Theology for real life
We just wrapped up a fantastic week enjoying the sites and visiting friends in Nashville. Here are a few things we loved about our visit:
Our first morning in town, we visited Immanuel Church, where Ray Ortlund serves as the pastor. We loved spending the morning there and meeting a whole bunch of folks (it was funny how most people assumed we were moving to town rather than visiting). What I most loved about the morning was the way Ortlund employed William Bridge’s Exodus 34 liturgy to engage the congregation and remind us of the truth of God’s character and our confidence in Christ.
We’ve been to story times at libraries before, but we were shocked to see the production at the Nashville Public Library. They put on an amazing show for the kids, the type you’d normally expect to pay for. Library Pete and Mary Mary clearly have a lot of fun.
Beyond the story times, the downtown library itself is gorgeous. It was terrific to roam around there.
Emily’d never tried the fabled Chick-Fil-A before our visit on Monday. She’d long heard me going on about how delightful it is and she kept thinking, “Really? It’s a chicken sandwich.” She had something like a McDonald’s chicken sandwich in mind—and when she took the first bite, her response was telling:
“This – is – good.”
Turns out I didn’t oversell it.
Wednesday we spent time a lot of time at LifeWay and with the great folks who work there. Really enjoyed meeting Michael Kelley in person for the first time (shame we didn’t have longer). Having lunch with Trevin, Micah, Jonathan and Matt was a real treat and they were incredibly hospitable (especially since we had our three kids with us). We also got to spend time with Matt and his lovely family before we left town. Our girls were happy to make a Nashville friend.
Side note: While we were away, I read Trevin’s soon-to-be-released fiction book, Clear Winter Nights. I’ll tell you more about it later.
One of the coolest things at LifeWay is found in their library—they’ve got a display cabinet showcasing a number of extremely old Bibles, including a reproduction of the Gutenberg Bible and the Gun Wad Bible, the first Bible printed in America on American made paper. As the story goes, the reason it’s called the Gun Wad Bible is because it was used as cartridge paper during the American Revolution.
One of the things that amazed us most during our stay was how we didn’t get the sense we were burdening society by being outdoors with our three kids. People smiled and talked to them and generally made us feel welcome wherever we were with them. This was a really nice change because, although it doesn’t always happen, we sometimes get the sense our presence is offensive to others here in London (usually at a store).
Those are just a few of the things we loved about our vacation. I could probably list a ton more, like my daughter discovering she likes comic books, our trip to the Frist Center for the Arts, visiting the Parthenon in Centennial Park, Hudson getting his land legs…
In fact, aside from some issues with our hotel and our car having a bit of surprise repair work (and if you’re in the area, go to Antioch Auto Center!), it was a practically perfect vacation.
We’re glad to be home and looking forward to getting back into the normal routine, but we’re already looking forward to when we get to go back. Nashville, consider yourself warned.
(via Go Comics)
Recently a new friend, Stephen McCaskell, contacted me about being part of a documentary about the life and legacy of Charles Spurgeon. Spurgeon has long been one of my heroes in the faith, so the opportunity to be a part of a project like this intrigued me from the get go. Together with Adrian Warnock, we set about plans to make a crowd-sourced film, Through the Eyes of Spurgeon. Soon a fourth party joined our merry band, Matt Pennings of Red Rubber Studio, and we’ve just recently launched a support page on Indiegogo.com.
Yep, we’re crowd-funding a movie.
Here’s a short video featuring Adrian with the details:
“This child will one day preach the gospel, and he will preach it to great multitudes…”
Did Richard Knill have any idea how God would bring these words to life when he spoke them over a young Charles Haddon Spurgeon?
During his lifetime, Spurgeon did indeed preach to great multitudes. He faithfully made known the great truths of the gospel to millions of men and women in his ministry—and he continues to do so today, more than a century after his death.
Spurgeon has much to teach us through his great successes—and also through the hardships of his life. No stranger to physical illness and crushing depression, Spurgeon’s handling of great suffering has been an encouragement to many. Pastor John Piper once said during a difficult time in his own ministry, “I have turned to Charles Spurgeon in these days, and I have been helped.”
