Posts belonging to Category Quick Takes

Quick Takes – 1/24/2009

Fred Eaton quotes John Owen on the measure of our growth and decay. “If I have observed anything by experience, it is this: a man may take the measure of his growth and decay in grace according to his thoughts and meditations upon the person of Christ, and the glory of Christ’s Kingdom, and of His love.”

Michael Hyatt encourages you to create an annual time block. “Remember: if you don’t have a plan for your life, someone else does. The key is balance. Make sure you schedule time for the things that are important to you. If you don’t, you will find yourself scrambling to find time for the things that are important. If you are not careful, you will wake up one day and discover that you have spent your life living for other people’s priorities.”

Brad Wright shares some observations on life-development and crime. “Lee Robins, a psychologist who studies crime … noted that all antisocial adults were antisocial as children; however, not all antisocial children grow up to be antisocial adults. This observation provided important insight for theories of crime. It holds that very few ‘good’ kids get involved in crime and other forms of antisocial behavior as adults. Once prosocial, always prosocial. In contrast, some ‘bad’ kids grow up to be antisocial, criminal adults, but others do not. In statistical language, being antisocial as a child is a necessary, but not sufficient, predictor that a child will be antisocial as an adult.”

Scot McKnight questions President Obama’s abortion policy. “On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade he has announced what amounts a contradiction: reduce abortions by supporting and funding abortions. This makes no sense to me. What really makes it difficult morally is that such support is offered on the day he was also announcing — rightly — to close down GTMO and speak against the evils of torture. Abortion is also torture. Women have the right to choose what to do with their own bodies, but once there’s a pregnancy, that woman is now carrying someone else’s body — that body is no longer simply her own. Support of abortion and opposition to torture is a moral contradiction, and I call on the Obama Administration to re-think their position of their stance on abortion.”

Greg Scott writes to his Senator. “I’ve read now that Merrill Lynch took $10 billion in TARP money, and paid $15 billion out in bonuses. I cannot even begin to express in writing the rage boiling within me at this iniquitous arrogance. It is nice to know that the Federal taxes I have paid and will pay into the system over my whole lifetime will not even begin to cover the bonus check for just one of these executives. I’m very glad to know that taxes taken from my 60 hour work week checks will help some executive pay for his nice mansion I could never afford, expensive car I’ll never drive, fancy dinners at restaurants I could never see the inside of, and very comfortable retirement that I will not have since I’ll have to work until the day I die. Please tell me what you will do to hold these crooks accountable for these reprehensible deeds done at taxpayer expense and what you will do to prevent future abuses. My great-grandchildren will want to know.”

Quick Takes – 12/13/2008

Quote of the Day from the Dave Ramsey site: “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” (Jim Rohn)

Nicole at 168 Hours wrote a very nice original poem called Jerusalem Widow, based on the story of Anna in Luke 2. Here is the opening stanza. “Married seven short years / Jerusalem widow / alone and childless, / makes the temple her home.” (Read more.)

Tullian Tchividjian quotes Jerry Bridges on God’s grace. “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” (from Chapter 1 of The Discipline of Grace)

Scot McKnight asks, Can you top this one? “Lukas and Annika recently gave birth to a son — Aksel — and this is the medical bill’s explanation of benefits that Luke and Annika received after they submitted the hospital receipts: ‘We have reviewed your claim and have deemed the birth of Aksel a necessary medical procedure.'”

Chuck Colson comments on the recent arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “If anyone knows how Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich feels right now, I do … In the wake of Blagojevich’s arrest, many Americans are left wondering once again how intelligent people can do such stupid things — especially when they’ve achieved the pinnacle of power. The answer comes down to pride.”

Mark Driscoll writes about the discipline of silence. “Since God convicted me of my addiction to noise, I have sought to conform my life more to the pattern of Jesus’, which has proven quite helpful. I try to spend at least five minutes an hour in silence, at least thirty minutes in uninterrupted silence each day, and a full day in silence once a month. During those times I find myself going for silent prayer walks to listen to God, writing in my journal, and sometimes doing nothing at all, which for me has become an act of faith that God is at work even when I am not.”

Mark Roberts shares his greatest Advent discovery . “Then, all of a sudden, it dawned on me … As I stood in that slow-moving line at Costco, I was waiting. Waiting! In a way, I was experiencing exactly what Advent is all about … So I decided, right then and there in the line at Costco, that I was going to use the experience of waiting in line while Christmas shopping as an Advent reminder. In that moment, and in similar moments yet to come, I was going to remember what Advent is all about. I was going to put myself back into the shoes of the Jews who were waiting for the Messiah. And I was going to remember that I too am waiting for Christ to return.”

