Archive for December, 2008

Go Calvin in 2009

2009 is the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin and in honor of that, Princeton has devised a calendar of readings that will take you all the way through master John’s Institutes during the year. Check it out here.

pretty nice, but read your Bible too.

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Faithful witness

This is an instructive testimony to the power of a humble, confident, and compassionate witness. Penn Jillette, of the magician team of Penn & Teller, is an outspoken atheist, but recently he met a genuine Christian and can’t seem to get over it.

Penn is the big guy in the picture.

Note this observation (and I’m paraphrasing): “If you believe in heaven or hell, how much do you have to hate someone to keep that to yourself and not tell them?”

Indeed. If we believe that the gospel is true, it manifests an indescribable disregard for men to keep quiet about it.

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Randy Booth nails one of the common failings of the church in a recent post. After talking about how people in the church get on your nerves, he says:

Soon the gripping, complaining, criticizing, gossiping, impatience, avoidance, and isolation set in and church becomes a place where we simply “do our duty,” but we’re not so happy about it. A thousand petty things are stored away against this or that person or their kids. We justify ourselves because they don’t act right. And while we’re waiting on them to straighten up we busy ourselves with our own concerns and drift further and further away from our friends—the very people God saved and put in His Church.

Now, since we’re all tempted to these things from time-to-time, allow me to shepherd you back to the fold. Stop it! Straighten up! Fervently love the brethren and pursue peace. You’re not so great yourself. People have to put up with you all the time; and aren’t you glad they do? It is a lot of trouble, but we need each other; God said we do. Allow me to zero in on this Holy Spirit-inspired admonition from the Apostle Paul:

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. –Ephesians 4:1-3

Now then, say something nice about them; pray for them, encourage them, love them, and serve them—right now.

And just to make sure we get the point, Randy closes by saying “Yes, I am talking about you!”

now that’s real pastoral sensitivity . . . and true love . . . and I’m not kidding.

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Today is Jane Austen’s birthday. Though her books have become “classics” worldwide, like many other great writers, her works were mostly ignored when they were originally published. Her renown came around fifty years after her death when her nephew wrote a memoir of his aunt (A Memoir of Jane Austen) which was published in 1869. This led to the republishing of her novels and the the “Jane-mania” which became known as “Janeolatry.”

If you are like so many and have avoided reading Jane (mostly because of your eleventh grade English class) go ahead and pick her up. She’s not Flannery O’Connor . . . but she’s still really good.

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We just received another outstanding Athanasius Press publication . . . and it’s just in time for Christmas!

You really do need to stock up on a whole bunch of these for your loved ones. I mean, how many others are going to be giving away the “key” to the book of Revelation for Christmas? huh? It’s perfect for friends and family. Get a bunch of them now. You can order it from Athanasius Press ratchere.

and speaking of good deals, Auburn Avenue Media has just slashed prices for all CD sets and MP3 (on CD) sets. Go here and here and check em out.

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Angie has given an excellent response to a video that is making the rounds among many evangelicals. No one disputes the need for remembering the poor and the obligation we have to be generous with our wealth. And certainly, no one can object to the charge that Americans (and American Christians) have fallen prey to the idol of materialism. But this video (and those arguments which follow these lines) seems to be trying to provoke guilt not over materialism and greed, but over the mere fact that we have abundance and are able to purchase “unnecessary” gifts for our friends and families at Christmas.

Instead of giving that “unnecessary” toy, we’re told, you could give to a project which provides clean water for people in need. Right. But what if I can do both? Is it wrong to give gifts that the recipients don’t need? [Is there even such a thing as a necessary toy?] Why does God give us hundreds of thousands of “unnecessary” things all the time? We don’t have just one kind of tree or fish or bird or cat or dog or flower or weather or cloud — rather, we have thousands of “unnecessary” varieties. And we have them apparently because God loves to give us lots of things — not because they are necessary, but because they bring delight and joy. Gift giving is an imitation of this lavish and super-abundant love of God who gives us exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think — and not merely those things we need.

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nicolasTomorrow is the day set aside by the Church to commemorate the life of Nicholas, bishop of Myra, who died on December 6, 342. Nicholas was orphaned early in life and inherited great wealth from his parents. He used his wealth throughout his life to assist the poor and afflicted.

Nicholas became known for his compassion to children, great deeds of generosity, and concern for sailors and ships. Like many of the faithful, his life became surrounded by a number of fantastic stories of miracles and amazing feats but his most famous act of charity may well be true. It involved a nobleman of the city of Patara who suddenly became bankrupt. The man had three daughters whom he wished to give in marriage, but his bankruptcy meant that he had nothing for a dowry. Unable to support his daughters, he resolved to sell them into prostitution. Nicholas heard of the situation and decided to do what he could to prevent this.

He learned that the man slept with his window open and so, under the cover of night, he threw a bag of gold in the man’s open window. This act was repeated three times for each of the man’s daughters.

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