Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is also $5 Friday at Ligonier, where you’ll find a number of great resources for sale, including:

  • Knowing God’s Will Teaching Series by R.C. Sproul (audio download)
  • Habakkuk: A Wrestler with God by Walter Chantry (Paperback)
  • God in Our Midst: The Tabernacle and Our Relationship with God by Daniel Hyde (Hardcover)
  • How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek Thomas (ePub)
  • Psalm 51 Teaching Series by R.C. Sproul (audio and video download)

$5 Friday ends at 11:59:59 tonight.

An Open Letter to Tom Brady

Jared Wilson gets his super-fan on, and I’m glad he did.

The Problem with Good Advice

Christina Fox:

The problem comes when our advice sounds no different from the advice a counselor from another religion or even no religion at all would give. If an atheist would suggest the same child-rearing techniques or a Buddhist the same stress-management strategies as we do, then there is something missing from our counsel. Even though truth is truth no matter who says it, the advice that followers of Christ give ought to point to the source of all truth.

Wanted: A Teaching Church

Daniel Hyde:

The Bible is the Word of God. All Bible-believing evangelical churches affirm this. In historic Protestantism, there is a theology of the Word that not only professes sola Scriptura but also professes the sufficiency of Scripture for all things concerning doctrine, worship, and godliness. What the church of the twenty-first century needs to be is a teaching church that plainly and powerfully proclaims the Word of God. Then the church will be equipped to fulfill its task in the world to worship and to witness to that world.

Beware the Idol of Self-Preservation

Michael Kelley:

Now let’s be clear, here – there are moments, many in fact, when you find yourself (as I do) in an over-committed situation, and for the health of your family and even your soul, you need to release some of those demands. But in those occasions, you are releasing some demands so you can fully give yourself to others. It’s not an escaping; it’s a re-aligning of yourself to make sure you are giving what limited resources you have to the most appropriate places.

Stating the Obvious in Worship

Dustin Rouse:

Pointing out what is plain to see is annoying, yet gospel truth and the worship it inspires is different. Gospel truth is only obvious to believers because the scales have been removed from our eyes. We see what once was obvious in the Garden of Eden – that our God is glorious.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

I’m Glad Jesus Doesn’t Take Joel Osteen’s Advice

Me too.

I Have Cursed You

Tim Challies:

Never mind all that stuff about “words will never hurt me.” Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…words hurt worse. Somehow a full-out beating hurts less than a tongue-lashing. After the bruises have faded, the words remain dug in like daggers. I know people who are still deeply wounded by brutal words launched at them years or even decades before.

How Pride Poisons the Soul

Sam Storms:

Of all that God hates, of all that is an abomination to him, what is first on the list? Haughty eyes, which is to say, prideful, arrogant eyes. Haughty eyes does not refer to how a person’s eyes look to others but how a person views himself and others. He views them as less than himself, as essentially worthless. He is arrogant and puffed up with his own sense of value.

To the Sons and Daughters of Divorce

Paul Maxwell:

Few things are more traumatic than a car accident — 2,000 pounds of steel and glass bending and scraping, with no respect for the limits or boundaries of the human body inside. There’s a path of healing that every victim of a serious accident must take.

Children with divorced parents have experienced a different kind of violent, traumatic collision. And every child of divorce must likewise walk a path of healing. It will, of course look different for different sons and daughters, but no one can deny that the emotional and relational bleeding needs attention, likely long after the papers are filed.

The Antidote to the Coming Persecution

Mike Leake:

Instead the type of persecution that I see playing out will be something similar to what the “scattered exiles” were facing in 1 Peter. The type of persecution that they faced wasn’t so much the beat you with rods, execute you, and throw  you into prison. There was persecution like that in the Roman empire but most of that type was local. Their persecution was more about social ostracization.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Westminster Bookstore is also holding their annual minibooks sale with titles from New Growth Press, World Reformed Fellowship, CCEF, Harvest USA and Faith Biblical Counselling Ministries.

