Jacob Hantla's Attempt to "Think about these things"

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I'm Currently Reading

Reading a book does not imply that I agree with the books, condone it, like it, or recommend it. Keep visiting the site, as I hope to publish reviews of my readings along with select quotes from each book as I finish it and digest its contents.

Gospel and Mission in th Writings of Paul

Spiritual Reformation

A Practical Grammar For Classical Hebrew

Whiter Than Snow

Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept

Toward an Exegetical Theology

Spiritual Depression: It's Causes and Cure

A Theology of the New Testament

New Testament Introduction

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Why I blog

I need to write. If I don’t write, I don’t think that I think--at least not thoroughly. Thus this blog is simply an outlet for me to think. My goal is to be thinking about those things and only those things that are in line with Philippians 4:8.

Review: Is Christianity Good For the World by Hitchens & Wilson

Christopher Hitchens, an outspoken atheist and anti-theist, entered into a written debate with the witty pastor and theologian, Douglas Wilson. The debate was sponsored by Christianity Today. The assigned topic of debate was “Is Christianity good for the world?

Hitchens argues the negative, proposing that Christianity (or any other religion) is not necessary for morality and that a great deal of evil is regularly perpetrated in the name of God. Furthermore, a God like the God of the Bible is nothing more, Hitchens says, than a praise-hungry tyrant who uses and abuses people to accomplish whatever he wants. Douglas Wilson argues that Christianity is good because it is objectively true, changes peoples’ hearts for the better, and gives people at enmity with God a means to be reconciled to God. In each of the exchanges, he reveals the irrationality of Hitchens’ beliefs, in that Hitchens makes many moral judgments but has no objective moral standard to appeal to. He is arguing as if there is a God, while denying His existence. Hitchens was unable to give a response to this challenge. 

The full text of the debate is available on Christianity Today’s website and  has been compiled into the book Is Christianty Good for the World? by Canon Press. Each author is very articulate and a joy to read. At 72 well-written pages, it is easily a book that you could read in one sitting, and I recommend doing so, followed by a slower more thoughtful perusing. The content was superb.

In my opinion, this exchange is MUST reading for the Christian and atheist alike. This really exchange represented the clash of two absolutely opposing world systems and the foundations of each were revealed. Read the book slowly trying to understand each side’s position. Both men were respectful, but jabbingly witty, in the exchange. Wilson was careful to rearticulate each of Hitchens’ points and respond. Wilson was consistently on topic and attacked the heart of atheism, seeking to reveal both the irrationality of Hitchens’ beliefs as well as reveal his hatred toward God. Hitchens’, Wilson argues, is acting and arguing as if there is a God (who he hates), while denying His existence. Hitchens was consistent in his attacks against Christianity and religion. Wilson replied well to each of Hitchens’ points, while Hitchens, it seems, avoided answering Wilson’s main point.

I think this book should be mandatory reading for all Christian apologists as Wilson models how to argue in a way that honors God. He modeled 2 Tim 2:23-25 and 1 Peter 3:15 in his argumentation. Wilson argued in such a way that would not grant the atheist his presuppositions, consistently attempting to bring God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible to bear on the nonbeliever. He revealed that what the Bible says about the nonbeliever is true (knows God but refuses to honor Him as God – Rom 1:21). And Wilson offered Hitchens and the readers the solution, God’s mercy made available through Jesus’ death on the cross. Wilson went toe-to-toe with one of the best atheistic minds in the world today, and God’s Word was demonstrated to be sufficient.

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: How Does God Relate To You Apart From Christ

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God is the text of a sermon that Jonathan Edwards preached to his congregation. I know of no author/preacher who is more consistently captivated by God's glory in his grace and love towards sinners, especially as manifested in the eternal joy in Him of heaven. But Edwards was also poignantly aware of the reality of hell. Hell is what we all deserve; God's eternal and infinite wrath is what we would be experiencing now and should experience for eternity if it were not in God's good pleasure to restrain Himself. God's glory in salvation and grace is made all the more glorious when his perfect and righteous wrath are manifested toward the vessels prepared for destruction. Edwards calls all hearers to recognize their powerlessness in the face of this God who is justly wrath-filled against them. Either rest secure in your position in Christ, where Christ has already absorbed this wrath and given us his righteousness securing eternity in heaven. Or be very afraid, be convicted by sin when you see just how horrible it is that a perfect God would punish it so, repent/turn, and trust in God to cleanse you from that sin, both its guilt and its power. This is an excellent sermon that I had not read in quite some time and am resolved to return to regularly. No matter who you are, you must know of the true God, both his justice and mercy.
Max McLean has an excellent recording of the sermon as well.

