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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

 

  • My Seminar at the PCA General Assembly. If you are attending the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina, I’d like to invite you to stop by my seminar (Helping Our People Connect Their Faith to Their Work and Callings) at 8:00 am on Wednesday, June 14 in the Sandpiper Room. Check a description of all of the seminars here.
  • ChristianAudio.com’s FREE Audiobook of the Month: The King James Version has continued to this day to be one of the most beloved and widely sought after translations of the Bible into the English language. Now over 400 years old, the King James Version has been shaping Christians for centuries with its majesty and solemnity.  Narrator David Cochran Heath brings his voice of clarity and warmth, making listening an experience the hearer will want to return to again and again.

  • How Do I Disciple Someone? Watch this eight-minute video in which David Platt sits down with Francis Chan to discuss the practical aspects of disciple-making.
  • What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?C. Sproul writes that there is an important difference between guilt and guilt feelings.
  • Sticks, Stones and Words…Can Cut Me Deeply. Scott Sauls writesWords transform. They heal. And they can “hurt me.”
  • Can Self-Forgetfulness Make Us Happier? Randy Alcorn writes “What we need is to be so gripped by Jesus and His grace, so lost in His love, that we truly forget about ourselves.”
  • Are Lukewarm Christians Saved? Watch this three-minute video clip of an interview with Francis Chan.
  • The Real Root of Sexual Sin. Jon Bloom writes “The most powerful weapon against sexual impurity is humility. Patterns of sinful thought and behavior are fruits of a deeper root. If we want to stop bearing bad fruit, we must aim our primary attack against the root. And the root of sexual sin is not our sex drive; it’s pride.”
  • In Defense of the Unspoken Prayer Request. Russell Moore writes “The unspoken prayer request is fully in line with how the Scripture calls on us to pray.”
  • Is Body Image My Idol? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper states “The discipline of the pursuit of physical fitness becomes sinful self-glorification when it is no longer pursued as a means of, one, overcoming our own sin, two, serving others, three, glorifying Christ.”
  • What does the Bible teach about abortion? Jesse Johnson shares eight biblical truths about abortion.
  • Six Words to Say Through Tears. Nancy Guthrie writes “When the grief is fresh and intense, we might take some wild ideas for a test drive, but to move toward healing and return to joy requires that we press this one idea deeply into our souls until it begins to impact us at the level of our feelings: “I can trust God with this.””
  • If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me? Randy Alcorn writes “In a conversation with Pastor Todd Wagner of Watermark Church, she answers the question, “If you have enough faith, will God heal you?” I encourage youto watch and listen carefully to this interaction between two people who, over the years, have both become my friends. You’ll be glad you did. Todd asks great questions, and what Joni says is gold.”

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • Ten Questions Christians Should Ask of Their Entertainment. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “Discerning media consumption needs more than a litmus test of saying we shouldn’t watch excessive violence and sexuality (which is true). We need to understand the complex and often subtle effects of media on our lives.”
  • Why We Don’t Need to Fear the Moment of Our Death. Randy Alcorn writes “Though as believers we know that Heaven awaits us after death, many of us still wonder about or fear the moment of death. What will it be like? Will it be frightening to experience the soul’s departure from the body?”
  • Is it Possible to be Totally Free from Lust?Watch Dr. Jeremy Pierre from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary answer that question in this five-minute video.
  • Tim Keller: 3 Questions Fake Christians Can’t Answer. In this two-minute video, Tim Keller offers a group of “questions designed to wake up sleeping Christians”. His questions focus on three hallmarks of a growing relationship with God.
  • Sleep Disorders and the Glory of God. Eric Davis writes “With sleeplessness comes unique suffering. The side-effects tend to be many, complex, and severe. It can be hard to understand.”
  • Bible Reading is an Art. Watch this two-minute video from David Mathis.
  • Watching Your Spiritual Diet. John MacArthur writes “When believers aren’t growing, it’s almost always symptomatic of a failure to be in God’s Word. They may attend church regularly, but what they learn dissipates rapidly once they exit the building. They often complain that they’re not getting much out of church or the Christian life. They are weak and rundown when it comes to facing temptations, trials, problems, and challenges. They lack the vigor to do much of anything for the Lord.”
  • You Can Defeat Distraction. David Mathis writes “The trouble is especially pressing for Christians. We believe that the inner person is more important than the outer, and that where we focus our minds and hearts today counts forever. The very essence of what we believe to be true about the world hangs on where we direct our attention.”

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

BABIES:

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!

