Links I like

Book deals for Christian readers

Here are a whole pile of Kindle deals to get you started (note, most of these are academic references, but books you’d likely want in your library):

Also on sale are a number of volumes from the ZECNT series:

And a few volumes in the Expositors Bible Commentary series:

At Westminster, you can get a great deal on Resisting Gossip by Matthew C. Mitchell. Get a 10-volume pack for your small groups for $50 (includes five copies of the book and five participants guides), individual copies for $8 and digital editions for $4.

Finally, today’s $5 Friday deals at Ligonier include:

  • The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul (hardcover)
  • The Christian Mind: 2012 national conference messages (DVD)
  • Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible (ePub)

The Presidency of the Holy Spirit

Ray Ortlund:

Our forefathers used to call this “the presidency of the Holy Spirit,” when the Lord himself would preside over the gathering of his people in such a way as gently, wonderfully to take charge.

I have seen this.  Doubtless, many of you have as well.

The Most Honest Atheist In The World

David Murray engaging with Crispin Sartwell’s article at the Atlantic, Irrational Atheism: Not Believing in God Isn’t Always Based on Reasoned Arguments And That’s OK.

McDonalds vs organic food

This is amazing (be sure to turn on the subtitles):

The Softer Face of Calvinism

This is a really good interview between Kevin Emmert and Oliver Crisp, author of Deviant Calvinism.

The American Jeremiad

Matt McCullough:

Rhetoric of decline is almost always rhetoric of persuasion. It aims to diagnose a problem and prescribe a solution. We must be careful to assure the prescriptions and their expected results don’t go beyond what God has actually promised.

PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace

The doctrines of grace have an image problem.

It’s easy to understand why: Those who embrace them, those Calvinists are a shifty bunch. If they’re not limiting salvation to a tiny handful of people, they’re trying to take over your local church like stealthy ninjas. Or something.

Regardless of the silliness you sometimes see, especially in the blogosphere, about Calvinist conspiracies, hostile takeovers, and the joyful condemnation of sinners to hell, there is an almost complete lack of understanding as to what the doctrines of grace—sometimes called the five points of Calvinism—actually are.

Clearly, Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones have noticed this problem, and their new book, PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace, seeks to remedy it by “awaken[ing] you from the delusion that life depends on you and free[ing] you to discover the intoxicating joy of God’s wild and free grace” (16). They do this by offering readers a fresh look at the doctrines of grace—by redefining them around grace.

Redefining the doctrines of grace around grace

Rather than using the oft-repeated (and not entirely reflective of Reformed theology) acrostic TULIP, the authors redefine the doctrines of grace as PROOF:

  • Planned grace—“God planned to show his grace to his chosen people… God’s eternal plan was to love his children and give us his very best” (31, 32).
  • Resurrecting grace—“Apart from God’s single-handed gift of resurrecting grace, no human being will ever seek God because a death-defeating King who demands that we find our greatest joy in his Father’s fame is repulsive to the spiritually dead” (51).
  • Outrageous grace—“God chose us … and secured us as his children without the slightest reliance on anything we have done or might do… All of his, from beginning to end, God accomplished not due to our deeds but ‘freely by his grace'” (74-75).
  • Overcoming grace—“God unshackles us from the enslaving contagion of sin so that we glimpse the overwhelming beauty of Jesus and his kingdom” (91).
  • Forever grace—“If you are God’s property—someone who has been transformed by God’s power—no one, not even you, can remove you from God’s hand.… What our perseverance provides is evidence that Jesus is present in our faith, working his works through us” (111-112, 116).

Can you see why these doctrines have an image problem?

But truly, the issue doesn’t come from the doctrines themselves—the issue comes from us. Every element of this acrostic points away from us and what we do to God and what He does. They put us in a position of utter dependency, of desperate need. And we hate that, don’t we?

Years ago, I was teaching a children’s Sunday school class, and we discussed how we are Jesus’ sheep. A six-year-old girl—the pastor’s daughter!—went berserk when she heard this, defiantly declaring, “I am not a dumb sheep!”

