Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today’s deals from Crossway focus on apologetics:

Also on sale is Puritan Portraits by J.I. Packer for $3.99.

The Symbolism of the Rainbow

Nick Batzig:

Yesterday one of my sons asked me why there were so many rainbows on the television and internet. Most of us have have seen them on children’s books and clothing from our earliest days–and in recent years placarded on the television and internet–yet many have never stopped to ask the question, “What symbolism did God invest the rainbow with from the the day in which He first set it in the sky?” There is a rich biblical-theological answer to that question, and it would serve us well to consider what we are taught from the Genesis narrative–as well as from the rest of redemptive history.

In an Instant-Messaging Age, Sometimes It’s Best to Sleep on It

Nathan Bingham:

For bloggers like me, a literal seven-hour delay can be a beneficial habit. We are a unique breed with unique temptations. We might say that we write for the simple love of it. But that doesn’t mean we would love writing as much if no one were to read our posts. Pride is often crouching at the door as we hit the publish button. And it’s this desire to grow our readership that can push us to write on every scandal or trending topic, even if when we seriously consider it, we have nothing meaningful to contribute or any legitimate reason for providing our commentary. Simply sleeping on it, or sending the draft to a trusted friend for their counsel, can be enough to prevent publishing something that you will later regret. Making this your practice will provide you with the time to examine your motives, repent of any sin, and thereby grow in your walk with the Lord and ultimately the quality of your blogging. Having a social media editor isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of maturity.

We’re Addicted to Doubt

Barnabas Piper:

When I say “we” I mean younger people in the church. We are addicted to doubt — a reaction to a religious background that stifled it during our formative years. When we were growing up questions about God, any sign we lacked surety, was frowned upon either explicitly or tacitly by the greater church. Sometimes we were reprimanded, but more often we simply received canned answers to hard questions and were told to believe them. Our doubts were not resolved; they were suppressed. Many of us grew up in fundamentalist contexts where things were black and white, right or wrong, yes or no. There was no room for anything else. Anything else was sinful.

Computer Brains, Mind Trips, and the Ugliness of Myopia

Luke Harrington:

There’s a fascinating post up at Google UK’s research blog right now about image recognition and “neural networks.” These are networks of computers designed to mimic the human brain in the way they operate—they think, and they can learn, and yes, they’re probably plotting world domination as we speak. Here we had an act of terrorism carried out by a man who was enough of a racist cartoon to make Yosemite Sam look like Laurence Olivier doing Hamlet. . . . And yet, so many of us still wanted to make it about anything other than racism.In the meantime, though, they show a lot of promise for automatic image classification. For instance, if your phone has thousands of photos on it, and you haven’t done anything to sort them (imagine that, right?), a neural network could search through them for you. If you search for “dog,” and the network has been taught what a dog looks like, it’ll return all of your photos of dogs to you; if you search for “vastly overrated television program,” you’ll presumably get some stills from Breaking Bad.

Three Reasons White Pastors Need to Start Preaching on Race

Dan Darling:

For most white evangelical pastors, racial reconciliation hasn’t been a primary emphasis of their teaching. This may be for a variety of reasons. First, as the majority culture, white Christians don’t feel the sting of prejudice. It’s not that all white evangelicals are insensitive; it’s that many are not in proximity to racism or injustice. Because most of our friends are white, we aren’t forced to empathize with our minority brothers and sisters in Christ. Second, there is likely some fear of addressing race. Racial issues are delicate. Pastoral leadership is already a tightrope act; why stir up more trouble? Third, it could be that pastors might view racial reconciliation as a worthy goal, but not a gospel issue.

Links I like

Links

Elisabeth Elliot (1926–2015)

Elisabeth Elliot, wife of evangelist Jim Elliot and celebrated author, died yesterday morning (June 15, 2015). Several Christian leaders paid their respects with some lovely (and informative) posts including:

Yoga, Hospitality, and Cultural Appropriation

I’m glad to see an author wrestling with whether or not yoga should be practiced by Christians (though I suspect we would differ on our conclusions if I’m reading the post correctly).

