Around the Interweb

Jesus’ Death Killed the Consumer

Dave Dorr at the Resurgence:

Every dissatisfaction can be traced to our consumer mindset. Consumers are fine at the store, but don’t bring it home. And don’t bring it in the church. Or, at least, recognize your consumer attitude in the church. A church operates more like a family than a store. If we miss this, then we will always have dissatisfaction towards those who are trying to love and help us.

Read the rest.

Also Worth Reading

Disturbing: Planned Parenthood staffers counselling sex traffickers. Again.

Interview: Tim Challies asks John MacArthur 10 questions: Part 1 & Part 2

Art for Your Desktop: The Resurgence offers some new Spurgeon Wallpapers

Blogging: “What is a Personal Blog If Not Self-Promotion?”

In Case You Missed It

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

Reviews of Josh McDowell & Dave Sterrett’s Coffee House Chronicles series:

Is the Bible True…Really?

Who is Jesus…Really?

Did the Resurrection Happen… Really?

My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 2:1-18(ish)

J.C. Ryle: Assurance Ministers Mightily to His Comfort

Help Me Reorganize!

So, after two years of (usually) weekly reviews, the Book Reviews page is beginning to get a bit out of control. And since it exists for your benefit, I’d like your input on how best to reorganize it!

What would be most helpful for you, readers?

Filing by author?

Publisher?

Subject matter?

Leave a comment and help me reorganize that page!

Around the Interweb

Trafficking in the Shadow of the Superbowl

Via Carolyn McCulley:

A.H. was trafficked to Dallas/Ft. Worth and forced into prostitution when she was just a teen. Like many other girls, she was beaten, raped, and enslaved not far from Dallas Cowboys stadium, where the 2011 Super Bowl will be held. To fight back against sex trafficking in Dallas and during major events like the Super Bowl, A.H. has written an open letter to the 2011 Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL, asking them to endorse the I’m Not Buying It campaign.

Here’s the opening of A.H.’s letter:

Dear Super Bowl Host Committee & National Football League,

My name is A.H. and I’m a survivor of sex trafficking. I’m not a big football fan, but I’ll never forget my first trip to Dallas/Fort Worth several years ago. It was 2006 when I was dragged there against my will by a pimp. I was forced to dance, strip and sell sex (along with five other young girls) for over a month while he pocketed the cash ($1,000-$3,000/night from each girl) and planned our next gig. I was trapped in a life I never wanted without any hope of escape…

Read the rest.

How the Gospel Helps Us Overcome Pornography

D.A. Carson, John Piper and Tim Keller discuss:

(via Justin Taylor)

Also Worth Reading

Church Ministry: A Phrase to Retire

An Actually Helpful Open Letter: An Open Letter to Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Free Stuff: ChristianAudio.com’s free audiobook for February is Adopted for Life by Dr. Russell Moore.

In Case You Missed It

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

J.C. Ryle: An Assured Hope is to Be Exceedingly Desired

My Memory Moleskine: Reciting Philippians 1:1-30 (and a Few Words on False Humility)

Joel Beeke: Cultivating Private Prayer as a Pastor

John Piper: The Greatest Gifts Can Become Deadly Substitutes for God

Preschooler Theology: “Why Do Monsters Scare Me?”

(Audio)Book Review: Found: God’s Will by John MacArthur

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from January. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  2. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  4. Book Review: Slave by John MacArthur
  5. Book Reviews
  6. Dear Song Leader
  7. Think Hard, Stay Humble: Francis Chan on the Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride
  8. Who Writes This?
  9. The Arrogance of Youth and the Subtle Danger of Experience
  10. Douglas Moo, the Updated NIV and Jesus’ Sense of Humor

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

  1. My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 1:1-11
  2. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth
  3. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  4. The Dos and Don’ts of Book Reviews (or at least how I do them)
  5. Book Review: Church Planter by Darrin Patrick – The Man
  6. Cliff Notes from the Xchange
  7. Book Review: Forgotten God by Francis Chan
  8. Around the Interweb (January 2 edition)
  9. Though Ryle Be Dead, Yet He Speaks! Erik Kowalker on J.C. Ryle and JCRyleQuotes.com
  10. Book Review: Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver

You folks certainly do like to read a nice variety of posts. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle continues to be the most-viewed post on the site. I was glad to see the Slave review ranked so high on the list (thanks in large part to the giveaway that accompanied it), as well as Dear Song Leader and The Arrogance of Youth and the Subtle Danger of Experience. Also it’s terrific to see folks are checking out the interview with Erik Kowalker about J.C.Ryle Quotes. Erik’s a great guy and J.C. Ryle Quotes is a must-read.

