- The Man Christ Jesus by Bruce Ware ($1.99)
- Jesus' Blood & Righteousness by Brian Vickers ($1.99)
- Center Church by Tim Keller ($2.99)
- Finishing Our Course With Joy by J.I. Packer ($4.99)
- How The Gospel Brings Us All The Way Home by Derek Thomas (FREE)
- A Model of Christian Maturity by D.A. Carson ($3.99)
- Gospel by J.D. Greear ($2.99)
- The Crucified Life by A.W. Tozer ($1.99)
- Is Jesus The Only Way by Phil Ryken ($1.99)
- How to Stay Christian In Seminary by David Mathis & Jonathan Parnell ($1.99)
- Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala ($2.99)
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas ($2.99)
- The Ever-Loving Truth by Voddie Baucham ($0.99)
- What Does The Lord Require? by Walter Kaiser ($3.99)
One of the best experiences of my Christian life was Soma School. I've talked about it before. Jeff Vanderstelt has become someone I trust at a high level as a teacher. After spending time with him at Soma School he also became someone I deeply trust as a disciple of Jesus, a man, a pastor, a husband, and a father. If he had 50 books on Amazon, those would be the next 50 I'd buy. If I was forced to pack up today and choose another church to belong to for the rest of my life, Soma (Tacoma, WA) is in my top two. They aren't perfect. Far from it. But I've rarely been around a group of people that made me want to follow Jesus in everyday life, to know His Word, and to follow His Holy Spirit.
I say all that to say that Soma has now put Soma School teaching videos online. 1. Go to Soma School. Seriously. Highly recommend it. 2. In the mean time, watch these videos. The videos can't replace actually going and being immersed in the life of Soma. But they are a great start. I've put them all in this post for you to watch. If you need a short introduction to Soma, check out the last video extra. It's not a part of this video series, but it a helpful starting place to understand Soma.
Beards make me want to journal!
Adam Feldman's new book, Journaling: Catalyzing Spiritual Growth Through Reflection, may be just what you need to spark a new discipline of journaling. Or maybe your love for journaling has grown cold and this book can be a refresher for you. Either way, Journaling is only $0.99 for Kindle right now and I want to encourage you to check it out. Simple with lots of tips and ideas and questions to prompt you on.
I've found journaling difficult, but I'm eager to press on. I bought the book before it got this cheap! From the book...
You can expect journaling to be difficult for many reasons. For instance, journaling takes a chunk of time, so you may initially resist letting go of something in order to start journaling. Journaling is also highly reflective, and this may bring up some difficult or disturbing thoughts that you have previously been afraid to acknowledge. Journaling is also a means to catalyze spiritual growth, so you can expect the enemy, Satan and his emissaries, to throw every kind of distraction at you and to whisper every sort of “reasonable” excuse for why you “cannot” journal today.
Just sit down and start writing.
The soil in which the prayer of faith takes root is a life of unbroken communion with God, a life in which the windows of the soul are always open toward the City of Rest. We do not know the true potency of prayer until our hearts are so intently fixed on God that our thoughts turn to Him whenever they are set free from the consideration of earthly things.
$5 Albums for March. Here are the ones I recommend...
- Arctic Monkeys: AM | I LOVE this album and still listen to it once a week. My #3 album of 2013.
- The Gloaming: The Gloaming | I was hoping this would go on sale. I just downloaded it.
- Damien Jurado: Brothers & Sisters of the Eternal Son | A great album.
- Green Day: American Idiot | Masterful
- Passion Pit: Gossamer
- Brandi Carlile: The Story
- Cheatahs: Cheatahs
- The White Stripes: Icky Thump
- Wye Oak: The Knot
- Hospitality: Trouble
- Chevelle: Wonder What's Next
- Imogen Heap: Speak For Yourself
- Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger
- Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet | If you don't have this you are only halfway there.
- Neil Young: Greatest Hits
I have yet to figure out how to buy and enjoy a St. Vincent album. But she (Annie Clark) is continually getting rave reviews, so I keep paying attention. Part of the reason for her art-rocker genius is that she is thinking a little deeper than many. Follow along as sings on The Colbert Report. The song is "Digital Witness" from her new self-titled album, St. Vincent.
