Flashback Fridays (June 6)

Tim Burton's Batman came out 25 years ago this summer. I was in second grade and it was the last day of school. As a treat my cousins took me to see it and it was the "most awesome movie experience ever". At least  that's what eight year old me thought. Here's the original trailer, and if you have the time, take check it out on netflix. It still stands up as a gritty, sometimes corny, superhero movie. I was giving it a second a while ago and was surprised to see just how much more screen time the joker got than Batman. Looks like there was a deal made with Nicholson to get top billing, and to make way more money on that movie, and its sequel. That's the power of Jack.  


Morning Links (June 5)

Tasty Kindle Deals
Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard  .99
Christian History Made Easy by Dr. Paul Timothy Jones 3.99
What's Your Worldview?: An Interactive Approach to Life's Big Questions by James Anderson 7.39

Tasty Links

Defending the faith is about life, not just doctrine
From Trevin Wax: "The apostles’ view of orthodoxy is all-encompassing. It steps on all our toes. It doesn’t let any group get their “aha” moment, because it convicts and challenges us to expand our vision of orthodoxy, not look for a minimalistic substitute."

Four Modern Versions Of The Bible That Are Ruining the Bible
Over at On Faith, Bill Irwin looks at the problems of having too many different kinds of Bibles. 

10 Things to do at the SBC annual convention
Convention is coming up for us in the SBC and Todd Benkert challenges those going to find ways to be considerate of those they might disagree with. 

3 Steps to Studying the Bible
Michael Patton shares a short, but helpful, intro at Crossways blog. 

What is a photocopier? A funny short film based on actual testimony

Just watch it to the end. And remember, this really happened.


Morning Links (June 4) : Kindle Deals and Thoughtful Links

Kindle Deals
The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung .99
The Forgotten Trinity by James White 1.99
Preaching for God's Glory by Alistair Begg 4.61

Tasty Links

Tim Challies gives shares some books that help parents on when and how to talk to kids about the birds and the bees

Nones are a new demographic of people who have no religious affiliation one way or another. And they are on the rise. James Emery White's new book deals with how to reach this group by becoming an Acts 17 kind of church. 

If you're thinking of joining somewhere this year, here are a few things to think about before joining. Pastors, these are questions you need to answer as well.  

Matthew Shmitz is an editor of First Things magazine, and here he gives advice he gave a young lady who was dealing with gay marriage. In the article you'll also see an interview he gave with Slate Magazine. 


Morning Links (June 2): Southern Baptist Convention Edition

Kindle Offers
Lost and Found by Ed Stetzer and all 2.99
The Mission of Today's Church: Baptist Leaders Look At Modern Faith Issues by Ed Stetzer and Other's .99
God and the Gay Christian: A Response to Matthew Vines  by various .99
Understanding Sexual Identity: A resource for youth ministries by Mark A. Yanrhouse 7.99

Convention is just a few days away and there's a lot of issues we will be voting, and hopefully, thinking about about. Here are a few thoughts from well known SBC leaders.

4 Trends for Churches to Consider 
Ed Stetzer, a leading SBC missiologist and pollster, has written about four trends the church is currently facing that will also become important in the near future. Mainly we're getting smaller, which has some benefits (Christians of conviction will outnumber nominal believers) but there is much to be concerned about. Mainly, we have to find ways to reach out to millennials.

Southern Baptists' Millennial Problem
Speaking of Millennials, Trevin Wax gives his own ideas as to how to deal with the loss of this age group. He appeals to leaders to consider that our outreach has to take into consideration that millennials are staying single longer.

There is no "Third Way"
Al Mohler recently wrote about the so called "third way" many churches are following in regards to same sex relationships. It was spurred on by a recent decision by a pastor here in Southern California who changed his views on the issue, leading to an exodus of people from the congregation. A church split is always heart breaking, and always the last option, but in this case it was warranted. Mohler challenges the convention to remember one thing in all this: there is no third way. Either you're for it or against it.