The Heresy of Indifference

Burk Parsons:

When people tell me they are into Jesus but not into doctrine, I tell them that if they are not into doctrine, they are, in fact, not into Jesus. We cannot know Jesus without knowing doctrine, and we cannot love God without knowing God, and the way we know God is by studying His Word. Doctrine comes from God, it teaches us about God, and by faith it leads us back to God in worship, service, and love. Indifference to doctrine is indifference to God, and indifference to God is indifference to our own eternity.

What the media isn’t telling you

Michael J. Kruger:

But, there is one main reason to be against same-sex marriage that the mainstream media simply won’t talk about.  And it is a reason I’ve mentioned numerous times on this website (e.g., see prior posts here and here), and that many others have also observed.

That reason is simply this: the logic being used to promote same-sex marriage could be used to support a variety of other sexually questionable forms of marriage.

How Millennials Can Be Happy Again

Sam Jones:

What if our cultural condition is caused not by knowing ourselves too poorly but by knowing ourselves too well and knowing love too poorly? What if Martyn Lloyd Jones and David Brooks are correct, and it’s not in listening to ourselves and following our own “inner light” that we find peace and happiness, but in being formed and defined by something greater than ourself?

What It Says that We Gather

Justin Taylor shares from James K.A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom.

What Small Churches Can Do

Joe Thorn:

You do not need to compete with other churches in town. Of course this is true of all Christ’s churches regardless of size, but while competition is alive and well among evangelical churches and institutions, it does a lot of harm in our smaller congregations. Even if we can’t match another church’s numbers we will try and find a way to out-perform them. There are a number of comparison games churches can play with one another but all of them stem from losing sight of Jesus’ gospel and mission for the church.

The way we show love to abusive leaders

medium_6952507370

I’m generally not a fan of leadership conferences. While a lot of people really dig these sorts of events, they tend to not be my thing, either because they’re frustratingly free of mentions of Jesus, or they’re not terribly applicable for guys like me who don’t lead from the top.

This weekend one caught my eye, though. But it wasn’t because I was super-excited about the theme or anything like that. In fact, I had no idea it even existed until I learned of a surprise speaker delivering a message to the pastors in attendance. What caught my attention was this particular speaker was one who apparently remains unrepentant over a laundry list of misdeeds, including plagiarism, a domineering attitude and frequent use of abusive language.

That a church would grant an apparently unrepentant individual a position of authority—even as temporary a one as a conference speaker—is disturbing. And yet, for some reason, it’s altogether unsurprising.

And this, I think is what terrified me the most.

I wasn’t surprised.

Unfortunately, it seems to be all-too-common for Christians to allow those who have no business doing so—at least not according to any reasonable reading of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 2—to exercise an authority out of line with their character. I was reminded of this even as our pastor preached from 2 Corinthians 11 this weekend, as Paul, dripping with sarcasm, continues a full-frontal assault on the false teachers who’d lead this confused group of believers astray.

Thinking back on the message, and re-reading the passage, I was particularly struck by verses 19-21:

For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

Does anyone else wince even a little when reading this?

Think about the people we listen to via podcasts and the blogs we frequent. Consider the Twitter feeds we follow and the books collecting dust on our shelves. Sadly, I suspect there are many names included there whose conduct would line up far more with what Paul describes than with that of an actual minister of the Word. People who take advantage and make slaves of us. People who put on airs—who have the appearance of godliness, but none of its power. Fakers, maligners of God’s word, if not in their words, then certainly in their conduct.

And what does Paul do here? He lovingly confronts the Corinthians with the deception. He is asking them, “Why do you put up with this evil? Why do you allow it to be done to you? Why do you welcome with open arms what ought to be purged from among you?”

Sometimes I wonder what Paul would say to us:

  • Would he rebuke us for allowing disqualified men to continue to speak and lead and have influence in the church?
  • Would he shudder to think that self-appointed men were taking on burdens for which they were not called nor gifted to bear?
  • Would he ask us why we would give cover for those who have abused God’s people for their own ends?