So that’s this month’s list. Now it’s your turn:

If you’ve got a blog, what was your top post last month? Any idea why?

Around the Interweb

Introducing: The Erhman Project

Chances are that a great number of you have heard of Bart Erhman. At the very least, you’ve seen a great number of his books at your local bookstore. In recent years, Dr. Erhman has been one of the leading voices against the reliability of Scripture and the validity of historic Christian orthodoxy with books like Misquoting Jesus and Misqouting Scripture.

Over on Twitter, J.D. Greear pointed to a great site that his church sponsored, The Ehrman Project. The site seeks to respond to the arguments of Dr. Ehrman against Scripture and the Chrsitian faith. Check out the intro from Miles O’Neill:

[tentblogger-youtube YojyPM-fKs0]

Also appreciated this one from Dr. Darrell Bock on what guided first century doctrine:

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Really looking forward to engaging with the content. Check it out.

Incidentally, Andreas J. Köstenberger and Michael J. Kruger’s recent book, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, is a wonderful resource to help better understand the arguments of Dr. Erhman. I reviewed it here.

You Might Also Enjoy

Ethics: Yesterday was the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Kevin DeYoung offers some thoughts: Jesus Loves the Little Children

Culture: Tim Challies on The Strange Phenomenon of White Middle-Aged Pastors Listening to Rap Music

Ministry & Reality TV: Carl Trueman – Profumo, Haggard, and Real Shame

In Case You Missed It

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

My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 1:19-26

The Dos and Don’ts of Book Reviews (or at least how I do them)

Book Review: Soulprint by Mark Batterson

Mark Driscoll on Ministry Idolatry

J.C. Ryle: Healthy Examination of the Soul

The Dos and Don’ts of Book Reviews (or at least how I do them)

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while has probably noticed I do a lot of book reviews, typically one per week. Recently I was asked about how I do book reviews—do I have a general guideline or process, or is approach different every time?

I tried to give a short, 140 character response, but realized that it wasn’t enough, because, frankly, “yes” is an insufficient answer.

So, for better or for worse, here’s a look into my reviewing process:

General Precepts

1. Read with the intention of reviewing. This might seem like a “duh,” but I read a lot material for a variety of purposes, and it’s not always about reviewing. Knowing I’m going to review it forces me to make sure I’m paying careful attention to what is written.

2. The “who” is less important than the “what.” Whenever I’m reading an author I genuinely enjoy, it’s easy to simply just say “I like it,” without necessarily considering what’s been written. Whether it’s MacArthur, Driscoll, Piper, Sproul, Chan or whoever is the cat’s meow, it’s important to not let preference for the person dictate approval (or disapproval) of the content. (Side note, brownie points to the person who can tell me if I used the correct form of “whoever/whomever.” :))

3. Don’t fill-in-the-blanks. When someone writes a very…ambiguous book, it’s tempting to start filling-in-the-blanks with my own theological presuppositions. A lot of books that don’t stand up against even the most rudimentary understanding of Scripture have been embraced by many evangelicals. This is why.

4. Acknowledge my biases. Similarly, I need to be aware (as best as I’m able) of my own biases and predispositions. This will reflect how I approach books by authors I don’t enjoy or who I know hold to a different theological position than I do.

5. Try to be humble. Everybody goofs sometimes. Not everyone who says something stupid is a heretic. And not everything I think is wrong actually is. Something I am continually to do (with varying degrees of success) is acknowledge that I can make mistakes and when I do, I need to be corrected. This, incidentally, is why comments can be helpful.

Guiding Questions

1. What is the main idea the author is trying to convey? Can I figure out what the big idea of the book is and articulate it in one or two sentences?

2. How does the author support his/her idea(s)? Scripture, tradition, history, illustrations from real life examples… every point made needs to be backed up with something. If it’s nothing more than “I think,” chances are, it’s wrong.

