ScribblePreach Awards 04.09.16

Hey All,

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on what my particular call is in the blog world, and this has led me to pair down this week’s Awards. There are plenty of people doing theology, spiritual life, fun stuff – my call is to equip Christian communicators to be as effective as possible. So, I’ve trimmed the categories, and added one, toward that end. Hope you enjoy:

Kindle Deal of the Week: Aristotle’s Poetics – I mentioned Poetics in this week’s video. Grab it here for 99 cents. 

Apologetics Award: Right, Wrong, and the Meaning of the Universe – When I first watched this a few weeks ago, I thought the voice was actually C.S. Lewis’s, and came away extremely disappointed…now that I know it’s not him, I enjoy it more. 

Preaching Award: Cotton Mather on Preaching – Here’s a nice little sum of excerpts from Cotton Mather’s most fruitful preaching ministry. 

Illustration Award: How Covenants Make Us – (This segment is not “new”, because it was originally titled, “A Glimpse of Truth”…but it was just a fancy (and more confusing) way of saying – illustrations for the secular world) David Brooks brings a load of intellectual weight to bear on the fact that we are covenant creatures. 

Writing Award: Flannery O’Connor’s 10 Writing Tips – I’ve never read these before, I don’t believe. Awesome. 

Books and Lit Award: The Classical Education You Never Had – Here’s a great AOM podcast making the case for classical education (for YOU). 

New! Rhetoric and Persuasion Award: Have a ConversationThis whole article is full of stunningly biased language, so if you’re prickly, don’t read. But it’s a fascinating look at how the LGBT community seeks to persuade. 

Christians and Culture AwardSafe Schools and Gender Non-Conformity – Kevin DeYoung sets a wonderful example of how to engage a secularized culture from a biblical perspective. Notice how he makes appeals to common ground. 

Weekend Java Awards 04.02.16

Kindle Deal of the Week: Billy Bryson’s Shakespeare – Grab this biography by possibly the best history writer of our time. $1.99 – can’t beat it.

Apologetics Award: Intelligent Design in the Mind of an Atheist – Austin has a great, brief reflection on how a presuppositionalist might think of intelligent design arguments.

Preaching Award: How a Simple Tweak Can Dramatically Change Communication – So, warning: this is a post on boosting traffic for bloggers. But stick with it, because the principle is actually very powerful when applied to ministry: “People come to have their external problems solved…but they stay when you meet their internal needs.”

Spiritual Life AwardHow to Become a Theologian – This is an incredible round up of 21 theologians including Kevin VanHoozer, Jonathan Leeman, Don Whitney, and others on how lay-people can be wise theologians. Mine this one, hard.

Theology Award: Did Jesus Descend Into Hell? Absolutely he did. There’s no atonement without it.

Fun Award: Holographic Images – Check out this freaky, futuristic look at what holographs can do today.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: Why Is Friends Still the Most Popular Show on the Internet? – Yes, the next generation loves the favorite show of my generation. Why? Find out, and learn a lot about the spiritual/human longings of the current atmosphere.

Writing Award: 15 Pieces of Writing Advice from C.S. Lewis – There were a couple of fresh Lewis quotes for me in here. An overall nice roundup.

Books and Lit Award: Theodore Roosevelt’s Advice on Reading – The man was a voracious reader, sometimes gorging 3 books a day. But how?

Christians and Culture Award: I’m a Christian and I Hate Christian Movies – I always come into these articles with a bit of an attitude about the attitude. But this writer actually knows what she’s talking about.

Leadership and Productivity Award: The Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers – Another TEDx talk, but a good one. You just might find it comforting.

3 Simple, Effective Ways to Share the Gospel

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Weekend Java Awards 03.26.16

(New!) Kindle Deal of the Week: The Jesus Storybook Bible – For $1.99. This book is not only great for kids – it’s a wonderful help to adults who’ve never understood how the storyline of scripture points to Jesus.

Apologetics Award: 3 Reasons You Need Expository Apologetics – Voddie Baucham shows why modern preaching needs to be both expository and apologetic.

Preaching Award: The 2 Most Important Elements of Preaching – I bet you can’t guess them. But they’re in the Bible (well…one of them is, the other is inferred).

Spiritual Life Award: What Christians Just Don’t Get About LGBT Folks – I liked this. A lot. And it stings a little.

Theology Award: Did the 2nd Person of the Trinity Die? – After R.C. Sproul critiqued this statement, Mark Jones comes back with a historical defense (not to say an ahistorical defense).