Quick Takes – 12/6/2008

Jim Martin offers five suggestions for staying fully alive. “It is unnecessary to shut down prematurely. Yet, some of us will need to be very intentional about staying fully alive.”

Tim Keller explains the difference between legalistic and gospel repentance. “Legalistic remorse says, ‘I broke God’s rules,’ while real repentance says, ‘I broke God’s heart.’ Legalistic repentance takes sin to Mt. Sinai, gospel repentance to Mt. Calvary. Legalistic repentance is convicted by punishment, gospel repentance becomes convicted by mercy.”

Dan Phillips encourages you to move the “but.” “Until now, it has been: ‘God says to obey, but I have these excuses/challenges/difficulties.’ And so you don’t start. The issue is still whether to obey. This thinking ill-befits a slave, much less a son. From now on, it must be ‘I have these excuses/challenges/difficulties, but God says to obey.’ And then you start. Now, the issue is not whether, but how. This is thinking like a slave, and thinking like a son. Move that ‘but.’ Then move yours.”

Wayne Grudem comments on God’s instructions to husbands in 1 Peter 3:7. “So concerned is God that Christian husbands live in an understanding and loving way with their wives, that he ‘interrupts’ his relationship with them when they are not doing so. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer. And no husband may expect an effective prayer life unless he lives with his wife ‘in an understanding way, bestowing honour’ on her. To take the time to develop and maintain a good marriage is God’s will; it is serving God; it is a spiritual activity pleasing in his sight.”

Richard Clark reflects on how the iPhone has affected his life. “The iPhone has affected my downtime. It’s safe to say I can’t remember a time I was forced to simply sit and think. When I’m walking somewhere, waiting in line, or trapped in a room with no food (it could happen), I always have the ability to read the Bible, check my calendar or email, twitter, check facebook, or listen to some music. The benefit here is it enables me to more easily keep up with various tasks. I like to communicate with friends through email, facebook and twitter. I need to keep on top of my schedule with my calendar. If anything’s a necessity, isn’t scripture? And yet, another necessity is simply thinking about all of these things. In an iPhone culture, the single most frightening danger is that we will all be too busy reading, checking, tweeting, and updating that we forget to think about how and why we do those things at all.”

Ben Witherington shares his eulogy for his Dad who passed away last week. “Let’s clear up a few things from the outset. My father is not a lost loved one. If anyone is in Christ they are now and perpetually and vitally alive. Dad’s not lost, we know right where to find him—in the very presence of the Lord in heaven. Secondly, my father is not gone, in the sense of ceasing to exist. He has simply gone on, like a ship goes over the horizon to a far destination. The fact that I can’t see him anymore here on this earth, says something about my limitations, not about his at this juncture. Thirdly, Dad has not gone from a greater form of existence to a lesser, quite the reverse. He has left the realm of suffering sin and sorrow, disease decay and death, which is this world, and he has gone to a realm where every tear is wiped from every eye, and all is well. As the resurrection of Jesus shows, God’s yes to life is louder than and triumphs over death’s no.”

Quick Takes – 11/8/2008


President-elect Barack Obama in his acceptance speech Tuesday night: “What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other … If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

Senator John McCain in his concession speech Tuesday night: “Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited … I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength … Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone.”

Anthony Carter writes eloquently about the poetic providence of God. “Forty-five years ago a terrorist bomb ripped through the walls of a church in Birmingham, AL, killing four young blacks girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) just getting out of Sunday School. This bomb not only ripped through the church, but it also ripped through the heart of America. It tore a wound in the fabric of our country that has been a long time healing. Since then, laws have been passed, schools have been desegregated, and in 2000 the court system finally brought to justice some of the racist men who were responsible for the demonic act. Yet, our nation still grieved for those little girls because we knew that justice still had not been done and healing could not take place. Redemption for this heinous act has been hard coming – until now. God has taken forty-five years to bring some level of redemption and healing to our hearts. Someone has said that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice. God’s redemptive purposes sometimes ripen slowly in our estimation, but they do ripen nonetheless. You see, with the election of Barack Obama, we will soon see two little black girls, Malia and Sasha Obama, running the hallways and playing on the lawn of the White House. Hearts that were broken with the tragic murder of little black girls in a house of worship will be somewhat mended by the playful laughter of two beautiful young black girls in the White House.” (Carter goes on to share his thoughts about abortion in relation to the election.)

