Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

And for those productivity/organization fans among us, check out Matt Perman’s How to Set Up Your Desk: A Guide to Fixing a (Surprisingly) Overlooked Productivity Problem ($4.99).

13 Mistakes People Make in Social Media Bios

Barnabas Piper shares a few of the common errors he sees in Twitter bios.

Charles Spurgeon, Susannah, and The Pilgrim’s Progress

Ray Rhodes Jr:

Why did Spurgeon give a copy of Bunyan’s book to Susannah instead of a copy of the Bible with passages highlighted to address her particular situation? Growing up in a Christian home, Susannah had long enjoyed access to the Bible. She had also heard the Scripture expounded numerous times at New Park Street. What Susannah most needed was not another Bible, but instead, biblical counsel. Understanding Spurgeon’s attitude towards John Bunyan generally and The Pilgrim’s Progress specifically provides hints as to why he chose this classic work for Susannah.

The Unfortunate Triumph of Clickbait Christianity

Aaron Earls:

Because the decline in “Christians” is overwhelmingly the result of these nominal believers dropping the name and embracing their practical lack of religion, what this really should lead to is a collapse of clickbait style religion reporting.

But nuance takes work and doesn’t fit well in a tweet. “Well, it’s kinda complicated” doesn’t naturally elicit Facebook shares or garner viral style page views. Yet that doesn’t make it any less true.

Don’t Confuse Spirituality with Righteousness

R.C. Sproul:

Over the years I’ve had many young Christians ask me how to he more spiritual or more pious. Rare has been the earnest student who said, “Teach me how to be righteous.” Why, I wondered, does anybody want to be spiritual? What is the purpose of spirituality? What use is there in piety?

The story of Luke’s lost friend Biggs

Star Wars fans will appreciate this:

5 highlights from #TGP15

On Monday, I had the opportunity to be in Nashville, where I and a few other bloggers and dudes who spend more time on Twitter than we should, were live-tweeting LifeWay’s Gospel. Life. Ministry online conference.

This free event featuring short messages from a few dozen pastors and thought leaders from around evangelicalism, including Matt Chandler, David Platt, Tripp Lee, Gloria Furman, Eric Geiger, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Trillia Newbell.

If you missed the livestream, the videos—along with some newly created discussion guides—are available now to stream for the next couple of weeks (note: you will need to register in order to view them). Here are a few highlights from my perspective:

Faithful leaders in the church

Every speaker shared for about 10-15 minutes about a topic they were particularly passionate about, and there are few topics Thabiti Anyabwile is more passionate about than the need for faithful leaders in the local church. Probably the most important statement he made in his talk was this: “A good leader submits himself to God’s Word and receives correction from others.”

A good leader is humble (or is imperfectly pursuing it). He doesn’t run away from correction or buck against it. He receives it. And if a leader isn’t willing to do this, then he is unfit for ministry.

The good news does something

Jeff Vanderstelt’s session was a powerful appeal to embrace an active faith—that Christians should be people whose lives should be a powerful apologetic that confirms their words. And this is important because if our lives don’t look that much different from those who don’t follow Jesus, what does it say about us? We should always remember “The gospel is good news that actually changes things.” It starts with us individually and moves out from there.

Revivals can’t be scheduled

I’ll be honest: the whole idea of scheduling a revival service gives me the heebie-jeebies. I’m all for revival—I’m all for the Lord moving in a powerful way in the lives of people—but it’s something we don’t have control over. As Ray Ortlund put it well in his talk, “We don’t cause revival. Revival is a gift from above.” So if you long to see revival, there’s only one thing to: pray that God would bring it about.

Why we don’t like repentance

“Repentance is controversial because it presupposes that there is something wrong with us.” This, for me, was the line of the conference, and it was courtesy of Trevin Wax. Trevin did a wonderful job of cutting to the heart of the issue here. For people who don’t think they’re practically perfect in every way, the call to repent is an offensive idea. It shatters the lie we’ve convinced ourselves of. No wonder the “Jesus loves you just the way you are” message of Joel Osteen and friends draws such a huge crowd—it only serves to feed the lie, rather than supplant it.

