Books I’m packing for #TGC15

TGC15-books

The Gospel Coalition’s 2015 national conference begins this coming Monday, which means in just a couple of days, I’ll be hitting the road for Orlando for a few days of teaching on the new creation, conversations with far off friends I don’t see nearly often enough, and, hopefully, a little time in the sun.

And because I’m going to be sitting on a plane for a few hours each way, it’s also a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. Although I’m almost certainly not going to get to everything (because that’d be silly), here’s a look at what I’m packing:

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. I’m about half done this one already, so it might not actually make it onto the plane. Incidentally, if you’re at the conference, you can get a copy for $5 in the bookstore. If not, be sure to get it while it’s on sale at Westminster Bookstore.

Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate,and Commissioned Church by Collin Hansen. What I’ve seen of this, I’ve really liked, so it might be my next read after DeYoung’s book. This is also another one of the $5 deals in the conference bookstore that is worth considering.

Defying ISIS by Johnnie Moore. Moore’s book came on my radar just recently, and thankfully I’ve been able to get my hands on a copy. Looking forward to seeing how he handles the subject matter.

Fear and Faith by Trillia Newbell. Trillia’s new book is one that showed up in my mailbox last week. This one I’m looking forward to almost more because I enjoy how Trillia writes (that’s a huge part of what makes a book worth reading for me—style).

Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God by Joe Thorn. I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while now, and just haven’t had the opportunity to start. Thorn’s last book, Note to Self, was terrific and I have high hopes for this one, too (especially based on my friend Joey’s recommendation of it).

I’ll also be continuing my trek through Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ by Herman Bavinck. Conference or no, I’m on a schedule, and I’ve already had to push back my completion date once. Thankfully, this one will be particularly easy to pack since it’s sitting in my Logos app.

While at the conference, I’m actually not planning on purchasing any books, although that may be easier said than done. There’s a title or two I already know will be there that I’ve been meaning to take a look at…

Travelling to TGC this weekend? What are you planning to read along the way?

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is also $5 Friday at Ligonier, where you’ll find a number of great resources for sale, including:

  • The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven Lawson (hardcover)
  • Abortion by R.C. Sproul (ePub)
  • The Attributes of God Teaching Series by Steven Lawson (DVD)
  • Defending Your Faith by R.C. Sproul (ePub)

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

You can’t afford a stay-at-home mom

This is really great. Also, my wife is severely underpaid.

Why Homosexuality is an Issue of First Importance

Sam Allberry:

In Romans 14:1, he instructs his readers not to pass judgment on “disputable matters.” On such issues, Christians need to know their own mind and receive in fellowship those who differ. We might consider as examples of present day “disputable matters” issues like infant baptism or our understanding of the millennium. On such matters, Christians are free to differ. But on matters of first importance, we must remain in agreement if we are to be faithful to the gospel.

Here are five reasons why we must regard the issue of homosexuality as being of first importance.

ERLC Summit

The videos from the recent ERLC summit on the gospel and racial reconciliation are now available online.

The Most Important Thing My Parents Did

Tim Challies:

Why? I ask the question from time-to-time. Why are all five of my parents’ kids following the Lord, while so many of our friends and their families are not? Obviously I have no ability to peer into God’s sovereignty and come to any firm conclusions. But as I think back, I can think of one great difference between my home and my friends’ homes—at least the homes of my friends who have since walked away from the Lord and his church. Though it is not universally true, it is generally true. Here’s the difference: I saw my parents living out their faith even when I wasn’t supposed to be watching.

Google Is Always Listening. Should I Be Concerned?

Mark Altrogge:

I’ve been told Google records every word I type and knows my every preference. Google is always listening. Hey Google, make me some coffee….you know…that kind I really like. (Let’s see what happens). Recently a speech recognition program developer Tal Ater, discovered “an exploit in (Google) Chrome’s speech recognition that enabled unscrupulous websites with speech recognition software to listen in when users aren’t expecting.” Well, maybe some of those unscrupulous website folks will hear me share the gospel and get saved.

