January’s top ten articles at Blogging Theologically

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

  1. 15 signs your church is growing in the right way (January 2014)
  2. 7 signs you’re reading a book by a prosperity preacher (January 2014)
  3. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  4. Three things I’d like to see in the Christian blogosphere in 2014 (January 2014)
  5. Is church growth all about the pastor? (January 2014)
  6. A look at The Gospel Transformation Bible (January 2014)
  7. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  8. The shocking secret to finding God’s will (January 2014)
  9. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011)
  10. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)

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

  1. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  2. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  3. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  4. 6 quotes Christians need to let lie fallow (January 2014)
  5. It’s not a cold—it’s cancer! (Janury 2014)
  6. 14 books I want to read in 2014 (and think you should too) (December 2013)
  7. You are not a Christian just because you like Jesus (January 2014)
  8. Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke (January 2014)
  9. Gospel-Centered Teaching by Trevin Wax (January 2014)
  10. That awkward moment in kids ministry when… (January 2014)

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.

The backlist: the top ten posts on Blogging Theologically

top-ten

Let’s take a trip back in time to see the top ten posts in December:

  1. I’m giving you a whole pile of books for Christmas! (December 2013)
  2. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  3. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  4. How to write a great book review (December 2013)
  5. My favorite books of 2013 (December 2013)
  6. 14 books I want to read in 2014 (and think you should too) (December 2013)
  7. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  8. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  9. Five blogs you should be reading in 2014 (December 2013)
  10. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)

And here’s a look at the top 10 most read posts in 2013:

  1. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  2. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  3. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  5. God’s Love Compels Us: a free #TGC13 eBook (April 2013)
  6. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  7. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  8. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011)
  9. Memorizing God’s Word: Colossians (July 2013)
  10. On bombs and Boston (April 2013)

Be sure to take a few minutes to check out these articles if you haven’t already. Enjoy!

Five blogs you should be reading in 2014

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There are a lot of really great well-known sites out there that are consistently worth reading—Tim Challies, Trevin Wax, and Jared Wilson, to name but a few. What makes them great? Aside from theological astuteness, they’re enjoyable to read. This is something we need more of in the Christian blogosphere.

Fortunately, there are a number of well-written blogs out there that are worth your attention. Here are five bloggers I think you should keep your eyes on in 2014:

Matthew Svoboda

Matt and I connected back in my early blogging days (nearly five years ago now) when he was running a blog called Evangelical Village. Since then, he’s quit blogging, tried to come back to it a couple of times, joined the staff of a thriving church in Spring Hill… and now he’s started blogging again (but this time he really means it!). He’s a sharp thinker, great to chat with over coffee, far too young for the beard he has, and definitely someone you should keep your eye on.

Julian Freeman

Julian’s a friend from Toronto, and the pastor at Grace Fellowship Church Don Mills. What I love about Julian is you won’t find him blogging every day or even every week necessarily. He tends to only write when he’s got something to say. Whether intentionally or accidentally, he’s embraced Scott Stratten’s rule of blogging: post when you’ve got something awesome to say.

Matthew Sims

I’ve been connected to Matthew on Twitter for at least a year now, and have always enjoyed both what he shares and interacting with him. At his blog, you’ll find a good mix of thoughtful book reviews and original content (he just wrapped up an Advent devotional series that’s quite good).

Mike Leake

You’ve probably heard of Mike by now, but if you haven’t, well, here you go. He’s really good at writing thought-provoking material that doesn’t chase controversy. And because he’s a pastor vocationally, that side of him really shines through, especially when encouraging us to pray for our wives, sons and (in January) daughters.

Kim Shay

Kim’s a fellow Canadian, who is always worth reading. Because she’s at a different life-stage than many bloggers—she’s been a Christian for more than five minutes and her kids are all grown up—there’s a bit more of a graceful savviness that comes through in her writing, especially when she occasionally touches on a controversial issue (or person).

My favorite articles to write in 2013

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Yes gang, one more list! This week I’ve shared my top reads of 2013, as well as my favorite books to review. This list is a little different, and is likely the last one I’ll be sharing about the year that is nearly done.

Any good writer will tell you that it takes a lot of effort to write—not to simply to write well, but to write at all. It’s actually a lot easier to not. And very often, we writer types tend to be our own worst critics (y’know, when we’re not inflating our own egos by watching how many Facebook likes we’ve received.). But no matter how much we tell ourselves we should quit, there’s always something we’ve written we genuinely like.

Which brings us to the topic of today’s post—my favorite articles of 2013.