James Howell writes about the morning after the election (written before election day). “The election is over. For the Oval Office, one winner, one loser. But neither is a loser. Both are people who offered themselves for public service, and have lived under a microscope, under intense scrutiny, with a schedule that would exhaust the most energetic of us … If you believe that the election of Candidate X will be catastrophic, if you think Candidate Y’s policies are faulty, then you would be wise to begin to pray, today, that you turn out to be wrong. The morning after an election – and every morning for the believer, prayer is in order.”

Daddypundit describes Obama as our first post-modern president. “President-elect Obama is our first post-modern president. By that I mean that he successfully tapped into people’s emotions and won over people’s hearts more so than their minds. This was an election about style over substance. Obama has a tremendous presence and is an incredibly gifted speaker. But there was very little meat in terms of policy proposals in his campaign. Thus, it’s not clear how he will govern. Democrats will feel emboldened to enact a liberal legislative agenda. But the fact remains that America is still a center-right country. Obama himself understood this and positioned himself as a center-right candidate … He’s also got the problem of extremely high expectations. People want change. They are worried about problems that the country faces. He’s going to have to have some quick successes or the honeymoon may be over before it starts.”

Hugh Hewitt writes about Obama’s first CIA briefing as President-elect. “President-elect Obama is receiving his first full CIA brief this morning, the same one President Bush is receiving. While I am certain President-elect Obama and his team have been studying up on the Islamist threats around the world, today begins his certain responsibility for protecting the U.S. against it, and with that responsibility I expect to see a significant change in the president-elect and his team. I have long thought that President Bush’s lack of partisan response to many partisan attacks has been rooted in his deep awareness of the conditions in the world, and I expect that awareness will change President-elect Obama quickly and towards the same sort of anti-partisanship that Bush has displayed except in the very last months of the electron cycles of ’02, ’04, and ’06.”

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro (former legal intern for John Kerry) says the treatment of Bush has been a disgrace. “The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time. Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty — a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.”

Quick Takes – 10/25/2008

Michael Rex spoofs Margaret Wise Brown’s classic children’s book Goodnight Moon with his new creation: Goodnight Goon.

goodnight_goon.jpgGoodnight tomb.
Goodnight Goon.
Goodnight bones
    and black lagoon.

Goodnight moans.
Goodnight groans.
Goodnight creature,
Goodnight goo.
And goodnight to the werewolf whispering “BOO!”

Ray Pritchard encourages us to pray for ‘the other guy.’ “Who is the ‘other guy’? It’s the guy I’m not voting for on November 4. Doesn’t matter what his name is because I’m not voting for him. I’ve made up my mind, and I can’t be moved away from my decision. Let me say frankly that your ‘other guy’ may be the guy I’m going to vote for … I propose … starting today, say a prayer for ‘the other guy’ and his running mate every day between now and November 4. And don’t use prayer as a weapon against him. Pray for him, for his wife and children, pray for God’s blessing upon him. Pray for God to guide his steps. Pray that God will speak to him and that he will listen.”

Andrée Seu reflects on Narnia and Bible study. “‘Here on the mountain the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind.’ (The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis). The mountain is my morning Bible study. The drop to Narnia is life as I find it the rest of the day, and the air gets thick indeed.”

Claudia Riiff Finseth reflects on reading Tolkien in the winter. “My own epiphany reading Tolkien in winter is this: that all is not right nor ever shall be right in the world, yet still there is much that is lovely and worth our efforts. Each person’s responsibility is to make their contribution in their own time–in their own part of the story. And just maybe, somehow, I’ll be able to find within me what is needed to do my part.” Quoting Gandalf:

Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. (Gandalf, in The Last Debate, Part III)

Quick Takes – 10/18/2008

Abraham Piper encourages us to judge people by the direction they’re going, not by the place where they are. “The same choice that’s a life-saving step forward for an unbeliever or struggling Christian would be pitiable retrogression for someone farther along.”

Bob Hyatt quotes David Sanford on the one mistake we dare not make. “If we learn anything from the Psalms, it’s that God isn’t afraid of our emotions, our struggles, and our questions. The one mistake we dare not make, Philip Yancey reminds us, is to confuse God (who is good) with life (which is hard). God feels the same way we do–and is taking the most radical steps possible (Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and more to come) to redeem the present situation.”

