Check Out

Why You Should be a Presbyterian
Mark Jones makes the case. And in the interests of being “fair and balanced” here’s Why you should be a congregationalist.

Monergism
One of the first reformed websites and still one of the best in terms of resources. Lots of helpful new features in the relaunched website.

Gently Introducing Psalm Singing at College
Brave young lady!

God With Us
This is a fine seasonal meditation on Psalm 46.

Sanctification Through Infertility
“I thought I would have 2 or 3 children by now. Instead, I’m a childless 28-year-old business owner. There is more pain and joy in that statement than I can possibly express.”

How Does a Biblical Scholar Prepare to Die?
Testimony from  Dr. Rod Decker, Professor of Greek and New Testament at the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania.


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s 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.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

The second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

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

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

The daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books.

Old Testament

New Testament


The Holiness of Happiness

Happiness is the opposite of holiness.

At least that’s what the devil tells us.

You can have either happiness or holiness but you cannot have both.

And given the choice, most try happiness.

Wouldn’t it be great if God had said somewhere that holiness and happiness are inseparable, that you can’t have one without the other.

What, He did? Where? What exactly did He say?

“This day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”” (Neh. 8:9).

The people had rightly mourned over their sins, but there came a point when their weeping went on too long and too deep, and God said through Nehemiah, “This is a holy day. Therefore let it be a happy day.”

He underlines by saying, “Go home, have a feast, and celebrate with your friends and family, because this is a holy day.”

The logic is inescapable. Happiness is not only compatible with holiness, it is an essential part of it. Without happiness, holiness is incomplete. Indeed, it is no longer holiness.

But what kind of happiness are we talking about?

Nehemiah defines it as “the joy of the Lord.” It is a joy that comes from God and is centered in God. God gives it and God is it. And given that the people had been repenting of their sins, this can only be an Old Testament call to joyful faith in God as their Savior from sin.

And as if we needed another reason to pursue, accept, and enjoy the happiness of holiness, Nehemiah adds the motive: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Holy happiness strengthens us. It produces defensive and offensive strength. It powerfully protects us from evil and it empowers us to fight for good.

Holiness, happiness, and hardiness. A blessed trinity from the Blessed Trinity!


Two Books for The Skeptic in Your Life

KellerEncounters with Jesus by Timothy Keller
Tim Keller’s passion and skill for reaching and connecting with the unchurched (and the dechurched) spills over every page of this book. It is based on a series of talks Keller gave in Oxford (England) to a campus group of (mainly) skeptics, and you can sense the love of the pursuing shepherd in every line.

If The Reason for God started with where people are, Encounters with Jesus starts with who Jesus is. If The Reason for God tried to push people to God with argument and logic, Encounters with Jesus draws people to Christ with His beauty and attraction. That’s not to say that Encounters is lacking in logic and argument, far from it, simply that the book’s greatest impression is upon the heart more than the brain.

Although I’ve said in the title that this is a book for the skeptic in your life, it’s also for Christians. I can honestly say that it’s a long time since I read a book that made me love Jesus so much. It will also draw you into the biblical text with a renewed desire and motivation to encounter Jesus in His Word.

Despite Doubt

Despite Doubt by Michael Wittmer
Mike Wittmer wants us to “embrace a confident faith” but does so by addressing doubt. Instead of denying it, he calls us to honestly admit it. And instead of staying in it and glorying in it, he shows how to escape it and enjoy a more assured faith. As such, it’s really a book for us all; for who can deny that doubt and unbelief often plague our lives.

In effect, Wittmer says, “OK, let’s stop hiding and pretending. Let’s reach deep into our souls, grab those slippery doubts, put them on the table, and deal with them in a brave and biblical way.” It’s so deeply personal and richly experiential, that it really could be a classic “Puritan Paperback” in three hundred years time. But why wait? Get the first edition, add it to your will, enrich your great-great-great-grandchildren, and your own soul in the process.

As usual, Mike’s writing is brief, clear, simple, to the point, and loaded with cultural references and personal anecdotes. He’s one of those authors you really do get to know (and is worth knowing) through his books.

THREE BOOKS FOR THE PRODUCTIVITY GEEK IN YOUR LIFE

THREE BOOKS FOR THE THEOLOGIAN IN YOUR LIFE


Worldview

Has The Megachurch Lost Its Luster?
“Yes,” answers Barton Gingerich, but goes on to say, “In the larger scheme of things, some of these [megachurches] will act as “feeders” to other Christian congregations in the area, thus furthering Christ’s kingdom in a more roundabout way. I saw this firsthand in the DC area. Seekers, the curious, and nominal believers can come to enjoy a show, hear a sermon, remain unperturbed in the enormous crowds, and enjoy the energy and facilities of a megachurch. However, if these same people want depth, they will be referred to small groups. But, more often than not, hungry Christians will begin to attend smaller congregations with more robust, less open theologies and more engaged membership care.

That’s a positive way of looking at it!

The Bible as a Bludgeon
Frank Bruni explores the use of the Bible as the ultimate political weapon in some closely-fought senate races and concludes: ”The centrality of religion in this country’s birth and story can’t be denied. And shouldn’t be. And having the Bible at inaugurations honors tradition more than it offends pluralism. But using the Bible as a litmus test for character betrays the principles of religious liberty and personal freedom, along with the embrace of diversity, that are equally crucial to America’s identity and strength. It also defies the wisdom of experience. How many self-anointed saints have been shown not to practice what they preach?”

For Christians, the candidate’s character is probably the number one issue when it comes to voting. However, Bruni does raise the valid question of whether character should trump competence, and whether a profession of Christian faith should be the only factor in selecting a candidate.

After Setbacks, Online Courses are ReThought
MOOCs aren’t educational nirvana after all. Despite numerous tweaks and re-launches, it increasingly looks like online education is only ever going to form a supportive and supplementary role to classroom time and teacher-student interaction.

Judges Deny Chimpanzees Personhood
“Three lawsuits filed last week that attempted to achieve “legal personhood” for four chimpanzees living in New York have been struck down. They were the first step in a nationwide campaign to grant legal rights to a variety of animals.”

Looks like another front has been opened up in the culture wars. And, like the gay marriage lobby, this ones seems equally zealous, organized, well-funded, and strategically savvy.

Happiness is Resisting Answering Your Mobile
In a bit of a “Duh!” report, Kent State University researchers found that “high frequency cell phone users tended to have lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life (happiness) relative to their peers who used the cell phone less often.”

Researcher Andrew Lepp said: “There is no me time or solitude left in some of these students’ lives and I think mental health requires a bit of personal alone time to reflect, look inward, process life’s events, and just recover from daily stressors.”

5 Weird Signs You’re Divorce Proof
Two qualifications. First, don’t get over-confident. There’s no such thing as “divorce proof.” Some of the best people in the world, who tick all the boxes, end up divorced.

Second, don’t give up in despair if you don’t tick all the boxes. Some of these research findings indicate only marginal differences.

  • You smiled a lot as a kid: those who grinned in photographs as youngsters tend to have more stable natures and are usually more emotionally upbeat.
  • Neither you nor your wife used to live with another partner: If one of you did, your chances of divorce skyrocket 209%. A history of cohabitation hints at a lack of commitment, an ability to end a serious relationship, and knowledge that there are other options out there besides this marriage.
  • You have sons: Guys are more involved with—and attached to—their marriages if they have sons.
  • You share many of the same Facebook buddies
  • You both restrict yourselves to just one or two social media networks: The more social media sites you both use to communicate, the less satisfied you’ll feel about your relationship.