Take Your Pick 6/22/11

Haven’t done this in a while, but I came across too many good blogs this morning that were worth linking to.

Here’s a link to Russel Moore’s article on Midnight in Paris, the latest Woody Allen flick that has some good thoughts that Christians should ponder. Ashley and I saw it on our 3rd year anniversary Monday– I liked it, and Ashley wasn’t too sure about it.

Josh Etter’s post at the Desiring God Blog had a great quote from David Powlison on how the omniscience of God should motivate our holiness and purity.

Blaise Pascal, a mathematical genius that lived in the 17th century, after fleeing from God in his early years, finally came to Christ at age 31. This little post from John Piper reminds me that no heart is too obstinate to resist the overwhelming grace of God found in Christ, and that at the heart of Christianity is a eye-opening miracle that enables sinful men to be reconciled to the God of joy.

Also, as I have said before, Ray Ortlund’s blog is a gospel goldmine. Read it. This recent post, which simply quotes from Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield, makes me long for God to raise up these “certain young men.” And for me to be among them.

And lastly, watch this creative video about how to stay creative. It’s fun and has good ideas.


Take Your Pick 8/31/10

# 1 Death of the Phone Call. Amazing where technology is taking us and how fast we’re getting there.

Indeed, I predict that as this sort of hybrid coordination evolves, it will produce a steep power law in the way we use voice calls. We’ll still make fewer, as most of our former phone time will migrate to other media. But the calls we do make will be longer, reserved for the sort of deep discussion that the medium does best.

# 2 Where are the Hittites?

When one meets a Jew in New York or New Orleans or Paris or Melbourne, it is remarkable that no one considers the event remarkable.  What are they doing here?  But it is even more remarkable to wonder, if there are Jews here, why are there not Hittites here?

# 3 Here’s Doug Wilson’s series on how to be a better writer. It’s called “7 Basic and Brief Pointers for Writers.” Great stuff. I especially like #5:

Be at peace with being lousy for a while. Chesterton once said that anything worth doing was worth doing badly. He was right. Only an insufferable egoist expects to be brilliant first time out.

# 4 The Bible is not basically about you. This is a brilliant video that will help you rethink the Old Testament. Watch this. Tim Keller’s sermon is put to Gustave Dores’ art.

Take Your Pick 8/6/10

# 1 Beauty and the gospel by Terry Yount. Brilliant article that describes how the gospel is beautiful, and how dangerous sentimentality can be.

Indeed, as the church seeks a role in the arts, it must reclaim a more mature concept of beauty. As we recognize and embrace the heartlonging in many works of art, we may make a convincing proclamation of the whole gospel message.

Finding a way to the full expression of beauty, however, is a challenge. The danger is beauty’s menacing half-sister, sentimentality. How does sentimentality work against beauty? And further, how does sentimentality work against the gospel?

# 2 A graphic that shows how the digital revolution is changing our world.

# 3 Here’s a list of James MacDonald’s favorite books.

# 4 Christopher Hitchens writes his first “raw reactions to being stricken.” Great article– it’s good to come to grips with mortality, and this article makes you do that.

Myself, I love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient. Allow me to inform you, though, that when you sit in a room with a set of other finalists, and kindly people bring a huge transparent bag of poison and plug it into your arm, and you either read or don’t read a book while the venom sack gradually empties itself into your system, the image of the ardent soldier or revolutionary is the very last one that will occur to you. You feel swamped with passivity and impotence: dissolving in powerlessness like a sugar lump in water.

# 4 Douglas Wilson has eight articles that are meant to help wanna-be writers. I’ll post the list here and the individual ones on future Take Your Picks.

Take Your Pick 7/26/10

#1 Your Procrastination is Sin. As an admitted procrastinator, this article by Joe Thorne shook me up a little bit. And none other than Jonathan Edwards was the one to do it.

Why is procrastination wrong? Edwards argues that procrastination presumes upon the grace of God, assuming that he has given us future time when in fact our time may be short. We do not know whether or not we have tomorrow, so we must wisely improve upon the time God does give us.

