A La Carte (September 22)
Grace and peace to you on this, the day when summer gives way to fall.
(Yesterday on the blog: A Late Summer Family Update (+ a few more LOTR thoughts))
Sexual Liberation Has Failed Women
I don’t intend to read this book, but was glad to read Andrew Wilson’s review of it. “Louise Perry has written a feminist critique of the sexual revolution, and it’s brave, excoriating, and magnificent.”
Beware the Habits of Controversy
“Writing fifty years ago, Francis Schaeffer made a plea for Christians to watch out for the danger of settling into habits which were formed in times of controversy.” What he said then wouldn’t hurt for us to consider now.
What lessons can we learn from the pandemic? (Video)
I’m glad to see RTS pick up their Wisdom Wednesday videos. In this one James Anderson considers lessons we can learn from the pandemic.
Public Opinion and the Christian Conscience
Denny Burk has an important word about public opinion and the Christian conscience.
From “Wretched” to “Needy”: Changing a Classic Hymn
“Ever since churches began signing hymns, people have been changing the words to hymns. This is often for the purpose of modifying the theological content of the song in question.” I was somehow not aware of this particular example.
The Discipline of Gratitude
“We often hear comments from friends and supporters that they wish their children could come and visit us in Cameroon for a time. What they mean is that their kids have been expressing attitudes of ingratitude or entitlement and they believe that some time spent in an African village will help them to see how much they have to be thankful for. We all chuckle, and sigh, with the recognition that we are not going to fly a child to Cameroon just for an attitude check. However, whether these parents know it or not, there is a greater problem with the plan than just logistics: exposure to poverty will never cure an ungrateful heart.”
Flashback: God Has Found You Faithful
God is the one who has called you to walk this path, and he is the one who has called you to walk it faithfully. Yet he has not judged you wrong or set you up for failure. He has not been flippant in his decisions or reckless in his wisdom. No, he has found you faithful in small things and has now entrusted to you this very large thing.
God never puts a burden on us, without providing us with the strength we need to carry it. —J.R. Miller
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The Decay of the World and the Love of GodBy Tim Challies — 2 months ago
Do you ever find yourself wondering just how much the Lord loves us? Do you ever find yourself wondering just how good his purposes can be and just how glorious his plans? Do you ever find yourself wondering if God really cares?
I found myself pondering these matters the other day after a friend sent me an article about the precipitous rise of euthanasia in Canada. What politicians insisted would be nothing more than a means to hasten death for those who are terminally ill has actually become a means to prey upon the vulnerable.
While many request euthanasia to avoid pain in their final days, some are now using it simply because they are downcast or impoverished. Veterans who seek help for emotional turmoil are being offered the option of suicide. Those who can’t afford to live are being allowed to die. As the article says, “Since Canada legalized euthanasia in 2016, there has been a strange balancing act at the heart of its medical system. There is a national suicide prevention hotline you can call 24/7, where sympathetic operators will try to talk you out of killing yourself. But today there are also euthanasia hotlines, where operators will give you the resources you need to carry out your wish. Doctors and nurse practitioners are now in the business of saving the lives of some patients while providing death to others.” And all this is taking place before the rules grow even more permissive in the months ahead.
This is just one of many moral abominations that has taken root in the modern Western imagination—a context in which aborting babies is understood to be as inalienable a right as voting, in which even questioning the goodness of assisting children in transitioning from one gender to another (as if such a thing were even possible) is considered contemptible, in which the basic family structure that holds society together is being disparaged and undermined. “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
If we were to list all of society’s ills we would be here all day and all night. And it brings to mind one of the Bible’s most sobering woes—one of its most terrifying warnings to those who turn from God’s ways. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” We see all of this before us each and every day.
Yet my purpose here is not to recount the ways in which society curses God, but to consider God’s love for his people. There is a connection between the two. For as I have pondered society’s full-out rebellion against God, I also found myself marveling that he does not just strike this whole world and everyone in it with his hand of judgment. Why does he allow all this evil to continue? Why does he permit people to carry on and even deepen their rebellion against him?
Surely the answer is not apathy. Surely it is not inability or disinterest. There must be some other very good reasons. And the best I can figure is that those reasons must relate to God’s love and purposes.
God loves his people—the people he chose to be his own even before he created this world. Yet clearly not all of his people have yet been saved—nor probably even been born. God’s love for his people is so great that he will continue to tolerate all of this sin and rebellion, all of this hatred toward him, until the last of his chosen and beloved children has been born, has heard the gospel, and has been saved.
And then God has purposes he means to accomplish in this world, the foremost among them being glorifying himself. His purposes in this world must be so good and must bring such glory to his name that he permits evil to continue. For God freely makes use of the evil actions of men to bring about the best of his plans and accomplish the best of his purposes—purposes like the preservation of his people through famine and the salvation of his people through Christ’s crucifixion. Even the greatest evil is God’s servant to accomplish great good.
