Check out (11/19)

Theology
The Emotions of Jesus
Paul Tautges is running a series on The Emotional Life of our Lord, my favorite essay by B. B. Warfield (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Does Calvinism make God a moral monster?
Mike Horton responds to a common criticism of Calvinism (HT: Justin Taylor)

Technology
3 Proven Strategies to Keep the Internet from Killing your Productivity 

Wonder where that plane’s going?
Wonder no more. Just enter the search term “flights overhead” at WolframAlpha.com on any computer or smartphone’s browser, and you’ll find out what type of aircraft it is, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, what airline it belongs to and how high it’s flying at the moment.

Culture
Leadership’s New Direction
After conducting a survey of over 500 current business school students The Harvard Business Review concludes “that their worldviews and backgrounds differ strikingly from previous generations. With 100,000 graduating from US Business schools every year, Christian leaders should think through the challenging conclusions. They include:

  • They’re highly educated: 54% of Millennials have college degrees, compared to 36% of boomers.
  • They’re focused on sustainability: 65% of MBAs believe that the scarcity of resources will significantly impact businesses in the next few decades, compared to 29% of CEOs.
  • They seek meaning: Intellectual challenge is the most important reason for choosing a job.
  • They’re global: The average number of countries respondents intend to work within ten years of graduation is 4.6.
  • They’re looking to “connect the dots” between sectors: 84% believe it is essential to understand the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Brain Changes in Video Gamers
It’s actually not all bad news. But just in case you really want to worry, read Are the iPod generation ruining their hearing for good? (HT: Tim Challies)

Politics
$15 Trillion and counting. Somebody please tell me that this is not really happening. “On Wednesday, the federal government’s total debt exceeded fifteen trillion dollars. That’s $48,000 in debt per citizen and over $133,000 in debt per taxpayer. Adding in all U.S. debt, including personal (mortgages, credit cards, student loans), plus government at all levels, the debt is approaching an incomprehensible $55 trillion, representing almost $661,000 per American family.”

Video
Got this via The Christian Pundit. Skip the intro and fast forward to 3.16. As Bill says: “It led me to marvel, and to worship God: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1) There is tremendous beauty, intricacy and mystery declaring God’s glory all around us, even in a groaning, fallen creation (Romans 8:22). How incredibly beautiful heavenly glory must be. How incredibly beautiful and marvelous the new creation will be!”


Children’s Bible Reading Plan (55)

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The first 6 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.


Check out (11/18)

Theology
The Marrow of Modern Divinity
“I’ve come to believe that one of the most significant theological controversies the modern church must acquaint itself with is the controversy surrounding the Marrow of Modern Divinity.” So says Nick Batzig and I agree. Nick points us in the right direction for lectures and books on the subject.

Ministry
Ligonier 2011 Ministry Update
Check out the always encouraging annual report from one of my favorite Christian organizations.

How to have a church prayer meeting
Kevin DeYoung’s church started a once-a-month, Sunday evening prayer meeting last year. In this blog, he shares what he’s learned.

Hospitality 101
Rebecca Vandoodewaard gave a much-appreciated address on hospitality at the PRTS Ministry Wives Institute this week, and now she’s sharing some of that also on her blog (Part 1, Part 2).

Five Crucial Sermon Questions

Just so you know what I’m worth
Adrian Reynolds gives ten ways how not to evaluate your pastor.

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament
Gary Millar gives us 8 pathways from the OT to Christ.

Culture
Fewer Teens Having Sex these Days
Well we’re usually quick to bemoan social decline, so let’s be thankful when there’s a little positive news.

1 in 5 Americans take Mental Health Drugs
But Time Magazine and the World Health Organisation isn’t sure if this is good or bad. I’ll post my own response to this next week.

Technology
Savvy for iPhone
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just round the corner, this App gets you the best price after you bought something!

How Amazon became the World’s Largest retailer [Infographic]

5 ways higher education is leveraging Mobile Tech.
“Technology in education usually means places of higher learning play a bit of catch-up, but those who start embracing mobile now with development and budget resources will be ahead of the curve for years to come. Check out what Purdue University’s done with mobile learning with their remarkable Studio Project. In particular, the project’s Hotseat app takes status updates and creates a “collaborative classroom” by allowing students to provide near real-time feedback during class. The idea is that professors can then adjust the course content and improve the overall learning experience.”

Jetpack for sale…for $100,000
This is still a bit out of my reach, but who hasn’t dreamed it? I don’t think this is an April fool.


“Certainly the End of Something or Other, One Would Sort of Have to Think”

“Does that make sense?”

We’ve all heard it and many of us have said it. Jerry Weismann has noticed a surge of such filler language in public speaking and urges, Never ask “Does that make sense?”

Why? Weismann says the expressions has two negative implications:

• Uncertainty on the part of the speaker about the accuracy or credibility of the content
• Doubt about the ability of the audience to comprehend or appreciate the content.