Reasons Why We Don’t Read Our Bibles

Erik Raymond:

Most people when asked about their Bible reading say: I have been really busy. This may be the truth; people are very busy. However, it is not the reason. I think we can distinguish between realities and reasons. Those same people who are really busy do have the time to eat food and sleep. I know people who have their entire day (and evening) mapped out for them. They are extremely busy; yet they still read their Bibles. There is time for even the busiest of us. However, others who claim busyness also are up to date on the news, watch movies, use social media, exercise, and a host of other things. In pursuit of a true diagnosis here, let’s be honest: none of us are truly too busy to read the Bible. We may be busy but we choose to put the Bible aside for one reason or another.

Let me give you a few reasons why many Christians do not regularly read their Bibles.

Don’t Return To Your Vomit

Geoffrey Kirkland offers some helpful points here in considering our application of Proverbs 26:11.

Why Bloggers Are Calling it Quits

Amy Julia Becker:

Stepping away from the very platforms that shaped them and popularized their careers, these celebrities raise questions about the future of blogging in particular and of social media in general. In announcing their departures, Whedon, Sullivan, and Armstrong all mention wanting to move away from the barrage of “haters” who leave their reckless disagreements and insults in comment sections and replies.

Love in the time of clickbait

 

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Nearly three years ago, my wife deleted her Facebook account and hasn’t looked back. She’s now on her second Twitter account, having deleted the first after she found the people she was following were a little too intense (and sure) in their belief that Obama is letting America go to pot so he can declare martial law, thus becoming Barack the First. Now, even though she’s occasionally tempted to pack it all up, she routinely unfollows people when they’re getting consistently cranky.

She is a reluctant social media user. And she is wiser than many of us, I suspect.

Part of the issue for her—and for me, too—is the clickbait we Christians keep shoving at one another. Now, it’s usually not the “Someone ate a sandwich and YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT” all-caps type of nonsense promoted by Buzzfeed and Answers and the like.

No, ours is of a different sort. It’s outrage (and fauxtrage) and open letters and op-eds—some helpful, most not—about everything from a theologically liberal Christian coming out in support of something most people already assumed he supported, or a celebrity who is deeply confused about his identity, or issues that were handled wrongly at one church or another, or blog posts carefully examining every word a pastor has to say, looking for the one thing that could discredit him…

These are the really tempting stories to share because they get attention. (They got your attention, right?) And many of us feel a particular need to bring to light the injustices that happen when church leaders handle situations wrongly or we feel it’s important to shine the light on wolves in sheep’s clothing. And certainly, there are times when this is necessary (so please don’t hear me as saying the sins of churches and their leaders should never be spoken of publicly).

But maybe it’s not a good idea to be sharing these all the time. I wonder if we’re being just a little too liberal with it and not considering its effect on other believers. After all:

  • What does it do to a believer when he or she feeds on a steady diet of stories detailing the faults of church leaders they may not have heard of otherwise?
  • What does constantly being inundated with story after story after story of things they can’t do anything about do?

Now, I again, I don’t want to be so crass as to suggest that sin should remain hidden, for what is hidden will always come to light (as we’ve seen time and again). But is it not helpful for us to consider whether or not what we’re sharing demonstrates love for those who follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or read our blogs? Should our greatest concern be not to point out faults, but to encourage and build up believers in the faith?

Love doesn’t conceal truth, nor does it treat sin lightly. But it also doesn’t leave us wallowing in the muck and mire. And this is what I see lacking in so much of the conversation around so many issues. There are so few pleas to not lose heart. There seem to be no exhortations to think upon whatever is good and true. No appeals to consider what is honorable and just. No pleas to press into what is pure and lovely. No giving thanks for what is commendable and praiseworthy. Of all these Paul instructs us to think on, and yet publicly we spend so much of our time considering the exact opposite.

We speak with so much fire, but seem to do so with so few tears.

Friends, this should not be said of any of us.

Around seven years ago, I was having lunch with my former pastor, and we were talking about my tendency to wield truth as a hammer, smashing falsehood indiscriminately, without considering the collateral damage. My actions and my words were inconsistent with the grace I’d been shown in the gospel. I wasn’t acting out of love for those around me, even when I was right in what I was saying. I wasn’t speaking out of a desire to build others up, but to tear someone down—or more often to build myself up.

