Archive for the 'Other Blog' Category

Around the Web

Words Matter: Recovering Godly Speech in a Culture of Profanity – Reformation21 Blog – Yes! – Even if you disagree, the last four points are the at the center of it.

The Coasting Christian – The Wardrobe Door

Anxiety: My Thorn in My Flesh – A Daughter of the Reformation

Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it. But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want, it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants. It takes great faith to say to God, “Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore my relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.”

–Nancy Guthrie (Hearing Jesus Speak Into your Sorrow [a good book I read])
from:
When God ordains thorns for me… | A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

New Books of Interest:
REFLECT: Becoming Yourself by Mirroring the Greatest Person in History by Thaddeus J. Williams

The Uniqueness of the Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey

The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul's Teachings by John F. MacArthur

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth by John MacArthur, Richard Mayhue

Discounted Kindle Books:
Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name by Bryan Chapell – $1.99 (I read it twice. This is often on sale if you miss it.)

The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word by R. C. Sproul – $1.59

Prices as of this writing are subject to change.

Around the Web

A Whole Bible & a Whole Christian – Tim Challies

Today the majority of those who read this site will be heading to church to hear a pastor preach the Word of God. A while back I jotted down several quotes about the Bible and thought I’d share them today.

God’s Wrath, God’s Love, and the Cross (Carson) « The Reformed Reader

Both God’s love and God’s wrath are ratcheted up in the move from the old covenant to the new, from the Old Testament to the New. These themes barrel along through redemptive history, unresolved, until they come to a resounding climax – in the cross.

Do you wish to see God’s love? Look at the cross.

Do you wish to see God’s wrath? Look at the cross.

–D.A. Carson

In Defense of Praying for Aunt Sally's Big Toe – Reformation21 Blog

Prayer: Often, Short, Strong (Luther) « The Reformed Reader – I wholeheartedly agree

How Not to Help a Sufferer

Around the Web

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

What Is Self-Discipline? | Steven Lawson – Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism are explained.

15 Lessons on Bible Interpretation I Learned in 2016 | PEW THEOLOGY

I totally agree with Beth Felker Jones’ Practicing Christian Doctrine. “The discipline of theology is not first about gaining information or building a system of knowledge. It is about discipleship: we learn to speak and think well about God so that we can be more faithful followers of Jesus.” Bible interpretation is not about gathering facts to arm yourself for a debate. It’s about acquiring the right knowledge of Christ. And becoming faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Wisdom for Reading the Proverbs | The Christward Collective – This might be the best short article I’ve read on interpreting Proverbs.

Quotes about the Bible – I don’t agree with all of these, but it’s a great read and organized well.

To preach the Bible as ‘the handbook for life,’ or as the answer to every question, rather than as the revelation of Christ, is to turn the Bible into an entirely different book. This is how the Pharisees approached Scripture, as we can see clearly from the questions they asked Jesus. For the Pharisees, the Scriptures were a source of trivia for life’s dilemmas.

–Michael Horton

Photo of a Bible

Around the Web-2016’s Favorite Books

This is the obligatory roundup of posts about books that people liked from the year, devotional recommendations, and one looking forward to next year. I’ve kept the list short.

If I’m motivated enough, I’d like to put up a post about some of the books that I read.

Top 16 Books of 2016 | Desiring God

My Top Books of 2016 – Tim Challies

Daily Devotionals: Recommendations « The Reformed Reader

12 Christian Books Releasing in 2017 to Keep On Your Radar | Anchored in Christ

Around the Web – Mental Health Edition Pt. 2 of 2

Part 1 was related to depression. These are related to anxiety.

3 Ways Technology Makes Us Anxious

Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety – Tim Challies – If you only read one of these links, please read this one. It explains what those of us who live with anxiety disorder go through, even if we don’t all have exactly the same symptoms and experiences. This is one of the best blog posts I’ve seen all year, but then I’m biased in this direction.