Let’s be honest, us grown-ups are no different. The idea of being a “sheep”—a dumb, defenseless animal, totally incapable of caring for itself—is offensive to us. And yet, this is how the Lord describes His people: as sheep in need of a shepherd. These doctrines only serve to reinforce that: to challenge our self-reliance and destroy any misconceptions as to whom all glory, honor and praise is due.

Old wine in new wineskins

Some might argue that redefining the acrostic doesn’t resolve the issue with these doctrines. But that all depends on your point of view. If you have an issue with the doctrines of grace, it doesn’t matter how they’re articulated, you’re going to reject them. If you see the wine as tainted, a new wineskin isn’t going to help.

But what Montgomery and Jones do exceptionally well here is show us that this old wine is indeed the best. “Grace sets people free… Grace gives rest and peace… Grace leaves us with nothing to prove because, in Christ, everything that needs to be proven has already been provided” (143).

Like the pure rations that flashed in the tankards of eighteenth century sailors, the undiluted message of grace is intoxicating—so strong that it leaves us slaphappy, staggering, and singing for joy at the thought that God chose to love us precisely when there was nothing loveable about us.

This joy is the fuel that drives Christian worship. When a church proclaims God’s undiluted grace, the deadly delusions of human religion are drowned in a flood of gospel-fueled freedom and intoxicating joy. (22-23)

Engaging PROOF in all of life

There’s nothing stealth about the Calvinism in PROOF. There’s nothing hostile or conspiratorial. This is not a grim tome filled with condemnation. What Montgomery and Jones offer is a picture of grace—grace that is to be meditated upon, sung about, worshiped through. Pure, undiluted grace; the kind that truly changes lives, the kind that is meant to be engaged in all of life. This is the grace we all need. Come, discover it with fresh eyes, won’t you?


Title: PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
Authors: Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones
Publisher: Zondervan (2014)

Buy it at: Amazon | Westminster Books

Links I like (weekend edition)

The four Ps of faithful Bible reading

Michael Krahn:

Yes, reading the Bible can be an exercise in legalism, but approaching it with discipline and commitment is not legalism. And why should we do this? Is it just so we can pump our heads full of knowledge? Is knowledge the end goal? No. Knowledge is the first goal, but knowledge is not the end goal.

A certain kind of revival among evangelicals

Interesting piece Mark Oppenheimer:

Calvinism is a theological orientation, not a denomination or organization. The Puritans were Calvinist. Presbyterians descend from Scottish Calvinists. Many early Baptists were Calvinist. But in the 19th century, Protestantism moved toward the non-Calvinist belief that humans must consent to their own salvation — an optimistic, quintessentially American belief. In the United States today, one large denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, is unapologetically Calvinist.

But in the last 30 years or so, Calvinists have gained prominence in other branches of Protestantism, and at churches that used to worry little about theology.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Here’s a recap of the deals that’ve come up during the last week (plus a few others):

B&H’s New American Commentary Studies ($4.99 each):

Dealing with Alcoholism

Ed Stetzer:

So, I recently was in a conversation with an old friend of mine. We’ve known one another for a long time, and I knew of his journey.

Over the years, he changed his view on alcohol, moving from an abstentionist position to a more moderationist one. But, he found that, like a consistent percentage of people who intend to drink in moderation, he could not. He would later call that “alcoholism.”

Some studies show that 30% of Americans will struggle with alcohol in some way. That does not mean they are all alcoholics, but there are real issues to be addressed. And, if more evangelicals are going to accept beverage alcohol, we are going to need to have this conversation more frequently. (Even if the views don’t change, there are still many secret alcoholics—so let’s have the conversation either way.)

So, here is an interview with an anonymous evangelical pastor who is a recovering alcoholic. I’m hoping it might help someone see a problem that they might be ignoring, in themselves or in a friend.

Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books

Albert Mohler:

In the course of any given week, I will read several books. I know how much I thrive on this learning and the intellectual stimulation I get from reading. As my wife and family would be first to tell you, I can read almost anytime, anywhere, under almost any kind of conditions. I have a book with me virtually all the time, and have been known to snatch a few moments for reading at stop lights. No, I do not read while driving (though I must admit that it has been a temptation at times). I took books to high school athletic events when I played in the band. (Heap coals of scorn and nerdliness here). I remember the books; do you remember the games?