And that’s a dangerous place to be. It’s lacking in love. It’s barren of joy. It’s out of step with the Spirit.

My fear is that many of us are saying so much and not paying attention to the effect we’re having on those around us. We are rightly concerned about the piles of dead bodies left by domineering pastors, but we’re not checking to ensure we’re not creating piles of our own in the process.

May’s top 10 articles at Blogging Theologically

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

  1. Five phrases Christians should never use again (May 2015)
  2. What should the church expect as same-sex marriage moves forward? (April 2015)
  3. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  4. Long preaching isn’t always good preaching (May 2015)
  5. The way we show love to abusive leaders (May 2015)
  6. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  7. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  8. Six books every Christian should read on prayer (August 2014)
  9. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  10. What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? (April 2015)

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

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.

Why haven’t I been reviewing a lot of books lately?

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One of the early features of this blog was book reviews. I started writing these almost by accident. I was broke, liked reading, discovered blogger review programs, and away I went. That’s literally about as much thought as went into starting.

But recently, I’ve been writing far fewer reviews. Where at this time last year, I’d probably written 20 or more, I’ve written maybe 10 (which, in all honesty, is still probably quite a bit considering the average 18-to-29 year old finishes nine books per year). I still love writing them because they’re among the most challenging things to write.

So why haven’t I been writing them as often? A few reasons:

1. They’re exhausting. Up until about six months ago, I was probably writing at least one book review every week. Think about that for a second: to write one of these every single week meant having to have read at least one book every single week (usually more), and to have enough time to think through what I’ve read. I think I hit a wall because, even though they’re fun to write, they’re such a difficult thing to write well.

2. Changing demands on my time. I’m always trying to make sure I’m leading a healthy lifestyle, one that includes getting a decent night’s sleep (which is very hard for me). The one class I was taking for seminary last term took up a great deal of my time with writing reflection papers on the books I was reading, as well as my term paper, which took nearly as much time to write in terms of effort as half of my second book. I’m also getting ready to make good on some promises I made back in April to write some book proposals, which means on the off chance one gets picked up, I’ll probably be spending a lot more time working on whatever one of those turns into. Then there’s this other idea I’m just starting to plan out… (But I’ll talk about that another time.)

3. I’ve been a bit bored with what I have been reading of late. Something I’d mentioned in my recap of last year’s re-read project is many of the books I’ve been reading have been well-written, but they’ve felt fairly safe. I haven’t really felt strongly about the books I’m reading, even the good ones. So if they’re not inciting a passionate response in me, I’m probably not going to be inclined to share too much about them.

So does this mean I’m done with reviewing books? Not even a little. It just means I don’t know what my routine looks like yet for writing reviews. Maybe I’ll get back to doing one a week. Maybe I’ll do one every other week or every month. It really all depends on whether or not a book I’m reading actually warrants me writing about it.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today’s the last day to get the 9Marks “Building Healthy Churches” series $4.99 each:

Also on sale:

What should the Duggar scandal teach the church?

Russell Moore:

…sexual abuse in the context of the church must be handled in terms of both authorities responsible—both the church and the state. The state has been given the sword of justice to wield against those who commit crimes (Rom. 13:1-7). The church has no such sword (Matt. 26:51-53). This means that the immediate response to allegations of sexual abuse is to call the civil authorities, to render unto Caesar the responsibility that belongs to Caesar to investigate the crime. The church may or may not know the truth of the allegations, but it is the God-ordained prerogative of the civil authorities to discover such matters and to prosecute accordingly. When faced with a question of potential sexual abuse, call the authorities without delay.

A word to the journal writers and bloggers

Kim Shay:

For those who write in journals (and for those who blog with a lot of transparency), beware. Every thought does not need to be recorded. Instead of recording negative thoughts, write things that are good. Write about how proud you are of your kids, how much you love your family, the daily provision of God, the joy He gives. I can toss my journals aside in the garbage if I feel like they contain nothing edifying. Sure, pour out your thoughts to God, like the Psalmist did, but write with kindness and grace. Don’t be harsh.

