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Saturday Selections - August 8, 2020

Our Kids Online: Porn, Predators & How to Keep Them Safe A new documentary making the rounds is an eye-opener and can be rented for $5 US at the link above. Read our review here. What do you believe? The value of knowing...in words "You say one picture is worth a thousand words? Well, let’s see about that. You give me one thousand words and I’ll give you the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm; and the Hippocratic Oath; and a sonnet by Shakespeare; and the Preamble to the Constitution; and Lincoln’s Gettysburg address; and I’ll still have enough words left over for just about all of the Boy Scout oath. And I wouldn’t trade you those things for any picture on earth." Why science and atheism don't mix "Science proceeds on the basis of the assumption that the universe is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to the human mind. No science can be done without the scientist believing this, so it is important to ask for grounds for this belief. Atheism gives us none, since it posits a mindless, unguided origin of the universe’s life and consciousness." While John Lennox is not a six-day creationist he does solid work here pointing out this gaping hole in atheistic evolutionary thinking. Two fantastic responses to racism Black conservatives are frequent targets of racism. These two Christians show how to respond with grace and power. The most frightening text in the Bible? Michael Kelly weighs in on Matthew 7:21-23, and the Church's role in addressing self-deception. When they say "Assisted Suicide is compassionate" (6 min) Why is suicide wrong? For the same reason that murder is: because we are taking the life of an image-bearer of God, and that is His, and not ours to take. This video overlooks this Christian foundation, and lists four practical problems that often result when a nation accepts Assisted Suicide. The four points are fantastic, and the video important viewing. But when we miss out on the Christian foundation, then any arguments we build won't have a firm footing. If it is only practical problems that prevent us from supporting Assisted Suicide, then that is where the debate will be had, and the other side will offer practical solutions. So, for example, if "sometimes a terminal diagnosis is wrong" there is an easy solution to that: a second opinion (or even a third, and fourth). Practical problem solved! Why won't such a practical solution actually work? Because once we think life something that is ours to take, then we won't value it enough to protect it this adamantly. The core problem is not a practical one, but whether we are going to treat life as given by God. When we understand that is the core issue, then we can point out the practical problems that result from seeing life as anything short of sacred. But those practical arguments will only stand if they rest on a foundation of Rock (Ps. 78:35).

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FREE BOOK: Coronavirus and Christ

by John Piper 2020 / 112 pages  What Piper offers us in what he calls this “historic moment of bitter providence” is a lesson in how to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). The secret of “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” is this: knowing that the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it. Some Christians want to “rescue God from his sovereignty over suffering” – they want to say God is not responsible for the coronavirus. But, Piper notes, such a "rescue" can only be done if we also “sacrifice his sovereignty to turn all things for our good” – if God is not responsible for the coronavirus, then He is not really in control, and we can’t rely on Him to do as He has promised, turning all things to our good (Romans 8:28-30). However, God is in control. Therefore... The very sovereignty that rules in sickness is the sovereignty that sustains in loss. The very sovereignty that takes life is the sovereignty that conquered death and brings believers home to heaven and Christ. It is not sweet to think that Satan, sickness, sabotage, fate, or chance has the last say in my life. That is not good news. That God reigns is good news. Why? Because God is holy and righteous and good. And he is infinitely wise. We don’t know all the reasons God has brought the coronavirus. But we do know He values us, and loves us so much He gave His Son for us. We do know He is in control. So we do know He can and will do as He has promised, somehow, in some way, turning even this pandemic to the good of those who love Him. It is a short read, but an encouraging and also challenging one. It is also free, both as an e-book, and as a 2-hour audiobook. Both can found at DesiringGod.org/ books/coronavirus-and-christ. You can also find the audiobook on YouTube here. The book trailer is available below. ...

