Links I like

Confessing Our Sins Together

Ryan Griffith:

I’m sure that most of us agree with Bonhoeffer that the confession of sin, grounded in the gospel, is a vital component of our personal spirituality. But we get a little uncomfortable when it comes to corporate dimensions of confession. It’s not too threatening to engage in silent confession when the liturgy calls us to do so in the weekend service, but when it comes to times of confession in small-group settings, we often settle for less-indicting statements like “I’m struggling with . . .” Even then, we have the gnawing sense that our vague, toothless non-confessions aren’t fulfilling the exhortation of James 5:16, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.”

Kindle deals for Christian readers

In case you missed these late additions to yesterday’s list, here are a few really great Kindle deals:

How to Be Content But Not Complacent

Hugh Whelchel and Anne Rathbone Bradley:

In a recent sermon I heard about money, the pastor tell his congregation, “You need to learn to be content.” But this command can actually encourage complacency instead of true biblical contentment.

Being content usually means you should be satisfied with your current situation. It is often supported by quotes from Scripture, like Philippians 4:11-13.

Does Paul mean you should not try to improve your current situation, find a better job, earn more money, or further your education? Are we supposed to passively sit back and watch life go by? What about our call to be “salt and light of the earth”?

So how can we be content without becoming complacent and lazy?

Crossway hosting “Women of the Word” month in July

During the busy summer month of July, Crossway wants to help you get in the Word and stay in the Word! Join us for Women of the Word Month, a 31-day campaign to encourage and equip you for Bible study aimed at both your head and your heart. Sign up today to receive helpful content sent directly to your email inbox, including:

1. A DAILY DEVOTIONAL guiding you through the story of the Old Testament, including suggestions for reflection and prayer

2. PRACTICAL ARTICLES written by some of your favorite authors to encourage and equip you for personal or small group Bible study

3. VIDEO INTERVIEWS with well-known Christian women related to the life-changing power of God’s Word Includes contributions from Jen Wilkin, Kathy Keller, Kristyn Getty, Nancy Guthrie, Gloria Furman, Elyse Fitzpatrick, and more!

For more information or to sign up, go to Crossway.org/women.

“They’re back”

David Murray shares a disheartening health update. Please keep him in your prayers, friends.

Holy Relics: A Church Softball League Softball

Martyn Wendell Jones:

The sun hangs low and orange in the sky and casts long shadows off trees, telephone poles, and the associate pastor, whose severe lean toward home plate has locked his sweat-dampened butt in place six inches above his fold-up canvas chair. “Come on, Josephus,” he says, hands on knees, “let them have it!” He falls back into his seat like a keeling ship and jabs his hand into the sledge of an adjacent cooler. Sweat glitters on his scalp under thin hair formed into diaphanous spikes.

The “Josephus” in question is actually Joe Schmale, Pastor of Adult Ministries at Cable Road Church of the Nazarene, and he is presently narrowing his eyes at the figure about to lob a ball at him. He wears a skintight batting glove on one hand and has brought his own bat from home, where he has six bats. He wears a brace on one knee.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Four volumes from Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series on sale for 99¢:

Also on sale:

What if Your Child is Gay?

Russell Moore:

One of the reasons this is such a crushing experience for many is because they assume that their alternatives are affirmation or alienation. I either give up my relationship with my child or I give up the Bible. The gospel never suggests this set of alternatives, and in fact demonstrates just the opposite.

Every child, whether gay or straight, is oriented toward sin, and so are you. If your child or grandchild says he or she is gay, you shouldn’t act shocked, as though you are surprised your child might be tempted toward sin, or that you find your own sinful inclinations somehow less deserving of God’s judgment.

4 Principles on Prayer from Saint Augustine

Tim Keller:

Anicia Faltonia Proba, who died in AD 432, was a Christian Roman noblewoman. She had the distinction of knowing both Augustine, the greatest theologian of the first millennium of Christian history, as well as John Chrysostom, its greatest preacher. We have two letters of Augustine to Proba, and the first (Letter 130) is the only single, substantial treatment on the subject of prayer that Augustine ever wrote.

I had the chance to read the letter recently and was impressed with its common sense and some of its unusual insights. Proba wrote Augustine because she was afraid she wasn’t praying as she should. Augustine responded with several principles or rules for prayer.

Do You Want a Beautiful Woman?

Lore Ferguson, giving some friendly pushback to this article:

Now, let me say that a woman who is fully loved by her husband is markedly different than a woman who is not, or does not feel loved by him. We all know both women, and there is a definite glow and confidence in a woman who feels the security of her one-woman man.