More real

Great stuff from Ray Ortlund.

When You Fear the Future

Trillia Newbell:

I’m not sure if there is a greater fear for women than the fear of what’s to come (or what won’t come). You and I rightly pray for our husband, children, schools, and whether to pursue a career, but we don’t often come to God in peace. Instead we come anxiously awaiting our fate. Goodness will follow all the days of her life, or her life, or maybe her life, we might think, but surely not my life. It’s hard not to have control, and one thing that we can’t ever determine is what lies ahead. Thankfully, God’s Word is packed with sweet promises that smash all our fearful thinking.

Charles Spurgeon’s 9 Tips for Christian Readers

Grateful Kevin Halloran compiled these quotes.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

A Goodbye to Youth Ministry

Mike Leake:

Though I’ve made mistakes I’ve also watched God do phenomenal things in the life of teenagers. I’ve always said that the success of a student ministry isn’t determined by what it looks like when the kid graduates—it’s better viewed by how he/she lives out his/her life as a disciple. I’m proud that I have quite a few former students who are now serving in local churches. I’m proud that students who I was allowed to lead to Jesus are still walking happily in the faith. I think, by the grace of God, I have done some things well.

As I’m passing the baton off to a group of guys here at Jasper I laid out for them a simple philosophy of youth ministry. Perhaps it will be beneficial to you as well.

The Importance of Friendship

Michael Haykin:

Here is but one example: On Jan. 27, 1552, Calvin wrote to Farel and chided him for reports he had heard—true reports, one must add—about the undue length of Farel’s sermons. “You have often confessed,” Calvin reminds his friend, “that you know this is a fault and that you would like to correct it.” Calvin went on to encourage Farel to shorten his sermons lest Satan use Farel’s failing in this regard to destroy the many good things being produced by his ministry.

Biblical Marriage Has Always Been Counter-Cultural

Aaron Earls:

In one sense, a Christian view of marriage does have less cultural sway today than in previous generations. However, there has never been a time when all of cultural rightly understood marriage from a biblical perspective.

Scripture has been challenging the way culture views marriage since the beginning.

Clickbait Headlines Are Killing My Soul

Stephen Altrogge nails it.

What small churches can do (part 3)

Joe Thorn:

Smaller churches are no less hindered from doing what God has called his people to do than are larger churches. Having more people does not maker it easier. Get that. More people does not make it easier. Just have a conversation with pastors of larger churches and you will find that leading God’s people into mission isn’t easy for anyone. In fact, larger numbers often makes things more complicated. However, clarifying what the church is all about and what it will give itself to does make things simpler, if not easier.

The best of April at Blogging Theologically

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

  1. What should the church expect as same-sex marriage moves forward? (April 2015)
  2. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  3. Why aren’t unknown pastors headlining Christian conferences? (April 2015)
  4. 3 favorite teaching moments from #TGC15 (April 2015)
  5. What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? (April 2015)
  6. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  7. Six books every Christian should read on prayer (August 2014)
  8. Announcing my next book: Hannah’s Dilemma (April 2015)
  9. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  10. 5 books every new Christian should read (March 2015)

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

  1. The answer to our worship problem
  2. What do you do when books attack? (a #bibliophileprobs poem)
  3. What do true teachers do?
  4. The only reasonable thing to do
  5. Don’t invite them to church this weekend

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.

Why I’m excited about For the Church

ftc_logo

Today’s an exciting day for my friends at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary: their new venture, For the Church, launches today! What’s even more exciting for me (from a purely selfish perspective) is that I get to be a part of it as a contributor.

Here’s why I’m particularly keen on this new site:

1. The vision. For the Church is all about  engaging, encouraging, and equipping the Church with gospel-centered resources that are pastoral, practical, and devotional:

This tone—being practical, pastoral and devotional–is really important, especially in a world where we have far too much bad news thrown at us, including from our fellow believers. I don’t know about you, but I get a little tired and depressed after reading 18 posts on the latest violation of Americans’ fundamental freedoms, or the continuing crisis in the Middle East. By no means should we stick our heads in the sand; but we do need to remember that if all we’re getting is this message—difficulty, trial, persecution, suffering—then we are going to be living our saddest life now.

