He said it with relish, which is exactly how such a word ought to be said.
It was a word I immediately wanted to use, but my opportunities to do so are limited. This is because a diatessaron is a single-narrative arrangement of the four canonical gospels. There aren’t many of those lying around! And yet they have a long history: the first diatessaron was created in the late 100s.
My dad, a Presbyterian pastor, was telling me about diatessarons because I was working on one—although at the time I hadn’t realized it had such a delightful name. I was editing a new edition of theologian Loraine Boettner’s Harmony of the Gospels (now titled The Gospel of Jesus) and learning so much as I saw the work of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John come together in a chronological narrative. Not only had I gotten a clearer sense of just how much Jesus traveled during his earthly ministry (he traveled a lot), but I was especially enjoying Mark’s eye for the dramatic detail.
How does a diatessaron work?
I’ll write about the one I know well. Boettner wove the material from the four gospels into one continuous account, including everything but repeating nothing, and added section headings, dates, and locations (where possible). He was a Bible teacher in Kentucky and wanted to create a useful Bible study aid for his class.
The genius of Boettner’s diatessaron is that it includes all Scripture references so that readers can remain mindful of the original text and its context. Any detail that is inserted from another gospel account appears with a reference on the margin of the page. Thus, when you’re reading the story of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness, you know it’s Mark who dropped in the detail about the wild animals (Mark 1:13). When Jesus is transfigured before his disciples, you know it’s Mark who considered a launderer’s struggle to whiten clothes (Mark 9:3). When Jesus is besting the Pharisees in debate, you know it’s Mark who mentioned that the “large crowd was listening to him with delight” (Mark 12:37 CSB).
The same is true for each gospel writer. No one gets lost. As you read one coherent story, you see how the four gospels harmonize—even in tricky places such as the resurrection accounts.
Please take a moment to say diatessaron out loud. Di-a-tes-sa-ron. It’s a great word, right? Maybe it’s time to bring it back.
And if you’re curious and want to experience a diatessaron for yourself, check out The Gospel of Jesus, edited by Loraine Boettner—it’s reader-friendly, attractively bound, and developed to serve students of the Bible.
By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
The Lord be with you and bless you on this fine day.
There is once again a nice long list of Kindle deals to browse through, headlined by two apologetics words: Keller’s The Reason for God and Scrivener’s new The Air We Breathe.
Westminster Books has put together a Christmas Gift Guide with all sorts of good deals.
Trusting God Through Terminal Illness
This is quite an article. “I quickly progressed to using a wheelchair and had to give up the job I loved, teaching kids to play music. Within a few months, I was totally dependent on my wife to feed me, get me dressed and take me places. Within a year, I had lost the ability to eat and now I am losing my ability to speak. I use a ventilator to breathe, am fed by a tube in my stomach and spend my days in a specially adapted chair. I am very thankful that I have an eye-tracking device so that I can still use a computer and turn on the TV.”
Eleven Factors For Helpful Short-Term Trips
It’s important to do short-term missions trips well. This article provides helpful guidance.
Exciting New Resources from Visual Theology
Visual Theology is excited to announce several great new resources. They’ve created their annual Advent countdown poster in full color as well as a version you can color each day. And new for this year is a complete coloring book! For 29 days, you’ll follow the Christmas story as told in four distinct aspects of the Gospel. Both for kids and adults, start your Advent countdown today! Subscribe to their newsletter, and you’ll get the first week of coloring pages for free. (Sponsored)
Is Numbers 5 Unjust to Women?
Wendy Alsup: “When we read the Old Testament laws, it can seem like women get a raw deal. It’s hard to see a gracious God behind the laws that deal with rape, incest, and adultery, like the law we find in Numbers 5. But, as we take a closer look, we see that God has abundant mercy for women on display—even in these laws.”
Everybody’s Marriage Impacts Everybody Else’s. That’s How Social Institutions Work.
Derek Rishmawy considers David French’s “flip flop flip” on gay civil marriage and explains why his recent compromise is harmful.
Two Medieval Misconceptions
“When it comes to the period right before the Reformation, I’ve always had certain notions about what the church was like. As I’ve read more, I’ve come to realize that some of those notions are generally true, while others are only occasionally true.”
Flashback: A Simple But Life-Changing Realization
I was devastated when I heard an older friend I admired more than just about anyone else say, “I don’t think it matters where I get my appetite, as long as I eat at home.” Was that really the best I could hope for, that I’d be outwardly faithful to a wife but inwardly I would wander?
God loves us too well to grant every request of our selfish hearts. —H.A. Ironside