Weekend Java Awards 12.05.15

Apologetics Award: “The Case for the Crusades” – If anyone ever tells you how Christianity promotes oppression, and says “What about the Crusades?”, you may point them to this article, which will point them to a better book.

Writing Award: “Why More Practice Can Make Your Writing Worse” – The key isn’t necessarily writing more…it’s training yourself to write better as you write more.

Preaching Award: “A Video Interview with Martyn Lloyd Jones” – I’m not sure how helpful MLJ’s advice is for discerning a call to preach, but it’s amazing to see video footage of this brilliant, anointed, and surprisingly mumbly man.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: “Some go to Church, Others go to Crossfit” – As the secular world searches for the term “worldview”, they stumble to describe the meaning of religion in a world of non-theistic cults.

Fun Award: “If Beatles Songs Were Written in Elizabethan Times” – Tim wrote this awhile back, and I loved it. I got most of these right…but I’m still puzzled on a few.

Theology Award: “When to Pull the Heretic Card” – “As I have said before, we are not justified by precision alone. We are justified by faith alone. That doesn’t just include the fact that we’ve done bad things, but it also includes the fact that we have believed – and still do believe – some bad things.”

Books and Lit Award – “The NY Times 10 Best Fiction Books of 2015” – I’ve never heard of any of them, but I suppose these writers know what they’re talking about. It’s at least much superior to the pathetic Good Reads list of 2015, where the publishing industry decides what we read, then we vote for it. Harper Lee’s embarrassing unpublished and unfinished manuscript? Come on, people.

Spiritual Life Award: “Your Suffering is Working For Your” – I need to read this this week – John Piper on his classic message to those who suffer: it’s not meaningless.

Christianity and Culture Award: “4 Theses on ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ in Tragedy” – Culture vulture Andy Crouch with a pitch perfect response to the recent hullabaloo.

Church Leadership Award: “Do More Better” – The church leadership award this week goes to Tim Challies’ new book, “Do More Better”. It’s not propaganda for me to say that I read this book two weeks ago, and it’s already changed my life. I wrote Tim and told him, “This isn’t a book I read. It’s a book I DID.” And it’s true. Tim is someone I admire for his stewardship in everyday life – he’s able to get a mind-boggling amount done, with a kingdom mindset. This book describes, step by step, exactly how he does it. I think he’s found his wheelhouse, here. This, to me, is his best book yet. A great gift to the church, and one every church leaders should read.

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Posted in appropriate, Culture, Humor, Leadership, Literature, Preaching, Theology, Uncategorized, Writing.


Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.


  1. The review of the crusades book was, like the reviewer noted of the book itself, provocative. The reviewer seems to overstate the case at the beginning (almost to the point of setting up a straw man) but still the book itself sounds intriguing.

    Thanks too for the shout out on the Beatles’ lyrics. That was a fun one to post.

    • I have read Stark’s wonderfully informative, imbalanced book. Yes, the early Muslims were terrorists and needed to be stopped. Yes, only a couple rag-tag companies of the first Crusaders committed atrocities, while the official companies led by nobles conducted themselves more nobly. Yes, only recently did Muslims use the Crusades as propaganda (since, historically, they started them and finished them successfully). But still, the entire context of pilgrimages to Jerusalem for complete indulgences and of a pope and of a pope as a military recruiter promising heaven for killing infidels – that is all utterly heretical and damning. So it remains true that the Crusades were part and parcel of one of the darkest periods of the church. And Stark doesn’t properly say so. Which I find ridiculous.

  2. Hi, TIm — thanks for another strong collection of links to good articles.
    By the way, the link to the 2015 NYTimes best 10 fiction books was actually a link to their “10 Best Books” –both fiction and NON-fiction. I particularly noticed that because the highlighted release that most intrigues me is an account of the cotton industry’s history. Having grown up on a cotton farm (and picking cotton by hand) decades ago, I’m definitely wanting to read it. Probably wouldn’t have known about it apart from your link, so thank you!

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