These are articles representing some of the work I’m most happy with from the past year, although not necessarily the most read (though some of them are). I hope you’ll give them a read if you haven’t already:

Hope for timid evangelists

You wouldn’t think this is a terribly hard thing to do, but it seems to be. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt a sense of hesitation set in before doing something even as simple as sending an email asking a pretty open-ended question. When I see that people are ready and willing to answer these questions (some as pointed as “where do you believe you’ll spend eternity and why?”), I feel a little silly.

But here’s the good news—God’s Word offers much hope for timid evangelists like me, especially in the gospel of Luke. Here are five truths we can embrace.

Why I won’t read your book on visiting Heaven

Not too long ago, I received a copy of one of the many books on someone’s alleged trip to heaven and back. I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a few pages before putting it down.… I chose to not read the book about visiting heaven I received—and will continue to do the same for one reason: They’re almost certainly not true.

Does the Bible permit polygamy?

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.

What does the Bible say about worship?

This is the important thing to understand, then, about worship. It’s not merely about singing, it’s about reverence—it’s about having a biblical fear of the Lord. At its most basic level, then, you could define worship as the humbling of yourself before the One who is your better. This, naturally, has serious implications.

3 reasons why some churches don’t grow (that you don’t usually hear)

There seems to be a lot of pressure for pastors to have “successful” ministries—and by successful, what’s really meant is to have big numbers. While numbers are not wrong (they can be very good, in fact), we’ve got to be careful about how we think about church growth, and what it means to be successful as a church.

Consider preschool before the pulpit

Practice makes perfect, so the saying goes—and often one of the hardest things for a novice preacher to do is find opportunities to practice their skills. One place they may want to consider: Children’s ministry.

God’s gag reflex

God—the One who made the world and everything in it, the One who holds all things together with but a word—has declared what is right and what is wrong. Our opinions on the issue don’t matter one bit. Jesus hates sin. He hates it so much that He became it so those who would believe should not have to suffer its consequences.

“Is he humble?”

A few years ago, a friend gave me an unexpected, but much needed corrective. He told me that, despite my many good qualities, I tended to have the appearance of arrogance about me. It hurt to hear that, but in a good way. It made me realize how much my character makes a difference in how people perceive what I do and say. I’m certainly not perfect (as my wife and my coworkers would attest), but Lord willing, I think I’ve made some progress as a man pursuing humility.

The real secret of keeping millennials in the church

But the real reason millennials are abandoning the church isn’t because they’re dissatisfied with the answers to any of these questions. And it’s not because they can’t find Jesus in the typical evangelical church. The reason many leave is they don’t know Jesus. 

Sin makes smart people stupid

Honestly, it’s easy to mock something like this, and sorely tempting. But for Christians, who have, by God’s grace, been given the Holy Spirit, who have the written Word of God at our fingertips, this is a reminder—and maybe a warning for us.

 

My favorite books of 2013

That season has come around once again, where top ten lists abound! As you know, reading is one the few hobbies I have, regularly reading well over 100 books a year. With that much reading, it’s no surprise that there’s a range of quality. Most are in that “good, but not earth-shattering” category, a few were so bad I’m not sure how they were even published… but a few were legitimately great. Here are the ones that made the cut this year:

Jesus on Every Page by David P. Murray

Jesus on Every Page by David Murray

From my review:

One thing is clear as you read Jesus on Every Page: Murray’s excitement for the subject matter is palpable, particularly when he shares 10 ways we can find Jesus in the Old Testament. Jesus can be found in creation, in the characters we meet, in the Law itself, in the history of God’s people, in the OT prophets, in the work of Israel’s poets… Christ is everywhere—even showing up in person on occasion.

Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.


Death by Living by N.D. Wilson

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From my review:

N.D. Wilson’s writing is an acquired taste. His writing isn’t entirely linear. He follows the rabbit trails of his mind wherever they lead. He leads you to conclusions in a way that’s sometimes so subtle it’s easy to miss. But, if you follow him where he leads as he celebrates lives lived well, you’ll see this important truth: our lives are meant to be spent. As much as we lament time passing us by, as much as we loathe the idea of death, we can see even death as a gift.

Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.


Boring by Michael Kelley

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From my review:

For years, a number of authors keep saying they want to write about why it’s okay to be “ordinary.” I’m glad one finally did. Boring is a much-needed book, one that is sure to be a relief for many weary Christians who are exhausted by the unrealistic expectations of the radical, even as it calls us to a greater demonstration of faith: being obedient right where we are.

Learn more or buy it at Amazon.


The End of Our Exploring by Matthew Lee Anderson

The End of Our Exploring by Matthew Lee Anderson

From my review:

Too many of us struggle to understand how to ask questions well or even understand the purpose of a question. But Anderson gives us a framework for asking the right questions in the right way that I’m sure will be valuable for years to come. This book is a wonderful gift to readers of all stripes; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Learn more or buy it at Amazon.