Are our missionaries teaching that Muhammad was a prophet?

Mike Tisdell helps us understand the “Insider movement” and gives good guidance on exploring what the missionaries we consider supporting may or may not be teaching.

Going beyond inspirational gobbledygook

Okay, we all know it’s easy to pick on Christian books (and movies, and music, and coffee cups, and…) for their tendency to be nothing more than trite, namby-pamby feel-goodery. The judgment is well-earned (as any reader of Just Like Jesus can attest).

Too many of our books are full of inspirational gobbledygook like “God always has a plan B,” and “God made you and broke the mold.” Too often our coffee cups tell us to “eat, love and pray,” while we “live, laugh and love.” Too regularly we learn the secret of life is picking yourself up again because, “If one dream dies, dream another dream.”

Surely we can do better than this.

So, every so often, I’m going to provide y’all with a new inspirational quote—one that hopefully isn’t gobbledygook. Because we need better than this. And I believe we can do better.

After all, God doesn’t have a plan B—he got it right the first time:

no-plan-b (1)

Be sure to save and share this image with your friends, and look for the next one soon!

Got an inspirational quote you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments.


Photo credit: lemons for bourbon basil lemonade via photopin (license)

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

A couple of new ones for today:

Also, be sure to grab a copy the audio edition of Radical by David Platt at ChristianAudio.com (this deal ends very soon). And finally, RJ Gruenwald has put together a really nice new eBook, Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther.

Naive Young Evangelicals and the Illiberal DNA of the Gay Rights Movement

It might take you a couple of sittings to get through it, but Matt Anderson’s piece here is well worth reading.

Strong Enough to Have Convictions

Brandon Smith:

A tightly-held belief is sometimes a dangerous thing, but it can also be a precious thing.

And this is where Evans and her story take a left turn. Being “pro-church, pro-ecumenical” sounds great on the surface (and, frankly, I’m more broad in what I consider “orthodox” than perhaps many or most of my friends), but deeply-held theological convictions aren’t always something to be shared. People have died for these beliefs. People have sacrificed everything to defend these beliefs. One might say, “Well, if we’d all get along, there would be no need to die!” Well, yes, but… no.

Our First Response is Usually Wrong

Aaron Earls:

If I’m honest, the first action I usually take after every significant global, national, local or personal event is mistaken.

It’s not that I lash out in misdirected anger or refuse to follow the facts of the case. Instead, my first response is always to say something to anyone except the One who can actually do something about it.

3 Attributes of God Millennials Misunderstand

Chris Martin:

I think Millennials misunderstand three key attributes of God: his love, his holiness, and his justice, and I think the misunderstandings of each one fuel the misunderstandings of the others.

The Happy Christian

happy-christian-review

It’s on coffee cups, greeting cards, and posters of cute little baby animals. It’s one of the most important words in the Bible, yet one of its least understood and unpracticed concepts: joy.

Christians, by and large, do not seem to be terribly happy people, at least if you give any serious thought to the stereotypes that exist about us. We’re mean, intolerant, hateful, spiteful… but not terribly happy (unless, it seems, we’re telling a particular group they’re going to hell). And while it’s important that we realize stereotypes do not equal reality, it’s still worth considering: why do non-believers have the impression that we lack joy—and just as importantly, how do I actually become a joyful Christian?