  • How Do You Pray Without Ceasing?Watch Don Whitney explain this in a four-minute video.
  • Is Homosexuality Really the Worst Sin? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper responds to the question “Is homosexuality truly more detrimental to a society than other sins? How would you weigh the cultural impact of this sin against, say, the sins of pride and overeating and greed?”
  • Can Anyone Really Be Blameless?  John Piper writes “When you read the Psalms, do you identify with the psalmist when he claims blamelessness and uprightness and integrity and righteousness?”
  • Who is the Lord of the Church?  John McArthur writes “The truth that Christ is Lord of His church may sound somewhat benign to a casual listener in our generation, but the struggle for Christ’s authority in the church has come to us through the ages on a sea of blood.”
  • Why Do Christians Love the Law? Burk Parsons writes “The truth of the matter is that not just anyone loves the law of God but only those who have been set free by our law-giving, law-keeping, and law-liberating Savior.”
  • Judge Not? Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2). Jon Bloom writes that this teaching of Jesus is widely misunderstood.
  • Do You Exercise for the Wrong Reasons?David Mathis writes “The biblical take on exercise is not “Life is short; let your body go.” Rather, with God’s revealed truth ringing in our ears, we say, “Life is too short to not harness the body God gave me.”

  • It is Never Right to be Angry at God. Ever. Denny Burk offers some brief reflections to answer objections to a recent tweet that has proven to be controversial.
  • For the Annoyed, Irritated and Exasperated.Scotty Smith prays “I don’t want to be the fool who shows his annoyance at once, or the quick-spirited “inn-keeper” who makes his anger a welcomed guest. Settle me and center me, Lord, by the grace, truth, and power of the gospel. I won’t try to justify my snarly, edgy attitude.”
  • The Cumulative Effect of Our Little Choices. Randy Alcorn writes “Following Christ isn’t magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into habits and life disciplines.”
  • A Marriage Checklist. David Murray writes about chapter 5 from Tim and Kathy Keller’s bookThe Meaning of Marriage and the teaching on “Love Currencies” or “Love Languages.” He writes “His basic point was we must give the love-currency to our spouse that they value most and speak the love-language that best communicates love to them.”
  • God Will Hold You Through Your Habits. David Mathis writes “Simply put, your habits are one of the most important things about you. So, here are four lessons that might help you get intentional, and become more effective, in cultivating life-giving habits for the Christian life.”

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • Being Merciful Instead of Being Critical. Scotty Smith prays “Father, we own being too easily irritated, offended, and impatient. We keep records of the ways people hurt, fail, and disappoint us, more readily than overlooking, forbearing, and forgiving. Thank you for the full forgiveness we have in Christ, and for grace to repent and change. We truly want to be merciful with others as you are merciful with us.”
  • Gentle Me, Lord.Scotty Smith prays “You’re like the perfect surgeon—the one I want working on me. You never get nervous or flustered, agitated or hurried. You have a steady hand because of your grace-full heart. I gladly surrender to your surgeon’s hand today, for I want to grow in gentleness.”
  • How to Fight for Faith in the Dark: Three Lessons for Depression. Stephen Altrogge writes “So if you’re depressed, how can you fight for faith? How can you believe while also stumbling through the dark?”
  • “Where Death Died” | Bono & David Taylor: Beyond the Psalms. Bono, the lead singer of U2, and David Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture, discuss mortality, Bono’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and the day he’ll remove his sunglasses.Also check out “Psalm 82 Is a Good Start” | Bono & David Taylor: Beyond the Psalms.
  • The Weight of Shame. Burk Parsons writes “Jesus lived and died not only for the guilt of our sin but for the shame of our sin.”
  • Two Keys to Flourishing in the Digital Age. Tony Reinke writes “We all seem to sense that — for good or bad — our smartphones are changing us, our habits, and our relationships. We all know it. We feel it. We seem to be more productive, and yet we are more distracted. We seem to be more connected, and yet we are more alone. We seem to be more knowledgeable, and yet we are less likely to understand the very purpose of our lives. The more important questions are these: What can be done about it? And do we Christians have anything relevant to say to the perplexing questions facing our digital age?”
  • Instagram Generation:Four Ways Smartphone Cameras Are Changing Us. Tony Reinke writes “So much of social media turns our lives into a stage. We set the scene. We frame the camera. The people around us become actors and actresses. We become the director and the producer — even the starring actor if we want to.”
  • Are You Fit to Fight Temptation? Watch this three-minute video clip from John Piper speaking on Ephesians 6:14-17.
    8 Sins You Commit Whenever You Look at Porn.
     Tim Challies writes “It is sinful to lust after another person and to enable this lust through pornography. Yet the sin bound up in pornography goes far deeper than mere lust. It extends to idolatry, adultery, deceit, theft, greed, sloth, sexual violence, and ignoring the Holy Spirit.”
  • Creating a Culture of Hospitality. Bryan Elliff writes “There is something bonding about being in someone’s house. You enter their world. You see their interests and their style of life. You see their kid’s schedules and get a feel for some of the daily challenges they face. In other words, you step beyond the neutral-site church meetings and begin to understand them in context.”
  • Three Strategies for Overcoming the Superficial Life. In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper responds to the following question How do you think deeply, when you have created, by whichever way, a superficial manner of thinking that skirts matters and gets bored before you have gotten to any real depth? And if you get bored, how can you challenge yourself to still engage with a matter or a biblical passage without being blasé?”  
  • Can a Professing Christian Who Has Turned Away from Christ Be Saved?C. Sproul writes “I think a Christian can have a gross and serious fall but not a full and final fall—that he or she will be restored even as David realized his sin, as the Prodigal Son came to himself, as Peter ultimately repented.”

