If any among you are sick, pray and get them to a doctor

brain scan

Photo by Miranda Knox

There are some debates over Christian doctrine that extend beyond the boundaries of the faith—ones that have direct implications on how we relate to the unbelieving world. The nature of the gospel, the effectiveness of Christ’s redemption, who God is, the inspiration of Scripture, heaven and hell… these are issues on which Christians can’t really compromise without experiencing significant cognitive dissonance at best and falling into outright apostasy at worst.

There are other doctrines, though, over which we can debate and still walk away as friends. One of those is the question of whether or not the charismatic gifts—the “signs and wonders” we see in Scripture as being intended for confirmation of the gospel message—are still active today.

Some, like my friend Adrian Warnock, say yes. Some, like John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul, say no.

And it’s easy for us to get hot under the collar on the issue—and far too often, cessationists and continuationists paint one another in an unfair light.

I’m a bit more moderate in where I stand on this topic, which really means that while I’ve heard evidence that at least some of these gifts are active in some capacity, I tend to lean on “earnestly desir[ing] the higher gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31), as Paul puts it.

In other words, I try not to make this a big issue.

But one of the things that’s been a curiosity to me for ages has been the issue of healing—did miraculous healings end at the conclusion of the apostolic age? Does God still miraculously heal today? How does it happen?

Opinions, of course, vary. I know of men who earnestly believe that if you pray and God doesn’t heal you, it’s because you lack faith. I know of others who don’t seem to believe God engages at all with requests for healing… and then there are some who are a little more balanced, like the late Anthony Hoekema. [Read more…]

Links I like

Howard Hendricks (1924-2013)

Yesterday Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary died and a number of tributes have appeared already. Justin Taylor’s put together a really nice short one here:

Howard G. Hendricks, known to the Dallas Theological Seminary community and beyond simply as “Prof,” saw his Lord face to face this morning. He was 88 years old.

Hendricks received a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College (1946) and a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary (1950). From there he and his Jeanne moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he became the pastor of Calvary Independent Presbyterian Church (now Calvary Bible Church). In the fall of 1951 he began teaching twice a week at Dallas. After one year he resigned to pursue a doctorate at Yale. But the founding president of the seminary, Lewis Sperry Chafer, died before the 1952 school year began, and theology department chairman John Walvoord was appointed president. Walvoord contacted Hendricks and asked him to delay his doctorate in order to teach at the seminary full time. He would eventually go on to earn a D.D. from Wheaton College Graduate School in 1967 while continuing to teach at Dallas. He taught at the school for a remarkable 60 years before officially retiring.


Watching Pornography Increases Support for Adultery and Same-Sex Marriage

Joe Carter:

New scholarly analysis suggests that the more exposure heterosexual men have to pornography, the more likely they are to support adultery, pre-marital sex, and same-sex marriage.


All That Remains

Darryl Dash:

I went out for a walk with Charlene on Monday and came across the location of a prominent old church in Toronto called St. John the Evangelist [Garrison] Church.

The church began in 1858 and served the community, originally serving the soldiers and families associated with nearby Fort York. Later on it served residents who worked in local factories. The church became a leader in social outreach, and by 1931 it ran the largest free medical clinic in Canada. It ministered to pilots and staff from the nearby Royal Norwegian Air Force training camp during World War II.


Why Do We Sing About Wrath?

Mark Altrogge:

Sometimes I think if a stranger came into our church he might wonder why in the world are we singing songs about a Roman instrument of death, spikes, whips, and a crown made out of a thorn bush.  Why are we singing about some poor guy hanging alone in darkness, bleeding, and thirsting while crowds mock him and spit on him?


The Canadian who could be pope

This article by Brian Bethune (from Canadian news magazine Maclean’s) is very interesting:

For all his forewarning, Pope Benedict XVI, whose eight-year pontificate has been one long series of surprising moments, managed to stun the world once again. And once the Roman Catholic Church absorbed the news that its supreme pontiff was abdicating—an announcement fitly followed, only hours later, by a bolt of lightning striking the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica—it was clear that Benedict had set the stage for the most wildly unpredictable papal election in centuries.

