Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Band That Played On: The Story of Titanic's Band Members

I suspect we’ll probably see a cluster of Titanic books in the next year or so. Next April will be the one-hundredth anniversary of the ill-fated ship’s first and last voyage. Look out for table-top books, collector’s items, biographies and fictional accounts – all based on the event. Some contributions will be better than others. The Band that Played On:The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic by Steve Turner (Thomas Nelson, 2011) is one of the better offerings.

The world’s enduring fascination with the Titanic tragedy is peculiar. There have been any number of shipwrecks in the past two centuries, some of which led to even more loss of life. But there is something about the Titanic’s sinking that strikes a chord even today.

People once called it “unsinkable.”

It foundered on its maiden voyage.

The passengers were a microcosm of Europe: poor and rich, wealthy and immigrant, passenger and crew. 

In The Band that Played OnSteve Turner tells the story of the eight members of the band who played on the deck of the ship during the sinking. Turner’s tale gives brief biographical history of each of these young men. At times, his sketches are indeed “sketchy,” due mainly to the lack of surviving documents that relate to these men’s lives. But where Turner has good information, he is able to paint a remarkably accurate (and engaging) picture of these men. 

This book is meticulously researched. 40% of its pages are devoted to footnotes and …

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Worth a Look 8.25.11

Her.meneutics talks to Russell Moore about Michelle Bachmann, the divorce culture, and why a feminist reading of Scripture would often be easier than a complementarian one:

What complementarianism contributes to this discussion is to say that where there is a loss of self-sacrificial, other-protective male leadership, the result is not equality but the worst form of patriarchy. In the Bible, headship is not dictatorship, but instead the responsibility to sacrifice oneself for another (Eph. 5:25-30). In a Christian view of reality, women’s value is not determined by her sexual attractiveness or availability to men. A truly complementarian Christianity will value the full spectrum of gifts, and the cooperative economy that God brings about through the distinctions between women and men as well as through their commonalities.

ATTN: Children’s Ministers - Visual artist Mandy Groce, from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, has created over 75 original coloring sheets. These are the best quality illustrations on the internet and always have a strong teaching focus. Much better than the “busy work” coloring pages on most websites. Take a look here.

Tony Reinke asks – “Should You Read My New Book?” As one who has gotten a sneak peek at it, I say “yes!”

I wrote this book to help Christians make book reading a priority in their lives. For us to prioritize any discipline in our lives, we must first have firmly rooted biblical convictions. This book is my attempt to explain and defend the most important convictions book readers …

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What Romanian Believers Taught Me About Prayer

I love to listen to the testimonies of my American friends who have recently been to Romania to do mission work. They inevitably comment on the prayer practices of Romanian churches.

    The prayer time blew me away!
    I couldn’t believe how much time they spent praying! 
    They are so fervent and passionate in their public prayers!

I always nod, smile, and – with great affection – recall the years I spent serving in Romanian churches that valued corporate prayer. For the Christians whose identities were forged through the fire of Communist oppression, prayer is an act of quiet desperation that manifests itself in bold supplication. I’ve never seen humility and confidence so perfectly married as when listening to (and joining) Romanians in prayer.

Here are five things about prayer I learned from Romanian believers:

1. Prayer is not wasted time.

Prayer takes up a big portion of a Romanian worship service. The typical service on Sunday morning begins at 9:00 a.m. The entire first hour is spent in prayer. Bigger churches open up the floor for spontaneous prayers about various requests. Smaller churches go pew by pew, so that every church member gets an opportunity to pray out loud. This tradition of soaking everything in prayer makes a strong statement: Prayer matters. It is not a waste of time. 

I often struggle with prayer because I am not fully aware of my utter dependence on God. I’m a “let’s get to it!” kind of activist. Prayer often seems passive. The Romanian testimony of prayer challenges me that it is …

Posted in Reaching Romania | 13 Comments

Worth a Look 8.24.11

Earlier this week, I posted about the “Rise of Blogs and the Demise of Traditional Media.” In response, a friend passed along this article from last month’s Economist, which proclaims “the end of mass media” and points to a return of sorts to the 19th century delivery of news:

There is a great historical irony at the heart of the current transformation of news. The industry is being reshaped by technology—but by undermining the mass media’s business models, that technology is in many ways returning the industry to the more vibrant, freewheeling and discursive ways of the pre-industrial era.

Katy Perry, Michael Jackson, and the Misnomer of Hit Singles:

Pop tart Katy Perry, who started her professional career as a contemporary Christian singer, recently made history as the first female artist to score five No. 1 hits off of a single album. The last album to do that was none other than Michael Jackson’s “Bad.” However, nearly a quarter century ago Jackson’s radio domination resulted in the sale of over 30 million copies of “Bad,” while Perry’s “Teenage Dream” hasn’t even cracked the two million mark. What has happened to the juggernaut that was the pop music business?

Makoto Fujimura on “Ground Zero and the American Dream”:

Theologically, the whole of earth is “Ground Zero.” We live in the fallen world in which every good, true and beautiful reality is quickly idolized to something selfish, greedy and destructive. Christ came to redeem this path to self-destruction by taking on …

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What Finally Broke Louis Zamperini

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemptionthe riveting life story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini, is easily one of the best books I’ve read… ever. As I was reflecting on the journey of this remarkable man, I was moved to tears by the wondrous power of the Holy Spirit to change a heart.