These are questions we need to be asking, whether we worship in healthy churches or (God forbid) in ones characterized by the behaviors Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 11. And yet, it seems as though we are not.

Why?

Perhaps it’s because we are afraid to find out the answer. We value the gifts this or that person has, their sense of humor, their rhetorical flair… Yet, if their lives reveal them to be liars, or at a minimum those who do not practice what they preach, what business do they have being allowed to teach or influence anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances?

And worse, what does it say to those who suffer when we give them cover?

Does it reveal us to be people who are concerned with compassion and justice? Does it show us to be people concerned with the plight of the oppressed, the weary and those burdened by many sins?

We tolerate Jezebel, even as her victims cry out for justice.

Friends, this should never be.

The church is to be a place of great love and affection—for both perpetrators and victims of abuse. But how we express our love for the former is drastically different from how we do for the latter. When it comes to these phonies, we must acknowledge them for what they are: peddlers of God’s word. If a Christian leader refuses to acknowledge their sin, if they attempt to plead Jesus so as to exempt themselves from the need to ask forgiveness—we show love by saying “no.” We must not allow them a place to be heard until their business with Jesus and with those they have wronged has been dealt with. Only then can they be welcomed back as a brother or sister in Christ.

Just as we must never tolerate abusive behavior by a parent or a spouse—just as such evil should never be named among us—so too must evil of this sort never be allowed to gain a foothold. After all, an unrepentant Christian is no Christian at all. We know this is true, and it is well past time that we started acting like it.


Photo credit: Skley via photopin cc

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Just a couple of new deals that I’m aware of:

Ugliness repels, beauty persuades

Ray Ortlund shares an excerpt from Jerram Barrs’ Francis Schaeffer: The Man and his Message (which is well worth reading in its entirety).

Unseen letters from pen of John Knox reveal new side to preacher

This is very interesting:

Professor Jane Dawson of Edinburgh University, who uncovered the letters exchanged with Knox’s best friend Christopher Goodman, has now written a landmark new book called John Knox, launched at St Giles in the Scottish capital on Wednesday.

It is claimed the book will shatter the perception that Knox had no impact outside of Scotland where he remains a significant character.

It will describe how he was a proud member of the European community of Reformed Churches and deeply involved in religious reformation in England, Ireland, France, Switzerland, and the Holy Roman Empire.

How I overcame my fear of writing (and you can, too)

Jesse Wisnewski:

Writing was—and still is—something I labor over. It’s not easy work. From research, thinking, writing, editing, and then rinse and repeat, writing can be a long and arduous process. A process I wasn’t interested in until my mid-twenties. But the strangest thing happened to me one day after I turned a graduate paper into a pamphlet: Somebody liked it.

How faith works in the prosperity gospel

Yep.

12 Ways Millennials Can Serve the Local Church

Chris Martin:

Young people: church is not about you and your feelings. Church isn’t about personal fulfillment as much as it is about selfless service.

Stop treating church like a Broadway show or a therapy session and start serving people. Here are 12 ways to do it.

5 Reasons I’m Glad My Parents Were Strict

Joy Pullmann:

Buzzfeed is calling for all the kids who had strict, conservative, fundamendalist parentsto grouse about how horrible it was to grow up guided by two strong pairs of hands. I guess they wouldn’t know it from, you know, observing other people, but perhaps the only thing worse than having strict parents is having lax parents.

What is our greatest need?

changing-people

This weekend, as I prepared to teach the grades 4 and 5 kids in our church about Jesus cleansing the temple and righteous vs. unrighteous anger, I was reminded of the danger of simply telling them “don’t be angry,” or “be angry like Jesus.” There’s a trite, simplistic, or naive way to to teach about these complex issues. And the danger of teaching in such ways is that it doesn’t actually allow the gospel to shine through.

