Around the Interweb

Revival is Always Christ-Centered

Jared Wilson:

It is the Spirit’s raison d’etre to shine the light on Christ. The Spirit is often called the “shy” Person of the Trinity because of this. He is content — no, zealous – to minister to the Church the Father’s blessings in the gospel of Jesus. He quickens us to desire Christ, illuminates the Scripture’s revelation of Christ, empowers us to receive Christ, and imparts Christ to us even in his own indwelling. For this reason, then, any church or movement’s claim of revival better have exaltation of Christ at its center, or it is not genuine revival.

Also Worth Reading

Attitudes: How To Disagree Online Without Being A Total Jerk

Learning from Criticism: Kevin DeYoung offers a helpful critique of this week’s super-popular “Jesus vs. Religion” video and Jeff Bethke’s response is a wonderful model of how to accept correction with humility.

Christian Culture: The Elephant Room as a Snapshot of Contemporary Evangelicalism

Interview: Darryl Dash interviews Daniel Darling about his Friday Five series

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Critics, Criticism and Character

The Fruit of Repentance (an excerpt from Awaiting a Savior)

Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski

Kindle Deals for the Christian Reader (January)

The Pursuit of Excellence and the Character of God

John Owen: Who Was This Word?

Octavius Winslow: In What Way Has God Hallowed His Name?

Around the Interweb

A Forgotten Text?

Carl Trueman:

”I have often in the past stood with those who laughed at what we regarded as the ignorant, unsophisticated taboos of the older generation.  But now I worry about the ease with which the rising generation talks explicitly of ‘the fruitless deeds of darkness’ in the name of cultural engagement, fear of being thought passé or simply a desire to slough off the legalisms of their fathers in the faith.”

Read the rest.

Seven Daily Sins

Check out new Lifeway study by Jared C. Wilson:

[tentblogger-youtube tdQwScG6zeg]

Also Worth Reading

Writing: Can You Write a Better Headline Than This? Not Using Old Headline Formulas You Can’t

Commentary: The Next Billy Graham Might Be Drunk Right Now

Fundraising: The power of YES in fundraising

Reading: Biographies Are Good for the Soul!

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A Personal Evaluation of 2011

Book Review: Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian

Marriage, Mystery and the Gospel in Real Marriage

Why I’m Not Using a Reading Plan in 2012

John Murray: The Twofold Demand of the Law

Octavius Winslow: What Injustice Have We Done Him!

Stephen King: Want to Be a Writer? Then You Have to Be a Reader

December’s Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Around the Interweb

Small Changes With Big Results Next Year

Stephen Altrogge:

There is something about goal setting that gets me fired up and excited. Maybe it’s the prospect of doing something awesome in the upcoming year, like running a marathon, or reading through the entire Bible, or finally writing that book I’ve been thinking about. Or maybe it’s the prospect of finally kicking those bad habits I have, like getting up too late, or regularly eating things that will probably shorten my life in the long run. I like to set big goals that will challenge me.

But in the last couple of years I’ve started to notice something about myself: Small goals coupled with faithfulness produce the biggest results.

Read the rest.

“Sound theology has a way of doing that!”

Also Worth Reading

Preachers: Al Mohler on Mark Driscoll

Books: Christianity Today’s 2012 Book Awards

Ministry: Answering Questions People Actually Ask

Free Stuff: Christian Audio’s free book of the month is Knowing God by J.I. Packer. Get this!

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book reviews:

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll

You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

Three Things I’d Like to See in the Christian Blogosphere in 2012

Joel Beeke: Were the Puritans Prudes?

The Top 10 Posts of 2011

12 Books I Want to Read in 2012 (and Think You Should, Too)

Three More Books I’ll Be Reading in 2012

Octavius Winslow: Christ, the Procurer and Giver of Peace

Around the Interweb

“Christopher Hitchens Might Be in Heaven”

Bestselling author and vocal atheist Christopher Hitchens died on Thursday, December 15. Many (many) have written brief statements on his death, but most thought-provoking has been that of Russell Moore:

Hitchens expected this moment, of course, but he anticipated, wrongly, a blackness, a going out of consciousness forever. Many Christians today are sadly remarking on what it is like for Christopher Hitchens to be now opening his eyes in hell.

