You ever have to pretend you are happy to be somewhere you don't want to be? Tyler Hansbrough apparently doesn't have a game face, and doesn't want to be playing basketball in Toronto...
"Engage the South" is conference cosponsored by Acts 29, Beeson Divinity School, and the Gospel Coalition. It's September 24th at the Wright Center at Samford University in Birmingham.
The question they are asking is "what kind of churches does the South need?"
Here are the sessions...
Maybe the most important thing ever said about Independence Day... ;)
You need summer music. Summer music doesn't have to mean listening to something either super poppy or power-fun. You can find fun, power, and thoughtfulness at the same time. You can listen to fun summer music with huge, retro hooks that also is on an album that will stand the test of time.
My favorite album of the year that sounds best on a hot, sunny day with the windows of the car down and the radio turned up is Mikal Cronin's MCII. And it's only $6.99. I think you are gonna love this one.
Sigur Ros: Kveikur | A band that is doing their own thing and doing it extremely well.
This album is meant to fill your room. It's darker. "Close your eyes and feel the terrible greatness of nature swallow you up." And it's on sale this week!
My list would look a little different than this, but Molly and I got married young, had kids young, and we love to encourage others to do the same.
A video, but more importantly a nice outline of what Keller says.
Go read more on Justin's four points:
- Read Slowly
- Read a lot
- Write to think
- Write and rewrite
Another month of good, cheap music. Here are the albums I recommend from Amazon's $5 albums for June.
Stephen King wrote one of my favorite books on writing called On Writing. His take on adverbs clearly has stuck with me. He has also written a popular book here or there. Terry Gross' interview of King on Fresh Air yesterday was really good, including a bunch of quotes worth checking out. Here's a great example. You should go listen to the whole thing.
I choose to believe it. ... I mean, there's no downside to that. If you say, 'Well, OK, I don't believe in God. There's no evidence of God,' then you're missing the stars in the sky and you're missing the sunrises and sunsets and you're missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design. But, at the same time, there's a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, 'Well, if this is God's plan, it's very peculiar,' and you have to wonder about that guy's personality — the big guy's personality. And the thing is — I may have told you last time that I believe in God — what I'm saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts and I refuse to be pinned down to something that I said 10 or 12 years ago. I'm totally inconsistent.
The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, what about the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us first class children of God! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, with everyone doing his own part; if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of meeting: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good! We shall meet there.
Here's an attempt by Catholics to defend his remarks. Do you agree? I'd love to hear from my Catholic friends on this.
I'm preaching on the parables of Jesus over the summer. Here are some key books I'm using...
Very excited about Jerram Barrs' new book, Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts.
Been looking forward to it for a while, on an important topic that I think Barrs is well-equipped to tackle. Barrs was formerly involved for 18 yeas with Francis Schaeffer and L'Abri. Now he teaches at Covenant Theological Seminary and is Resident Scholar at the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute
You can get Echoes of Eden now at Amazon (Kindle), WTS, and amazingly for $2 you can get the eBook from Crossway!
Delusions of Adequacy: "The National are such a powerfully gifted band, they need no theatrics to deliver an absolutely stone-cold beast of an album. With the music that is on here there is yet another thirteen songs to savor and salivate over until the next batch of songs comes about."
The Telegraph: "Their return should be heralded from on high, because it is the boldest, smartest, most colourful and purely pleasurable dance album of this decade."
My friend, Darryl Dash, attends a study group for pastors that I've known about for a while and is a great idea. Here's a blurb...
Every May I gather with a group of pastors from Monday to Friday. The agenda is simple: to work through a book of the Bible together as we think about preaching it. Every year we bring in a different scholar who has written a commentary on that book. We also have our former preaching professor (Haddon Robinson) help us think through how to preach that book.
We've had Bruce Waltke, George Guthrie, Douglas Moo, Daniel Block, and more. This week we've had D.A. Carson. It's hard to beat. I've been to a lot of conferences, but this by far is my favorite learning event of the year.
