~ THIS AND THAT ~
IN THE NEWS:
- Pray for our sister, Asia Bibi, a Christian living in Pakistan, where only 2% of the population is Christian. She was convicted in 2010 of blasphemy which is punishable by death. Despite an international outcry, a court in Lahore recently upheld the verdict and affirmed the sentence that Bibi be hanged. She has 30 days to appeal to the nation’s highest court. We need to pray for her release. Read more here: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/10/21/pakistani-court-upholds-death-sentence-for-christian-woman-accused-insulting/
- I was stunned and saddened by the tragic death of St. Louis Cardinal Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on Sunday afternoon. Tavares was the top prospect in the Cardinals organization and was expected to have a bright future. I appreciated this column about Oscar from St. Louis Post-Dispatch write Bernie Miklasz: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-we-ll-always-remember-oscar/article_052b0744-d2e9-5e3e-a934-cda6d99f36fa.html. I’ll remember Oscar for two special home runs – the first in just his second at bat major leagues and the second just two weeks before his death in game two of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants. You can watch both here: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/10/oscar-taveras-st-louis-cardinals-nlcs-home-run-video-mlb
- Even though his home run started my St. Louis Cardinals’ winter vacation, I commend to you this article about Travis Ishikawa, a Christian. Read the article from World Magazine “Teams Enter World Series on Emotional, Spiritual Highs” here: http://www.worldmag.com/2014/10/teams_enter_world_series_on_emotional_spiritual_highs
- At a moment when American churches and politicians are warring over gay rights and same-sex marriage, each side needs every soldier it can muster. Conservatives are about to learn that one of America’s leading evangelical ethicists is defecting to the opposition. David Gushee, a Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, a Baptist college and divinity school in Georgia, plans to announce that he now affirms same-sex relationships, in a speech to The Reformation Project Conference, a gathering of pro-LGBT Christians in Washington, on November 8. Read the article “Leading Evangelical Ethicist David Gushee is Now Pro-LGBT. Here’s Why it Matters”.
- Ed Stetzer writes about four trends in Christianity that may scare you.
- Where does Hillsong’s megachurch head pastor Brian Houston stand on gay marriage? Check out the article “Hillsong: We Haven’t Shifted After All” here: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/10/hillsong-we-havent-shifted-at-all
- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said pastors from across the United States should send “thousands and thousands” of Bibles and sermons to the Houston mayor who demanded pastors turn over their sermons to the government due to their objection to an LGBT discrimination city ordinance. Read more here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/mike-huckabee-asks-pastors-across-the-us-to-send-sermons-bibles-to-houston-mayor-128315/
- In light of what has been going on in Houston, Eric Metaxas has been encouraging pastors to send sermons and Bibles to the mayor. Read or listen to his commentary “A Line Has Been Crossed” here: http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/26266
- Chris Larson covers exciting highlights for Ligonier Ministries planned in 2015, including the one I’m most excited about – a complete updating of the Reformation Study Bible. Read his article “Seasons of Growth”.
- On October 2, 2014, Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III was installed as Reformed Theological Seminary’s fifth Chancellor in an inauguration ceremony hosted at First Presbyterian Church, Jackson. The next morning at Grace Chapel on the campus of RTS Jackson, Ligon Duncan, Al Mohler, and Derek Thomas discussed the Direction of and Trends in the American Church. You can listen to the audio here: http://www.rts.edu/site/rtsnearyou/jackson/chapel/Inauguration.aspx
- Did actor Shia LeBeouf become a Christian while filming Fury recently? That’s what some are reporting.
- On October 21, the number one hip-hop/rap song and number seven overall on iTunes was “Beautiful Life 2 (Mine)” by Trip Lee. The song briefly features both of his young children. Congratulations to Trip, whose new album Rise releases October 28.