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • We recently took a trip to Chicago to see Hamilton the musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and inspired by the 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton written by Ron Chernow. See my review of the book here. In 2016, Hamilton received a record-setting 16 Tony nominations, winning 11, including Best Musical, and was also the recipient of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Chicago performance was amazing, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The performance featured an outstanding cast, led by Wayne Brady in the role of Aaron Burr. Did you know that Burr’s grandfather was the great theologian and pastor Jonathan Edwards? Additional tickets for the Chicago production have put on sale through January 7. Check them out here.
  • Ministry Update. I wanted to briefly give you an update on a few things I’m working on. The first draft of a short book, tentatively titled God Values Your Work, was completed a few months ago, and is being reviewed by my editor. I have two opportunities to speak on faith and work in June. One will be on discipleship at work and the other will be encouraging church leaders to help those they minister to see the value of their work and how they can integrate their faith and work. Would appreciate your prayers for the book and the speaking opportunities that the Lord would be glorified.

  • Rule # 6: Redeem Your Time. Tim Challies offers this rule in his series of “8 Rules for Growing in Godliness”. He writes “Just as money is endowed to a college to further particular programs or support certain kinds of students, time is given to us to accomplish specific purposes.”
  • 5 Productivity Tips for the Busy Mom. Tim Challies shares productivity lessons he and his wife shared during a time when their lives were veering out of control.
  • Tim Keller on Why You Should Catechize Your Children. Tim Keller discusses in this new videowhy Christians should catechize our children in the 21st century.
  • Looking for Real Happiness in a World of Worry. Randy Alcorn writes “Worry is the product of high stakes and low control, coupled with expecting the worst. There’s no greater enemy of happiness.”
  • Known By Our Gratitude. How can we alter our perspectives and be known for what we are for, instead of what we are against? What this message from Ann Voskamp, in which she unpacks what can dynamically transform our communities.
  • How Calvinists Miss the Key to Happiness. Tony Reinke writes “At root, the joy of Calvinism is a joy purchased by Christ and emerges from the ever-present Spirit within us.”

PUTTING SIN TO DEATH:

  • How to Mortify Sin. Sinclair Ferguson writes “The first thing to do is: Turn to the Scriptures. Yes, turn to John Owen (never a bad idea!), or to some other counselor dead or alive. But remember that we have not been left only to good human resources in this area. We need to be taught from “the mouth of God” so that the principles we are learning to apply carry with them both the authority of God and the promise of God to make them work.”
  • When Feeling Temptation’s Lure. Scotty Smith prays “Thank you for your promise, that for everytemptation we face in life—every one of them, you will always provide a way out. Show us what that looks like today, even in this very moment.”
  • The Dead End of Sexual Sin. Rosaria Butterfield writes “In the writings of John Owen, I was shown how and why the promises of sexual fulfillment on my own terms were the antithesis of what I had once fervently believed. Instead of liberty, my sexual sin was enslavement. This seventeenth-century Puritan revealed to me how my lesbian desires and sensibilities were dead-end joy killers.”
  • Lies at the Heart of Addiction. David Murray writes “It doesn’t matter what kind of addiction it is—drink, drugs, food, gambling, porn, spending, tanning, people-pleasing, people-critiquing, control, digital technology, etc.—lies are at the heart of them all.”
  • 10 Ugly and Updated Numbers about Pornography Use. Tim Challies writes “These numbers prove statistically what we already known anecdotally—that pornography is a significant issue afflicting our society and our church.”

