- What is Your Greatest Fear? Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “But the Bible brings the good news that if we truly knew the depths of our desperation in sin and the heights of God’s delivering love for us through the cross, we’d never have to be afraid of anything. That is a solid, secure place to stand when your circumstances feel anything but safe.”
- Can We Really Be Free From our Excessive Fears? Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Living free from our excessive fear is not only possible for you; it’s available to you. All it requires is faith. And it doesn’t require heroic faith. It requires only a child’s faith. All you need to do, according to Jesus, is, “do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).
- Mindful of Our Busyness: Notes on Another Epidemic (and Its Relief). David Zahl writes “We are hearing more and more about the busyness epidemic, and I’m glad of that. If only the root issue could be fixed by analyzing or understanding it deeply enough! Alas, the most effective means of relief right now seems to have little if anything to do with information or even self-knowledge. Instead it has to do with finding the space/time to stop and just be.”
- Lazy Busy. Tony Reinke of Desiring God writes “The most common species of slothfulness is “lazy busy” — a full schedule endured in a spiritual haze, begrudging interruptions, resenting needy people, driven by a craving for the next comfort. It is epidemic in our day.”
- Looking Forward to a Heaven We Can Imagine. Gavin Ortlund of The Gospel Coalition interviews Randy Alcorn about Heaven.
- What is a Kind Husband? Using Boaz as an example, Douglas Wilson provides five characteristics of a kind husband.
- Too Busy to Lead Family Worship? Don Whitney writes “You may know of no one as busy or as burdened as yourself, but can you honestly say you have more responsibilities than Charles Spurgeon? Despite his innumerable and important responsibilities, Spurgeon made the privileges and delights of family worship a priority. How about you?
- Spiritual Joy vs. Worldly Joy. David Murray uses the writings of the Puritan Thomas Watson to outline eight important differences between Christian joy and the joy of the world.
- In Bondage to Pornography. Carl Trueman writes “The ethics, and increasingly the laws, surrounding sexual behavior are coming to rest exclusively on the idea of consent”
- Parenting Well in a Digital World. Tim Challies offers some tips on parenting well. He looks at 3 things you need to put off or reject, and 3 things you need to put on or embrace. Watch Tim’s message “Purity in a Digital Age” from the recent Ligonier National Conference.
- Don’t Follow Your Heart. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “Our hearts were never designed to be followed, but to be led. Our hearts were never designed to be gods in whom we believe; they were designed to believe in God.”
- What Makes a Man a Hero? R.C. Sproul Jr. writes “In our day you become a hero by becoming the best in your field. The high virtues of the Christian hero, by contrast, have precious little to do with accomplishment.
- “And such were some of you.” Jonathan writes “This gospel testimony, true of all believers, is clearly seen in the life of Christopher Yuan. Christopher lived as a promiscuous gay man until he met Jesus in prison, where he was serving time for dealing drugs. Listen to the story of God’s great mercy in his life and be encouraged by God’s amazing grace.”
- Should I Attend the Wedding of a Gay Friend or Family Member? Denny Burke writes “…attendance at a wedding is not like attending a concert, where attendance suggests nothing about your own views on the proceedings. A wedding is a public recognition of a union, and those in attendance are there to help celebrate and add their assent to the union.”
- 5 Things People Blame The Church For…But Shouldn’t. This is an excellent article from Carey Nieuwhof.
- 10 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Pastor Right After the Sermon. Thom Rainer writes “Pastors often take 10 to 20 hours to prepare a sermon. They pray for God to speak through them. They preach with conviction and fervency. And then they hear one of these sentences.”
- 9 Marks of an Unhealthy Church. Kevin DeYoung writes “Here are nine marks that your church–even one that believes the Bible, preaches the gospel, and embraces good ecclesiology–may be unhealthy.”
- God Doesn’t Want Matt Chandler to be Your Pastor. Stephen Altrogge writes “But God doesn’t want Matt Chandler to be your pastor (unless you happen to be in his church). God has placed your pastor in your church to care specifically for you. When your pastor is preparing his sermon, he’s preparing it for you, and God is specifically empowering him to prepare a sermon for you.”
- 6 Reasons Why Sexual Predators Target Churches. Tim Challies writes “It is terrible but true—sexual predators target churches. In the mind of a predator, a church offers a compelling target and, too often, an easy target. I recently worked my way through On Guard by Deepak Reju and learned that there are at least 6 reasons why sexual predators specifically target churches.”