A Resolution on Transgender for the SBC
Denny Burke has written about issue of transgender people in the church here. The idea that someone was born male, but identifies as a woman (or vice versa), is now the new issue facing churches. In a great sign of foresight, Burke has drafted a resolution (read it here) that would make clear what the SBC believes on these issues, namely that gender is a gift from God, and to do violence to the body in the form or surgery of hormone therapy, is wrong. Russell Moore also writes about this issue here


Morning Links (May 30)

Kindle Deals

The Forgotten Trinity by James White 1.99
A Treaty On Earthly mindedness by Jeremiah Burroughs .99
Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World by Andreas Köstenberger 4.99


Conservative Christianity and the Transgender Question Russell Moore tackles the question with wisdom and grace

What I didn't do today A short, yet hopeful poem

What does the Bible say about swearing?  Sometimes we ask the wrong questions when thinking about this issue

A Summer Reading List For Your Teen

It's a big world, prepare your teen to face it

Yesterday I gave some simple guidelines to help you pick books for your teen to read during summer vacation. Today, I give you a list of book recommendations to help get your started. They cover everything from theology to money. 

Do Hard Things by Alex and Bret Harris
The Harris twins have one message for teenagers: Do something hard. Teens today might find it hard to believe, but life does not begin after college. It starts now, and they can actually do something great for God no matter what their age. They wrote a follow up book called Start Here

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper
John Piper is a small, unassuming man who happens to have a fiery passion for God. His message is simple: God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him. Spend your life living for the glory of God. This book, and the conferences and music they have spawned, have been a huge hit in college campuses. This is a great book to give a high school grad. 

The Universe Next Door by James Sire
Aimed at college students, this book can still be helpful in preparing older teens to face the variety of points of views they are going to encounter in college. Looking at views like marxism, secularism, and new age thinking from a Christian perspective, this book will prepare your teen to think about the world they live in. 

What's Your Worldview? by James Anderson
Dr. Anderson is a philosophy professor who challenges people to think about how they look at the world. This isn't a normal book either. It's more like a choose your own adventure book that takes a look at different worldviews, and how they as Christians can see from the lens of the Bible. 

So your teen is ready to date? Time to bring out some helpful guidance on dating. In a time when dating is just seen as a rite of passage where two people can just hang out, mess around and not think about the consequences, Harris call teens to date in a way that that will be both honoring to the other person, and glorifying to God. See also Boundaries in Dating

After a doing survey of the toughest questions Christians hate being asked, Mark Mittelberg decided to write a book answering them. If your teen is vocal about her faith, then this book will help her answer the though questions she's going to be asked. The questions range from gay marriage to the problem of evil. See also Tactics: a game plan for discussing your Christian convictions

Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know by Wayne and Elliot Grudem
Grudem has written a very short intro to theology. It covers twenty topics (each coming from his massive book Systematic Theology) and gives a bite sized overview to help young Christians learn about the foundations of their faith. A great book for a teen or college student who wants to learn theology. 

In a college finance class I remember a teacher telling us that we had a responsibility to raise kinds who were money smart. Seeing how kids today are being called "the most indebted generation," that responsibility is even clearer. Dave Ramsey teams up with his daughter to teach parents how to train kids in the ways of wise financial planning. This is a book for parents and teens to read together. Who knows, maybe it will inspired your teen to find a summer job? 

What's going to happen to your teen when they go to college? Pastor and college prof. Alex Chediak fills them in on the ups and downs and the best ways to get ready for their time in school. 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey
If you've read the original, then you know the advice here is solid. Based on the character ethic, Covey gives sound advice on the habits that can make anyone effective at what they do. 

Life on the Edge by James Dobson
Say what you will about Dobson, but he cares about kids and wants them to thrive in their teens and college years. This book covers a lot of the problems they are going to face: drugs, premarital sex, peer pressure, and more. I read this book in high school and I am pretty sure it played a role in keeping me out of a lot of trouble. This is one you want your kid to read. 

I love graphic novels. And someone decided to turn the Bible into one. It's been done before, but not like this. The art is amazing and would make for a great way for your teen to see what the entire Bible is about in a very unique way. 

I'm sure there's a lot of worthy books I could add to the list, but I wanted to give you a place to start. If you have any recommendations please feel free to leave a comment. 


Bible Word Cloud

Over at 66 Clouds they've created a couple of word clouds that mention which words are frequently used in the Bible. It doesn't surprise me that Lord is the top word. As John Frame has said in his books, Yahweh is Lord is the cry of the Old Testament, and Jesus is Lord is the cry of the new. 

