Bits & Tidbits, 9/30/08

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Bits & Tidbits

Sort of a slow week on the blog this week; sorry about that. Here are a few links to keep you busy...

Here's a cool tool for helping you with your Bible memory: BibleMemory.us. This cleverly-named program makes use of e-mail and daily reminders to keep you focused on Bible memory. (HT: Adam)

Sam Rainer has good reflections and summary of a recent Ellison Research study on what sort of churches folks swap to when they swap churches.

PCA Pastor Bob Smallman will hit 30 years serving at the same church in November; read his reflections (written at the 25-year mark) on the long pastorate here. (By the way, PCA Pastor Rob Rayburn also hit 30 years.)

My friend Craig's two posts reflecting on California's decision to legalize "gay marriage" generated a lot of discussion and debate; catch the initial post here, and his followup here. Joe Carter interacts with a lot of data and research on the same topic; check out his thoughts here. Together, there's a lot to think about.

How do you define "failure" in a school? I thought this was already pretty well understood; it's hard to believe that this article is from USA Today, not The Onion.

Wow-- an actually helpful set of disclaimers and identity-markers about evangelicals. This article is a sort of "rubber meets the road" approach to the same problem the Evangelical Manifesto sets out to correct, in brief (and very readable) form. (HT: Joe)

Cleaning out your parents' home has become a major factor in our culture; I found this brief post (and the comments that followed) from Unclutterer to be really helpful.

I'm more glad every day that I'm not in high school anymore. Here's the latest reason why... which is more important: actually being liked, or perceiving that you are liked? Ugh. (HT: Joe)

Teachers in the midst of grading papers will resonate with this one: a community college professor reports that remarkably few students do well in his English 101 classes. (HT: Heidelblog)
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Brief thoughts

Here are a few ideas that don't warrant a full post in themselves.
  • C.S. Lewis' second Narnia book (Voyage of the Dawn Treader) has hit the theaters. Some have pointed out that there are some significant changes from the original story line (probably some spoilers in there for some of you). Some people think this is actually an improvement on the story line. Some feel the true meaning of the original has been adulterated. Others are somewhere in the middle. I haven't seen it-- what do YOU think?

  • Hilary's almost certain loss is striking some odd chords-- including the idea behind THIS piece from the New York Times, which argues that the advancement of women will be hurt from her loss. Apparently, Hilary has simultaneously positioned herself as NOT benefiting from the gender question while at the same time answering it. (Being a male, I was obviously ignorant of such high-level ideas.) Ironically, if she has marketed herself on the women's lib vote then she doesn't deserve to win. As my friend Sam Murrell suggested, to vote for Hilary Clinton ONLY because she is a woman (or Barack Obama ONLY because he is black) is to also undercut your own argument opposing others who vote AGAINST them for the same reason. Hilary can't say, "vote for me because it's time to have a woman in the White House" and then hold it against those who vote for her opposition because they don't want a woman President. Logical consistency at its simplest.

  • If you've been tracking with me on the stir and kerfuffle surrounding the General Assembly overture (#9) about Deacons, Deaconesses, and Women, you may be interested to know that Wayside Presbyterian Church in the Chattanooga area has posted a page that aggregates (or at least attempts to) all of the discussion from around the web. You don't have to look far to see the sort of hard-line, slippery-slope thinking I've mentioned. (WARNING: if you love the church and are discouraged by ungodly treatment of pastors and others, read with caution. Many of these discussions are not for the faint of heart.) I DO appreciate their work, especially, in their words, that they "are not making any effort... to sort the articles into 'pro,' 'con,' or neutral. These articles come from several different viewpoints. We are just providing information."

  • Along the lines of the previous item, my personal hope is that the 2009 General Assembly will appoint a study committee to consider what guidelines, if any, ought to be offered as measures of godly character and discussion for those who choose to use blogs, websites, discussion forums, and other Internet tools to debate theological and denominational matters.