In The Happy Christian, David Murray wants to help readers recover a positive faith—to help us “return to the overall positive balance of biblical truth and the elevating experience of real Christianity” (xxi). To do this, he offers ten ways we can increase our joy:

Happy Facts: Facts > Feelings
Happy Media: Good News > Bad News
Happy Salvation: Done > Do
Happy Church: Christ > Christians
Happy Future: Future > Past
Happy World: Everywhere Grace > Everywhere Sin
Happy Praise: Praise > Criticism
Happy Giving: Giving > Getting
Happy Work: Work > Play
Happy Differences: Diversity > Uniformity

More than “positive thinking”

The Happy Christian by David Murray

If you’re unfamiliar with David Murray, you should know: he’s not on a mission to become the next Robert Schuller or Joel Osteen. The Happy Christian, therefore, is not a rehash of The Power of Positive Thinking, or my personal (fake) favorite, Get Happy, Stupid! What Murray offers is not an encouragement to think positively, but realistically:

The kind of thinking I’m advocating is not so much positive thinking but realistic thinking, thinking that faces the facts (even the most unpleasant and unwanted facts), deals with the facts, uses the facts, and reframes the facts to move thoughts and feelings into a more appropriate perspective, resulting in a more positive mood. It’s all about reasoning and persuading on the basis of evidence and truth. And its foundation is not faith in self, but faith in God. (21)

Consider how what Murray suggests here changes how we view recent events close to home, such as those faced by the owners of a pizza parlor in Indiana who were forced to close their restaurant due to threats as a result of a hit piece on the local news that exploded online. Many Christians look at what’s going on in America—to say nothing of the serious persecution of Christians in the Middle East and beyond—and lament.

While, obviously, there is cause for great concern (for the social and political left’s agenda logically ends in a form of fascism), we need to look at events like these in light of what Scripture says. We should not be surprised when these events happen, for the world hates those who are like Christ (in as much as we are genuinely like him, and not just being grade-a jerk stores). But we should also remember that Jesus promised hostility and persecution—and we would also be wise to remember that while our afflictions are real, they are temporary. The hope of Christians should not be a Christian America, or a Christian Canada or United Kingdom, for that matter. Instead, our hope is in Christ and in his kingdom. While it isn’t easy, when Christ is our hope, our joy increases, even as grieve what’s going on around us.

Challenging deficient anthropology through common grace wisdom

What I appreciate most about the book is Murray’s grasp of common grace wisdom. After all, “The Christian should see far more beauty in the world than the non-Christian” (119). The same is true with, well, truth. Therefore, readers will notice right away that, in addition to Scripture, he frequently refers to extra-biblical material in support of his conclusions—scientific studies and secular books, in particular. Here are a couple of ways this approach—seeing far more beauty and truth in the world—helps us:

1. It challenges our deficient anthropology. We are right to be skeptical about much of what we see in the world, for a good deal is suspect. However, we cannot forget that, though fallen and lost in sin, every single man, woman and child is still made in the image of God. However stained and marred the image is, we still get a glimpse of the reality, usually through the moral actions and right conclusions of non-believers. Thus, it challenges us to think better of those around us, even as we recognize their right knowledge condemns them (a la Romans 1:18-23).

2. It encourages us to see more of God’s grace in the world. Along the same lines, just as we need to embrace the reality that all humans—regardless of our standing before God—are still made in his image and likeness, we would be wise to remember that Gods grace is bestowed upon all. Remember, God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” alike (Matthew 5:45). Thus, we should recognize all true things as true and receive what is true with thanks to God (which, incidentally, leads to greater joy…).

Joy moves and spreads

“A Christian pessimist is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms,” Murray writes (93). More than that, a Christian pessimist doesn’t move forward. It doesn’t spread beneficially. But Christian hope always looks forward. It doesn’t long for the past, or fear the end of the world, but longs for the beginning of eternity, even as we work to help those suffering in the present. After all,

Christians have a future hope … that should form a much larger part of our conscious thoughts than our present or our past. Our prevailing viewpoint is forward, onward, advance. (92)

If we want to see the gospel go forward, if we want to see true, lasting joy spread, we need to embrace that sense of joy for ourselves. Let’s recapture that viewpoint Murray describes. Let’s, as he puts it, beat non-Christians at the happiness game because we can. We have the greatest reason to hope in the entire universe! We need to remind ourselves of reality. A great way to start is by reading The Happy Christian and put the wisdom contained within its pages to work.


