Flotsam and jetsam (1/28)

out of touch

Good Reads

  • A Golden Age in Christian Publishing: when I stop and consider the state of Christian publishing, I can’t help but think that we are in a golden age. A strange age, to be sure, but a golden one nonetheless. Christians today are extraordinarily blessed by a vast number of excellent, Christ-centered, God-glorifying books. (Tim Challies)
  • Is Monergism Necessarily Fatalistic? Strictly speaking, monergists are not fatalists. Fate, at least as traditionally understood, is purposeless and arbitrary. A sense of hopelessness and inevitability characterizes the one who is the victim of fate. No matter what you do, your choices are meaningless. You are captive to forces beyond your control and comprehension that have no personal interest in your wellbeing. (Nathan Finn)
  • Noah’s Ark discovery raises flood of questions: That faint humming sound you’ve heard recently is the scholarly world of the Bible and archaeology abuzz over the discovery of the oldest known Mesopotamian version of the famous Flood story. (CNN Religion)

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Flotsam and jetsam (1/27)


Good Reads

  • Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness? Evangelicalism—both on the individual and institutional level—is trying hard to purge itself of a polished veneer that smacked of hypocrisy. But by focusing on brokenness as proof of our “realness” and “authenticity,” have evangelicals turned “being screwed up” into a badge of honor, its own sort of works righteousness? Has authenticity become a higher calling than, say, holiness? (Brett McCracken)
  • Back to (Divinity) School:  Students under 30 still make up the largest age cohort in seminaries, according to the Association of Theological Schools. But older students are growing in representation….The percentage of students over 50 enrolled in a seminary rose to about 21% in 2011 from 12% in 1995. (Wall Street Journal)
  • What Drives Success? A seemingly un-American fact about America today is that for some groups, much more than others, upward mobility and the American dream are alive and well. It may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall. (New York Times)
  • How to Jesus Juke a Justin Bieber Story: pop star Justin Bieber was charged with drunken driving, resisting arrest, and driving without a valid license….Upon hearing the news, web and social media savvy Christians across America began thinking, “How can I Jesus juke this Justin Bieber story” to maximize the number of pageviews/retweets/likes I can get while bringing glory to Jesus? (Joe Carter)

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Saturday Morning Fun…The Storm Trooper Hip Hop Twerk

This video is worth it for the closing line alone. Trust me.



Flotsam and jetsam (1/24)

meme quotes

Good Reads

  • The Art of PresenceDo be there. Some people think that those who experience trauma need space to sort things through. Assume the opposite. Most people need presence. (New York Times)
  • Eleven Reasons Pastors Are Trusted Less Today: Why are pastors no longer held in high esteem? What is behind the precipitous drop in favorable ratings almost every year? Allow me to offer eleven possible reasons. As you will see, they are not mutually exclusive. (Thom Rainer)

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Liar, Lunatic, or Lord: The Cartoon Version

You’ve probably heard C. S. Lewis’ famous argument that if you take Jesus seriously, you only have three options: he was lying, he was insane, or he was who he claimed to be. Now you can reflect on that argument in cartoon form thanks to this excellent cartoon from Adam4d.com (click to embiggen).

Ironically, the first title I gave this blog post read “Liar, Lunatic, and Lord.” I’m pretty sure that’s not one of the options either!

liar, lunatic, lord cartoon (550x2235)

Flotsam and jetsam (1/22)

human update

Good Reads

  • Three Myths on the World’s Poor: By almost any measure, the world is better off now than it has ever been before. Extreme poverty has been cut in half over the past 25 years, child mortality is plunging, and many countries that had long relied on foreign aid are now self-sufficient. So why do so many people seem to think things are getting worse? (Wall Street Journal)
  • How race and religion have polarized American voters: The rise of polarized politics in Washington is a direct result of profound changes that have taken place in American society and culture over several decades. These changes include a dramatic increase in racial and ethnic diversity and a deepening divide over religion and moral values. (WaPo)
  • Brothers, we are not Amateurs: A Plea for Ministry Preparation: A ministerial amateur is not one who lacks formal training or advanced degrees from reputable institutions. An amateur is one who lacks the knowledge base, skill set, and experience for a particular task, in this case Christian ministry. This is to say, one can still be an amateur though holding an earned degree, and one can be a faithful minister though lacking one. (Jason K. Allen)

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Sometimes You Just Have to Land the Plane

There’s something freeing about being on an airplane. Soaring through the sky, admiring the landscape far below, temporarily removed from the concerns of everyday life. It’s nice. I can bury myself in a good book, do some writing, or just daydream out the window. On a plane in the clouds time stops, problems subside, voices dim, and I can relax.

