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5 Reasons Not to Give Up on the Marriage Debate

Kevin DeYoung:

But every once in awhile—maybe one day a week, probably on Sundays—I can’t help but hold out hope for traditional marriage. What if “being on the wrong side of history” is more of a progressive ideology than a foregone conclusion? What if our cultural development is not inexorably locked into either a pattern of secularization and sexual liberation? What if the building block of every successful civilization cannot be redefined as easily as some imagine? Are there any reasons to think traditional marriage can make a comeback?

Let me suggest five.

Save on Piper’s latest at Westminster Books

As you may recall, the other day I reviewed John Piper’s latest book, Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God’s GraceUntil 11/19, Westminster Books is offering this excellent little book for $4.50 (50 percent off the cover price). You can also purchase the book as part of a bundle featuring the following titles:

  • Five Points
  • Finally Alive
  • God is the Gospel
  • A Hunger for God

Don’t be a hater

He Opened His Mouth

Bill Mounce:

So does the phrase “to open one’s mouth” have any meaning, or is it so redundant that it should be skipped in translation? I think that there is enough of a pattern to show that it was a way of adding solemnity to what was to be said. Carson comments that it reflects OT roots and “is used in solemn or revelatory contexts.”

Is Your Skin Thick or Dead?

Barnabas Piper:

I have thick skin. It is a blessing. I don’t know whether it is genetic or developed, nature or nurture. Likely it’s some of both. And my three older brothers deserve some thanks for their contributions to thickening it up too. Having thick skin means that I can write and publish without fearing the inevitable criticism. I can speak, converse, hold a point of view and not worry about the flak I will take for my opinions. It means I don’t take too much stuff personally so when slights or criticism come I don’t immediately turn on or draw away from the critic. Thick skin is a real benefit as a writer, an employee, and as a family man. And just as a human in a hurtful world.

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Is All Sin Equal in God’s Eyes?

Tim Challies:

There is a sense in which all sin is the same. Every sin is an act of rebellion against God. Any sin, no matter whether it is an angry thought or outright murder, is a declaration of independence from God, a means of saying, “I am going to do this myway instead of your way. I choose my will rather than your will.” In that sense every sin is sufficient to justify an eternity of separation from God. Every sin grieves God and arouses his just wrath. God hates sin because his very nature is contrary to sin. This is not God being mean or arbitrary, but God simply giving us the wages due to our rebellion.

However, it is equally correct to express that some sins are more serious than others.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

How Long, O Lord? by D.A. Carson—$4.99

The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper—$2.99

Understanding Spiritual Warfare: Four Views—$3.99

Come And Welcome To Jesus Christ by John Bunyan—99¢

A Reading Plan for Augustine’s The City of God

Justin Taylor:

The City of God must be read against the backdrop of the sacking of Rome, where critics argued that Rome fell after it embraced Christianity and lost the protection of the gods. Augustine argued that the pagan critics were defining goodness on the basis of the satisfaction of their own desires, rather than the true definition which sees that the ultimate good is found in God alone. Augustine shows that everything in history happens for good purposes, if goodness is rightly understood. He pointed to the pagan desire to return to the city of Rome, and argued that their desire was right but their destination was wrong. True happiness could only come in the heavenly Jerusalem, the City of God.

One of the reasons that Augustine’s work remains unread today is because of its length and digressions. In lieu of an abridged version, Michael Haykin of Southern Seminary offers a selective reading guide to the book, which I’ve included below for those who want to take up one of the great classics of the Christian tradition.

Groceries only take one trip

Love it:

Calling yourself friendly doesn’t make you friendly

Good advice from Jeff Brooks for airlines and ministries alike:

I fly quite a lot. Mostly on United. So when I started seeing United’s new ad campaign in airports, all I could manage was a weak scoff.

Flyfriendly

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10 Errors to Avoid When Talking about Sanctification and the Gospel

Kevin DeYoung:

With lots of books and blog posts out there about law and gospel, about grace and effort, about the good news of this and the bad news of that, it’s clear that Christians are still wrestling with the doctrine of progressive sanctification. Can Christians do anything truly good? Can we please God? Should we try to? Is there a place for striving in the Christian life? Can God be disappointed with the Christian? Does the gospel make any demands? These are good questions that require a good deal of nuance and precision to answer well.

Thankfully, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

What is Christian Bible study?

Good video from Trevin Wax, based on his new book Gospel-Centered Teaching:

Got a dollar? Help make a Spurgeon documentary!

My pal Stephen is making a documentary about Charles Spurgeon. You can help by checking out his Kickstarter campaign here.

Some Reflections on My Brief Foray into Reactionary Writing

Julian Freeman:

Two weeks ago today, I was frustrated. The Christian twitter / facebook / blog world was in an uproar over a controversial conference that seemed to be all-consuming to many. I let it get to me too.

So on that particular day, I gave in to my frustration, and I posted a controversial blog post. Whether or not it was right, it was emotionally charged and reactionary. And a couple of my friends reminded me that that’s not who I am, so I deleted the post.

Since then I’ve been thinking a little bit about that little ‘foray’ into reactionary / controversy-stirring kind of blogging. Here are some of my thoughts as I’ve reflected.

A Millennial Moralism

Lore Ferguson:

Paul admonished the Thessalonians to “Live a quiet life…and work with your hands,” and the oldest American ethos has resurrected itself in like form. In a down economy, there’s been an upside: the aspiration for young people to take the verse to heart (whether they’re bible folks or not). Woodworking, crafting, printing, brewing, and cooking—whatever passion they’re following, they’re following it back to its roots. The American Spirit has gotten in the bloodstream of millennials and they’re putting their hand to the proverbial plow. Pinterest provides a visual smorgasbord of projects just waiting for someone to learn how to do them.