3. How does the author handle Scripture (if reading a Christian book)? How an author approaches Scripture is an indicator of their trustworthiness.

4. Do I agree with the author’s main idea? Why or why not?  Can I support my position with appropriate Scripture? In the same way that an author’s assertions must be tested against Scripture , so too must my assessments. If my position cannot be supported by Scripture, it must be rejected.

5. What difference does it make? While there are always some things that you read for which you don’t have an immediate practical application, the question of “what difference does it make in my life” is essential for why determining whether or not to recommend a book.

So that pretty much covers it. I’m sure I could come back to this later today and add a few other items. But if you’re interested in the process of reviewing books (or at least how I do it), I hope today’s post has been helpful!

Around the Interweb

The Tucson Tragedy and God’s Gift of Moral Language

Kevin DeYoung:

On Saturday a young man opened fire outside a Safeway grocery store in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people, a 9-year old girl among them, and wounding 14 others, including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. This is a tragedy. Twenty persons made in the image of God with a right to life and liberty have been killed or wounded by the attack. May God grant healing to those whose lives can still be saved and comfort to all those mourning their dead.

Most of you know all this already. And most of you know all about the political jabs going back and forth whether this attack was made more likely because of a “climate of hate” (to use Paul Krugman’s phrase describing the rhetoric of the right) or whether those who posit such theories (like Krugman on the left) are themselves the indecent ones. Personally I think Ross Douthat’s op-ed piece in the New York Times gets it just about right: “Chances are that [Jared] Loughner’s motives will prove as irreducibly complex as those of most of his predecessors in assassination.” And later, “There is no faction in American politics that actually wants its opponents dead.” Thankfully this is true.

But I noticed in Douthat’s article what I notice in every other write-up on the shooting: a reflexive reluctance to speak of the killer’s inner workings–his motivations, his make-up, his soul if you will–with moral categories. Douthat does better than most in speaking of Loughner’s “darkness,” but even here there is the subtle use of passive imagery. “Politicians and media loudmouths,” Douthat writes, “shouldn’t be held responsible for the darkness that always waits to swallow up the unstable and the lost.” True enough, but who should be held responsible? My vote is for Loughner who, by all accounts, appears to be not only the accused killer but also the real killer. Certainly darkness is appropriate imagery, but I’d argue it’s more appropriate to say he committed a dark deed rather than to imply darkness swallowed up an unstable young man.

Read the whole article.

Also Worth Reading

Music: WorshipRises just released a new song, “Maker of My Heart”

Theology: What’s the Message of the Bible in One Sentence?

Parenting: It’s Never an Interruption

In Case You Missed It

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

Book Review: By Grace Alone by Sinclair B. Ferguson

A Movement of Personalities

Cliff Notes from the Xchange

My Memory Moleskine: Philippians 1:12-18

C.S. Lewis: “A Faith Destroyed by War Cannot Really Have Been Worth the Trouble of Destroying

Around the Interweb

Should You Read 100 Books in 2011?

Trevin Wax offers a challenge:

Last year, I challenged Kingdom People readers to set a reading goal in 2010 and I offered some tips for how to reach that goal. Because I chose a high number (100) in the post title, I received some pushback from readers who thought my challenge was unrealistic or unhelpful. I responded by affirming the benefit of setting a goal and clarified that the actual number is not what is important.

This year, I’m not asking the question “Can you read 100 books in 2011?” Instead, I’m asking a different question: “Should you read this many books?” Is it wise to set a high reading goal? Is it beneficial?

Read the rest.

Also worth reading

Trevin Wax: An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Free stuff: ChristianAudio.com’s free audiobook of the month is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.

Theology: Know Your Heretics – The Gnostics

Mark Altrogge: The Sure Sign of Self Sufficiency

Contest winners: The winners of the Slave contest are… A.W. Hall, Ricky Kirk, Nathan Harbottle, Ryan Higginbottom and Darrin Trammell. You’ll be receiving one copy of Slave for you, and another to give to someone else. Congratulations and thanks to all who entered!

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Slave by John MacArthur

John Piper: Will We Worship or Will We Curse?

