Church Relevance Releases Top 200 Christian Blogs of 2012

And once  again mine didn't make the cut! Here's the link for those who are interested. A lot of really great blogs however did make it in, and I think a lot of them are worth your time. Some (like Steve McCoy's page) are already linked on my page. So, what blogs do you think need to be included in the future? 


Wise Advice From John Piper on Embracing Culture

Today seems to be a day to talk about cultural engagement, and the concerns we must address. Desiring God released a great video today from John Piper Called A Caution to You, Culture-Embracing Evangelicals.  Take a look.

Is Acts 17 About Adapting To Culture? Dr. Voddie Baucham Gives A Great Analysis

 If you have the time, take a listen to this great chapel Message by Dr. Voddie Baucham on this subject. His analysis leaves a lot to think about. 


Creating An Awesome Summer Reading List

                                                                                                         Picture source wikimedia commons

With summer on its way, you are probably getting ready to hit the road and take some well deserved time off. Well I'm here to remind you to take a book. Of course, if you're like me, that's not the problem. The problem is knowing what to take! If your summer reading list is cluttered, unbalanced, or (gasp!) nonexistent, I'm here to help. Let me give you a few things to consider when picking books to read this summer.

1. You Don't Have All The Time In The World!
Vacations can be deceiving. You're not just going to be reading by the pool. You will still have chores, work, family, kids, that French cooking class, and other things taking your time. So, be real about your reading time. If all you have is a plane trip and the evenings to read, then pack lightly. If you're going to be riding shotgun across the country, a fully stocked Kindle might do you good.

2. You Want To Read What?
Books take you places. Just make sure they're places you want to go. Are you looking for a good adventure story? Or are you wanting to catch up with your last reading list? Maybe you've been wanting to finally read the Bible cover to cover. It's up to you, just make sure it's what you really want.

3. Read What You Need
Some books needs to be read. But this isn't a bad thing. Some books will help you catch up with what's going on in your industry-leaders are readers right? Or you might want to learn a new skill over the summer (no, not macrame). Make sure it's a book you can learn from, but balance it out with lighter reading.

4. Not Just The Same Old, Same Old
It's easy to stick to the same genres and author's we're used to. Now is the time to break the habit. Pick up a steampunk novel, or a graphic novel. Been a while since you read a good fantasy story? Try some R.R. Martin or Tolkein. There's whole worlds waiting to be discovered. If you give them a chance.

5. Reading Deeply
Finally, I worry that we get shallower and shallower with each passing year. Don't let this happen to you. Find a book that's just a little older, longer, or heavier than you're used to. The classics, along with poetry, history, philosophy and theology books are usually good at this. Read with a friend and discuss. Flex your thinking muscles. You might just find yourself thinking a little deeper about the world, and yourself.

I wish you happy reading and thinking this summer. If you want more in-depth advice, I wrote an article a while back on how I pick a book to read. Take a look here. And let me know in the comments what you plan to read this summer. 


Introducing: The Literal Word ESV

Online Bible searches should be easy. I’m glad for a lot of the popular search pages out there like Bible Gateway and Youverson. But I think that a lot of these pages could be less cluttered. If you cut and paste verses as much as I do, having to hunt down cross-reference and verse numbers can get annoying. It made me glad to know I wasn’t the only one who wanted something a little leaner to search Scripture with. Thanks to a couple of San Franciso Bible geeks, we now have the Literal Word ESV.

One of the creators (Nick Honda) shared it on-line this week and I was fortunate enough to see it first. I tested out the page and I love it. It’s connected to the ESV, and it’s a simple, elegant page. Here are a few reasons to do your Bible searches there.

1. It uses the ESV (and the NASB)
I like that it’s set the Bible I use the most. I don’t want to have to hunt it down among a ton of other translations. And, they also have an NASB page, which has the same features as the ESV page.

2. You can remove verses and divisions
You can automatically remove the divisions (which aren’t original to the text). One of the first rules of Bible study is to read a passage without divisions, this makes it easier to get a feel for the flow of the text and its natural divisions. This feature alone made me fall in love with the page.

3. Simple to use
All Bible search pages have great benefits, but sometimes I just want to type in a phrase or a verse, and not worry about getting lost in the bells and whistles. This page offers simple searches, with no clutter.

4. Bar graphs
Each word search comes with a bar graph to tell you how much a word or phrase is used in a section of Scripture. Here’s the results of looking up the word “truth”.

