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.

3 favorite teaching moments from #TGC15

tgc15

From April 13-15, 2015, around six thousand Christian men and women came together in Orlando, Florida, for The Gospel Coalition’s 2015 National Conference, to consider the new heavens and the new earth. Yesterday, I shared three personal reflections on the conference, and today, I wanted to share a few of the standout moments from the plenary sessions:

1. John Piper on Christians as radical truth-tellers. As Piper applied his texts, Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65 (the whole message was terrific), he declared that Jesus is “calling us to be people of radical truthfulness. To not make judgments on appearances, but on truth.… We are to be radically truth-driven Messiah people.”

His key example? Ghostwriting among Christian authors:

“If you write something, put your name on it! If you didn’t don’t put your name on it! If someone wrote it with you, put both names on it. We do not use the ways of the world to write a book or win a soul!”

2. Keller on what a circumcised heart is. “When the Bible talks about the heart it’s the control center of the whole being. Hearts put their trust in something. They face things. … The thing your heart looks to is what you think about when you don’t have anything to think about. What the heart wants, the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find desirable.”

And this is why God commands us to have circumcized hearts. This, external sign of being obedient to the law of God. Circumcision of the heart, he said, “means that the innermost will wants to do those things. Our pleasure and our duty are the same. What you ought to do and what you want to do are the same things.”

But it’s the illustration he gives about why God commands that particularly intimate part of the body be involved in physical circumcision that got me. It’s to remind us of the grossness, the vileness of sin.

3. Ligon Duncan on why the “not yet” matters right now. Most Christians are familiar with the idea of the already/not yet, or the now and not yet of reality. The gospel has present affects, but has future implications. And yet, so many people seem to think that if you pay too much attention to the “not yet” you’re good for nothing right now. As he preached on Romans 8:16-25, Duncan politely called bunk on this idea. “There are a lot of people who say if you care about the ‘not yet’, you won’t care about ‘now’, and you’ll be escapist in your view of the Christian life. But the Bible says that the ‘now’ matters forever, and ‘forever’ matters right now.

You must have your eye on that future hope. If you’re just hoping in the now, you’re not hoping as Paul is telling you to hope. The reformed doctrine of justification in grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone ended slavery in the British empire. We’ve been told our doctrine isn’t “social” enough. We need to modify it to make it more social. No.

It is the doctrine of justification in grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone that caused Wilberforce and his coworkers to expend their last breath to set captives free! You can’t live now unless your hope is in the not yet. The now is so overwhelming, if you really look at it, you can’t survive without the not yet.1

(Sadly there’s no clip of this available, but it was great.)

Were you at TGC15 or watching the livestream? What was a top moment for you?

Why I’m probably not live-blogging #TGC15

tgc15

I stumbled into live-blogging almost by accident. It was my first TGC conference, back in 2011. I was attending and took copious notes and decided to post them on my site. That was literally all the foresight that went into it. After that, I did it again at T4G in 2012. And I was invited to live-blog a couple of other conferences. Then I came back to TGC in 2013 and live-blogged the pre-conference and all but one session of the main conference.

Then, at T4G in 2014, I didn’t at all. Instead, I just took in the sessions, and made some notes for myself. I wound up sitting out of a couple sessions out of necessity. And it was great It was an actually relaxing conference experience. (Imagine that…)

So what am I doing this year?

Honestly, I’m probably not live-blogging it. As I’ve said before, live-blogging is fun, but it is a lot of work. But I’m not sure it serves the purpose it once did when livestreams weren’t quite as ubiquitous. And then there’s the whole problem of Internet connectivity…

My plan for this year is to continue with the sort of approach I took to T4G 2014:

I’m going to go to be flexible. I’ll go to what sessions I can, but I’m not going to lose sleep if I miss one. I’ll still probably write a ton of notes, but I’ll really only interact with the points that resonate most with me here. Most importantly, I’ll be spending more time enjoying the rare opportunity to meet with people whom I might not otherwise or only see at events like these.

Live-blogging has some benefits, for sure—particularly the immediacy factor for those who are best served by about reading for 10 minutes rather than listening to something for 45. However, a strategy like this helps me better keep my sanity.

And, if you’re at TGC15, be sure to say hi!

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.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

They will know you by your… porn?