What is your teen reading this summer? Some helpful ideas part 1

image source Pierre-Olivier Bourgeois

I loved summers as a kid. Who doesn't? It was a time to sleep in, watch cartoons all morning, talk shows after lunch, swimming at the local pool, and then watching more cartoons in the afternoon. In Junior High that began to change when my mom started going on women's retreats. They were held at a Christian retreat center that had a bookstore that sold books on all sorts of subjects, but from a Christian point of view. That book store would change my life.

 When mom would come back from those retreats, I was always the first one to greet her. I was excited  because she would bring me back a book to read. I was in heaven.  It was because for the first time I had found books that were in English that I could relate to (I didn't go to a non-Spanish Christian bookstore till I was in my late teens). In many ways, this is where my love for theology books started. It is something I will always be grateful for. And it's something that has shaped my life.

I know the list of things that can occupy a teen is much longer these days. In addition to tv shows, today's teens have a buffet of distractions calling them, including: the web, netflix, XBox One, redbox, and an ipad full of apps. But there is also a greater access to books. My hope is that this summer can also be a time for you to encourage your teen, or tween, to take time to learn something about themselves, their world, and their God. Today, I want to share a few things to keep in mind when helping them pick out books.

1. What are they interested in?
Some of you might be getting mad at me now, but come one, you should know a thing or two about what your kid is interested in. And you should encourage them to learn more about the things they like. If it's sports, how about the autobiography of someone they could look up to? If it's video games, how about the history of the video game industry? Maybe they want to be a website developer? There's a lot of books aimed at teaching teens to do just that. The point is, make sure your kids have books on things that they'll want to read. They might even learn that some things aren't worth their time.

2. Where stage are they in life?
Different life stages call for different books. I mentioned that I was in my teens when my mom would bring me books on teen issues. She was wise enough to know that I would need a little advice, and she was right. A lot of those books played a role in keeping me out of trouble. So where is your kid? Are they a tween ready to hit puberty? Are they ready to start high school? Or college? There's a book for that! It might just keep them out of trouble.

3. What challenges are they facing at school?
No kid is perfect. When it comes to school, grades are proof of this. So what classes gave your kid the most trouble this year? It's usually math, but maybe it was science, or English lit. Take time to talk to your kid about where they need help for the next semester and perhaps, you can pick out a few books on those subjects to better prepare. I also suggest that you visit Khan Academy. It's a free, online school with a very unique way of teaching common high school subjects.

4. What challenges are they facing in life?
I'm not a parent, yet,  but I have young nieces and nephews that I worry about. The problems just a few years ago were simple: smoking and underage drinking. Today's problems are much more complicated. Easy access to porn, states legalizing weed, and even bad friends, will make things harder for parents. But preparing your kids for the future isn't optional. Find out what questions they have and start looking for answers.

5. How is your teen's faith?
 Your child's first spiritual mentor has to be YOU. Youth groups are great, but the statistics are grim. Kids who go to youth group, and church, are leaving the faith once they hit college at alarming rates. The best solution to this is for parents to take responsibility for the discipleship of their children. I'm talking to you. The teen years are the perfect time for them to make the faith their own. Tomorrow I'll be sharing a list of about twenty or so books that will help them (and you) in this area.

Feel free to leave comments, questions, and complaints down below.


LeVar Burton Wants to Bring Back Reading Rainbow!

I loved this show growing up. It was great seeing LeVar talking about books, doing cool things, and cracking jokes along the way. If there is one thing from the 80's (the show ended in 2009!) I want to see make a come back it is THIS. Well it's time to bring it back. Go to the kickstarter page and donate today! Oh and watch the video it's pretty funny. 

Morning Links (May 28)

Great Tasting Kindle Deals

Great Tasting Links

Psalms EP: Vol. 1 Robbie Seay Band is letting you download their collection of Psalms set to music. Take a listen. They're really good. And FREE!!!!!! HT: Baptist 21

God Will Give You Everything You Need John Piper answers what it means that God will "add all these things unto you". The answer is always thought provoking

7 Toxic Ideas Polluting Your Mind David Murray Reviews the new book covering the ideas that are popular in today's culture that are really hurting us. I have a link to the book above. 

Is it ok to have sex with a robot?  Russell Moore (The SBC's go to ethics guy) asks some tough questions about sex in the future. 


Morning Links (May 27)

Picture source wikimedia commons

Looks like there's some great deals today. Also some great links to check out. 



The Good News About Marriage A new book takes a look at divorce rates and what they really mean. Looks like a lot of what we know is wrong. Especially about divorce rates in church.

