Links I like

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Reformation Trust and Ligonier’s free book of the month is Jesus the Evangelist by Richard Phillips (it’s a terrific book!). Grab it at Amazon or get the ePub edition at Ligonier.org.

And in case you missed these late additions yesterday, here are some new Kindle deals that popped up recently:

Logos’ free book of the month is The Righteousness of Faith According to Luther by Hans J. Iwand (which you can pair with Brett Muhlhan’s Being Shaped by Freedom: An Examination of Luther’s Development of Christian Liberty for 99 cents). And finally, Christianaudio.com’s free audiobook of the month is Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn.

33 under 33

The cover story for the latest issue of Christianity Today: “Meet the Christian leaders shaping the next generation of our faith.” Thankful to see so many friends on this list.

10 Promises for Parents

Kevin DeYoung:

My kids need Bible promises, but on most days I need them even more. I’m prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I want them to love.

So here are ten promises from the Bible that every Christian parent should remember, especially the Christian parent writing this blog.

Push Through the Awkward

Christine Hoover:

Being unwilling to push through the awkward keeps us in tightly controlled, safe places, but it also keeps us feeding on insecurities and frustrations. Of course, it’s true that we may push through the awkward and then things will be, well, awkward. The person doesn’t respond how we hoped. People don’t get why we’re doing what we’re doing. Expectations and hopes take a little tumble.

Counseling: Where Biblical Theology Hits the Street

Michael Emlet:

When you hear “biblical theology,” you tend to think of overarching categories such as creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. You think in terms of major biblical themes such as sin, suffering, exodus, sacrifice, law, kingdom, and exile, and how they develop in Scripture over the course of redemptive history. When you hear “counseling,” what comes to mind are topics such as interpersonal ministry, conversation, discipleship, personal struggles, and crisis. You see specific names and faces.

The Song of Broken Bones

Mike Leake:

I learned at an early age that when you stand next to a dude with a broken bone all you hear are screams. Playing his favorite song as he is driven to the hospital doesn’t quiet the shrieks. Neither do my always funny jokes.

The same is true when the Lord—because of our sin—breaks our bones. In such a situation you can no longer hear “joy and gladness”. All you hear are the wails of a broken spirit. Your vision is cloudy and your ears are deaf to joy.

Are Christians really free to smoke pot?

marijuana

Yesterday, Andy Crouch wrote a thoughtful piece on marijuana and Christian liberty. In it, he explains that while the editorial position of Christianity Today is that Christians are free to smoke marijuana recreationally where it is legal, “when it comes to pot in our particular cultural context, we think it would be foolish to use that freedom.”

This subject is not an easy one to deal with, but it’s an important one. Marijuana is legal in several states, and its legal status has been disputed in my homeland for well over a decade1—so it’s a subject we’re all going to have to deal with sooner or later.

Now, there’s a lot I agree with in Crouch’s article, particularly its conclusion that Christians shouldn’t smoke weed, even if they’re free to do so.

“The Christian’s freedom is a gift that leads to serving others, with care, attention, skill, and singleness of heart,” Crouch writes. “It’s a freedom that willingly sacrifices easy pleasures in order to serve. And by that standard, it’s hard to imagine that pot will be helpful any time soon.”

So while I agree with his assessment that if we are free to do this, we still shouldn’t, I’m honestly uncertain about the if itself. In other words, I’m not certain the Bible actually allows for this to fall under the domain of Christian liberty. Here are two points to consider:

1. Is it really lawful? The Christian liberty argument centers on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23: “‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” One of the challenges we face is with how to read Paul’s words. His quoting of the Corinthians insistence that all things are lawful or permissible may not have been approvingly. In fact, based on his response, “but not all things are helpful… not all things build up,” it could well be that he was outright refuting their claim.

Further to this, we see Paul’s insistence on a life of Spirit-fueled self-control (Galatians 5:22; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:2, 8). While we should be careful to not read into this an outright prohibition of substances that can impair our self-control (after all, the Bible does not forbid the consumption of alcohol), we should take it seriously: If something impairs my ability to think clearly or to practice moderation, am I really free to partake?

2. Is it really good? This is probably the more fundamental issue. Crouch writes that, “Christians despise no created thing. The marijuana plant is a part of a world that was declared good by its Maker every step along the way.”While God certainly did create everything “good” in the beginning, we also have to recognize that all things are not as they should be.

