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 ChristianAudio.com 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

Is Higher Education Still Worth the Cost?

One of the big concerns I have whenever anyone asks me about the possibility of seminary is the cost. Realistically, pastoral ministry is not a terribly well-paying job and seminary is crazy expensive. I’ve also known a number of people gone through school for degrees in English, History and social sciences who’ve ended up slinging coffee at Starbucks (which I’m not knocking—if I lose my job, it’s the first place I’m applying).

So does higher education still matter? Is the cost still worth it given the state of the economy?

While the jobs that have been disappearing first in the new economic climate have been those not requiring a college degree, Dr. Phil Ryken addresses some of the other values of higher education, particularly the benefits of Christ-centered instruction modeled at his and other like-minded Christian colleges.

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HT: TGC

The #T4ACon Roundup

This past weekend saw a flurry of activity as I spent a few days in Phoenix, AZ, live blogging the Together for Adoption conference. So, in case you missed any of them, here’s a list of my posts from Together for Adoption:

Pre-Con Special Event with Tim Chester—Missional Church, Missional God, Missional Story:

Session 1 | Session 2 | Session 3

Main Sessions:

Extras:

My friend Steve McCoy has also done a great job of compiling a list of all the posts from the T4A featured bloggers.

Glad to have been a part of this event. Hope you find the posts helpful!

Around the Interweb

The NINES: Jared Wilson on Preaching

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Also Worth Reading

Studying Other Religions: Kevin DeYoung offers a helpful piece on the basic history and doctrines of Mormonism. A good resource to help you better understand this Mormonism Explained: What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice by Andrew Jackson (Crossway’s also posted an excerpt from the book on their blog).

Reading: Over at Crossway’s blog, Tony Reinke answers the question, “How do you prioritize what you read?

Lone Wolfing: David Murray offers some good pastoral implications from recent articles describing Obama as the loner President.

Conference: Desiring God has announced the 2012 Conference for Pastors: God, Manhood & Ministry—Building Men for the Body of Christ. The conference will feature Darrin Patrick, Doug Wilson and several others discussing the importance of biblical manhood. Here’s Piper’s video invitation:

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In Case You Missed It

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

A Sign That Some Purging is in Order

Video: Don’t Be More Gospel-Centered Than Jesus

Bringing Back a Sense of Balance by Nate Palmer

Book Review: The Sacred Acre by Mark Tabb

3 Things I’m Looking Forward To About Our New Small Group

J.C. Ryle: Do Not Expect Peace Before The Prince of Peace Returns

Joel Beeke: Chosen to Holiness

Bloodlines: Racism in the 1960s American South—really appreciated this documentary that accompanies John Piper’s new book, Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian.

A Sign That Some Purging is in Order

The other day, a friend from my Friday morning men’s group gave us two bookshelves. This was a wonderful gift to us as we’ve been wanting to get some new shelves that are a bit sturdier than the ones we’ve had since our college days. Well, Thursday night after we secured them to the wall (Hannah would no doubt wind up pulling the things down on top of herself if we didn’t), I took the three boxes of books that had been sitting in the living room since we moved and put them on. Here’s the result:

Nine shelves out of 14—Full. And a solid half dozen boxes that are still waiting to be delivered to our house. Oh my…

(Good thing we didn’t get rid of the old shelves.)

Could it be that a purging is in order? Stay tuned…

Around the Interweb

How to Prepare for Hell – A “Just in Case” Letter to My Unbelieving Friends

Michael Patton offers a very thought-provoking and challenging letter to his unbelieving friends:

Now, I know what you are thinking. Don’t quit reading though. Hear me out. I am notnecessarily trying to evangelize you or make you love Jesus. I am trying to tell you how to prepare for hell. Just give me some slack here. Though what I am offering to you is still as far from heaven as the east is from the west, it may do some good. Though you do not believe in heaven or hell, you have to admit: you could be wrong. Yes, I admit, I could be wrong too. But if I am wrong, what awaits me? Eternal darkness? Nothingness? Fine and good. However, if you are wrong, something terrible is coming. I can’t prepare for nothingness. You can prepare for Hell. This is a “just in case you are wrong” letter.

You would do well to read it in its entirety; it’s excellent stuff.

Also Worth Reading

Elephant Room: James MacDonald—”Humble Pie—A HEARTY Meal

Ministry: Thinking Through Your Church’s Mercy Ministry

Interview: Darryl Dash interviews Dave Kraft, author of Leaders Who Last. Here’s the audio: :

Video: This is just awesome—

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Free Stuff: This month’s free audio book at ChristianAudio.com is Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper (the Kindle edition is $2.99, if you’re a fan of cheap eBooks).

In Case You Missed It

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

Book Reviews:

A few highlights from week one of the Awaiting a Savior blog tour

More Than a Footnote (a guest post by Nate Palmer)

J.C. Ryle: Let Us Watch and Be On Our Guard

A.W. Pink: Sovereignly Placed Upon a Conditional Footing

(Cheap) Christian E-Books for Your Kindle!

