Sunday, March 29, 2009

How to vastly improve your internet reading experience

Head over and try out Readability. It's wonderful. For any online article, news story, blog post, etc, it can

  • Remove annoying clutter (ads and such)
  • Increase font size the way you want it
  • Change the text to your preferred font
  • Adjust the margins to give you a comfortable column width

And best of all, it takes about 3 seconds to get going with it. All you have to do is go to the website, choose 3 settings, and then drag the bookmarklet. For all subsequent online reading simply click on the link on your toolbar and happy reading!

HT Alan Jacobs

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Nate Wilson wholesomeness

As I've mentioned before, I really like N.D. Wilson. He brings out the kid in me. Anyways, things get humorous when this skilful storyteller tells his kids bedtime stories. And in this Q&A he recounts a funny family story involving a baby, a mummy, and "a very cavalier mouse".

HT Doug Wilson

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On this inconsistency, we need to be “called out”

I've noticed two ways in which we use the word "church" (Greek, ekklesia) differently from New Testament usage.

  • "They're doing some renovations at the Baptist church."
  • "He (an older Christian who has passed away) loved the assembly."

There's nothing wrong with using the word "church" or "assembly", but in both cases the speaker is (usually) using the word to refer to something other than people.

At any rate, to be consistent, those who criticise speakers prone to the first usage should also criticize the second.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Encouragement for the sporadic blogger (like me)

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10.20).

Perhaps I am one of the most prudent bloggers around!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Impoverish your audience: don’t read this

Con Cambell has an excellent blog series going on preaching evangelistic sermons. It's been helping me.

His last post really needs to be heard. Which is a shame, because evangelists shoudn't need to hear it. His advice? Exegete the text!

Often we have the mindset of, "Oh, I already know what John 3.16 is all about." Don't be so sure. Here's Cambell's list of things the preacher could discover about the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (Luke 18.9-14) through exegesis, but probably won't without it:

1. The setting is likely one of the two daily atonement services at the temple.

2. The Pharisee does not ask God for anything, but his prayer is really a declaration.

3. Because the setting is likely an atonement service, there are other people present, which means that the Pharisee's prayer publicly denounces the tax collector (v.11).

4. Because the setting is public, the tax collector's standing far off emphasizes his shame (v.13).

5. It was extremely rare for men to beat their chest in public, and they would only do so in an instance of overwhelming grief (v.13).

6. The tax collector asks God TO BE PROPITIOUS toward him (λάσθητί μοι, v.13).

7. And thus, the tax collector is justified in direct connection to propitiation at an atonement service (v.14).

His conclusion:

I think that those things—which can only be understood through really working on the text in its historical and literary context—bring the passage to bear in a way that few evangelistic preachers would allow.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Trip to Ukraine

Our good friend Malcolm is back in Ukraine. Helen and I (and Aimee—in two-week-old fetus form!) went with Malcolm a year and a half ago. It was about this time two years ago that we were excitedly experiencing God opening doors for us to go. Hope He's got a big one for Malcolm to go through.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The greatest people are crazy about others

I used to think that when people remembered my name it meant I was really special. Now I realize I'm only special if I'm remembering someone else's.

Friday, March 13, 2009

In case I only get to preach this once

I've come up with a question that I've got to ask myself for every Biblical passage I'm going to preach:

What is the one thing in this passage that people need to hear someone get excited about?

Two qualifiers

  1. Need because it's there in the text (i.e., God put it there, so people must need it)
  2. Need because it's huge (i.e., I can see a dozen reasons why people of all ages and situations shouldn't live another day without knowing this)

Friday the 13th

Let John Piper help you allay any remaining fears of bad luck. My fears of Friday the 13th were erased 9 months ago.

Paul: An Apostle of Weakness

Became thoughtful while reading 2 Corinthians 12.5-10 tonight. I'll lay out verses 8 to 10 for you:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I was reflecting on how true this has been in my life. It's when I've been insulted and accused (sometimes rightfully), when I've been close to the heart of some controversy, when I've just narrowly avoided catastrophe, or when I've sinned awfully and good friends confronted me on it (like when I lost my temper in front of my family, or slandered a Christian brother), that I have learned what I was really made of. When I get glimpses of what my dark heart is really like, I'm forced to look at Christ and rely on Him. When I am weak, I am strong.

We all feel a need to hide our weaknesses as long as we can. We have to, we say, in order to protect our relationships. My relationship with Christ is the only one in which I am free not just to acknowledge my weakness, or confess it, but to actually embrace it. To boast of it.

To embrace my weakness is to be embraced (in a manly way, you know) by Him. To boast in my weakness is to boast in His strength.

Anyways, after my reading I noticed this good post by Nathan Weselake. Also, Dave Black's got a book on the subject (I think). I bet it's good!



Sunday, March 8, 2009

How good is the benefits package?

Would you evangelize with this tract?

Certainly Jesus did not sound like someone desperate to create a following when he summons us like he does in Mark 8.34: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me!"

"Anyone interested in following me? You get to carry a cross! You get to die! You get to be shamed!"

The Lord Jesus does not offer many perks. When men and women decide to follow him, it is because of how attractive HE is, despite the "perks".