Title: The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Believer in a Gloomy World
Author: David Murray
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2015)

Buy it at: Amazon | Westminster Bookstore

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today’s big list comes from B&H, who have put a whole pile of great books on sale in anticipation of TGC’s National Conference (which starts on Monday):

And finally, from the Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series ($2.99 each):

If Avengers: Age of Ultron came out in 1995

This is fantastic:

One Day He Appeared

Really enjoyed this piece by Betsy Childs.

The Formula for Endurance

Michael Kelley:

Endurance is more spiritually important than we sometimes think. In the book of Hebrews, for example, the writer exhorts the suffering and persecuted church over and over again to endure. Remain. Persevere. Stay in the fight until the end. But how do you do that? What’s the formula for endurance? It’s surprisingly simple.

Fatigue from the Culture War That Never Was

Jake Meador:

There is good reason, then, to be a bit more skeptical of these culture war fatigue narratives than we often are. They’re still popping up on a regular basis (see this Molly Worthen piece that alludes to fatigue published in 2012 and this more recent Ruth Graham piece) and yet for all the noise the classic culture war issues keep popping up–Chick-fil-a in 2012, Hobby Lobby in 2014, the Indiana religious freedom law this year.

That said, on an anecdotal level anyone who has spent much time amongst younger evangelicals probably understands where these continued reports of fatigue from the culture wars are coming from.

True Marriage with Ray and Jani Ortlund

A few week’s back, a number of Acts 29 churches in the Houston area hosted a marriage seminar with Ray and Jani Ortlund (who are lovely people). The videos of the sessions are now available, courtesy of Jeff Medders.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Lots (LOTS!) of Kindle deals today from Zondervan:

Be sure to also grab What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? by Edward T. Welch, which is free today.

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

Kevin DeYoung’s latest, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, officially releases today and Westminster Bookstore has a great sale on it for the next few days: $10 for a single copy; $8 each when buying five or more; $6 each when purchasing a case (60). Look for a review really soon!

Leading strong-willed people

As a strong-willed person (and the parent of a couple of strong-willed little people), this was really helpful.

Rolling Stone and the Culture of Lying

Russell Moore:

Rolling Stone magazine printed serious criminal accusations against a campus group, accusations the periodical now admits are completely false. Despite all of this, both the article’s author and the magazine editor will keep their jobs according to the publisher. This matters, and matters to far more people than just those on the campus of the University of Virginia or even to the target demographic of Rolling Stone. Behind this scandal is a larger point. In our society, it’s become acceptable to lie about people and ideas, as long as the crisis created is in line with a perceived social good.

Should We Give the Death Penalty to Adulterers?

Mike Leake:

We don’t burn witches anymore. And I imagine all of us celebrate this fact. But what is your justification for saying that the Old Testament no longer applies on these issues? This is an important question because how we answer this determines whether we’ll give muddy responses to contemporary issues related to morality.

10 Pointers for “Untrained” Preachers

As a mostly untrained preacher, I really appreciated reading these ten tips from Peter Mead.

Quiet the Fear, Do the Work

Jon Bloom:

Being strong and courageous was not some kind of self-confident swagger for Joshua. It was trusting God’s promises more than his own strength and acting on that trust. Courage meant faith-filled action in the face of fear.

Why aren’t unknown pastors headlining Christian conferences?

unknown-pastors

Christian conference season is in full swing once again, which means there’s inevitably going to be a flood of blog posts and tweets from various corners of the Interwebs about this or that event. Some folks will be live-blogging. Others will be live-tweeting. And some will be lamenting the fact that there aren’t any “ordinary” pastors headlining anything.

I’ve wondered about this for a while. We’re all equal in Christ, after all. Those who are more obscure in their ministry have as much to say (sometimes even more) than those who are extremely well known. So why do our conferences seem to focus primarily on the latter group? What’s the deal?