This piece by Jared Wilson hurts, but it’s necessary to read:

We may flood to the area hotels next month and outwardly demonstrate a solid witness for the gospel, and then put a black eye on the church, thinking viewing pornography in our hotel room is easy, confidential, and inconsequential. Will the church stun the managers of the Rosen Shingle Creek with its porn consumption next month?

Sex, God, and a Generation That Can’t Tell the Difference

Chris Martin:

Grossman quotes Robert Jones, the CEO of PRRI as saying, “Millennials seem reluctant to make blanket black-and-white moral pronouncements about issues they see as complex.” That’s where this idea of the “don’t judge generation” comes from. It’s true, Millennials seem reluctant to make blanket black-and-white moral pronouncements about complex issues, and that’s exactly how they are judgmental. Millennials don’t just keep from making black-and-white statement themselves, they think that it is morally reprehensible and “discriminatory” for anyone to make black-and-white moral pronouncements about these issues.

The only thing Millennials are black-and-white on when it comes to matters of sexual morality is that you aren’t allowed to be black-and-white on sexual morality.

Tools for Making War Against Spiritual Warfare

Jason Garwood:

If we are going to make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus Christ then we must equip our soldiers with appropriate tools to do battle. Soldiers who are unequipped or even ill-equipped with no tools, or faulty tools, will do great harm to themselves and others. If we as disciples who make other disciples (this is, after all, our commission) are going to win the battle against the flesh and the enemy, we must make war.

A Good Assistant Pastor Is Hard to Find

Jason Helopoulos:

A good assistant pastor must be marked by the same things as any other pastor. He must possess a love for God, his Word, and his people. He needs to be strong and winsome, a teacher yet teachable, a man of prayer and action. Yet, he also must possess additional qualities. He is not only called to serve the congregation, but also the senior pastor. Whatever his “job description” may be, he must understand that he is assisting. This is essential. Here are some things a good assistant pastor is marked by, traits that, Lord willing, I will strive to acquire more and more of in my life and ministry.

If Pixar made a Star Wars movie…

…would it be something like this?

HT: Stephen Altrogge

Books I’m packing for #TGC15

TGC15-books

The Gospel Coalition’s 2015 national conference begins this coming Monday, which means in just a couple of days, I’ll be hitting the road for Orlando for a few days of teaching on the new creation, conversations with far off friends I don’t see nearly often enough, and, hopefully, a little time in the sun.

And because I’m going to be sitting on a plane for a few hours each way, it’s also a great opportunity to catch up on some reading. Although I’m almost certainly not going to get to everything (because that’d be silly), here’s a look at what I’m packing:

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. I’m about half done this one already, so it might not actually make it onto the plane. Incidentally, if you’re at the conference, you can get a copy for $5 in the bookstore. If not, be sure to get it while it’s on sale at Westminster Bookstore.

Blind Spots: Becoming a Courageous, Compassionate,and Commissioned Church by Collin Hansen. What I’ve seen of this, I’ve really liked, so it might be my next read after DeYoung’s book. This is also another one of the $5 deals in the conference bookstore that is worth considering.

Defying ISIS by Johnnie Moore. Moore’s book came on my radar just recently, and thankfully I’ve been able to get my hands on a copy. Looking forward to seeing how he handles the subject matter.

Fear and Faith by Trillia Newbell. Trillia’s new book is one that showed up in my mailbox last week. This one I’m looking forward to almost more because I enjoy how Trillia writes (that’s a huge part of what makes a book worth reading for me—style).

Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God by Joe Thorn. I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while now, and just haven’t had the opportunity to start. Thorn’s last book, Note to Self, was terrific and I have high hopes for this one, too (especially based on my friend Joey’s recommendation of it).

I’ll also be continuing my trek through Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ by Herman Bavinck. Conference or no, I’m on a schedule, and I’ve already had to push back my completion date once. Thankfully, this one will be particularly easy to pack since it’s sitting in my Logos app.

While at the conference, I’m actually not planning on purchasing any books, although that may be easier said than done. There’s a title or two I already know will be there that I’ve been meaning to take a look at…

Travelling to TGC this weekend? What are you planning to read along the way?

Why aren’t unknown pastors headlining Christian conferences?

unknown-pastors

Christian conference season is in full swing once again, which means there’s inevitably going to be a flood of blog posts and tweets from various corners of the Interwebs about this or that event. Some folks will be live-blogging. Others will be live-tweeting. And some will be lamenting the fact that there aren’t any “ordinary” pastors headlining anything.