We might be wrong.

The Christian impulse here is exactly right. After all, Jesus and his apostles assured us that there is no salvation apart from union with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, a union entered into by faith. And Hitchens not only rejected that gospel, he ridiculed it, along with the very notion of anything beyond the natural order. The Christian Scriptures are clear: there is a narrow window in which we must be saved, the time of this present life, and after this there is only judgment (2 Cor. 6:1-2; Heb. 9:27).

But I’m not sure Christopher Hitchens is in hell right now. It’s not because I believe there’s a “second chance” after death for salvation (I don’t). It’s not because I don’t believe in hell or in God’s judgment (I do). It’s because of a sermon I heard years ago that haunts me to this day, reminding me of the sometimes surprising persistence of the gospel…

Read the rest.

“I think a fundamentalist simply means someone who takes the Bible seriously”—Christopher Hitchens

Whatever your opinion of the late Mr. Hitchens, one thing is certain—he knew what he was denying. I found this interview with self-professed liberal Christian Marilyn Sewell fascinating:

[tentblogger-youtube A7lPoGO7y8k]

Also Worth Reading

In Memorium: One more on Hitchens, this from his sparring partner, Douglas Wilson.

Giveaways: Over on Facebook, the Resurgence and Logos are giving away a preloaded iPad 2 to kick off the Real Marriage Tour.

Christian Life: Chris Poblete writes, “Whether He goes acknowledged or not, we are still dependent on God.

Christmas Sales: The fine folks at Vyrso are in the midst of their 12 Days of Vyrso sale—there are a number of terrific one-day sales going on, so be sure to check them out.

Prayer Requests: Please pray for R.C. Sproul Jr.’s wife who is gravely ill.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Review: Welcome to the Story by Stephen J. Nichols

Kindle Deals for the Christian Reader

My Favorite Books of 2011

Octavius Winslow: “What a Precious Counselor is Christ

J. Gresham Machen: No Advocate of Undogmatic Religion

Jesus, The Bible and You by Dave Jenkins

Book Review: Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by ND Wilson

Around the Interweb

What’s Next for New York Churches

John Starke, who pastors a church affected by the New York City’s recent decision to no longer allow churches to meet in public schools, shares about the situation:

Surely New York’s ban reflects the intolerance of a tolerant society, as D. A. Carson has said somewhere. “It’s ironic,” one Brooklyn city official commented at Thursday’s press conference, “that the Klu Klux Klan can meet freely in public schools, but churches, who were the backbone of the civil rights movement, are not allowed.”

“Some people are afraid of what our children will be pressured into thinking if they see churches meeting in our schools,” another city official said. “My fear is what they will think when they see that anyone can meet in public schools except churches!”

The city’s decision provides further evidence that our pluralistic society seeks to banish religion and truth from the public square to the private sphere. As Leslie Newbigin once observed, this ideal they seek would eliminate all ideals. Any society attempting to explain the world as something without ultimate truths commits itself to a reality without purpose…

Read the rest and please pray for the more than 60 churches that are affected by this decision.

Also Worth Reading

Reviving Christian Journalism: Read Telling the Truth by Martin Olasky free at (HT: Justin Taylor)

Giveaway: Vyrso is giving away a 24-volume digital collection of John Piper’s books!

Christmas eBook Sale: From Dec. 8 through Dec. 20, Cruciform Press has put the following titles on sale:

Christian Living: How to Apply Scripture When It Does Not Speak Directly and Personally to You

Church: Revolutionary Ageism and the Church

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A Readers Guide to the Inspiration of Scripture

I’m Giving You a Library for Christmas!