Make meaningful connections at your conferences

microphone

It’s late-February and it can mean one of many things—and in this case, it’s that conference season is upon us once again!

One of the great blessings I had in 2012 was being able to attend a number of excellent conferences including the Truth Xchange Think Tank in Escondido, California, Together for the Gospel in Louisville, Kentucky, The Gospel Coalition in Cambridge, Ontario, Story in Chicago and the Bold Church Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska.

All in about seven months. (And yes, it was exactly about as exhausting as it sounds.)

Each of these featured fantastic speakers and terrific opportunities to engage with like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) believers who you might not otherwise meet this side of eternity, whether singing alongside several thousand other men, praying for the North American church with a group of 40—or seeing Christian creatives act like they think creative-types are supposed to act (which is funny since creative-types tend to be introverts).

But among all the events I went to in 2012, the ones that I found in some ways to be the most special were the regional ones. When I was at the Bold Conference in Lincoln (which is funny since I’m a Canadian), it was amazing to see church leaders from the area come together and start talking through contextual issues and how to apply the teaching they’d received. The same happened during the lunch breaks at The Gospel Coalition in Cambridge, when a number of us began discussing what ministry looks like in our contexts.

This is so exciting for me to see—especially since it can happen at an event of any size and in any location. Our city has a wonderful theology breakfast that I attend (and occasionally speak at) facilitated by Jude St. John, and it’s been really cool to see the guys get to know one another and engage on some very important topics. A good friend met another brother in ministry who’s become a friend to both of us while in Louisville—and he happens to live about 40 minutes away from our city.

The point is this—wherever you go, whether something big like The Gospel Coalition in April or something a little closer to home, use your time well to make meaningful ministry connections, especially if someone lives in your region (and I say this as an introvert). For many, it makes a world of difference knowing that there are like-minded brothers and/or sisters dealing with similar situations (it’s nice to know you’re not on crazy pills, after all)—and it offers a way for us to come alongside one another and bear one another’s burdens as the larger body of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

Links I like

10 Sure Signs We’ve Lost Our Minds

Trevin Wax:

Documenting the bizarre beliefs and inconsistencies that surface in contemporary discourse…


Take a Course With Me!

Tim Challies:

For the past few weeks David Murray and I have been throwing around different ideas for the fourth season of our Connected Kingdom podcast. In the past we’ve done interviews, Q&A’s, monologues, and more. This time we thought we’d do something completely different. We’ve decided to learn something together and we want to invite you all to join us!

As we worked through various ideas, we found we were both eager to begin some kind of Bible study and preferably something not too long. We also wanted to study a less-travelled part of the Bible, something we could learn from ourselves. When we put all these things together, we settled on the Poets, Prophecy, and Wisdom Bible Survey, a 13-week course taught by Dr R.C. Sproul via video lectures. We asked Ligonier Ministries what they could do for us and they generously offered a free class to us and our listeners through Ligonier Connect.

Sign up for Connected Kingdom Bible Survey Class: Poets, Prophecy and Wisdom


Mike Leake:

On the day of his first public service at St. Mary Woolnoth, John Newton explained to his hearers the truths that would inform his gospel ministry. They are evangelical and gospel-centered as to be expected with on like Newton. One thing, however, that I believe sets Newton apart as an exemplary example for us to follow. He believed that just speaking truth was not the whole of his duty.


More Time Doesn’t Mean More Creative

Barnabas Piper:

One of the trickiest pieces of the whole time measurement confusion is the differing measures people use for time. When it takes someone two years to write a book they weren’t writing for two straight years. Periods of thought, busyness, writer’s block, and distraction were the majority of that time. When someone says it took them 7 hours to write a paper it probably means they sat at their desk for seven hours. If I have had an idea brewing in my mind for weeks and I write it in 45 minutes how long did I spend on that piece? I don’t know – somewhere between 45 minutes and a fortnight.