I’ve wondered about this for a while. We’re all equal in Christ, after all. Those who are more obscure in their ministry have as much to say (sometimes even more) than those who are extremely well known. So why do our conferences seem to focus primarily on the latter group? What’s the deal?

Why aren’t unknown pastors speaking at big events? The answer is actually pretty simple: it’s because you wouldn’t go if they did.

Now, before anyone thinks I’m accusing any groups of propping up the so-called “Christian celebrity industrial complex,” or that I’m telling people who complain about such things to knock it off, let me tell you a story:

A few years ago, I went to a three-day conference here in Ontario, which featured several speakers (and only one of whom was fairly well-known among theology nerds like me). The location was quite accessible, located just off the 401 highway (and had free parking, even!). The word spread, sponsors and volunteers signed up… However, maybe two hundred people showed up.

A year later, a big two-day men’s event was announced, again here in Ontario. Three of the four speakers were, without question, Christian celebrities (even if one of those three is anything but in his demeanor). The location was in a city’s downtown core (and therefore had some challenges with parking especially). Again, the word spread, sponsors and volunteers signed up… This time, about eight thousand men showed up.

Which was the more edifying event? Having attended both, the former, by far. But significantly more people went to the latter. Why? Because they wanted to hear the big name speakers.

And that’s a huge reason people go to big conferences—it’s not that the conference organizers are trying to perpetuate Christian celebrity-ism. It’s that people will only go if they make it worth their while. There has to be a draw.

For some people, it’s the topic. For example, TGC’s focus on the new creation in 2015 is really exciting to me. It’s a big part of why I’m going (social and personal ministry reasons aside). But some people are going, really, just because they want to hear John Piper or Tim Keller speak. And that’s cool, too, as long as they’re learning. If they’re going only to get selfies with them, though…

But think about it: A lot of the folks who bemoan certain groups for perpetuating celebrity-ism are just as guilty of it—they just have different celebrities. If you’ve asked John MacArthur to sign your Bible, guess what? You’re doing it because he’s Christian-famous. He is, for lack of a better term, a celebrity.

But just because MacArthur is well known doesn’t make the Shepherd’s Conference evil, any more than Tim Keller being well known makes TGC’s National Conference evil. Or Kevin DeYoung increasingly becoming well known makes T4G evil. Or… well, you get the point.

A few bad eggs1 aside, many of the Christian-famous Christians we know—whether MacArthur, Keller, Piper, or whomever—are not so because they’re trying to make a name for themselves. God has simply chosen to give them a larger platform. This doesn’t mean those of us with smaller platforms don’t have anything worth contributing—it’s just that God has chosen to do something different in our lives compared to these other people. And that’s okay.

Also, don’t ask people to sign your Bible. It’s just weird.

Links I like

Links

Resource deals for Christians

Westminster Bookstore is offering some fantastic deals on Crossway’s Gospel Transformation Bible. Get a case for 62 percent off the regular retail price, or individual copies for as low as 50 percent off.

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

  • Acts by R.C. Sproul (ePub)
  • The Expository Genius of John Calvin by Steven Lawson (ePub)
  • Are We Together? A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism by R.C. Sproul (ePub)
  • The Doctrines of Grace in John teaching series by Steven Lawson (download)

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

And one last item for Logos users: my friend Jacob’s book on Forgiveness: a Commentary on Philemon, is available for pre-order. At $9, this is a wonderful addition to your library. (Read more of my thoughts on the book here.)

The context of education

This is a really good lecture by Joe Boot.

How To Be Happy When Someone Leaves Your Church

Mark Altrogge:

Back then, if I heard a new church was starting in town I’d think, “What do we need another church for? We’re here. People should come here. We don’t need another church.” I viewed other churches as competitors. If people went to those churches, there’d be less people to come to our church. I’m so glad God rescued me from that ignorant, conceited mindset.

Shepherds’ Conference 2015

For those interested, the videos of Shepherds’ Conference are now online.