  • Following up on my words about the Evangelical Manifesto, Ed Stetzer released the word late last week that Ergun Caner, President and Dean of the Seminary at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School, asked that his name be stricken from the charter list on the basis of his claim that he never signed it. For those who don't immediately make the connection (I didn't), Liberty is the school that the late Jerry Falwell founded and led for many years; ironically, Caner's own website describes him as "a leading voice for evangelicalism on the national stage." For another take on the Evangelical Manifesto, check out this post from Scot McKnight, Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (UPDATE: see this response to McKnight from PCA Pastor Andy Jones), and this alternative version offered by Dave Burchett, ESPN producer and Christian writer.

  • If you've been following the stuggles and difficulties in the wake of the natural disaster in Myanmar (Burma), you may be interested to know that missions boards and relief organizations are now succeeding in getting funds and other aid into the area. The PCA's Mission to the World (MTW) is asking for financial assistance through its "Minutemen" program; World Vision International is also appealing for help. Both sites have ways that you can donate online.

  • Here's a video I overlooked for my media tidbits on Friday: Possessed, a documentary which gives an amazing look at the worlds of hoarders. Very well done, with no commentary other than what the hoarders themselves offer. You can watch the whole thing online.

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Media tidbits

Here's a few things I've been listening to/watching lately:

First, a video (using audio from R.C. Sproul) to discuss whether "Jesus as the only way to heaven" is too narrow:


Here's PCA Pastor Tim Keller speaking at UC Berkeley, addressing the topic of his new book The Reason for God. This is great stuff (if a little long!); keep listening after his talk, because he takes questions for about another hour. If you've never heard Keller answer questions in a public forum like this, you'll learn a lot about public discourse and how to engage others with ideas in a winsome, gracious way.

PCA Pastor Ligon Duncan is interviewed about why Christians should care about the Patristics. Who are the Patristics? What did they do? Why should we care? Pastor Duncan does a great job here of introducing this group of our spiritual ancestors to contemporary believers.

Here's Tim Keller again, this time speaking at Google Authors (a forum that Google provides for its employees and the community around them):


The talks from the Conversation on Denominational Renewal is probably the best thing I've listened to in a while. These five talks cover several topics briefly, and they do an excellent job of debunking the myths of what trouble the PCA is in under the threat of theological variation, and expose the truth about the trouble of misplacing our focus. If you listen to only one, make it Jeremy Jones's talk on "Renewing Theology." (Click on "Who's Speaking?" after following the link...)

Everybody else seems to be linking to this video from Joshua Harris (the I Kissed Dating Goodbye guy) on models of education; and this video from John Piper called "Don't Waste your Pulpit." I might as well link to them also! They're both actually good videos with good points behind each.

Finally, way back in the day I gave my sister a book entitled something like, 101 Things to Do during a Boring Sermon. The funniest one was called "Rapture Bingo" and it provided a Bingo card something like this one. If you got bingo, you were supposed to stand up and shout, "IT'S THE RAPTURE!" (The second-funniest one was "Not the Rapture Bingo" wherein you waited for someone to stand up and shout, "IT'S THE RAPTURE!" at which point you would stand up and shout, "NO IT'S NOT!") Enjoy-- but if I catch anyone playing during one of MY sermons, I might make a sermon illustration out of you!

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Bits & Tidbits

What is the most crying need of the church in America today? A handful of key thinkers answer this question thoughtfully and helpfully.

I mentioned the various
comments and discussion of the Evangelical Manifesto; you can find some of them here: Os Guinness, Doug Wilson, Darrell Bock, Joe Taylor, Denny Burk, Alan Jacobs, Guinness again, Al Mohler, Ed Stetzer, Justin Taylor.

A great quote from Spurgeon on looking to Jesus, courtesy of my friend Paul Bankson.

My friend Adam has a great list of resources on suffering. 'Cause all of us face it.

Why are some Reformed folk so unpleasant? Thomas McCall of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has some good remarks here; see also this (now dated) post and this Christianity Today article. Shouldn't grace beget grace?

What's going on in Myanmar? And why are we hearing more about it? Note these two posts from Justin Taylor (first, second) about some of the problems. How can the average American local congregation do something to help?
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