Book Reviews, Lists

200+ free e-books worth checking out

We live in an age in which so many wonderful resources are available for free. Of course, with the sheer numbers being passed along here, we haven't been able to read, let alone review all of them so, as always, be sure to use discernment. But there are certainly a good number of gems here. The books below aren't broken up by subject, but are, instead, divided into three categories based on whether you can easily download them, or whether some personal information might be required, or whether the book has to be read online. This is a list of recent books, with most published in the last decade or two. Monergism.com has a list of much older titles, with most published at a minimum of 100 years ago, and many springing right out of the Reformation 500 years past. Their list amounts to more than 500 titles and can be found here. Downloads These books are completely free and can be downloaded with minimal fuss (usually just a click and you are on your way). Almost 100 from John Piper and friends John Piper seems to have released all of his books in free pdf versions, and has tackled topics as diverse as biblical manhood and womanhood, abortion, sex, retirement, C.S. Lewis, Open Theism, racism and biographies. On occasion, some of Piper's writings are clearly directed to specifically Reformed Baptists. So, for example, in his biography of Adoniram Judson, he lauds the missionary for coming to reject infant baptism in favor of adult baptism. But for the most part his books are intended for a larger Reformed audience. But with so many available, what should you start with? His short biographies are excellent, each about 70 pages or so, and one of his most popular is Don't Waste Your Life. Oh, and while the majority of the books here are by Piper, there are many exceptions, and that's important to note, because if it isn't by him, it may not be free. 31 days of purity This is a 31-day devotional to encourage and challenge the Church in regard to sexual purity. With contributions from Tim Challies, David Murray, and Joel Beeke, there are some insightful, trustworthy folks behind this. 4 volume set of S.D. DeGraaf Promise and Deliverance series The four volumes of S.D. DeGraaf’s Promise and Deliverance series are a very expensive and rare find – they haven’t been in print for a decade or two. But these volumes would be very useful for parents and teachers who are trying to share the Bible stories with children. The set is a sort of commentary, or a set of outlines, for all the stories in the Bible, and done from a covenantal perspective. Maybe the best way to think of it would be as a sort of “cheat sheet” for parents – S.D. DeGraaf comes alongside us to prepare us to teach these stories, this biblical history, to our children. It could also be read as a devotional of sorts for teens, or even adults. These have been used in Dutch Reformed circles for generations now, but were also recognized by Christianity Today as a "landmark in interpreting the simple stories of the Bible." The free pdfs below are scanned, which means they aren't searchable or highlightable, but they are certainly readable. You can download them by clicking here for: Volume 1: From Creation to the conquest of Canaan Volume 2: The failure of Israel's theocracy Volume 3: Christ's ministry and death Volume 4: Christ and the nations You can find a longer review of these books here. Social Justice: How good intentions undermine justice and the Gospel E. Calvin Beisner is probably best known as the head of the Christian stewardship group the Cornwall Alliance. But before he started speaking on the environment, he researched and wrote a lot on poverty and economics. In this booklet he outlines how good intentions are not only not enough, but often harmful. 15 by WORLD magazine's Marvin Olasky The editor of the Christian WORLD magazine has written books on Journalism and how Christians should read the news (and write it), on the history of abortion and the fight against, on a Christian perspective on compassion and the government's role in it, and even written a novel about radical Islam. There is lots to love here! Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? This is an important topic for any Christian considering the pill. Randy Alcorn's 200-page book can be downloaded for free, or, click here for a shorter overview. Abolition of Reason Jonathon Van Maren, Scott Klusendorf and other “incrementalist” pro-lifers argue against "abolitionism" or “immediatism.” Memoirs of an ordinary pastor: The life and reflections of Tom Carson Well-known Reformed Baptist pastor D.A. Carson on his unknown, faithful father. False Messages: A Guide for the Godly Bride Aileen Challies, wife of the Reformed blogger Tim Challies, has written a booklet for women on a biblical view of sexuality (it is near the bottom of the list). The Holy Spirit Kevin DeYoung with a short 30-page introduction to the Third Person of the Trinity. Scripture Alone: The Evangelical doctrine In this 40-page booklet, RC Sproul does a wonderful job of defending this key Reformed doctrine. Why sex is the best argument for creation The folks behind the fantastic documentary Is Genesis History have created a short 115-page e-book with ten of their most popular essays, including the title essay. You can download the pdf for free here, the Mobi (Kindle) version here, and the Epub version here. 20+ from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church I haven't had a chance to check these out, but plan to download Ned B. Stonehouse's J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir. Download for free, but they want some information These books are free, but getting them will require you to give your email address, or create an account, or in some way provide them some information. But these aren't spammers, so you can always opt out of their email lists. 30+ booklets from RC Sproul In the last few years RC Sproul released a series of "Crucial Questions" booklets, all in the range of 40 to maybe 80 pages. That made them concise - something that could be read in an evening or two. And Sproul managed to pack a lot in these few pages while still keeping it readable. I will say, they still aren't light reads, but because of their small size, if anyone is interested in the question, then they should be able to work through Sproul's answer. I haven't read all 28 of them, but have appreciated each of the half dozen or so I've read so far. They tackle questions such as: Can I know God's will? Can I lose my salvation? What is baptism? Who is the Holy Spirit? The e-book versions are free and will be forever. Love the least (a lot) Michael Spielman is the founder of the website Abort73.com, one of the most comprehensive pro-life websites on the Internet. And his Love the Least (A Lot) is one of the most readable, most motivating, pro-life books you could ever read. God and the gay Christian: a response to Matthew Vines This is a response, by Reformed Baptist leader R. Albert Mohler Jr., to a popular book by Matthew Vines called God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Mohler has also written a short book Homosexuality and the Bible. Parenting the Internet generation This is such a helpful book! It's by Luke Gilkerson, one of the folks working at Covenant Eyes, a Christian Internet accountability company, and his goal is to help equip parents to protect and guide their children when it comes to all things online. This is a thoroughly biblical resource, and as much a parenting guide as it is an Internet guide. You can find a longer review here. Covenant Eyes has many other booklets available on the topics of sexual purity and online safety such as More than single, A parent's guide to cyber bullying, Equipped: Raising Godly Digital Natives, and more, that can be found here. Read online These books are free too, but are only available to be read online, usually one chapter per webpage. 30+ Creationist resources from Answers in Genesis Answers in Genesis is a creationist group with a presuppositionalist approach to apologetics, which means there is a decided Reformed influence in the group. But while all Reformed folk should be creationist, not all creationists are Reformed, so these books are not specifically Reformed. Answers in Genesis has done something curious here, in making their books available for free reading. You can't download them, but can read them, chapter by chapter, on their website. That makes things a little more troublesome, but if the book interests you, it is a minor inconvenience. The very best is In Six Days, in which 50 scientists each take a chapter to explain why they believe in creationism. Old Earth Creationism on Trial and In the Beginning Was Information are also very good. Even more great Creationist books Dr. Jonathan Sarfati’s Refuting Evolution, and Refuting Evolution 2 are available for online reading here. Letters to a Mormon Elder James White’s fantastic resource can be read for free online. Be a bit patient – it does seem to take a minute or two to load....