- Here’s the second video from Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil’s new album Goliath. It is for the song “Standing in Line”. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEmM1EBQp2s&list=UULw15RLCoSismXzSPAZ5YMg&index=1
- In his article “My Journey in Rhythm, Rhyme, and Redemption” Dan Dewitt, Dean of Boyce College, writes that “Christian rap has profoundly affected my ministry.”
- Have you heard Carrie Underwood’s new single “Something in the Water”, which is at the top of the Christian songs chart on Billboard? You can read about her writing of the song and listen to it. Here are the lyrics to the song, which is obviously about a conversion and baptism:
He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before.
Down every hallway’s a slamming door.”
No way out, no one to come and save me
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me
Then somebody said what I’m saying to you
Opened my eyes and told me the truth.”
They said, “Just a little faith, it’ll all get better.”
So I followed that preacher man down to the river
And now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger
There must’ve been something in the water
Oh, there must’ve been something in the water
Well, I heard what he said and I went on my way
Didn’t think about it for a couple of days
Then it hit me like a lightning late one night
I was all out of hope and all out of fight
Couldn’t fight back the tears so I fell on my knees
Saying, “God, if you’re there come and rescue me.”
Felt love pouring down from above
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood
And now I’m changed
And now I’m stronger
There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water
And now I’m singing along to amazing grace
Can’t nobody wipe this smile off my face
Got joy in my heart, angels on my side
Thank God almighty, I saw the light
Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live everyday, give it all that I have
Trust in someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed
I am changed
And now I’m stronger
There must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water
Oh, there must be something in the water
Oh, yeah I am changed
- The new hymn “My Worth is Not in What I Own” from Keith and Kristyn Getty is one of my top songs of the year. Check it out, along with the lyrics, here: http://www.gettymusic.com/hymns-myworth.aspx?
- The Newsboys will release their first ever hymns album Hallelujah for the Cross on November 4th. Read about the new album here: http://newsboys.com/newsboys-unveil-first-ever-hymns-collection-hallelujah-cross-november-4/
- Did you see Sting singing his own lyrical interpretations to a few classic instrumental ringtones, like “Marimba” and “Xylophone,” which apparently “actually sounds like a Police song” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon? If not, check it out here: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6289013/sting-ringtones-jimmy-fallon-tonight-show
- Michael Buble has released a Special Deluxe Edition of his excellent Christmas album. This edition features four additional songs – “The Christmas Song”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Frosty the Snowman” and “Silver Bells”.
- When Paul McCartney re-releases his 1976 album Wings at the Speed of Sound next month, among the newly unearthed works and bonus content is a previously unreleased take of album track “Beware My Love.” What’s particularly noteworthy is the percussion on the cut is handled by the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Read this story to find out more about it.
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band The Who have a new song “Be Lucky” from their umpteenth “Greatest Hits” package The Who Hits 50. After all these years Roger Daltry’s vocals still sound good.
- Bob Seger recently performed John Hiatt’s “Detroit Made” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
- Redemption. What a great word. In this “Minute with Maxwell” video with John Maxwell, Maxwell looks at the word “redemption”. Check it out here: http://johnmaxwellteam.com/redemption-2/
- Miracles. Eric Metaxas writes that is one of the least-understood and, thus, overused words in American culture. His new book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life, is his attempt to help Christians and non-Christians alike to understand what Christians mean—or at least should mean—when they use the world “miracle.” Read or listen to his commentary on Breakpoint here: http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/26274
- 5 Reasons Why I am Not a New Calvinist. James J. Cassidy writes that “(John) Piper was humble and levelheaded about the new Calvinism, acknowledging its shortcomings and how in some ways it falls short of the older Calvinism. But there was something in his comparison of the new and old that he missed: ecclesiology.” As a result, Cassidy lists five reasons why he is not one of the so-called new Calvinists. Read his reasons here: http://theaquilareport.com/5-reasons-why-i-am-not-a-new-calvinist-2/
- “Limited Atonement” is the middle letter in TULIP, but as author and pastor Douglas Wilson explains, that name might give the wrong impression. “The problem with ‘limited atonement’ is that it makes everybody think ‘tiny atonement.’” And, of course, no good Christian wants to cast the cross-work of Christ as diminutive. The better term, says Wilson, with a growing number of voices, is “Definite Atonement.” Same doctrine, better name. This way of putting it emphasizes the extent of Jesus’s accomplishment, rather than its restriction. Read the Desiring God article “Jesus Doesn’t Fail: An Interview on Definite Atonement” and watch the 13 minute interview with Wilson here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/jesus-doesn-t-fail-an-interview-on-definite-atonement
- “Practice Principles for Biblical Interpretation” by R.C. Sproul: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/practical-principles-biblical-interpretation/
- Earlier this month Ligonier Ministries held their 2014 Regional Conference in Philadelphia on the theme, The Truth of the Cross. Steven Lawson and Stephen Nichols joined R.C. Sproul to consider topics such as the necessity of the atonement, the reason for the incarnation, the two natures of Christ, and several others. You can listen or watch the messages free here stream for free.
