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50 Shades Trilogy: Tim Challies Interview
The review team at Redeemed Reader begin a series on 50 Shades by interviewing Tim Challies about pornography.

Defeat 50 Shades of Grey
How would you like to shift 50 Shades of Grey off the Amazon bestsellers topspot? Are you willing to spend 99 cents and get Jeff Goins new ebook (worth $13) into the bargain? Haven;t read the book but I’ve always enjoyed Jeff’s blog posts.

Disability and the Gospel
Kara Dedert highlights an important book: How God uses our brokenness to display His Grace.

How I mark my Bible
Think I’ll be taking up a few of Jim Hamilton’s suggestions.

Black Pastors, Gay marriage, and President Obama’s Re-election
Despite the stand of many African American pastors against President Obama’s re-election, NewsOne for Black America suggests that “African Americans clutch their wallets as tightly as their Bibles!” We probably all do.

8 ways to coax new ideas to the surface
“Research suggests that breakthrough feats tend to emerge from eight different ways of illuminating new possibilities: challenging, connecting, visualizing, collaborating, harmonizing, improvising, reorienting, and playing.”

Tweets of the Day

10 Lessons from Beauty and the Beast

No, not the fairy story. This is a real story. And it’s more like a horror story.

I’ve been preaching through 2 Samuel in a local church, and last week I came to chapter 13, one of the most horrific and sordid chapters in the Bible. It’s got everything – rape, incest, abuse, injustice, and murder. Surely nothing profitable in there. Well, yet again, Scripture surprised me with the width and depth of its cultural relevance and spiritual challenge.

1. Beauty can be dangerous
How many grieve because they are not attractive and labor all their days to become more attractive. Yet, as Tamar found out, a beautiful figure and face can attract the wrong kind of people for the wrong kind of reasons.  Many’s a beautiful person has come to loathe their beauty as a curse. This is no way blames Tamar nor excuses Amnon for what he did. It’s simply a well-observed fact that beauty attracts more than its fair share of beasts.

2. Lust can make you sick
Although we’re told that Amnon “loved” his half-sister Tamar, the chapter reveals it was more lust than love. Instead of wanting to give himself to her for her good, he wants to take from her for his “good.” His lust was so powerful it actually made him sick. Lust entertained and encouraged can grow into a life-dominating monster that is a punishment in itself.

3. Friends can be your enemies
When Amnon saw that Tamar’s secluded life and purity made it impossible for him to get near her, he consulted a “friendly” advisor, Jonadab. But instead of warning Amnon away from his sin and rebuking him for his wicked lust, as a true friend would, he hatched a plan to help him fulfill his lust.

Unknown to Amnon, Jonadab was in league with Absalom to prevent Amnon from inheriting the throne. Like Jonadab, any “friend” who advises us to sin and helps us to do it, is actually an enemy hastening our destruction.

4. Everyone can do great evil
Amnon was the king’s son, surrounded by the privileges, comforts, and pleasures of the royal court. He’d been brought up by a godly father. He would never…Would he?

When Tamar entered his room, she clearly didn’t have the least thought of what his mind was full of. He was her brother, a sick brother, the kings son. She had no reason to suspect him of anything. He couldn’t…could he? But everyone can, can’t they?

5. Sin can defeat all reason
“You are my brother. I’m not willing. It is forbidden. It is perverse. It will shame me. It will disgrace you. Ask the king for permission to marry me.” She pours out reason, after reason, argument after argument. All to no avail. The devil blocks Amnon’s ears to all her arguments. Her comfort, her honor, and her happiness must be sacrificed to satisfy his uncontrollable passion.

6. Guilt can make the pleasant painful
His lust for her is satisfied; his hatred for her erupts. He hates her more than he lusted for her and immediately tries to get rid of her. “Get up. Get out!” he yells at her. And when she refuses, he calls a servant “Get this out!” She’s nothing but a piece of trash to be taken to the garbage.  He hates the humiliation of being rejected by her, but above all he hates her pure presence convicting him.

7. Victims can be cruelly treated
When her full brother, Absalom, hears about it, he tells her, “Don’t think about it too much.” Showing a complete lack of compassion for her, he can only think of how best to take advantage of this situation for himself. Having been trapped, ignored, raped, and despised, she is now banished to Absalom’s house, desolate and disgraced.

Surely David will do something. We’re told, “David was angry.” Is that it? Angry? No action? Not even an attempt to get an apology? What cruel injustice from her half-brother, her brother, and her father.

8. Family can be put before God
David was too indulgent towards his own children. Perhaps he saw his own sins of adultery and murder in his children, and felt his lack of moral authority. But personal failings and family connections must not be put before the honor of God in seeking justice for victims. The least he could have done was to challenge Amnon and call him to seek forgiveness from Tamar and from God.

9. Chastisement can be very painful
Absalom let the whole matter die down, waited for his brother to drop his guard, and then pounced in murderous fury to kill an unsuspecting Amnon.

God had promised David that for his sins of adultery and murder, though forgiven, he would be chastised by sexual abuse in his family and the sword would never depart from his house. The divine sword is unsheathed and begins to plunge not only into David’s house, but into David’s heart. No wonder David wept and wept.

10. Sin can be forgiven
David confessed his sins of adultery and murder and was forgiven. If Amnon had confessed his adultery and Absalom had confessed his murder and sought mercy from God, they both would have been forgiven. Instead, they both died gruesome deaths, and are today in hell, while their equally sinful father is in heaven. Sin, even the worst sin, can be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.

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3 Ways burnout can sneak up on you
And here’s Kent Shafer on the moral effects of a lack of rest and reflection.

Religious Celebrity Narcissism
Anthony Bradley hits hard.

Why your prayers may be hindered
“Maybe what needs to happen is that rather than sit in my office and pray about this separation and mourn the distance I need to go home and repent of my attitude and lack of nurturing of my wife.”

If there are 684 commands in the New Testament, is the New Testament legalistic?

The Psychology of Social Networking [Infographic]
Are we obsessed with social networking or with ourselves?

Why Easter makes me a Sabbatarian
If you’ve never heard a biblical argument for the continuity of the fourth commandment, here’s your chance. At least it will help you to know the case that you’re arguing against.

Tweets of the Day

Salvation and disabilities

Can anyone point me to books, blog posts, sermons, articles, etc., that discuss the salvation of those with disabilities.

I’ve received a few of queries about this, and wondered if you could help me crowd-source any helpful resources. I’m looking for different perspectives.

The last time we crowd-sourced on miscarriage and the death of infants we produced a great list of resources. Let’s see what we can do with this even more challenging subject.