Branch Out! Three Reasons to Diversify Your Reading in 2012

Octavius Winslow: The Wonder of the Universe

A Biblical Battle Plan for Faithful Street Ministry by Cory McKenna

Joel Beeke: “Holiness Calls for Continual Commitment

3 Reasons to Get Lovers on the Edges of the Twilight by Michael Krahn

Around the Interweb

Tim Tebow Uses Words At All Times Because They’re Necessary

Great post from Jared Wilson on the recent advice that Tim Tebow’s been getting of late to stop talking about Jesus so much:

There are a few problems with this advice:

  1. It assumes Tim isn’t already “being a good person.”
  2. It assumes one can simply imply the gospel with actions and it be understood.
  3. It assumes that the gospel isn’t offensive, really, but is made so through verbalizing it too much.

All of those assumptions are incorrect. Clearly for Tebow . . . speaking the gospel and demonstrating its implications is not an either/or proposition. He rightly understands you cannot do one without the other.

Read the whole thing.

Also Worth Reading 

Ministry: Tim Suttle on how to shrink your church (very thought provoking post)

Ministry (again): 7 Ways Satan Tries to Destroy a Church

Giveaways: Logos has teamed up with Mark Driscoll to give away a Logos 4 Scholars’ Library. Details are at the link!

Free Stuff: Christian Audio is giving away two free audiobooks this month: From Pearl Harbor to Calvary and A Christmas Carol

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

5 Biblical Names We Won’t Be Using For Our Next Child

Inerrancy and Infallibility: What’s the Difference?

All It Took Was A Question

Book Review: Getting Back in the Race by Joel R. Beeke

A Scriptural Formula For Holy Living

Joel Beeke: Seek Holiness in Christ, Not in Your Experiences of Him

Octavius Winslow: Immanuel: God With Us

The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically in November

5 Biblical Names We Won’t Be Using For Our Next Child

A few weeks back, I shared that Emily and I are expecting our third child. Last Thursday (November 24), we learned a couple of new details: one, the baby is due March 19th (the day after our oldest’s birthday!) and two, the baby is a boy!

With each of our children to this point, we’ve had an… interesting time trying to agree upon a name. With Abigail, we spent weeks going back and forth before deciding on her name (looking at both name meaning and, if they appear in Scripture, who the biblical example is). With Hannah, we were inspired by John 1:16, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

But with this one, we’re not really sure what to go with. We’ve started batting around ideas (none of which we’ll be making public until his birth—we’ve got to keep something a surprise, yeah?), but have mostly agreed upon what we don’t like. No nouns, verbs or adjectives; nothing ethnically inappropriate; and nothing that’s guaranteed to get him beaten up daily at school.

One of the places we’ve naturally looked to to find ideas for names is the Bible, something not uncommon for Christian parents. While there are some pretty awesome names within its pages, there are quite a few that are just a terrible idea to ever name your child. Here are the top five that we’ve found so far that we won’t be using for our next child:

1. Mahlon. One of Naomi’s sons (see Ruth 1:2). His name means “Sick”—probably not a good idea to saddle a kid with that one. Speaking of Naomi’s kids…

2. Chilion. Naomi’s other son (Ruth 1:2). His name is equally cheery—it means “wasting away” or, even more simply, “dying.” One thing’s for sure with those names: The therapy bills will be through the roof.

3. Diklah. It may mean “palm grove,” but it sure doesn’t sound like “palm grove.”

4. Phinehas. Aaron’s grandson might have a “mouth of brass,” but phonetically this name sounds a bit too close to having a shiny rear-end.

5. Shearjashub. The symbolic name of Isaiah’s son (cf. Isa. 7:3) means “a remnant shall return.” It also means homeschooling is the only option for this kid.

So those are a few of the names we’ve found that we won’t be naming our next baby. If you’ve got any suggestions on what we might want to consider, let me know!

