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Blogs

Born this way? Maybe not
“Remember all that talk for the last decade that sexual orientation is like skin color – genetic and immutable? Well, the science not only looks iffy, it was never solid.”

The Millennial’s Guide To Living Well Cheaply
An encouraging and challenging story for anyone who’s feeling the pinch.

More Parents Finally Get That College is a Scam
For a more accurate headline, add “for most” to the end of it.

The Blessing Of Catechizing Our Children
And if you’re feeling discouraged and defeated on the family devotions front, here’s Tim Challies on How We Do Family Devotions.

Disenchanted With Islam
God is over-ruling Islamic terrorism to draw Muslims to Himself.

An Embarrassing Week For Christians Sharing False News
And how to stop a repetition.

Just Because You’re Happy Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Burned Out
“A new survey report just published by Staples Advantage offers a paradoxical set of findings about US office workers. Overwhelmingly, they are happy. Yet the majority of them feel burned out.  How could both things be true?”

The Case Against Laptops In The Classroom
Every semester brings me closer to making this decision.

Kindle Books

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chappell $1.99.

Alone With God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer by John MacArthur $0.99.

A Household Gospel by Matthew Sims $2.99

New Paperback Book

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God’s Mobile Home: Stories of Grace From The Tabernacle is now available in paperback. After launching the eBook a couple of weeks ago, some parents asked if it could be published in paperback so that they could read it to their children or their children who didn’t have a Kindle could read it themselves. I looked into that and with the help of CreateSpace the paperback can now be bought on Amazon.

Video

Randy Alcorn Opens Up About His Depression


Check out

Blogs

The Future Of The Christian University | First Things

The Rising Of The Beast In America | Rick Phillips

Instead of Worrying | Tim Witmer

My Journey To Seeing The Goodness of God in the Gift of Sex | Francie Winslow

Solomon’s Three Stages of Adulthood | Barry York

From Lost Boy To Education Minister in Sudan | BBC

Kindle Books

C.S. Lewis: A Life Inspired by Christopher Gordon $2.99.

Basic Christianity (IVP Classics) by John Stott $3.74.

The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon $0.99.

Spurgeon’s commentary on all 150 psalms with linked table of contents. See more discounted Puritan and Reformed classics at DollarPuritans.com.

Recommended New Book

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin & Lindsey Holcomb $13.49.

A simple, easy-to-read story to help children understand, value, and protect their bodies.

Video

Calvinism And The Christian Life

A new Ligonier Teaching series from Ian Hamilton. Click through to watch first message free.


The Best Online Education Videos

Most educational institutions are still experimenting with the best way to deliver education via the Internet, with mixed and often disappointing results. But, at last, we have some empirical research from MIT, Rochester University, and edX which examined four methods of delivery:

  • A recorded classroom lecture
  • An instructor’s talking head
  • A Khan-style digital tablet drawing (popularized by Khan Academy)
  • A PowerPoint slideshow

Here are the seven main findings and corresponding recommendations:

1. Shorter videos are much more engaging. Engagement drops sharply after 6 minutes. 

Recommendation: Invest heavily in pre-production lesson planning to segment videos into chunks shorter than 6 minutes. This is the most significant recommendation!

2. Videos that intersperse an instructor’s talking head with PowerPoint slides are more engaging than showing only slides. 

Recommendation:Invest in post-production editing to display the instructor’s head at opportune times in the video. But don’t go overboard because sudden transitions can be jarring. Picture-in-picture might also work well.

3. Videos produced with a more personal feel could be more engaging than high-fidelity studio recordings. 

Recommendation: Try filming in an informal setting such as an office to emulate a one-on-one office hours experience. It might not be necessary to invest in big-budget studio productions.

4. Khan-style tablet drawing tutorials are more engaging than PowerPoint slides or code screencasts. 

Recommendation: Introduce motion and continuous visual flow into tutorials, along with extemporaneous speaking so that students can follow along with the instructor’s thought process.

5. Even high-quality prerecorded classroom lectures are not as engaging when chopped up into short segments for a MOOC.

Recommendation: If instructors insist on recording traditional classroom lectures, they should still plan lectures with the MOOC format in mind and work closely with instructional designers who have experience in online education.

6. Videos where instructors speak fairly fast and with high enthusiasm are more engaging. 

Recommendation: Coach instructors to bring out their enthusiasm and reassure them that they do not need to purposely slow down. Students can always pause the video if they want a break.

7. Students engage differently with lecture and tutorial videos.

Recommendation: For lectures, focus more on the first-time watching experience. For tutorials, add more support for rewatching and skimming, such as inserting subgoal labels in large fonts throughout the video.

You can read the 10-page paper here.


Check out

Blogs

20 Quotes From Rosaria Butterfield’s New Book On Sexual Identity

How The Gospel Ended My Same-Sex Relationship | Borrowed Light

Not All Homosexuals Are Alike | Clare DeGraaf

Should You Be A Pastor Or Professor? | Michael Kruger

The Haunting of Ministry Failure | TGC

10 Distinguishing Marks Of John Calvin’s Preaching | Steven Lawson

How To Master The Lost Art of Reading | 99U

Parenting College Students | Ed Stetzer

Books

Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name by Bryan Chappell $1.99.

Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith $4.99.

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved by J D Greear $3.50.

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Videos

Christian Faithfulness in a Post-Christian Country | TGC

Two videos of Rod Dreher and Russell Moore presenting different approaches to the hostile anti-Christian culture we now face.


A Biblical Response to The Supreme Court Decision

On Sunday I preached a sermon entitled “A Biblical Response To The Supreme Court Decision.” It’s available in audio and video here. The points were:

1. A Time To Mourn
2. A Time To Learn
3. A Time to Warn
4. A Time To Love
5. A Time To Trust
6. A Time To Stand
7. A Time To Change the Subject

What follows is an outline of the first point, A Time to Mourn.