Links I like

A Moral Revolution at Warp Speed—Now, It’s Wedding Cakes

Albert Mohler:

Six months. That’s all the time it took for the news to shift from a landmark Supreme Court decision in Washington to a Colorado court ordering a baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The momentum of this revolution is breathtaking, and its threat to religious liberty is plain for all to see.

The Real Problem with Mark Driscoll’s ‘Citation Errors’

Andy Crouch:

Publishers and public figures often defend this practice of sole authorship as the “industry standard.” Indeed, in certain domains, like politics and government, it is taken for granted that top figures write little or none of what is attributed to them. When the economist Larry Summers left Harvard to join the Clinton Administration, he is said to have remarked to his friends, “When I was in academia, it was the greatest possible sin I could commit to sign my name to something I did not write. Now that I’m in government, it’s the secret to success.”

Not a simple matter

Burk Parsons:

About ten years ago I had breakfast with one of the finest Old Testament scholars of our generation. A confessional Presbyterian, he has fought many battles for doctrinal orthodoxy and biblical fidelity, and since the 1970s has written numerous articles in theological journals, has authored several books (some of which are now considered modern classics), and has taught in some of the most doctrinally faithful seminaries in America. At that breakfast, one of the men who was with us asked the esteemed scholar to explain his view of the millennium and to identify which millennial position he affirmed. I will never forget his immediate response. He said, “It’s not that simple.”

What Do You Think of When You Think of the New Calvinism?

Kevin DeYoung:

There are a number of legitimate dangers that need to be heeded when it comes to the New Calvinism. This could be, for some people, just another fad, just another chasing after the It Thang. The movement could crumble under the weight of self-importance. There is the danger of idolizing our heroes and envying our colleagues. There is the danger of minimizing important doctrines in an effort to promote gospel-centered unity. There is the danger of not being careful enough with our associations–and the opposite danger of taking glee in deciding who is in and who is out.

The Road to Apostasy

Erik Raymond:

When someone walks away from the faith it sends seismic ripples throughout the church. Somewhere amid the shock and emotions, we realize that we saw alarming signs but didn’t think they would materialize. I personally have seen this happen far too many times. In each case however, the steps, the path is strikingly similar.

So, how does it happen? Let me walk you down the road to apostasy. This is intended to illuminate this dark and often camouflaged path.

Five Points by John Piper

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What’s the stereotype of the Calvinist? Depending on who you talk to, you’ll probably hear something like this: he’s a grumpy, joyless, theological nitpick who obsesses over an acronym and secretly (or maybe not so secretly) relishes the thought of people spending eternity in Hell.

But should this be the case?

Should the so-called doctrines of grace really lead to a lack of grace among God’s people?

John Piper certainly doesn’t believe so. Instead, he firmly believes that our doctrine should bring us joy. So, with that in mind, he’s penned this short book, Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace. In ten easy-to-read chapters, Piper sets TULIP—total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints—in its historical context, offers a brief biblical survey for each, as well as the personal and historical testimonies of many faithful men of God who truly did believe that these truths are essential to our faith.

Piper’s goal is less about defending the five points of Calvinism for the sake of defending Calvinism as it is helping readers better see God—not just for the sake of knowing what He is like, but enjoying Him. “[T]o enjoy him we must know him. Seeing is savoring,” Piper writes. “If he remains a blurry, vague fog, we may be intrigued for a season. But we will not be stunned with joy, as when the fog clears and you find yourself on the brink of some vast precipice.” (8)

What’s most helpful in the book is, I believe, Piper’s honesty about his own view of the five points. One can’t help but come away from the book thinking Piper isn’t as much a fan of the modern construct of TULIP as he is the realities they point to:

  • He sees the implications of the doctrine of total depravity—of man’s open and continual rebellion against his Creator—and it causes him to wonder at the mercy of God.
  • He sees the necessity of understanding exactly for whom Christ died, but not so he can rejoice in the fate of those who die apart from Christ, but because the definitive nature of the cross should cause us to rejoice and to realize that Christ’s sheep are far more numerous than we might be tempted to believe.
  • He sees the unconditional nature of election as being a wonderful beacon of hope, for if salvation depended on anything but God loving us simply because He loves us, we’d be doomed.

