In this WWW: What’s the point of marriage? — three books on marriage; ten sure signs we’ve lost our minds; word studies; Dr Tim McGrew on the reliability of the gospels; why the afterlife bores us; reading; Christians in business; preparing for suffering; and conference media from Ligonier and Desiring God. Read the rest of this entry »
I well remember the excitement of reading The Cross of Christ when it was first published. It expanded my mind and warmed my heart like nothing I had read before or have read since, apart from the Bible.
— Vaughan Roberts
i can echo Vaughan Roberts’ endorsement above.
If you’ve never before read John Stott’s classic, theologically rich yet readable magnum opus on what Jesus’ death means, The Cross of Christ (Inter-Varsity Press, 2006), why not do so this Easter? i have now read The Cross of Christ three times, and each time it has been a fresh experience of growing in depth of understanding and devotion. i highly recommend you read it at least once, even though it is a weighty tome (both physically and in content). Read the rest of this entry »
i have greatly enjoyed reading the works of the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), in particular his books The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment. They plumb the darkest depths of the human psyche and rise to praise the heights of divine grace in ways few other works of fiction have done.
The well-read theologian J.I. Packer regards Dostoevsky as “the greatest novelist, as such, and the greatest Christian storyteller, in particular, of all time.” Here is why he makes this bold claim: Read the rest of this entry »
Each year faculty of Denver Seminary compile helpful bibliographic guides for Old and New Testament studies. This year’s bibliographies have just been published in the Denver Journal, and they are excellent resources for Bible students and pastors, covering introduction and background, theology, language, criticism and exegesis, hermeneutics, etcetera., and offering recommendations of commentaries for each book. The bibliographies also highlight those books which faculty consider most important and helpful. This is well worth bookmarking or printing.
Pretending or performing – two of the things that draw Christians away from a God-centred, gospel-saturated life to a self-centred life of impression management. i know i’m guilty of both. It’s so easy to keep up appearances, especially playing up to others’ expectations (“You’re studying at BI? Oh, you must be such a holy Christian…”). At heart i remain deeply competitive and insecure, feeling the need to prove myself to other Christians, if not to God. And with this comes the temptation to feel that the world, or God, owes me something. i need to keep coming back God’s rebuke to Baruch in Jeremiah 45: “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…” If i understand Baruch correctly, he was a diligent and faithful secretary to Jeremiah, serving God, pained at the the wickedness and suffering and impending judgement on his people. Yet somehow he seems to have slipped into a dutiful service – a joyless service where his experience of God’s goodness indeed did become very small. Did he think, “I’m not as bad as those people,” or, “I deserve better”?
i see myself reflected in Baruch, in his desire to serve, in his heartache at the evils of the world around him, and at his apparently self-righteous expectation of something better for himself. i consider my motives in serving: usually, i hope, genuinely to help others and to serve the gospel, but often tainted by a desire for recognition and something in return because i “deserve” the favour of others in this world. And, paradoxically, i am aware also of evading service by justifying that my work in some other area is of greater importance, and others should do the more “mundane” work because, again, i “deserve” something better. In all these tendencies i see my sinfulness in the midst of my desire to serve. i inadvertently reduce God and His righteousness; i make service of Him something through which to win the favour of others, even if i’m not trying to win merit with Him. i never actively think of it that way, but when it comes down to the heart of the issue this is really an attempt to add to the righteousness i have in Christ the favour and approval of others. And insofar as i try to add to Christ’s finished work on the Cross, i cheapen the costly grace He has so freely given; i shrink the Cross and minimise my sinfulness and need of the Saviour.
Tim Keller, in his hard-hitting book The Prodigal God (New York: Dutton 2008), talks of the “elder brother” mentality of “[using] his moral record to put God and others in his debt to control them.” He quotes a profound rebuke from a wise teacher, identifying the barrier between Pharisaical righteousness and God as “not their sins, but their damnable good works.” (See the parable in Luke 15.)
He continues: “To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness – the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord.” (pp. 77-78)
The past couple days i’ve redeemed the time listening to a series of three talks Gordon Fee presented on how to read the Bible. Fee, who is professor of New Testament at Regent College, Vancouver, is widely known for two books he co-authored with Douglas Stuart, How to read the Bible for all its worth and How to read the Bible book by book. These two are excellent books for anyone who desires to read and understand the Bible better, and i heartily recommend them. Read the rest of this entry »
My friend Bradley keeps exhorting me to “redeem the time” (echoing Ephesians 5:16) — something i’m trying to take to heart. Some years back, when i first started exploring Project Gutenberg and the Christian Classics Ethereal Library and playing with text-to-speech synthesis, i discovered that i could “read” some of the classics, or articles and lecture transcripts while messing about the house or waiting for sleep to come. i managed to “read” through Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and many other great books in the public domain like this. Now, as broadband has become cheaper, i’ve been able to collect some fantastic audio resources over the past few years. i always keep a few series of lectures or sermons on my phone, ready to listen to while washing dishes, walking to places, or waiting for trains. i intend to highlight some of these here over the next while.
When i’m at my computer, i use VLC Media Player for playing media files. One of the benefits of VLC is that it allows one to speed up playback without affecting the pitch. i find that i can generally increase the playback speed by 40-50% or more and thus listen to an hour-long lecture in only 40 minutes.
i seldom go anywhere without a book and Bible in my bag, but i have still found it useful to keep an electronic Bible on my phone. i’ve downloaded a couple of free ones from GoBible (KJV) and BiblePhone (various translations in several languages available). From the latter site i’ve also downloaded a Greek New Testament (Westcott-Hort text) and Hebrew Old Testament for my phone — so now i can continue my attempt at learning Greek wherever i am. These are all Java MIDP 1.0 or MIDP 2.0 applications, so they should work on most recent Java-capable cellphones (mine is about three years old).