Al Mohler's Summer Reading List If reading were an olympic sport, Mohler would be a gold medalist. Here is his summer reading list.

Was Christ's Death Divine Child Abuse?  A lengthy, but in depth, response.

As always I'm happy to hear from my readers. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. God Bless!


Morning Links (May 25)

Tasty Kindle Deals

Tasty Morning Links

The 5 Worst Christian Videos A little humor for you guys

10 Important Things To Ask a Potential Pastor Something to think about if you ever look for a pastor. As always, R.C. Sproul has some great questions. 

Are There Any Gray Areas With From God's Poin Of View? R.C. Sproul Jr. tackles this question

A Few Theology Books That Changed My Life

Ok, some of these aren't theology books. But everyone wants to talk about the book that changed their life, or the way they looked at the world, or made them sad. On reddit  this week there was a long thread discussing books that changed the way people looked at the world. I figured I'd share my thoughts on that. As a student of theology most of my books will be theological-but a few won't ;) Many of these challenged me and shaped the way I looked at things.

Desiring God by John Piper

What is the purpose of the Christian life? Dr. Piper answers that throughout his whole book with one phrase: To glorify God BY enjoying him forever. Our job is to desire what we will enjoy the most, and according to the Bible, that's who God is. At nineteens years of age I came across this book and years later I still go to it for encouragement, challenge, and wisdom. I was surprised that by the end of I was given what is essentially Reformed theology. And it is no surprise to me that this is the book that has made many people Calvinists. Dr. Piper's passion and love for God's glory shows on every page. It gave me a whole new way of looking at the Bible and the Christian life.

Humanity and Sin by Robert Pyne

Before the word "worldview" entered my vocabulary, I had no idea that that was what Christianity was. It is a way of viewing the world. Pyne's book is a look at what we are as humans and what sin does to us. However, he does so much more. He actually shows how looking at things like evil, vice, drugs, etc... from a Christian perspective can give us an idea of how to deal with them, and how to help  people in our churches who are dealing with these issues. I'm sad that it is out of date, but I HIGHLY recommend you get it and read it. It's a great look at what the Bible says about man, his sin, and our salvation.

The Cross of Christ by John Stott

How important is the cross? In Bible college I learned just how much after reading this book. Stott's book covers the cross from so many angles your head might just spin if you're not careful. But that is what the cross is: an unfathomable event that touches us deeply. The different pictures of salvation that he studies are very helpful in understanding just what went on when Jesus died. Today people want to single one view over another, but in reality it's a diamond with many faces, each as important as the other.

How to read the Bible for all its worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart

One of the first books I read in Bible college that actually helped me make sense of the Bible. It reminded me that the Bible is like many great works of literature. It's an anthology of history, poetry, prophetic vision, moral teaching, and gospel. Each one has to be read with different rules in order to be understood. That is something we miss when we sit down to read scripture. If you want to know how to read by the rules, take a look at this book. Just don't take their advice on what Bible to read. They endorsed the TNIV and that was a mistake. I think they should have gone with the ESV.

The ESV Study Bible

The Bible had to be here but I decided to mention one of my favorite Study Bibles. There's just so many these days. I'm glad that they're almost all ESV but this is the one that started it all. Years ago the Bible translation of note was the NIV. I read the entire new testament one week from the NIV. But as I learned more about Bible translations I knew I wanted a Bible that was not too loosely translated. Enter the English Standard Version. An update to the old Revised Standard Version, it quickly got the attention of theologians and pastors everywhere. Somehow in all this, it became the translation to get. In became a rock star in the world of Bible translations and the official bible of Calvinists everywhere. When it was announced that Crossway publishing (publishers of the ESV) were making a study Bible that would have some hefty scholarship, everyone cheered. It has scholarly notes, a gospel centric theme, in depth maps, articles, and even a mini systematic theology in the back. It's also heavy. Too heavy for me to take to church, though it has since been released in a slimmer, shortened version.

