Worth a Look

 

Apr

09

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.9.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: My book for group leaders and teachers, Gospel-Centered Teaching: Showing Christ in All the Scripture is available for $2.99 as part of T4G’s promotion.

Together for the Gospel 2014 continues today. Watch it live here.

The Incredible Story of a Rwandan Genocide Survivor:

My name is Alphonsine Imaniraguha.  I was born and grew up in Rwanda, a country flowing with honey and milk in the heart of Africa. ”Alphonsine” is a French name meaning “a noble warrior,” and “Imaniraguha” is a Kinyarwanda name meaning “God gives you.” I was the second-born of five siblings.

Gavin Ortlund – When You’re Waiting in the Wilderness:

Of course, it’d be nice if ministry meant 1 Kings 18 fire-from-heaven power from start to finish! But most of our ministries can likely relate better to the metaphors of 1 Kings 17: hanging on until the ravens come again, trusting the jug and jar won’t run out tomorrow, scraping by until the drought finally ends, wondering why God hasn’t removed corrupt Ahab, and, all the while, waiting, waiting, waiting.

The Gray Havens have released a new single – “The Stone.” Check out my interview with former American Idol contestant, David Radford, here and here.

 

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.8.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture by Michael Williams. $3.99.

By explaining each book’s theme and raising pertinent questions about the contemporary importance of that message, author Michael Williams sets readers on a path toward purposeful, independent reading and application of the entire Bible.

3 Tips on Being a Friend of Sinners:

If Jesus was a friend of sinners, we should be too, it seems — somehow, someway. And instantly, this discussion can drift into a much bigger one about Christians and culture and all that. But instead of going there, let’s just talk friendship for a minute. Friendship, which is not without its implications, is more practical and relevant than a primer on the church’s posture in society. So in that light, here are three tips on being a friend of sinners.

Alan Jacobs on why the Book of Common Prayer is still a big deal:

If you’ve ever pledged to be faithful to someone “till death do us part,” mourned to the words “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” or hoped for “peace in our time,” you’ve been shaped by Cranmer’s cadences, perhaps without knowing it.

Ben Reed – 9 Unintended Benefits of Small Group Life:

Healthy small groups teach us more than they often set out to teach. We are molded and changed in so many ways, because God uses others in mighty ways to make us more like Jesus. In fact, you can’t be like Jesus without others. It’s impossible. You can’t serve others, love others, be generous with one another, or accomplish any of the “one another” commands in Scripture by yourself.

9 Things You Should Know about the Chronicles of Narnia:

The end of March marked the sixty-fifth anniversary of C.S. Lewis completing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Here are nine things you should know about the Lewis’ beloved novels…

 
 

Apr

07

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.7.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: Adoniram Judson by Jason Duesing. $0.99.

This volume seeks to honor the life and mission of Judson while retelling his story for a new generation.

Serving Appetizers – Worship Services That Keep Their Promises:

If we only acknowledge the “already” aspect of the kingdom, then our worship services will become ever-escalating spectacles of excitement, celebrating themes of victory and inevitable success.

Millennials and the False Gospel of “Nice:”

One might argue that young evangelicals aren’t fleeing core conservative institutions, but flooding them.

Perhaps the doom and gloom story seems familiar – if also wrong – because we’ve heard it so many times before. As young scholar Matthew Lee Anderson puts it, the “change or die narrative is presented as a perennial problem.”

From Mozart to Dickens – How History’s Greatest Thinkers Managed Their Time:

The graphics are broken down into 24-hour periods with each person’s various activities color-coded in different categories…

Crimea Adoptions to America Blocked By Russia:

“Hundreds of Ukrainian orphans were in the midst of the adoption process,” Tom Davis, CEO of Launch Hope, wrote for On Faith. “They had their eyes and hearts set on a new family, but thanks to the Russia invasion, those hopes were dashed to pieces—adoptions are on hold.” Davis says a “nationally known leader who has worked with orphans for over 20 years” told him, “There are 4,350 children trapped in Crimea we can do nothing about.”

 
 

Apr

03

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.3.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright. $2.99.