4.No Adverstising
Of course, not all Bible search pages have ads (which isn’t wrong), but when I study, I find it better to have the text and nothing else competing for my attention.

I highly recommend this page and hope you take a look. You can learn more about the features at their about page. Remember to come back later this week for my interview with one of the creators of the page. See you then.


ESV Chocolate Cake!?!?!?!

A theology student recently graduated. This is the cake his friends got him. It looks really tasty.


Giving Away A Small Theology Library

FREE!!!! It's everyone's favorite word. If you read this blog FREE BOOKS is even better. It's true, I'm going to give away a small theological library for FREE! Here's what I'm offering:

Rules and Conditions
This is where some of you are asking "Oh great what do I have to do?" and I'm glad you asked. I've been out of work for a while, and so I'll be blunt. I offer these books as a reward to the person who can help me get a full time job in Orange County (Southern California) by the end of the month. If you think you can do that, message me in the comments and I'll send you my resume.  My background is in school (substitute), office (and warehouse) and church work. Get me a job and the books are yours. Thanks again. 


How The World See's Christians [INFOGRAPHIC]

Found this at the Brainz website. There's a lot to nitpick, but it's something to consider when we think about how people see us.

From: Online Christian Colleges


Blogging Through The Complete Works Of Francis Schaeffer

A few years ago I had the great pleasure of being introduced to the works of Francis Schaeffer. He was first and foremost an evangelist and a pastor who sought to speak Christianity to the world he lived in. He believed that the Christian worldview alone could speak to modern man and his need. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend his documentary (and companion book) "How Should We Then Live?". Not long ago, I was able to buy his complete works from a former professor (for 20 bucks no less!) and have had them sitting on my book shelf ever since. It's time I take them out and read them.

In honor of Dr. Schaeffer's 100th Birthday, I shall be reading all five volumes of his complete works and will be blogging my way through them. It's something I'll be working on for the rest of the year. I will also be reading through some thoughtful criticisms and evaluations of Schaeffer's work. What I really want is to learn from a man who's writings are still making a mark in people today and hopefully see how his ideas speak to where I'm at in my time and space. My first post will be next week. Til then, here is a post I did last week on the anniversary of his 100th birthday. I posted video of his sermon titled "A Christian Manifesto"


Spanish Reformed Resources

Today one of my readers let me know that Chapel Library (a ministry of Mt.Zion Bible Church) has a Spanish page. It's still growing, but I would highly recommend you take a look if you want to share Spanish translations of the works of people like A.W. Pink and Charles Spurgeon. I've lamented the fact that I haven't see n much in the way of resources for Spanish speakers, but today I was given a little hope. 


Justin Taylor Weighs In On The Elephant Room

The key word for him? Wisdom. Wisdom in the planning and in the approach on the part of the people involved. Time will tell if they were wise or not, but Taylor hits the nail on the head when he writes:

But I think the whole thing could have been better if conceived in a different way. 
The Elephant Room could have achieved virtually of the same results, perhaps better ones, without any of the negative relational repercussions and doctrinal confusion. 
How? By holding the conversations offline.

Read the whole post HERE


In Honor of Francis Schaffer's Birthday, Here He Is Preaching "A Christian Manifesto"

He would have turned 100 today. A lot of people will be talking about his great work so I wanted to show you the man himself. It was given the day after his 70th Birthday. We might not always agree with him, but I wish we had MORE people like him today.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

A List Of Systematic Theologies On Kindle For $1.99 Or Less!!!!

Last year, my good friend Jonathan Chan gave me a Kindle for my birthday. As a book lover, I could not have been more pleased. As a Reformed book lover, I'm bursting at the seams! If you have a Kindle you know Amazon has a lot of great deals on classic books. They're usually free or cheap.  What I recently learned was how MANY classic systematic theologies and theology books are for sale on Kindle for $1.99 or less. Here's the list of books you can start reading today*, but if you know of any others, please let me know in the comments.