Biblical Productivity by CJ Mahaney

C.J. Mahaney's complete Biblical Productivity series is all indexed and available at his blog. This series benefited me greatly as it was being written, and I look forward to reviewing it.

My Heart Must Be Affected

I just started reading Edwards' "Treatise Concerning Religious Affections" and this paragraph summarizes well the reasons why I must never be content to leave my heart and affections unaffected when confronted with the things of God:

 "Nothing is more manifest in fact, than that the things of religion take hold of men’s souls, no further than they affect them. There are multitudes that often hear the word of God, and therein hear of those things that are infinitely great and important, and that most nearly concern them, and all that is heard seems to be wholly ineffectual upon them, and to make no alteration in their disposition or behavior; and the reason is, they are not affected with what they hear. There are many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, his almighty power and boundless wisdom, his infinite majesty, and that holiness of God, by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity, and the heavens are not pure in his sight, and of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, and hear of the great works of God’s wisdom, power and goodness, wherein there appear the admirable manifestations of these perfections; they hear particularly of the unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of the great things that Christ has done and suffered, and of the great things of another world, of eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the enjoyment of his dear love; they also hear the peremptory commands of God, and his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of the gospel; I say, they often hear these things and yet remain as they were before, with no sensible alteration in them, either in heart or practice, because they are not affected with what they hear; and ever will be so till they are affected.—I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or conversation of any person, by anything of a religious nature, that ever he read, heard or saw, that had not his affections moved. Never was a natural man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation; never were any such brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for understanding, and to wrestle with God in prayer for mercy; and never was one humbled, and brought to the foot of God, from anything that ever he heard or imagined of his own unworthiness and deserving of God’s displeasure; nor was ever one induced to fly for refuge unto Christ, while his heart remained unaffected. Nor was there ever a saint awakened out of a cold, lifeless flame, or recovered from a declining state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from God, without having his heart affected. And in a word, there never was anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, that had not his heart deeply affected by those things."

Jonathan Edwards
A treatise concerning religious affections  (paperback, kindle, libronix, audiobook)

Free CD: Lampmode Grassroots

 

This morning, I was reminded of God's consuming holiness before which I could never hope to stand...apart from the cross. In an excellent devotional, I had the holiness of God expounded to me, making my heart feel the "horror of his splendor" and holiness. When I look at myself in the light of his holiness, I saw only sin, and then the devotional went on to teach me how I would be immediately destroyed like Nadab and Abihu or Uzzah if I came into contact with that holiness. "My eyes have seen the king and I'm an evil thing; woe is me for I am undone!" I cried out with the authors of this lesson. As they went on to describe God's holy attributes I wanted nothing but to be near that God, but because I'm not perfect I could never hope to stand in his presence. But then they taught, "Sin is odious; he deals severely with the lost. But friend his holiness [was] most clearly revealed at the cross. When He displayed Christ as a propitiation, to vindicate his name and show that He hates sin. His love is holy, no justice dismissed. Because His Son was crushed and suffered for this. So God can forgive sin because He finally punished it...Such an amazing display of love and grace, so we trust and praise Him who was raised for our justification."

For almost 6 minutes, Shai Linne and Timothy Brindle proclaim the holiness of God in just one of 7 amazing tracks on Lamp Mode recording's free cd: Grassroots EP. You need to head over to Lampmode and download the free tracks (or alternatively you can pay for higher quality tracks at Amazon, which I sorta recommend since these are only 96kbps mp3s). These guys continually serve me in ways that I formally knew only great books could, but in many ways it is done better, more memorably, and more engagingly than the books I have grown to love ever could. God has used these guys and many others within Lamp Mode and holy hip hop in general to stir my affections and passion for God.

Keywords: free_lampmode_shailinee_rap_hiphop

Defending a Baby's Murder. Will You Be Consistent?

A story of the callous murder of a newborn baby  should rightfully make you angry. An 18-year-old mother, Sycloria Williams, went into an clinic for an abortion; only she gave birth too early. While her cervix was dilating, the baby fetus came out before it could be killed aborted. So they snipped the umbilical cord, and threw it in a biohazard bag.

Even people who think of abortion as a right of mothers to be defended at all costs are horrified. "It really disturbed me," said the president of Broward County NOW. The mother's attorney states, "The baby was treated like a piece of garbage." 

We should be disturbed, angry, and we should resolve to stop this kind of murder.