N.T. Wright tackles the biblical question of what happens after we die and shows how most Christians get it wrong. We do not “go to” heaven; we are resurrected and heaven comes down to earth–a difference that makes all of the difference to how we live on earth.

Ritual Sacrifice in Silicon Valley:

Grammar and diction unworthy of an editor aside, one of the most striking things about this passage is its tone, or perhaps we should say its genre. The remedies demanded (public recantation, propitiatory sacrifice) are of the sort necessitated by ritual defilement, rather than the giving of offense. It is also clear that Thomas does not merely wish Eich to say that he has changed his views, he truly, sincerely, desperately hopes that Eich be transformed. The key realization is that the howling mob which Thomas has ginned up is only partially an instrument of chastisement. It is also intended to educate. Thomas is in this to save souls.

Michelle Van LoonAged Out of Church:

Church should be a place of meaningful connection with God and others at every stage of our lives, but nearly half of more than 450 people who participated in an informal and completely unscientific survey I hosted on my blog last year told me that their local church had in some painful ways exacerbated the challenges they faced at midlife. As a result, they’d downshifted their involvement in the local church from what it had been a decade ago.

Scot McKnight on the Passover dimension of the atonement:

Why were the Israelites liberated from Egypt? To receive the Torah and to enter the Land and to obey God in covenant faithfulness by worshiping God at the core of life. So, if I may, I suggest that we are liberated in a Passover-ish way by Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from among the dead so that we might worship God, obey the Lord in the power of the Spirit, and to enter into the fellowship of the church as God’s mission for this world.

The Gendercide of Unwanted Girls:

For females to support the abortion of females is philosophical cannibalism and physical destruction in the name of progress and personal freedom. If one person’s freedom stops where another’s body starts, then abortion is the most heinous behavior ever foisted on a generation. Abortion is no more about a woman’s reproductive rights than Charles Manson’s infatuation with The Beatles was about music appreciation.

I’m excited to see the launch of the new Send North America blog. One of their launch posts is an article of mine on how Tim Keller and Andy Stanley preach with unbelievers in mind.

Whether you are closer to Stanley’s paradigm for ministry or Keller’s, you can benefit from a few suggestions for how to engage the lost people listening to you preach.

 
 

Apr

02

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.2.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia Newbell. $2.99.

United will explore the importance of pursuing diversity in the church by sharing the author’s unique experiences growing up in the south and attending a predominately white church.

Well-Oiled Machine or Well-Watered Garden?

Jesus invented the church; let’s allow him to lead it while we cultivate a flourishing well-watered garden first and a well-oiled machine second . Let’s plant more gardens in and around our machines. A church is a living, breathing group of people who have been promised abundant life, not life in a machine. Our structures are needed, but they should serve our mission.

Alex Chediak on how to prepare your teen for college:

How to address sexual purity with your teen, whether to go to a Christian college, financial barriers, and more.

7 Reasons to Slow Down Your Sermon:

Recently, I’ve been working on slowing my preaching down. I’m not a particularly fast speaker, but I often don’t leave intentional spaces and pauses. Normally, this is because I’m nervous. I’m afraid they won’t get the joke, or they’ll think my mind blanked out. But really, space in preaching – slowing down – is a gift. Here are 7 reasons why.

A correction regarding the report about North Korea executing Christians:

Several weeks ago, we told you of reports coming out of North Korea that 33 Christians were awaiting execution for their involvement in planting 500 underground house churches. We cited the Washington Times and the Christian Postand it has since come to our attention that their source may not be entirely accurate.

 
 

Apr

01

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 4.1.14

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: He Chose the Nails by Max Lucado. $2.99.

Linger on the hill of Calvary. Rub a finger on the timber and press the nail into your hand. Taste the tinge of cheap wine and feel the scrape of a thorn on your brow. Touch the velvet dirt, moist with the blood of God. Allow the tools of torture to tell their story. Listen as they tell you what God did to win your heart.

How to Read Fiction and Become a More Interesting Preacher:

There is a saying that goes, “There’s no such thing as uninteresting people, just uninterested people.” This applies to preachers, too. Of course, there are plenty of ways to be “interested.” Read biographies, do some work with your hands once in a while, keep up with what his happening culturally (art, politics, entertainment, etc.).