Piper’s point again and again is simple: when we see the five points rightly, they should cause us to give thanks for the wondrous grace of God.

If we want to go deeper in our experience of God’s grace this is an ocean of love for us to enjoy. God does not mean for the bride of his Son to only feel loved with general, world-embracing love. He means for her to feel ravished with the specificity of his affection that he set on her before the world existed. He means for us to feel a focused: “I chose you. And I sent my Son to die to have you.” (52)

Not too long ago, I was roped into an online conversation about the angry perception of Calvinists and the problem of TULIP. One gentleman pointed out that he sees a consistent problem with TULIP—that it leads not to joy but to condemning anger. When reading this book, I had this person in mind. Is this the kind of book I’d give to this man? Did it perpetuate the stereotype he believes is more or less true of many who hold to the five points—is this yet another “angry Calvinist” manifesto?

Although he doesn’t shy away from calling into question certain interpretations of Scripture’s teaching, Piper’s language is far from combative. Instead, there’s more of an earnest sense of wonder that permeates the book’s pages. 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.


Title: Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s Grace
Author: John Piper
Publisher: Christian Focus (2013)

Buy it at: Westminster Books | Amazon

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

Becoming Balanced

A few weeks ago, Dustin Neeley sat down with Mark Driscoll to talk about what encourages and concerns him about young Christian leaders. Here’s the video:

(HT: The Resurgence)

In the video, Driscoll points out a couple of things he finds encouraging:

  1. A renewed desire for gospel-centered, Jesus-based, Bible saturated teaching
  2. A renewed heart for having a good gospel witness in urban centers
  3. A renewed interest in church planting

He also notes the following concerns, specifically in regard to what’s been called the Young, Restless & Reformed/New Calvinism:

  1. Good Reformed, complementarian theology unaccompanied by a strong sense of Spirit-filled mission will lead to fundamentalism
  2. New Calvinists being defined less by what they are for than what they’re against
  3. A lack of certainty about the role of the person of the Holy Spirit

Neeley asks viewers to consider the following questions in light of these encouragements and concerns:

“Where do I fall on the spectrum he describes?” and “What changes do I need to make to become more balanced?”

I don’t know about you, but here’s where I fall:

I absolutely love Jesus, the Church and the Bible and want to consistently be a better witness to Christ in my city (although I fail constantly). However, when I look at those concerns listed above, there are a number of things that caught my attention—not necessarily because I’m guilty of them (constantly), but the propensity is there.

It’s easy to develop convictions about what you’re against, for example, in the name of discernment. It’s a lot harder to develop strongly held convictions about what you’re for.

And it’s even harder to strongly hold to your convictions with humility.

This is where I’m learning that an increasing dependence on the Holy Spirit to work in and through me—both to make me more like Christ and (where necessary) speak words of correction—is so essential.

When I’m not actively depending on the Holy Spirit to guide my words, thoughts and actions, it usually goes bad. I’ll say the right thing the wrong way or I’ll say the wrong thing altogether.

Becoming balanced means being immersed in the Word.

Becoming balanced means cultivating a consistent prayer life.

Becoming balanced means becoming dependent on the Holy Spirit.

God, help me.

A Caution to the Young, Restless and Reformed

John Piper offers the following caution to the New Reformed/New Calvinist Movement:

The edited transcript follows:

Would there be any cautions that you would have for the New Reformed/New Calvinist Movement you referenced earlier?

Yes. [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (12/13)

Tim Challies: The Next Story (His Next Book)

Tim Challies, the world’s most famous Christian blogger and author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment announced his next book this week.

The working title: The Next Story. The publisher: Zondervan.