- Why Can’t the Church Just Agree to Disagree on Homosexuality? Kevin DeYoung, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors and whose next book (releasing April 30) is What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, writes “According to Jesus, it’s repentance for sexual immorality, not tolerance of it, which leads to human flourishing (Rev. 2:20-23). Christians who get this fundamental point confused are not purveyors of a liberating third way, but of a deadly and dastardly wrong way.”
IN THE NEWS:
- New York City Adds Two Muslim Holy Days to Public School Calendar. New York will become the nation’s first major metropolis to close its public schools in observance of the two most sacred Muslim holy days.
- An Evangelical Church ‘Comes Out’ for LGBT Rights. Heidi Halls writes “Pastor Stan Mitchell’s announcement that his evangelical GracePointe Church would fully affirm gay members met with a standing ovation from some, stunned silence from others, but everybody prayed together quietly at the end of it.”
- Congratulating Wesleyan. Carl Trueman, after hearing that Wesleyan University had “taken the ever-expanding list of initials used to refer to sexual identities to new heights of absurdity or sensitivity, depending on one’s perspective. We are now apparently up to fifteen letters: LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM”, writes “Wesleyan University is not to be criticized but congratulated, at least in terms of the transparency and consistency of its vision. It is simply an honest and consistent example of the moralizing amorality of this present age.”
- Franklin Graham: Obama, Holder guilty of ‘anti-Christian bias’. Franklin Graham states ““There is an anti-Christian bias that is now in our government, has permeated our government, that’s also permeated Washington but [also] at the state and local level.”
- The Kids are not All Right. Daniel James Devine of World Magazine writes “Many children raised by gay parents are now young or middle-aged adults. Some say their upbringing was positive, but a growing number are beginning to speak out against what they feel is a dysfunctional parenting model.”
- Florist Rejects Washington Attorney General’s Offer and Risks Everything. Denny Burk writes about Barronelle Stutzman, a 70-year old grandmother. She is a florist being sued by the state Attorney General for the state of Washington for refusing to participate in a gay wedding. The attorney general is trying to compel her to ignore her Christian faith and to participate in gay weddings. If she refuses, he is threatening the full coercive power of the state to force her to do it. She stands to lose everything—her home, her savings, her business, her livelihood—if she does not comply.
- Making a New Argument for Marriage. In the new issue of ByFaith magazine is an interesting article, “Making A New Argument for Marriage” by Susan Fikse. Fikse writes “In his late-June dissent to the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Justice Samuel Alito described the debate in this case as a battle between two views of marriage. As Alito describes, the real issue at stake is not expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, but redefining the very core of the institution.”
- Wedding Costs. The average cost of a wedding excluding a honeymoon was $31,213 in 2014. Wow.
- FOX News Radio’s Tonya J. Powers Interviews Third Day. In this interview, Mac, David and Mark sit down with FOX News Radio’s Tonya J. Powers to talk about their new worship album “Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship,” which is the first Worship album they’ve released in 12 years.
- Passion 2015 Live Album. Featuring some of this generation’s most acclaimed worship leaders – Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and Brett Younker – the new live Passion album Passion: Even So Come is set to release on March 17. The album was recorded in front of over 30,000 college students at three separate Passion gatherings in Atlanta and Houston. The standard edition will feature twelve songs, while the deluxe edition will feature eighteen songs, including two videos.
- Anomaly Tour 2015. Are you going to see Lecrae and Andy Mineo in St. Louis. Check out this short tour promo video.
- NEEDTOBREATHE “Brother” Video, Featuring Gavin DeGraw. The video was directed by Jared Hogan.
- Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon Beatbox. Did you see them recently on The Tonight Show?
BOOKS AND RESOURCES:
- Five Books Christians Should Read on Islam. Aaron Armstrong offers these five books we need to read to give us a better idea of what Muslims actually believe, the questions they are really asking, and the objections they hold about Christianity.
- Finding Truth. Tim Challies writes “Nancy Pearcey’s bestselling and award-winning book Total Truth made quite a mark on my life. It was, to my memory, the first book I had ever read on worldview, and its explanation of the way our world divides the sacred and the secular has not only stuck with me, but has helped me better understand and explain the culture around me.”
- Pass Down the Truth. Check out this promotional video for the newly revised and updated Reformation Study Bible.
- Review of the NIV Proclamation Bible. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “The NIV Proclamation Bible from Zondervan was made to give readers the most relevant information they need to teach and/or preach through each book of the Bible.”