I’d like to focus on just one place to cast your interest in order to become a more interesting preacher: great works of fiction.

Gloria Furman – God Meets Busy Moms Right Where They Are:

When my first baby was born I sensed that my perspective on the nature of my spiritual life was being rattled and reshaped. In the midst of a venting session with a dear friend I confessed that I felt I’d forgotten the Lord since I became a mother.

Michael Kelley – The Joyously Annoying Memory of Children:

Whereas my kids are reminding me of the promises I made, it seems that God is the One doing the reminding most of the time.

Inside the Pixar Brain Trust:

How can a manager ensure that his or her working group, department, or company embraces candor? By putting mechanisms in place that explicitly say it is valuable. One of Pixar’s key mechanisms is the Braintrust, which we rely on to push us toward excellence and to root out mediocrity. It is our primary delivery system for straight talk. The Braintrust meets every few months or so to assess each movie we’re making. Its premise is simple: Put smart, passionate people in a room together, charge them with identifying and solving problems, and encourage them to be candid. The Braintrust is not foolproof, but when we get it right, the results are phenomenal.

 
 

Mar

31

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 3.31.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: Dynamics of Church Finance by James Berkley. $2.99.

The pastor’s and treasurer’s essential handbook to all aspects of church finance. Building on a stewardship model, this guide outlines sound, up-to-date financial practices.

Ed Stetzer – Is Your Worship Music Driven By Complaints or Context?

Whether or not having multiple service styles is appropriate depends heavily on the motivation behind the services. Are they driven by a consumerist mindset, seeking to cater to the preferences of the audience, or are they fueled by a desire to worship in a way that matches the context(s) of the congregation and surrounding community?

Has the church added worship services as a response to complaints from members or the context in which God has placed them?

Good thoughts from Logan Gentry on how the “missional communities” language is changing:

All too often when I speak with missional community leaders or churches exploring missional communities, I hear about all that missional community is not. The language surrounding missional community has been reactionary to traditional attractional church methods for so long that it has become unhelpful. This was intended to be a way of distinguishing missional communities from the popular understanding of small groups in the broader church.

Kay Warren interview – A Year of Grieving Dangerously:

About two weeks ago, Kay Warren’s anger boiled over. The co-founder of Saddleback church wrote on Facebook, “As the one-year anniversary of Matthew’s death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to ‘move on.’ … I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back. We will never be the same again.” Within seven days, her 800-word missive had gone viral with 3.75 million readers and 10,000 comments.

Across the pond, Christians are navigating through the morass of secularism. Here is a lengthy but helpful post from Alastair Roberts, which offers a glimpse of how Christians in the UK are responding to the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

This development heralds the movement into a new stage of public discourse surrounding marriage, within which a different set of issues will become more prominent and pressing. The following some thoughts at the current juncture in the cultural conversation.

 
 

Mar

27

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 3.27.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: Heretics by G. K. Chesterton. $0.99.

In this classic collection of twenty essays, Chesterton uses wit and paradox to take on the popular philosophers of his day, including Henrik Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, and Friedrich Nietzsche.

Mark Coppenger – The Contrasting Aesthetics of Christendom:

I imagine you can find fundamentalist churches with “Christmas coffees,” where the staff wear sweaters, and I know some evangelical churches that speak of “soul winning,” but the aesthetic centers of mass are different. This became clearer to me as I tracked the phenomena, from Willow Creek to Moody Memorial to St. Joseph Catholic in Wilmette to Averyville Baptist in East Peoria, as well as to a range of bookstores and websites.

Here are some observations about the various aesthetic centers of mass to be found within American Christendom.

Jared Wilson – Division Begins with the Departure from the Truth:

The person who objects is often told they are “singling out” this particular sin as over-important, as more important than unity! But it is not those who protest who are singling out particular sins. It is those bringing the revision, the ones asking, “Did God really say…?”, the ones who suggest it should now be normal what we previously agreed was objectionable who are singling it out, elevating it above the agreement. They are the ones making it the sticking point.