Why aren’t unknown pastors speaking at big events? The answer is actually pretty simple: it’s because you wouldn’t go if they did.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m accusing any groups of propping up the so-called “Christian celebrity industrial complex,” or that I’m telling people who complain about such things to knock it off, let me tell you a story:

A few years ago, I went to a three-day conference here in Ontario, which featured several speakers (and only one of whom was fairly well-known among theology nerds like me). The location was quite accessible, located just off the 401 highway (and had free parking, even!). The word spread, sponsors and volunteers signed up… However, maybe two hundred people showed up.

A year later, a big two-day men’s event was announced, again here in Ontario. Three of the four speakers were, without question, Christian celebrities (even if one of those three is anything but in his demeanor). The location was in a city’s downtown core (and therefore had some challenges with parking especially). Again, the word spread, sponsors and volunteers signed up… This time, about eight thousand men showed up.

Which was the more edifying event? Having attended both, the former, by far. But significantly more people went to the latter. Why? Because they wanted to hear the big name speakers.

And that’s a huge reason people go to big conferences—it’s not that the conference organizers are trying to perpetuate Christian celebrity-ism. It’s that people will only go if they make it worth their while. There has to be a draw.

For some people, it’s the topic. For example, TGC’s focus on the new creation in 2015 is really exciting to me. It’s a big part of why I’m going (social and personal ministry reasons aside). But some people are going, really, just because they want to hear John Piper or Tim Keller speak. And that’s cool, too, as long as they’re learning. If they’re going only to get selfies with them, though…

But think about it: A lot of the folks who bemoan certain groups for perpetuating celebrity-ism are just as guilty of it—they just have different celebrities. If you’ve asked John MacArthur to sign your Bible, guess what? You’re doing it because he’s Christian-famous. He is, for lack of a better term, a celebrity.

But just because MacArthur is well known doesn’t make the Shepherd’s Conference evil, any more than Tim Keller being well known makes TGC’s National Conference evil. Or Kevin DeYoung increasingly becoming well known makes T4G evil. Or… well, you get the point.

A few bad eggs1 aside, many of the Christian-famous Christians we know—whether MacArthur, Keller, Piper, or whomever—are not so because they’re trying to make a name for themselves. God has simply chosen to give them a larger platform. This doesn’t mean those of us with smaller platforms don’t have anything worth contributing—it’s just that God has chosen to do something different in our lives compared to these other people. And that’s okay.

Also, don’t ask people to sign your Bible. It’s just weird.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Crossway’s deals of the week focus on the family:

Also on sale:

And several by C.S. Lewis:

Why the “third day”?

Mitchell Chase points us to “an overall pattern of incredible third-day events” in the Old Testament to better understand Jesus promise to rise on the third day.

The Most Neglected Part of Christ’s Saving Work

Nick Batzig:

In recent years, it has become more commonplace to hear certain theologians emphasize that the ascension and present reign of Christ are the most neglected aspects of His work of redemption; and, while there is great merit in highlighting the consequences of such a neglect of these precious truths, I have come to believe that the most neglected part of Christ’s saving work is actual what happened to Him in between His death and resurrection. The Apostle Paul put Jesus’ burial on par with His death and resurrection. When he spoke of the “Gospel” he did so by singling out the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. So what part does the burial of Jesus play in the work of redemption. Here are three significant features about His burial.

Say Goodbye to Lifeboat Theology

Tom Nelson:

In this theological perspective, God’s lifeboat plan of redemption is concerned only with the survival of his people. However noble and well-meaning our efforts to salvage God’s creation may be, at the end of the day, our work on this doomed earth only amounts to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

But God is deeply concerned with the crown of his fallen creation and has initiated a glorious plan of redemption through his Son Jesus. He has not abandoned this world.