A Brief Defense of Infant Baptism

Kevin DeYoung:

It sounds like the beginning of a joke or a support group introduction, but it’s true: some of my best friends are Baptists. I speak at conferences with and to Baptists. I read books by Baptists (both the dead and the living). I love the Baptist brothers I know–near and far–who preach God’s word and minister faithfully in Christ’s church. I went to a Baptist church while in college and know that there are many folks of more credobaptist persuasion in my own church. I imagine the majority of my blog readers are Baptist. You get the picture. I have thousands of reasons to be thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who do not believe in baptizing infants.

And yet, I do. Gladly. Wholeheartedly. Because of what I see in Scripture.

Note: I still disagree, but I appreciate what DeYoung’s written here.

3 Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church

Chris Martin offers some good points worth considering here.

Links I like

Links

Free resources for March

This month’s free book for Logos Bible Software is 1 Corinthians by Roy Harrisville. Over at Christian Audio, you can get The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel free (along with a number of other titles reduced to $4.98).

Free Gospel Project live event

Register here for Gospel. Life. Ministry, a live-streamed event hosted by The Gospel Project on May 11.

Concerning Those Crusty Calvinists

Mike Leake:

What I see is a growing movement of gracious Calvinism…at least in regards to how we relate to non-Calvinists and others who differ. I praise God for a growth of humble Calvinism. But I believe there is still room to grow as humble Christians. What I mean is that we’ve figured out how to be humble—or maybe appear humble—to those who aren’t Calvinists. But I wonder are we being gracious and seeking to help crusty Calvinists?

3 Muslim Misconceptions about Christians

JD Greear:

Many obstacles stand in the way of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus—theological confusion and the cost of conversion being two of the most daunting. And of course the most common reason why Muslims are not coming to Christ is that most have simply never heard the gospel.

How Honey Helps Us Taste God

Joe Rigney:

Why did God make honey so tasty and sweet? So that we would have some idea what wisdom is like (at least, that’s one reason). The sweetness of honey points beyond itself to the wisdom of God. Honey is “good,” and we are exhorted in Psalm 34 to “taste and see that the LORD is good!” Our souls have taste buds, just like our tongues, and we can train the soul-buds by exercising the tongue-buds. When we savor the sweetness of honey or sweet tea or pumpkin crunch cake, we engage in a fancy bit of “reading.” We transpose the physical enjoyment of taste onto our souls and offer thanks to God, not only for the simple pleasures of food but also for the spiritual pleasures to which the food is but a fitting echo.

You’ll want these stock images

How could you not enjoy using Vince Vaughn in a business-y editorial blog post?

George Verwer’s Conversion

Justin Taylor:

To say that George Verwer Jr. (b. 1938) has a larger-than-life personality is probably an understatement. It would have been obvious if you could have seen him running around at Ramsey High School in Ramsey, New Jersey. Of the thousand or so students at the school, George stood out.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Here are a couple of deals that are ending today:

ISIS burns 8000 rare books and manuscripts in Mosul

This is very sad:

While the world was watching the Academy Awards ceremony, the people of Mosul were watching a different show. They were horrified to see ISIS members burn the Mosul public library. Among the many thousands of books it housed, more than 8,000 rare old books and manuscripts were burned.

How to Memorize (Almost) Anything

Joe Carter continues his series on memorization.

Ligonier 2015 National Conference

If you weren’t able to be at the event, the audio and video from this year’s Ligonier National Conference is now online.

Are You Willing To Admit That You Have Blind Spots?

Russ Ramsey:

I am not the artist I think I am. Neither are you. Not completely anyway. All of us live with blind spots—realities in our lives and art and thinking we cannot see. We have them even in the endeavors we are most passionate about.

Such is the nature of a blind spot — I can’t see it. There are so many bits of information, maturity, perspective, and wisdom I have yet to obtain. They simply aren’t yet mine.

I’m Sorry, I Don’t Care for that Sorry.

Erik Raymond:

Our sin is horizontal (it effects other people) but it is primarily vertical–it is against God. Further, sin is not simply a misstatement or a slip up; the Bible calls sin (like lying) evil. The wages of which are death (Rom. 6:23). This is helpful for us in thinking about how we apologize for, confess, or repent of sin. We as Christians should be sure that we are not in the business of recasting, relabeling or otherwise airbrushing sin to be more acceptable. Sin is sin. It has biblical names. Let’s use them.

How Well Do You Know Your Bible?

The latest issue of Credo Magazine is now available online.

A Crash Course on Friedrich Nietzsche

Justin Taylor offers a sketch of one of the most important thinkers in recent history.