Fun Award: No One Could See the Color Blue Until Modern Times – This is phenomenally interesting, and almost too much to believe. The power of language.

A Glimpse of Truth AwardReading the Aeneid as a Christian – The Imaginative Conservative offers 7 points of relation and departure.

Writing Award: What It Means to Put Yourself Out There – Aye. There’s the rub.

Books and Lit Award: Viriginia Woolf Offers Advice on Reading a Book – Though, not on how to live to tell the tale. Okay that was a pretty dark stab. Sorry.

Christians and Culture Award: In Love with Donald Trump – I haven’t posted on Trump for a few weeks because I’m frankly tired of the conversation. But I think this post (contra Russell Moore and others) articulates the sad truth of the situation: Christians know Trump doesn’t fit their beliefs. They don’t care. He fits their true affections.

Church Leadership AwardGospel DNA – Tim Chester has a wonderful series on the 4 marks of churches with a “Gospel DNA” (the whole series is published, so just keep clicking on).

Weekend Java Awards 03.19.16

(New!) Kindle Deal of the WeekA Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving’s classic available for $1.99. You can also grab the Cider House Rules for the same price.

Apologetics Award: So You Think You Know About Puritans – Weirdly, this week’s apologetics article comes from the most secular resource I read: The Paris Review. They’ve linked to a lengthy indictment of the way Puritans are portrayed in the recent horror film, “The Witch”. What’s going on?

Preaching Award: Finding Great Illustrations – I loved this short, helpful video from Hershael York on the resources he uses to dig up great illustrations.

Spiritual Life Award: Sex, Money and Power: Be Careful Who Owns You. Wisdom courtesy of Mark Jones and Nacho Libre.

Theology Award: A Theology of Creation in 12 Points – D.A. Carson wrote it, so you don’t need a compelling summary.

Fun Award: Finally, a Workout Moms Can Stick To! – This is a pretty fun, pretty dead-on article by Ms. Gallagher.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: A Conservative’s Plea: Let’s Work Together – This TEDx talk contains much wisdom that’s much needed by all of us, Christian or no.

Writing Award4 Lessons for Authors on the Current State of Publishing – Jane Friedmen with a really great roundup of tips and trends.

Books and Lit Award: 10 Essential Women Writers for Christians – A good roundup here, with deals to boot, but I can’t vie for all of them (because I haven’t read them all).

Christians and Culture Award: The Shame Culture – I’d consider this article by David Brooks a must-read for understanding the unique cultural changes taking place right now in the realm of ethics.

Church Leadership Award: 6 Distinguishing Marks of a Call to Gospel Ministry – A great summary of MLJ’s counsel to young would-be pastors. I think our advice should be as rigorous. When was the last time you said “I don’t think so” to a young person expressing a desire for ministry?

Weekend Java Awards 03.12.16

(New!) Kindle Deal of the WeekHow to Read the Bible for All Its Worth – This is a classic by Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart, available for $3.99

Apologetics Award: The Importance of Story – Talking story is all the rage, now, but I think EL Bates does it particularly well, here.

Preaching Award: Qualifications of the Preacher – This little article on how the Puritans saw a man as fit for teaching is a good supplement to my article yesterday.

Spiritual Life Award10 Marks of an Immature Believer – This article hit me right where I’ve been at.

Theology Award: Did the Reformers Get Paul Wrong? – Yes! I’ve been studying the New Perspective in class during my (final!) semester, and I’ve constantly thought: “Wow, these guys know Jewish history, but they’re clueless about reformation history.”

Fun Award: 11 Mind-Bending Christian Book Covers You Can’t Unsee – Nor can you make these things up, people.

A Glimpse of Truth AwardNY Times Article on Redeemer – This was an encouraging look at how New Yorkers see Tim Keller’s ministry in the city.

Writing Award: Perfect Imperfection – This article really resonated with me. There’s no reason we need to make our preaching, writing, or anything perfect – that’s part of the charm.

Books and Lit Award: Al Mohler’s Top 10 Books for PreachersMohler does this list each year. I want to read all of these…6. Week. Count. Down. (To. Graduation.)

Christians and Culture Award: Brooks and Volf on Character – Two brilliant minds discuss what it means to be “good” in a world that overlooks the question.

Church Leadership Award: On Saying No – Seth Godin on how and why to just say “No.”

Weekend Java Awards 03.05.16

(New!) Kindle Deal of the Week: Story – $1.99 – My goodness. Robert McKee’s $30 book on structuring stories is available for $1.99 on kindle. If you are a preacher or writer, this is an absolute must-buy (it’s written for screenwriters, but the insight/application is much broader).

