Friday, May 28, 2010

How to welcome neighbours

Lifehacker has a helpful post on the subject.

One of the more valuable things you can do for a new neighbor is to put together a cheat sheet for the neighborhood. Write down all the important stuff that a new person wouldn't immediately know about like what day the bulk trash pickup is, special events in the neighborhood (block-wide garage sales, social events, etc.), and other information specific to the neighborhood that a new person might find out about after the fact.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

World War One

World War One: A Short History World War One: A Short History by Norman Stone


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chapter 1 (Outbreak) weaves together the various factors that made Europe a place where war was waiting to happen. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was ‘the inevitable accident’. Years later the murderer said that if he had not done it, “the Germans would have found another excuse” (23). "The generation that emerged into maturity around 1890 has much to answer for…the greatest mistake of the twentieth century was made when Germany built a navy designed to attack [Great Britain:]” (10-11).

“No war has ever begun with such a fundamental misunderstanding of its nature” (36).

“The noise of German movements was concealed by, of all things, the croaking of frogs in the Aisne, and the surprise was almost complete” (168-9). 

“The real disaster, in all of this, was that Germans did not think that they had been defeated” (189).

Prophetic words of Lloyd George: “if peace were made now, in twenty years’ time the Germans would say what Carthage had said about the First Punic War, namely that they had made this mistake and that mistake, and by better preparation and organization they would be able to bring about victory next time” (189).

“The way was open for a Second World War even more terrible than the First” (190).

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Apple's posture on pornography

Steve Jobs recent comments on wanting Apple to steer clear of pornography have made me even more tempted to go with an Apple for our next laptop.

Al Mohler picks up on how parenthood matters in all this.

I love how Jobs describes freedom:

Steve Jobs threw Ryan Tate’s definition of freedom right back at him. Is Apple about freedom? “Yep,” said Jobs, “freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’.”

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bible study software & online resources

The Tyndale Tech has a helpful post on New Ways to Study the Bible, with lots of links to different Bible study software programs and web pages.

One of the programs that caught my eye is BibleCrawler.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My little theologian

Aimee: you are always welcome to use Daddy's books. Hope you're still interested in them when you turn 16!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Treasure Principle

The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving (LifeChange Books) The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving by Randy Alcorn


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A short but excellent book on money and giving. The Bible is clear: we should invest our money where it will give us maximum returns. Only we mustn’t ask how our investments will pay off in thirty years, but thirty million years (p.18). Yes, here is a book on giving that doesn’t guilt us into giving, but entices us to do so. This is a book about the joy of giving (p.5). We are God’s money managers, and he leaves it to us to set our own salaries (p.26).

Treasure Principle Keys
• God owns everything. I’m his money manager (p.23)
• My heart always goes where I put God’s money (p.41)
• Heaven, not earth, is my home (p.45)
• I should live not for the dot but for the line (p.49)
• Giving is the only antidote for materialism (p.56)
• God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving (p.73)

Here is proof that a life-changing book does not need to be a big one. I plan to distribute The Treasure Principle widely.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Manhunt

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The exciting story, told in real time, of (to quote the sub-title) “the 12-day chase for Lincoln’s killer.” Well-sourced. Moves quickly. My advice is to order it now in time for Father’s day! Speaking of which, the fact that I am now a father of two, and a husband of one, means that these reviews are going to have to get shorter. So that’s all for this one!

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Calvin on worship

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is the last of nine parts of a short series of snippets from the book.

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Gordon summarizes:

“God has spoken to humanity in scripture, opened a relationship in which women and men should know and worship God—a worship not confined to religious services, but which embraces every aspect of human existence (p.61, my emphasis).


References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Monday, May 10, 2010

Calvin on the value of studying classical authors

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part eight of a short series of snippets from the book.

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Gordon summarizes an address given by Beza, which “was an elegant exposition of the Christian humanism he shared with John Calvin…Classical authors are an essential part of the pursuit of wisdom, and much is to be learned from them in fields of language, history, literature and philosophy. But they were pagans, not Christians, living without the light of Christ’s revelation. Education serves the purpose of preparing young men for the study of Scripture and service in the Church” (pp.299-300).

References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Calvin on the world as God's theatre

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part seven of a short series of snippets from the book.

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Gordon summarizes:

“The world is the theatre of God’s glory most brilliantly seen in the Church, which lives in the certainty that it is grounded in God’s covenantal promise and has God’s protection. It will never perish” (p.286).


References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Calvin on unity

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part six of a short series of snippets from the book.

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His great goal was to establish unity amongst the reforming church. To the Frankfurt community he wrote:

"Thus, my brethren, I beseech you in the name of God, increasingly to put in practice this lesson of Paul’s, ‘Let nothing be done from contention, nor from lust of victory’ as the word which he employs indicates. The moment each person backs his own quarrel people must of necessity come to a battle. Rather let each man admit his faults, and those who have been put to blame submit of their own accord…” (242-243).

Calvin’s minimalistic approach to requirements for unity and fellowship: “There was no one form of Christian community” (p.276).


References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Calvin on preaching

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part five of a short series of snippets from the book.