News

Saturday Selections - December 7, 2019

FREE E-BOOK: Why sex is the best argument for creation The folks behind the fantastic documentary Is Genesis History have created a short 115-page e-book with ten of their most popular essays, including the title essay. You can download the pdf for free here, the Mobi (Kindle) version here, and the Epub version here. Should we use "preferred pronouns"? (10-minute read) J.D. Greear, a prominent US pastor, recently told listeners that he will use a transgender person's "preferred pronouns" out of a “generosity of spirit” – i.e. Greear will call a guy a she, if that's what the guy asks Greear to do. Now, there is some nuance to be had in this but also a clear line that shouldn't be crossed. The clear line? We should not lie, even if people ask us to, so we cannot refer to men as women. The nuance? If we meet a transgender fellow, our opening line doesn't have to be: "You need to stop wearing dresses." We can start with "Hi" or "How's it going?" And if that fellow asks us to call him Sue, we can even do that, because, while it is an odd name for a guy, we can pick our names, even as we can't pick our gender. This Rod Dreher article is fantastic in that it includes a lot of other's thoughts as well. How I make a sermon (3-minute read) Dr. Bredenhof gives us a peek behind the curtain to see what's involved when he crafts his sermon. No Canadian Anglicans by 2040? And no United Church either? (10-minute read) This article, by a veteran religion reporter, collects a few other articles to explore whether mainline denominations in Canada and the US might be gone by 2040. And while this is far from certain, this isn't simply hype from some journalist trying to get click-thrus – we're hearing this straight from the horses's mouth: "A 'wake-up call.' That’s what Archbishop Linda Nicholls, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, called a new report showing there may be no members left in the mainline Canadian denomination in 20 years." Praying backwards (2-minute read) We'll often conclude our prayers with the words "...but Your will be done." What if we began our prayers that way, putting God's desires first? Your eyes are AMAZING!!! (9 minutes) The funnest bit starts just after the 4-minute mark when Dr. Wells spells out an evolutionary critique of the design of the eye. But what evolutionists present as an example of bad design (and therefore as proof of unguided, undesigned evolution) is actually an example of genius. Or, rather, Genius. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kboUBQnMP8w  ...


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Religion, Religion - Mormons

Mormons and Masons have their secrets. We don’t.

