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This post makes me look forward to Mike Wittmer’s forthcoming books:

Anthony Bradley’s essay in World magazine is receiving some well-deserved attention. If that piqued your interest and you want to read more on the subject, I highly recommend Larry Osborne’s recent book, Accidental Pharisees.

 Osborne wisely and pastorally explains how we’re never free from the temptation to legalism. In fact, the more zeal we have for God the more we’ll be tempted to look down on those who don’t measure up (p. 46). And so we become “accidental Pharisees.” But is there any other kind? No one becomes a legalist on purpose.

Osborne cites five kinds of Christians who can easily become Pharisaical about what they care about most (p. 92-94):

1. Radical Christians:  these people think generosity is most important, and while they are careful not to give out a list, they are suspicious of Christians who live in large houses and drive expensive cars. Their parents’ generation worried about beer in the refrigerator; they worry about BMWs in the driveway.

2. Crazy Christians:  these earnest believers think that you’re only committed to God if you’re taking wild leaps of faith, getting yourself in trouble to see if God won’t bail you out. They suppose that normal Christians who punch a time clock and pay their mortgage on time probably aren’t as committed to Christ as they should be. What these “crazy Christians” forget is that they’re only free to take their risks because of the normal jobholders who have saved enough money to help them should they fall (p. 188). . .

Read the rest here.



Denny Burk:

The irony of the tolerance police never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps you’ve heard about their latest sting operation aimed at Chick-fil-a. It all began last week when Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-a, told a reporterthat the company was pro-family. He did not mention gay marriage. Nor did he say anything specifically about homosexuality. Cathy simply said this:

We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business … our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that. We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.

That doesn’t sound very controversial to me. It just sounds like a Christian businessman answering a question about his faith. Have we really come so far that even these words are intolerable to the tolerance police? Well, apparently the answer is yes. Activists and sympathizers with the gay rights movement are castigating Chick-fil-a and calling for boycotts. Sensing the rising storm .  . .

Read the rest here.

Don’t worry. This review isn’t going to tell you that you lost your salvation if you couldn’t put The Hunger Games down. Instead, it will show you how to ask the right questions about what you’re reading and it will help you think discerningly about different themes in the wildly popular series.

Read the review here.

HT: Challies

Collin Hansen’s Top Stories of 2011

Chris —  December 30, 2011

There is much for local church pastors and leaders to consider in Collin Hansen’s Top 10 stories of 2011.

Russell Moore:

Osama Bin Laden was wicked. Osama Bin Laden was feared. He was also, it turns out, kind of pathetic. Among the items American forces pulled out of the terrorist leader’s compound last week are videos of Bin Laden, wrapped in a blanket, watching himself on television. As ABCNews reports, the warlord is seen to be “a vain pathetic old man.” When I read this in the New York Times, I immediately thought of 1990s song “Mr. Jones” by the band Counting Crows: “When I look at the television, I want to see me staring right back at me.”

And what the old fox wanted to see was not just himself, but a younger version. American forces confirm that Bin Laden was dying his beard, to manage his image in order to appear more vibrant to his supporters around the world.

We shouldn’t really be surprised. The nature of evil, ultimately, is narcissism. . .

Read the rest here.

Our friends at Morningstar Baptist are again hosting an excellent conference for women.  The April 29-30 conference has an excellent lineup (see here) of Wendy Alsup, Carolyn McCulley, Holly Stratton, and Pastor Bob Bixby.

I have always been impressed by the standard of excellence in everything that Morningstar does.  I am sure that attendees at this conference will be blessed.

For more information, visit the web site: Grace and Truth Ladies Conference web site

Gospel of the Trees

Chris —  February 23, 2011

Alan Jacobs posts about a new site that  includes some beautiful photography set in Illinois:

Some years ago I decided that I wanted to write a book about trees, and more particularly the strangely central role that trees play in the Biblical story. That role meant, necessarily, that they would find their way, profoundly, into Western literature, and I wanted to say something about that too. But I love trees as they are in themselves, as material things in the material world, so I did not want them to take on a purely symbolic or metaphorical significance.

Though I wrote and even published some thoughts about trees, I couldn’t get the story to come together, no matter how hard I tried. My thoughts didn’t want to coalesce, refused to become a book; they remained scattered and disjointed. Moreover, I knew that if I ever succeeded in weaving them together, the resulting book would demand images — and more images than a cost-conscious publisher would be likely to tolerate.

Only after a long period of worrying over this did I come to the conclusion that my thoughts, such as they were, didn’t belong in a book, but rather constituted a website. So I contacted my friendBrad Cathey, a gifted designer, and he made a site for me.

It’s called Gospel of the Trees. Please check it out.

Russell Moore considers the presence of anti-Christian bumper stickers:

To get to my favorite coffee shop here in Louisville, I pass a lot of bumper stickers intended to make people like me angry. One of them says “Born Okay the First Time.” Another says “If You Don’t Like Abortion, Don’t Have One.” And, of course, there are several of the Darwin fish, those metallic signs with the early Christian symbol sprouting legs.

These bumper stickers have spawned an entire industry in American evangelicalism, countering these arguments, with “right back at you” ridicule. I understand the temptation, because some of those bumper stickers used to rile me up too. I would roll my eyes and think how stupid the argument was in front of me. Why does the Wicca devotee really need to tell us, “My Other Car Is a Broom”? Why does the anti-procreation guy have to announce, “My Labradoodle Is Smarter Than Your Honors Student”?

Read the rest here.