Around the Interweb

MacDonald, Jakes & the Elephant in the Room

Tim Challies offers a terrific response to the hubbub surrounding James MacDonald’s curious decision to invite T.D. Jakes to the upcoming Elephant Room event:

Just yesterday MacDonald wrote, “I am excited to welcome Bishop Jakes to the Elephant Room and hear him articulate his own convictions on this and other essential matters.” As I think about round 2 of the Elephant Room, here is what I want to know: Will T.D. Jakes be challenged very specifically on what he believes about the Trinity? Will this be the elephant in the room when he sits there with MacDonald and whoever else? Will these men be willing to ask him very difficult, very nuanced, very penetrating questions? And if he finally says, “Yes, I am a modalist” will they then be willing to tell him, “You are a heretic; you are not a Christian”? If he proves himself to be a modalist, will MacDonald then remove him from the event? Will all of this happen not to burn him at the stake, but for the sake of his own soul and for the sake of those who follow him? Souls are at stake here!

Read the rest.


The “Religious People” Boogeyman

Jared Wilson offers this interesting piece on another person whose actions have been causing a stink recently—Perry Noble:

Pastors who invoke the “religious people” boogeyman are really just trying to offend people outside their church. This might be good for laughs and applause, good red meat for the congregation, good for camaraderie, but it is also profoundly stupid. If you make decisions at your church out of a desire to thumb your nose at people at other churches, you need to get a life.

Read the rest.


Also Worth Reading

Theology: The Trinity: A Necessary Doctrine

Worship: How to Make an Appropriately Loud, Joyful Noise


In Case You Missed It

Book Review: The King Jesus Gospel by Scot McKnight

An excerpt from Awaiting a Savior: No Command Can Inspire the Openhanded Lifestyle

Charles Spurgeon: We are Waiting till We shall be Manifested as the Children of God

Book Review: Innocent Blood by John Ensor

Leadership and the Successful Local Church

J.C. Ryle: Love is the Grand Secret of True Obedience

Around the Interweb

A Poverty Theology Parable

Excellent post by Mark Driscoll:

A loving and generous Father once bought his son a shiny new bicycle. With a broad smile, the Father surprised the son and rolled it out and handed it to him.

Strangely, rather than looking happy, the son looked anxious. Rather than riding the bike, he stepped away from it in fear.

The Father asked the child what was wrong. The son replied, “Father, I cannot ride the bike. All around the world there are missionaries who do not have a bike. I would like to give them my bike so that they can ride it to unreached peoples and preach the gospel. The Father replied, “If you simply ask me, I am glad to also give you a second bike to give to a missionary.”

Yet, rather than simply riding the bike, the son continued to argue with his Father, saying, “I would much prefer an older bicycle. This one is shiny and new. It makes me look proud if I ride it.” The Father explained, “If I want you to ride the bike I gave you, and you are more concerned about what others think of you as you ride it than my joy in seeing you enjoy my gift to you, then you may look humble to them, but I know there is pride in your heart because you are living for their approval instead of my joy.”

Read the whole thing.


Also Worth Reading

Interviews: Derek Ouellette interviews Ken Stewart about his book, Ten Myths About Calvinism

Church Life: How Mature Should New Members Be?

Evangelism: Ministry to the Partially Evangelized

Technology & Culture: “I Just Texted to Say ‘I Love You'” (HT: Trevin)

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In Case You Missed It

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

An excerpt from Awaiting a Savior: “We Cannot Separate What We Believe From What We Do

Four Things I Learned While Writing a Book

Book Review: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

Vertical Before Horizontal

Thomas Watson: Three Things Jesus Prays for Us

A.W. Pink” “Your Thoughts of God Are Too Human

$5 Fridays at Ligonier

Every Friday, Ligonier Ministries offers a selection of excellent resources from R.C. Sproul, Joel R. Beeke, Sinclair Ferguson and many other gifted Bible teachers for $5 each. These resources are fantastic gift to believers seeking to dig deeper in their faith. There are some fantastic deals this week, so check them out:


Jonathan Edwards: Evangelist by Dr. John Gerstner (Paperback)

One of the primary critiques of Puritanism and folks like Jonathan Edwards is a lack of evangelism and evangelistic appeal in their sermons. Is it possible that the greatest Calvinistic theologian may also be one of the most evangelistic preachers? In this work John Gerstner attempts to systematize the evangelistic methods of Jonathan Edwards.

The first four chapters are Gerstner’s attempt to justify, as well as reconcile, the diverse views of Edwards. The major part of the book is comprised with the exploration of Edwards’ doctrine of seeking. After fully developing Edwards’ view of seeking Gerstner address other issues such as “faith alone”, “backsliding”, “regeneration”, and “preservation of the saints”.

Meaning for Men by R.C. Sproul (Audio Download)

A popular message our culture sends to men today is one of compromise. Men are encouraged to abandon their integrity if it means that social, personal, or financial advancement may be achieved. But if the principles of God’s Word are set aside for these ends, all such gain will amount to nothing. In this series, Dr. R.C. Sproul addresses men concerning the qualities of character demanded of them by God. With biblical insight, Dr. Sproul examines the importance of integrity and calls men to be godly leaders in the home, church, and the world.