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

CURRENT EVENTS:

  • My Amazon Reviews. Check out more than 240 of my reviews (books, music and movies) on Amazon here.
  • Princeton Seminary Rescinds Honoring Tim Keller. Kate Shellnutt writes “The most popular Reformed preacher and author in America today is not eligible to receive Princeton Theological Seminary’s annual award in Reformed theology and public witness. The mainline seminary reversed its decision to honor Tim Keller with a prize named for neo-Calvinist theologian Abraham Kuyper following outcry over the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) pastor’s conservative positions.”
  • My Tribute to Tim Keller. Scott Sauls, who served with Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City, shares his appreciation for Keller, who recently announced his retirement from pastoral ministry effective July 1.
  • Four Thoughts on Persecution in America. Kevin DeYoung writes “From stiff fines, to family shame, to being kicked off college campuses, to laws against sharing our faith, to unjust trials, to public mockery and scorn, to arrest and brutality, if we faithfully follow Jesus in this world we all will face persecution at some point in our Christian discipleship. Even American Christians—if they are really Christians—will have crosses to carry.”
  • The Gathering Storm: Religious Liberty in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution. Albert Mohler writes “These are days that will require courage, conviction, and clarity of vision. We are in a fight for the most basic liberties God has given humanity, every single one of us, made in his image.”

Courtesy of World Magazine

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

David Washington / Kingdom Covenant Church

BEING SALT AND LIGHT:

  • How One Ex-Gang Leader Is Reaching Chicago’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes “But in the middle of the chaos, black pastors are making a difference. Reaching out to neighborhoods, feeding the hungry, and running programs for kids, the black church is salting the city. One of those pastors is David Washington, who prays with people and hands out school supplies on streets he knows well. He grew up in the violent South Side neighborhood of Roseland; in fact, he used to run a gang and sell drugs there.”
  • A Two-Minute Clip on Homosexuality Every Christian Should Watch. Watch this short video from Sam Allberry—editor for The Gospel Coalition, speaker for RZIM, founding editor of Living Out, and author of Is God Anti-Gay?—addressing the Church of England General Synod in London recently.
  • Love is Not a Secondary Matter. Steven Lawson writes “It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the importance of love. Nothing is more basic to true spirituality than this singular virtue. Nothing is more central to Christian living. At the very heart of authentic discipleship is love. Without love, we are nothing.”

A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO CURRENT CULTURE:

  • Scandalized by the Substitute: A Response to Young and Gungor. Owen Strachan responds to musician Michael Gungor who called the atonement “evil” and “horrific” on Twitter and Paul Young, author of The Shack, who calls God a “cosmic abuser”.
  • A Teenage Girl’s Response to Teen Vogue’s “Post-Abortion Gift Guide”. Randy Alcorn writes “I encourage you to watch this powerful video response from 16-year-old Autumn Lindsey. She is part of the target demographic for Teen Vogue.”
  • As a Christian, I Favor National Security AND Refugee Care. Scott Sauls writes “Mr. President, we commend and support you for prioritizing our safety and protection in such volatile times. We can only imagine the burden that this must be, and you carry it in ways that nobody else does. And yet we similarly plead with you, sir—on behalf of the millions of souls who are most at risk—that we not turn away the vetted and vulnerable refugee. While charity may start at home, it must never end there, especially in this country of ours that we call the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let’s champion freedom, sir. And, for the love of God, let’s be brave.”
  • Flipping Sides on Roe v Wade: Norma McCorvey’s Repentance. Clint Archer writes “The dramatic 180 degree turn of attitudes and behavior provides an apt illustration of the nature of repentance. Biblical repentance is a change of mind and the necessary difference in behavior that accompanies it.”
  • Same-Sex Attraction. The White Horse Inn writes “What should we think about the issue of same-sex attraction? Is it essentially the same as being gay? How does the issue of sexual preference relate to our identity as Christians, and how are we to talk about our differences with others in a world that is increasingly accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage? Michael Horton discusses these issues and more with Sam Allberry, author of Is God Anti-Gay? on this episode of the White Horse Inn.”
  • What the Transgender Debate Means for the Church. Russell Moore writes “We Christians believe that all of us are sinners, and that none of us are freaks. We conclude that all of us are called to repentance, and part of what repentance means is to receive the gender with which God created us, even when that’s difficult. We must affirm that God loves all persons, and that the gospel is good news for repentant prodigal sons and daughters, including for those who have trouble figuring out which is which.”
  • Why the Transgender Debate Is About Redefining Reality. Joe Carter writes “If you want to change a society, you merely need to get the public to shift an idea from the category of “unthinkable” to “policy.” You’ll know you’ve been successful when the formerly unthinkable has become public school policy.”
  • The Two Things We Must Say About the Transgender Debate. Kevin DeYoung writes “The Christian response to the transgender debate depends on whether we are talking about the debate or about a transgender person. I understand the two cannot be completely divorced, but they are not the same thing either.”
  • David Platt’s Guide to Navigating Unprecedented Social Change. Collin Hansen writes “With the re-release of Counter Culture, and in our context of tremendous racial and political turmoil, Davd Platt joins him on The Gospel Coalition Podcast to discuss our era’s rapid pace of social change, churches that care as much about slavery as marriage, and the implications of our behavior for international missions.

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