This is the legacy we want to share with you in our documentary, Through the Eyes of C.H. Spurgeon.
Together with video production company Red Rubber Studios, we’re telling the story of how one man’s faithful ministry continues to bless believers the world over to this very day—a story of lives changed by the gospel and a legacy of faith that all of us involved in this film want to see emulated in the lives of every Christian.
We’re asking you to help support the making of this film because we believe Spurgeon’s life and legacy have much to say to believers in our day. With your with your financial support and your prayers, you can help make this film a reality.
One of the best—albeit more peculiarly expressed—pieces of advice Douglas Wilson gives to writers in Wordsmithy: Hot Tips for the Writing Life is diversify:
Stretch before your routines. If you want to write Italian sonnets, try to write some short stories. If you want to write a few essays, write a novel, or maybe a novella if you are pressed for time. If you want to write haiku, then limber up with opinion pieces for The Washington Post.
(Read more of Wilson’s advice to writers here.)
Wilson’s point is well-taken. If you want to keep sharp, it’s wise to write something different. We writer types can become complacent and lazy—we can pretty easily get into a nice routine (or rut, depending on your point of view), shift into autopilot and write basically the same thing, over and over again.
Recently, I’ve seen some of very fine folks trying to stretch themselves, and it’s a wonderful thing, indeed. My friend Trevin Wax is writing a fiction book (which I’m pretty excited to read when it’s out). And then there’s my online pal Stephen Altrogge, who is cranking out really fun material like crazy these days!
If you’ve read his blog or his major release books, you probably know he’s really funny. Not that “I’m trying to be funny” kind of funny that’s not really funny at all; he’s got a very natural sense of humor and timing that shines through in his work. (For this, I am jealous.)
But in seeing the material he’s been self-publishing of late—The Last Superhero, and serial meta-spy-adventure novel Escaping My Story (parts one and two are now available and are really good!)—you can see he’s really trying to take this call to diversify seriously.
He wants to get better at his craft. This is something more of us need to take seriously, especially me.
A while back I made reference to writing a couple of kid’s books for my wife to illustrate. So far they’re coming along really well.
I have to be honest, though: it’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. Trying to tell a complete story in 1500 words or less with compelling characters is a really challenge. It’s given me a new appreciation for the books we read to our girls on a daily basis. There’s so much work that goes into keeping the story tight alone that I didn’t even consider when I first started working on it.
Although it’s a bit tangential, at work, I’ve got another challenge: adopting a new style guide to keep all our writers consistent. For those of us who’ve been there longer than our new staff, it’s a real challenge at times because we’ve gotten into certain habits or are just used to going on gut and preference.
But formalizing these things is another good challenge. It’s been forcing me consider word use, punctuation, grammatical issues so much more that I’ve been really lax on. This is a good kind of challenge as well—one that’s getting me thinking about the mechanics of what I’m writing, not just the content.
The point is this: Writers, whether we’re writers of books or blogs, we need to diversify. We need to be willing to try different things, regardless of whether or not they see the light of day and regardless of whether we succeed or fail. In the end, our writing will get better and we might even have some fun in the process.
Readers of this blog know I read a lot and consequently write a lot of book reviews (around 48 per year). Figuring out how to archive and present them all has been an ongoing challenge.
A couple years ago, I created a new page for reviews that brought a lot of order to the site… but it quickly became a bit clunky and time-consuming to update. Everything—and I do mean everything—had to be added to a table manually and after a while, I just couldn’t keep up. I needed something that could be more or less left alone (beyond some initial category updating) but keep everything up-to-date.
After much searching, I finally found a plugin for WordPress that lets me do what I want, and voila!
The new page features nine titles per screen of clickable (and mobile friendly!) images showing you every book review on the site, starting with the most recent. Simply click the image and you’re set!
The new version of the reviews page is still a work in progress, but I’d love your feedback. What works? What doesn’t? Is there anything you’d like to see done differently?
In the meantime, head on over to the new book review page and start reading!
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