Monday, May 29, 2017

5 Great Books for Summer Reading

Its summer time (finally!) and that means reading. Here are five books I have read recently that I think would be great books to devour this summer in no particular order.

1. The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax

In this fascinating book, David Sax chronicles the rise (or revenge) of analog "technology" in light of the dominance of the digital revolution. Although most listen to their music digitally through streaming services and mp3 players, Sax unfolds the rise of classic records as a growing preference for many buyers. Likewise, real books, as opposed to eBooks, are making a comeback as is film, in person education, and host of other classic analog technologies.

The author explores more than just the economic trends but the reason behind them. Why would anyone bypass the convenience of digital photos and Pandora in favor of classic options? Perhaps the reader can already think of a few, but Sax provides a more complete list as the story unfolds.

This is a fascinating read for the twenty-first century.

2. Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad by Peter Bergen 

A few short years ago, the decade long hunt for the most wanted man in American history came to an end when Osama bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six in Pakistan. The search for bin Laden is a fascinating tale and Bergen tells it better than anyone. This volume illustrates my firm belief that non-fiction told well is better than even the best fiction.

3. American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church by Alex Beam

There is no more fascinating religious figure in American history than Joseph Smith. Beloved by his followers and despised by his detractors. Smith was either a prophet or a fraud. In this volume, Alex Beam chronicles his final years climaxing in his death. This is not a work of hagiography nor is it a work whose motive is to take down the LDS church. It is rather a work of history. No doubt Smith's followers will not like much of the story (especially his chapter on polygamy), but he is fair throughout.

4. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton 

This year marks the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The dominant figure was German theologian Martin Luther. The best biography of him is Roland Bainton's volume. You cannot let the year go by without indulging in Reformation theology and biography.

5. Clear Winter Nights: A Journey into Truth, Doubt, and What Comes After by Trevin Wax

If your a fiction reader (and I hope you are) here is a short story from one of my favorite writers that deserves more attention. In this story we meet a young man struggling with a crisis of faith. Through the influence of his widower grandfather (who is also a pastor), he slowly finds his way back to Christ. I hope Wax returns to fiction in the future.

All Around the Web - May 29, 2017

Crux - Justice Alito warns seminarians religious liberty is in danger

Desiring God - One Essential Oil

Desiring God - The Most Marginalized Minority: Welcoming the Disabled to Worship

Barna - Who Are the Lonely in America?

Gospel Coalition - Embryos Are Too Important to Be Made into Jewelry

Washington Post - A Chinese student praised the ‘fresh air of free speech’ at a U.S. college. Then came the backlash.

Crossway - How God Saved David Powlison from Destroying Himself

Sean McDowell - What is the Core Reason Kids Leave the Faith?

BBC - Church of Scotland expected to back same-sex marriage

eMarketer - US Adults Now Spend 12 Hours 7 Minutes a Day Consuming Media

Babylon Bee - 23 Christian Movies That NEED To Be Made

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Little Known Masterpiece: "Leaf by Niggle" by JRR Tolkien

Tucked away in the short book Tree and Leaf, by J. R. R. Tolkien is a short-story written by the Middle-Earth creator entitled Leaf by Niggle. The story, on the surface, is without much action, adventure, and depth. Yet upon further exploration, one will find that it is a parable of Tolkien's understanding of fantasy and what he sought to accomplish in Middle-earth. The key is to see that Niggle sought to create the perfect painting of the tree only to discover the real thing later on. That is the goal of good fantasy and that is what makes Narnia and Middle-earth so rich. They are more than mere stories about hobbits and fauns, but create in us a longing for something deeper, something more real.

You can listen to a dramatized version of the story below. You can read a pdf of it online here.

All Around the Web - May 26, 2017

Trevin Wax - One Way to Encounter the Great Writers in Church History

WORLD  - A costly closure

Prince on Preaching - Don’t Waste Your Life Following Your Passion

Chuck Lawless - 10 Ways to Improve Your Ministry Today

Evangelical History - Why and How John Piper Does Biography

Jason K. Allen - Don’t Waste Your Vacation: Nine Ways to Optimize Time Away

Pastor's Today - 4 Keys to Finishing Strong in Ministry

Thom Rainer - Five Steps to Respond to a Hurtful and Hateful Email

The Blaze - Saying ‘sex-reassignment surgery’ is apparently out. New PC term is ‘gender-confirmation surgery.’

Narnia Fans - The Silver Chair is the start of a new Narnia Trilogy

Babylon Bee - The Bee Explains: Calvinism Vs. Arminianism

Thursday, May 25, 2017

10 Ways to Irritate Your Child

One common criticism of John MacArthur's preaching is his lack of direct application. He is largely aware of this and admits as much. His understanding of preaching is to error on explaining the text and allow the Spirit to apply it to the hearer's life. I understand the logic but strongly disagree with it. Not only do many of his sermons sound like running commentaries but it does not mirror the pattern we see in the New Testament. Nevertheless, there are numerous examples of MacArthur applying the biblical text to his congregation. One of the best examples comes from his sermon on Colossians 3:20-4:1. In verse 21, Paul warns parents not to irritate, provoke, or exacerbate their children. In his sermon on this text, John MacArthur offers the following 10 ways to provoke a child.
1. Overprotection. I hear the "Amen" corner over here really going at it. A couple of overprotected people over here. Overprotection. No trust. All rules. All deprivation. You never ever allow them any liberty. You draw the lines so narrow and the boxes are so closed that they soon feel that you do not believe in them. You do not trust in them. No matter what they do to earn that trust, they never experience that trust. Consequently, they give up and say, "What's the difference anyway?" Then you've got that seething rebellion. You can really irritate your children by overprotecting them. Give them a sense of trust. You don't have to cover every single detail of every single thing they've ever done. well, what did you do? What did you do after that? Well, then where did you go? Well, when you got back from there, where did you go? Why did you go over there? let them live. You know, when they're born, they're born with an umbilical cord and they're connected. And from then on, their whole life, you're just letting it out. And it ought to sometime be cut and the kid ought to be so far out that he doesn't even know he's not connected anymore, it's just so natural.

