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The DIY Degree
Jay Cost tells you how to earn a Bachelor’s degree in one year for a few thousand dollars.

Honoring Fundamentalism
Michael Haykin swims against the tide: “We may not agree with all that Fundamentalism represented, but honor needs given where honor is due.”

The absent-minded husband
I think a few of us guys will want their wives to read this one.

6 Ways the Gospel frees women
Gloria Furman: “Jesus frees us from so much and He frees us to so much.”

Why are we talking about race in 2012?
Trillia Newbell: “Perhaps the eagerness to move on isn’t because we have true peace and unity but rather to no longer face the fact—racism still exists even in 2012. But more than that, it exists in the church and we really don’t know what to do about it. And that is exactly why we need to have these conversations.”

Diagnostic Questions for Pastors
Fancy a bit of self-examination?

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

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

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

What is Evangelistic Preaching?

In my Twinterview with Tim Challies, Jeremy Walker asked me to identify particular dangers facing the church in the West at this time. One of the dangers I mentioned was “Preaching becoming too academic and less evangelistic.” As that might be an enexpected danger to list alongside Militant Homosexuality, I’d like to take a few paragraphs just to explain what I mean by that.

There has been a welcome resurgence of expository preaching in the Reformed church over the last 20-30 years, and especially of “consecutive expository preaching” – preaching through books of the Bible, verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter. But together with that resurgence of consecutive expository preaching, there has also come a decline in what I would call “converting evangelistic preaching.”

What do I mean by “converting evangelistic preaching”? Let me give two negatives to begin with. I don’t mean teaching sermons with an evangelistic PS; a doctrinal sermon with a brief concluding appeal or call to the unconverted to seek Christ, believe in Christ, look to Christ, etc.

Neither, at the other extreme, do I mean content-less sermons made up simply of repeated evangelistic imperatives, commands, invitations, and exhortations; sermons that have nothing for the head but are all addressed to the heart or will.

What do I mean, then, by evangelistic preaching? Let me put it positively: Evangelistic preaching expounds God’s Word (it is expository) with the primary aim of the salvation of lost souls (rather than the instruction of God’s people). Stuart Olyott says it is to “preach from the Bible with the immediate aim of the immediate conversion of every soul in front of us.”

So, what really distinguishes evangelistic preaching from all other kinds of preaching is its obvious and unmistakable aim – conversion. Its target is unconverted hearers. And its conscious and deliberate aim is to call, invite, and command needy souls to repent and believe the Gospel.

Why has this kind of preaching become increasingly rare in many Reformed Churches? I’ll give you my answer next week, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on it first.

Check out

One. In. Five.
That’s the latest estimate of the number of women who suffer with post-partum depression.

Resolve Conflict ASAP
Paul Tautges gives six reasons why.

Some thoughts on preaching the Minor Prophets
Jim Hamilton offers two approaches to preaching from these little-known and under-appreciated books.

Total Depravity and Parenting
Dan Darling: “I love assembly lines. They have revolutionized American production. But they are lousy systems when it comes to raising godly children, because faith in the next generation cannot be mass produced. It must be hand-crafted, carefully formed, and breathed into life by the Holy Spirit.

Evangelical Yummy Mummys
“To the unbelieving mind, sacrificing a lifetime for someone else is dangerous because it is living by faith, not sight. The outcome is based on God’s promises, not what you do. It’s not in your hands, it’s not visible, identifiable, or quantifiable. You don’t get a pay check, or letters after your last name, or anyone even reading your last name. You’re basically putting all your eggs in one basket. And that can even be scary even to a believer, especially if their understanding of the providence of God is not real enough.”

Equipping Counselors for your Church
Don’t know any author who supplies so many free resources from and about his book, as Bob Kellemen.

6 Tips for Choosing Books on the Old Testament

Like me, you’ve probably been disappointed by many books on the Old Testament. The covers look great, the titles sound enticing, and the blurbs appear exciting. But one chapter in and you’re beginning to flag. So boring, so academic, so impractical, and so suitable for your large pile of “read-one-chapter” books. So, how can you improve your chances of selecting a book on the Old Testament that will bless your life?  Let me tell you six qualities I look for when I’m choosing books on the Old Testament for my own spiritual edification.