We need fuel to face the bad news that constantly assails us. We need to encouraged in the gospel, and to be strengthened for what lies ahead. We need to inform our heads, yes, but we also need to strengthen our hearts. That’s For the Church is offering, and it’s something I am eager to read.

2. The contributors. MBTS has put together a phenomenal crew of writers for this site, including Brandon Smith, Michael Kelley, Joe Thorn, Erik Raymond… these are guys I enjoy learning from and folks whose writing makes me want to be a better one. That is pretty exciting to me—and I hope it will be to you, as well, especially if you’re an aspiring writer. Just as with preaching, you need to read a lot (and read a lot of different styles) to really find your own voice. Reading work from as diverse a group as For the Church’s contributors will go a long way.

3. Jared Wilson. I’m not gonna lie: Jared Wilson is one of the guys I most respect, both as a pastor and a writer. His writing has been consistently helpful to me (and he’s been kind enough to put up with periodic emails from a knucklehead like me for years). So, him asking me to contribute is not something I take lightly, and I’m grateful to be a part of the team.

So what will I be writing on? 

One of my first posts should be up on today called “The Challenge of Contending.” This is a post that gives a snapshot of how to contend for the faith without being contentious. Following that, I’ve got a new series that will be starting sometime in the near future based upon the things I wish I’d known as a new believer.

There’s lots more that I could say about this new endeavor, but for now, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the exciting  the most important is to encourage you to check it out for yourself. Enjoy the first batch of articles, and be sure to add For the Church to your favorite feed reader today!

The best of March at Blogging Theologically

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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.

The best of February at Blogging Theologically

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

  1. 3 reasons why reading the Bible feels like a chore (February 2015)
  2. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  3. 5 books our kids should read (February 2015)
  4. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  5. When a group member may not actually be a Christian… (February 2015)
  6. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011/rewritten in September 2014)
  7. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  8. New and noteworthy books (February 2015)
  9. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  10. Six books every Christian should read on prayer (August 2014)

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

  1. The one really good reason I serve in children’s ministry
  2. Who will remove the stain of cognitive sexual self-abuse?
  3. Brief thoughts on Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics (vol 1)
  4. The incomprehensible evangelist
  5. Sometimes it’s enough to stick a rock in someone’s shoe

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.

6 thoughts on 6 years of blogging

6-years

Last week, I celebrated six years of doing this whole blogging thing. By “celebrating”, I mean I said, “Have I really been at it that long?” And then I looked at how many archived posts there are. And shortly after that, I realized this blog is older than two of my children. So, yes, it really has been that long.

In light of this anniversary of sorts, I thought I’d take a moment to share a few thoughts about the last six years:

1. Content curation matters. Probably the best thing I’ve done in the last three years was adding the “Links I like” daily article, collecting the most interesting material that came into my RSS reader. I’ve always been thankful whenever someone has liked something I’ve written enough to share it with their readers (bloggers) and friends (social networks), and it’s nice to return the favor.

2. I don’t have to write about everything. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say about a specific topic. Sometimes I do, but it’s best left to myself. Knowing when to speak and when not to has been something I’ve struggled to learn how to do, but I hope I’m at least starting to do well.

3. Schedules are tools, not masters. Although there’s no real pressure (it seems) from you all to post daily, I do enjoy doing so. However, with travel, school, illness, and a few other projects that came up, I definitely felt the crunch in February. As a result, I didn’t write as many new articles, though I did still have something up every day. In my silliness, I don’t know if I would have done the same a few years ago. Correction: I know I wouldn’t have done the same a few years ago. I’d have probably had a mild panic attack or something.

4. It’s easy to forget what I’ve already written. Seriously. I had an idea for a post just today, and realized I’d written it three years ago. That said, I’d probably say it differently now, so I may still revisit.