Cancer Is a Parable About Sin

The Hymn of the Legalist

This is good (and smarts a bit).

The Story Behind The Song “I Stand In Awe”

Mark Altrogge:

Over the years, people have asked me how I wrote the song “I Stand in Awe.” I wish I had some jaw-dropping tale of how I was caught up to the third heaven and handed a scroll with the lyrics written in gold ink. Or at least that I was driving in my car and the song came into my mind in a flash of divine inspiration. No, my songwriting process is usually pretty pedestrian and mundane (slow and unimpressive).

The only reasonable thing to do

easter-2015

Jesus’ death and resurrection cause no end of consternation among those who either question or seek to disprove the Christian faith. Should Christians be all hung up on whether or not Jesus really rose from the dead? Does the evidence really prove itself out?

Here are the facts about the resurrection, as we have them:

  • The tomb was empty.
  • No one could produce a body.
  • For several weeks after his death, Jesus’ disciples kept meeting him—and rarely as individuals only, but almost exclusively in groups, some as large as 500 people!

His disciples’ insistence caused them no end of ridicule and scorn, yet they persisted in proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection. They event went so far as to say that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, their faith is in vain and their sins were still on them, and therefore they were utterly without hope (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

To prove them wrong, all one had to do was produce Jesus’ body. And yet, no one ever could. Why? Because there was no body to be found.

So what is the most reasonable thing to do? We can continue to make up alternative explanations all day long. We can attempt to say Jesus never really existed, or that if he did, he didn’t resemble the man who claimed to be God as described in the gospels.

Or, we can admit, as J.I. Packer encourages, that there is only one reasonable thing to do: believe. He writes:

A Christian in public debate accused his skeptical opponent of having more faith than he—“for,” he said, “in face of the evidence, I can’t believe that Jesus did not rise, and you can!” It really is harder to disbelieve the resurrection than to accept it, much harder. Have you yet seen it that way? To believe in Jesus Christ as Son of God and living Savior, and to echo the words of ex-doubter Thomas, “My Lord and my God,” is certainly more than an exercise of reason, but in the face of the evidence it is the only reasonable thing a person can do.1

The best of March at Blogging Theologically

top-10

Let’s take a trip back in time and check out the top ten posts in March:

  1. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  2. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  3. 3 reasons why reading the Bible feels like a chore (February 2015)
  4. Six books every Christian should read on prayer (August 2014)
  5. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  6. 5 books Christians should read on Islam (March 2015)
  7. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  8. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011/rewritten in September 2014)
  9. 6 thoughts on 6 years of blogging (March 2015)
  10. 5 books every new Christian should read (March 2015)

And just for fun, here are five favorites written over the month:

  1. Why I try to pray right away
  2. Seven words you should never say to creatives
  3. The number one way to encourage rebellion
  4. When should we use harsh language?
  5. Four guidelines for literary evangelists

If you haven’t had a chance to already, I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to check out a few of these articles.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today’s the last day to take advantage of this week’s pastoral resource deals from Crossway:

On Preaching and Cultural Buzz

Mike Leake:

Everyone in your community is buzzing about a local reproduction of a classic movie. Every conversation seems to be about this big event, it clearly has captured the heart of your people. What should a pastor do? Do you plod along preaching through your series on the Gospel of Mark or do you take a break and do a topical sermon related to this new movie that has everyone buzzing?

The Crown of Thorns

Nick Batzig offers a short, but powerful, devotional.

Pay Much Closer Attention

Kevin DeYoung:

Almost everyone has flown on a plane before. So you’ve all sat through those opening instructions from the flight attendants about what to do in the event of an emergency. They say the same thing on every flight, every day, on every airline. And every day, on every flight, on every airline, almost no one pays attention to the message. I’ve flown several times in the past couple months and I can’t recall seeing anyone looking at the flight attendants or giving one second of thought to what they were talking about. No one pays attention to these instructions.