2. Favoritism. The second way you can really irritate your children is by favoritism. Make sure you always compare them with the other kids in the family who do better than they do. Why can't you be Like Albert? He always does his homework. It's very irritating for a child to be less than an individual. It's very irritating for the child to be a lemon on the assembly line. Favoritism. Favoritism means you constantly compare the child with the other child.

3. Depreciating his worth. A third way you can irritate your child is by depreciating his worth. One good way to really depreciate his worth is whenever you have company, have him eat in the kitchen. That'll really let him know that he just really isn't worth having around anything important. or else, when he comes in and has something to say, you say, "Hush up and go back an the den. Go to your roan." And then you get the autistic kind of child who finally tries to communicate and gives up and so then he can't communicate at all and he won't. And then you get that ultimate kind of autistic person who doesn't say anything anytime, because he never did get listened to when he tried to. We were talking about this with Howard Hendricks when we were back at the conference last weekend, you know. And he was saying, "Look -- if you come to my house for dinner, you've got to get ready. They're all going to be there, staring you right in the eye. The whole bunch. When we have Company, the kids are all there, looking right dawn your throat." Because they're part of our family. They have every right to be a part. Don't depreciate their worth. Don't tell them to shut up and go to bed. There are boundaries -- yes.

4. Discouragement. A fourth way you can irritate your child is by discouragement. Don It ever -reward him for anything. Make sure that he never feels like he's succeeded. I know a girl that killed herself for that reason, because no matter what she did, it was never enough. No matter what her grades were, it was never enough. No matter how well she did, it was never enough, let's face it. A parent who feels that way about a child is trying to get a child to he something the parent never was. That's not fair. And this girl couldn't handle it, so she killed herself. That's sad. Discouragement -- no rewards, no honors.

5. No affection demonstrated. Another good way to irritate your child is never demonstrate any affection for him. Don't ever go out of your way to love him or hug him or kiss him or pick him up...squeeze her or be gentle or thoughtful in a physically affectionate way. Very, very discouraging. So if you want to discourage your child, don't reward your child, don't honor your child, and never demonstrate any love or affection. So the child just begins to feel totally alienated, totally unacceptable, can't do anything right, isn't worthy of your love, isn't worthy of your affection -- he gets very, very discouraged.'

6. Not providing his needs. Another thing - this is kind of practical. You can irritate your child by not providing his needs. You know what a child's needs are? Believe it or not, in our society, do you know what a child needs? A room. Yes, he does. He needs a room, a little privacy. That would be good. Now, you can overcome that, maybe your economics don't make it possible for every single child to have his own domain, but provide some place for him. Your child needs a place to play and if it can't be at your place, then take him to the park, because he or she needs a place to play. Another thing is clean clothes. That's a good thing to provide your children. And when they get a little older, somewhere to study - you know, I think that one of the reasons that some children never do well in school is because they don't know where to land when they some home. They sit down at a table and you say, "What are you doing in here with that homework?" "Get out of here and go to your room." And they go to their roan and they get backaches from sitting five minutes on their bed, because there's no where to sit. Provide some place for them to study. Another thing is to give them something that belongs to them -- whatever itis. Another thing is to feed them good meals. Let them know that you've prepared something special just for them. These little practical things, where a child begins to know that you are concerned about him and about her as a person.

7. Lack of standards. On the other hand, you can irritate a child by a lack of standards. You know, there are children and young people, and when I use the word child, I mean anybody who is still in the home, but you can really irritate your young people by not giving them any rules. Because then they are totally left on their own and they can't handle that kind of liberty and they are constantly getting into problems that they really can't cope with. Cross some lines; make some fences.

8. Criticism. Another way to irritate your children is by criticism. A well-known doctor, Dr. (Haim Geno) says this: "The child who lives with criticism does not learn responsibility. He learns only to condemn himself and find fault with others. He learns to doubt his own judgment, disparage his own ability, distrust everybody. Above all, he learns to live with continual expectation of impending doom." End quote. Now that is no way to live. Criticism. Don't irritate your child with criticism. Create a positive environment, an uplifting, up building one.

9. Neglect. And then I think another way to irritate a child is by neglect. You know what a classic illustration of that is? Absalom. Absalom was a tragic young man, who tried to kill his own father, David. And Absalom is a classic illustration of a son who was neglected by a father. You can really irritate your child by indifference, neglect. Play with your children.

10. Over-discipline. And then, of course, and this is the last one I'll mention, you can really irritate your child by over-discipline. This is where your discipline is hurtful, you know, when you haul off and really hurt them. Or it can be when you just scream at them all the time, or holler at them or yell at them, or shut them in their rooms. Or you're actually some people even discipline their children in a show of their superior strength, if you can believe it. You talk about battered children, or whatever. But the idea is that of over-disciplining children. You can do it by yelling and screaming at them for every single thing they do. You know, they can knock -- this happens all the tine -- bang! Over goes the milk at the table. You stupid... Or you can say, "Well, here we go again. Laugh about it. You can over-discipline them. I man, he didn't do it on purpose. You can over-discipline them by actually using your brute strength to show your superior power over your child. I've often thought that we say things to our children we'd never say to anybody else, don't we? Don't ever discipline them in anger.