Trevin Wax and Ed Stetzer: the meme off

Finally, one highlight that wasn’t about the teaching components, but was most definitely one of those “I can’t turn away from this” things. Trevin Wax and Ed Stetzer (the managing and general editors of The Gospel Project) served as hosts of the webcast, appearing in short bumper videos filled with a hearty helping of snark between each session. Eventually, people started to have some fun with it:

And one more:

Be sure to check out the conference messages while you can. It’ll be well worth your time.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Just one new one that I’m aware of so far, and that is Ordinary by Michael Horton ($1.99). Over at WTS Books, you can get a great deal on Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics ($67 for the three volume set).

Two Sisters, Two Views of Gay Marriage

This is a good example of how disagreement can be handled with love.

Reigning with Christ

David Murray:

Very few of us would like to be President. However, most of us, at least some of the time, would like to be involved with the President. We’d like to be able to share in his decision-making, to have some input and influence, to be in a position and possess the power to affect outcomes, and even to enjoy some of the privileges that go with such a position.

Well, that’s unlikely to happen to any of us any time soon. But, there’s something even more amazing than ruling with the President and sharing in the President’s position and power. The Christian will reign with Christ, with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Is Christianity Dying?

Russell Moore:

Secularization in America means that we have fewer incognito atheists. Those who don’t believe can say so—and still find spouses, get jobs, volunteer with the PTA, and even run for office. This is good news because the kind of “Christianity” that is a means to an end—even if that end is “traditional family values”—is what J. Gresham Machen rightly called “liberalism,” and it is an entirely different religion from the apostolic faith handed down by Jesus Christ.

Who really wrote the Gospels?

Timothy Paul Jones addresses a skeptical scholar’s reconstruction of how the four gospels became associated with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

When To Stop Chasing Your Dream

Michael Kelley:

Dreams are wonderful things; they fill us with hope and optimism; they make us view every day with new possibilities and cause us to spring with joy at the prospect that “today might just be the day.” They are wonderful, that is, until they aren’t any more. It’s at that moment when you come face to face with the reality that maybe it’s actually not going to happen for you.

But I want to propose that there is a time when it’s not only necessary but actually appropriate to stop chasing your dream. Here’s the reason why.

“I went all the way back”

Ray Ortlund:

If our hearts are not filled with the love of God, mere orthodoxy about God cannot suffice.  Indeed, our orthodoxy about God only intensifies our frustration and rage, because we are experiencing less than we know is real.  But if our spiritual starvation diet goes undiagnosed and unremedied, we inevitably reveal our soul-deprivation toward God by the horrible ways we mistreat one another.  That is when we orthodox Christians can become as harsh and brutal as a radical leftist.  But our orthodoxy justifies it.

If you desire shame, be proud

pride-exults

My father and I had lunch recently and we were talking about a particular situation and I mentioned that it’s sometimes hard for people to accept help (or ask) because of pride. He readily agreed, citing it’s inclusion in the seven deadly sins (which lead to a bit of a rabbit trail on a few things).

Everyone, generally, recognizes pride as a problem. Whether we’re Christians or not, we recognize pride’s ugliness. And we are right to do so. After all, it’s reputed to be the sin that got the devil kicked out of heaven! It’s what caused Adam and Eve to accept the devil’s interpretation of what would happen if they ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And it’s something every single one of us deals with every day.

And yet, it never does us any good, does it? Who among us can say that being really proud dramatically improved their life? In fact, it’s more likely that if we really stopped to consider it, we would say, along with Charles Spurgeon, “If you, O man, desire shame, be proud.”

Pride exalts it head, and seeks to honor itself; but it is of all things most despised. It sought to plant crowns upon its brow, and so it hath done, but its head was hot, and it put an ice crown there, and it melted all away. Poor pride has decked itself out finely sometimes; it has put on its most gaudy apparel, and said to others, “how brilliant I appear!” but, ah! pride, like a harlequin, dressed in thy gay colours, thou art all the more fool for that; you are but a gazing stock for fools less foolish than yourself. You have no crown, as you think you have, nothing solid and real, all is empty and vain.… A monarch has waded through slaughter to a throne, and shut the gates of mercy on mankind to win a little glory; but when he has exalted himself, and has been proud, worms have devoured him, like Herod, or have devoured his empire, till it passed away, and with it his pride and glory. Pride wins no crown; men never honor it, not even the menial slaves of earth; for all men look down on the proud man, and think him less than themselves.1

Pride leaves us empty and vain. It has no crowns—no rewards to offer. It is not honored and only brings shame upon those who display it—not just from the reproach of our fellow men, but opposition from God. Fight it with all your might, for the good of all those around you, and for the good of your own soul.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Nancy Leigh DeMoss announces her engagement to Robert Wolgemuth

This is really great news.