He wants us to consign the phrase to “the ranks of fillers, empty words that surround and diminish meaningful words, just as weeds diminish the beauty of roses in a garden.” The phrase would have lots of company:

  • “You know…” as if to be sure the listener is paying attention
  • “Like I said…” as if to say that the listener didn’t understand
  • “Again…” as if to say that the listener didn’t get it the first time
  • “I mean…” as if to say that the speaker is unsure of his/her own clarity
  • “To be honest…” as if to say the speaker was not truthful earlier
  • “I’m like…” the universal filler which says absolutely nothing

He goes on: “While all of the preceding cast doubt on the competence of the presenter or the audience, another group of phrases and words casts doubt on the content itself:”

  • “Sort of” 
  • “Pretty much” 
  • “Kind of” 
  • “Basically” 
  • “Really”
  • “Actually”
  • “Anyway”

Weismann says that every filler word or phrase devalues the family jewels, the nouns and verbs that represent the products, services, and actions of the business (or sermon). So delete them from your sermon and your speech.

Does that make sense?

Any other fillers you want to consign to oblivion?


CK2:23 On being Gospel-centered

Download here.

Joe Thorn is Lead Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, IL and is the author of the great little book Note To Self. On this week’s Connected Kingdom podcast, Tim and I took the opportunity to ask Joe what it means to be gospel-centered, whether the gospel truly applies to all of life, and then to give some practical pointers for how to preach the gospel to yourself in joy and in pain.

I would echo what Tim said on his blog about our discussion:

The phrase “gospel-centered” is fast entering the Evangelical mainstream. We are encouraged to be gospel-centered or to preach the gospel to ourselves. It is easy to say but, in my experience, far more difficult to do. This morning David Murray and I spoke with Joe Thorn about this very thing. Speaking personally I found it very, very helpful. So why don’t you give it a listen? It will take less than 30 minutes of your time and I think you’ll be well-rewarded for the effort.

If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.


I found my lost childhood diary!

Last week I happened to find my daily diary from 1981. I was 14-15 years old at the time and wrote a few lines every day about what happened in my little life. Never did I think then that 30 years later I’d be reading that diary to my two little daughters while lying on their bed in Grand Rapids, MI. Not sure if Grand Rapids even existed then.

Every night as I read a few entries to my fascinated girls, the memories come flooding back, and it really does feel like yesterday. Observations from the first six months of 1981:

1. I had incredible freedom that few children enjoy today. I was traveling alone on buses into the big city of Glasgow to shop, on trains with my friends to go bird-watching (yes, real bird-watching!), and on bikes up and down busy highways. And not a parent in sight! (And my wonderful parents were stricter than most.) True, I had some scrapes and stitches along the way, but I can hardly believe the parental paranoia that we are all consumed with today.

2. I hated piano lessons as much as I thought I did. I hated trombone lessons even more. And if possible, I hated school even more. And, yes, I do mean “hate.” A number of times I write/confess, “I dogged 1st and 2nd period today…I dogged the afternoon and went to the park…”  (Dogged = Scottish for skipped class. Don’t ask me to explain it). School was an utterly miserable experience for me – bored, bullying, and being bullied – but that’s another story

3. My school soccer team lost even more than I remember. I still bear the physical scars, but the diary re-opened some deep emotional wounds – like the day I played centre-back against the local Catholic school and we lost 10-2. Despite all that, I lived for soccer and played and watched it almost every day. (Did not help my school report card!) One of the chirpiest entries says that I was standing beside two Scottish International footballers in a Fish & Chip shop one night! (Alan Rough and Danny McGrain for Scottish middle-aged readers). Might explain why the Scottish team’s results were so awful though.

4. I had no interest in the Gospel whatsoever. Every Sunday records the preacher’s name, but nothing else. Not one word on one page about God! My parents were faithful in bringing me to church and trying to involve me in church youth groups. But I was spiritually dead.

5. I “went forward” at the Luis Palau evangelistic crusade. Yes, that’s right, I had no interest in the Gospel and yet on June 7 1981, I “went forward” at the Luis Palau crusade! I was one of about 12 young people from our church (a staunchly Presbyterian and Calvinistic Church) who went to the front to “commit our lives to the Lord.” Interestingly I write nothing about what I believed or understood. I simply say, “I got Luis Palau’s autograph!” Of the 12 of us who “went forward” that night I doubt any of us were truly converted (I certainly wasn’t), and I believe that only 2 or 3 of us are still going to Church. Within a few months of the crusade, nothing had changed in any of our lives. In fact, I fear that it did more damage than good. It would be eight more long and sinful years until God “went forward” into my life.

6. God has loved me with an everlasting love. Above all, as I read all my childish writing again, I feel myself enveloped and suffused in the engulfing love of God. I look back on my life and see His goodness and mercy have pursued me all my days, even all my utterly selfish and godless days. O yes, I see the remarkable, the astonishing patient love of my parents toward me, but above all I’m just overwhelmingly dwarfed by the patient love of a sovereign and gracious God.

Not only that He should save me from my sin, and not only save me from where my sin was most certainly leading me in this life and for eternity, and not only save me to know Him through Jesus Christ, but to actually save me to serve Him as one of His ambassadors. What can I do but join Paul on the ground and say, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

Saved by grace alone. And sent by grace alone.

He certainly picks the nothings so that He can be everything.