You should start one too.
Darryl goes on to explain how a study group can be started and run. You should check it out.
Tim Keller, through the lens of what he's learned from John Newton, thinks about how we deal with character flaws.
The final result of all this is that people cannot see their sins because they are looking only at their virtues. ...Christians do not work on the supernatural graces of the spirit that are not natural to us, and that mitigate or eliminate the dark side—the besetting sins—of our nature.
So how can we be shaken out of our lethargy and awakened to our need to grow? Here are some principles that I have gleaned from Newton’s letters over the years.
1. Know that your worst character flaws are the ones you can see the least.
2. Remember that you can’t learn about your biggest flaws just by being told—you must be shown.
3. Be willing to listen to correction and critique from others.
You should be checking out Vampire Weekend's new album, Modern Vampires of the City, streaming free on iTunes. It's out tomorrow and I will be buying it.
The Handsome Family: Wilderness is an enjoyable listen. Stream it free. Soothing.
Still $5, but ending today, is Deerhunter: Monomania. I picked it up and really dig it. All Deerhunter stuff is excellent.
Do check out the $5 albums for May, including some of the best albums I own.
If you haven't heard of Colin Stetson, and most of you probably haven't, check this out. He plays for Bon Iver, but this is from his album New History Warfare Vol 3: To See More Light. Stick with it. Quite interesting. He does circular breathing, has a mic on his throat, a mic for percussion on his sax, and more. Wowzers.
I've been using the Cinch wallet for a few months now, and it's easily the best wallet I've owned.
There are three different options, two wood and one steel. I have the darker wood wallet. I figured I'd like the steel backbone better as it's thinner, but I think I'd rather choose a wood one because I can keep it in the same front pocket with my phone and don't have to worry about the wood scratching the screen. Love that aspect.
I keep credit cards, licence, insurance card, money, etc in my Cinch and I almost forget it's in my pocket. I highly recommend it. From the website...
Are you looking to trade in that overly stuffed and morbidly obese pain in the back wallet for an easy everyday carry? For all you minimalist lovers who believe less is more, we have the remedy! Birth out of a need (good-bye money clips, broccoli rubber bands and bulky wallets) we are proud to introduce you to CINCH; an American crafted, industrial style, minimalist wallet that simplifies your life and your pockets. Let the battle against the bulge begin!
Joshua Elsom wrote a nice piece that you need to read: "Open-Air Preaching and the Missional Church." A blurb from the beginning...
The combining of the words ‘open-air’ with the word ‘preaching’ is likely to elicit a wide range of images and opinions in the mind of the person reading them. For some they bring to mind the great evangelists of the explosive revivals of the eighteenth century — Wesley, Whitefield, Tennent, and Edwards; or the prophets of the Old and New Testaments — Jeremiah, Isaiah, Peter, and Paul. While for others, these words conjure up negative images of angry street heralds, with sandwich boards strung over their shoulders, thundering down threatenings of heaven upon all who would wander unawares into their field of preaching. Whatever one happens to think about, few typically associate the practice of preaching in the public square with the missional church movement. Because the missional church places such a high priority on practicing evangelism in the context of ongoing discipleship — on mission and in community — the thought of preaching to strangers who are dissociated from church or discipling relationships may seem at first to be counterintuitive. It should not be.
Check out all my open-air preaching posts and quotes.
The Good Book Company has a growing list of solid books coming out lately. I want to recommend you check out a recent release: Serving Without Sinking by John Hindley. A blurb from the first chapter...
...this book isn't primarily about our service. It's mainly about Jesus Christ, and about His service. He said that He "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10 v 45). He meant it. He was taken, beaten, tried, mocked, nailed, hung, cursed, judged, killed. He served. He loved.