Why the missional movement will die in the next five years

Matt Adair:

Several years ago, Mike Breen predicted that the missional movement would fail because it is a mission devoid of discipleship. I wholeheartedly agree. We have disconnected our life for God from our life with God.

But there’s another reason why the missional movement will fail. The people in your church do not care about the missional movement. Look, I know you’ve preached on missional living and wired your small groups to reach your city. And my guess is that you have some pretty cool stories about ways your church has served the city. You very well might have seen a person here or there come to faith in Christ.

9 Stupid Things I Did as a Pastor

Thom Rainer:

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

7 Truths About Hell

JD Greear:

Concerning hell, C. S. Lewis once wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.” In many ways, I agree with him. No one, Christians included, should like the idea of hell. Those of us who believe in hell aren’t sadists who enjoy the idea of eternal suffering. In fact, the thought of people I know who are outside of Christ spending eternity in hell is heartbreaking. As a young Christian, when I began to learn about hell and its implications, I almost lost my faith. It was that disturbing.

Hell is a difficult reality, but it is something that the Bible teaches, and we can’t fully understand God and his world unless we grapple with it. These seven truths should frame our discussion of hell.

New research on the landscape of Christianity in America

The short version: mainline denominations and Roman Catholics are in substantial decline. Unaffiliateds are rising sharply. Evangelicals are holding more-or-less stable.

There Is No Pointless Suffering

Randy Alcorn:

As a child, before my mom baked a cake, she’d lay the ingredients on the kitchen counter. One day I tasted each ingredient. Flour. Baking soda. Raw eggs. Vanilla extract. I discovered almost everything that goes into a cake tastes terrible. But a delicious metamorphosis took place when my mother skillfully mixed the ingredients in just the right amounts and baked them at the perfect temperature. The final product was great!

Similarly, the individual ingredients of trials and apparent tragedies taste bitter to us. No translation of Romans 8:28 says “each thing by itself is good,” but “all things work togetherfor good,” and not on their own, but under God’s sovereign hand. I needn’t say, “It’s good,” if my house burns down, I’m robbed and beaten, or my child dies. But God, in His wisdom, measures and mixes our circumstances, then regulates the heat in order to produce something wonderful—Christlikeness—for his glory and our ultimate joy.

God doesn’t give us do-overs

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Several years ago, I met a Muslim man at our paediatrician’s office. We spoke briefly and when he learned I work for a Christian ministry, he was very excited. He mentioned he’d been looking for Bibles in Arabic and asked if I knew where he might find some. He also suggested my family and I come over to his home sometime. However, being the sort of Canadians who tend to be skeptical of such invitations, we didn’t wind up following through. In fact, I didn’t even contact him until a few weeks later when my conviction about the issue had gotten to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. So, I wrote an apologetic email, sent along a few links to where he might be able to find an Arabic Bible, and gave an open invite to get together if he was ever interested.

I’ve not received a response.

This is still one of those moments I’m kicking myself over. I had an opportunity there to potentially start a new relationship that could have lead to this man coming to know Christ. The opportunity was right in front of me, and I didn’t take it.

Many of us, I suspect, have moments like this, those moments that if we had a do-over, we would absolutely take it. And yet, they never seem to come. At least, not in the way we would expect. We want a do-over, but God doesn’t give us one. Instead, he takes these moments we regret—in fact, he gives us these moments—so we might learn from them. That we might take them as opportunities to grow and change and take action when a new opportunity arises.

If I ever met this man again, I’d probably not recognize him. And likely he wouldn’t recognize me. But if we were to meet again, I hope that I would be more willing to take him up on his offer of hospitality—or, even better, extend such an offer myself. To perhaps begin a friendship, and maybe even be a small part of what God might be doing in his life.