But let me attempt a defense for the abortion clinic:

  1. The baby was not viable anyway. This argument rings hollow now, doesn't it? Yet it is this same argument that is used to justify millions of 1st and 2nd trimester abortions anually. Nevertheless, there is no substantial difference between this murder and an abortion.
  2. The mother chose: The mother did not want the baby. An 18-year-old would have a very difficult time caring for this child. The mother went into the clinic wanting the baby fetus killed aborted. She had a choice to make and she made it. Isn't this what we defend and use to justify millions of abortions anually? Yet, it somehow doesn't seem like a valid defense when the clinic worker is on the stand asking how he/she could toss a living child into a biohazard bag to die. Nevertheless, there is no substantial difference between this murder and an abortion.
  3. What's the difference?: There is no substantial difference between this murder and an abortion. There was almost no difference between what would have been legal abortion and then what would be deemed murder and grounds for imprisonment and loss of medical license.
    • The baby changed location. It was inside the mother and then outside the mother. Should this affect personhood? No, location should not affect personhoood.
    • The baby's source of oxygen. One moment, the baby received oxygen in the blood from the mother, the next through its lungs. Should this affect personhood? No, source of gas exchange should not affect personhood.
    • Status under the law. One moment the killing was legal as abortion. The next moment, the killing would be called murder. Should this affect personhood? No, legal status should not affect personhood.
    • Our ability to perceive life. One moment the baby's movements, facial expressions, and very being was concealed inside the mother's body. The next, it was out for all to see. Personhood is hard to admit when it stares you in the face. Yet, out-of-sight-out-of-mind affects many moral decisions that we make. Should this affect personhood? No, others' ability to see should not affect personhood.

So my defense rests. The abortion clinic was simply being consistent with what it always does. Its job is to kill unwanted babies. They know that there is no significant deference between a fetus and a baby. So the clinic was simply being consistent.

Prolifers who are angered by this murder are being consistent. We are outraged and grieved by abortions; we are outraged and grieved by murder.

Will you be consistent? When you read the story you should rightly be saddened for a mother whose child was killed, grieved at the loss of an innocent life, and angered at those who could so callously throw a baby out like a piece of trash. But will you be consistent? If these things concerned you, are you concerned about abortion? If not, I ask you, why?

Keywords: abortion

Desktop: My Grace Is Sufficient For You

Click image above to get full-size image

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Holy Hip Hop: The Musical Side of African American Revival

"I think that every revival of sorts has often been accompanied by musical revivals."

Thabiti Anyabwile speaks of God's use to bring a resurgence of God honoring, cross-centered theology particularly among America's African-American youth:

So if you are looking to get started with some of the best "Holy-Hip Hop" let me suggest the following albums in the following order:


The Atonement by Shai Linne

Killing Sin by Timothy Brindle


Rebel by LeCrae

Some others:

13 Letters by 116 Clique
Anything by iSix:5 (guys from my church)
20/20 by Trip Lee
Progression & Crucible by Curtis "Voice" Allen
The Solus Christus Project & Storiez by Shai Linne

Kill Off Everybody Who Doesn't Match the Correct Genetic Profile

Basically, because we can, people think it is right to make tons of embryos (very little undeveloped people: the definition of helpless) and then kill off all of the ones that don't fit the genetic profile.

Might does not make right.

B.B.C. reports today that another genetically handpicked-baby was born.

Dialogue of Rejected & Rejector

Paul says that as often as we eat the Lord's Supper, we proclaim the Lord's death. Let's listen in as Mark simply describes the awesomely horrific event that we remember and proclaim:

Mark describes the even simply in 15:24: "And they crucified him." Mocking yet accurate, a sign hung above his head that read "King of the Jews." And while God the Son to whom all of creation was made to bow hung naked pinned to the wood by nails in his hands and feet between two robbers, "those who passed by derided him" (Mk 15:29) and "the Chief priests and the scribes mocked him" (Mk 15:31). His closest friends had fled, Peter had denied him, and the people whom He had come to save flung words of hatred at him. The eternal and sinless God the Son body was tortured with the slow misery of suffocation and bloodless; the piercing pain of nails in bone and raw flesh making even a moment's rest impossible.

But Jesus doesn't question any of this suffering. Rather He is suffering a punishment far worse than any of these. Jesus had existed in perfect, joyful, unity with God the Father since eternity past. Yet now God the Father, more powerful than we could ever imagine, is pouring out every ounce of His wrath that I and every other person He would save were owed. God the Father was crushing Him; placing all the eternal suffering of Hell on Jesus as He hung there. And Jesus cries out in a loud voice, the Rejected toward the Rejector: "'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" (Mk 15:34)

What would God answer? Think about it for a second...what was God's answer? Shortly later, Jesus cries out in a loud voice Words that John records, "It is finished!" And then we see the Father's answer:

(Mk 15:38) "And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." The curtain that God tore once Jesus died was the 80-foot-tall curtain separating the Holy of Holies where God was from the rest of the temple. God was separate from the people. But God replied to Jesus question with this miraculous action: Jesus opened the way through the curtain to God. God tore the curtain to declare to us that Jesus' mission was successful: Man & God were now reconciled through the death of Christ.