# 2 Jason Helopoulos gives 4 good reasons to leave your church, 3 possible reasons, and 8 bad reasons. This is a helpful post for anybody who’s not sure about their church.

“What right do you ever have to leave a church?” I can remember that question being asked by my ecclesiology professor in seminary. It is a good question and one that would benefit us all to wrestle with. As Kevin has recently pointed out on this blog, there is biblical warrant and there are practical reasons for entering into covenant through local church membership. Having entered into that covenant our breaking of it should never be done lightly. Clearly, there are reasons to leave a local church. But what are they? I have been thinking about this for the past ten years and this is my attempt at answering the question:

# 3 Video interview of Matt Chandler talking about life with brain cancer.

“He was the first one to say to me out loud, ‘Nothing’s really changed for you—you just get to be aware that you’re mortal. Everyone is, but they’re just not aware of it. The gift that God’s given you is that you get to be aware of your mortality.’

# 4 The gift of laughter. I love Ray Ortlund’s blog. It’s short, easy to read, and insightful. Here’s a snippet.

And there, on the green carpet of grass, under the trees, two of the world’s greatest men knelt and thanked the dear Lord for the bright and joyous gift of laughter.”

Take Your Pick 7/9/10

# 1 One of The Master’s College’s favorite professors wrote a book– Meaning at the Movies. Dr. Grant Horner is a hilarious teacher, a great story-teller, a brilliant thinker, and an excellent rock climber. He also developed a popular (and rigorous) Bible Reading Program that I’ve found helpful. Anyway, I was excited to see Christianity’s most popular blog mention Dr. Horner’s new book:

If you’re going to read Grant Horner’s new book on film art, Meaning at the Movies, he strongly suggests that you watch certain films before reading the chapter in which they are discussed. If you don’t, you’ll find spoilers (which is inevitable in any serious analysis of a story) and it will lessen the impact of the film itself.

# 2 Increase the earning power of your children. I loved this post. It make me smile. Read it.

Want your children to go further in their education—high school, college, maybe more? Want them to earn more as adults? Here’s one key predictor of educational attainment and earning power. Is it IQ? Is it economic status?

No, it’s the number of books in the home.

# 3 Why do morning people rule the world? I feel like I knew it all along.

History is full of great bores praising the virtues of early rising, but few have made the case for letting the day drift by until you kick into gear around happy hour.

# 4 This video is great– it discusses the “Secret Powers of Time” and how our “time perspective” affects our lifestyle. It also explains dilemma of our instant gratification culture.

Take Your Pick 7/3/10

# 1 What Kindle needs to do to keep up with iPad. I just started following this blog (I think I’m late to the game) and I love it.

I saw a two-year old kid (in diapers, in a stroller), using an iPod Touch today. Not just looking at it, but browsing menus and interacting. This is a revolution, guys.

# 2 If you are a parent (or planning on being one) it might be helpful to watch this video. It seems to be a scary fulfillment of a Huxleyan future.

# 3 This article by Russel Moore showed me the reality of how bad the oil spill is.

This is more than a threat to my hometown, and to our neighboring communities. It is a threat to national security greater than most Americans can even contemplate, because so few of them know how dependent they are on the eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico. This is, as one magazine put it recently, Katrina meets Chernobyl.

# 4 Speaking of the oil spill, here are some sad pictures of what it’s doing to the environment.

Based on recently revised estimates, BP’s ruptured oil well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico continues to leak 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day. The new figures suggest that an amount of oil equivalent to the Exxon Valdez disaster could still be flowing into the Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days. Despite apparent efforts to restrict journalists from accessing affected areas, stories, video and photographs continue to emerge. Collected here are recent photographs of oil-affected wildlife, people and shorelines around the Gulf of Mexico on this, the 51st day after the initial explosion.

Take Your Pick: A Tribute to Tyson

Here are some links to read about Tyson Larson– my late, beloved cousin and friend.