Aikman Opportunity Award For Young Christian Writers

Aspiring authors, take note:

Most writing contests award prizes for already completed manuscripts.  The AikmanOpportunity Award is different.  It promises a top prize to the writer who can compose the most compelling and best-reported book proposal of the testimony story he or she wants to write.  The prize, of course, will provide a solid financial base for the writer as the manuscript is being assembled.

  • Grand Prize: $20,000 plus potential for publication
  • First Runner-Up Award: $1,500 plus potential for publication
  • Second Runner-Up Award: $1,500 plus potential for publication
  • Third Runner-Up Award: $1,500 plus potential for publication

To qualify, contestants must reside in Canada, the USA, the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland and be between the ages of 18 and 35 years of age.  All contestants must submit a 1,000 – 1,500 word article that leaves the reader yearning for a longer narrative. The article should focus on a remarkable true story of God’s grace and intervention in the life of an individual and/or their community.

The submission deadline for part one is March 1, so act fast.

Mapping the Origins Debate by Gerald Rau

Mapping-the-Origins-Debate-Rau

“How did we get here?”

It seems like a fairly straightforward question, yet it’s pregnant with meaning because it requires us to consider some other questions:

  • How did the universe come start?
  • How did life begin?
  • How did the various kinds of life—most significantly humanity—come into being?

It’s no wonder, then, that such a seemingly simple question can get even the most laid back person hot under the collar. Indeed, this is too often what we see whenever the subject arises. But is it possible that, to some degree, each side is talking past the other?

Is our rhetoric getting in the way of honest debate and discussion?

Gerald Rau argues that this may indeed be the case—and his new book, Mapping the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of Everything, is an attempt to correct this error by first explaining the evidence for how life came to be, how each viewpoint interprets that evidence and attempting to show what difference how we interpret the data makes.

Presuppositions and interacting with evidence

The starting point for Rau is presuppositions. “Our worldview and philosophy shape the way we view that evidence from the first time we hear it,” He writes. “Each scientist is working from the perspective of one particular theory, which affects both data collection and interpretation.” (Kindle locations 189, 202)

This is the first significant point Rau addresses: no one is capable of coming to the evidence entirely objectively. Our worldview and its underlying philosophy—in short, our presuppositions—necessarily affect how we view the evidence surrounding the origins of everything. If our worldview is one in which there’s no possibility of the supernatural (naturalism), then we’re going to reject any notion that the universe could begin through anything but naturalistic means. Likewise, the young-earth creationist is more likely to look at the evidence as being proof of God’s direct involvement in the creation of all things.

But the difficulty this represents is that we wind up talking past one another almost all the time. We talk and talk, but we don’t understand because we’re not really speaking the same language.

This is important for us to acknowledge and Rau handles it with great care. Indeed, it’s clear that he’s read carefully the scholarly work of each model and so an attitude of congeniality comes through. He’s generally careful to avoid easy criticisms of any model, which is a breath of fresh air—after all, deconstructing each model isn’t his purpose, explaining them is (but more on that in a bit).

Theological awareness and scientific consistency

As Rau explains how each model in the origins debate interprets the evidence available to them, it’s clear that he’s aware of the theological concerns that come with each position. Every view holds a different relationship between religion and science; some see the two as entirely distinct or complementary domains of knowledge, and others as interacting or overlapping domains. This is yet another point that I’m thankful Rau addresses in this book, even if he only touches on theological concerns briefly. [Read more…]

Links I like

Pray for More Toronto Church Planters

Darryl Dash:

I love Toronto. It’s a large city of 2.48 million people (5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area). It’s multicultural, safe, and ranks as one of the top cities in the world in terms of quality of life. It really is a great place to live and work. I love living here.

I love the Church in Toronto as well. I’m very excited about many of the churches in this city, and the pastors and church planters who love the gospel and who love this city the way that God does.

The fact remains: we need new churches. I’m asking you to pray for a movement of new churches in Toronto, along with the renewal of existing churches in this great city.