That is the death we proclaim as we take the Lord's Supper.

it would not make sense for one to simultaneously proclaim that they do not need Jesus' death and to proclaim His death. We proclaim His death because we recognize there is no other way to God and we have trusted in Christ and Christ alone. Therefore, if you think you are a good person and trusting in your goodness to get you to God let the cup & bread pass. If you are a religious person trusting in your completion of relgious duties to get you to God, let the cup and bread pass. If you do not believe in God or if you do not believe in Hell and therefore do not believe that Jesus suffered Hell in your place let the bread and cup pass. If there is known sin in your life and you refuse to repent of it, let the bread and cup pass The reason that I have encouraged you to let it pass is because this time is for christian who trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But please, I beg you, repent even now, look to Christ and trust in Him. You can never do what He did in His atoning death, and why do you want to try? He has done it, trust it, and proclaim it with us.

Free Christmas Music: 25 Days of Free

Amazon.com is giving away a bunch of free Christmas music: Some of it junk, some it pretty good, all of it free!

Keywords: christmas,free,music

Review: Warchild by Emmanuel Jal; And How You Can Help

Born in Tonj, South Sudan in approximately 1980, all that Jal Jok (later renamed Emmanuel Jal) knew was civil war. By the time that most children around the world are learning to swing on monkey bars and play sports, he had seen family members raped and murdered, lost his father to an army position, survived a waterless & foodless trek across the desert, lived through life in a refugee camp, and entered war as gun-toting jenajesh. Short on manpower and wanting to equip and train the next generation, the SPLA army in Sudan trained children to fight in a brutal war that has ravaged Sudan for decades and claimed an entire generation. Warchild is the autobiography of one of those jenajesh, one of the lost boys of Sudan. It is the story of a boy trained to hate and kill, who found his way out of hatred to the God of his mother, Jesus, and learned to love. This transformation began Jal down a path of music culminating in international renown, as a hiphop artist pleading with his people and the world to help bring peace to his homeland in Sudan.

I could not put the book down, reading the entire thing in just three days, despite being a slow reader. The horrific reality of the day-to-day life and mostly death of Sudanese civil war and its effects on both the armies and civilians is clearly portrayed, not inappropriately or even for shock value, just clearly stated through the memory of a young child who lived it. It is probably too much for children to handle so be discerning; it is too much for adults to even get their arms around and you will find your emotions regularly overwhelmed. Genocide, war, statistics are all horribly abstract terms that don't affect my mind and don't affect my prayers and efforts as they should. Stories affect us. This story is one that should be told and it should affect us. This story is especially important to be told because it is one that represents millions whose stories we won't read. 

I highly recommend Warchild. You will not go away unaffected. I pray that Sudan would not be unaffected.
 
If you would like to help Sudan, I recommend directing your support to Sabet & Suzy Kuj and their clinic that they are running in same city where Jal was born. They work tirelessly to help the helpless along with Sabet's passion to train pastors to lead churches. You can find out more at their website, In Deed And Truth.

Keywords: review,sudan

Free New Sovereign Grace Album: How Sweet the Sound

Covenant Life Church (of Sovereign Grace Churches) recently had a hymn-sing night which was recorded. They have released it into an album called How Sweet the Sound and are giving it away free at noisetrade if you tell 5 friends about it. Use the widget below to get the album.

 

Keywords: free,music

Free Audiobook! Calvin: Of Prayer and the Christian Life

John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion is replete with teaching on prayer, and HovelAudio has excerpted many of these sections and recorded them into a four-and-a-half hour audiobook entitled Calvin: Of Prayer & the Christian Life. Listening to Calvin write about prayer will help you to pray and to understand and treasure prayer. It may also whet your appetite to read more of Calvin's Institutes, which is very readable. Best of all, IT'S FREE for the month of November. As you check out, enter the code NOV2008, and you can download it at no cost.

 

Keywords: audiobook,free

Before & After Photos...Putting Things in Perspective


The photo on the left? My daughter before birth.
The photo on the right? My daughter after birth.