That said, I worry about the message this sends to unmarried women, particularly those of you who are in your thirties and beyond. Shakespeare said it best “Age, with his stealing steps, Hath clawed me in his clutch.” We cannot stop the inevitable blurring of our birth year behind us and the empty grave in front of us. For a single woman aging feels achingly more hopeless than for a single man as he ages. Every month we watch our fertility fade and the crows-feet crowd in. We feel less beautiful as each day goes on.

The Little Professionals

Aimee Byrd:

This is the time of the year when my sanity is really challenged. With a daughter in softball and a son in baseball, my calendar looks more like a game show challenge than commitments made by responsible adults. Added to this, the reward my husband gets for volunteering his time as a baseball coach is the mandate to umpire 9 additional games to the 18 that his team will be playing. Needless to say, just about every night is busy.

Book Review: Voices of the True Woman Movement

I must admit that I took Voices of the True Woman Movement to be polite. I was at the Moody table at The Gospel Coalition and was asked if I’d like a free book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I was afraid of what the reaction would be if I said “No, I heard she’s kinda OUT THERE,” so I just said “sure” and took the book and stuck it in my growing bag of free nerd-swag.

I started reading it later that day while waiting for Aaron, and was intrigued. Still apprehensive, but intrigued. Voices of the True Woman Movement is basically a transcript of the first True Woman conference, held in October 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. There are multiple contributors, including John Piper, Mary Kassian, and Joni Eareckson Tada.

The book offers a broad overview of the vision that adherents of conservative, complementarian Christianity have for Christian women today and into the future. It’s a good read, and I especially enjoyed the contributions by John Piper, Mary A. Kassian, and Fern Nichols. I did appreciate the chapter by Nancy Leigh DeMoss as well, to my surprise. DeMoss provides a solid exposition of the story of Esther, and reminds us that living for God’s glory, and not our own, is the only kind of life worth living.

I wasn’t really a fan of the chapter by Karen Loritts – too much of a tough talking football coach vibe for my taste.

The end of the book has a “true woman manifesto” for the reader to review, and there is opportunity to affirm the manifesto by “signing” in online at truewoman.com. I have not signed the manifesto, and probably won’t, but a cursory look at the site seems to indicate it’s a good resource for Christian women.

I think that the best thing I got out of this book was that the True Woman Movement is not something to be afraid of. There’s no push to have 27 children, or burn all your shoes, or wear a veil to church. What the authors do assert that the model of womanhood given to us by the world is a stinking pile, and that Christian woman need to immerse themselves in the word of God and submit to his will for their lives.

I would encourage women especially to read Voices of the True Woman Movement, if for no other reason than to get a sense of complementarianism from a female perspective. I hope you find the book as helpful as I have.


Title: Voices of the True Woman Movement: A Call to the Counter-Revolution
Author: Nancy Leigh DeMoss (editor)
Publisher: Moody Publishers (2010)

Book Review: Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James

The role of women continues to be a question that looms large. In business, politics, education and countless other arenas, the opportunities for women in the western world are virtually unlimited. Yet in other parts of the world, in the Middle East or in nations ravaged by poverty, these opportunities don’t exist. Indeed, in many countries, women are treated as little more than property.

This issue has not left the church unscathed. Are women “merely” to be focused on the home and family? Are there limits to how women can serve or should serve? Does the church give women—who comprise at least half of it—an inspiring, captivating vision of what it means to be a woman created in the image of God?

Carolyn Custis James seeks to answer these questions in Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women. In many ways this book is a companion piece to Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, which focuses on the abuses perpetrated against women around the world—among them sex trafficking, genital mutilation and honor killings. In light of the horrific crimes being perpetrated against women globally every day, James asks why the Church is not the loudest voice in this crisis; why the Church is not “the most visible at the forefront of addressing this humanitarian crisis” (p. 21). Half the Church, in James’ estimation, represents a call to action in combating these atrocities as the author describe what she sees as God’s vision for women.

From a male perspective, reading Half the Church was an unusual experience. It’s primary audience is women and James writes with that assumption in mind. In some ways this was quite refreshing as it gave me a glimpse into the female perspective, but it was also difficult at times to relate, particularly as she got into the nitty-gritty of her argument. And her arguments are where things get really interesting.

