A Plea to Christian Publishers on Behalf of Their Authors

I love to review books that are of special interest to Christians. And even when I’m not able to review them, I still love to make people aware of titles that are new and noteworthy. Based on the number of books that are stuffed into my mailbox just about every day, I presume that Christian publishers appreciate it when I do this. I hope this gives me a voice to those publishers, and I want to use it to plead …

Weekend A La Carte (May 21)

Westminster Books has a great deal on various works by John Frame. You can’t go wrong with any of his books. Public Discourse in the Age of Social Media “Christians must understand that the medium of social media has a tendency to cheapen that which is rich and to deprecate that which is holy. But, ahead we charge. Because, even on social media, the eternal import of the gospel bursts like a light in the darkness of an endless stream …

Fostering a Fear of God

I recently heard a young Christian remark, “I have no fear of dying.” When I heard this comment I thought to myself, “I wish I could say that.” I am not afraid of death. I believe that death for the Christian is a glorious transition to heaven. I am no…

Missing Words

I am a bit of a word geek. I have a passing interest in where words and phrases come from. A few years ago I had a “Forgotten English” desk calendar which had a different word each day—such glorious terms as dringle (to waste time in a lazy, lingering manner), eargh (superstitiously afraid—from which we get eerie), and searcher (a civil officer employed in Glasgow to apprehend idlers in the streets during the time of public worship on Sunday).

Maybe if towns employed a few searchers to round up the dringlers on a Sabbath morning we won’t suffer from as much eargh. But fair enough, words drop out of usage and we no longer need to be familiar with them—and new words and terminology need to be defined.

In 2008 Oxford University Press, in updating their Junior dictionary, removed words like ‘bishop’, ‘chapel’, ‘goldfish’, ‘liquorice’, ‘buttercup’, and ‘heather’ and replaced them with words like ‘blog’, ‘mp3 player’, ‘cut and paste’ and ‘celebrity’.

But it struck me as interesting what has largely been dropped from the Junior Dictionary—words to do with rural life and the countryside, words to do with royalty and empire (this is the UK version after all), and more crucially as far as I’m concerned, words to […]

Have you read the Bible? Would you like to learn more? (Ezra and Nehemiah)

Would you like to learn more about the Bible? Here is a helpful video introducing Ezra and Nehemiah, the fifteenth and sixteenth books of the Bible.

Better Than Busy

Better Than Busy

The cry of our age is “busy.”

How are you? “Busy.”

How’s work? “Busy.”

How are the kids doing? “Their lives are so busy. I feel like I’m just a taxi driver.”

How was the shopping mall today? “Too busy.”

Can you help me? “I’m busy at the moment.”

The fast-paced busyness of life that pushes God to the margins can easily turn into burnout. Lots of us are crying out for ways of handling the busyness before it does.

Yet expectations of keeping up with everything continually escalate, courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, and the rest. We are all susceptible to the expectation that we always are available, aware of everything that is happening, and capable of achieving anything. Unsurprisingly, this demand to be omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent places pressure on all of us, whatever our level of social media dexterity.

Add some more ingredients — inadequate sleep, poor dietary habits, caffeine addiction, the urge to project our preferred identity, a sedentary lifestyle — and we have the perfect recipe for unremitting anxiety and restlessness.

But each of us is, if you like, the chief cook in our own kitchen. We can choose to rethink the ingredients we stir into the mix of life that leave us feeling bloated and stressed rather than nourished and sustained. The 24/7 hustle and bustle is of our own making, at least to some extent. Just as people go on detox diets, we would do well to heed calls for digital detox and reconsider how much we try to pack into life. A good starter is the practical suggestions for a twelve-step digital detox by Tony Reinke, followed with the richly nourishing poetry of Wendell Berry’s This Day.

The futile attempt to sustain ourselves by our own efforts is not new. Our digital age simply offers new manifestations of the age-old temptation to usurp God’s role for ourselves. But against this age-old temptation, God offers an age-old response: what would happen to our 24/7 switched-on world if the people who came to Jesus for rest (Matthew 11:28) regularly took a day of rest from distraction, work, and busyness? What would this weekly habit have to offer to the world in which we find ourselves — a world that restlessly continues to search for peace amid busyness?