The Prince’s Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul (eBook download)

With The Prince’s Poison Cup, Dr. R. C. Sproul continues his series of books designed to present deep biblical truths to children on their own level. In this work, he focuses in on the atonement to show that Jesus had to endure the curse of sin in order to redeem His people from their spiritual death.

When Ella gets sick and has to take yucky medicine, she wonders why something that will help her get well has to taste so bad. When she puts the question to Grandpa, he tells her the story of a great King and His subjects who enjoyed wonderful times together—until the people rebelled against the King and drank from a forbidden well. To their horror, they found that the beautiful water in the well made their hearts turn to stone. To reclaim His people, the King asks His Son, the Prince, to drink from a well of horrid poison. The poison will surely kill the Prince—but He is willing to drink it to please His Father and help His people.

Richly illustrated, The Prince’s Poison Cup will help children appreciate the great love of God for His people and the awful price Jesus had to pay because of sin. A “For Parents” section provides assistance in unfolding the biblical elements of the story.

Ligonier’s $5 Friday sale runs until 8 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday morning.


Note: This is not a paid post, however, I am part of Ligonier’s affiliate program. As such, I earn a small commission from purchases made through these links.

Around the Interweb

Russell Moore Responds to Pat Robertson

Dr. Moore responds to Pat Robertson recently saying that a man is morally justified in divorcing his wife if she has Alzheimer’s disease:

Few Christians take Robertson all that seriously anymore. Most roll their eyes, and shake their heads when he makes another outlandish comment (for instance, defending China’s brutal one-child abortion policy to identifying God’s judgment on specific actions in the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, or the Haiti earthquake). This is serious, though, because it points to an issue that is much bigger than Robertson.

Read the rest at Dr. Moore’s blog.

He also recently appeared on CNN to discuss the issue.


Also Worth Reading

Theology: David Murray asks, “Did the Holy Spirit Indwell OT Believers?”

Law and Depravity: Al Mohler responds to a recent travesty of justice here in Canada.

Life: To Listen Is To Love

Theology: Joe Thorn on Angry Calvinists

Video: Love Tap—you can’t not smile when you see this video:

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In Case You Missed It

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

Preaching and the Successful Local Church

Book Review: King Solomon by Philip Ryken

Jesus Christ, The Mediator Between God and Man

Fruit, Faithfulness and Preaching

Sam Storms: Jesus Knows Where You Dwell

A.W. Pink: Nothing Escapes His Notice, Nothing can be Hidden From Him

Around the Interweb

Remembering 9/11

From Tim Keller’s 9-11 Memorial Sermon:

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff!

But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in – suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”

Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

HT: Trevin Wax


Ask a Calvinist…(Justin Responds)

Rachel Held Evans asked her readers to bring their questions about Calvinism to Justin Taylor for response. Justin (unsurprisingly) did a wonderful job with his answers. Here’s one example:

From Josh: What, if anything, within Calvinism makes you feel uncomfortable? Is there anything particularly hard for you to swallow? What is the hardest tenet of Calvinism for you to buy into?

One clarification first: I’ll focus in these answers on what could be called “evangelical Calvinism” and the distinctive most people have in mind when discussing or refuting it, namely, God’s absolute sovereignty. It should be pointed out that Calvinism itself is an entire God-centered worldview, and is often used more specifically to refer to covenant theology. But I’ll focus here on God’s sovereignty in salvation.

John Piper once said something to the effect that if you’ve become a Calvinist and you haven’t shed any tears in the process, you probably don’t understand Calvinism in the first place. Yes, there have been tears. When I realized that my own views of how God should be were at odds with what he has revealed about himself and his actions, that was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever experienced.

But the adoption of a worldview often means that certain “defeaters” that were once troubling now become more understandable. Those things which at first are only believed intellectually begin to be absorbed spiritually.

All of that to say that there are not really areas of my theology where I feel an existential angst on a day-to-day basis. I find the theological alternatives to my belief in God’s absolute sovereignty to be (paradoxically) more rationalistic and simplistic, and I’ve grown content living in the light of God’s mysterious ways.

Those areas of my discomfort and struggle have more to do with the living in a post-Fall world with indwelling sin, a melancholy streak, and a longing for the day when all that is sad will come untrue.

Read the rest.


Also worth reading

Commentary: Douglas Wilson offers some (complimentary) feedback based on Christopher Hitchens’ latest article on Slate: Simply Incoherent

Ministry: The Resurgence is sharing Driscoll and Perry Noble’s back & forth on Culture in the Church vs. Church in the Culture. Gotta say, I’ve never been terribly impressed with Noble; this didn’t help. James MacDonald did a great job voicing the real issue—pragmatism—at around the 34 minute mark.

Preaching: 10 Benefits of Preaching from a Manuscript

Commentary: New York’s Post-9/11 Church Boom


In case you missed it

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

AW Pink: God Did Not Make Man and Then Leave Him to His Own Uncontrolled Guidance

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

(Cheap) Christian E-Books for Your Kindle!

Book Review: Licensed to Kill by Brian G. Hedges