This is something I always try to remember when I’m teaching in children’s ministry: my goal isn’t to help kids become good, moral Christian-ish people. It’s to help them discover their greatest need. Our greatest need is to know God in Christ, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it so well in Authentic Christianity:

Do men and women need to be told about some kind of program that will give them better conditions? That is not our greatest need. Our greatest need is to know God. If we were all given a fortune, would that solve our problems? Would that solve our moral problems? Would that solve the problem of death? Would that solve the problem of eternity? Of course not. The message of Christianity is not about improving the world, but about changing people in spite of the world, preparing them for the glory that is yet to come. This Jesus is active and acting to that end, and He will go on until all the redeemed are gathered in, and then He will return, and the final judgement will take place, and His kingdom will stretch from shore to shore.

This is the great need, and more than that—it is what God has done to meet that great need. If our kids don’t hear this—and if their parents don’t hear it either–then we’ve kind of missed the point.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

 

 

 

 

Today is also $5 Friday at Ligonier, where you’ll find a number of great resources for sale, including:

  • Thomas Manton by Derek Cooper (paperback)
  • Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul (hardcover)
  • The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit Teaching Series by R.C. Sproul (audio download)
  • Recovering the Beauty of the Arts Teaching Series by R.C. Sproul (audio and video download)
  • Pillars of Grace by Steven Lawson (ePub)

$5 Friday ends at 11:59:59 tonight.

Don’t Be Too Quick To Look For Fruit In New Believers

Mark Altrogge:

When we believe in Jesus we have eternal life. We can’t lose this life. But this grace of God in believers often seems to be little more than a spark. Sometimes it takes a long time for Jesus to fan it to a full flame. And as Richard Sibbes says, that small “measure of grace” is often mixed with “much corruption” and like smoke, can be offensive. Yet Christ will not quench that faintly burning wick.

This means we shouldn’t be too quick to look for fruit in new believers. Yes, some people come out of the gate like gangbusters, turn wholeheartedly from sin, and begin to share the gospel like zealots. But others, like myself as a young believer, though they have the spark of grace, put forth a lot of smoke and change very slowly.

Hand Lettering Co. 

If you’re looking for nice art, this is a great site to check out.

From the people of the cross to ISIS

Hanging Out With Your Friends is Not the Church

Aaron Earls:

Increasingly, I see younger evangelicals (like the one in this Relevant blog post) wondering if they can call their spiritual hang outs with friends a congregation. They are exploring the question: What is church?

Why You Should (Literally) Look at the World Upside Down

Trevin Wax:

It’s a figure of speech to look at things “upside down” in order to get some perspective. But what if there’s more here than just a clever turn of phrase? What if we can’t actually see our world in proper perspective unless we’ve seen it upside down?

Links I like

Links

Inerrancy Is Not a New Idea, Just Ask Irenaeus

Brandon Smith:

…the idea that Scripture is without error isn’t something fundamentalists cooked up in a lab a century ago. Irenaeus, in Against Heresies, lays out a very explicit inerrancy-like view of Scripture when battling the Gnostics who taught the errancy of Scripture.

A Legacy Worth Leaving

Ray Ortlund:

The following is a letter my dad wrote several years before his death, which he left in his desk, where he knew we would find it.

2 Real Reasons People Don’t Go to Church

Aaron Earls:

People give all types of reasons for why they no longer attend church. Most of those given mask the real reasons someone becomes a former church member? It’s the same motivations for virtually every other human decision: pain and pleasure.

If you associate church with pain or church with interfering with your pleasure, you probably won’t go. Those are the real reasons why you don’t go to church, but they still shouldn’t be what keeps you out. Here’s why.

Our Preachers Still Need Our Prayers

Gary Millar:

In the book of Acts, it’s hard to miss the fact that the apostles gave their attention “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). But what does this actually mean? Up to this point in Acts, there hasn’t been that much praying (so, for example, it isn’t even completely clear whether 2:42 means ‘they prayed’ or ‘they kept going to the temple’). But in Acts 4:24-30 we see that when the church prays, it prays for the preaching of the apostles. And although I can’t prove it, I suspect that from this point on in Acts praying for the impact of the apostles’ preaching is considered a complete no-brainer.