So the next time you are faced with the sheer depravity of this world, allow it to point you beyond the evil of man to consider the purposes of God. The next time you are forced to consider the rebellion that exists in the hearts of men, consider also the love that flows from the heart of God. You will see that his purposes are so good and his heart so tender that he will continue to allow mankind to rage against him and commit abhorrent acts so that he might welcome in all of his people and further the glory of his great name.
A La Carte (November 9)By Tim Challies — 5 months ago
I’m finishing up a conference in Fiji today (which I guess is tomorrow if you’re in North America—the International Date Line is endlessly confusing). It has been a tremendous blessing to get to know the believers here and to see how the Lord is at work in these little islands. I’m so thankful for the faithful legacy of The College of Theology & Evangelism Fiji.
Westminster Books has a deal on a new book that seems to be getting lots of attention.
(Yesterday on the blog: My System for Remembering and Re-Encountering What I Read)
As Long As You Know You’re Nobody Very Special
Darryl wants you to know that you’re nobody very special (and that admitting this is very freeing).
The Finished Work of Christ
David explains why “the finished work of Christ” is one of his favorite phrases.
As Slow As It Takes
”When we came to the field we thought that we were already on the slow track when it came to leadership development. Many popular missions methodologies advocate handing over significant authority to new believers very quickly, within a matter of weeks or months. Some even have unbelievers facilitating and leading Bible studies.” But here’s what that’s often not a wise idea.
Sing We The Song of Emmanuel (Video)
Getty Music has a new lyric video for the Christmas hymn “Sing We the Song of Emmanuel.”
How to Disagree Theologically
This is a good example of holding strong convictions with gentle charity.
Unborn Images Matter
“Abortionist Dr. Joan Fleischman says she sometimes shows her patients the pregnancy tissue she removes after an abortion. She says that post-abortive women are ‘stunned by what it actually looks like,’ and the women ‘feel they’ve been deceived.’” STR tells who is actually being deceptive.
Flashback: Fears and Fleeting Faith
In their troubles they fled to Jesus. In their uncertainty they cried out to their master. But they came to him in fear and doubt, not in faith.
The Bible is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. —A.W. Tozer
New and Notable Christian Books for November 2021By Tim Challies — 1 year ago
The final months of the year are typically not the best time for new book releases. However, this year we are seeing some special releases that are well worth investigating—including books by prominent theologians like Thomas Schreiner and Douglas Moo. With that in mind, here is my list of new and notable Christian books for November 2021. In each case I’ve included the editorial description.
The Joy of Hearing: A Theology of the Book of Revelation by Thomas Schreiner. “Join New Testament scholar Thomas Schreiner as he explores the meaning and purpose of the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation can feel more intimidating to read than other books of the Bible. It invites readers into a world that seems confusing and sometimes even strange: golden lampstands, seven seals, a dragon, and a rider on a white horse. But at its core, Revelation is a message of hope written to Christians facing hardship, and it’s worth the effort to read it and understand it. In this first volume in the New Testament Theology series, trusted scholar Thomas Schreiner walks step-by-step through the book of Revelation, considering its many themes—the opposition believers face from the world; the need for perseverance; God as sovereign Creator, Judge, and Savior—as well as its symbolic imagery and historical context. The Joy of Hearing brings clarity to the content and message of Revelation and explores its relevance for the church today.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
A Theology of Paul and His Letters by Douglas Moo. “This highly anticipated volume gives pastors, scholars, and all serious students of the New Testament exactly what they need for in-depth study and engagement with one of Christian history’s most formative thinkers and writers. A Theology of Paul and His Letters is a landmark study of the apostle’s writings by one of the world’s leading Pauline scholars Douglas J. Moo. Fifteen years in the making, this groundbreaking work is organized into three major sections: Part 1 provides an overview of the issues involved in doing biblical theology in general and a Pauline theology in particular. Here Moo also sets out the methodological issues, formative influences, and conceptual categories of Paul’s thought. Part 2 moves on to Paul’s New Testament writings, where Moo describes each Pauline letter with particular relevance to its theology. Part 3 offers a masterful synthesis of Paul’s theology under the overarching theme of the gift of the new realm in Christ. Engaging, insightful, and wise, this substantive, evangelical treatment of Paul’s theology offers extensive engagement with the latest Pauline scholarship without sacrificing its readability. This volume brings insights from over thirty years of experience studying, teaching, and writing about Paul into one comprehensive guide that will serve readers as a go-to resource for decades to come.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