What's the point of even sleeping?
If I can't show it, you can't see me
What's the point of doing anything?
This is no time for confessing
I want all of your mind.
People turn the TV only looks just like a window
People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window
Trust me. Click play.
Last week I was in a conversation with a church member I got to thinking about how John Piper's books are somewhat unique for me among the many books I've read. As I talked it out here's what I discovered but never really verbalized before.
When I read a John Piper book I come away with memorable sentences like I don't get from most other books. For example...
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. (Desiring God)
Missions exists because worship doesn't. (Let the Nations Be Glad)
The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. (Desiring God)
"This much, O God, I want you." (A Hunger for God)
I read these books well over a decade ago and these sentences have been a part of me since. I couldn't shake them off if I wanted to. Notice that none of Piper's statements are cheap, cute, or clever. Piper's aim is the sharpness of the quote, not the cuteness. It's not that Piper is somehow a better guy, but he simply understands the importance of sharp, memorable sentences. Elsewhere Piper wrote...
I have often said, “Books don’t change people, paragraphs do — sometimes sentences.”
This may not be fair to books, since paragraphs find their way to us through books, and they often gain their peculiar power because of the context they have in the book. But the point remains: One sentence or paragraph may lodge itself so powerfully in our mind that its effect is enormous when all else is forgotten.
One lesson I learned from a few influential preachers like Mark Dever and Herschel York (as well as in preaching books) is to be able to boil down a sermon's point to one sentence. If I can't say the sermon in one sentence I'm not ready to preach it. At least, that's the idea. It's a similar principle.
For all who desire to change hearts, convince minds, to influence and teach, it would be good to consider the example of John Piper and his memorable sentences, with sharp barbs that lock them deep into our minds and hearts. We don't need to make every sentence memorable. But the rest of our sentences should serve our best sentences. It takes more work, but it deepens our impact.
- A Loving Life - Paul Miller ($5.99)
- God In The Whirlwind - David Wells ($5.99)
- Finishing Our Course With Joy - J.I. Packer ($3.99)
- What's Your Worldview? - James Anderson ($4.99)
- Spiritual Warfare - Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura ($5.99)
- Father, Son, & Holy Spirit - Bruce Ware ($1.99)
- The Cross & Christian Ministry - D.A. Carson ($2.99)
- Brothers, We Are Not Professionals - John Piper ($2.99)
"Afterlife" is one of my favorite songs from Arcade Fire's newest album, Reflektor. Enjoy their performance from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. What a great way to start the weekend! Crank it up.
There has been debate on whether this is real. I'm pretty sure it isn't, but it's still awesome. When you get to the end of Flappy Bird according to this video, you face a famous video game character.
Reviews -- Burn Your Fire: Paste 8.5/10 & Pretty Much Amazing says "a strong collection of 11 dark, pulsing tracks brimming with energy, humming with a persistent groove, driving with a head-bopping beat."
If you don't have time to listen now, please save this post somewhere and come back to it. This song may be a tremendous blessing to you or to someone in your family or church who is suffering. I encourage you to find time to really listen. I don't often find songs that hit me so deep and make me long to share it with others (especially those in pain).
I received the new album from Kristen Gilles in the mail and have listened to a little. Now I'm completely stuck on one song, "Chase Away My Unbelief." This is from the website of Kristen Gilles...
After our son Parker was stillborn, we cried out to God. Many of those cries came together in the form of this new song from our upcoming album Parker’s Mercy Brigade, “Chase Away My Unbelief.” This is a song for everyone who is broken by the thought of what might have been. A child who was never born. A child who was, but whose stay on earth was all too short. A broken home. A broken heart. A chilling medical diagnosis. A betrayal. Bankruptcy. Addiction. An inner conflict that causes you to say, “God, if you’re up there, if you’re powerful, and if you’re good, then why is everything so messed up?”