Apologetics Award: Un-Evolved Thinking on Darwin Day – This is a brilliantly written and articulate response to a recent Huffington Post article on Darwinian morality.

Preaching Award: Puritans on Preaching – Here’s a great, concise little series on how the Puritans preached. I’m very excited to continue reading. Here is part 2 and here is part 3.  

Spiritual Life Award: 9 Morning Habits – I really resonated with this article, because I’ve found my morning routines (and idols!) aligning with the author’s own. His points about how to set our minds before Christ each day are wonderful (though I do caution the article has quite a lot of dangerous spiritual vs. physical dualism in it…it’s okay to enjoy soccer, and “human nature” is NOT our problem – it’s “sinful nature”!!)

Theology Award: 5 Reasons It Doesn’t Matter if Trump Becomes President – The title is tongue-in-cheek, I think, because Wesley acknowledges it’s good to speak out, but gives us 5 biblical reasons to continue trusting God through this election season. I wish more conversations were happening along these lines right now…and that includes within my own brain.

Fun Award: The Dowager Countess’ Finest Burns – I’ve been cruising through Downton Abbey as of late – here are the Dowager Countess’ best zingers (PS – I’m only in season 2, but has anyone else noticed the Countess is a literary geek? She’s usually got at least one allusion an episode. Maybe this is fleshed out more later)

A Glimpse of Truth Award: What’s the Point of Moral Outrage? – Though I’ve just posted a critique of Darwinian morality, here’s an article that shows what truth we can glean out of it: in the end, human actions without God are self-centered…including moral outrage.

Writing Award: Walter Benjamin’s 13 Oracular Writing Tips – Slow down, look up a few vocab words, and savor this concise set of tips.

Books and Lit Award: 190 Blogs I Read – Tim Challies puts together his feedly list into a format you can integrate as your own. So honored to be on the list!

Christians and Culture Award: Keller, Piper and Carson on Staying the Course in a Changing Culture – Yup. Yup. And Yup.

Church Leadership Award: The Magic of 30-Minute Meetings – In a church…can you imagine?

Weekend Java Awards 02.27.16

(New!) Kindle Deal of the Week: Grab Russell Moore’s book “Onward” for $2.99, Christianity Today’s Book of the Year.

Apologetics Award: 50 Latin Phrases You Should Know – No, not to make you sound smart (though there’s that too), but because these phrases represent age-old wisdom, and hold with them logical force. Though, admittedly, some are just hifalutin and pretentious 😉

Preaching Award: Preaching Prep is Whole Person Prep – This article by David Prince is one of the most unique and helpful posts on preaching I’ve read on the web.

Spiritual Life Award: 5 Ideas for Enjoying Church Prayer Meetings – These are so very helpful. Do read.

Theology Award: Was Jesus Neither a Republican Nor a Democrat? Michael Kruger explains why this truism needs to be shaken out and examined. Though, he did overlook one option that comes to mind for me: maybe it means that we ought to vote in Christians of good standing in orthodox churches, no matter which party? I’m finding in this current election season more than ever a gravitation (in myself) toward voting for character over my preferred economic policy. I think of Calvin’s words that a king who does not submit himself to scripture is nothing but a thieving despot. Different time and place, but more applicable, perhaps, than we sometimes allow.

Fun Award: 8 Secrets Behind Disney’s Locked Doors – These are quite creepy. And some will only leave you insatiably curious. But read on nevertheless.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: Don’t Turn Away from the Art of Life – This article in the NY Times is about folding the humanities back into curriculum. However, it’s ultimately a critique of the materialistic worldview underpinning these decisions, and the tragedy of a world without purpose (aka, religion): “A new technology like GPS provides us with the most efficient and direct route to a destination, but it presupposes we know where we are going. Finding an address is one thing; finding one’s way in life is another. Even our smartest computers or most brilliant statisticians are at a loss when it comes to mapping our psychic landscapes.”

Writing Award: Know Where You’re Going, Then Put the Water On – This post speaks to the sheer drudgery of the task. Still, it will encourage your mental fortitude.

Books and Lit Award: Umberto Eco Explains the Enduring Power of Peanuts – Who knew there was so much depth to the Peanuts comics (I doubt Schulz did, though I think we need to give him credit for knowing what he was doing – more than we typically give – on the whole).