Around the Interweb

The devil’s playbook

Ray Ortlund suggests four ways that the devil seeks to defeat Christians. Here’s number three:

A spirit of accusation. In Revelation 12:10 the devil is exposed as “the accuser.” Another of his designs is to pierce our hearts with accusing thoughts about our sins – or even sins we haven’t necessarily committed, but we fear we have, or others say we have. He spreads a mist of vague anxiety within ourselves and dark suspicion of others. How to defeat this defeat? Run to the cross for all our sins, and refuse to counter-accuse against our accusers. A calm explanation might help at the interpersonal level. But if the negative emotions are really intense, the only thing to do is not make the feeding-frenzy worse. Wait on God to vindicate you.

Read the whole thing.

Also Worth Reading:

Life and Grace: The Root Of All Sin

School: Vote for Mark Lamphrecht to win a blogging scholarship.

Ministry: Preaching Texts You Do Not Understand

Contest: Logos is giving away $250 of store credit—five winners will be selected, so enter now.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Review: Earthen Vessels by Matthew Lee Anderson

Christmas Shopping for the Bible Guy (and Gal)!

Three Things You Can Do When You’re Reading a Bad Book

The Gift Before the Demand—my sermon notes from November 20th’s message at Tree of Life Church in Smithville, Ontario.

Richard Sibbes: “Nothing So Little as Grace at First

Peter Jensen: “The Bible is a Strange Book

Dave Jenkins on Inerrancy, the Church and the Cults

Around the Interweb

Why Do We Love C.S. Lewis and Hate Rob Bell?

C. Michael Patton offers this insightful article:

First of all, no one hates Rob Bell (or at least they should not). But, speaking for myself, I am very comfortable handing out C.S. Lewis books by the dozens while I don’t keep a stock of Bell books on hand. There is not a book that Lewis wrote that I don’t encourage people to read and grow from. Even A Grief Observed, where Lewis attempts to retain his faith in God, questioning everything, in the middle of the crucible of doubt and pain, is one of my favorite books to give to people who are hurting. But I doubt I would ever recommend one of Bell’s works to establish someone in the faith. In fact, I might only recommend them for people to see “the other side.” Let me put it this way (and I must be very careful here): While I fully embrace and endorse the ministry of C.S. Lewis, I do not endorse or embrace the ministry of Rob Bell.

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth your time.

Also Worth Reading

Themelios: The new issue of Themelios is available at The Gospel Coalition

Generosity: A PLAN for Giving Generously

Life: Only Trusting In God Can Keep Me From Freaking Out

Funny: Tim Hawkins is always good for a laugh—

[tentblogger-youtube ey_IL57a-b0]

Life and Technology: Are You an Internet Busy-Body?

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Inerrancy, Inspiration and Authority: A Clearing of the Throat

Inerrancy, Inspiration and the Character of God

5 Ways to Get Attention in the Christian Blogosphere

Awaiting a Savior: Review Round-up 3

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

Richard Sibbes: A Holy Despair in Ourselves is the Ground of True Hope

Christmas Shopping for the Bible Guy (and Gal)!

Around the Interweb

Putting Unity First

Tim Challies offers an article that’s well worth reading:

Today it seems that unity, and especially unity from one group of professed Christians to another, often comes at the cost of theology. In his masterpieceEvangelicalism Divided Iain Murray says “The ecumenical call [in the mid-20th century] was not for truth and salt; it was supremely for oneness: the greater the unity of ‘the Church’, it was confidently asserted, the stronger would be the impression made upon the world; and to attain that end churches should be inclusive and tolerant. But it has never been by putting unity first that the church has changed the world. At no point in church history has the mere unity of numbers ever made a transforming spiritual impression upon others. On the contrary, it was the very period known as ‘the dark ages’ that the Papacy could claim her greatest unity in western Europe.”

Read the rest.

Who Wrote the Gospels?