- Mark Jones writes that there is a lot of diversity among Reformed theologians. Check out his article “Reformed Theological Diversity (lots of it)” for some of the areas that have been disputed among Reformed theologians here: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2014/10/reformed-theological-diversity.php
- Here is John Piper’s latest labs in his series on Romans 8. This one covers verse 3. Check it out here: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs/god-sent-his-own-son and this one covers verses 3-4: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs/love-fulfills-the-law
- “The Redwoods and the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”. ‘J.I. Packer says that the Puritans are the theological and devotional Redwoods of the western world. My (John Piper) own experience is that no one comes close to the skill they have in taking the razor-like scalpel of Scripture, and lancing the boils of my corruption, cutting out the cancers of my God-belittling habits of mind, and amputating the limbs of my disobedience. They are simply in a class by themselves.’
- Theologian for the Ages: John Calvin - John Calvin (1509–1564) is easily the most important Protestant theologian of all time and remains one of the truly great men who have lived. Get to know Calvin better by reading Steven Lawson’s article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/theologian-ages-john-calvin/
- William Tyndale (ca. 1494–1536) made an enormous contribution to the Reformation in England. Many would say that he made the contribution by translating the Bible into English and overseeing its publication.” Read Steven Lawson’s article “Prince of Translators: William Tyndale” here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/prince-translators-william-tyndale/
- Who is Ulrich Zwingli? Steven Lawson writes “Other than Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin, the most important early Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. A first-generation Reformer, he is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Furthermore, history remembers him as the first Reformed theologian. Though Calvin would later surpass Zwingli as a theologian, he would stand squarely on Zwingli’s broad shoulders.” Read his article “Zurich Revolutionary: Ulrich Zwingli” here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/zurich-revolutionary-ulrich-zwingli/
- Heinrich Bullinger (1504–1575) is regarded as the most influential second-generation Reformer. As the heir to Ulrich Zwingli in Zurich, Switzerland, he consolidated and continued the Swiss Reformation that his predecessor had started. Read Steven Lawson’s profile of Bullinger “Covenant Theologian: Heinrich Bullinger” here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/covenant-theologian-heinrich-bullinger/
- “Fortress for Truth: Martin Luther”. Steven Lawson writes that “Martin Luther was a giant of history. Some believe he was the most significant European figure of the second millennium. He was the pioneer Reformer, the one God first used to spark a transformation of Christianity and the Western world. He was the undisputed leader of the German Reformation. In a day of ecclesiastical corruptions and apostasies, he was a valiant champion of the truth; his powerful preaching and pen helped to restore the pure gospel.” Read his article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/fortress-truth-martin-luther/
- What do you say to a person who truly believes that they are unlovable? Tullian Tchividjian writes “What can you do when you hear stories of a life lived in constant disgrace? How do you provide comfort when one’s suffering is like nothing you’ve ever experienced?” Read his article “Portraits of Grace: Allison” here: http://www.pastortullian.com/2014/10/22/portraits-of-grace-allison/
- Have you been looking for twenty ways you can be refreshing in your church? Read Jason Helopoulos’ article and put some of these into practice: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/10/16/20-ways-to-be-refreshing-in-the-local-church/
- Have you heard the argument that “Gay is the New Black” that has been used to justify acceptance of homosexuality in our culture? Nobody can argument with the effectiveness in changing attitudes toward homosexuality in our culture. But is it an accurate argument? Pastor Voddie Bauchan doesn’t think so. Check out this article which includes Bauchan’s article on the subject along with a few recent related videos.