Wreckages and Seeds and All the Difference in the World

Lore Ferguson:

The difference between wreckage and seeds though, is that one falls apart and produces nothing, and one falls apart and produces everything. And it is important to remember the difference and to keep on remembering it.

 

The primary (and peculiar) task of the Church

business-of-church

Why does the church exist? Is it to clothe the naked, feed the sick, liberate the oppressed? Is it wrong for churches to do this? Not at all; in fact, it is quite good and necessary to our Christian witness. But they’re not the main thing.

As Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues in Preaching and Preachers, those things are good, but they are symptoms of a greater problem. A sin problem. The problem of being separated from God. And so, it falls upon the church to bring people into a right relationship with God. He explains:

It has come into the Church and it is influencing the thinking of many in the Church—this notion that the business of the Church is to make people happy, or to integrate their lives, or to relieve their circumstances and improve their conditions. My whole case it that to do that is just to palliate the symptoms, to give temporary ease, and that it does not get beyond that.

I am not saying that it is a bad thing to palliate symptoms; it is not, and it is obviously right and good to do so. But I am constrained to say this, that though to palliate symptoms, or to relieve them, is not bad in and of itself, it can be bad, it can have a bad influence, and a bad effect, from the standpoint of the biblical understanding of man and his needs. It can become harmful in this way, that by palliating the symptoms you can conceal the real disease. . . .

The business of the Church, and the business of preaching—and she alone can do this—is to isolate the radical problems and to deal with them in a radical manner. This is specialist work, it is the peculiar task of the Church. The church is not one of a number of agencies, she is not in competition with the cults, she is not in competition with other religions, she is not in competition with the psychologists or any other agency, political or social or whatever it may chance to be.

The church is a special and a specialist institution and this is a work that she alone can perform. (30-32, formatting mine)

Links I like

Links

TGC 2015 Livestream

The 2015 TGC National Conference kicks off this afternoon in Orlando, Florida. If you aren’t able to attend, be sure to take advantage of the livestream throughout the event. And if you are here, come say hello if you see me around.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Crossway’s put eight books on sale this week, all focusing on the subject of suffering:

Be sure to also grab Becoming Worldly Saints by Michael Wittmer today for $2.99.

The Secret Sessions At The Gospel Coalition Conference

This is worth reading simply because Stephen Altrogge enjoys being silly.

Introducing the new ESV Bible app

Hero 1

Today, Crossway’s completely redesigned ESV Bible app releases for iOS devices. Here’s a look at some of the new features:

  • Innovative layout options, including new Reader’s and Verse-by-Verse Modes
  • Integrated reading plans
  • Free access to the ESV Global Study Bible notes and resources
  • Personal notes, highlights, and bookmarks
  • An in-app store
  • Streaming audio
  • Beautiful book illustrations

Find out more at ESV.org/mobile.

Can You Love Jesus and Hate Jesus’ Followers?

Dan Darling:

My neighbor is not a theologian. I’m not even sure he is a follower of Christ. But those simple lines gave me some good insight into a phenomenon that unfortunately plagues the evangelical church.

We think it’s acceptable to love Jesus and hate His followers.

The Church Is Not Your Frat House

Ryan Shelton:

In college, I joined a club that sought to foster a sense of community through secrecy. We sought to build fraternity through exclusivity, private ritual experiences, and of course, password-handshakes. The idea was that relationships grow deeper by cutting others out and surrounding ourselves in mystery and darkness.

Sometimes we can treat Christian worship like an insider’s club. And who doesn’t want to be included in a family-like brotherhood and sisterhood? But the New Testament blueprint for worship gatherings has little room for secrecy. Rather, hospitality rises to the top of the values we want to characterize our Sunday morning services.

Don’t invite them to church this weekend

church-weekend

For a lot of churches in the West, Easter weekend is treated not unlike SuperBowl Sunday. It’s the big show, a grand production. Kind of like a regular Sunday with a bit of extra “oomph”—which most often comes in the form of horrifically graphic video clips from a movie for which we may or may not have appropriate licensing, though occasionally it also involves laser light shows, motorcycle stunts, and an extravagant giveaway or two.