My sister’s blog: The Simmons Update: Tyson Lane Larson 1982-2010

June 17, 2010 the world lost one of the most special people.  We lost a loved one.  Tyson Larson went home to be with Jesus.  This is such an unreal process, loosing a loved one, and everyone grieves differently.  There were so many things running through my mind when I heard about the accident.  “No Lord, not Tyson.”  “There has to be a mistake.”  “Why God.”  I could keep going.

Here is the Facebook page dedicated to remembering Tyson.

Here is Lindsey’s inspiring and hope-filled note that she wrote on Facebook.

And here are my 3 posts reflecting on the days after the incident on Thursday:

** If you know of any other posts to link to, let me know.

Take Your Pick 6/8/10

#1 If you’re a young pastor like me, read this. Seriously–The Glory of Plodding by Kevin Deyoung. My generation needs to hear it.

Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. The invisible church is for invisible Christians. The visible church is for you and me. Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.

#2 Speaking of something I needed to hear, John Koessler’s latest post, Attending to the Culture of Our Souls, is a great encouragement to me. I often struggle with this issue.

Perhaps the most productive decision you make today could be to engage in “a little studied retirement.” You might start by turning off the little sound on your computer that alerted you to this new post.

# 3 This is not good news for me, a Verizon guy.

It’s that time of year again: The weather is getting warmer, Apple‘s annual Worldwide Developers Conference is just around the corner, and rumors about the iPhone coming to Verizon are sprouting up.

Don’t believe it, Verizon fans. It’s unlikely that Steve Jobs will announce a Verizon tie-up when he gets on stage at the WWDC event on June 7.

# 4 Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God has a trailer out that is worth watching simply for the creativity of it. Watch it, and then consider flying me out to Minnesota to attend this October 🙂

# 4

Take Your Pick 4/14/10

How to Cope with Not Attending T4G. I needed this.

It’s easy at a time like this to start to get bitter. It’s like the dance that everyone attended in high school without you. Everybody cool is going to be there, which leaves you feeling like you naturally should be there too.

Croatian teenager wakes up from her coma speaking only German. What?

The girl, from the southern town of Knin, had only just started studying German at school and had been reading German books and watching German TV to become better, but was by no means fluent, according to her parents.

Since waking up from her 24 hourcoma however, she has been unable to speak Croatian, but is able to communicate perfectly in German.

Ray Ortlund with a quote on how zeal and resolve can change the world.

Men who are possessed by these qualities commonly carry the day in almost all affairs.  Most of the great things that have been done in the world, the great revolutions that have been accomplished in the kingdoms and empires of the earth, have been primarily owing to zeal and resolve.

Sad post by Dr. Al Mohler about a doctor aborting the “wrong” baby.

Back in 2006, Dr. Matthew Kachinas had been asked to perform an abortion on a baby that had been identified as having Down syndrome and other congenital defects. Instead, the doctor aborted that baby’s healthy twin.

Take Your Pick 3/17/10

Some lists of the qualities of church planters. Chuck Ridley from Texas A&M, J. Allen Thompson, Scott Thomas of Acts 29 and Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Scott Thomas writes:

The qualities of a successful basketball player are consistent. He or she can dribble, shoot, pass, play defense, rebound, play as a team, think, move quickly and work hard. They don’t have to do all of these at the same level but all of the qualities characterize a succesful player at the highest level.

Church planters similarily have qualities that determine their God-given capacity to plant a reproducing church.

7 athletes who squandered millions. This is sad.

Almost 80 percent of National Football League players are flirting with bankruptcy two years after they retire, according to Sports Illustrated. NBA players aren’t faring much better. 60 percent of former National Basketball Association players end up broke within five years of retirement. Athletes squander millions of dollars due to bad decisions, lavish spending and poor financial planning. Here is a list of athletes that have lost their fortunes through some of the biggest financial blunders of all time.

Ten books every preacher should read. One down. Nine to go. Anything on Al Mohler’s recommendation list should be considered.

Is it wrong that most pastors don’t want to work for small, poor churches? Interesting article titled Who Will Lead Smaller Churches?

Although there are more Protestant ministers than churches, many ministers don’t want to work for those congregations, especially smaller ones, according to a study by Duke University. The study was reported in a March 16, 2004, Associated Baptist Press report.