On Writing by Stephen King

If you can only get one writing teacher, make it Stephen King. His book is a tour of his imagination. You see what went on as he wrote his now classic horror stories. You also get a lesson in writing that is worth the price of the book alone. His section on where he gets his ideas has always stayed with me and is the reason I've ever attempted to write. If you're looking for a summer read, this is it.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

If comic books can be serious business, then Alan Moore's Watchmen is an industrial complex. Watchmen has been credited with being part of a new wave of more serious comics with complex stories and a deconstruction of the comic book superhero that began in the 1980's. I got it as a birthday present from my friend a few years ago. I read it in a week and it blew my mind and it left me reading comics ever since. Watchmen is the story of retired heroes who are forced to look for a killer. But that's just the start. The real story is the heroes themselves: their failures, their struggles, and fears. It also tackles the nature of crime fighting and the best way to save humanity. Moore's prowess as a comic book writer is that he is able to tell a story using traditional and non-traditional methods. The story is told from many perspectives and through recollections, newspaper articles, journal entries etc... It tackles relationships, rape,  justice, the comic book industry, and the ethics of crime fighting. Moore is a master of the graphic novel medium. In one chapter, one character is looking at the various evens in the past and the present. Each page doing something I thought could only be done in the movies. When I first read that chapter is blew me away. Graphic novels are serious indeed. Needless to say, I hope to write my own one day. 


A Very Geeky Wedding

Saw this floating on imgur. I have to admit, I'm getting married in a few weeks and I am jealous. You can see the rest of the album here.

Morning Links (May 24 )

Kindle Deals. Mmmmmm yum!

The End of Books! What is the purpose of reading in the Christian life? The author of Lit! tackles that question over at the Desiring God Blog. 

Embracing the Strangeness of Christianity with Clarity Justin Taylor shares a little of what people think is weird about us Christians. Some helpful insights on talking about your views of marriage. 

An overview of Genesis 1-11
Over at the Bible Project, they're creating video introductions to every book of the Bible. Here's their intro to Genesis 1-11


Morning Links (May 23)

Juicy Kindle Deals
The Church: The Gospel Made Visible by Mark Dever (.99)
Our Triune God: Living in the love of the Three-In-One by Phillip Graham Ryken (3.99)
Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? William Lane Craig (3.99)
Biblical Inerrancy: The Historical Evidence by Norman Geisler (2.99)
A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture by Keith Mathison (Free!)

Fans of the Lord of the Rings will enjoy this lecture. It's an hour long but worth it. 
Some books are just misunderstood. 

Acculturated takes a look at parents who hate their kids and why they're blaming the wrong person for their troubles. 

Kevin DeYoung has been doing a primer on theology and since this is an issue that will be popping up for a while, here is his primer on law and gospel. 


Morning Links: Including NT Wright's New Book and Kindle Deals

Take a look at a few kindle deals that might be good for your summer reading list:

Surprised by Scripture by NT Wright You can pre-order Wright's new book on Scripture issues (Comes out in June) that will include: evolution, the ordination of women, and the environment. Sure to be controversial.  

Can I have Joy in My Life? and How Can I Develop A Christian Conscience. Two books from R.C. Sproul's crucial questions series. They're  free today!

Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray (4.99) Dr. Murray is professor of OT at Puritan Seminary and his blog has been a great example of what a Christian teacher/blogger can be. His aim to help those struggling with depression is a great step forward for the church, and the reformed camp. 

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greer (.99) Greer gives readers a look at what the Bible has to say about the assurance of salvation. It's been a hit for a while with good reason. 

Creature of the Word: The Jesus Centered Church (2.99) Matt Chandler and Co. are on a mission to show how the gospel impacts our ministry and how we do it.  

Broken Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp (1.99) Does sin affect our productivity? Tripp answers yes and shows how grace helps us to be productive and joyous even in our hectic world. 

God on Sex: The creators ideas about Love, Intimacy and Marriage by Daniel Akin (2.99) A Southern Baptist Pastor looks at what Scripture has to say about making whoopie! 

And now for some links:
 8 Lessons on Evangelism from Proverbs by David Murray I just mentioned Murray's book and blog and this is just another great example of his wisdom applied to evangelism.

Frozen is about sisterhood, not feminism My new favorite blog is Acculturated. It's dedicated to talking about virtue and vice in pop culture. This is a great look at the theme of sisterhood in the movie Frozen.

10 of the Best Free Apps for Ministry and Christian Living Baptist 21 gives you their list of great-FREE-resources.


Growing up in Scientology

Jamie De Wolf is L.Ron Hubbard's great grand-son. Here he is on NPR's snap judgement doing a spoken word performance about what it was like growing up in that family. The details are grim and sad.