  1. Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology Vol. 1.  
  2. Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology Vol. 2 
  3. Charles Hodge's Systematic Theology Vol. 3
  4. Summary of Christian Doctrine by Louis Berkhof
  5. History Of The Church by Eusebius
  6. The Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas
  7. Christian Theology Vol. 1  H. Orton Wiley (Free!)
  8. Christian Theology Vol. 2. H. Orton Wiley (Free!)
  9. Christian Theology Vol. 3  H. Orton Wiley  (Free!)
  10. Systematic Theology by A. H. Strong
  11. Systematic Theology by Charles Hodge (One Volume)
  12. A Defense of Calvinism by Charles Spurgeon
  13. The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther
  14. Holiness by J.C. Ryle
  15. Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol's 1 and 2
  16. Complete Works of St. Augustine
  17. On The Incarnation by St. Athanasius
  18. Abstract of Systematic Theology by James Boyce
  19. A Manuel of Theology by John Dagg
  20. Outlines of Theology A.A. Hodge
  21. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
  22. Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kyuper
  23. A Commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith by A.A. Hodge
  24. Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen

Just for fun here are a few that are 2.99 or more

  1. Calvin's Complete Commentaries (Yes all of them!)
  2. The Complete Works of John Owen (22 books!

*If you don't own a kindle, you can still read the books on your computer or smart phone by using Amazon's free cloud reader.


Tennis Player Yells "GOD" In Anger After A Missed Shot. Guess What Happens Next

   At about the 15 second mark. Enjoy. 


The Prosperity Gospel: The Other Elephant In The Room

    The team over at Wretched Radio have made an interesting collection of video clips where Mark Driscoll and James Macdonald come down hard on the Prosperity Gospel. There are also clips of T.D. Jakes peddling that kind of theology. Interesting that they didn't bring any of this up at the Elephant Room. (So far as we know). 

 HT: Tim Challies


Click On This: Trinity Edition

Every now and again there are some cool links I think I should share with you. Given that the Trinity was a big issue on the blogosphere this week (due to T.D. Jake's Interview at the Elephant Room), I picked a few posts I found dedicated to the Trinity.

Trinity Power Point Presentation By My Professor John Shouse

The Doctrine of The Trinity In A Nutshell-Reclaiming The Mind

How the Trinity Relates to Marriage-Audio from The Resurgence

Studying the Trinity Is An Exercise In Love-Trevin Wax

On Heretics and Helpfulness-Ed Stetzer


Trevin Wax On How To Process The Elephant Room

Travin Wax was at the Elephant Room Sessions yesterday and live blogged the event. He's a solid brother (and a fellow Southern Baptist!) and I trust him. He gives some great guidelines on how to reflect on yesterday's event and, with much grace, he still zeroes in on some of the concerns many people still have. I really hope people take what he has to say to heart.

Frank Turk also had a lot to say about yesterday's event, but he's more to the point. Still, worth checking out.  


The Reading Pyramid

Here's some great advice on how to read through a book and get a good feel for it. 

Moonwalking With Einstein-Book Review

How good is your memory? I've always had a good memory for trivia and random facts (I've been told to try out for Jeopardy). Now, many of us have pretty decent memories for school and work. But how many of us can memorize a deck of cards in under two minutes? How about fourteen decks (you read right) in under an hour? Can you remember the names and faces of ninety-nine people having seen them only once? Those are some of the challenges someone who tries out for the U.S.A Memory Championship has to face. And in writing his book Moonwalking With Einstein Joshua Foer did exactly all those things. He even set an American memory record in the process of winning the U.S.A. Memory Championship. The title of the book comes from one of the techniques he used to memorized a deck of cards. Einstein stood for a card in the deck. Seeing him moonwalk reminded him Michael Jackson (The King of Hearts). I'll spare you the crass descriptions he used for other cards! (Be warned there is some cussing in the book).

It's interesting to read about the strange and unusual feats people can accomplish. But Foer makes it a point to show just how difficult it is to do a lot of what these uber-geeks do. And it is difficult, but not impossible. Having seen the competition, he decides to spend a year training for the event.  Along the way he shows some of the debates, crazy antics, and cool tricks a lot of the memory champs are able to accomplish. He befrends, and is trained by British Memory Champ Ed Cooke. Cooke seems to come off as a bit smug in the book, but that seems to run in the blood of a lot of the people Foer meets. He gets to meet famous memory man Tony Buzan. I have to admit, having read Buzan's books in the past, I was expecting him to come off geeky and neebish. Turns out, the man is a flashy diva and he has the clothes to prove it. Along the way Foer takes his readers through the history of mnemonics (the art and techniques used in memorizing). Some of them include the Memory Palace, Linking, and The Peg.