- Why Jerram Barrs Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Six Times in Six Months. I had the pleasure of taking a class from Dr. Barrs at Covenant Seminary. Watch this video to hear why explains below why he deeply loves the book.
- Shepherds’ Conference 2015. The video from all of the messages from the recent Shepherds’ Conference Inerrancy Summit, hosted by John MacArthur, are now available.
- Liberate 2015 Conference Messages. You can watch all of the conference messages, featuring Tullian Tchividjian, Scotty Smith, Paul Tripp, Steve Brown and more.
- Andy Crouch: The Return of Shame. Check out this article from the author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. See our review of the book here.
- 7 Women by Eric Metaxas. One of my favorite authors follows up his 7 Men book with 7 Women: And Their Secret of Their Greatness, to be published September 8.
- Living Well in a Digital World. Tim Challies writes “Zondervan has just released a second edition of my book The Next Story and it comes complete with a few updates, an added chapter, and a new subtitle: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World. It covers some of this material, plus a whole lot more.”
- Heaven, How I Got Here. Our friend Kevin Halloran reviews the new book by Colin Smith Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross.
- Beauty for Ashes. Tim Challies looks at Iain Murray’s new biography of Amy Carmichael. I’m reading the book now and will run a review soon.
- New Book from Ashley Cleveland. Ashley, one of the best and most honest singer/songwriters you are going to find, is working on her second book. She writes that this one on loss—and the unexpected life that fills the open spaces. You can find our review of her first book Little Black Sheep, here (just page down until you find it).
- New Book Addresses the Growing Problem within Youth Sports. Andy Andrews discusses The Matheny Manifesto with Mike Matheny’s co-author Jerry Jenkins.
- The Drop Box Director on Coming to Christ. Brian Ivie tells how he found Jesus through the lens of camera in South Korea.
- Logic on Fire: The Life of Lloyd-Jones Comes to the Screen. Jeff Robinson writes “Media Gratiae, a Mississippi-based ministry that creates film, print, and electronic media, has produced a brand-new film, Logic on Fire: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, chronicling the ministry of the great British preacher. The film will debut at 9:15 p.m. on Monday, April 13, at The Gospel Coalition’s 2015 National Conference.” Robinson interviewed the film’s director, Matthew Robinson, to discuss the movie and his company’s motivation for bringing to video a man so dear to many Reformed evangelicals.
- A Prayer for Stewarding Our Theological Differences with Others. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
- Cage-Stage Calvinism. R.C. Sproul writes “Cage-stage Calvinists are identifiable by their insistence on turning every discussion into an argument for limited atonement or for making it their personal mission to ensure everyone they know hears—often quite loudly—the truths of divine election.”
- A Brief Defense of Infant Baptism. Kevin DeYoung writes “No matter where you fall on this issue, I encourage you think through the topic with an open Bible and some good resources in hand.”
- The Glorious Doctrine of Irresistible Grace. Keith Mathison writes “When we come to a full understanding of how serious our situation is as fallen human beings, our perspective on these doctrines changes dramatically.”
- 5 Ways the Final Judgment Frees Us to Engage Culture. David Burnette challenges us to consider five different ways the doctrine of God’s final judgment should free us as we face a shifting and increasingly hostile culture.
- The Cost of Compromise. John MacArthur writes “Scripture is clear about how we are to respond when the very foundations of the Christian faith are under attack: our duty is to contend, not compromise.”
- 4 Ways Inerrantists Undermine The Bible. David Murray highlight four areas in which we inerrantists have inadvertently undermined Gods Word.
Here’s a sample:
- No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. C.S. Lewis
- If the depths of everyone’s sin was made public, we would all be much more gracious to each other. Tullian Tchividjian
Check out what I’m Currently Reading
I first started hearing the name Rosaria Butterfield a few months ago, and then got to hear her tell her story last month at the 2015 Ligonier National Conference. You can watch her conference message “Repentance & Renewal” here.
This is not your typical Christian testimony/autobiography. For one, it is very well written. Rosaria is a very intelligent and opinionated individual, earning a PhD at Ohio State and then serving as a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, where she taught courses in Women’s Studies, specializing in Queer Theory and was a popular conference speaker. She gives insights – often painful – about how gays and lesbians perceive evangelical Christians. Read the entire book review on the blog….
Reading Together Week 2
David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.
Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.
This week we look at Chapter 2: Where Rich and Poor Collide: The Gospel and Poverty