I need to be upfront about one thing before I go any farther: Half the Church was incredibly difficult for me to review. This is not because I wasn’t able to form opinions on it, but because my concern is that by voicing any disagreement with James’ premise or arguments I would be viewed as a misogynist (or worse). And nothing could be further from the truth. As a husband and father, ensuring that the dignity of women is protected is very, very high on my priority list. My daughters are learning how valuable they are in their Daddy’s sight, as is my wife (I hope!). I also acknowledge that I can’t possibly hope to cover every part with which I agree, any more than I can cover every point of disagreement. So if something you loved isn’t discussed, please be aware that I’m in no way trying to misrepresent the book’s message.

So, with all that said, let’s continue. [Read more...]

Book Review: The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin

The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin

This book will be different than any other book on organization that you’ve probably read. I have no schedule to offer you, I won’t tell you what day to mop the kitchen floor, and you don’t need to buy a timer. Your standards for an organized home and a reasonable schedule will vary with your personality, season of life, and the needs and preferences of your family.

What I hope to do is to help you examine your heart and discover things that may be hindering your walk with God. My goal is not necessarily for you to have a cleaner home or a more manageable schedule—although I certainly hope that is the case. Rather, my hope for this book is that it will help you serve God and your family more effectively, more fruitfully, and with greater peace and joy.

Staci Eastin, The Organized Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos

The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin is not a book full of charts or checklists. There’s no instruction to do your laundry on Monday, or your floors on Wednesday. (Although seriously, who does their floors every week?) We’ve seen enough of those, and if you’re a person who struggles with disorder, you probably have a few of these books already and don’t need another one.

So what is The Organized Heart? It’s an insightful work that challenges the reader to investigate the root of disorder, which according to the author, is idolatry.

The Organized Heart covers four areas where disorder can reign (and ruin)—perfectionism, busyness, possessions, and leisure. In the chapter on possessions, Staci offers a very funny anecdote about her beloved couch; it went from being white and tan to brown and brown, and when all was said and done not even a charity would take it. [Read more...]

Around the Interweb (03/28)

A Roommate is a Roommate? I Wonder What Her Dad Thinks

Kayla, left, and Lindon say sharing a dorm room hasn't been awkward. The mixing of genders is a generational issue, Lindon says, and "Over the years, this division between men and women, which was so big, is slowly closing." (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / March 9, 2010)

The other day, Albert Mohler posted some commentary in response to a recent LA Times article on Harvey Mudd College’s move to mix-gender housing for students:

The rise of co-ed dorms is the inevitable result of a breakdown in all rationality about sex, gender, and sexuality. . . . All of this adds up to a perfect jumble of moral confusion. Consider all that is mixed-up here. First, we have schools collapsing under the logic of gender rebellion. Instead of respecting boundaries, they remove them. . . . Second, we have students insisting that there is nothing remotely odd or sexualized about two heterosexual students of opposite genders living in the same small space. That is both unbelievable and deeply sad. Third, we have activists and administrators lecturing parents that they have no right to resist all this. When Jeffrey Chang insists that college students are adults who “have every single right to choose the person they feel most comfortable living with,” he assumes, probably rightly, that many parents will just accept that argument at face value.

This is nuts. If these students are adults with such rights, let them pay the steep bills at Harvey Mudd and Pitzer colleges. What self-respecting parent would cave to this logic, or to the lectures from college administrators that they have no right to intervene?

Read Dr. Mohler’s article, as well as the LA Times article. It’ll be well worth your time.

In other news

Stephen Altrogge reminds us: “You’re not the point of the gospels.”

The Canadian Association of University Teachers thinks statements of faith are incompatible with academic freedom. Christian post-secondary institutes beware.

Michael Spencer (The Internet Monk) has discontinued cancer treatment and is receiving assistance from the local hospice. He and his wife are asking that we all pray for minimal pain and a peaceful passing.

In case you missed it

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

This week, I released a free e-book based on Jude’s epistle, Contending: A Study & Discussion Guide. It’s ideal for personal and small group use. Download it and share as you like.

A review of John Piper’s latest, A Sweet & Bitter Providence

Whatever makes you feel good about you,” what I’m learning from Christian Smith’s research on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Some encouragement from John Calvin

Zac Smith shares his battle with cancer

Sunday Shorts (08/23)

A Quiet Circumvention of Morality

Dr. Albert Mohler writes about women being involved in combat situations in the US Military:

From a Christian perspective, the concern about women in combat goes far beyond the pollsters’ questions. If we truly believe that God created men and women for different but complementary roles and shows his glory in the faithfulness of men as primary protectors and women as primary nurturers, the entry of women into combat roles is an open rejection of God’s purpose. As military historians document, every society throughout history has normalized the military service of men. Though women have known combat in isolated cases throughout history, the fact that such cases are rare is the exception that proves the rule. This wisdom is part of general revelation and thus the moral wisdom shared by virtually all cultures.