Seeing a gift as a gift leads to greater joy

armstrong-kids

I’m very thankful for my wife, who goes above and beyond as a wife and mother every day. With homeschooling, the regular chores, and then added responsibilities when I’m away from home,1 she deserves a lot more than a mere “thanks.” (And yet, this is pretty much what I’ve got for her right now.)

But my wife isn’t some sort of unusual super-star who goes above and beyond. She’s like most of the wives and mothers I know. They work hard—really hard—caring for their families. And more often than not, it’s without complaint, and without a break. It’s easy for the unceasing requests to wipe noses, mouths and other orifices to either supplant their identities or eat away at their spirits; and what is a good gift becomes tiresome toil.

That struggle isn’t exclusive to mothers, though—it’s common to us all. That’s one of the things I really appreciated about this passage from Gloria Furman’s excellent book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full. Gloria writes:

When I view motherhood not as a gift from God to make me holy but rather as a role with tasks that get in my way, I am missing out on one of God’s ordained means of spiritual growth in my life. Not only that, but I am missing out on enjoying God. No amount of mommy angst can compare to the misery that comes from a life devoid of the comforting, encouraging, guarding, providing, satisfying presence of our holy God.…

The gifts that God gives us serve this holy purpose—to direct our praise to the giver of those gifts. If you enjoy the gift of your children and the gift of your motherhood, but your joy terminates in those gifts, then you’ve missed the point of those gifts. (30-31)

Motherhood (and fatherhood, too) is a wonderful gift, as any mother, including my wife, will tell you. If this good gift is given the wrong sort of attention, it makes for a terrible god. But when we give it the right sort of attention–when we see the gift as truly a gift—it is a glorious way to focus our hearts and minds on Jesus.


Photo by Andrea Bartholomew.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Amazon’s Big Deal sale started yesterday, and there are a number of great books on sale including these four by Kevin DeYoung ($2.99 each):

Also on sale:

Today’s also the last day to take advantage of Crossway’s regular weekly deals:

9 Things Adult Daughters Want Their Mothers to Know

Gaye and Anna Clark:

Anna, like many young women, is a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl. Throughout her life, he’d been the go-to parent for her. “I’m just like Dad,” she would explain. “Besides, Nathan is your favorite anyway.”

Ouch. I didn’t want to be accused of playing favorites. With my husband’s recent death, I held both my children closer than ever. How could I improve my relationship with my adult daughter and point her to Christ?

Recently, I asked Anna, now 22 and a senior at Covenant College, to give me nine things a mother needs to know about her adult daughter. So she and her friends crowded around a lunch table. Much of what they said, to me, looks a lot like the practical application of Ephesians 6.

God Moves

Kevin DeYoung continues his series “Hymns we should sing more often.”

Nashville timelapse

If you were wondering why I think Nashville is a pretty rad place to visit, this might help:

Why Not to Have a Woman Preach

Tom Schreiner weighs in on Andrew Wilson’s response to John Piper’s response to the question of whether or not women should preach in the Sunday morning worship gathering.

The Real Miracle

Nick Batzig:

A friend recently said to me, “I don’t deserve the life I have. Years ago I was wandering from God out in the far country and He saved me; He gave me a wife that I don’t deserve, children that I don’t deserve, a biblically faithful church and is now giving me opportunities to be used in His church. People are always talking about miracles, but this is the real miracle–that God would save us, redeem our lives and use us in His Kingdom.” I couldn’t agree more.

When Christians say “I’m better than you”

medium_6952507370

There are some things we can say about those who don’t believe in Jesus that are wholly true and appropriate. There are others, though, that are either just plain silly or impossibly evil. Recently, I found myself considering one of the latter, which goes something like this:

I cannot respect unbelievers—they reek to heaven! It is impossible for me to honor them in any way.

How would you respond to this (and be honest)? If you were teaching a Sunday School class or participating in a small group and someone said this, what would you do?

Most of us, I suspect, would like to say they would patiently ask, “Why not?” That they would investigate the statement and find out what’s behind it. Honestly, though, as much as I’d like to do that, I’d probably be more tempted to say words I’d need to repent of later. Why? Because this is one of the most ungodly things a Christian could say about an unbeliever—because it presumes that we are somehow better than unbelievers. 

