Economics for Everybody

It’s not easy to produce a Christian video curriculum on any subject these days. With so much exposure to mass media and the vast resources at these producers’ disposal, it’s extremely difficult for Christians with limited budgets, limited equipment, and limited audiences to get anywhere close to matching the production quality that people are used to.

Freezing and forgetting
Most people don’t realize how hard it is to talk to camera in a lively and gripping way that doesn’t come across like really poor acting. When you’re in a studio with half a dozen guys pointing various cameras, lights, and recording equipment in your face, it’s a great recipe for freezing and forgetting your lines.

The camera also has a way of revealing what a boring person you are! Again TV personalities have a lot to answer for. They are so excessively pumped and energized that they make even normally lively people look like the walking dead. To come across as “normal” by TV standards, you’d almost need to have an electric current running through you.

There’s also the challenge of doing something more than just a talking head in a studio without the video images taking over from the teaching content.

Impressive content and production
In spite of all these obstacles, I was hopeful that R.C. Sproul Jr’s new Ligonier teaching series, Economics for Everybody would make the grade. And it does. I was impressed with the production quality, the combination of teaching content and film extracts, RC’s lively presence on camera, and the skill with which he simplifies economics so that everybody can understand and relate to it. I liked his basic analogy, that the way we all handle money in our everyday life is a small picture of the greater economic forces and issues that businesses and government have to face. Economics for Everybody is for everybody.

My teenage boys and I started the curriculum last week and I thought I’d post their initial thoughts after a completing a couple of lessons, with a fuller review from us all when we finish it.

Allan (16)
R.C. Sproul Jr. presents Economics in a very entertaining, gripping way that is bound to immediately grasp the listener’s attention. His study guide is clearly informative and has some personal questions with which the reader can examine his or her response. Using illustrations he promotes the biblical truths of economics including topics such as where has economics come from, where did it begin, and how can we use it to further God’s kingdom.

Angus (15)
I thought that the way this film is presented is a unique idea. Particularly favorable are the frequent switches from the speaker to film examples from times past. The content is a biblically founded guide to using Economics in today’s day and age. Although concepts we rarely talk about, the ideas given should definitely be put into practice more. The liveliness of R.C. Sproul Jr. keeps the viewer’s mind firmly concentrated on what is being taught. I found the layout of the study guide a bit hard to follow, but it provoked lots of genuine questions for discussion.

Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principles to Work, Wealth and the World. Twelve 23-minute messages (over four hours of teaching) plus study guide for $36. Buy from Ligonier.

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Psychiatric Medication and the Image of God
There are some good points in this article, but I’m afraid they are lost by an unnecessarily complicated presentation and the beating of some straw men to death. Some of the comments do a better job. As this post puts it: A truly baffling article.

Discerning the News
Sarah Pulliam Bailey guides us through the media minefield.

The Puritans and Slavery
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Deepak Chopra: Social Media is the next phase of humanity
If you want a laugh, have a watch of the first couple of minutes of this. I kept waiting for the audience to burst into laughter, but the guy is serious. And people say Christianity is hard to believe!

Why we chose to have beautiful babies
If you knew that you had a genetic life-shortening abnormality that might be passed on to your children, would you still choose to have children? Josiah Grauman wrestles with this reality.

How Sermons Work
I’ve recently discovered some faulty formatting in the eBook version of How Sermons Work. That has now been fixed and Amazon are emailing all purchasers to ask for permission to update the old file on your Kindle device or App (although that may take up to 4 weeks). Sorry for any inconvenience. If you have any questions please contact Evangelical Press.

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A baby blogger salutes the daddy of all bloggers.

It was my good buddy Tim Challies’ 10th Blogging Anniversary yesterday. Mega congratulations, Tim, on this happy anniversary and may you have many, many more of them. Like multitudes of others I owe you a huge debt for all the hours and effort you put in to keep us informed, edified, and challenged on a daily basis. You have a significant spiritual role in many of our lives.  Thanks for being such a rare model of courage, clarity, humility, transparency, and love, for the rest of us baby bloggers out here. May God keep you faithful and fervent all your days.

Though barely out of my blogging diapers – I’m just coming up for my third birthday next month – I was recently asked for tips on how to start a blog that people will read. Although it feels a bit like asking a T-ball player how to hit a home run at Yankee stadium, I thought I’d make a quick list of blogging tips I’ve learned from the daddy of all bloggers with a few of my own mini-tips thrown in as well:

  1. Read lots of blogs in lots of different subject areas, Christian and non-Christian. It stimulates your mind, exposes you to different writing styles, and gives you material to comment on and link to.
  2. Observe the master bloggers and try to identify what makes them successful. Don’t copy them but adapt and translate what they do to your own talents and interests.
  3. Balance teaching with personal information. The world probably doesn’t need more sermons, but neither does it need to know the intimate details of your marriage every day. Tim is a master at getting this balance right, keeping his focus on God’s revelation while also revealing enough of his own life and character to keep it personal and human.
  4. Don’t make every post a hit-job on someone or something but keep it positive and edifying. Some people have built readerships on a diet of controversy. But do you really want these kinds of readers?
  5. Vary between short posts and longer posts. Unless you are someone like Tim Challies who has earned the right (and has the ability) to write 1000 words a day, you are best to keep it to 500 words or less, with some rare exceptions.
  6. Be consistent and regular in your blogging. Don’t post five one week and then nothing for five weeks. Set yourself a target of 2-3 posts a week and post them on the same days each week.
  7. Exercise patience – like everything else overnight success is very rare. If you’re just starting, you’re very late to the party. Most people already read too many blogs, and you may have to wait for dead men’s shoes to make a breakthrough.
  8. Comment on other people’s blogs and interact with comments on your own blogs. Blogging is social media, so be sociable.
  9. Promote other beginner bloggers. The big boys have lots of links already. Encourage fellow-strugglers.
  10. Don’t check your stats every day. Maybe once a month or once a week will suffice. If you make it all about stats, you will either get proud or devastated.
  11. Be content with the readership God gives you. Even if it’s only 20 people a day, consider that you are witnessing to and influencing 20 people a day. That’s probably far more than you would impact without a blog.
  12. Do it for your own spiritual benefit. Writing an edifying blog is a spiritual discipline that can develop you intellectually and grow you spiritually. Even if you never become the daddy (or the mommy) of all bloggers, it can help you toddle a few steps further along the road of your spiritual walk.
  13. Limit your time. As reading and writing blogs can easily devour time, set yourself some time limits and force yourself to stay within them.
  14. Try to specialize in a certain subject. Look for a niche that isn’t being serviced and try to fill it. I initially focused on pastoral leadership. When non-pastors began to read my blog, I decided to widen my scope and write for young leaders in business and education as well. Then I was increasingly asked about family leadership issues, until eventually my blog morphed into a covering more or less the whole Christian life. But I’d still advise a narrow focus initially and build out from there.
  15. Pray for God’s blessing. Not a day goes by without me praying for God to use my few loaves and fishes to bless His people. And He often surprises me with how much He can do with so little.

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I was thinking of giving up blogging…
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Rappers shedding “Christian” label to attract mainstream fans
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The Best Christian Resources Addressing Daily Life Issues
Bob Kellemen compiles the links to Paul Tautges’s great lists of resources for depression, anxiety, fear, addictions, etc.

Coming Clean
Max Lucado confesses his dangerous experimentation with beer-sampling and how he went from “A once-in-a-while … then once-a-week … then once-a-day beer fan.” Must say I was impressed with his honesty and courage.

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