ScribblePreach Awards 12.17.2016

Hey All!

Thanks for being a ScribblePreach reader. I love being able to serve you every week through your e-mail inbox. Seriously. It’s an honor, and I have fun doing it. 
In order to keep ScribblePreach strong, many of you have helped support ScribblePreach at my Patreon site this year. Thank you! Through your partnership, ScribblePreach is funded at $272 per month. This helps me to:
  • Cover the costs of maintaining the site
  • Dig up the best content
  • Give away free resources
  • Upgrade things to maximize your ScribbblePreach experience (for example, I was able to use those funds to double the site’s speed this month, and fix a major bug). 
My goal this year is to make it past the $400 mark – that means 25 new partners at $5 a month, just 2% of my total readership. Once I reach that, I get to stop bugging you about it. 
So: If you’ve read for 3+ months, would  you give $5 a month to partner with me? I know you care about creatively communicating God’s timeless truth. For just a coffee a month, you can help me continue doing that for people all over the world:

Don’t buy me a coffee a month (don’t test me, now). 

Now, off to the races:

From the Pub: Of God and Burglars

“It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. ‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive‘. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back – I would have done so myself if I could – and proceed no further with Christianity. An ‘impersonal God’ – well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads – better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap – best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband – that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” – C.S. LEWIS, Miracles

Kindle Deal of the Week: Modern Classics Library

I may have indulged and bought a few too many of these…so I’m going to need to you to propitiate for me by sharing in my guilt. 

Apologetics: 20 Quotes from Keller’s Meaning of Christmas

“A God who was only holy would not have come down to us in Jesus Christ. He would have simply demanded that we pull ourselves together, that we be moral and holy enough to merit a relationship with him. A deity that was an ‘all‐accepting God of love’ would not have needed to come to Earth either. This God of the modern imagination would have just overlooked sin and evil and embraced us. Neither the God of moralism nor the God of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.” – TIM KELLER

Preaching: The Chief End of Preaching

An awesome reminder of what makes preaching awesome. 

Theology: 5 Myths About the Heresy of Gnosticism

I had to backtrack a bit when I read this, because it addresses more secular conceptions of gnosticism than those I’ve encountered. Still, I recognized them all. Kruger has his PhD in this – he knows what he’s talking about. 

A Glimpse of Truth: Tricked Into Playing the Wrong Game

Set Godin has a stunning amount of wisdom. Not a Christian I don’t believe, but his words are absolutely penetrating for writers…and Christians: “Bigger isn’t better. It’s merely bigger. And the mass market might want what the mass market wants, but that doesn’t mean that it’s your market.”

Books and Lit: Awful Christian Book Covers

While everyone else is spreading cheer by rounding up the best, I’m over here spreading the worst. I ALWAYS die laughing at these. 

Writing: I’m On the Lookout for the Next Great Christian Novel

CT Editor Sarah Arthur (who selects Christianity Today’s top fiction books of the year) gives 7 tips to aspiring writers.

Christians and Culture: The Top 10 Theology Stories of 2016

Collin Hansen’s article is one I look forward to every year. It’s essentially a summary of key cultural moments for American Christendom.

Micro Book Review #1: Devoted to God, Sinclair Ferguson 

3 out of 5 stars. 

First, the good: Ferguson’s central concept is life-changing: unity with Christ is the foundation of Christian sanctification. At times, I felt like I’d been plugged into the circuit breaker of God’s word, and was feeling it penetrate my heart. This book is powerful, and a needed corrective to evangelicalism especially in reformed circles. Carefully and passionately exegeted. 

Now the bad: sadly this book is an example of a preacher in need of an editor. It was not verbose but wordy, and lacked focus at times (for example, the rant on tattoos and the “primacy of preaching” (still looking for some biblical support on that one. No, seriously – if you have it, show me) which had little to nothing to do with the text at hand).

The book also lacked concrete illustrations (aside from those of the tired, over-quoted reformed stock) and application, so it felt very theory-laden. This is a shame, since Ferguson is a master theologian and even a master illustrator, when he puts the time into it. He argues that he is being “Pauline” by spending so much time in theory…but Paul’s theory is filled with concreteness. 

Still, if you can stick with it, it’s rich. 

Micro Book Review #2: Wonderstruck, Brian Selznick 

4 out of 5 stars.

I can’t think of a more perfect book to snuggle up to on a cold winter day. One of the few books I’ve picked up over the last few months, and didn’t put down until I was thoroughly slaked. This is a carefully worked story, interspersed with delightful, warm illustrations which manage to weave a whole backstory in themselves. It also does a wonderful and sensitive job of giving us a glimpse of the world through the eyes of the disabled. 

I have to take off a star for two things: 1. The major overlap between this and “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” – it maybe needed a little more time in the cooker. 2. The rather artificial plot line, in the end. No spoilers. Granted, for what it was, it was excellently done. 

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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.