And yet, this is not so. For we know that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, as Genesis 1 tells us. Though sin horribly mars it, though our relationship with God is severed and transformed from one of loving friendship to bitter enemies because of it, sin does not eradicate the image of God in us. Our morality, our capacity for love and goodness, our intelligence, our ability to comprehend spiritual realities (though terribly confused and misdirected)… these still exist and still testify of our being “like” God in some limited sense. And despite the strongest words possible being used to describe our sinful state and our rebellion against God, God has not reneged on the original “goodness” of humanity, at least in this sense. So we would be wise to remember that only a fool calls evil what God calls good. And what is saying something like this but foolishness?

But that’s not the only reason. This notion of being unable to respect unbelievers—of putting them solely in the category of sinners whose stench reaches the heavens and stokes the wrath of God—is a rejection of the grace of God in the gospel. Consider how Paul reminds the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 6:9-11:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul is very clear here: Sin is horribly offensive to God. It separates us. It prevents us from entering the kingdom. It damns us to hell. But Paul didn’t stop at writing about how swindlers won’t inherit the kingdom. He turned this judgment back around on his readers:

“And such were some of you.”

All these things that keep people out of the kingdom of God—they were those things! We were those things! We all know this is true, deep down inside. For we know that if anyone could really see into our hearts, they’d be terrified. Heck, if we actually seriously considered the stray thoughts and the darkness that lives inside of us, we’d probably be even more terrified. But Paul, even in rebuking the Corinthians (and us along with them), offers an encouragement.

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (Emphasis mine)

So despite our unholiness; despite our sin and misdeeds; despite our constant rebellion… God in his mercy has washed us of these sins. He has rescued us though we were ungodly and deserving of death. The gospel was more than enough to rescue us from sin—should this not lead to great compassion for those who remain trapped in their sin?

When we say silly nonsense like we can’t respect unbelievers, we are forgetting (again), that we are no different. In fact, as Christians, we should always be developing a more mature understanding of God’s grace to us in the gospel. We see this in Paul’s writings as he progressively changes his definition of himself as he matures. He first goes from being the least of all the apostles in 1 Corinthians 15:9, to the least of all the saints in Ephesians 3:8, to finally the foremost of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15!

Notice that this isn’t an upward progression—he doesn’t gradually feel better about himself as time goes on. Instead, God’s grace is forcing him to recognize his sin in greater detail. And it does the same to us. The longer we are believers, the longer we are in relationship with Jesus, the more we see how far we fall short. The more we should recognize that we are totally unworthy of God’s love, and yet God has poured out his love on us so lavishly. 

How dare we, then, condemn those who we should be seeking to reach? When we think of unbelievers as being unworthy of respect, we only have one recourse: repent and believe the gospel. For just as they are, so too were we.


Photo credit: Skley via photopin cc

Truth is always timeless (and timely)

Truth

Sometimes I wonder why certain books and authors remain favorites over the course of decades or centuries. But the answer really isn’t that difficult to discern. Certain books are just as relevant today as they were when they were written because, though the trappings may change, the truth contained within hasn’t.

Truth is always timeless. It’s also timely.

This is especially true when we consider our ongoing debates about sexuality. Do conservative or traditional views of marriage, gender and sexuality hinder human flourishing and happiness? Is it repressive to believe that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman? Is the way to be freed from this feeling of guilt and shame we feel to be more open and expressive?

Consider these words from C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity:

…you and I, for the last twenty years, have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not.

They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not…

Modern people are always saying “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.” They may mean “There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that the human race reproduces itself in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.” If they mean that, they are right. Christianity says the same… But, of course, when people say, “Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,” they may mean “the state into which the sexual instinct has now got is nothing to be ashamed of.”

If they mean that, I think they are wrong.1

Lewis wrote about the hyper-sexualizing of society in his day with the same terms that are used today.

It’s funny, for all our talk of being sexually repressed as a society, anyone who has gone into a mall or turned on the TV or tried to eat a sandwich would likely say otherwise. Sex is inescapable in our culture. I can’t go to the mall without being exposed to 9 feet wide images of scantily clad ladies. Why?

Because there’s a sale on bras.

I can barely get through an entire movie aimed at my children without finding numerous suggestive jokes peppered into the dialogue. Why? Because we don’t want the adults to get bored.