5. Blogging has opened up a number of new opportunities. I’d have never written a book if I hadn’t started blogging. I wouldn’t have spoken at a conference if I hadn’t started blogging. I wouldn’t have met some terrific people—including Dan Darling, Chris Poblete, Nathan Bingham, Matt Smethurst, Dave Jenkins, Steve McCoy, Joey Cochran, and a ton of others who I hope won’t be offended because their names aren’t in this list—if I hadn’t started blogging. I am very grateful for all of these things, and more besides.

6. I’ve got really great readers. I know it’s a bit cliché, but it’s true. I really do have some terrific readers here.(And if this is your first time here, “hi!” Be sure to go here to see what I’m all about.) Some email me to let me know when there’s a typo (which I appreciate). Others are willing to offer correction when I’ve made an error. Others still occasionally let me know how something they’ve read has helped them in their walk with Christ (which, to me, is pretty much the best). The fact that you read however often you choose to read is very encouraging to me.

January’s top 10 articles

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

  1. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009)
  2. Three tools to help you memorize Scripture (January 2015)
  3. 5 books Christians should read on Church history (January 2015)
  4. God helps those who help themselves (July 2009)
  5. A year of time-tested theology: the Bavinck reading plan (December 2014)
  6. Modesty, #ChristianCleavage and me (January 2015)
  7. Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009)
  8. Ministry Idolatry (January 2011/rewritten in September 2014)
  9. Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011)
  10. The Mingling of Souls (January 2015)

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

  1. Can we be politically disengaged as Christians?
  2. Two devotionals you’ll actually want to use
  3. Three things I’d like to see in the Christian blogosphere in 2015
  4. 6 books I’m reading on apologetics and outreach
  5. What our bestsellers say about our discipleship

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 top 10 posts of 2014

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This has been a very crazy year. On top of all the good that we experienced in 2014, there’s been a huge amount of turmoil at home and abroad, all of which has given us blogger types no shortage of material to write about. While not everything we write is as well-received as maybe we’d like, it’s always encouraging to see that what we write is actually helpful to you, our readers.

This is especially true for me as I consider the most-read posts from 2014. Here’s a look:

#1: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle (July 2009). This post has consistently been among the most-read posts on the blog since I wrote it nearly six years ago. A lot of people wonder about the truth of this cliché (which isn’t true at all).

#2: The day ISIS got a little closer to home (September 2014). This was by far the most-read post written in 2014, and with good reason: we’ve not seen anything quite like the events surrounding ISIS’s rise in the Middle East in ages. It’s an issue that gets closer and closer to home, as we’ve had no less than three ISIS related acts of terrorism here in Canada in 2014. I pray the Lord brings a swift end to this conflict.

#3: Being “all about Jesus”: thoughts on Mark Driscoll, anger, forgiveness and grace (August 2014). I tried really (really!) hard to not get too caught up in the implosion of Mars Hill Church and Mark Driscoll. Did I write on it more often than was necessary? I’m not sure. I hope not. But this is a post on the subject I most definitely stand by.

#4: Ministry Idolatry (January 2011). I actually re-wrote this one in September 2014, as I continued to reflect on the Driscoll fiasco, who himself spoke on this very issue several years ago. A good warning unheeded by its messenger.

#5: Church Buildings: They’re actually useful! (December 2009). Are church buildings helpful? As a member of a church that doesn’t have a permanent facility, I can safely say, you betcha. Dan Kimball—who used to be kind of anti-building—thinks so, too.

#6: Preaching and Pragmatism (July 2011). Thinking about that time Steven Furtick wrote something helpful on preaching.

#7: God helps those who help themselves (July 2009). This is another long-time post from back in the early days of the blog.

#8: John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur (May 2009). A number of years ago, John Piper was asked about John MacArthur’s putting Driscoll outside the camp (figuratively speaking). This is what he said. Given the year’s events, I’m not certain he’d stand behind this statement in its entirety anymore.

#9: 7 signs you’re reading a book by a prosperity preacher (January 2014). I don’t often dabble in humor, but this was a lot of fun to write. I’m grateful so many of you seemed to enjoy it, too.

#10: 5 books every new Christian should read (2014). When I was a new Christian, I didn’t have a clue what I should be reading. This post was written for all the young guys like me 10 years ago.

Thanks for a great year, here at the blog and happy reading!