This is the weekend where we’re encouraged to invite our friends, our families, our neighbors, and bring them to church. It’s the weekend where they’re for sure going to hear the gospel preached and perhaps even the Lord might save them!

But you know something? I’m not sure it’s always a good idea. In fact, in some cases, maybe the best thing to do is to not invite them at all.

  • Don’t invite them to church this weekend if they would be surprised to learn you’re a Christian.
  • Don’t invite them if the gospel wasn’t preached last weekend.
  • Don’t invite them if you wouldn’t invite them next weekend.

That’s not what they need. They don’t need to go to a church where they’re not going to hear about Jesus, and they don’t need to be invited to church on one weekend if you wouldn’t invite them any other time.

Some of us should, definitely, invite our friends to church this weekend, next weekend, and every weekend, as long as Jesus is consistently proclaimed. But for many of us, maybe we need to take a few steps back. Maybe we should invite them into our lives first, and share the gospel with them as we begin to share ourselves. Let them get to know a Christian and win them with the good news, rather than potentially confuse them with a big show.

 

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

A few Kindle deals today:

Faithlife has made Brevard Childs’ commentary on Isaiah April’s free book of the month for Logos Bible Software. Christian Audio’s free book of the month is Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand. And for a limited time, Reformation Trust and Ligonier Ministries have made the audio edition of The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul free.

From a Symbol of Fear to a Symbol of Faith

Keith Mathison:

I sometimes wonder how many Christians stop to think about how incredibly odd it is that crucifixes are used as works of art. Crucifixes adorn church architecture, classic paintings, sculpture, and even jewelry. But consider for a moment what a crucifix was originally. It was a means of execution. In fact, it was and is one of the most ghastly means of execution ever devised by man. So horrible was it that it was reserved for the lowest of the low: slaves, pirates, and rebels. Roman citizens were exempt. Cultured Romans considered it unworthy of discussion in polite company. Yet today we wear this symbol of degrading and humiliating death around our necks. The jarring nature of this is not immediately apparent to us because over time, the symbol of the cross has lost many of its original connotations. To get some idea of the oddity, imagine seeing people wearing necklaces with images of a guillotine or an electric chair.

What happened, then, to account for the change?

Not My Will Be Done

Jon Bloom:

No one understands better than God how difficult it can be for a human to embrace the will of God. And no human has suffered more in embracing the will of God the Father than God the Son. When Jesus calls us to follow him, whatever the cost, he is not calling us to do something he is either unwilling to do or has never done himself.

10 Reasons Big Easter Giveaways Are Unwise

Jared Wilson:

I’m not against “Easter egg hunts” and kids having fun and all that, but I think the sort of large-scale, giveaway promotion that takes over this time of year in the church calendar is profoundly unwise and in many cases very, very silly. I want to offer ten general reasons why, but first some caveats: I’m not talking about a church giving out gifts to visitors. Gift cards, books, etc. to guests can be a sweet form of church hospitality. What I’m criticizing is the advertised promise of “cash and prizes” to attract people to the church service. Secondly, I know the folks doing these sorts of things are, for the most part, sincere believers who want people to know Jesus. But I don’t think good intentions authorize bad methods. So:

Ten reasons luring people in with cash and prizes is not a good idea.

Respect Your Audience

Barnabas Piper:

Much of how to do this is nebulous, psychological, and relational rather than technique driven. It looks different from person to person and even from audience to audience. You will inevitably communicate differently to school children than to professors than to moms than to incarcerated felons – but not as differently as you might think. The suggestions below apply to all cases and have more to do with mindset than style or steps to take, and it is up to you, the communicator to determine how to apply them in every situation uniquely, but I hope they are helpful for those preach, teach, write, or otherwise publicly communicate.