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

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This book, written for kids five and older, is a wonderful love letter to reading, and a fantastic reminder that regardless of how you read, it’s story that really matters.

Learn more or buy it at Amazon.


Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson

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From my review:

Jamieson’s book is thoughtful, helpful, and packed full of wisdom. It succeeds in reminding us that sound doctrine truly is for all of life—and it’s a book you can’t easily walk away from without feeling at least a touch of conviction. Indeed, we all too easily take the implications of our doctrine for granted.

Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.


Five Points by John Piper

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From my review:

Piper desperately wants to see the love of God in the five points of Calvinism; to see the doctrines of grace manifest their fruit: faithful joy in the lives of God’s people.Five Points is the kind of book I want to give to the person who struggles with the idea of Calvinism. It’s readable, challenging, thoughtful, and, most importantly, faithful to God’s Word.

Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.


Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry

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From my review:

…the blood of Christ is sufficient to cover even the worst of sins. Homosexuals aren’t a special class of sinner outside the reach of the grace of God. In Is God Anti-Gay?, Allberry does a tremendous job of equipping Christians to think biblically about homosexuality and, Lord willing, to use what they know to reach the homosexual community with the love of God and see them, like all sinners, “repent and believe.”

Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.


Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

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The second non-traditional entry on this list (scary, isn’t it?). If you were proto-emo in the 90s, you were a fan of Neil Gaiman’s fantasy comic, The Sandman. This book is not The Sandman. Instead, this is a fun, quirky story for kids 8–11 where the only angst comes from wondering when Dad’s going to get home with the milk. I really enjoyed it (even if my daughter didn’t).

Learn more or buy it at Amazon.


Sensing Jesus by Zack Eswine

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From my review:

Sensing Jesus, by the author’s own admission, is meant to be a slow burn. If you blast through this book, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. “Apprenticeship needs meditation and time,” as he puts it (27). Readers would do well to take Eswine at his word. Read slowly and thoughtfully. Make lots of notes. Be willing to recognize where you see yourself in its pages, and consider how God might challenge you through it to recover the humanity of your ministry.

Learn more or buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.


And just for fun, here are a couple of honorable mentions:

  • Humble Orthodoxy by Joshua Harris (my review)
  • The Pastor’s Justification by Jared C. Wilson (my review)
  • Crucifying Morality by R W Glenn (my review)

See what made the cut in years past:

So that’s my list—what were a few of your top reads this year?

The backlist: the top ten posts on Blogging Theologically

top-ten

Let’s take a trip back in time to see the top ten posts in November:

  1. A Call to Resurgence by Mark Driscoll (November 2013)
  2. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  3. She’s done the impossible (November 2013)
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  5. Five signs you need to quit blogging (November 2013)
  6. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  7. Get serious about your studies: how should you read the Bible? (November 2013)
  8. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  9. Get serious about your studies: why a systematic theology? (November 2013)
  10. Get serious about your studies: you and your Bible (November 2013)

And just for fun, here are the next ten:

  1. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  2. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  3. Get serious about your studies: you and your technology (November 2013)
  4. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011)
  5. Why we need to pray for the persecuted Church (November 2013)
  6. Black Friday deals for the Christian guy and gal (November 2013)
  7. The terrifying sound of silence (November 2013)
  8. Evangelism is the enterprise of love (November 2013)
  9. Five Points by John Piper (November 2013)
  10. How do we fix the problem of celebrity-ism? (November 2013)

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these posts, I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to check them out.

The backlist: the top ten posts on Blogging Theologically

top-ten

Let’s take a trip back in time to see the top ten posts in October:

  1. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  2. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009)
  3. All of Grace by C.H. Spurgeon (December 2009)
  4. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  5. Where Is Jesus In The Old Testament? (June 2011)
  6. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  7. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  8. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011)
  9. “Is he humble?” (September 2013)
  10. TV screens make lousy pastors (October 2013)

And just for fun, here are the next ten:

  1. What does the Bible say about worship? (March 2013)
  2. Be convinced and be careful: a final thought on Strange Fire (October 2013)
  3. You’re always being fed—it’s sometimes just cotton candy (October 2013)
  4. That one time I “heard” God speak (October 2013)
  5. Can a true believer blaspheme the Holy Spirit? (October 2013)
  6. If a Christian’s attitude is right: Carson on judgmentalism (October 2013)
  7. Book Review: You Lost Me by David Kinnaman (December 2011)
  8. Charles Haddon Spurgeon: What is Humility? (February 2010)
  9. Why reading books on suffering is good for your soul (October 2013)
  10. The sneakiest way to discredit the truth (October 2013)

If you haven’t had a chance to read any of these posts, I hope you’ll take a few minutes today to check them out.