There are some responses to this post (not on that page) where people make all kinds of assumptions about Adam and anxiety that may not be or aren’t true. One is: “If there’s a physiological component to it, then there would be a medical test for it. So since there isn’t a test, there is none.” This one boggles my mind. Many of these things make me more reticent to post about struggles with mental health/illness, although I know that my small audience here is sympathetic. In the beginning of his followup article, he deals with these things very well in the first few paragraphs:
Some things that have helped me in my struggle with anxiety – Adam4d.com

Anxiety at Work – Medium

Does trusting God remove anxiety? | Musings of a Christian Psychologist

Although this post is mainly related to anxiety, I found another article on depression, although not from a Christian perspective. It’s very long, but very interesting. It addresses many of the misconceptions, along with explaining what experiencing depression itself is like, and also what the treatment entails.
Andrew Solomon: Depression, the secret we share | TED Talk | TED.com

If you told me that I’d have to be depressed for the next month, I would say, “As long I know it’ll be over in November, I can do it.” But if you said to me, “You have to have acute anxiety for the next month,” I would rather slit my wrist than go through it. It was the feeling all the time like that feeling you have if you’re walking and you slip or trip and the ground is rushing up at you, but instead of lasting half a second, the way that does, it lasted for six months. It’s a sensation of being afraid all the time but not even knowing what it is that you’re afraid of. And it was at that point that I began to think that it was just too painful to be alive, and that the only reason not to kill oneself was so as not to hurt other people.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5 HCSB

Around the Web – Mental Health Edition Pt. 1

This is part one of two. The next one will deal with anxiety.

Can Depression Be Cured? Latest Research | HeadHeartHand Blog – There is good, but also disturbing news here.

Depression is a neurodegenerative systemic disorder rather than a chemical imbalance.

There is chemical imbalance in depression but the primary cause is a loss of brain tissue in key areas (and abnormal increase of brain tissue in one key area).

A number of areas in the brain are physically changed in this disorder of the stress response.

In melancholic depression (which affects 35% of those with major depression), the stress response is disordered in that when triggered it does not terminate quickly enough or sufficiently enough. It gets stuck in the “on” position.

The last paragraph above (which was actually earlier in the article) makes a lot of sense to be, as I experience this pretty much chronically.j

The parts about damage to the brain and the rest of the body is very disturbing.

I’ve always been reticent to say that ‘depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain’, because that’s mainly a guess. A few years from now, there may be other significant information to add to the equation. Unfortunately, this research is still in the beginning stages. (Maybe it’s past ‘infancy’?)

New Fast-Acting Anti-Depressant Drugs on the Way | HeadHeartHand Blog – What bothers me about this is cost, and efficacy over a long period of time.

New Depression Research: Appreciation, Critique, and Gospel Opportunities | HeadHeartHand Blog – Conclusion to the above

We can know that God created us and knew ahead of time what our how lives and bodies would end up. (Psalm 139:13-16) Believers can look forward to new heavenly bodies. (2 Corinthians 5:1-5)

Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!
Luke 12:27 HCSB

Substitute wildflowers with Thanksgiving Cactus:

Thanksgiving Cactus Flower
Photo © Jeff – Click on the photo to see a larger one

I take pictures of these almost every year, but this flower was so perfect, I had to do just one more.

Around the Web

What Every Book of the New Testament Is About

Matthew
“A distinctive feature of Matthew is its arrangement into alternating sections of narrative and discourse.”

Mark
‘The shortest Gospel, and perhaps the basis for Matthew and Luke. Mark is the “action Gospel,” with the word immediately appearing some 35 times.’

Luke
“The humanitarian Gospel, with much attention to marginalized members of society. The longest Gospel, covering more of Jesus’s life than the others.”

John
“The poetic Gospel, embodying much of its meaning in great symbols such as light, bread, and water.”

A Family Affair | Carl R. Trueman | First Things

I was reading Leviticus 18 a few weeks ago and noticed how homosexuality is apparently tucked into all of these other things.

“Never have sexual intercourse with anyone related to you by blood. I am the LORD.
7 “Never have sexual intercourse with your mother. She is your own mother. Never have sexual intercourse with her. 8 Never have sexual intercourse with your stepmother. She is related to you through your father.

22Never have sexual intercourse with a man as with a woman. It is disgusting. 23 Never have sexual intercourse with any animal and become unclean with it. A woman must never offer herself to an animal for sexual intercourse. It is unnatural.
Leviticus 18:6-8, 22-23 GW

So, much of our society demands that we think homosexual behavior is normal and good, but all of these other things are not. (Homosexual behavior is addressed all throughout the Bible, not just in the Old Testament.) So I was wondering if our society would ever see incest as OK, as long as it’s between two consenting adults. Carl Trueman addresses a real-life example of a mother and daughter in the article linked above.