What Jesus Did: 31 Devotions about the Life of Jesus & What Jesus Does: 31 Devotions about Jesus and the Church by Sinclair Ferguson. This is a pair of related books that tell stories. “Since before the beginning of time God has been at work. He created the world; he promised to send a saviour; and he sent his Son to die for us. With these 31 devotions and prayers you will see the impact of the life of Christ from before Creation to the Resurrection. Find out What Jesus Did through stories such as: Making Christmas Last; When Jesus Became a Refugee; and How Do I know Jesus Loves me?” As for the second book: “What is a life with Jesus like? How does the Son of God impact me? Through 31 devotions about Jesus, family and the church we discover what being friends with Jesus really means. Find out about Jesus, his friends and family, the disciples and the church through stories such as: Jesus Knows Your Name; Ready Steady Think; and Who Loves Church?” (Buy What Jesus Did at Amazon or Westminster Books; Buy What Jesus Does at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Rescue Plan: Charting a Course to Restore Prisoners of Pornography by Deepak Reju & Jonathan Holmes. “Pornography addiction is a pervasive problem—even in Christian circles—and many destructive misunderstandings surround it. If you want to help someone who has become a prisoner of this sin, you’ll need to know your enemy and the terrain on which you’ll be fighting. What makes a woman’s encounter with pornography different from a man’s, and how do you counsel her? What guidance do you give a struggler who is currently dating—or married? How can you help a parent who has discovered that their young child has been exposed to porn? Rescue Plan draws on the research and experience of two biblical counselors, giving concrete information and helping you to shape an effective plan of attack for strugglers in these diverse circumstances. Although it can stand alone, Rescue Plan pairs with Rescue Skills, also by Reju and Holmes, for maximum effectiveness. Together these two books show how to develop and execute a comprehensive plan for fighting pornography addiction in a wide range of situations.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
Rescue Skills: Essential Skills for Restoring the Sexually Broken by Deepak Reju & Jonathan Holmes. “Do you know someone who is struggling with sexual addiction? Unfortunately, given our hypersexualized culture and the accessibility of pornography, it’s likely that you do. Recovery is a difficult journey—one that none should take alone. How can you help? In this practical handbook, counselors Deepak Reju and Jonathan Holmes provide a treasure trove of straightforward, biblical strategies for guiding a fellow believer—male or female, old or young—toward recovery. You’ll learn how to listen well, develop a plan, encourage good accountability, provide support during relapses, and, by God’s grace, keep your friend focused on Christ throughout. The conversations may be uncomfortable, but this is a matter of eternal importance! Although it can stand alone, Rescue Skills pairs with Rescue Plan, also by Reju and Holmes, for maximum effectiveness. Together these two books show how to develop and execute a comprehensive plan for fighting pornography addiction in a wide range of circumstances.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
The Trial of the 16th Century: Calvin & Servetus by Jonathan Moorhead. “The execution of Michael Servetus (1511-53) is one of the most debated events in the life of John Calvin (1509-1564). It has left an indelible stain on Calvin’s reputation, and unfortunately, the retelling of the story is often dependent on the historian’s relationship to Calvinism. Jonathan Moorhead here seeks to give a faithful narrative of the role of John Calvin in the execution of Michael Servetus. He examines the life of Servetus, with emphasis given to his education, publications, and relationship with John Calvin. Moorhead also gives attention to the role of Calvin in Servetus’ arrests, trials, and execution. Understanding the extent of Calvin’s power in Geneva at the time of the trial is critical to understanding the events, as is the context of executing heretics throughout history, and in particular, in the 16th Century. This book will challenge readers to think critically about the ethics of telling history, the standards of properly judging previous generations, and the benefits of this study for the building up of the Body of Christ.” (Buy it at Amazon or Westminster Books)
More Than A Story: Old Testament & More Than A Story: New Testament by Sally Michaels. I’ll provide the description for the NT version and allow you to figure out what the OT one is about. “More Than a Story: New Testament is a new kind of Bible resource for children (ages 6-12)—taking them on a chronological journey through the Bible with a God-centered, gospel-focused, discipleship-oriented, theologically grounded perspective. The glorious account of the birth of God’s Son and the sobering account of Jesus’ death on the cross; bread and fish multiplied to feed 5,000 and living water offered to a Samaritan woman; Jesus preaching openly and the Pharisees plotting secretly; a crowd singing praises in the streets and an angry mob calling for crucifixion; a blind man receives his sight and a persecutor of the church is blinded by light; an apostle is freed from prison and another is put in chains – the pages of this book are filled with stories from the Bible, all of them absolutely and eternally true, telling one grand story. More than a storybook, this 346-page book displays Christ’s manifold character as well as His glorious deeds, righteous commands, sure promises, severe warnings, and gracious plan of redemption. Though the Bible is full of stories, it is MORE THAN A STORY. It is the authoritative Word of God that, throughout its pages, proclaims and magnifies the majestic character of God, His work in this world, and His plan of redemption for sinful men through His Son, Jesus.” (Buy the OT volume at Amazon or Westminster Books; Buy the NT volume at Westminster Books)
After Emmaus: How the Church Fulfills the Mission of Christ by Brian Tabb. “Did the Old Testament simply point to the coming of Christ and his saving work, or is there more to the story? After his resurrection, the Lord Jesus revealed how his suffering, glory, and mission plan for the nations are in fact central to the biblical story of redemption. After Emmaus shows how Christology and missiology are integrally connected throughout Scripture, especially in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. Brian Tabb explains what Luke 24:46–47 reveals about God’s messianic promises in the Old Testament, their fulfillment in the New Testament, and the purpose of the church. By understanding Jesus’s last words to his disciples, Christians today will be motivated to participate in the Messiah’s mission.” (Buy it at Amazon)