However, I wonder if we’ve ascribed a new kind legalism to work?

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Ordinary Cook, Unlikely Hero

Matt Smethurst:

He is history’s most widely read preacher outside of Scripture. More written material exists from him than from any other Christian author, living or dead. It’s estimated he preached to more than 10 million people during his lifetime. The ripple effect of his life and ministry is immeasurable.

And he got his theology from an old school cook.

Kindle Deals for Christian readers

5 Questions with an Emmy-Winning Illustrator

Bethany Jenkins:

Norman Rockwell was horrified when a fellow illustrator suggested that their craft was a way to just make a living—”You do your job, you get your check, and nobody thinks it’s art.” He replied, “Oh no no no. How can you say that? No man with a conscience can just bat out illustrations. He’s got to put all of his talent, all of his feelings into them.”

Illustrators are image-makers. Their craft employs the imagination to create the visual equivalent of a verbal idea. When illustrators pick up their markers and draw “good” pictures, they bear the image of God as Creator. I recently corresponded with Amanda Geisinger, an Emmy Award-winning illustrator and interactive designer, currently on staff at Nickelodeon in New York City. We talked about how illustrations were a part of her journey from atheism to Christianity and about how her faith intersects with her work.

5 Reasons You Should Write in Your Books

Joel Miller:

I’ve been thinking recently on an important topic for bibliophiles: Should you write in your books? The answer varies for every person, but as for me and my tomes: Yes. Scribble away, especially with nonfiction. Here are five reasons I believe defacing an author’s work is warranted.

Why I Don’t Go By “Pastor Mark”

Mark Altrogge:

To me, for someone to call me “Pastor Mark” creates an artificial separation or an artificial class system in the church. There’s the flock down here and the pastors up there. I don’t believe Jesus wants that division. He said to call no man “Father” or “Teacher.” The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were shocked that Jesus would eat with sinners and tax collectors. Jesus didn’t look for honor, but washed his disciples’ feet.

How To Care For Your Pastor

Dave Jenkins:

Those four words may not be on your radar right now but by the end of this article, I hope to persuade you of the importance of caring for your pastor, his wife and his family.

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What Is Reformation Day All About?

Robert Rothwell:

At the time, few would have suspected that the sound of a hammer striking the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany, would soon be heard around the world and lead ultimately to the greatest transformation of Western society since the apostles first preached the Gospel throughout the Roman empire. Martin Luther’s nailing of his ninety-five theses to the church door on October 31, 1517, provoked a debate that culminated finally in what we now call the Protestant Reformation.

A Holy Indifference

John Johnson:

Working through John, I have been struck with how Jesus’ emotions often seem to run on a flat plane. It’s not that Jesus is unemotional, monotone. He is not the Prozac Jesus often portrayed in film. But the deeper I looked into Jesus in John, the more surprised I was with His responses. They are not always what we would expect. Jesus occasionally appears to be aloof, distant—almost cold. Sometimes, it seems He is not listening. As Culpepper, in his wonderful book, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel, writes: “Jesus seems to be congenitally incapable of giving a straight answer.”

More Kindle deals!

5 differences between Catholic theology and the gospel

Jesse Johnson:

With Reformation Day this week, it is a good time to remind ourselves of what exactly the differences are between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants. Certainly on just about every single area of theology there are differences, but here are what I think are the five most glaring and significant issues that separate the Catholic Church from the gospel of grace.

What we mean when we say, “can we talk?”

decisionmade

HT: Z

Links I like

Michael Haykin on Luther and the 95 Theses

Reformation Day Kindle deals!

Thursday isn’t just Halloween—it’s Reformation Day! Here are a bunch of books that have been put on sale in honor of the birth of Protestantism:

Free eBook: Christ-Centered Preaching & Teaching

The Gospel Project is offering a free e-book examining different perspectives on Christ-centered preaching and teaching featuring:

  • Ed Stetzer, Editor (LifeWay Research)
  • Daniel Block (Wheaton College)
  • David Murray (Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary)
  • Walt Kaiser (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)
  • Bryan Chapell (Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL)

Zeal Without Knowledge

R.C. Sproul:

Many people are surprised, and some are shocked, when they hear of my involvement in the charismatic movement years ago.

It began in 1965, shortly after I returned from graduate study in Holland to teach philosophy and theology at my alma mater. Some of my senior students who were preparing for ministry kept talking to me excitedly about their experiences with the Holy Spirit and about receiving the gift of tongues. My first response was profound skepticism, because my only previous experience had been with hardcore Pentecostals whose views of sanctification I deemed aberrant. Soon, however, the sheer number of my students involved in this phenomenon, coupled with their high level of competence as students, provoked me to give them the “philosophy of the second glance.” I also saw reports that tongues-speaking was breaking out in mainline denominations such as the Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Lutheran churches. Reports of outbreaks at Notre Dame and at Duquesne University also piqued my curiosity.

Backwards Compatible Church

Mike Leake:

I’m part of the Nintendo generation, but if I’m being honest I prefer LEGO’s. Churches would be far more healthy if they were backwards compatible. The gospel is timeless. Yes, some of our methods for delivering the message of the gospel has to change with the culture. But at the end of the day while the gospel is able to make it’s home in any culture, it is ultimately transcultural. Centering a church on the glory of God isn’t something that you’ll need to change with a new pastor.