Christians and Culture Award: The Rise and Fall of Secularization Theory – Peter Berger explains in under 5 minutes why he stopped calling the world “Secularized”. I fear that what the video left out is also crucial, however – our world IS secularized, not in the sense that it’s irreligious, but in the sense that our high-tech, globalized systems are not philosophically rooted in religion, and therefore religion can’t pervade every area of life as it once used to do. That means not everything we do necessarily flows from our worldview – we just do it because it’s there, and it’s the way it is, without stopping to consider how our worldview (which, also due to technology, increasingly looks like a pile of mismatched jigsaw puzzle pieces rather than a rationally thought-out web of ideas) interacts with our behavior.

Church Leadership Award: Rosaria Butterfield’s Pastor on Evangelism/Discipleship – If you don’t know Rosaria Butterfield’s story of conversion from lesbian literary scholar to homeschooling Christian mother…well, you should. This is an article from her pastor about a principle which he believes is core to this kind of outreach – the “with him” principle. So, so good – a must read for every church elder/pastor.

Weekend Java Awards 02.13.16

Apologetics Award: Debunking Silly Statements About the Bible – Greg Gilbert does a bang-up job of explaining why textual discrepancies in ancient Biblical manuscripts help our case rather than hurt it.

Preaching Award: Preaching the Whole Christ – David Prince is doing an awesome job weaving Sinclair Ferguson’s new book into the task of preaching. Check out the second installment here.

Spiritual Life Award: 18 At-Home Date Ideas – Just in time for Valentine’s day on a budget.

Theology Award: FAQ on Scriptural Authority – If nothing else, this will whet your appetite to read D.A. Carson’s new theological tome.

Fun Award: The Geek Within – I thought you all might enjoy a glimpse of me in my college prime, so here’s a 5-minute video I wrote, directed, acted in, and edited as a film major…I’m the Geek.

A Glimpse of Truth Award: Jim and Pam’s Quiet Fidelity – If you enjoy The Office, you’ll enjoy this little piece.

Writing Award: The Rich Young Blogger – Youch.

Books and Lit Award: How to Read a Book a Week – HBR with a quick list of tips to reading non-fiction books in a quarter of the time.

Christians and Culture Award: How Calvinism Influenced Education – I’m really, really looking forward to this well-researched series by David Murray on how Calvin impacted our current culture.

Church Leadership Award: The Most Overlooked Secret to Influence – This is a post written for writers, but I believe it’s true for church leaders as well. We often have not because we ask not.


Pharasaism is Not the Unforgivable Sin.

Some Christians have got it in their heads that all sins are forgivable, except the type of sin Christ condemned in the Pharisees. That is, it’s all right to do all the really deplorable sins of the Gentiles: squandering wealth; brazen, excessive sex; listening to Heavy Metal music.

But, they think, there is another type of sin which creates a kind of impenetrable wall between grace and our human condition, and that is the sin of the Pharisees, or, the sin of hypocrisy.

I want to show you how silly this is.

First, it should be obvious to us that all sins, including hypocrisy, derive from the same source. We are all egoists – there is not a humble kind of sin and a proud kind. Sin by its very nature is shaking our fist at God. And so all sin, be it disobedience to parents or praying aloud in the street, is a kind of usury – it is an attempt to abjure God of his throne, and place ourselves in His place.

The religious attempt to do this is more subtle, more political: the Pharisees handed Jesus over. The Gentile is more bald-faced: The Romans crucified him. But both stem from naked, high-handed pride.

Second, it is true that the Pharisaical sin is the more dangerous. But this is only because it is more difficult to detect. Stealing from the offering plate is an obvious sin. Being smug in my offering is more subtle. And it is for this reason, and this reason alone, that Jesus spent so much time deconstructing the Pharisee’s ideas about right and wrong.

If a cancer patient goes to the doctor looking or help, the doctor will give it in the form of chemo. If another patient goes to prove to his wife he’s perfectly healthy, then the physician’s obvious course is to help the man see the disease. Jesus spends his time showing the Pharisees’ disease precisely because this was the course of action best for them; not because he had some special vitriol for ‘that type’.

So when we catch ourselves being Pharisees – comparing our religion to others, or our generosity, or our intelligence – the last thing to do is self-flagellate: “Oh, I’m the worst of sinners! God can forgive the prostitutes, but how can he forgive me, a Pharisee?” No – that approach is fighting pride with pride. God did not ask us for groveling.

What did he ask of us? That is the question answered in the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The whole aim of Jesus’ parable wasn’t to give Pharisees their comeuppance. It was to show them the right course of action. His aim was to move those listening from the tax collector: “God have mercy on me, a sinner,” to themselves: “God have mercy on me, a Pharisee.”