If you ever feel like God is far away, that he won’t answer you, let this song be your cry. If you ever feel like you’ve become a slave to your current circumstance, or that you have trouble seeing a larger perspective, let this song be your cry. If you ever hear about children starving and evil raging around the world, and your spirit groans, let this song be your cry.
Let me be honest: I don't cry easily. Partway through "Chase Away My Unbelief" I did begin to cry with the Gilles' over their loss and was provoked to cry out to God concerning the brokenness all around and in my own life and family and church. I think I have a lot more to cry over in my life that I have been avoiding. This song is helping me do so. What a beautiful lament for our time. Listen below and follow along with the lyrics. Hear more and pre-order Parker's Mercy Brigade at KristenGilles.com.
"Chase Away My Unbelief"
Lord, when I think You’re far away
Returning silence for my prayer,
When I’m reminded of old doubts
That You still reign, or that You care,
Teach me how to doubt no more,
To know You’re found by those who seek,
And my emotions can deceive;
Chase away my unbelief.
In the face of deepest loss,
Blinded by my bitter tears,
Broken by what might have been,
A slave to things as they appear,
Then whisper peace into my soul
In midst of pain and piercing grief.
My own perspective’s incomplete.
Chase away my unbelief.
When I suspect You’ve lost control
Or You’ve forsaken what You made,
When children starve both near and far
And love has wilted under hate,
Remind me of Your promises:
A kingdom full of life and peace!
Help me to trust eternity.
Lord, chase away my unbelief.
Cause my emotions can deceive ...
My own perspective’s incomplete ...
Help me to trust eternity,
Lord, chase away my unbelief.
- Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness
- Phantogram: Voices
- Lost in the Trees: Past Life
- Beck: Morning Phase
Cheap, Good Music
- Shearwater: Fellow Travelers ($5)
- Water Liars: Wyoming ($5)
- Lost in the Trees: All Alone In An Empty House ($5)
- Built To Spill: Keep It Like A Secret ($5)
- Drive-By Truckers: The Dirty South ($5)
- The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient ($5)
- Youth Lagoon: Wondrous Bughouse ($5)
- Dave Brubeck: Time Out ($5)
- Arctic Monkeys: AM ($6.99) - drop in price, outstanding album
- Green Day: Dookie ($5)
- James Taylor: Greatest Hits ($3.99)
- Death Cab For Cutie: Plans ($3.99)
- Father, Son, & Holy Spirit by Bruce Ware ($1.99)
- Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper ($2.99)
- Speaking Truth In Love by David Powlison ($2.51)
- The Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler ($4.99)
- Transformational Church by Ed Stetzer & Thom Rainer ($0.99)
- Five Views on Law & Gospel ($3.99)
- Counseling in Hard Cases by Stuart Scott & Heath Lambert ($2.99)
- The Gospel-Driven Life by Michael Horton ($3.49)
- HCSB Study Bible ($2.99)
- Seeing the Unseen by Randy Alcorn ($2.99)
- 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth ($2.99)
Preaching the Word Series ($2.99 each)
I'm gonna watch this more than once. A popular street drummer on Pitt St. in Australia.
It looks like he goes by Gordo Drummer on YouTube. Here's one he posted...
I saw Dale Watson by accident one night on Austin City Limits and he started with this song. I can't not share it. This isn't from that performance, but it's pretty hard to mess up this song. It may be the greatest song of all time.
The Gospel Coalition published my review of In Search of Deep Faith (Amazon|Kindle) by Jim Belcher. It's one of the best books I've read in some time, mostly because it wasn't just trying to tell me something. It took me somewhere. My family and I have started to read it aloud together and it's changing the way we think about God and what He is doing with us. Here's a couple of paragraphs from the opening of my review. Please go read the whole review. I encourage you to pick up this book.
After reviewing Jim Belcher’s first book in 2009, Deep Church, I was eager to get my hands on In Search of Deep Faith. I’m thankful for the opportunity to offer a review, as this book deserves a wide audience.