How “Spurgeon’s Priority” Can Change Your Life – B&H Academic
“You may wonder how a person as accomplished as Spurgeon was able to spend so much time reading the Bible and praying.”

Thriving tradesmen are early risers, and thriving saints seek Jesus eagerly. Those who find Jesus to their enrichment give their hearts to seeking him. We must seek him first, and thus earliest. Above all things Jesus. Jesus first, and nothing else even as a bad second.

Underwater Dogs
Click the photo to see Seth Casteel underwater dog photos

Around the Web: Prayer and ‘Advice’ for Sufferers Edition

Do You Pray Like a Nonbeliever? | Desiring God – One of the more important posts I’ve seen in a long time.

Seen & Heard – Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

There are a number of reasons that could be given as to why Christians should “Pray the Bible,” but the ones below combine to make a rather convincing argument:

  1. Praying scripturally will teach us what prayer is, even while we do it.
  2. It will correct “shopping list” views of prayer which abound in the Christian community. (emphasis added)
  3. It will begin to solve in our own minds the question of “unanswered prayer.”
  4. It will remind us of just how much there is to pray about day by day.

Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis – One of the best articles I’ve seen on this subject.

Suffering

Also see:
Complete List of Paul's Prayers | Scripture Zealot blog

Around the Web – God’s Will, Gluttony and Others

Five phrases Christians should never use again

We have short hand phrases that are sometimes helpful, but often not. In fact, many we treat as downright biblical, when they’re more likely to be found in 2 Hesitations. Here are five that I’d love to see never ever used again:

Maybe, or probably not, I’ll get to my series of things Christians say.

Delicate Tastes – Gluttony
It’s not just over-eating.

I can think of maybe one sermon I’ve heard on the subject of gluttony. [I can think of zero.] Whether for fear of shaming portlier parishioners, or because our pastors have noticed how much closer the pulpit has moved to their own waistlines, it’s not a subject we address much in church. Yet precisely for that reason our thinking on the issue has become so shallow and one-dimensional, leaving the church, especially our affluent, North American congregations, exposed to a much less obvious, and all the more deceptive form of the temptation.

Finding Hope In Suffering – Joni Answers Your Tough Questions

Just in case you missed the amazing insights from Joni Eareckson Tada, we have provided the full video right here. If you’ve dealt with any kind of suffering, this video is full of encouragement and wisdom.

When We Misinterpret God | Parchment and Pen Blog

There have been times, too numerous to count, when I went one way, suspecting the Lord was heading in the same direction, only to find out the heart-breaking reality that God was going a different direction.

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

All our steps are ordered by the Lord,
how then can we understand our own ways?
Proverbs 20:24

Related to that:

Taking the Mystery Out of Knowing God's Will – Sermon by John MacArthur – This is one of my favorites by him. It can be a life changer.

If you’re saved, spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, suffering and thankful – you ready for this? Do whatever you want. Do whatever you want. Marry whoever you want. Go wherever you want. Work wherever you want. Choose whatever you want. You say, “Whoa. Are you sure?” Absolutely. Because if this is true of your life, guess who’s controlling your wants. Do whatever you want.

Around the Web

Imagine If Ebooks Came First

Notes. We would count it ridiculous that any notes, marks, and highlights we make in a book reside exclusively on those pages and that only manual transcription can make them accessible outside of it. In books our highlights and annotations are nothing more than marks. In ebooks they are information that is electronically extracted and stored for us, made ready for use in other media. In this way ebooks help us easily gather important information so we can more simply put it to use.

Searchability of this information is of major significance. I put a lot of these types of things in Evernote while reading paper books, which takes a lot of time.

A Bible Reading Plan for Readers

Just as we can meditate on nibbles, so we can meditate on gobbles.

Why Are So Many Christians Unkind? | Beyond Evangelical – The Blog of Frank Viola

epexegesis: The Chief End of Christian Self-Improvement – An absolutely stunning quote.

Why Lying Is Always Wrong:
The Uniqueness Of Verbal Deceit
by Vern Poythress – This is a long PDF on Poythress’ view that lying is always wrong. He also interacts with others like John Frame and Wayne Grudem who believe there are exceptions. I’m with Poythress on this, but respect those who allow exceptions in certain cases. This is something that isn’t of much interest to many nowadays, but it’s always been a subject of interest for me, ever since hearing the stories while in elementary school of George Washington and the cherry tree (now realizing it might not be true), and Abraham Lincoln. In any case, all of us should strive to be irreproachable [blameless] (1 Peter 2:11-12), even though we ultimately are so in Christ (Colossians 1:22).