Justin Taylor quotes Michael Horton on Bible interpretation. “The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider ‘communion of saints’ down through the age.”

Ray Pritchard discusses bad behavior in the Bible. “I love stories like this because they remind me that God is the real hero of the Bible. During a radio interview I was asked why so many Bible characters had serious flaws. My answer was simple. That’s all God has to work with. All the perfect people are in heaven. The only ones on earth are the folks with serious weaknesses. The talent pool has always been pretty thin when it comes to moral perfection … That’s what grace is all about. We do the messing up–and God does everything else.”

Pulpit Magazine quotes Richard baxter on serious preaching. “For myself, as I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart, and of my slow and unprofitable course of life, so, the Lord knows, I am ashamed of every sermon I preach; when I think what I have been speaking of, and who sent me, and that men’s salvation or damnation is so much concerned in it, I am ready to tremble lest God should judge me as a slighter of His truths and the souls of men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood. Me thinks we should not speak a word to men in matters of such consequence without tears, or the greatest earnestness that possibly we can; were not we too much guilty of the sin which we reprove, it would be so.”

Quick Takes – 10/4/2008

Howard Shore discusses working on the score for the upcoming Hobbit film. “It’s fantastic guide for me to be able to go back to Middle Earth and create more music , ’cause these films, the films, are placed before Fellowship of the Ring, so I have to go back into Middle Earth a little earlier and pick up my writing, and write a piece that would grow and take you right into Fellowship of the Ring.”

Ray Pritchard talks about the center of God’s will. “Are you in the center of God’s will for your life? The answer is no because there is no such thing as the ‘center’ of God’s will … That’s an expression we’ve made up to describe a perfectionistic view of life that no one this side of heaven can ever truly attain. The real question is, are you willing to do God’s will as it is revealed to you, one step at a time?”

Tim Etherington blogs about not being a blogger. “I think ‘blogger’ has become something more than it once was. The most ‘successful’ blogs have daily updates, big followings and a lot of comment activity. That isn’t me and frankly, I’m not interested in that kind of a blog. I don’t want to be Justin Taylor or Tim Challies. I enjoy reading their blogs but don’t want to duplicate their success. So I’m just a guy with a blog, I’m not a blogger.”

Mark Shead suggests making a Not To Do List. “Your not to do list should contain the activities that you consistently find yourself doing that don’t contribute to your life in a productive way … By intentionally making a list of things that you are not going to do, you are better able to focus on tasks that add value … The point of a Not To Do list is to prioritize not just from the top down, but from the bottom up as well. What you don’t do is important because what you leave out makes way for things that are more important.”

Phil Ryken comments on the big and the small of the universe in relation to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and the Higgs particle: “No matter how small we go — and we are already at the point of almost unbelievably infinitesimal discovery — there is still something smaller to discover. Contrast this with the platform for an electronic game or other computer simulation. No matter how sophisticated the graphics, eventually you bump up against the limits of the program … But the world that God has made constantly opens out into new discoveries, both in the far reaches of space and in the inner sanctum of the atom. Whether we go big or small, the universe that God has made continues to defy our full comprehension or scrutiny — a testimony to the infinitely perfect mind of our maker.”

Quick Takes – 9/27/2008

R.C. Sproul answers the question: Does prayer change things? “Does prayer make any difference? Does it really change anything? Someone once asked me that question, only in a slightly different manner: ‘Does prayer change God’s mind?’ My answer brought storms of protest. I said simply, ‘No.’ Now, if the person had asked me, ‘Does prayer change things?’ I would have answered, ‘Of course!'”

Glenn Reynolds responds to reports of various political supporters losing faith in their candidates. “Don’t people wind up feeling this way every four years? Which isn’t to say they’re wrong. As for me, I haven’t liked a candidate enough to be actually disillusioned by one in … well, ever, really. The good news is that the guy you don’t like usually fails to live up to your fears almost as much as the guy you like fails to live up to your hopes…”

Ray Ortlund discusses our real problem. “The good news of the gospel begins with some really bad news. Our sins only provoke a bigger problem: the wrath of God. Our real problem is not our sins but God. He is angry, he isn’t going away, and there is nothing we can do about it. If God is against us, who can be for us? But here is the good news. God has made God our salvation. He did it at the cross. God has provided a way of escape from God: in God. We run from his wrath by running toward his grace in Christ. And if God is for us, who can be against us?”