Jonah and the fail

This is fun.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is also $5 Friday at Ligonier, where you’ll find a number of great resources for sale, including:

  • God’s Love by R.C. Sproul (paperback)
  • Jonathan Edwards Teaching Series by Stephen Nichols (audio and video download)
  • Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God (ePub)
  • Gospel Wakefulness by Jared Wilson (ePub)

$5 Friday ends at 11:59:59 tonight.

5 reasons your church should be smaller

Tim Suttle:

For years it has bothered me that, although the majority of churches in America have fewer than 300 people, most church leadership advice comes from pastors of huge churches. The assumption that bigger is better pervades the church leadership culture. What if that’s the wrong tack? Here are five reasons your church might be better off focusing on faithfulness instead of success… even if it that means it will Shrink.

Dating non-virgins

Richard Phillips:

Here is the dark side, I think, of the chastity industry: it creates the sense that anyone who has failed sexually is broken and unclean.  But this is a repudiation of the gospel.  Would it be better if he or she had waited until marriage for sex?  Of course it would, and we should not downplay the value of sexual purity for singles and youths.  But we do believe in forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. Don’t we? It is one thing if the person is still practicing sexual sin and folly.  But if the person is genuinely repentant and committed to honor the Lord with his or her body, then we rejoice in the redeeming grace of our Savior.

LifeWay pulls “heavenly tourism” books

And about time, too. Now if Christian publishers would stop producing them.

7 Things I’ve Learned In 30+ Years Of Pastoral Ministry

Mark Altrogge:

I’ve been in pastoral ministry since 1980, when I came on staff as a pastor-in-training in our church. I was ordained in ‘81, and became Senior Pastor in ‘82. In the last 30+ years I’ve learned a lot, made plenty of mistakes, and feel like I still have a long way to go. I don’t consider myself an expert on pastoral ministry, but thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the years (not in any particular order) to encourage you. So here we go…

Why White People Don’t Like to Talk About Race

Barnabas Piper:

I grew up in inner-city Minneapolis and had the chance to interact with people from many different cultures. When I was twelve my family adopted a black baby girl, my sister Talitha, which opened my eyes even more to the ways minorities are treated differently. My high school football team started multiple Southeast Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, and Native Americans. Interactions about racial and cultural differences were normal for us. They weren’t always pleasant and it wasn’t the perfect melting pot, but it was a context in which openly discussing race was ok as long as it was done with respect. I appreciated the chance to learn, observe, listen, and ask questions. I graduated and moved to lily-white Wheaton, Illinois for college. My first week on campus I was roundly chastised by a fellow student, a J. Crew type and Northface type, for referring to a friend as “black.” I was told it was “racially insensitive”  I realized I had entered a different world, one where well-intentioned whites were both clueless and and stuck when it came to race issues.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Emotional blackmail in the church

Jared Wilson quotes John Piper, and it’s a doozy.

Reading for Information vs. Reading for Delight

Erik Raymond:

I certainly don’t know the precise reason, however, I have a hunch that it is somewhere between what Jacobs observes and what I concluded about my lack of devotion to the Omaha newspaper: we don’t delight in the Bible. We just scan it for information we don’t drink it in and digest it.

What do we do about this?

The open letters Christian keep writing on social media

Will Adair gets it.

Wishing Away God’s Design

Owen Strachan:

Over the last 50 years, American Christians have watched as our society has fashioned a brave new order for itself. Feminism and the sexual revolution have transformed the American home. Many men have lost any sense of responsibility for their family. They’re tuned out, passive, and self-focused. Many women feel great tension between their career and home. They are told by secular lifestyle magazines to pursue perfect “work-life” balance, but it’s hard to find. Increasingly, the sexes are in competition. These troubling developments represent phase one of the transformation of men and women.

5 Free Classes on Ethics

Andy Naselli shares some great options for free classes on biblical ethics.

The Redemption of Boredom

Michelle Lesley:

But whether you love chemistry or not, we’ve all been there. For you, maybe it was Shakespeare, or sitting on hold waiting for the cable company to answer your call, or one of those pointless, endless meetings at work that a two paragraph e-mail could have covered. Have you ever noticed how many boring moments there are in life?