1. Taking a weekly day of rest is a sign that we desire God.

Taking one day a week to cease our strivings and focus on God shouts out that we desire God above status, financial reward, promotion in the workplace, achievement, and all other things that would distract us from the one we love.

Not taking time with someone we love when given the chance is a sure sign of diminished desire to be with them, to reflect together on the good times spent together in the past, and to consider what the future holds. When we specifically and intentionally set a day a week aside to focus on the Lord, as the old covenant people of God were commanded to do as they journeyed (Exodus 16:23, 25), we signal to the world that our hearts belong to him.

Treasuring a day of rest and worship lets people know where our heart lies.

2. Taking a weekly day of rest is a sign that we trust God.

Taking one day a week to let go of our endeavors to survive the present and prepare for the future shows that we trust God that his provision for the present is adequate and his promise for the future is sure.

When we have a weekly rhythm of a day of rest, we stand alongside the old covenant saints who trusted God to provide for their needs (Exodus 16:22–30). We stand alongside Jesus, who rejected Satan’s attempt to convince him to look after his own needs, by recalling that we live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Matthew 4:4).

We live with integrity as people who pray “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11), and then trust God to do it. As finite creatures, we declare our trust in the resources of the infinite Creator, who provides us with every blessing (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Timothy 6:17). When we commit to enjoy a weekly day of rest in the busiest seasons of life (see Exodus 34:21), we declare our trust in God even more loudly.

3. Taking a weekly day of rest proclaims Christ’s supremacy.

Taking one day a week to loosen our hearts’ grip on our own achievements clears space for remembering and reminding each other of Christ’s achievements. Everything we cannot do, even with endless striving, Christ has done already. In our rest, we proclaim that he has fulfilled the requirement of perfect obedience to his Father (Romans 8:3–4). We proclaim that he has provided the true rest our pursuit of leisure activities and restless sleep cannot provide (Matthew 11:28–30).

Since those who die in the Lord will rest from their hard labor (Revelation 14:13), resting one day a week now helps us to remember and prepare for that future, when at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess he is Lord (Philippians 2:10–11). We declare that our ambition is much bigger than career progression, or status elevation, or completing earthly tasks — it is to make Christ known.

4. Taking a weekly day of rest declares our freedom.

Freeing one day a week from the tyranny of the urgent and the never-finished to-do list reminds us and those around us that we are no longer slaves. The original recipients of the command to rest one day in seven were reminded that the Lord rescued them from slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). But for Israel — and for us — redemption from physical bondage was merely a picture of the greater freedom from sin and death (Romans 6:15–23). We see more clearly than did Israel that we “were called to freedom” (Galatians 5:13), and therefore our cause for remembrance and celebration is greater.

We take a day of rest not by obligation, but out of a greater desire to pause, to remember, to look forward, and to worship. Declaring that we freely choose to celebrate freedom is a message sorely needed by those who are enslaved to the obligations of busyness and who feel like they cannot escape the tyranny of burnout.

Sneaky Squids And Sola Scriptura

When I saw Chris Rosebrough tweet something about a “sneaky squid spirit doctrine” I thought it must be something from The Onion or the Babylon Bee. It is not. It is the latest thing from the world of charismatic continuing prophecy. The . . . Continue reading →

Vice, Virtue, and a Double Tree Trunk: Comparing Philo and the Stoics on Moral Formation

How does Philo, the ancient Jewish philosopher, conceive of the origin of evil in each individual person compared to the Stoic understanding in which he operated? A excellent point of comparison is Philo’s use of a “double trunk” or “double branch” metaphor, in which he suggests that there is a single root producing two opposing […]

Free Stuff Fridays (The Gospel for Life Series)

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention which, as you know, also sponsored the blog this week. ERLC has recently released a series of books titled “The Gospel for Life” and they are giving away two complete sets. That means there will be two winners this week and each will receive: The Gospel and Work The Gospel and Parenting The Gospel and Pornography The Gospel and Same-Sex Marriage The Gospel and …

Signposts: How to Deal with a Family Member’s Racist Comments

When someone you love or are close to vocalizes a racist sentiment, what’s the best way to respond? In this episode of Signposts I consider how we can confront racial prejudice in our families in a gospel-centered way. Listen below, and… Read More

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