I’ve been a pastor for the past 10 years and have a wife and four children. Belcher founded and pastored Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California, until he stepped out of ministry in 2010. He pastored there for 10 years. Jim is also married with four kids. There are obvious reasons for me to resonate with his story. Like this:
What I really needed was spiritual rest. I needed to take stock of my life, rediscover where I came from and where I may be going. I wanted to take a year to walk in the steps of my heroes, read their books again and marinate in their lives—go deeper into their stories and learn from them all over again. It was going to be like a pilgrimage, a time to spiritually and experientially connect with the places and people that had most influenced me. And, most importantly, to reconnect to God. (13)
This is the backdrop for a book about the Belcher family’s pilgrimage to some important places where faithful disciples who have gone before us have lived and served. Some of them suffered, and all of them died with deep faith in God. You don’t need to be a pastor or have young kids to resonate with this pilgrimage. You just have to be a disciple in search of the same deep faith.
Please go and finish reading my review. I'm very thankful for this book.
Race, Religion, Puritans: An Interview With Richard Bailey | Richard is a good friend and author of Race and Redemption in Puritan New England (Kindle). A sample...
Moore: It is not well known that Jonathan Edwards owned slaves. How should we think of Edwards in light of this reality?
Bailey: I am not 100% certain how to answer this question, David. I am glad that this fact about Edwards is becoming more commonly known and I am glad that my book can have something to do with that fact.
But how to think of Edwards? Well, Jonathan Edwards is certainly more than simply a slave owner. He is an important figure in the development of American evangelicalism and the modern missions movement. He is one of America’s most prominent philosophers and theologians. He certainly ought to be remembered for those sorts of legacies. But he also was a purchaser of human flesh. He actively defended and participated in the slave trade. And I’d argue he must be remembered for that, as well. I think that is what it means to take on the virtual amnesias of our pasts.
The one way I would encourage people NOT to think of Jonathan Edwards is as “a man of his time.” That sort of phrase doesn’t really mean anything; rather, it is a way of not thinking about Edwards. And I hope people will continue to think about him, relying of the historical work of George Marsden in Jonathan Edwards: A Life (Yale University Press, 2003) or the recent novel by Susan Stinson, Spider in a Tree (Small Beer Press, 2013) to get a more complete picture not only of the man, but also of the society and culture of which he was a part.
The Seven Benefits of Keeping a Daily Journal by Michael Hyatt | I don't do this but this makes me want to do something like this. Here are his points, but he elaborates on each and offers a lot more context on his website. Be sure to read the whole thing.
- Process previous events.
- Clarify my thinking.
- Understand the context.
- Notice my feelings.
- Connect with my heart.
- Record significant lessons.
- Ask important questions.
Every so often an album comes along that reminds me why I search for good music far beyond what's on the radio and being advertised. I want music that makes me think and feel. I want music that makes me search through the lyrics to dig in deeper. I want hints at the backstory of the life of the songwriter, someone who writes out of their own experience. Those albums are great albums.
Bad Debt is the almost-new album by Hiss Golden Messenger (M.C. Taylor) and it's right in the sweet spot of that kind of greatness. Taylor recorded these songs at his kitchen table while his family, including his firstborn son, was sleeping in the winter of 2009. The original release of the album didn't last long after the CD stock was destroyed in the 2010 London riots.
Now given a proper release, we get to hear this remarkable album. It's just a man, his guitar, and his songs. Lo-fi. Simple. Oh so simple. You feel like you are sitting on the other side of a narrow room listening to songs that were written long ago and have never been so relevant. I encourage you to pick it up and sit under their spell.
Reviews worth reading --> Pitchfork 8.2/10 - "an album deeply concerned with the nature of faith and man’s relationship with his Maker" | Paste 8.6/10 - "just fundamentally phenomenal" | Slant 4/5 - "utterly ageless, like a surviving relic from time immemorial"
I was around Dr. Albert Mohler as a student not too long after he lead a massive turnaround at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. What he accomplished and the stories I heard from his lips and the stories I've heard for many others ring in my ears on the days I need to remember that things can change, that God can change things, and that He calls us to lead change. Because of that, I want to recommend to you his book The Conviction to Lead. It's $4.99 for Kindle right now.