But has our society gotten any better in the last twenty years of over-stimulation?

We are seeing more marriages and families than ever devastated by pornography, by adultery, by the idols of (temporary) personal happiness and immediate gratification. You can have bus signs advertising phone-sex lines, run billboards for adultery services, and create apps that facilitate it and one even blinks. We’re all well aware of the unprecedented transformation of western values regarding same-sex relationships, the redefinition of marriage, the irrelevancy of biological gender…

So Lewis’ words have never been more relevant. Their message is urgent. And the urgency grows the longer the message goes unheeded. Lewis’ point was that sexuality will continue to be confused the longer we attempt to define and redefine it to fit our current proclivities. We continue to feel ashamed because we are ashamed. This is the image of God within us at work against us.

And the solution is not to continue to lull our conscience into submission. That only leads to a greater sense of despair. Instead, the answer can be found only one way: by recognizing the truth. By heeding the message that Lewis wrote more than 60 years ago. By rediscovering the wisdom of generations past, and maybe even heeding their warnings. By embracing the truth—because truth is always timeless. And it is always timely.


A much earlier version of this post was published in 2009. But don’t read that one, because it’s terrible.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Gideons distribute their two billionth Bible

This is great news.

How to survive in a free-falling elevator

Now you know:

How to take Christ out of Christianity

This is tragic:

When I tell my socially progressive, atheist friends that I’m “culturally Christian,” they’re momentarily concerned that I have a latent preoccupation with guns and the Pledge of Allegiance. Using the term with devout believers gets me instructions that I just need to read more sophisticated theology to come around. I’ve tried hard to accept my fully secular identity, and at other times I’ve tried to read myself into theistic belief, going all the way through divinity school as part of the effort. Still, I remain unable to will myself into any belief in God or gods — but also unable to abandon my relationship to the Episcopalian faith into which I was born and to the ancient stories from which it came.

And though I am without a god, I am not alone.

Why Twitter is better than Facebook

Yep:

What Proximity is Worth

Brett McCracken:

It’s easier to find a tribe of like-minded kindred spirits online or at national conferences; much harder to make community work with the “hand you’ve been dealt” in physical proximity. As my pastor likes to say, it’s often harder to love and serve the guy across the street, the crotchety landlady, the awkward coworker, than it is to go on a mission trip to Myanmar or support a cause on the other side of the world. People who go to the ends of the earth or take up “radical” calls are to be commended, of course, but the “ordinary” calling of domestic faithfulness and commitment to community is never to be diminished. Augustine is right: We should show “special regard” for what and who is right in front of us.

Leaders stoop

Joey Cochran:

Here in Nehemiah 3, nestled in verse 5, we learn a lesson — an important lesson about biblical leadership. Real leaders stoop. In their stooping, they offer their submission as service to the Lord.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

In honor of Mother’s Day next weekend, Crossway’s Kindle deals are focused on books for women:

Also on sale:

Cyprian’s prayer for perseverance through persecution

This is really great.

Would the Apostle Paul Listen to Lecrae?

Brandon Smith:

What we tend forget is that the hymns or chants we love were once themselves “modern” and sometimes controversial based on their tune, tempo, or similarity to “pagan” music forms. Our desire for older music is misguided because we forget that our music will one day be the “ancient” music some pine for. Age of the song should be disregarded.

Are We Hiding Behind Pulpits?

R.C. Sproul Jr:

Before we answer we have to confess that the ideology is not a direct assault on any of our most ancient creeds. Our Lord never spoke specifically against the peculiar sin that animated this small group. There may be a few obscure texts in the Bible that, indirectly it would seem, touch on the sin. But truth be told, one could preach through the whole Bible without ever having to actually name the twisted doctrine of this group.

Nothing Left to Hide

Jon Bloom:

We all know insincerity when we see it. Most of really don’t like it when we see it in others. And we roundly condemn misleading marketing by mendacious merchants.

But most of us also find it hard to fully live “without wax” ourselves. I know this by observation and experience. I know it mainly because I know me. I am a clay jar (2 Corinthians 4:7) — and one that is quite flawed. And my sin-nature is a mendacious marketing merchant. It does not want you or anyone else to see my defects. It wants to hide the defects behind a deceptive wax and sell you a better version of me than is real.