In the beginning, the first man and woman were free to eat of everything in the Garden—everything but the fruit of one tree. But when they sinned, the entire world was affected, and today it groans under the curse, as it awaits the inauguration of the new creation (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:17-19; Romans 8:22). As a result of the curse, we see that plants that were once created “good” are now “bad” for us.

Before the Fall, no mushroom existed that would poison us if we ate it, and no leaf would cause a rash if it touched us. Simply, we need to recognize that—just as with certain types of wild mushrooms and Poison Ivy—the effect of marijuana on the mind is likely not the original intent as seen in God’s good creation . In fact, it is more likely the result of the curse! Thus, we should be careful about classifying it as “good,” lest we inadvertently call something “evil” “good” (Isaiah 5:20).

Which takes us back to the beginning.

I agree with Crouch that even if Christians were free to use marijuana in moderation for recreational purposes, they should not—but, I’m uncertain that the if in this case is really an if at all. I’m just not sure the Scriptures support such a position.

What are your thoughts on this?

Links I like

The Case for Big Change at Calvary Chapel

Timothy C. Morgan, interviewing Brian Broderson:

In the last half century, Calvary Chapel has grown from a single Bible study to a worldwide fellowship of more than 1,500 churches and ministries, yet not without its problems. In a 2007 CT interview, one pastor said of Calvary Chapel, “The Titanic has hit the iceberg. But the music is still playing.” Calvary Chapel is, however, still afloat, and has survived not just growing pains, but also allegations of pastoral misconduct, lawsuits, and scandals.

In a historic transition in 2012, Calvary Chapel officially established an association with a 21-member leadership council, which now guides the worldwide organization Chuck Smith fostered. In December, CT’s senior editor, global journalism, Timothy C. Morgan interviewed pastor Brodersen.

More Christians need to be like this kid

HT: Barnabas

Would God Ask You to Take a Mustard Bath?

Mike Leake:

The frail old man sets aside his walker and gradually places himself in the tub. But this is no ordinary bath. You see, he just returned from the store where he purchased seven gallons of yellow mustard. The old man has scooped, squirted, and squeezed this smelly condiment into his bathtub.

Why in the world has this man done such a thing?

“Is he senile?” you ask.

Nope. He’s just got arthritis and he watches Christian television.

The Bible in the Original Geek

Ted Olsen:

Stephen Smith doesn’t look like a mad scientist, because he’s not one. Not really. He’s not even a code guy by training. But he has packed the room at BibleTech, an occasional gathering of coders, hackers, publishers, scholars, and Bible technology enthusiasts. And the standing-room-only crowd is starting to turn on him. No pitchforks and torches. But for once in this collegial, tight-knit retreat, you can feel the tension growing.

My Evangelical Story Isn’t So Bad

Derek Rishmawy:

Over the last few years we’ve seen one narrative in particular rise in ascendancy, the story of broken religious faith–either to be recovered, transformed, or possibly forfeited forever. While they can be found in most traditions, given my own context, I’m thinking of the ”I had a terrible Evangelical experience” story in particular. An expanding number of blogs, long-form articles, and memoirs dedicated to telling these stories have emerged, and done quite well. Indeed, it seems to be a wave with no end currently in sight.

Of course, even those specific to Evangelicalism come in different forms. For some, there’s a story of flight from churchly abuse and control. Others share their experiences in “purity culture” with its repressive and distorted teaching on sexuality and personhood. Still others give us insight into communities of scared, intellectual obscurantists set to repress all questions and intellectual honesty. A lot of it is really sad, heartbreaking stuff, for a number of reasons.

Around the Interweb (01/10)

John Piper: A Sweet and Bitter Providence

John Piper’s got a new book, A Sweet and Bitter Providence. About the book:

The timeless themes of sex, racial tension, and God’s perplexing and perfect plans are as much a part of our human experience today as they were for Ruth and Boaz over three thousand years ago.

In A Sweet and Bitter Providence, the book of Ruth comes alive as a story of how God uses the most dangerous and tenuous circumstances to accomplish his wise and gracious purposes.

Here’s the trailer:

Read the book as a PDF or order a copy online


In other news

Christianity Today interviews Brit Hume, the former news anchor who appealed to Tiger Woods to turn to Christianity.