What’s your next move, young leader?

Ryan Kearns:

I had coffee with a guy this week who just graduated college and wanted to know how he could prepare himself for being in ministry and becoming a better leader. He could feel the tension between the raw gifts and ambitions God had given him to lead and how he should to refine them. The derailment of many young leaders is impatience, a premature demand to take the reins before the character or gifts are ready. At the same time, I was encouraged by this guy because it’s the exact same tension I’ve seen in so many other young leaders and felt myself. Harnessed well, those gifts can be powerful.

So how do you develop and grow as a leader during that tension? Here are a couple of things I shared with him.


Should We Teach Religion in the Public Schools?

Aimee Byrd:

Here’s a question that produces opinionated answers. Stephen Prothero, in his book Religious Literacy, thinks we should. But it isn’t for the reason most would assume.


Interrogating the text

David Murray offers some helpful advice in this video:

Some of the textual questions we want to ask when preparing a sermon are:

  1. What are the main words in the text?
  2. What are the most important places or personalities?
  3. What doctrines are involved?
  4. What is central and what is peripheral?
  5. How is the text structured?

Does the Bible permit polygamy?

bible-polygamy (1)

The question really says it all, doesn’t it?

Okay, clearly not, seeing as how there appears to be a great deal of confusion on the issue. Cult leaders say “yes,” usually because they want to satisfy their own sinful desires. Most Christians would say “no,” although they’re not always sure how to articulate why, beyond pointing to the creation of Adam and Eve.

Some, though they disagree with polygamy, say you’re not going to find it explicitly condemned in the Bible. “Despite what some may think, the Bible never condemns polygamy,” Rachel Held Evans writes in A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Kindle location 1316), to give but one example.

One doesn’t have to look hard to see that many of the “heroes” of the faith were polygamists—Abraham had multiple wives and concubines; Jacob had multiple wives and concubines as well. Even the greatest kings of Israel, David and Solomon, had multiple wives.

So… does that mean it gets a green light—or at the very least, a proceed with caution?

Nope.

We find an explicit command against kings and rulers taking “many wives,” (along with excessive riches) in Deut 17:17, “lest his heart turn away,” but that’s about it. While you might not be able to point to a specific verse that says verbatim “polygamy is wrong,” one only has to look at how polygamy is depicted:

The first polygamist is Lamech, who takes two wives, Adah and Zillah (Gen. 4:19). Lamech, a descendent of Cain, is a prideful and wicked man, one who arrogantly boasts to his wives about his murdering ways and lack of fear of repercussions (Gen. 4:23-24).

This is not a good start.

Abraham, the man of faith and friend of God, is another polygamist. It didn’t go well for him. Sarah, who gave Hagar to Abraham as a concubine, became bitter with Hagar when she conceived Ishmael and treated her harshly. Eventually Hagar was sent away with her son, while Sarah and Isaac remained with Abraham. (see Gen. 16, 20)

Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah before Rachel, and treated her as more of a burden than a blessing, and there was clearly strife between the two wives/sisters (see Gen. 29-30).

Gideon, he of fleece fame, had “many wives,” and also led Israel into idolatry because of the ephod he made (Judges 8:27-35).

Elkanah, the father of Samuel, was a polygamist. He was married to both Hannah and Peninnah, who is called Hannah’s “rival” (1 Sam. 1:6-7).

King David may have been a man after God’s own heart, but a one woman man he was not. He was married to Saul’s daughter, Michal (1 Sam. 18:27), but during his exile took for himself many wives: Ahinoam, Abigail, Maacah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah (2 Sam. 3:2-5). Later, when he settled in Jerusalem, he took for himself more wives and concubines, including Bathsheba (2 Sam. 5:13). His family was characterized by strife and rivalry as well with attempted coups from two of his sons.

Solomon, David’s son, was even worse, with 700 wives and 300 concubines, most of whom he married for political purposes such as Pharoah’s daughter. “And his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings 11:3), he fell into idolatry and the nation was eventually split in two under his son’s harsh rule.