Nehemiah’s List

Michael Kelley:

I live by lists. In fact, I take so much joy in crossing things off a list that if I do something that’s not on my list, I’ll write it on there just for the sheer pleasure of crossing it off. It’s encouraging to me, then, when I look to Scripture and see other list-makers (maybe there’s a place for us in the kingdom of God, too).

Will we not declare this hope?

hope-for-all

One of the things that I really struggle with in communicating the truth of Christianity is making sure people understand there are no barriers to entry beyond one: Believing in Jesus. Recognizing our need for him. Trusting in his death to pay for our sins.

That’s it, the one barrier. For as Acts 2:21 says, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

And that “everyone” is important because it really does mean “everyone”. Everyone who genuinely believes, every one of those people—regardless of age, ethnicity, intelligence, gender, you name it—”shall be saved.” There’s no hesitation in these words of Scripture, nor should there be in us to declare them, for as Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote in Authentic Christianity, “Christianity is a message for all people.”

You will need to be very clever to understand the modern books about God, but thank God, you do not need to be clever to be a Christian. “The common people heard him gladly,” wrote Mark (12:37). “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called,” says the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 1:26). Rather, “God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty …and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (vv. 27-28). There is a hope for all who realize their need and cry out to Him. (31)

All who realize their need and cry out to him have a great hope—a hope that stretches back beyond human existence to before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4). Will we not declare it then?

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today’s the last day to take advantage of these deals from Crossway:

WTSBooks also has a great Mother’s Day sale going on right now. Be sure to check out the selection of books that are available.

Free Logos book of the month

This month’s free book for Logos users is The Lord and His Prayer by N. T. Wright. And over at ChristianAudio.com, they’re giving away Randy Singer’s The Advocate.

The Most Important Step In Becoming More Like Jesus Christ

Mark Altrogge:

We become like the One we behold in the Word. As we see him stretch out his hand in compassion to heal a leper, we see how we should be compassionate. When we see Jesus have mercy on the woman caught in adultery, we grow in mercy. As we observe Jesus resist the temptations of Satan to love the world, we learn to love the Lord our God as he did. As we gaze on Jesus hanging on the cross, and not revile his enemies but say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” we learn to trust our heavenly father and forgive our enemies.

“I felt a hypocrite”

The National Post interviews Michael Coren on leaving Catholicism for (liberal) Anglicanism.

Dividends and Drawbacks of Small Groups

Nick Batzig:

During the first five years of church planting, we had one collective mid-week meeting at someone’s home. But as the church grew, the mid-week waxed and waned. One of the biggest mistakes I made was not moving to a small group structure when we were averaging 50-60 people in our worship services. Years ago, my pastoral assistant said to me, “For the church to get bigger it needs to get smaller.” Considering the fact that 75-80% of the people in a church will likely commit–to some degree or another–to a small group, we could have easily had 3 small groups 5 years. We missed the boat, so to speak.

Giveaway at Knowable Word

To celebrate their 500th post, Peter Krol’s giving away a copy of the ESV Reader’s Bible, as well as eBook editions of the book, Knowable Word (which you should really read).

What does it mean to be ‘inclusive’ like Jesus?

Derek Rishmawy:

Whether it’s the dynamics underlying much of the racial tensions built up and released in our cities, or the heated theological discourse on sexuality, we need to come to grips with the realities of inclusion and exclusion. Which is why I decided to recently revisit Miroslav Volf’s justly famous meditation on the subject Exclusion & Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. It’s a fascinating theological account of the issues of forgiveness, truth, justice, and, yes, exclusions that gains a particular poignancy set in the context of his wrestling with the exclusionary violence that destroyed his own home in the Balkans.

66 Shocking Clickbait Bible Headlines You Won’t Believe

Aaron Earls:

Clickbait headlines are the bane of social media, so I greatly appreciated the chance to mock them with the #ClickbaitBooks hashtag on Twitter. I made Buzzfeed style headlines for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Lord of the Rings, 1984, and Where the Wild Things Are.

I knew I had to do clickbait for the books of the Bible. There’s no better way to show the absurdity of those headlines than by pairing them with something so polar opposite—Scripture.