Kevin DeYoung on writing: part one | part two | part three

Bob Kauflin offers some reflections on turning 55


In case you missed it

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

A review of Marva J. Dawn’s In the Beginning, God

“Perhaps I’ll be like Peter in his bravado…” Steve Timmis on giving up our lives for the gospel

The Perfect Worshipper, a few thoughts on Psalm 15

D.A. Carson on what the Church in America needs

An inspiring excerpt from C.H. Spurgeon’s All of Grace

The Gospel-less "Gospel"

You may have seen this video making the rounds this week, an eight minute film produced by Christianity Today and The Global Conversation:

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3844220&w=425&h=350&fv=]
more about “The Prosperity Gospel“, posted with vodpod

 

The video is exceptional, disturbing and incredibly convicting. Watch the last couple of minutes, starting at 6:14, or read the transcript to see what I mean:

Rev. Sam Korankye Ankrah (a pastor who preaches the prosperity “gospel”):
“We were born in poverty. We suffered; we struggled; we almost didn’t get food to eat. We struggled for food. We struggled for space. For love. You might have been born into poverty but you can change the status quo and turn around and  leave a legacy of wealth for your children. You have been born into many difficulties and challenges—but here it starts with you. So for us, preaching prosperity, dreaming prosperity, craving for prosperity, praying for prosperity is non-negotiable. It’s power to break poverty.” [Read more…]

Sunday Shorts (06/07)

Doug Phillips: Hey, I’m No Theologian…

Doug Phillips posted a terrific article about the importance of theology. Here are a few snippets:

We are all theologians.

Whether or not we think about God and his will, etc., in ways that are faithful to his Word substantially determines whether or not we will relate to Him in ways that are actually pleasing to Him (cp. Col. 1:9-11). Are we the kind of worshipers he actually seeks and wants? (Jn.4:22-24).

Authentic spiritual transformation is dependent on increasingly bringing our thinking (and ‘theologizing’) increasingly in line with Scripture. We are transformed, Paul says, by the renewing of our mind. And our Lord says that sanctification occurs in connection with the truth – the truth of God’s Word.

Read the whole thing.

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Advance09 Session MP3s Online

Not able to make it to Advance this week? Enjoy the sessions from your iPod.

Download them here.

How Tim Keller Found Manhattan

The cover story for this month’s Christianity Today profiles Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian. Here’s the intro:

When Tim Keller came to Manhattan in 1989, New York City had a well-deserved reputation as a snarling, scary place. Violent crime, drug dealing, and other urban pathologies had weakened or chased off many of the faithful. While a barely perceptible renewal was under way, it seemed as if the few remaining orthodox Protestants were huddled together in historic buildings. All of Keller’s formal pastoral experience had happened in a small, blue-collar town in Virginia.

Yet today, almost 20 years later, he steps onstage before a packed auditorium at Hunter College on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. His church, Redeemer Presbyterian, has five crowded Sunday services in three rented locations—Keller dashes between them—with an average total attendance of 5,000. The service at Hunter is the largest, the “tourist service.” (For many years, Redeemer deliberately avoided publicity, but word has spread lately, and Keller estimates that hundreds of out-of-towners show up each Sunday.) Well over 2,000 people—mainly young whites and Asians you would expect to be sleeping off a late Saturday night—have come to this morning’s service.

Read the rest at ChristianityToday.com

In case you missed it

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

The Challenge: What Have I Learned? What did 40 days without podcasts and theology books teach me?

Book Review: Love or Die Reviewing a wonderful book on the need to return to the love we had at first.

Made in the Image of God: Wisdom, Emotions and Morality A look at how humanity images God through our thoughts, emotions and morality

The Persevering Prophet: My Heart is Sick! Jeremiah addresses the source of human depravity: The heart.

Sunday Shorts (05/17)

Recommended Reading: Al Mohler’s Top Ten

Evangelical Village provides us with Al Mohler’s top ten books to read in 2009. I’m looking forward to reading Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures by Dennis E. Johnson sometime before the year’s end. Matt at Evangelical Village tells me that it’s the best book on preaching written in the last few decades outside of Lloyd-Jones’ work.

Any of the rest interest you?

No, Mr. President

HT: Justin Taylor

What’s Next for the Gospel Coalition?

Christianity Today interviewed D.A. Carson about the future of the Gospel Coalition:

Our aim is not to keep the coalition as an end in itself. It’s a coalition of people for the sake of promoting the gospel. And if the gospel is so implanted in enough things that are taking it forward in all kinds of useful and happy ways, then we should morph into something else or stop as an organization.

I’m neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I’m not sure where it will be in 20 years. I have some confidence where it will be, God helping us, in 5 years or maybe even 10 years.

Read the rest at ChristianityToday.com