- Do you know professing Christians who don’t attend church? Here’s a helpful article from Matthew Westerholm at Desiring God on why we should attend church. Read his article “Three Reasons to Attend Corporate Worship” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/three-reasons-to-attend-corporate-worship
- Have you ever found yourself apologizing for God? Drew Dyck in his new book Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God writes: “I’m done apologizing for God. Every few months an Atheist writes a book accusing God of being mean, and somehow simultaneously non-existent. Then we spill gallons of ink in response trying to defend God’s actions. I’m not trying to bash on apologists, because I think what they do is crucial. My beef is that after we get through explaining away every passage in the Bible where God seems mean, he comes off as hapless or misunderstood.” Amen to that! Read this article by Tony Reinke of Desiring God “Stop Apologizing for God” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/stop-apologizing-for-god
- Is sin worse than hell? Jonathan Bowers of Desiring God writes that “So sin, in the final analysis, is worse than hell. We should not marvel that God burns with wrath against his enemies.” Read his article “Sin is Worse Than Hell” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/sin-is-worse-than-hell
- Do you enjoy podcasts? R.C. Sproul Jr. recently announced the debut of the “Jesus Changes Everything” podcast. You can listen to it here: http://rcsprouljr.com/jce/
- Rising church leaders, what is it about you that encourages Tim Keller, John Piper and D.A. Carson? Watch this video from the Gospel Coalition to find out.
- Do you enjoy your present work or are you looking for the next big thing as far as your vocation? Check out this article from The High Calling.
- “We all love to be praised and celebrated. We want a name for ourselves. We crave a platform of respect. We desire to be important to other people. We want our work to be appreciated.” Read this article from Joseph Tenney at Desiring God: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/self-promotion-and-our-fear-of-obscurity
- Battling Sin. Rather than focusing so much on that one sin that you want to have victory over, John Owens writes that you ought to look to your entire life and to battle sins that God finds alarming. Read the next installment of Tim Challies’ excellent series on John Owen’s book Overcoming Sin and Temptation.
- “According to Jesus, it is what we do in secret that matters most.” Read Derek Thomas’ article “In Secret” here: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/secret/
- The liberating power of confession. check out this two-minute video in which Steve Brown shares a powerful story: http://liberate.org/2014/10/20/steve-brown-on-the-power-of-confession/
- In a new roundtable video with Nancy Guthrie and Jen Wilkin, Melissa Kruger notes that throughout Scripture we encounter the image of a fruit-bearing tree planted by a life-giving stream. The author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World believes this is a vivid metaphor for a heart that’s content in Jesus no matter what the “weather” (circumstances) of life. Watch the full eight-minute video to hear these three women leaders discuss Facebook, the three categories of discontent, the challenge of holiday catalogues, and more here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/contentment-does-not-come-naturally
- Check out this fifth article “Lead Faithful Intimacy: A Guide for Husbands” in the series “A Guide to Biblical Manhood” (along with links to the previous articles).
- “Five ways for a husband to lead his wife biblically” by David Murray.
- In “A Prayer for Growing Thick Skin and a Big Heart” Scotty Smith prays “And Jesus, where we’re just too sensitive, too easily offended, too quick to keep a record of wrongs done to us, too slow to overlook the failures of others, have mercy on us. Free us to do the right thing in the moment—the gospel thing.” http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/10/13/a-prayer-for-growing-thick-skin-and-a-big-heart[Note: Did we just ‘happen’ to put this prayer in after two articles on marriage? I think not.]