I was glad to see the role medieval theologians played in keeping the art of memory alive. The truth is, they had to. For instance, Foer mentions that a lot of theologians like St. Augustine might have access to a book for a short while. After that, they might never see it again. So they had to be able to memorize the contents of the book. If they ever quoted it in any of their writings, it was done from memory. And that is what really impressed me about this book. I was able to see one of God's gifts and see how useful it is. Imagine not being able to read any scripture for a while? How much of it would you have had memorized? Before the mass printing of the Bible, pastors and theologians and laypeople had to have large parts of scripture memorized. We really are spoiled in the west. We have easy access to a Bible and most any other reference work (even wikipedia!). But the book points out that for the longest time, people's libraries were made up of maybe a bible, a devotional book, and few other things. After reading the book, I felt very challenged to memorize more scripture. I think I'll start using my memory to memorize the Book of Mark.

In search of how memory works, Foer interviewed people with unusual memories. People like Kim Peek.  He inspired Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man. Turns out even his sharp mind isn't fallible. But he was able to remember vast amounts of information and recall them immediately. Another person he interviewed was a man known only as EP. He was studied by psychologists because he had lost a large portion of his memory due to a syphiliss infection that ate away parts of his brain. The result was that he only remembered his life this his late 50's. He was in his 80's when Foer interviewed him. EP would forget things after a few minutes, so he was confined to his home. Foer describes his daily routine of going for a walk and talking to neighbors. Talking to them was like meeting them for the first time. A weird and sad bliss to live in. Reading about this man was moving. I hope I never forget my loved ones like that. But while I do have access to a good memory, I hope to make the best use of it.

'Moonwalking' isn't a how-to book. But it does have a lot of helpful advice on how to prepare for the memory championship, as well as a lot of insight into how memory techniques helped society before the printing press. If you'd like to read some good books on memory improvement, take a look here.

The Real Elephant In The Room

Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith and Pirate Christian Radio has had rather busy morning. He went to the latest meeting of the pastoral minds held at the event The Elephant Room 2. Here is what Chris said happened this morning.

Today, I traveled to Rowling Meadows, Illinois to attend James MacDonald's Elephant Room 2 conversations. Upon entering the event venue I was met by a security guard and Jim Rowan, an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel and was promptly told that my entrance to the Elephant Room had been revoked and that I had to immediately leave the premises or I would be arrested for trespassing.
You can read the rest of what he said here.

It's sad that even within the reformed tribe which I claim as my own, we can see such unchristlike behavior. The situation is bad enough, but it comes at the tail end of a very interesting few weeks revolving around key players who will be at today's Elephant Room.

  • This week James Macdonald, who's church is hosting the event, resigned from the Gospel Coalition. His resignation letter can be read here. This was, I think,  partly due to criticism for his involvement with The Elephant Room and the people he's had visiting. 

  • T.D. Jakes is being interviewed today. As many of you know, people have had serious problems with Jake's Word-Faith theology as well as his modalist views of the Trinity. 

  • Mark Driscoll is also at The Elephant Room. This week, his church, Mars Hill, was brought under scrutiny after a former member released information that brings to light what appears to be a hard handed approach to church discipline. 

When you have all these things happening at once, they're going to get attention. So that brings me back to the title of this post. What is the REAL elephant in the room? Our lack of accountability. We've given our rock star pastors an easy pass. As long as they say the right things, quote from the right guys and affirm TULIP, it's all cool. Now, I'm not saying that all allegations against them are right, or that we should wikileak them (as Sovereign Grace unfortunately experienced last year). But, I think we need to stop putting people on a pedestal. We've let that happen too easily in the reformed camp, and unless we get our house in order, the world will happily oblige to do it. And they won't be as gracious.


From The Web: 25 Things I Learned Opening Up A Bookstore

Over at the Open.Salon blog, JL Sathrie gives a list of 25 things she's learned since opening her used bookstore. I support local bookstores and thrift stores (and you should too!) and I found some of these pretty funny and helpful. Take a look. 

Newt Gingrich's Family Values


Will Amazon Destroy The Publishing Industry?

Tech blog PandoDaily is reporting what many of us have seen for a while: Amazon is slowly killing the publishing industry. Have you seen how cheap they price e-books? The biggest threat isn't their cheap prices, but the fact that they now have a publishing arm, and may soon take blockbuster authors away from the traditional publishing houses.  From an anonymous source in the article

We can’t pay $1 million (advances) for books anymore. Amazon could probably afford to lose $20 million/year in their publishing arm just to put the other publishers out of business. I think that’s what they’re trying to do–throw money around in an industry that doesn’t have any, until Amazon becomes not only the only place where you buy books, but the only place that publishes books, too.

Scary, but I do see one upside of this for Christian publishing: authors who deserve a voice being able to get a chance without having to jump so many hurdles. As someone who is hoping to publish an e-book soon, I can't wait to see what happens.