What changed? Location, level of development, and type of dependence on her mother. And that is sufficient in the mind of one the two presidential candidates to justify the murder of the one on the left but not the one on the right.

Like my wife says in her brand new blog, abortion makes or breaks my vote. There are many important issues in this and every election, but none so important to elect a man who would vote consistently (100% of the time) to enable and further the murder of babies.

Keywords: abortion,elianna

New Book: Job by John Piper

Job by John Piper

Keywords: job,piper

FREE! Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

For a limited time, in celebration of Jonathan Edwards' 305th birthday, Logos is giving away the Libronix version of A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections for free. When you checkout, use the coupon code: EDWARDS to get it free.

While you're at it, you can pre-order the 2-Volume Works of Jonathan Edwards. You'll save money ordering it now rather than after it's available. Piper's God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards and A God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards are available for 40% off with the coupon code: PIPER-EDWARDS.

HT: Gons

Keywords: edwards,free,libronix,logos

Apologetics for the Glory of God by John Frame (Review)

I have read almost a dozen apologetics texts over the last year, and in my estimation, Apologetics for the Glory of God by John Frame should be the first book you read on the subject. Let John Frame guide you as you learn the particulars of apologetic argument from other apologists. John Frame describes what principles should be guiding the use of any evidence or line of reasoning as the apologist seeks to reason with the nonbelieving skeptic. Frame's apologetics would rightly be characterized as presuppositional in nature; he is not shy to be aligned with Cornelius Van Til. However, for those who think that a presuppositional apologetic eschews evidence, you will be pleasantly surprised. I recommend that any reader of Apologetics for the Glory of God get a copy of Frame's masterpiece Doctrine of the Knowledge of God as frequent reference is made to it and you will find ideas hinted at fully expounded in that larger volume. All of Frame's thinking is influenced by his tri-perspectival way of looking at things (which DKG goes into much detail), where he realizes the helpfulness of considering truth from different angles. His apologetics is no different; the perspectives into which he breaks the apologetic task (and the chapters of the book) are:

  1. Apologetics as Proof
  2. Apologetics as Defense
  3. Apologetics as Offense

Classical apologists seek to find commonground between the believer and the nonbeliever and work from there to convince the skeptic of the plausibility of existence of the God of the Bible; therefore, the classical apologist argues, the Bible is not the appropriate place to start in apologetic encounters. The presuppositionalist argues on the other hand, that the unbeliever is acting in rebellion to God as manifested by his desire to think autonomously and place himself as the ultimate criterion of truth. The apologist should not encourage this thinking; neither should the apologist adopt it. The skeptics basic heart commitment is that Jesus is not Lord; the apologists basic heart commitment is that Jesus is Lord. "Our argument must be an exhibit of that knowledge, that wisdom, which is based on the 'fear of the Lord,' not an exhibition of unbelieving foolishness. Therefore apologetic argument is no more neutral than any other human activity. In apologetic argument, as in everything else we do, we must presuppose the truth of God's Word....Even if neutrality were possible, that route would be forbidden to us" (p. 9).

There is no common ground apart from mutual knowledge of God of which Romans 1:19ff way. The thing that the apologist is most sure is true is that which God has told him in the Bible. Therefore, the apologists argument will be based on Scripture. Frame writes, "The preacher-apologist is to present the word...to expound it, to apply it to his hearers, to display its beauty, its truth, its rationality. [He] seeks to combat the unbeliever's false impressions and present to him the word as it really is. It is to this testimony that the Spirit also bears witness" (p. 17). This does not mean, however, that natural evidences or rational argumentation are out of line, just that they must be submitted to Scripture, "The obedient Christian apologist will show the unbeliever the various ways in which nature reveals God, without claiming neutrality and without allowing the use of non-Christian criteria of truth" (p. 25). The main attack against this line of reasoning is that it is circular; the teachings of the Bible are true because the Bible is true. We must recognize the truth of this statement but recognize that every system of thought is circular when it seeks to defend its ultimate presupposition: the Bible, reason/logic, sense-experience, relativism, or otherwise.

Frame spends the rest of the book working his presuppositional line of reasoning out as it relates to proving Christianity to be true, defending Christianity's truth, and attacking the irrationality of all other belief systems. Frame includes very little actual argumentation, with the exception of the problem of evil in the world. He admits this. His goal in this book is to provide the framework into which all other arguments or lines of reasoning will fit, and he does so masterfully. It is for this reason that I recommend that you read Frame before any other apologists, because fit into this framework the apologist can use any true line of reasoning or evidences (whether it comes from a presuppositionalist or not) and use it in a way that recognizes Jesus and not man as Lord.