Those are but a few examples of practitioners. And while all were used by God, and many are shown as heroes of the faith, we never read that God was pleased with their polygamy.

So, what about monogamy?

Interestingly, where polygamy is portrayed in a consistently negative light, monogamy tends to be displayed with an equally consistent positivity. 

When Adam is introduced to his wife, he rejoices over her with a love song, “they were naked and not ashamed,” and God declared it all “very good” (Gen. 2:1-24; Gen 1:31).

The created ideal remains the standard throughout the Scriptures.

The Song of Song’s celebration of romantic love is entirely within the context of monogamy. The aforementioned Deut. 17:17, as well as the command to abstain from adultery (Ex. 20:14), implicitly point to monogamy as the ideal (after all, if one is the standard, then anything beyond that is “many” and adultery against  the one). The New Testament explicitly calls it out as the ideal for marriage by placing it in the characteristics of both elders and deacons—”the husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6).

Most significantly, marriage is described as a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church (Eph. 5:23-33). Jesus loves His bride, He will never forsake her. His heart has no room for rivals.

So does the Bible permit polygamy?

Our starting point determines the answer, ultimately. If we see the Bible as a mere collection of ancient stories, we’re going to have trouble answering that question definitively.

If you’re evil and trying to violate people in order to satisfy your own sinful desires (see Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism), then you can probably twist together a case.

But if marriage is a picture of the gospel—if Jesus’ love for His bride is your starting point, as Paul says ought to be—you can’t honestly come away from the Scriptures suggesting it advocates for polygamy.

Links I like

What Christians Do About Modern-Day Slavery

Ben Reaoch:

An amazing thing about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it’s a message not only for the oppressed, but also for the oppressors; not only to the victim, but to the perpetrators. Remember, “Love your enemies.” And don’t forget that God saved Saul of Tarsus, who was persecuting the church. Our gut response would be, “Free the slaves, and to hell with the cruel criminals who are keeping them in bondage.” But the gospel goes beyond that.

The good news of Jesus crucified for sinners and victorious over death is a message of hope for both the slave and the human trafficker.


Raising the Dread

R.C. Sproul, Jr.:

It was a tree I had climbed dozens of times. It was base when we played hide and seek, our meeting place for planning the day’s play. It was, one could argue, the epicenter of my childhood. And it nearly killed me. I nimbly started up its limbs, hopping from one to the next. I stayed near to the center, but as I got higher, the limbs got thinner. Things were going so well I determined to go higher, to set a personal best. As I stepped onto that last thin branch, it sagged but held, and I felt the sudden change in barometric pressure. The temperature dropped at least five degrees in a moment, and the wind began to blow. No time to descend to a safer spot I hung on and rode the wind. The tree, at the top, less swayed and more hurtled this way and that. The moment there was a touch of a let up I began my descent. It was much harder going down than going up. I was more precise, more cautious. Eventually I jumped to terra firma, and cried in terror.


Do the demons know you?

HT: Ray Ortlund


The beards of ministry

God is not looking for assistants

Jesus-Reaching-Out

What is God looking for in the world? Assistants? No. The gospel is not a help-wanted ad. It is a help-available ad. Nor is the call to Christian service a help-wanted ad. God is not looking for people to work for Him but people who let Him work mightily in and through them: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9). God is not a scout looking for the first draft choices to help Him win. He is an unstoppable fullback ready to take the ball and run touchdowns for anyone who trusts Him to win the game.

John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals (B&H Publishing 2013), p. 56

Links I like (weekend edition)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

This is amazing:

The book is wonderful, too.


How Can I Tell If I’m Called to Pastoral Ministry?

Kevin DeYoung:

I’ve been asked the question many times, and I’m not sure I agree with it. The question often assumes that pastors, unique among all the vocations of the world, will (and sometimes must) have a powerful, divine, subjective call to ministry that overwhelmingly points them in their God-ordained direction. I don’t see support for that sort of normative experience in Scripture.