Around the Web

You Don’t Have to Know God’s Will | Desiring God

Five Things the Psalms of Lament Teach Us About Emotions | True Woman Blog | Revive Our Hearts

If Death Is Gain, Should We Pray for Healing? | Desiring God

What If “Iron Sharpening Iron” in the Book of Proverbs Is Actually Something to Avoid? | TGC – I would posit another besides ‘tough love’ or it being bad, as the article says, and that would be it’s merely two people sharpening each other’s minds through normal conversations. This is based on commentaries I’ve read. Of course, I could be wrong.

Dictionary of Christianese – List of Words (A–Z) – Exellent

Around the Web

The Christian Struggle with Mental Illness | The Exchange | A Blog by Ed Stetzer

Part of the struggle is discerning the extent of the spiritual issue with mental health. How much is physiological and how much is spiritual ? Is mental illness a punishment for sin or a natural illness?

We all have spiritual struggles: struggling with our identity in Christ, receiving forgiveness, living with joy. With mental illness, the struggle becomes much more complicated.

Is it something that can only be resolved with a deeper understanding of the gospel and closer relationship with Christ and others, or can it be impacted by some external influence—medication, counseling, etc.?

Capitalizing Pronouns Referring to Deity

Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night | Desiring God – This is longer than most blog posts, but it’s very good. It’s based on Psalm 1. One interesting thing it addresses is the word ‘prosper’.

The Word of God informs prayer. This means that the Word tells us what to pray and becomes itself the content of our prayer. When you know the mind of God in his Word, you pray the mind of God in your prayers.

Let’s think about the blessing that comes from delighting in and meditating on the Word day and night.

Man With Jeremiah 29:11 Tattoo Recounts His Time In Babylonian Captivity | The Babylon Bee – I should tell you that this is humor, since some might not get that.

I was very surprised to see a photo of my bookshelf on another article at Babylon Bee. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Around the Web

Book Tribalism | CCW – Christian Communicators Worldwide – I’m not exactly sure what they’re trying to say here. But I do know that it’s good, of course; and it’s bad. It has caused me to think about what and who I read. The video they link to is amazing. I’ve seen in at least a couple of times and may have posted it before.

Reformed Theology & John 3:16 by Burk Parsons

Visual Theology on Pinterest – Infographics

I guess I might have been wrong about the premise of the Daniel Diet mistreating Scripture.
Archaeologists Discover Prophet Daniel's Weight Loss Diary | The Babylon Bee

Around the Web

5 Reasons Not to Waste Your Leisure Time

Where Do the Prayers Come from in “The Valley of Vision”? And Sundry Questions | TGC

Does God Talk to Us? A Post by Michael Horton

You Were Made to Meditate

Also see:
Owen and Watson on Meditating on Scripture | Scripture Zealot blog
Book Review: God's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation | Scripture Zealot blog

Around the Web

I finally found a way of articulating why, among other reasons, I’m not a fan of Christian movies:

Computers generate more details than the eye can process. Contrast that with the way the Bible tells stories, where there are typically gaps for the reader to fill in. Less is more: The Bible’s reticence to color in the details actually makes it more liable to be understood in a variety of different times and places. If we let an artist or filmmaker supply all the details, our imaginations begin to atrophy.

Discipleship in the Age of the Spectacle | Desiring God

I’m not saying I think Christian movies are wrong, or it’s wrong to watch them. The few good ones are certainly better than most of the other stuff that’s out there. That’s only my opinon.

I admit that I liked the movie The Nativity. It had no depictions of Jesus, as an adult anyway, which I also try to stay away from. John Owen, among many others, writes about that pretty extensively and forcefully. I’m not as dogmatic as he is though.

Exercise Makes Our Muscles Work Better With Age – The New York Times

Wisely Handling the Book of Proverbs

“Answer not a fool according to his folly” (26:4a). Then, in the very next verse, we read, “Answer a fool according to his folly” (26:5a)

I love the refutation of myths and false sayings. I believed one of these, so I’m guilty too.
Urban Legends: The Preacher’s Edition | TGC

HT: Links I Like | Blogging Theologically

(HT stands for Hat Tip–giving credit where a link is found. I don’t do this enough, especially since I get a lot of links from him.)