Finally, the book ends with an exceptional transcript from a faux dialogue between Frame and a man on an airplane where Frame demonstrates how each item he has discussed throughout the book might work itself out in actual apologetic discussion with a real life person.

I do not recommend that Apologetics to the Glory of God is the only apologetics book you read, but I do recommend that it is the first. When you are finished, I recommend you move on to Busenitz's Reasons We Believe and/or Pratt's Every Thought Captive.

Keywords: apologetics,frame

All of Grace By Spurgeon for Free

Praise God for ChristianAudio. Each month they give away a free downloadable, high quality audiobook. This month they are giving away Spurgeon's All of Grace. This is actually the second time that they are giving away this book. It was originally made available in November of 2006 and I have listened to it a couple times since and have found it an excellent audio-book type book. It is an excellent book for seasoned Christian, new Christian, or non-Christian as Spurgeon spends the entire book speaking of how all in the life of a Christian must be and is of grace and only of grace. To get the book, simply add it to your cart at ChristianAudio, check out, enter the coupon code OCT2008, download and enjoy.

Keywords: audiobook,free,spurgeon

Review: Amazon Kindle for Christians

After one month and a dozen books of using my new Amazon.com Kindle, I can recommend it most enthusiastically. The Kindle is basically an electronic book reader with wireless connectivity. Using Amazon's Whispernet (powered by Sprint EVDO), the Kindle can download full text of books, subscribe to receive digital editions of periodicals or blogs, receive emailed digital texts, and browse the web. Everybody who has seen my Kindle is immediately impressed by the amazingly easy-to-read screen, called electronic paper, which displays a very high quality grayscale viewable in both lowlight and direct sunlight situations. The search function allows basic searching for terms within all of your loaded books or online. The onboard dictionary allows lookup of full definitions with etymology of most common words.

Pros

  • Super easy to read screen in all lighted conditions
  • Always connected to internet wherever Sprint has service; (makes up for high cost of device)
  • Perfect for reading text-based webpages
  • Long battery life (days when wireless is disabled)
  • Easy to turn on/off; easy to enable/disable wireless (switch at back)
  • Amazon or Mobipocket converter will convert HTML & Microsoft Word documents to be readable.
  • PDF texts are able to be converterted but often lose formatting
  • Mp3 player and Audible Audiobook player (either through speaker on back or through headphones)
  • Easy to navigate with huge Next page, Previous Page, Back buttons. Very simple navigation; grandparents in their 70's have used it without problem and minimal introduction.
  • QWERTY keyboard easily allows typing/notetaking easily exported to computer
  • Comes with nice leather carrying case
  • Easy to "clip" sections of text for export to computer

Cons

  • No native pdf document support (conversion often destroys formatting)
  • Easy to accidentally push the navigation buttons
  • No backlight (can purchase clip on light which works well)
  • Battery life only about 12 hours with internet enabled
  • Web browser very limited in formatting capabilities/unable to work with complex pages

Kindle for Christians

The above comments are not unlike most of the other thousands of reviews of the Kindle. My primary concern is for Christians, especially for Christian leaders. Is it easy to read the Bible on the Kindle? Are new Christian releases available on Kindle? What about the books published in the last decades? What about older works, public domain? The following is a brief summary, I will be blogging much more extensively on this topic in the upcoming weeks and months and going into more detail.

Bibles

I have downloaded and used a few translations of the Bible. They are all plagued by the same problem. The Kindle doesn't show you what chapter of a book you are on, so it is easy to get lost and difficult to check what book or chapter you are in. They all have common navigation scheme: Navigate to the books via the table of contents. Then the superiorly formatted ones (ESV, NASB, & NIV) let you click on links to navigate to the appropriate chapters (I can usually find a verse in these versions in under 15 seconds). (NET & KJV) make you click next page until you get where you are trying to go (this can take a very long on the order of minutes if the verse is later in a book) In summary, the Kindle is not very effective as a look-up-stuff Bible, but excellent in any translation to read straight through a book of the Bible or to read a long section.

Modern Christian Books

Crossway and some other publishers are releasing their books in Kindle format, downloadable in under a minute by navigating on the Kindle to the Kindle Store or by ordering online at the Kindle Store. It seems like most new books are being released digitally. However, books published in years past are only slowly making their way onto the Kindle, and most (but not all) of these are the doctrinally deprived best-seller types. I will be releasing recommended Kindle reading in the coming weeks and months. Additionally many authors release their books digitally for free and these are easily converted to Kindle format and read. Some of these authors that do this are John Piper, Frame & Poythress, and some from Sovereign Grace. Similarly Crossway often will email you a pdf of the physical books that you buy direct from their site.