But I understand what young men are looking for. They understand that pastoral ministry is weighty work, not to be entered into lightly. So naturally they want to know that their inclinations are not self-serving and their direction is not a fool’s errand. They are looking for a few signposts along the way to show them that they’re not obviously on the wrong road. That’s a commendable impulse.

Here are several questions you should ask yourself as you ponder a call to pastoral ministry.


Who Has Clean Hands and a Pure Heart?

Anthony Carter:

In Psalm 24, the question is raised: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (vv. 3–4a). The requirement for ascending to the place of God in worship is that our hands are clean and our hearts purified. The question then becomes, “Who has clean hands and a pure heart?” Whose worship in thought, word, and deed does God find fully acceptable? Whose service is perfectly pleasing to God? The only One who has such hands and such a heart is Jesus our Lord. Appropriately, the Bible reminds us that He has ascended the holy hill. He has entered the holy place, not by the temporary washing of the blood of goats and calves (Heb. 9:12), but by His own blood. By entering in, He has made a way for you and me to enter in as well (Heb. 10:19). Does Jesus have clean hands? Yes, and so do all who have been washed in His blood. Is Jesus of a pure heart? Yes, and so are those who have been scrubbed by His blood. Through the blood of Christ, our hands and hearts have been cleared and cleansed. This means that, because of the blood of Christ, we are able to serve and worship God.


The Day After the Hoopla

Aimee Byrd:

But what really counts is the day after the hoopla. Everyone knows how to be romantic when they are trying to impress someone. And yes, I am very happy that my husband still wants to impress me on Valentine’s Day. But Matt is an amazing husband everyday. He woke up this morning to me pounding away at the computer. Like every other morning, he grabbed my empty cup of coffee, and went to get me a second cup, just as a way to serve me. And he tells me with a concerned look on his face, “We forgot to pray together last night. We can’t get into that habit; we need to make sure to pray together tonight.” 1,000 more points without even trying to impress.


A Treadmill Of Merit

Tullian Tchividjian:

I recently read this testimony from a guy who grew up in the pop-Evangelical culture of the late 20th century and who, for 7 years, was a full-time staffer at a large, well-known Evangelical para-church ministry. Sadly, I’ve heard this same kind of testimony from numerous people who grew up inside the church. As you can see from how he describes his experience, distinguishing law and gospel is not simply a theological exercise. Perhaps you can relate.

Book giveaway: Brothers We Are Not Professionals

brothers-piper

“This book changed my ministry.”

That’s what one pastor friend of mine told me about Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper. I had with me at the time, intending to read it on the trip home, I never got around to it.

If I’d been wiser, I would have started that night. What I love about this book is the unashamed, unyielding commitment to a God-centered vision of ministry, one that seeks to make less of us so that we might make much of Jesus.

I really appreciate how Piper puts it here:

Let us declare boldly and powerfully what God loves most—the glory of God. Let us guard ourselves from the ocean of man-centeredness around us. “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (Isa. 2:22). The foundation, the means, and the goal of God’s agape for sinners is His prior, deeper, and ultimate love for His own glory. Therefore, brothers, tell your people the great ground of the gospel: God loves His glory! (p. 9)

Today I’m giving away a copy of the updated and expanded edition of Brothers, We Are Not Professionals to one reader, courtesy of B&H Publishing and The A Group.

To enter, leave a comment with a quote from a book that’s shaped your thinking on Christian life and ministry.

The contest closes at 11:59:59 (ET). The winner will be contacted via email.

Links I like

5 Things Every Son Needs to Hear From His Dad

Daniel Darling:

…the job of raising a son is a noble and important task. It is a job many men abdicate, leading to what is now a full-blown crisis in our country: a crisis of fatherhood. Look up the statistics when you have time and you will see that a very high percentage of young men in prison experienced little or no involvement from Dad. In my pastoral role, I’ve seen the devastating effects of a father’s absence or lack of leadership in the life of his son.

Fathering your sons is a serious job, men. And so in that spirit, I’d like to offer five things every son needs to hear from his father.