So Jesus does not want you to measure your life by your service of Him. He does not want your service to get in the way of your love for Him. He did not come to be served by you--He came to serve you.
If we grasp this, then we will be set free to enjoy His love. And then, oddly, we will also be free to serve Him longer, harder, braver, truer than we ever could otherwise. This is joy, and we'll only find it in Christ.
This Huffington Post article by an anonymous writer is one of the most brutal examples of what a lot of parents think but don't say out loud. Here's how "My Wife Is Expecting Twins and I Am Not Happy About It" opens...
I've been doing some spying lately, casually asking friends and acquaintances about their experiences with having twins.
A buddy from college said of the first year: "Think of the worst thing you can imagine. That's what it was like."
An industry contact back from maternity leave said: "I literally couldn't wait to get back to work. Every weekend is way too long."
A former colleague was more blunt: "Twins were always my worst nightmare."
And now it's my and my wife's nightmare; we're expecting twins this August.
Read the rest. It's heartbreaking.
When I was in high school I worked in landscaping: trimming hedges, mowing lawns, planting trees, hooking up decorative fountains and surrounding it with decorative rock. It was hard work, but something I enjoyed as a young man. And it provided me with a killer tan.
The owner of the business lived on a farm that had a well. This wasn’t a bucket on a rope well; it was equipped with a pump. And if you’ve ever pumped water from a well you know that the pump never works right away. You have to “prime the pump” by cranking the lever a few times. A pump that hasn’t been used for a while is full of air from the pump down closer to water level. It takes a couple of pumps on the handle for the water to fill the tube that delivers it above ground. It’s those first couple of pumps that bring the water to ground level and to usefulness.
As missionaries and evangelists for the supplier of living water, we have to prime the pump in our own hearts so that we are ready to tell all of our King. We need Gospel-readiness and Spirit-reliance right there at ground level. We need to battle with sin and push back against apathy. Evangelism is one of those things that takes God-confidence, courage, and risk. We need a heart that has been primed through dying to self, a reoriented life, a renewed mind, fixing our eyes on Jesus, filled with His Spirit, meditating on His Word, loving Him with all our strength.
Too often we haven’t prayed as we should and wrestled with our fleeting emotions, doubts, and timidity. We haven’t developed a state of readiness and anticipation. We won’t dispense living water efficiently and effectively unless we prime the pump of our hearts, remembering who God is, what God has done, who we are, and what God has called us to do. We need daily motivation for Gospel-readiness.
When we drink from the stream of living water at the outset of our day, and throughout our day, we’ve already brought it to ground level and are ready to point others to it. We will not only find our thirst quenched, but we will be motivated by our own satisfaction in Jesus Christ to help others to quench their thirst.
What do you do to prime the pump for evangelism? What resources do you use other than Scripture?
I'm listening to Daniel Renstrom's new album, Jesus Wants My Heart. It's a family worship album of songs that kids and parents will both enjoy. enjoy singing together. I can tell you that right off the bat I was singing along. A wonderful balance of Gospel and theology in song.
Here are five things Daniel hopes this album will do. Go Read more at Daniel's blog.
There are songs Renstrom wrote and some hymns. I think you will love it.
Joe Thorn & I got to hang out with Greg Thornbury, our friend and author of Recovering Classic Evangelicalism (also Kindle | WTS), just before this interview with John Wilson, the editor of Books & Culture. A good, short discussion on evangelicalism and Carl Henry and "swagger." I hope many read this book. (via Crossway)
A bunch of C.S. Lewis books are cheap for your Kindle...
If I told you that in a small building, in a major metropolitan city, within a state of these United States of America there were over 100 children born into this world and then summarily executed, would you expect there to be a national outcry? Would you expect that there would be candle vigils outside this ghastly and horrific place? Would you expect that our President would call a press conference and ask the nation to be in prayer? Would you expect this to be the subject of discussion over the water cooler at work? Would you expect it to be the main story on the nightly news, the front cover of your daily newspaper, the lead story on NPR, and the subject of call-in talk radio shows? If you would expect this, then your expectations would be unrealized. Our country is in the midst of a national crisis, a crisis of conscience, a crisis of avoidance, and a crisis of morality. And the response is deafening silence.