The best part of reading digitally is that many of the best books available are public domain. Christian CLassics Ethereal Library, Gracegems, Spurgeon.org, Google books, and others are great to get digital texts which you can then paste into a Word document or pdf and send it to your Kindle, or you can browse some of the texts directly on the web-browser on the Kindle.

I have a very extensive digital text collection in Libronix and as I am studying, if I find something that I want to read later when I'm not at the computer screen, I have found myself pasting it into a Word Doc and emailing it to my Kindle to read later. It has made my Libronix Digital Library much more useful to me.

Commentaries

I have not found many commentaries for sale for use in Kindle, however, I have found myself during my study times on Libronix pasting the commentary sections that I want to read in more detail into Word and sending it to my Kindle. There are many public domain commentaries that are available online that the Kindle user can take advantage of. Overall, however, the Kindle is not a good standalone reference tool as it is very slow to navigate section to section (as discussed in the Bible section above). My opinion is that the Kindle is best used to read large sections and not flip around within a resource as is done in a reference book.

Blogs

Most blogs have pretty complicated formats; Kindle does not do well with this. As far as I know, Kindle has no way to read RSS feeds; so I have not found any easy way to read blogs effectively on the Kindle. Amazon does have an option to serve blogs to your Kindle at a cost if the blog chooses to participate. This may be the future of blog reading on Kindle, but I hope that soon there will be an easy way to read simple RSS feeds on the Kindle.

Overall, I highly recommend the Kindle for all who love to read. I have loved mine and find myself using it for hours and hours almost each day.

Keywords: kindle

We Are All Very Committed and Gifted Self-Swindlers (Quote: Paul David Tripp)

Sin lives in a costume; that why it's so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party:

  • Inpatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth.
  • Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty
  • Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer
  • Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership
  • Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart
  • The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom
Evil simply doesn't present itself as evil, which is part of its draw...Now, what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very commited and gifted self-swindlers...We're all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good. We're all much better at seeing the sin, weaknesses, and fialures of others than we are our own. We're all very good at being intolerant of others of the very things that we willingly tolerate in ourselves....Accurate self assessment is the product of grace. It is only in the mirror of God's Word and with the sight-giving help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to see ourselves as we actually are.
Paul David Tripp
Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin & Mercy (Amazon | Kindle | WTS)
Chapter 6
As Read on my Kindle

Review: The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

In The Truth of the Cross, R.C. Sproul effectively communicates the truth of the cross, its significance, its necessity, and its accomplishments. The Truth of the Cross is a short little book packed with doctrine related to the cross (with a focus on substitutionary atonement), a topic that no Christian can spend too much time thinking about rightly. R.C. Sproul's aim throughout the 10 chapters of the book is to ensure that the reader correctly understands what transpired at the cross, why it was necessary, and what God accomplished there. He makes extensive use of church history, historic Christian philosophers and theologians, (Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Luther, & Calvin), philosophy, and logic. Sproul, as usual, is excellent at taking complex statements and whittling them down so that they seem simple. I do wish, however, that the book was more Scripture-packed and that Sproul's appeals were based more explicitly on Scripture than on logic. It seems that Sproul's modus operandi is to demonstrate where his reformed theology logically directs his thinking on an issue. Then he may point to Scripture to show how his position is not at odds with Scripture. This seems backwards to me and is my concern with Sproul and underlies all of the areas of disagreement/caution that I have with this book (On pp 159-161, Sproul's need to teach that Jesus the man and not Jesus God was crucified at the cross seems to be more theologically driven than textually driven and is a good example of this observation as not one verse is cited or interacted with to defend his position, Acts 20:28 & 1 Cor 2:8 would have been nice). Nevertheless, this book is an excellent devotional treatise on cross of Christ that does make frequent use of Scripture. It served me well as I slowly read it, wondering anew at the amazing love of this Holy God who would crush His Son in my place and give me His righteousness to free me from Hell and to reconcile me to Him.

The first few chapters were written to demonstrate to the reader that the atonement was absolutely necessary if man were to have any hope to come to God. Sproul writes, "If we are defective in understanding the character of God or understanding the nature of sin, it is inevitable that we will come to the conclusion that an atonement was not necessary" (p. 15). It is not merely enough to know the facts of the cross, we must know the meaning of the facts, he says, otherwise we will miss the significance of the cross (p. 102). Sproul does a masterful job at simply and understandably laying out this significance. In summarizing what he has taught, at the end of the book, Sproul writes, "[The cross] is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather, from all eternity, God determined that He would redeem for himself a people, and that which He determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, His atonement on the cross."

