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A Shot of Encouragement

Hauling Off

There is a new podcast in the world.

My wife and one of her good friends had been talking about the possibility of podcasting, and then were prodded by one of the young ladies in our church/school to record their first episode at her birthday party.

These are ladies worth listening to. Along with a guest, they talk about dealing with temptations to sin as a mom, and in particular as an intellectual or at least intellectually interested mom, and then finish off with some direction for younger girls on thinking about how they invest their attention dollars as sisters in Christ.

If you’re interested then listen, subscribe, and share.

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A Shot of Encouragement

A Time to Bother with Principles

Abraham Kuyper in 1870:

I fully agree that anyone entering a house in ordinary times is not thinking about the foundation on which it rests; so also in Jesus’ church there can be times when people dwell together and labor together while hardly bothering themselves about any principles. But in times like these that we are now experiencing, now when in every area the foundations are being undermined, now when everything is pressing down to the depths and people are proceeding restlessly to pry the deepest principles loose—now in these times it would be all too naïve, all too negligent for people to sidestep the issue of principles any longer.

On the Church, 68-69
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A Shot of Encouragement

Keep Calm and Just Conquer

The book of Revelation urges Christians to conquer. The letters to all seven churches promise great things to the ones who conqueror. We conquer by the blood of the Lamb, we conquer by not loving our lives even unto death (Revelation 12:11). This Keep Calm and Just Conquer is the last Keep Calm you’ll need. Image credit goes to Glenn Wainwright.

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A Shot of Encouragement

MacArthur Out of the Corner

I am very grateful for how John MacArthur has come out of the corner on behalf of his flock, for the sake of religious liberty, and in service to all the other churches that will benefit from his stand.

Dr. MacArthur is a truth-lover. He’s been preaching the truth longer than I’ve been alive. God has used his teaching and his example in my own life. My convictions about the Word would not be as dear to me or as deep without MacArthur’s persistence and faithfulness.

I’d also say that his defenses of the truth sometime comes across like a truth quarantine. There have been times when the attitude has been more, “Join us in our corner. Here is where the biblically faithful are.” There is a way that guarding the faith can become insular.

But as GCC has returned to normal church services, Dr. MacArthur is in his lane, but out of his corner.

I started by saying that I am thankful. This is a difficult position, not only as a target of L.A. County officials and the CA governor, but also as MacArthur is getting significant criticism from many he’s trying to help.

It reminds me of the scene in Moneyball when the owner of the Red Sox said to Billy Beane, “I know you’re taking it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall, he always gets bloody. Always.” (Watch the clip here, with the quote at the 2:35 mark.)

I am grateful for Phil Johnson and his (return to writing and) explanations of the changes at the PyroManiacs site. Phil is undoubtedly a major influence to the thinking behind, and change in, the GCC position.

So here we see MacArthur, Johnson, and GCC going first rather than circling the wagons. They are using their God-given platform to take a beating on behalf of others. Again, it’s not that this is the first time they’ve been criticized, even severely. But perhaps more than ever it is clear that this is an offensive rather than defensive move, and it is a move on behalf of their own church that, Lord willing, will benefit churches in CA legally as well as churches around the world by example. I am praying that they win.

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A Shot of Encouragement

YouVersion

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while. The YouVersion Bible app is great and I am grateful to God for it.

I like apps. I try a lot, and buy a bunch. I’ve used half a dozen Bible apps in particular. I use Logos every week for reading commentaries and other resources, and open Olive Tree in order to look up Greek and Hebrew when I’m on my phone or iPad. YouVersion won’t replace those, but it has still earned a place in my daily rotation.

  • YouVersion has a buffet of English translations (let alone other languages). I choose the ESV in YouVersion 99% of the time, but all the translations are available for free. Wow.
  • Most of the translations have accompanying audio. It is amazing to have a digital servant ready to read at the tap of a button. Listening is not my favorite way to consume the Word, but there are many people (my wife included) for whom it is fantastic.
  • Earlier this year YouVersion added auto-scrolling of text with audio. The “official” ESV Bible app used to be the only app I knew of with that option, but this addition brought me back and I’ve stayed.
  • There are apps for iPhones/iPads, Android, and the web.
  • There are umpteen reading plans to choose from, plans to read through the Bible in a year, to read for shorter sprints, to read about particular topics. I like how the app keeps track of progress, sends optional notifications, and offers to read with others.
  • Social aspects of the Internet are both edifying and time-sucking. If I could only choose one app for connecting with people, I think I’d choose YouVersion. Where is a better place to encourage others to crave and to meditate on and seek to do the Word than in a Bible app?

I realize that I was late to the game with YouVersion (their counter is ticking up over 404 million app installs as I type), so this recommendation may not have told you anything new. But again, I’m thankful to the God of this Word for the team who made and maintains and updates this app. If you’re looking for a Bible reading plan or a new resource for 2020, I highly recommend giving this app a try.

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A Shot of Encouragement

Trinitarian Goals

I not only appreciate this Mission Statement from Fred Sanders, I am a big beneficiary of his efforts. #blessed

“I teach theology in order to increase the odds on the doctrine of the Trinity doing its proper work in the church; in particular I am a content provider for evangelical trinitarianism.”

Buy yourself a copy of The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything or buy a dozen copies and give them to your people, like a Trinitarian.

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A Shot of Encouragement

Making It Easier

Here’s a good question for considering how to bless others: Is what I’m doing making it easier for them to give thanks to the Lord?

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A Shot of Encouragement

Enormous Education

In A Centennial Reader, James Bratt introduces Abraham Kuyper’s inaugural address for the Free University of Amsterdam, and why opening this institution was so important for Kuyper:

“Higher education and advanced research had enormous importance for him: religiously, for exploring and enhancing God’s creation; strategically, for (re)shaping society and culture; socially, for raising the self-respect and life-chances of common people.”

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A Shot of Encouragement

Pipe and Pencil

On reading doctrinal books rather than devotional books for sake of deepening devotion:

“For my own part I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that their heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”

—C.S. Lewis, Preface to On the Incarnation

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A Shot of Encouragement

The Clean Sea Breeze of the Centuries

Perhaps my favorite Preface of all time is that by C. S. Lewis for On the Incarnation by Athanasius. Here’s an example, on why we should read old books:

“Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.”