Books at a Glance recently reviewed Gospel-Centered Teaching, and they were kind enough to interview me. At the beginning of the interview, they sum up the need for this book:

Those who teach must learn what gospel-centered teaching is — and isn’t. And for the most part this effort has been conducted at higher levels — the concern of pastors, theologians, and those with some degree of formal theological training. Fair enough. But pastors who try to keep up with the discussion still must find ways to communicate the same to their own church’s teachers (or group leaders or facilitators or however it is they might be designated).

J. D. Greear – Why Multi-Cultural Matters More than Multi-Colored:

A multi-colored church looks like a salad: there are different elements in close proximity, but each piece is still distinct in color and never retains anything from the others. But a multi-cultural church is more like beef stew: multiple ingredients coming together, sharing what makes them unique, and bringing out one another’s distinct flavors. The result is more than the mere sum of its parts.

 

 
 

Mar

26

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 3.26.13

WorthALook1Kindle Deal of the Day: Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message by Ravi Zacharias. $1.99.

Zacharias considers a unique claim that Jesus made and then contrasts the truth of Jesus with the founders of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism with compelling insight and passionate conviction.

Earlier this week, some readers thought my post on World Vision was calling evangelicals to end their child sponsorships. To be clear, I was not calling evangelicals to abandon their WV children, but grieving the consequences for children if such a thing were to happen. Matthew Lee Anderson’s discussion of this subject is helpful:

Seeking the right here means remaining attentive not only to our sense of moral integrity, but to the good of World Vision USA, the child that we may have folded in some way into our lives, and the communities where they live.  Any counsel that does not attempt to bring coherence and unity toward those aspects is too stunted to be useful.

C. S. Lewis on why we read fiction:

In his famous An Experiment in Criticism, C. S. Lewis offered some powerful reflections on why we read fiction. For him, it ultimately comes down to the idea that fiction allows us to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Tullian Tchividjian – Two Favored Sons:

Within the story of Joseph, we hear whispers and see snippets of a new and better Joseph. Over and over again Joseph’s story illustrates that life comes out of death. He gets thrown in a pit to die but comes out and is spared, rising through the ranks of Potiphar’s household. He gets thrown into prison—is forgotten and forsaken—but is eventually rescued by the King and put in a place of power and honor. He relives the pain of his brothers’ betrayal when they come to him for food years later, but uses his new power to save them rather than kill them—assuring them that what they meant for evil God meant for good. And as a result of his mediation, a world on the brink of death is saved. All of this points us to Jesus.

Is Our Love Affair with the Tablet Over?

It comes down to size. The vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who use tech every day are just fine with having two primary computing devices: One for your pocket and one for your desk. Tablets are trying (and failing) to be portable enough to go everywhere, yet large enough to be multipurpose. Despite all the keyboard origami and elaborate ways to make your tablet into a laptop, it isn’t one.

 
 

Mar

25

2014

Trevin Wax|12:05 am CT

Worth a Look 3.25.14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKindle Deal of the Day: Reading for Preaching by Cornelius Plantinga. $3.99.

In Reading for Preaching Cornelius (Neal) Plantinga makes a singular claim: preachers who read fine writing will likely become deeper and defter preachers.

Mark Brouwer – The Friendless Pastor:

It’s ironic that pastors, who talk the most about the need for community, experience it the least. Our days and nights are filled with calls, meetings, and interactions with people. But despite lots of people contact, we have few trusted peers. We have too many relationships and too few friends.

Should Unborn Babies Be Used to Heat Hospitals?

The remains of more than 15,000 babies were incinerated as ‘clinical waste’ by hospitals in Britain with some used in ‘waste to energy’ plants…

Selma Wilson on defining success:

Being one of only a few women in leadership in Christian publishing, I get asked questions about the path to success especially from younger women. The truth is my life has been much more like a contemporary painting. I keep looking at the painting trying to figure out what the artist is saying. God has been the great designer of my life and it has been a journey of faith rather than a well thought out and developed plan.

Check the Feed: Gauging What Others Think of Your Preaching

We never want to believe that we actually botched a sermon. Many of us are desperate for encouragement. This desperation can make us take refuge in compliments that ought to stir up concern.

Here’s a way to win the excellent resource, Life as we Know It, from SpreadTruth. See Mark Howell’s review here.