Read the rest at Dr. Mohler’s blog.

HT: Challies

Free Total Church Study Guide

total-church

An A29 church has created a free study guide to go along with the Re:Lit book Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The well-designed 32-page study guide is available for free PDF download here. We’ve talked with Steve Timmis, and he’s excited about this free resource.

The study guide was designed by Veritas Community Church in Columbus, Ohio.

Out of the Archives: Young, Restless, Reformed

Young-Restless-ReformedIn 2004, Collin Hansen came on staff as an editor of Christianity Today, and the emerging/emergent church, with its tweaking and questioning of theology in light of a postmodern outlook, was all the rage (as it continues to be in some circles today). Many on staff thought that Hansen should know more about it than anyone given his age. However, he found that, within his circles, there was a disposition towards traditional Reformed theology, and he began to ask the question: Is it just us, or is this the beginning of something bigger? This question led him on a two year journey across America, and the results form Young, Restless, Reformed, first published as an article in Christianity Today, and expanded into this book in 2008.

Travelling across the United States, Hansen visited several “hot spots” of emerging Reformed theology including: The Passion Conference, Atlanta, Georgia; Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; New Attitude Conference, Louisville, Kentucky; and Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington. While certainly not covering all of places he could, Hansen does a great job of creating a solid cross-section of this movement.

Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

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

Book Review: Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl Reviewing N.D. Wilson’s delightfully and downright peculiar book on the wonder of God’s creation

A Bible with All the Words: How I Learned to Love the ESV Reflecting on my journey to my Bible translation of choice, the ESV

The Love of God: Audio from St. Paul’s United My sermon from St. Paul’s United in Aylmer, Ontario, August 15th, 2009

Brand-olatary Examining the connection between what we buy and what we worship

Book Review: What’s He Really Thinking?

Title: What’s He Really Thinking: How to Be a Relational Genius with the Man in Your Life
Author: Paula Rinehart
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Recommended: Ladies, embrace the man in your life for what he is: A man.

Sometimes it’s fun to read a book for which you’re definitely not the target audience. What’s even better is when you actually find it helpful.

Paula Rinehart’s book, What’s He Really Thinking? wants women to understand one thing: Men are not women with beards and big feet. We are a truly distinct gender, despite our culture’s general thrust to try and feminize us. We think, react and feel completely differently. And relationships are so much better when women stop trying to “train” us and embrace us for who we are instead.

As a man reading this book, I came into it expecting to be thrown under a bus. After all, that’s been the general theme of any book written about men (for women) for the last twenty-odd years. The portrayal of men today tends to be that of the doofy husband. But What’s He Really Thinking? is particularly interesting because, rather than affirming this attitude, Rinehart seeks to provide women a view of maleness that’s built on research, practical experience and biblical wisdom. And as an added bonus, because it’s written to women, there were more than a few “Aha!” moments where it helped make sense of some of my wife’s reactions to the things I do.

What’s He Really Thinking? is a very helpful book, one that I would, with little hesitation, recommend to any woman who wants to better understand how to approach her relationship with the man (or men) in her life—because God made us men, and that actually is a very good thing indeed.

Made in the Image of God: Relationship and Responsibility

“Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26

Last week, I wrote about man’s likeness of God relating to the spirit. This week, let’s take a look at two more ways we’re made in the image and likeness of God: Relationship and responsibility.

Relationship

In Genesis 2:18, after God had finished creating everything and had declared it all good, there was one thing that He said was not good: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Out of everything that God created—plants, animals, insects, New Jersey—the only thing God said was not good was that the man was alone. [Read more...]

Why I love my wife

This week has been a good one for us. Emily is recovering well and generally in good spirits (thanks go out to all who have been praying for her). But it’s also been rough for me, simply because I was hit a little more profoundly with the reality of the last two weeks’ events when my good friend Adam (correctly) mentioned, “your wife almost died.”

That really shook me, because while I knew, it hadn’t really sunk in. He was right. She had almost died nearly two weeks ago.

Tuesday night, Emily and I had a hard talk about her not taking the time she needed to take to heal. And I almost lost it emotionally; I just felt like a wreck. I explained to her how I was feeling, that I needed her to slow down as much as she needed to. I begged her to please just let me take care of her. And she did.

The rest of the week was pretty well. I didn’t think about this too much more until Saturday, when I stumbled into a debate on gender roles. It’s strange how the mind connects things sometimes, but… [Read more...]