Excellent video featuring Dr. Michael Kruger, Associate Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary and co-author of The Heresy of Orthodoxy:

[tentblogger-youtube V2kRn6y_qOE]

Also Worth Reading:

Christian Living: Joel R. Beeke on Getting Back into the Race

Preaching: Storytelling and Preaching: Not the Same

Current Events: Penn State and The Danger of Insular Communities

Mission: Trevin Wax offers 5 nagging questions about DeYoung & Gilbert’s “Mission of the Church”. Kevin DeYoung & Greg Gilbert offer a friendly response and flesh out the last point with one more post.

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Does it Matter if Paul Didn’t Write the Pastoral Epistles?

Book Review: Gospel Wakefulness by Jared C. Wilson

What’s On Your To-Read Pile?

Richard Seebes: Is There More Mercy in the Stream Than in the Spring?

When Men Counsel Women (video)

Choosing a New Preaching Bible

Christian Scholars in the Secular Academy (video)

The Inauguration of a New Form of Life

Consider Your Ways

Choosing a New Preaching Bible

Roughly four years ago, I purchased my first ESV Bible. It was one of the Thinline editions, with a black spine and brown front face. I read from that Bible on a daily basis, taught through Mark’s gospel with it in our home group, took it on vacations and preached my first sermon with it.

After four years, my Bible had started to look pretty beat up, the way God intended—lots of underlining, crinkled pages and what may or may not have been some minor water damage. It was well read and well loved, to be sure (even if some pages were hard to make out because of all the underlining).

About two weeks ago, I realized that my preaching Bible had disappeared. Somewhere between church, work and home I managed to lose it… which means that it’ll turn up as soon as I buy a new one. It’s funny, though, I didn’t expect that I’d miss that Bible, the way that I do. Not in a creepy, idolatrous way, mind you—there are just a lot of fond memories associated with it.

Anyway, after several days of hunting through the house, I’ve finally given up and resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to have to purchase a new preaching Bible and study Bibles just aren’t practical for the pulpit or lectern (although I could hide my notes completely in one…).

Since I’m scheduled to preach at a friend’s church next weekend (November 20), I’ve got to get moving on this. I think I’ve narrowed it down to three options:

1. The ESV Thinline Bible which I’ve used for years already

2. The ESV Classic Reference Bible which features a reference column in the center of each page

3. The ESV Value Thinline Bible which purports to have most of the same features as the original Thinline but is going for around $10.

I’m kind of leaning toward the value Thinline because of it’s affordability, and we are striving to be very budget conscious in the Armstrong household. That said, I’d definitely appreciate hearing from the preachers out there—what are you using in the pulpit? What do you like about your preaching Bible and what kind would you recommend to another preacher?

Around the Interweb

The “Juice” Of Christianity

Mark Altrogge interacts with a quote from Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs:

The “juice” of Christianity is not living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it.  This is a works mentality. This is what “I” have to do to get to heaven.  I have to live a good life.  I have to see what is right and good and important and do it.  Then I get to go to heaven.  If this is the case, then Jobs is right – all the “different religions are different doors to the same house” because every other religion in the world teaches that we get into God’s house by living good lives.

Read the whole thing.

The End of Poverty and the Hope of Glory

My latest article, an overview of Awaiting a Savior, is up at the Gospel Coalition blog:

If you shouldn’t discuss politics and religion in polite company, no wonder it’s often hard to talk about poverty and social justice, even with other believers. But this isn’t a subject Christians can avoid. The Bible is explicit about our responsibilities to care for those in need. So what do those commands mean in practice, and how do we obey them to the glory of God?

I believe there are things we can do to serve the poor, that God will give us grace to do them, and that he will take pleasure in our efforts—where we succeed and where we fail. It begins with understanding the true nature of poverty.

Read the whole thing. (If you haven’t had a chance to order a copy, you can get one here.)

Also Worth Reading

Free Audio: This month’s free audiobook at is The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun.

The Occupy Movement & Christian Ministry: Does Calgary’s administration have a bias against Christian street ministers? Certainly seems so, based on how they’re handling the “occupiers” in Calgary’s Olympic Plaza.