True story. Here’s what Tim had to say:

Since I wrote The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment I’ve often been asked the obvious question: what next? That’s a good question, of course. I have deliberately been biding my time. I’ve been in no real hurry to jump into my next project. A few ideas have come and gone, but none have been intriguing or original enough that I’ve wanted to dedicate a year of my life to them. The commitment to a certain topic is really a commitment to spend at least six months reading and writing about it and then a further six months (at minimum) doing interviews about it, speaking about it, preaching about it, and so on. The last thing I wanted to do was find a topic that would bore me and leave me dreading it.

[...] The book’s working title is The Next Story. I’m really pleased with the title, but it does have a downside in that it is remarkably difficult to pronounce (try saying it out loud). It is a book about technology in general and digital technology in particular. Even the least technical among us are being pressed from all sides by technology. Like it or not, we rely upon it in unprecedented ways. Many people feel that they are analog creatures in a digital world. Christians are beginning to awaken to this reality and are trying to think critically and biblically about many new realities brought about by technological developments. Yet, there are few helpful and sympathetic voices for those who wish to do so but have no idea how. I’m hoping to fill this gap, creating a book that will help Christians think well about technology. I do not intend to discuss Facebook and Twitter and whatever will be big and popular next month. I want to discuss technology in the bigger picture so that the book will be applicable today, tomorrow and ten years from now.

If all goes well, the book will be published in hardcover in the spring of 2011. And it will be published by Zondervan. I’m guessing that this will be a surprise to a few people. Frankly, it is a bit of a surprise to me. But in the end it was clear that Zondervan had the best all-around offer, from the financial, to the marketing, to the audience. Zondervan will take the book to a whole new audience, I’m convinced, and will work hard to help me find interesting speaking opportunities. They put together a fantastic proposal and I had no hesitations in signing on with them.

This is very exciting news and I’m thrilled for both Tim and Zondervan (and a very wise move on Zondervan’s part).  I’ve no doubt that he’ll bring the same thoughtfulness to this book as he did his first.

Look for The Next Story in 2011.


In Other News

Molly Piper cordially invites you to break your heart

Kevin DeYoung on The Christian Century and the New Calvinism

Michael Hyatt believes the SI Tablet might be the end of book publishing as we know it (and he’s excited!)

Trevin Wax reminds us that contextualization goes both ways


In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Andy Deane’s very helpful book, Learn to Study the Bible

Building Christmas traditions with my family

Ed Stetzer points us to a study on the effects of pornography

Sunday Shorts (09/13)

Book Review: Fearless by Max Lucado

Tuesday was the official release of popular author Max Lucado’s latest, Fearless, and I, along with a few hundred other bloggers, published our reviews—some overly positive, some in the middle and some… well, less than pleased. Mark at HereIBlog.com wrote a wonderful review that I appreciated a great deal:

While Lucado does present life’s fears and difficulties it is almost as if man is a victim. Although he does use the language of choosing to live for God which shows some level of responsibility. What is not stressed is the sinfulness of man as the reason for his hopelessness. It is not just that people do not trust God and sin. It is that people actively rebel against God. People are much worse than they think.

Read the rest for yourself at Mark’s blog.

Matt Chandler: On Calvinism and the New Reformed

Leadership Journal released a wonderful interview with Matt Chandler, lead pastor of the Village Church. In it, he pulls no punches, speaking about issues of sanctification, the Calvinistic bend of his teaching, and the New Reformed Movement. Here’s a couple excerpts:

Your teaching is deeply rooted in Calvinism. How does that play into becoming more Christ-like? What is God’s role and what is ours?

I believe the sovereign God of the universe justifies us freely, and then we are called to run with him in sanctification. In the book of Philippians, Paul tells us to toil, strive, move, and press on. Paul is unbelievably aggressive when it comes to putting sin to death.

That is what drives me mad in evangelical circles, including some young Reformed circles. There is often a sit-on-the-couch-and-wait-for-God-to-do-something mentality that is unbiblical and wicked. It’s probably been true of every generation, but I can see it most clearly in the younger crowd. There seems to be so little war when it comes to sin. Like the guy who comes to home group every week and dismissingly says, “Oh, I looked at porn again,” “Oh, I looked at porn again,” “Oh, I looked at porn again.” That drives me insane. I don’t even know what to do with him. Where’s the war? Where’s the hate for sin?