Louis was once a man “unbroken,” but not anymore:

    The bullies he faced in high school in the 1920’s couldn’t break him.
    The injustice done to him by other runners as he raced to beat records didn’t break him.
    The severe homesickness that accompanied his military service couldn’t break him.
    His plane crash into the Pacific on May 27, 1943 didn’t break him.
    47 days drifting on a raft in the ocean couldn’t break him.
    The sharks that attacked him from the water while the Japanese strafed his raft from the sky didn’t break him.
    Burying his close friend and fellow soldier at sea couldn’t break him.
    A typhoon that nearly swamped his raft didn’t break him.
    His Japanese captors who taunted and tortured and nearly starved him for two and a half years couldn’t break him.
    The mental agonies stirred up by the tortures of “The Bird” didn’t break him.
    But in September 1949, at a Billy Graham crusade, the gospel broke him.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.

Posted in Life & Culture | 6 Comments

Worth a Look 8.23.11

Jared Wilson reviews Soul Surfer:

Here’s my beef, and I’m sure I will take some flack from somebody for this. Bethany Hamilton’s story is inspiring and encouraging, and I’m sure she has real saving faith in Jesus Christ, but the message of the movie Soul Surfer appears to be “I can do all things through moralistic therapeutic deism which strengthens me.” This doesn’t make it a bad movie; it just makes it as easily a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness movie as it does a Christian one.

Chaplain Mike is kicking off a week’s worth of reflection on “the gospel” at the Internet Monk blog:

This week our focus will be on The Gospel. You might think Christians would have this one nailed down, but many conversations continue in the church today about the definition and nature of the biblical Gospel.

Lisa Miller in The Washington Post: “Be Not Afraid of Evangelicals”

This isn’t a defense of the religious beliefs of Bachmann or Perry, whatever they are. It’s a plea, given the acrimonious tone of our political discourse, for a certain amount of dispassionate care in the coverage of religion. Nearly 80 percent of Americans say they’re Christian. One-third of Americans call themselves “evangelical.” When millions of voters get lumped together and associated with the fringe views of a few, divisions will grow. Here, then, are some clarifying points…

This highly unusual group of pictures were all taken in Ireland by medical student J.J. Clarke between 1890 and 1910. His images have a spontaneity and …

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The Rise of Blogs and the Demise of Traditional News

The Mainstream Media Needs Blogs?

A few months ago, a reporter from a major news organization contacted me about the evangelical debate over hell. Counterfeit Gospels was hot off the presses, and since the book includes a chapter on the “Judgmentless Gospel,” I understood the reason why the reporter contacted me. But I thought to myself: There are people out there who are more qualified to speak on this subject. But I’m happy to speak biblical truth whenever asked.

The reporter and I talked for about forty minutes. When we finished, I waited… nervously. I wondered if she would represent my position fairly and quote me correctly. I knew that this major news site was going to put the article on their website’s front page and that they would feature a link back to my blog. Having never been linked from a major news organization before, I wondered what that would do to my blog traffic.

A couple days later, the reporter wrote me back, informing me that the piece was now online and asking me to post a link on my website. I shot off a quick email back, to clarify the spelling of my name. When she responded, she asked again that I post the link on my website. At this point, I remember thinking, Strange. You’d think she was more concerned about what my piddly little link would do for her news organization’s traffic than what her mega-website would do for mine. 

I soon figured out why. On the day …

Posted in Blogging | 9 Comments

Worth a Look 8.22.11

City versus Country: Who is Healthier?

For many urban dwellers, the country conjures up images of clean air, fresh food and physical activities. But these days, Americans residing in major cities live longer, healthier lives overall than their country cousins—a reversal from decades past.

Michael Horton: How To Discover Your Calling

 We need to recover creation as a sphere of common grace activity. Christians need to be freed to embrace the world which God has created without being burdened with trying to justify everything in terms of its “kingdom value.” It is enough to serve one’s neighbor and society without having to figure out how it all contributes to the regime of “redeeming culture.”

Thabiti Anyabwile answers the question, “How much unity must elders and deacons maintain?”

A certain amount of agreement is necessary for the teaching ministry to make the same sound and for the unity to be deep and unshakeable.  But how much unity and in what things?  That’s the rub.

Joe Thorn: Is the Main Thing the Only Thing?

The gospel is the main thing, it is not the only thing. However, it is the only thing that brings life, power, and transformation. The gospel isn’t everything, but it does connect to everything, and preachers and teachers in the church must be able to show that connection lest we allow the church to drift (or even be lead) into various kinds of hopeless, powerless legalism.

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O God of the Open Ear

O God of the open ear,
Teach me to live by prayer as well as by providence,
for myself, soul, body, children, family, church.

Give me a heart frameable to Your will,
so I might live in prayer,
and honor You,
being kept from evil, known and unknown.

Help me to see the sin that accompanies all I do,
and the good I can distill from everything.

Help me not only to desire small things
but with holy boldness to desire great things
for Your people, for myself,
that they and I might live to show Your glory.

– from Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, adapted

Posted in Prayers | 2 Comments

Error in Attractive Dress

Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity,
lest, being thus exposed,
it should at once be detected.

But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress,
so as, by its outward form,
to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than truth itself.

– Irenaeus of Lyons

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 1 Comment