Read more at Kevin DeYoung's blog from guest blogger Jason Helopoulos
If you haven't seen them yet, here are some albums you need to check out that are only $5 right now!
Iron & Wine: Ghost on Ghost | Whoa. A whole different sound. Interested in your feedback.
The Flaming Lips: The Terror | "Sounding almost post-apocalyptic in its scabrous, searching bleakness — Coyne himself describes the album as "disturbing"..." Yikes.
The Shouting Matches: Grownass Man | Includes Justin Vernon of Bon Iver playing mostly falsetto-less blues-rock. I hear Wilco, Black Keys, & other flavors here. This isn't your hipsters' Justin Vernon. And it may be impossible for this to have been recorded in a rural cabin. Check it out.
The Knife: Shaking the Habitual | One of my favorite, creepy, beat-centric bands. Get ready for quirk.
Some fantastic books are cheap on Kindle right now...
I love Makoto Fujimura's art and reading his thoughts on art, in his book Refractions and elsewhere. Mako lists and gives some comment on his five favorite books on creativity at Christianity Today. Read his comments each book there, but here's his list...
It's here again! Always look forward to National Poetry Month (NPM). It's a good yearly reminder to consider our words and make the most of them. May our words be pregnant with meaning! It's a good reminder to see the world thorugh a poet's eyes. In a world of abbreviations, texting, and Twitter we would do good to say more with less. And it would be good in the hustle of life to slow down and digest something beautiful in slow meditation, seeing every word in its place and with its purpose.
Who are some poets you like? It's ok if you don't know the book sort. What songwriters do you like?
In Tim Keller's excellent expository guide to Galatians says there are four kinds of people concerning works & the law. I'll give you his categories with a very short explanation. Check out Galatians For You (Amazon, Kindle, WTS) starting on page 117 for a fuller explanation.
Jonathan Dodson's new book is out, and it's free, and it's just in time for Easter: Raised?: Doubting the Resurrection. As you go download it for Kindle, iBooks, or as a PDF (or all three, like I did)...comment and share your favorite books on the resurrection.
If the church leaders say to people, "Living on mission in our city is vital," yet they rarely if ever offer opportunities for people to serve the city, then a chasm exists between how the leaders see the church and how others see her.
Several significant albums released today. I wanted to point out the ones I recommend you check out. There are even more than these I'm checking out but don't know well enough to recommend for you. This week I'm struggling to choose which to buy. I want all of these, and maybe a couple more. A good problem to have!
Justin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience | Before you roll your eyes, Pitchfork gives it 8.4/10. I think JT has been making some of the best, coolest, most fun pop music around...and that was 7 years ago. Now finally with a new album, we get one of the most interesting, engaging, funny, and talented performers of our time with fresh lungs and sounds. Enjoy!
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Specter at the Feast | $5 right now. A bit of return to form to earlier albums I really loved. Paste: 8/10. I think this is a band often overlooked and who should have a wider appeal.
Anais Mitchell & Jefferson Hamer: Child Ballads | Not "ballads for children," but Celtic & British ballads compiled by Francis James Child. You'll struggle to find an album more thoroughly beautiful this week.
Stornoway: Tales from Terra Firma | Wonderful acoustic, folksy sounds. Very interested in this one.
Woodkid: The Golden Age | Fascinating sounds, from haunting vocals and to a visual quality to the music. It's engaging. Reminds me of Antony & the Johnsons as well as my album of the year a couple of years ago, The Poison Tree.
Les Miserables Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) | If you can't stop singing it (see: my wife and daughter), this 42 track double album is the whole dealio. A must for lovers of the film/musical.