The New Reformed movement is sometimes seen as a belligerent group. Do you think that perception is accurate?

I’m unapologetically Reformed, but nine times out of ten I cannot stand the Reformed community. I don’t want to be around them. I don’t want to read their blogs. They can be cannibalistic, self-indulgent, non-missional, and angry. It’s silly and sad at the same time. Reformed doctrine should lead to a deep sense of humility and patience with others. How it produces such arrogance baffles me.

New Calvinism is a young movement, and young people are often arrogant. Life hasn’t had a chance to beat the trash out of them yet. I’ll tell the young people in my sermons, “You can’t get into theological battles while you still live with your mom.” Or, “You can nail your 95 theses to the door once you own one.” Before these 20 year olds begin passionately defending their view of Scripture, I want to see that they are being obedient to it.

Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing as it’s all brilliant.

HT: JT

In case you missed it

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

Book Review: Fearless, my take on Max Lucado’s latest book.

The Difference is Jesus, a new website focusing on the shared passion of myself and Compassion: The Gospel

The 30 Minute Challenge, what would happen if you spent 30 minutes a day for the next week reading a book?

Calvin's 500th

john-calvinToday marks the 500th birthday of John Calvin, a theologian par excellence, pastor, and one of the world’s greatest Bible teachers outside of Scripture. There are few men in church history who inspire more acclaim and more controversy than Calvin.

His birthday is one worth celebrating, to be sure.

However, as with all things, it’s a fine line between celebrating and idolizing. My fear for some is that we might fall into the trap of idolizing a fallen man, instead of worshiping the God he served.

Calvin was a theologian who placed Christ at the centre of everything. Even as we celebrate the life and work of this man today, let us not take our eyes off of Jesus Christ, our great God and Saviour.

To learn more about Calvin, visit Calvin500.com, or purchase Portrait of Calvin by THL Parker today for $2 at DesiringGod.org (also available as a free download).

Sunday Shorts (06/28)

Marvin Olasky: With Calvin in the Theater of God

Desiring God’s 2009 National Conference, With Calvin in the Theater of God, is coming up this September with an interesting line of speakers, including Marvin Olasky, editor of World Magazine.

Olasky has a very intriguing testimony, as you can see from this video:

You can learn more about the conference at DesiringGod.org.

Michael Jackson: A Tortured Existence

Tim Challies offers some thoughts on the recent death of Michael Jackson:

So the king is dead. What a sad end to a sad life; a pathetic end to a pathetic life (by which I mean to use pathetic in its true sense as “arousing pity and sympathy). I don’t know that I have ever seen, in one man, such a combination of self-love and self-loathing, shocking narcissism combined with equally shocking self-hatred. Truly Michael Jackson was unparalleled.

Read the rest at Challies.com.

Piper vs. Wright on Justification: A Layman’s Guide

Trevin Wax put together a handy layman’s guide to understanding the debate on justification between John Piper and NT Wright. A primer was recently featured in Christianity Today (you can also download it as a chart).

Trevin and Ted Olsen also co-wrote the article, “Not an Academic Question,” which let pastors sound off on how this theological debate influences their ministry.

In case you missed it

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

Don’t Waste Your Life Jim thought he had everything, until…

Book Review: Pastor Dad Reviewing Mark Driscoll’s recent Father’s Day gift to all the men online

With Grace Comes Boldness The power of the gospel and sovereignty of Christ should inspire boldness

Made in the Image of God: Choice

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26

This week, we arrive at one of the most hotly-debated ways in which we image God: Our ability to choose.

Throughout the Bible, there are innumerable passages related to the will of God and His ability to do or not do whatever He wishes. Perhaps the one that most clearly states His sovereignty is Psalm 135:6:

“Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.”

There are literally hundreds more within the pages of Scripture. Isaiah 14:27; Luke 10:21, 12:32; Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-12; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 2:4… this is just a small sampling of the wealth of passages referring to God’s absolute sovereign will.

There is nothing that falls outside of God’s will, according to the Scriptures. No word, no deed, no thought. Absolutely nothing. God is aware of all and in control of all.

So far so good, right?

Here’s where it starts to get contentious. [Read more...]