As you know, last Friday, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declared gay marriage to be a constitutional right, legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states. This decision has left many Christians dazed, confused, and fearful. Although I cannot cover everything in one sermon, I want to bring a message from God’s Word to help us respond to this decision in a biblical way. Firstly, this is a time to mourn.

More than ever before we understand the words of 2 Peter 2:7-8, which tell us that Lot while living in a similar culture was “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.” “He vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.”

We feel like that, don’t we. We feel a heaviness upon us, a pain in our hearts. We find tears welling up in our eyes. We’ve lost sleep thinking about it, waking up even in the middle of the night with a knot in our stomach. It hits us again when we get up in the morning. It’s a deep, discouraging, depressing sadness. And that’s right and appropriate.

Although the world is celebrating, partying, and enjoying lots of happy emotions, we are left with the opposite feelings. We could avoid these painful emotions by ignoring the decision, denying it, or pretending it didn’t happen. Or we could blow it off, “Nothing to do with me, won’t affect me…” Yes, we can find ways to avoid this unpleasant mourning. But that would be wrong. It’s right and even required that we mourn.

But why? Why not just join the party or ignore it? What is there to mourn about?

We mourn the offense to God: God has forbidden homosexuality. He has put his stamp of disapproval upon it and every other sin. When any one or any nation not only approves of sin but makes it part of the nation’s constitution, declares sin to be a constitutional right, God is dishonored and offended. John Piper called it “A massive institutionalization of sin.” All of this is especially painful because of God’s goodness and grace to this nation over many years.

We mourn the corruption of marriage: We talk about holy matrimony, and Hebrews 13:4 speaks about marriage being honorable. It was the apex of God’s creation, often called a creation ordinance. When God looked at Adam and Eve in the state of marriage, He said, “Very good.” Now the name of marriage has been attached to an evil state, corrupting it and sullying it.

One of the most beautiful parts of God’s design for marriage is its complementarity – the way God made the woman and the man different in order that they complement one another (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:4-6; Eph. 5:22-33). At the heart of God’s design for marriage is the difference that produces that complementarity. That’s totally lost in gay marriage. The difference is lost in that it’s two men or two women, and thus the complementarity is lost as well.

Another reason we mourn the corruption of marriage is because male-female marriage is used as the primary illustration of the relationship between Christ and His Church. The Bible starts and ends with this image which also provides us with an insight into the heart of God. Marriage is thus tied up with the Gospel message.

We mourn the damage to people: We acknowledge that many homosexuals and also heterosexuals believe that gay marriage will make more people happy. Nothing could be further from the truth – as homosexuals will discover in weeks and years to come. Most have no idea of the fallout that will result from the overturning of 99% of human history and one of the primary foundations of human civilization.

If we go against our Maker’s instructions we cannot expect to flourish. Just as we would damage a car if we tried to use it as a washing machine and vice versa, so people will heap up damage to themselves and to others by seeking happiness in gay marriage. We can see a tsunami of pain on the way.

We also mourn the damage to millions of souls as they go to a lost eternity unrepentant and unsaved.

We mourn the example to the world: At its founding, America was envisaged as a city on a hill, an example to the nations. And thus it has been for many years. It is the most powerful and influential nation on earth. And now that power and influence have set this terrible example to the world. We mourn that our nation is calling good evil and evil good, and that many will follow suit.

We mourn the loss of innocence: We want our children to grow up with a good, true, and beautiful view of biblical sexuality. Instead, some of our children are hearing about this perversion of sexuality before they hear about pure and holy sexuality. And others of our children are growing up learning about things that many of us in the older generation never even knew existed. That knowledge of evil causes the loss of healthy and appropriate innocence.

We mourn the hijacking of the rainbow: The rainbow is one of the most beautiful divine symbols – a symbol of God’s gracious offer of peace after judgment. God calls it “my bow” (Gen. 9:13). But now it celebrates one of the sins that brought the judgment. We cannot see it now without thinking of gay marriage. This biblical symbol has been stolen and associated with sin.

We mourn the culture that led to this: This did not happen out of the blue. It is the end of a long 40-year-road road of moral relativism, which says, “If it feels good, do it,” or “What’s true for you isn’t true for me.” It’s the end of a long road of media and education indoctrination that has redefined love to cover everything and redefined sin out of existence. It’s the end of a long road of media promotion and normalization. The Supreme court majority simply represents the majority view of the country.

We mourn that many Christians are unconcerned or even celebrating this: Many professing Christians are so ignorant that they cannot even see homosexuality as wrong. For some it seems that the only wrong is to call something wrong.

We mourn our own sins: We are not just mourning others’ sins, we are also mourning our own. We must mourn first and most about our own sins, both sexual sins and all the other sins too.

It is a time for some painful mourning. But also pleading the promise of God that He will ultimately make such mourners happy. “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).


Christ’s Seven Prayers for His People

Wouldn’t you love to hear Christ prayers for you?

You can.

In John 17 we can eavesdrop on Christ’s prayers for His people. Lean in and you’ll hear five prayers He’s praying for every Christian every day, and then two that He prays on our last day on earth.

Keep them going: Holy Father, keep through your name those whom You have given Me (v. 11).

Give them joy: these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves (v. 13).

Protect them: Keep them from the evil one (v. 15).

Sanctify them: Sanctify them by Your truth (v. 17).

Unite them:  That they all may be one, as you, Father, are in Me, and I in You (v. 20).

And then two prayers on our last day on earth…

Bring them home: I desire that they also whom you gave Me may be with Me where I am (v. 24).

Show them my beauty: That they may behold My glory which you have given Me (v. 24).