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Gordon summarizes:

“In preaching the minister was to teach the people the Word of God, but they were not merely learning; the Word had to embrace their heart and move them. Through the spoken word Christ is present in the community. As Thomas J. Davis has put it: ‘Preaching spans the gap between the “then” nature of the events of the Gospels and the “now” nature of redemption.’” (p.139).

The preacher must keep an eye open on the events of his day (293).

References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Calvin on interpreting the Bible

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part four of a short series of snippets from the book.

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Calvin used all the means available to him to interpret the Bible, including the methods he learned as a humanist. And yet he encountered the living, Triune God in the scriptures. He placed great emphasis on seeing how the church fathers had interpreted the Bible, and his knowledge of their writings was incredible. “He saw himself engaged in a sustained conversation with ancient and contemporary interpreters, none of whom was infallible. It was a conversation in the service of the Church, guided by the Spirit and grounded in the Word of God” (p.108).

“Calvin, like the other reformers, understood that scripture could not stand without a framework of interpretation” (p.108).

References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Calvin on the distinction between the Bible and the Word of God

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part three of a short series of snippets from the book.

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“All the reformers distinguished between the Bible and the Word of God, or Gospel. Scripture contains ‘perfect doctrine,’ which is God’s revelation, but it is not itself the Gospel” (p.104).

References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Calvin and N.T. Wright

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part two of a short series of snippets from the book.

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Some of Gordon's summaries of Calvin's teachings would surely coax an Amen from N.T. Wright!

“Christianity…is not about individual salvation but about the glory of God” (p.98).

“Salvation is not about individuals, but about the community of the Church” (118).

References:

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Calvin on Bible Translation

Recently I reviewed Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. This post is part of a short series of snippets from the book.

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“Citing the example of the church fathers Augustine, Jerome and Chrysotom, Calvin held that there was a long and honourable tradition of making scripture available to the ‘simple people’ (p.55).

  1. Bruce Gordon, Calvin (New Haven [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press, 2009).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Calvin

Calvin Calvin by Bruce Gordon


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Gordon reveals a Calvin who loved and hated; who believed in God’s sovereignty and sometimes manipulated; whose powerful intellect contrasted his weak body. His ability to interpret the Bible is what stands him out from all other 16th century writers (p.vii). If Luther’s discovery was justification by faith, Calvin’s was the Church (p.vii). He sensed that his was a special calling and often identified himself with the great characters of the Bible—especially the Apostle Paul. He invested heavily in relationships: “Much of the attention of this book will be focused upon the ebb and flow of his contacts” (p.ix).

Gordon’s biography is intended for those who are interested in Calvin but know little about him and his 16th century background (p.xi). I fit that audience perfectly, and am thus qualified to say that Gordon delivers.

In reading this book I learned about the prevailing political and religious tensions which form the background to Calvin’s life. I also learned about his privileged education in law and humanism, his conversion, and his life of exile in Switzerland. His primary allies were Farel, Viret, Bullinger, and Bucer. His most hated enemies were Servetus, Castellio, and Westphal. Brutal opposition makes Calvin’s achievements all the more noteworthy. His establishing the Reformation in Geneva, writing of The Institutes and many commentaries, were all accomplished despite the great pressure against him.

The matter of Michael Servetus is handled in chapter 13 (pp. 217-232). While not convincing me (nor trying to) that Calvin was entirely innocent, the context and detail Gordon provides go a long way to helping me understand the (limited) role Calvin played in the affair.

Biographies I’ve read of great men of God like Robert M’Cheyne and Robert Chapman challenged me to groCw in the life of holiness and conformity to Christ. This biography of Calvin leaves me wanting to grow in discipline in the life of the mind.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

What Jesus demands from the world

What Jesus Demands from the World What Jesus Demands from the World by John Piper


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one of my favourite Piper books. In it he catalogues 50 of the radical demands Jesus makes of the world. His aim is to investigate “the meaning and motivation of Jesus’ commands in connection with his person and work” (p.19). The demands Jesus makes of us are impossible for us to meet. For this reason Piper starts with the “gentler” commands (p.25). Obedience to these foundational commands enables and empowers obedience to the harder ones. As always with Piper, obedience to Christ is not to be driven by duty but by delight. If we understand Jesus aright, “his demands will not feel severe but sweet” (p.24).

Some things I found helpful:
• Piper offers a definition of the gospel that works for both Jesus and Paul: “The gospel—the good news—is that the rule of God has arrived in Jesus to save sinners before the kingdom arrives at his second coming in judgment” (p.43).
• In the context of John’s gospel, to abide in Jesus is to trust in Jesus’ love and to trust in his word. And if we don’t abide in his word, we are not his disciples.

At times Piper seems to exegete so independently that he doesn’t consult the secondary literature. This can have refreshing and tiring results. An example of the latter is a lengthy discussion on what Jesus means by the good eye and the bad eye in Matthew 6.22-23. The explanation we are eventually brought to seems long and dubious. It would have been better to explain that a “good” (literally, “single”) eye meant a generous eye while a “bad” eye could mean either a diseased or stingy eye (see The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Keener).

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