The Occupy Movement & Christian Theology: What Hath Westminster to Do With Wall Street (And Its Occupiers)?

Marriage: Why the World Is Wrong about Marriage

Interview: Good Reading: A Conversation with Tony Reinke

In Case You Missed It:

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Reviews—

(Cheap) Christian e-Books for Your Kindle!

Richard Seebes: It is No Easy Matter to Bring a Man From Nature to Grace

Mark Up, Mess Up, Beat Up Your Books

The Role of Prayer and Serving the City

Joel Beeke: Sanctification is Rooted in the Essence of God

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from October. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  2. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  3. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  4. His Name was Smeagol
  5. Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell
  6. Book Review: Innocent Blood by John Ensor
  7. Union with Christ and the Provision of the Spirit
  8. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  9. (Cheap) Christian E-Books for Your Kindle!
  10. Do Not Expect Peace Before The Prince of Peace Returns

And just for fun, here’s the next ten:

  1. Who Writes This?
  2. The Terrible Danger of Trusting Your Faith, but Not Jesus
  3. Bringing Back a Sense of Balance
  4. Book Review: Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
  5. Love is the Grand Secret of True Obedience
  6. Book Reviews
  7. Book Review: Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland
  8. Book Review: The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips
  9. Everyday Theology
  10. Faith and Grace: Tullian Tchividjian #T4ACon

Continuing to see the usual mix of most-read posts in the top five; glad to see new material filling out most of the bottom five (and next ten). Blogging at Together for Adoption was a great time a couple weeks back and gave me a whole whack of new books to read from Tim Chester (there are four on my pile right now). I’m extremely thankful for fellow Cruciform author Nate Palmer lend a hand this month and write about the importance of Christ’s Ascension (something that we have a great tendency to overlook). I also love how you all seem to share my love for the saints of old; the strength of their work is a true testimony to the timelessness of glorious gospel truth. I hope you’ll take some time to dig around these posts and that you’ll find the content helpful!

That’s enough from me—now it’s your turn: If you have a blog, what were a couple of the highlights for you in the past month?

Around the Interweb

War and Peace

Christianity Today talks to Tullian Tchividjian about the fallout from the Coral Ridge/New City merger and his new book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything:

What was your initial reaction to the resistance?

Well, we expected it. But it’s one thing to talk about war and another to be a soldier on the ground when the bullets are flying. It was hard. It was the first time in my life where I was leading a church where I knew many people didn’t like me. . . . It was tremendously uncomfortable coming to worship every Sunday morning during that time not knowing who liked you and who hated you. There were people in the choir who, when I would stand up to preach, would get up and walk out. People would sit in the front row and just stare me down as I preached. It was extremely uncomfortable. People would grab me in the hallway between services and say, “You’re ruining this church, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop you.” I would come out to my car and it would be keyed. Some people would stop at nothing to intimidate.

They put petitions on car windows during the worship service. They started an anonymous blog, which was very painful. Here we were trying to build consensus and there’s this anonymous blog fueling rumors and lies. The blog almost ruined my wife’s life. Anonymous letters were sent out to the entire congregation with accusations and character assassinations. It was absolutely terrible

Read the rest at CT.

Also Worth Reading

Theology: What Sola Scriptura Does NOT Mean

Ministry: Brothers, We Are Not Gate Agents

Free Audio: Ligonier is offering the audio narration of Dr. Sproul’s new children’s book, The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, as a free download through October 31st.

Interview: Daniel Darling and I discuss my new book

Writing: Barnabas Piper offers a word to pastors who want to write books

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A Spiritual Health Diagnostic

“What’s Your Model?”

J.C. Ryle: The Second Coming Will Be As Different As Possible From The First

Book Review: Ronnie Wilson’s Gift by Francis Chan

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Terrible Danger of Trusting Your Faith, but Not Jesus

The #T4ACon Roundup

Union with Christ and the Provision of the Spirit by Nate Palmer

Joel R. Beeke: The Enormous Cost of Grace