Why I Will Gladly Bake You A Cake, But Won’t Bake Your Wedding Cake

Stephen Altrogge:

This puts me in a difficult predicament. You see, I really do love you. I don’t mean that in a, “We are the world,” kind of way. I mean I really love you, as a person. Please ignore what people like Pat Robinson, Phil Robertson, and the political pundits on Fox News say. I’m a Christian, and one of the things that is supposed to define me as a Christian is true love for other people. Yes, I know, there are times when I do a terrible job of loving others. I get angry in traffic, cuss people out in my head (not out loud – what would other Christians think?), and have a hard time getting along with certain people. But I’m changing, ever so slowly.

What Happened in Kenya?

This is good and helpful stuff from Joe Carter.

Don’t invite them to church this weekend

church-weekend

For a lot of churches in the West, Easter weekend is treated not unlike SuperBowl Sunday. It’s the big show, a grand production. Kind of like a regular Sunday with a bit of extra “oomph”—which most often comes in the form of horrifically graphic video clips from a movie for which we may or may not have appropriate licensing, though occasionally it also involves laser light shows, motorcycle stunts, and an extravagant giveaway or two.

This is the weekend where we’re encouraged to invite our friends, our families, our neighbors, and bring them to church. It’s the weekend where they’re for sure going to hear the gospel preached and perhaps even the Lord might save them!

But you know something? I’m not sure it’s always a good idea. In fact, in some cases, maybe the best thing to do is to not invite them at all.

  • Don’t invite them to church this weekend if they would be surprised to learn you’re a Christian.
  • Don’t invite them if the gospel wasn’t preached last weekend.
  • Don’t invite them if you wouldn’t invite them next weekend.

That’s not what they need. They don’t need to go to a church where they’re not going to hear about Jesus, and they don’t need to be invited to church on one weekend if you wouldn’t invite them any other time.

Some of us should, definitely, invite our friends to church this weekend, next weekend, and every weekend, as long as Jesus is consistently proclaimed. But for many of us, maybe we need to take a few steps back. Maybe we should invite them into our lives first, and share the gospel with them as we begin to share ourselves. Let them get to know a Christian and win them with the good news, rather than potentially confuse them with a big show.

 

Links I like

Links

Toronto Gospel Alliance

If you’re in the Toronto area today and have the opportunity, be sure to go and join with with fellow believers to celebrate Good Friday from 7-9 PM at the University of Toronto.

I Am Barabbas

This is really great stuff from Michael Kelley.

$5 Friday at Ligonier

Today is $5 Friday at Ligonier, where you’ll find a number of great resources for sale, including:

  • Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes Our Salvation by Anthony Carter (Hardcover)
  • The Atonement of Jesus Teaching Series by R.C. Sproul (Audio download)
  • The New Birth Teaching Series by Steven Lawson (Audio and video download)
  • By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me by Sinclair Ferguson (ePub)
  • Shadow Of The Cross by Walter Chantry (Paperback)

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

One Key Reason Most Churches Do Not Exceed 350 in Average Attendance

I’d be interested to hear some responses to this piece.

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Donald Macleod:

The sufferings of his soul, as the old divines used to say, were the soul of his suffering, and into that soul we can see but dimly. Public though the cry was, it expressed the intensely private anguish of a tension between the sin-bearing Son and his heavenly Father: the whirlwind of sin at its most dreadful, God forsaken by God.

Peddlers vs. Pastors

Pat Aldridge gives guidance on how to identify a peddler vs a pastor of God’s Word.

A Snapshot of Christ Singing that Makes Me Sing

Erik Raymond:

Can you imagine this scene?  This is a precious time of singing with the Lord Jesus as he proceeds out to walk the lonely path to Golgotha to purchase redemption for sinners like me and you.

As we now stand on the other side of the cross we look forward to the reunion with all of the saints, together in the presence of the Lamb.

Think about this for a moment.