1. I want a reverent and diligent handling of the text of Scripture. For too long the Old Testament text has been treated with less respect than a daily newspaper. It’s been attacked, lampooned, and neglected, not just by those outside the church but also by many within it. So I want to be sure that an author views the Old Testament as the inspired Word of God, and then works hard to mine the maximum meaning out of each precious word.

2. I expect any interpretation to start with the original context and park there for a while. Many books and sermons seem to regard the Old Testament as something hot-off-the presses and addressed directly to 21st century culture.  They fail to consider the original message to the original audience thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away. If you want to get on the wrong track immediately, and lead others astray, that’s a sure-fire way of doing it.

3. While accounting for the slow progressive unfolding of God’s truth over many years, the book should also portray that truth as having one clear and constant message. At times, some writers imply that God started with Plan A; and when that didn’t work He tried Plan B, then C, the D, etc. In other words, instead of seeing God’s message of a gracious salvation for sinners through the Messiah as one seed that gradually grows from root to shoot to stem to flower to fruit, they imply that God was forever starting over; planting then uprooting, replanting then uprooting, etc.

4. I look for a book that follows Jesus’ and His disciples’ example in using the New Testament to interpret the Old. I know of one Old Testament professor who refuses to allow any New Testament verse ever to be mentioned in his classes – kind of like studying with the lights off. Of course, we should not read into the Old Testament what was only known to those in the New; but as Christ and His apostles make clear, there was a lot more knowledge of the Gospel in the Old Testament than is usually thought.

5. The book must demonstrate that both Old and New Testament believers were saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Was Old Testament faith as clear or strong? Did Old Testament believers see Christ as we see Him? Were Old Testament believers in possession of as much of the Holy Spirit? No, no, and no again. However, they did have saving faith, it was in the Messiah alone, and without the internal work of the Holy Spirit regenerating, sanctifying, indwelling and preserving them, they had no hope.

6. The book must apply the truth to the modern Church. Too many Old Testament books are addressed only to the head. They stop way short of connecting the truth to people’s hearts and lives. Worship, communion, obedience, and service are almost swear words to some writers.

Well, you’re probably thinking by now, “There aren’t many good Old Testament books like that around today, are there?” You’re right, I’m afraid. But I’m glad to announce that a new one has just been added to their ranks. It’s this book on the Tabernacle by my friend Danny Hyde. And what a rare treat it is to read!

  • Danny handles the text with reverent carefulness and rigorous diligence, mining the text for all its meat and milk.
  • He describes the original context, people, and situation so graphically that eventually you wonder if he possibly lived in Tabernacle times!
  • While respecting the varying degrees of revelation through the ages, he demonstrates the covenantal unity of God’s sovereign and gracious plan in both Testaments.
  • He avoids the pitfall of imputing New Testament understanding to Old Testament believers, but also welcomes the graciously provided light of the New to understand the Old.
  • And, at last, a modern book on the Old Testament that treats the believing Israelites as brothers and sisters in Christ rather than as slightly confused, animistic, legalistic idolaters.
  • Of course, if you’ve read any of Danny’s previous nine million books  you’ll know that he has a passion to bless the Church with books that minister to the head, the heart, and the hand. This book is no different. It will lead you to worship, it will prompt obedience, and perhaps above all it will inspire you to commune with the God who delights to dwell among us and in us.

This will be a great book for pastors and teachers who have been inspired by the wonderful resurgence of interest in the Old Testament, and especially of a Christ-centered understanding of the Old Testament, and yet open their Bibles at Exodus and Leviticus and wonder, “Eh, what do I do now?” Danny shows you, “Here’s how!”

But any serious Christian will also benefit from this book. It will not only open up previously undiscovered parts of the Bible, it will also show you the wonderful unity of the Scriptures from start to finish. Above all it will inspire you to seek communion with God through Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us.

From the Foreword to God in our Midst by Danny Hyde.