Get Sammy and His Shepherd for $5 at Ligonier.org

The hardcover edition of one of our favorite kids’ books, Sammy and His Shepherd by Susan Hunt, is featured in today’s $5 Friday sale at Ligonier.org. Also on sale:

  • Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching by Sproul, MacArthur, Ferguson and others (ePub download)
  • Thus Says the Lord teaching series by R.C. Sproul (audio download)
  • The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon by Steven Lawson (hardcover)

$5 Friday ends tonight at 11:59:59 Eastern.


The Prodigal Church

Jared Wilson:

Once there was a church that loved God and loved people but had a difficult time showing it because the image they gave of God was rather one-dimensional and so then also was the way they attempted to love people. The church believed in a holy God, a just God, a vengeful God, and so they preached wrath very well, pushing the hearts of all who darkened the church doors with the imminent foreboding of their eternal damnation. They did their best to scare the hell out of people, and when that didn’t work, they cried and pleaded and begged. Wretchedly urgent, the church regularly reminded its people of the dire importance of obedience to God, of being holy as God is holy. And the church grew vividly aware year in and year out of the “thou shalt not”s of the Bible. And they came back for more. But fewer and fewer did. When some began to suspect this god was not quite love and that this god could never quite be pleased, they stopped trying. Some kept trying, fearful and diminished.


Download the God’s Love: A Bible Storybook app free

God’s Love: A Bible Storybook by Champ Thorton and Positive Action for Christ app is available free on the iTunes store through this weekend.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

A-year-of-biblical-womanhood-book

I’m not sure what more needs to be said about Rachel Held Evans’ A Year of Biblical WomanhoodHundreds of reviews already appear on Amazon, dozens have been published on various blogs looking at the book from numerous angles… is there more that can really be said about it?

I hope so, or this is going to be a really short review.

One thing is certain: Evans struck a nerve with her critique of the so-called “biblical womanhood” movement. Taking a page out of A.J. Jacobs’ playbook, Evans determines to see what the hubbub is all about by setting forth on a grand experiment: following every command related to women in the Bible as closely as she possibly can for one year.

So over the course of a year she (among other things):

  • learns to cook (and finds out she kind of likes it);
  • camps out in her yard during her period;
  • holds up a sign letting people coming into town know her husband is awesome;
  • determines to become quiet and gentle in spirit (via centering prayer and mystic practices)
  • practices a month of solitude in church (while also visiting a Benedictine monastery and a Quaker worship gathering); and
  • sits on the roof of her house for part of a day.

These are just a few of the many aspects of her year of “biblical” womanhood described in the book. The question readers are left with after reading of her adventures is: Are they biblical at all? [Read more…]

Links I like

To Follow Christ Is to Love Them When They Hate You

Kevin DeYoung:

There are two difficult realities you must accept if you are to live faithfully as a Christian in the world. (1) You will have enemies. And (2) you must love those enemies. Jesus taught both things quite clearly.


How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament?

Justin Taylor:

This is a good, hard question. The way we answer it will both reflect and inform our understanding of justice and mercy.

In the book of Joshua God commands Israel to slaughter the Canaanites in order to occupy the Promised Land. It was a bloody war of total destruction where God used his people to execute his moral judgment against his wicked enemies. In moving toward an answer it will be helpful to think carefully about the building blocks of a Christian worldview related to God’s justice and mercy.


Jesus Spent 30 Years Being Boring

Stephen Altrogge:

You don’t have to leave home to be crazy on fire for the Lord. Jesus spent his first thirty years simply working and obeying. This tells me that it’s possible to be radical while changing diapers, or creating spreadsheets, or plowing snow, or doing whatever mundane task you are called to. For the Christian, there is no such thing as insignificant work.


Relax! You’ll be more productive

David Murray with a good word for all of us who love the workahol:

Tony Schwartz took a year of 10-hour days to write each one of his first three books, but only six months of 4-hour days  to write his fourth and fifth. His secret? He took more time off!