Tullian Tchividjian quotes Cornelius Plantinga on human yearning and hope. “The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies ‘beyond the walls of this world,’ as J.R.R Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is higher up and further back…” (from Engaging God’s World, pg. 5-7)

Scott Nehring gives a great movie watching tip on the treatment of religion in film. “When you see a religious figure on screen, note how they’re treated, how they’re presented. Then look at the followers of that religion you’ve met in real life. Does the real people and their presentation in film match up? If not, if say the believers are shown to be violent, wild-eyed fanatics and the real people you’ve are generally good people not given to theocratic impulses, ask yourself why the filmmaker would create a disproportionate image of those people. Is the misleading image the result of bigotry or ignorance? This is good to do any time you see a specific social group presented in film.”

Jesse Johnson encourages believers towards lifestyle evangelism. “For Jesus, evangelism was a way of life. When He crossed paths with people, He seized the opportunities to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins. In fact, much of Jesus’ evangelism took place in conversations with individuals … Evangelism in the book of Acts follows Jesus’ example. Peter, Stephen, and Paul did not stand on street corners and shout. Instead they seized whatever opportunities God gave them, and implored people to be reconciled to God. There are at least 15 examples in the book of Acts of Christians going about their daily activity, and then getting involved in evangelistic conversations with individuals with whom they came in contact.”

Quick Takes – 9/20/2008

Jordan at Worship Trench quotes Jonathan Edwards on why we sing in worship: “We sing in worship to engage and express our affections. There is no other reason to sing. If we aren’t dealing with our affections in worship, we might as well just read the lines of the songs dryly together in paragraph form without any music. We worship with music too because God has created music with a certain nature where it tends to move our affections deeply.” (modernized translation)

Jim Martin quotes Dallas Willard on spiritual transformation: “The central problem facing the contemporary church in the Western world and worldwide [is] the problem of how to routinely lead its members through a path of spiritual, moral, and personal transformation that brings them into authentic Christlikeness in every aspect of their lives … The local congreations, the places where Christians gather on a regular basis, must resume the practice of making the spiritual formation of their members into Christlikeness their primary goal, the aim which every one of its activities serves.”

Phil Ryken comments on the recent adoption of Sharia law by the British government. “According to The Sunday Times (9/14/08), the British government has incorporated Islamic law into the British legal system by establishing five sharia courts. The judgments of these courts are now enforceable with the full power of British law, running all the way up through the High Court. This is only the latest step in the Islamicization of Britain. The results will be especially damaging to women, since many of the disputes that end up before sharia tribunals are domestic, and the rights of women are dramatically restricted under Islamic law.”

Gizmodo reports on a mystery object observed by the Hubble Telescope. “The object also appeared out of nowhere. It just wasn’t there before. In fact, they don’t even know where it is exactly located because it didn’t behave like anything they know. Apparently, it can’t be closer than 130 light-years but it can be as far as 11 billion light-years away. It’s not in any known galaxy either. And they have ruled out a supernova too. It’s something that they have never encountered before. In other words: they don’t have a single clue about where or what the heck this thing is.” (Go to Sky and Telescope: Hubble Finds a Mystery Object for more information.)

Greg Gilbert points to two conversations going on about What is the Gospel? “It seems to me that the two major camps in this conversation—those who say the Gospel is the good news that God is reconciling sinners to himself through the substitutionary death of Jesus (call them ‘A’) and those who say the gospel is the good news that God is going to renew and remake the whole world through Christ (‘B’)—are largely talking past one another. In other words, I don’t think the As and the Bs are answering the same question. Of course both of them say they’re answering the question ‘What is the gospel?’ and thus the tension between the two different answers. But I think if we pay close attention, we’ll see that they are actually answering two very different and equally biblical questions.”

Quick Takes – 9/13/2008

Justin Childers quotes Jim Eliff on the centrality of the cross in heaven. “One is taken aback by the emphasis on the cross in Revelation. Heaven does not ‘get over’ the cross, as if there are better things to think about … Heaven is not only Christocentric, it is cruci-centric, and quite blaring about it.”

John Mark Reynolds reflects on his son going off to college. “My son is at college. He is doing something, somewhere, and I don’t know what. I shouldn’t know. I wish I did know. I am glad I don’t know. Losing your child while gaining an adult son is confusing and clarifying. It is confusing to any attempt to cling to old ways and clarifying to the better self that loves God’s ways of organic growth and change.”