A.W. Tozer: You Are What You Worship

Dear Song Leader…

J.C. Ryle: All About Doing, Never About Believing

An update on my Memory Moleskine: Memorizing Philippians 1:1-11

Around the Interweb

Homosexuality, Derek Webb and Following Jesus

Last week, folks started losing their minds after reading Derek Webb’s recent (vague & somewhat confusing) interview at Huffington Post. Some responses, like Michael Krahn’s were great. Others, well… Probably the best I’ve read, though, has been from Stephen Altrogge. Here’s an excerpt:

I want to be careful that I don’t misrepresent what Derek is saying. He seems to be saying that the problem is the church’s emphasis on the morality of homosexuality, and that we’ve ignored the fact that we’re supposed to love people. This may have some truth to it. I really do want my friends and relatives who are homosexual to know that I love them and care for them.

But, I think we need to be careful about driving a wedge between loving people and calling people to righteousness. We do need to love people, but not at the expense of God’s commands. If someone that I love is engaged in sin, and I believe that homosexuality is sin, at some point I need to call them to repentance. If I don’t do that, I’m not loving them.

Read the whole thing here.

Also Worth Reading…

Stephen Altrogge: An encouragement to persevere in prayer from the life of George Müeller

The Resurgence: Essential books from & about Church History

National Geographic: Some perspective on what 7 billion people living on Earth looks like (HT 22 Words):

In Case You Missed It

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

Book Review: The Gospel and the Mind by Bradley G. Green

Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2010

Looking Ahead: Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2011

Building (and Rebuilding) Your Library

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

Let’s take a look back in time and see the most-read posts from December. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle
  2. Book Review: Servanthood as Worship by Nate Palmer
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves
  4. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur
  5. It’s Time to Say Goodbye…
  6. Giving and Receiving
  7. Think Hard, Stay Humble: Francis Chan on the Life of the Mind and the Peril of Pride
  8. Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2010
  9. Book Reviews
  10. When Christ Calls a Man, He Bids Him Come and Die

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

  1. Talk Positively about Your Spouse
  2. Who Writes This?
  3. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words
  4. Seeing the World through a Biblical Lens
  5. Sit in Front of Your Savior: An Interview with Author Nate Palmer
  6. Around the Interweb (12/05)
  7. Book Review – Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
  8. New E-Book: Lessons from Nehemiah
  9. The True Spirit of Christmas
  10. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth

With changeover from WordPress.com to the self-hosted site, it’s been pretty cool to see how a few things have changed in terms of what’s most popular. God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle continues to be the top viewed post overall, but it’s really exciting to see the review of Servanthood as Worship up so close to the top (thanks in no small part to a link from Tim Challies). Another nice surprise was seeing My Favorite Books of 2010 getting so much attention over the last few days. Glad folks have been finding it helpful.

If you’ve got a blog, what was your top post last month? Any idea why?

Around the Interweb (12/26)

Partnering to Remember

 

Image via Tim Brister

A few weeks back, I wrote about the benefits of memorizing Scripture. Tim Brister wants to help you develop this discipline by partnering to memorize the entire book of Philippians by Easter 2011:

The goal is to memorize the entire book of Philippians by Easter Sunday (April 24, 2011) through partnering with other believers using the memory moleskine.  Paul praised the church in Philippi for their partnership in advance of the Gospel, and in the spirit of that partnership, this project intends to bring Christians together for the deepening work of God’s Word in their lives.  Simply put, we are partnering to remember.

Using the Cahier moleskine, we have created a pocket-size notebook that provides a practical and accessible way to memorize Scripture. Through collaboration with The Resurgence, a customized PDF has been created for you to download with a week-by-week outline for memorizing the book of Philippians in 16 weeks using the English Standard Version (ESV).  On one side of the moleskine you simply paste the week’s verses to memorize, and on the other side you write your reflections on the verses while indicating how many times you rehearsed them each day.

You can download the materials here.

Also Worth Reading…

 
Justin Buzzard: “The Gospel is not like dessert”

Ben Reed: “The art of small talk”

Desiring God: “An Open Letter to Clarence the Angel (from the film It’s a Wonderful Life)”

David Platt at CNN: “My take: Why my church rebelled against the American Dream”

CNN on Francis Chan: “Christian famous” pastor quits his church, moves to Asia”

In Case You Missed It…

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

A review of Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick

Charles Spurgeon’s 1859 Christmas message, “A Christmas Question”: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

William H. Smith: “When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize…Christmas is disturbing.”