Links I like

Links

The brother of two ISIS martyrs responds

HT: JA Medders

Women, stop submitting to men?

This is a great and encouraging word from Russell Moore. Please read the whole thing:

Too often in our culture, women and girls are pressured to submit to men, as a category. This is the reason so many women, even feminist women, are consumed with what men, in general, think of them. This is the reason a woman’s value in our society, too often, is defined in terms of sexual attractiveness and availability. Is it any wonder that so many of our girls and women are destroyed by a predatory patriarchy that demeans the dignity and glory of what it means to be a woman?

Gavin Peacock joins CBMW as Director of International Outreach

Gavin Peacock, a Canadian pastor and former soccer star, is teaming up with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood as Director of International Outreach. The move is part of CBMW’s vision to reach a broader audience with the Bible’s teaching on marriage, manhood, and womanhood.

Ash Wednesday: Picking and Choosing our Piety

Carl Trueman:

The rise of Lent in non-Roman, Orthodox or Anglican circles is a fascinating phenomenon. I remember being on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary a few years ago on Ash Wednesday and being greeted by a young man emerging from Miller Chapel with a black smudged cross on his forehead. That the bastion of nineteenth century Old School Presbyterianism had been reduced to this – an eclectic grab-bag of liturgical practices – struck me as sad. Old School Presbyterianism is a rich enough tradition not to need to plunder the Egyptians or even the Anglicans.

Connecting with Ligonier’s 2015 National Conference

Ligonier’s 2015 National Conference begins tomorrow and Nathan Bingham offers a few ways to connect via social media.

Confessions of a Reluctant Witness

Mark Dance:

Although I have trained hundreds of Christians to share their faith over the years, I was not looking for a God-moment in this conversation initially. This guy all but asked me to share my faith, and he had no idea that I was a minister when he did so. The poor kid never saw it coming. God set him up, just like He did you and me when we first heard the gospel.

How to pray for TruthXchange 2015

truth-lies-large

This evening, TruthXchange’s 2015 Think Tank kicks off, and after a long (loooooong) day of travel, I’ve finally made it to the promised land. Or at least, a land without ice and snow (I’m easy to please).

With the fun getting started this evening (if you’re attending, be sure to say hello), I wanted to suggest a few ways you can be praying for us over the next few days:

Wisdom for the speakers. The conference theme, Generational Lies and Timeless Truths, is an important one. There is so much confusion out there among Christians in particular on a host of issues, from sexuality to social justice, and we want our messages to be as helpful as possible to our hearers.

The wellbeing of everyone working behind the scenes. TruthXchange’s staff and volunteers have been working tremendously hard to make this event great. Please be praying for the health and wellbeing of all those people, that they would be able to enjoy the fruits of their labors and they’d have the bandwidth to handle any unexpected surprises (my delay last night was definitely one of those).

The practicality of the messages. We want people to actually be able to do something with what they learn at this event—specifically to be stronger witnesses for the Lord in their every day lives (and I want this as a speaker, too).

The centrality of the gospel. Because of the very nature of the subject matter, it’s easy to skew negative and treat the topics as though everything is going to hell in a handbasket. And while there are many things to be concerned about, we want to focus on the good news, and why the Christian worldview—and more specifically, as a faithful follower of Jesus—is so much better than the alternatives being offered in the culture today. Please pray that each speaker would keep focused on the main thing: Jesus Christ.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

And here are a number of R.C. Sproul titles on sale:

CROSS 2015

Be sure to check out the CROSS simulcast, featuring John Piper, David Platt, Mack Stiles, Thabiti Anyabwile, Kevin DeYoung and Matt Boswell on February 27.

Will Heaven Have Oceans?

Dennis Johnson:

A friend discovered the joys of body surfing in midlife, when she and her husband moved to Southern California, within 40 miles of the beaches and breakers of the Pacific Ocean. So she was understandably troubled by Revelation 21:1 and the prospect that ocean’s azure waters and surging waves will be absent from the coming new heavens and new earth. A few verses later we read that God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

To such miseries, sin’s toxic byproducts, we say, “Good riddance!” But, we wonder, once the curse-stained first heaven and earth have given way to a new heaven and a new earth, why must the new cosmic order be sans sea, while we’ll still stand on terra firma?