- John Maxwell looks at the word “Don’t”. The day it appeared was “Boss’s Day”. Maxwell states “Don’t be a boss, be a leader”. Listen to the minute and a half video here: http://johnmaxwellteam.com/donot/
- “Don’t Expect Unbelievers To Act Like Believers”. Tim Challies writes “So often I see Christians acting surprised that their non-Christian friends or family members are acting like non-Christians. John Owen addresses this in his great work Overcoming Sin and Temptation. The book deals with the subject of mortification, of putting sin to death, and Owen dedicates one chapter to explaining why only Christians can behave like Christians.”
- Tim Challies suggests that there are seven things that your church needs from you.
- Answers to 7 uncomfortable questions. In this short article Kevin DeYoung offers seven uncomfortable questions and then asks “How would I answer these questions? How am I doing?” Read his article here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/10/22/some-uncomfortable-questions/
- “Dealing with Doubt” by Randy Alcorn. He writes “In times of doubt, difficulty, and trials, our fundamental beliefs about God and our faith are revealed. So how can Christians find faith in the midst of doubt? How can they trust God’s plan when their lives seem out of His control, and prayers seem to go unanswered or, as it sometimes feels, even unheard?” Read his article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/dealing-doubt/
- Ben Carson, my choice to lead our country in 2016, has a new book out – One Vote: Make Your Voice Heard. You can order it here: http://realbencarson.com/category/store/
- Here’s a review of Michael Horton’s new book Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World, a book I plan to read. To go along with the review, here’s an interview with Michael Horton about the book: http://www.9marks.org/blog/being-%E2%80%9Cordinary%E2%80%9D-christian-interview-michael-horton
- Francis Chan recently wrote a book on marriage with his wife Lisa You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity. You can see our review of that fine book here – http://coramdeotheblog.com/book-reviews/theology-and-misc-book-reviews/. He has written an article on marriage for Desiring God titled “Marriage on the Edge of Eternity”. You can read it here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/marriage-on-the-edge-of-eternity
- This list of the top books on marriage by David Murray includes my favorite The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller.
- Tim Keller’s forthcoming (November 4) book is Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In this interview, Matt Smethurst asks him about mysticism, the problem with quiet times, how he’s taught his congregation to pray, advice for the distracted, and more. Read the interview here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tim-keller-on-prayer
- Here are two new books that you might have an interest in by Ravi Zacharias and Dave Ramsey:
- Do you read your books on a mobile device? I love my Kindle. Here’s information on the new Kindle Voyage: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2014/10/23/amazon-kindle-voyage-is-voyage-into-ereader-luxury/17781255/
- Have you read the Laura Hillenbrand’s book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption? The movie version comes out this Christmas and I can’t wait. The book is about Louie Zamperini’s amazing life (if it was a novel you would say it wasn’t believable). Check out Ivan Mesa’s “Broken: The Power of Conversion in Louie Zamperini’s Life”.
TO MAKE YOU SMILE AND ENCOURAGE YOU:
- Scotty Smith’s ministry (seminary classes, preaching, writing and daily prayers) has had a profound impact on my life. Check out this video of him talking about gospel prayer here: http://liberate.org/2014/10/17/scotty-smith-on-gospel-prayer/
- In this wonderful prayer, Scotty Smith using 1 Peter 5:7, calls for us to offload our cares and anxieties on the Lord. Read it here: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/10/14/a-prayer-for-offloading-our-anxieties-and-cares-on-god/
- Did you see Emma Stone and Jimmy Fallon playing “Box of Lies” recently on The Tonight Show? If not, check it out here: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/13726
Quotes from R.C. Sproul:
The sinner in hell would give everything he had to make the number of sins he committed in this world one less. -R.C. Sproul