In the face of many modern heresies, such as New Perspective on Paul, postmodernism, and Open Theism, that attack the very significance of the cross and are being embraced by many in evangelical circles, Sproul's book is well-timed and well written. We would do well to read it, recognize the truth of the cross, and guard ourselves from believing these gospel-attacking wolf-doctrines dressed in academic sheep's clothing. We would do well to sit at the foot of the cross everyday and recognize the importance of the doctrines that first brought us life and are meant to sustain us through our Christian life. For these ends, you will be served well by Sproul's The Truth of the Cross.

Purchase at Westminster Books
Purchase at Amazon.com

Fellowship as a Smallgroup

I have a deep desire for deeper fellowship within my smallgroup. Many relationships that I have within my group are the deepest I know, but some are regularly superficial. How do I remedy this? Spending time together is certainly part of the answer?  Like C.J. Mahaney says in the quote below, "Social activities can create a context for fellowship, but they are a place to begin - not a place to remain." So as I plan the social activities in which I desire fellowship to occur, I must remember that hanging out, being friends, and having fun is not fellowship. We must push through in the midst of those activities to true fellowship - not formalism, religiosity, fakeness, or spirituality. If I spend the afternoon  with you, fellow Christian, no matter what we are doing, I want to leave with a fresh understanding of and passion for God. I desire that that would be the effect of an afternoon (or smallgroup meeting) spent with me.

The depth of our personal relationship with God determines the degree of fellowship possible with each other. Thus, in order to know true fellowship, one must maintain a passionate relationship with and experience of God. Perhaps that is why biblical fellowship is so rare.

Fellowship is not just another word for social activities. I really enjoy watching the Washington Redskins or Baltimore Orioles with my friends. This can be a healthy part of small-group life…but it isn’t fellowship. And you don’t have fellowship talking about the latest opinion from Rush Limbaugh or Jesse Jackson, either. Social activities can’t be equated or confused with fellowship. They are distinctly different. Nothing compares to the fellowship we enjoy when we worship together, study and apply Scripture together, encourage and correct each other, and communicate to one another our current experience of God. Nothing. Social activities can create a context for fellowship, but they are a place to begin—not a place to remain.

When I spend an extended time with another Christian, my main desire is that we know fellowship. I want to hear of his relationship with God, and how God is revealing himself to him. I want to communicate my current experience of God as well, and impart a fresh passion for God.

Is that your desire? If someone spent an afternoon with you, would he or she leave with a fresh understanding of and passion for God? If not, you need to change. With this definition of fellowship in mind, consider your small group. Are you experiencing fellowship? How much time do you spend in the meetings talking about your current relationship with God? When you meet together outside the meetings, how often do your conversations revolve around God’s work in your life? If you are relaxing together more than you're relating together spiritually, you're not enjoying true biblical fellowship - and you have something to look forward to.

C.J. Mahaney
Why Smallgroups (Free PDF Download)
pp. 11-12

Keywords: fellowship,smallgroup

Reading according to CJ Mahaney, Jeff Purswell, & Josh Harris

I finally got a chance to listen to the third installment of the Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview podcast. The three speak in a pastoral way to pastors to help them to prioritize the practice of reading in their own care of their souls. It is great advice that is applicable for all, not just pastors; in fact, it may be advice that is most overlooked by non-pastors. I highly recommend the Christian reader of this blog, stop reading this blog, and download this installment (and all installments) of the Leadership Interview Podcast.

Most of the books recommended can be found linked here,

Also, while thinking on the topic, you must surf over to T4G blog and read some of the great posts there on reading that are designed to be read in order:

I hope these resources serve you well, convince you of the importance of reading, and motivate you to make the necessary adjustments in your schedule in order to reflect this priority. It certainly has renewed my motivation in this regard.

Keywords: reading

Free Commentary for Libronix (Matthew, Mark Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)

I have another freebie. For a limited time, you can get a digital version of Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Series' commentaries on Matthew (by David Turner) and Mark (by Darrel Bock) for free. Just go it the product page and then checkout using the coupon code: CORNERSTONE

First add the book to your cart, then add the coupon code to the field on the lower left, then click proceed, enter credit card info (you will not be charged; don't be thrown off by the total on the right, it'll go away on the next screen.), click proceed, verify that the total is $0.00, click submit order, and finally download your resource. You have to have Libronix installed first. Check the product page to tell you how to install the free software (the software is free but resources are not. I recommend you purchase one of the libraries).

Keywords: free,libronix,logos

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