Around the Interweb (12/19)

Bad News: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

John Piper:

In Other News

Culture: CNN on C.S. Lewis’ enduring popularity

Books: Check out a preview of Mike Wilkerson’s upcoming book, Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry (then preorder a copy):

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The Road to Fame and Fortune:

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. (HT: Michael Krahn)

In Case You Missed It

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

On Friday, I released a new e-book: Lessons from Nehemiah

Seeing the world through a biblical lens

Darrin Patrick on discerning the call to ministry

A review of J.I. Packer and Gary Parrett’s Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way

Around the Interweb (12/12)

The “New” Calvinism: Stupid, Salvation, or Save-able?

The “new” Calvinism is all over the place, for better or for worse. Some think it’s completely stupid, others consider it the salvation of evangelicalism. Julian Freeman weighs in with his take:

Somewhere in the middle of those two positions, I think, lies two particularly helpful cautions. . . .  John Piper warns the New Calvinists about ‘dangling, unconnected wires’ in their lives which hang between doctrine and practice, between the sovereignty being preached and the sanctification of those preaching… Piper reminds the young Calvinists that while their ‘movement’ has the potential to do great things, if their practice doesn’t match their preaching, the whole movement will fall apart.

Just this morning I read a brilliant little article on a similar vein from Tony Reinke, called Young, Restless, Reformed, and Humbled. There we are reminded of the absolute necessity of humility (especially!) in those who claim to be Calvinists of any sort. To believe in the doctrines of grace, but not be humbled by them and your ability to live them is profoundly inconsistent. Reinke writes, ‘First, look at the depth of your theological convictions. Thank God for that–it’s a gift. Second, compare those convictions with the shallow daily decisions that are made totally uninfluenced by them.’

What I appreciate in what both Piper and Reinke are saying is this: The movement in and of itself is nothing; but it may be something, if we let the gospel do its full-orbed work of changing us from the inside out. If we are changed by what we preach and live like what we preach is really true, then maybe this movement is save-able. Maybe God really will use it to do great things for his great name in our day, in our part of this world.

That’s my hope, anyway.

In Other News

Video: I found this funny. Don’t judge me.

Theology Review: The new issue of Themelios is now available at The Gospel Coalition.

Translation: Kevin DeYoung offers his take on the new NIV’s interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Servanthood as Worship and an interview with its author, Nate Palmer

Reflecting on the classics you just can’t get into

John MacArthur on the true spirit of Christmas

Around the Interweb (12/05)

Why is X Used When it Replaces Christ in Christmas?

Christmas brings with it many things—time with family, shopping, entertainment… and, the occasional fuss over “Merry Xmas.” Here’s a reason why we maybe don’t need to get quite so irked about it:

People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ…

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

HT: Ligonier

Announcements

Last week, I kicked off the relaunch of Blogging Theologically with a pretty incredible giveaway sponsored by Crossway. I was completely blown away by the response! Out of more than 125 entrants, the winner is… Shannon Craig! Congratulations and Merry (early) Christmas!

There’s still time to win $50 worth of merchandise (of your choice), courtesy of the Ligonier Affiliates program—enter before 5 PM EST Today! And be on the lookout for another great giveaway this month!

In Other News

Decor: Just in time for Christmas, Mark Altrogge wants to help you spruce up your decorating with the Christian Leaders Inflatable Lawn Ornament collection.

Free Stuff: This month’s free audiobook at ChristanAudio.com is Handel’s Messiah by Calvin R. Stapert

Ethics: Jared Wilson (citing Randy Alcorn) on the ethics of ghostwriting

Networking: This week, Erik Kowalker, Matthew Blair and Nick Uva launched the Reformed Quotes Fellowship, “a gathering of such like minded people who wish to see the fame of Christ spread throughout the internet by the use of God glorifying, cross centered, gospel rich, and unashamedly reformed quotes from saints of the past and present.” There are some fantastic sites among the membership, like J.C. Ryle Quotes and The Daily Spurgeon among others. Go check them out.

In Case You Missed It

With Christmas fast approaching, it was a children’s book oriented week with reviews of:

Halfway Herbert by Francis Chan

The Church History ABCs by Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard

The Mighty Acts of God Bible Storybook by Starr Meade and Tim O’Connor