Then the plane lands.

And I’m instantly thrown back into the chaos of email, due dates, and crises. It’s frustrating, but necessary. I’d love to stay in the air cruising lazily through the atmosphere. But as much as I enjoy the time out, eventually you have to land. Clouds are nice, but life happens on the ground.

Young Aviator in a aircraft in a hangar with these planes

That’s a great picture for a struggle that many have with theology. People like to stay in the clouds enjoying the view. But sometimes you just have to land the plane.

Landing the Plane in Theology

I use this analogy when explaining to my students why they have to take positions on difficult theological issues: women in ministry, image of God, election, etc. Every year I have at least some students who don’t want to land the plane. They enjoy reading, thinking, and debating about difficult theological issues, but when it comes to taking a clear stand on what they think, they hold back.

And they often make a virtue out of it: theological humility. They’ll argue that these issues are so complex and have been debated for so long that the principled thing to do is just not to have a position. And they’ve probably seen too many landings turn into crashes—maybe landing the wrong way or developing the arrogance that comes from thinking that you’ve got it right. Bad landings lead some to think that maybe it would be best just to stay in the clouds.

But I make them land anyway. Why?

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Books Aren’t Dead, And Neither Is Paper

Do you remember when people said that computers would end the age of paper? Everything would go digital and those heaps of paper on your desk would disappear. How did that work out for you? Now many are saying the same thing about books. After all, when digital music became popular, it took over the business, almost completely destroying other media. So the same will probably happen with physical books, right?

Once again, we may be surprised. Here’s an infographic pointing out some important differences between the music and book industries, differences that suggest the printed book may still be around for the long haul. (HT Justin Taylor)

And once you’ve checked out the infographic, scroll down for a couple of humorous videos arguing that there still a role for paper in general. Although tablets might be able to do some things better than paper, there are still at least a few areas where you really should use paper. (HT James McGrath)


And here are the videos on the dangers of a truly paperless society.




Flotsam and jetsam (1/20)

nerd problems

Good Reads

  • Why Millennials Long for Liturgy: The millennial generation is seeking a holistic, honest, yet mysterious truth that their current churches cannot provide. Where they search will have large implications for the future of Christianity. Protestant churches that want to preserve their youth membership may have to develop a greater openness toward the treasures of the past. One thing seems certain: this “sacramental yearning” will not go away. (American Conservative) (BTW – You may also want to check out Are Millennials Joining High Church Traditions?)
  • The New Age of Christian Martyrdom: Lions have been replaced by firing squads and concentration camps as record numbers of Jesus’ worshipers are persecuted from Syria to North Korea. (The Daily Beast)
  • Why Am I Not Poor?: I met men and women who were remarkably hard working, determined, and focused. I spent time with women who cared for their families and also worked at other jobs from before sun up until dark. I encountered people who were intelligent, entrepreneurial, and absolutely ingenious at overcoming obstacles. And despite all of these attributes, they were still numbingly poor. (Christianity Today)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Miles Coverdale)

CoverdaleAn English reformer and Bible translator, Miles Coverdale was best known for producing the famous Coverdale Bible, first complete translation of the Bible into modern English. Although he lived on the continent for much of his life, Coverdale built off the work of earlier translators like William Tyndale and John Wycliffe, both of whom were condemned for their translation efforts, and produced a Bible translation that would have tremendous influence during the time of the English Reformation.

Miles Coverdale died on January 20, 1569. In honor of his amazing life and ministry, today’s prayer comes from him.

O Lord Jesus Christ, draw thou our hearts unto thee;
join them together in inseparable love,
that we may abide in thee and thou in us,
and that the everlasting covenant between us may stand sure for ever.

Let the fiery darts of thy love pierce through
all our slothful members and inward powers,
that we, being happily wounded,
may so become whole and sound.

Let us have no lover but thyself alone;
let us seek no joy nor comfort except in thee.