There’s nothing esoteric about the Christian faith. There is no secret mystery into which you must become initiated in order to be admitted. It’s not like the Gnostic sects where one had to become an initiate for years before he became a full member. Jesus spoke to this issue plainly when He said in John 18:19: "I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues, or in the temple court, where all the Jews assemble, and I didn’t teach anything secretly." Christianity isn’t Masonry, or Mormonism, where you take vows “never to reveal and always to conceal” rituals that you are required to perform in a Lodge meeting or in a “temple” ceremony. It has always been completely aboveboard about its beliefs and practices. Indeed, as Jesus said, He always spoke “openly.” If an organization – or pseudo church – has anything worthwhile to offer, let it be open to examination. How can anyone vow to never reveal something before he knows what it is? That is one form of what the Bible calls a rash vow (Prov. 20:25, Eccl. 5:2-7, Judges 11:29-40). It is sinful to make a vow that one doesn’t know whether or not he ought to keep before he knows what it is he is vowing to keep secret. Suppose, after taking a vow, one were to realize that he must expose the error or sinfulness of what he learns – he’d then find himself in an intolerable position. On the one hand, he’d be obligated to expose it; on the other hand he would have vowed not to do so. That is an unacceptable dilemma, one into which one must never allow himself to be inveigled. One more thought – if a group of any sort has something worth becoming a part of, it has no right to conceal it from anyone; but like our Lord said, it is something that should be proclaimed “openly to the world.” If it’s worthwhile, spread it abroad. Why would you selfishly cling to it as private truth? If it’s not something worthwhile, then don’t get into it in the first place. On every score, then, no Christian should ever become involved in a secret society. A fundamental principle of our faith is to preach the message of salvation to all the world. We have nothing to hide. Dr. Jay Adams is Dean of the Institute for Nouthetic Studies and the author of more than 100 books. This post first appeared on his blog at www.nouthetic.org and is reprinted here with permission....

Religion

An open letter to Glenn Beck on the difference between Mormons and Christians

I know some people who called themselves freedom-loving capitalists. But they also support government bailouts, high tariffs to block imports, supply management, and whenever the country is facing a tough situation, they inevitably call for some new government program to fix things.  They want to be called freedom-loving capitalists, but I can’t. It’s not a matter of me being unloving. It’s just that words have meanings. So I can’t call them capitalists, when they aren't. Glenn, you call yourself a Christian, saying you hold Christ in common with me. And in a Facebook posting you shared how hurt you felt when someone asked you to stop calling yourself a Christian and you wondered at the "arrogance of anyone who thinks their doctrine is enough to kick people out of the tent of Christ." But your prophet Joseph Smith did just that when he claimed long ago that it had been revealed to him all other churches were wrong and “all their creeds were an abomination in [God’s} sight.” Your prophet thought there was a divide between your beliefs and mine, and that one of us is right and one of us is damnably wrong. Now, I don’t believe Joseph Smith was right about which religion is wrong, but I agree with him that Mormons are not like any of the Christian churches. Just consider some of these differences: Christians believe that Jesus was never created but Satan was; Mormons believe both Jesus and Satan are created beings. Christians believe that Christians are adopted children of God and in that sense are brothers and sisters of Christ; Mormons believe all created (sentient) beings are spirit children of the Father and thus not only are we brothers and sisters to Christ but so is Satan. Christians believe that the first sin involved trying to become like God; Mormons believe that we can become gods. Christians believe that God the Father does not have a bodily form; Mormons believe that God the Father had a physical body and continues to have one. Christians believe that God is eternal and without any beginning; Mormons believe that God had a beginning – the Father had a father. Christians believe that we have one Heavenly Parent, God the Father; Mormons believe that we have a Heavenly Father and Mother. So this isn’t primarily about doctrine (though it is that too) but about who Jesus really is. When someone claims to know me, but tells my buddy that I’m short, hate basketball, and like soap operas, my friend can confidentially say, “No, you don’t know Jon – that isn’t Jon.” When you say you are a Christian, but you say Christ is the brother of Lucifer, had a beginning, has a mother, and his Heavenly Father has a physical body, then I can confidently say, “No, that isn’t Christ – you don’t know Christ.” It isn’t an insult; it is simply that words need to have meaning and that such important differences – about who Christ really is! – should not be muddied. Clearly we don't worship the same God, so rather than pretending we do, we should be trying to help each other figure out who God really is. You should be saying to me that you don’t think I’m a Christian because the Jesus I describe – eternal, not the brother of Lucifer, no mother – isn’t the person you know as Christ. That would be the straight-forward approach, rather than taking any sort of “I’m offended” defense. There is no more important issue – not even abortion or ISIS compare – than for us to seek after and learn who God really is. And to do that we first have to be clear about the fact that the God you describe as your Lord is very different from my Lord. Can't we agree that we have a disagreement about who Christ is? Picture by Gage Skidmore and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license...


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