The Demise of the iPad is Greatly Overblown

Jonathan Howe provides a great counterpoint to Wired’s recent article.

Six Days

Paul Taylor offers a response to Justin Taylor’s article on the six days of Genesis 1-2.

Deflate-gate and over-inflated outrage

David Prince:

This is merely one small example of the unhealthy, but pervasive, perpetual outrage culture in America. We seem to be losing the ability to discuss anything with a sense of proper proportion. Too often in sports, politics, culture, and in everything else, we simply pick a side and defend it without question, and we vilify the other side without question. Professional wrestling used to have the market cornered on an over-exaggerated portrayal of heroes and villains with manufactured emotion and outrage, but it seems like every topic in America now sounds something akin to an episode of WrestleMania. Subtlety, nuance, and proportion are always labeled compromise in this outrage climate.

Daredevil climbs a frozen Niagara Falls

This is incredible (and terrifying)!

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

And don’t forget these from earlier this week:

Today is also $5 Friday sale at Ligonier. They have a whole bunch of great resources on sale, including:

  • Why We Trust the Bible teaching series by Stephen Nichols (DVD)
  • The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul (ePub and MOBI)
  • Think Like a Christian teaching series by R.C. Sproul (audio download)
  • When Worlds Collide by R.C. Sproul (ePub)
  • The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield by Steven Lawson (hardcover)

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

How Jesus Would Act in a Homosexual Bar?

C. Michael Patton:

I have a family member who lives in an apartment that backs up to a homosexual bar. I can imagine that in the church, there are people who think this is wrong. It’s not that these would assume she might be a homosexual, but that why would she, being a Christian, even dare live in such proximity to such evil. I am sorry to say this, but its very sad—no, tragic—to say that the church is filled with such a mentality. Oh, they have their verses to justify it, but these are always based in unbiblical emotional passions that cannot ever be justified.

Hold on, it gets worse so hang with me.

Lessons from the School of Prayer

An excerpt from D.A. Carson’s Praying with Paul:

Throughout my spiritual pilgrimage, two sources have largely shaped, and continue to shape, my own prayer life: the Scriptures and more mature Christians.

The less authoritative of these two has been the advice, wisdom, and example of senior saints. I confess I am not a very good student in the school of prayer. Still, devoting [space] to their advice and values may be worthwhile before I turn to the more important and more authoritative of the two sources that have taught me to pray.

Among the lessons more mature Christians have taught me, then, are these.

“Does God Care if Your Favorite Football Team Wins?”

Derek Rishmawy:

How we answer the question, “Does God care a whole lot about the outcome of football games?” reveals much about how we understand God’s love, sovereignty, and care for the world.Some might hear the question and interpret it, “Well, is God rooting for a particular team?” Unless you’re a total fanatic, convinced that God himself favors your home-team, your gut instinct is “probably not.” It seems inconsistent with his universal love for all. Still, in Scripture, God did pick Israel to be his chosen people, and within Israel, he is seen to bestow special grace on various figures, either for particular purposes in redemption or his own good pleasure. God loves all, but he also seems to focus on particulars.

Christ and Pop Culture LIVE: With Real People, In a Real Space, With a Real Audience (We Hope)

If you’re going to TGC, this could be a lot of fun. Am I going to TGC? That remains to be seen. But if I am, I sure hope to be at this.

On the Christian’s anger problem

Aaron Earls:

Too often we seek to baptize our rage and treat our temper as sanctified, when in reality we are merely trying to find a biblical sounding excuse for being a jerk.

So how do you differentiate between man’s anger in James 1 and the ability to be angry without sin in Ephesians 4? I see three questions that we need to ask about each situation in which we feel anger rising in us.

I think we should treat each one as a gate that has to be passed through to before asking the next one. If the answer to only one is negative, then we should question whether or not our anger is biblical.

Looking for Love in all the Right Places

Lore Ferguson:

Here is what I know about looking:

When I was young, rebellious and caustic, rolling my eyes at my parents at age 10 and sneering at them by age 15, they would say, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” and I felt seen, exposed.

I knew I was already seen and exposed, but I felt it. I felt it when I saw their disappointment or disapproval or anger at me. When I saw it in their eyes. I felt that. I felt every weight and every sin and every bit of my flesh rolled up and held in their parental gaze. And I looked away. I could not hold that look for long, my sin was too great, their anger too heavy.