Justin Taylor tackles the question, How could God command genocide in the Old Testament? “The question is about what happens in the book of Joshua when God commands Israel to slaughter the Canaanites in order to occupy the Promised Land. It was a bloody war of total destruction where God used his people to execute his moral judgment against his wicked enemies. In moving toward an answer it will be helpful to think carefully about the building blocks of a Christian worldview related to God’s justice and mercy.”

Mark Roberts appreciates Michael Card’s use of original languages in his teaching ministry. “What I experienced with Michael Card this past weekend at Laity Lodge was a powerful reminder of why it’s so important for Ministers of Word and Sacrament to know and to use Greek and Hebrew (even if with the helpful crutch of a computer). Translations, no matter how good they might be, only get us so far in the task of biblical interpretation. One who can investigate the original languages has an unparalleled chance to find deeper truth.”

Tim Challies quotes Alexander Strauch from his book, Love or Die on the topic of love in the local church. “Christians cannot develop love by sitting at home alone on the couch watching TV preachers or by attending a weekly, one-hour church service. It is only through participation in “the household of God,” the local church (1 Tim, 3:15), with all of its weaknesses and faults, that love is taught, modeled, learned, tested, practiced, and matured. By dealing with difficult people, facing painful conflicts, forgiving hurts and injustices, reconciling estranged relationships, and helping needy members, our love is tested and matures.”

Hugh Hewitt offers up some encouraging words on the seventh anniversary of 9/11: “Prayers for the souls of those who died and for the comfort of their loved ones. Praise for the courage of the passengers on United Flight 93. Thanks to the first responders who immediately rushed to the Towers and the Pentagon, and to the tens of thousands from across the country who followed to help. Thanks to the men and women of the United States military and their civilian counterparts who have fought so hard and sacrificed so much to prevent another such attack.”

James Lileks’ words from the second anniversary of 9/11 are also worth repeating. “The picture at the top of this page is a sliver taken from a 9/11 camera feed. It’s the cloud that rolled through lower Manhatttan when the towers fell. Paper, steel, furniture, plastic, people. The man who took the picture inhaled the dust of the dead. Somewhere lodged in the lung of a New Yorker is an atom that once belonged to a man who went to work two years ago and never came back. His widow dreads today, because people will be coming and calling, and she’ll have to insist that she’s okay. It’s hard but last year was harder. The kids will be sad and distant, but they take their cues from her, and they sense that it’s hard – but that last year was harder. But what really kills her, really really kills her, is knowing that the youngest one doesn’t remember daddy at all anymore. And she’s the one who has his eyes.”

Olympic Quick Takes – 8/23/2008

With the 2008 Olympics winding down, I thought I would go with an OLYMPIC THEME for this week’s Quick Takes.

Did You Know?

  • City officials fired 1,100 rain rockets Friday afternoon and evening to fend off any rain clouds before the Opening Ceremony. The rockets contained silver iodide to disperse rain and clouds before the event.
  • Ever wonder how they get the camera to follow the Olympic divers so perfectly from the diving board to the pool? It’s easy – they just drop the camera. Basic physics at work; Isaac Newton would be proud. (I dropped my wife’s camera once. It didn’t work out so well.)

Rick Phillips affirms Shawn Johnson’s graciousness in her second place finish for the women’s all-around. “She’s only spent her whole life dreaming of winning that gold medal. Then she comes in second to her roommate, Nastia Liukin. During all of the interviews she conducted herself with cheerful dignity and grace. In particular, she clearly recognized that it was Liukin’s night to shine and did everything possible to make it a dream night for her friend. She didn’t talk about herself, she didn’t talk about her disappointment, but only how proud she was of her deserving friend … I don’t know if she is a Christian or not, but she certainly has conducted herself in the way that Christians should.”

And, speaking of gymnastics, here are a couple quick takes from previous Olympic years.

First Perfect 10 in History (Video length: 0:51)

Nadia Comaneci’s 1976 Compulsory on the Uneven Bars was the first perfect 10 awarded in Olympic gymnastics. You will notice the scoreboard reads 1.00 instead of 10.0. That’s because the scoreboards were not yet designed to display the number 10 (it had never happened before!).

Nadia Comeneci’s 1976 Uneven Bar Routine Perfect 10
(Video length: 0:40)


Nadia Comaneci’s 1976 All-Around Balance Beam Perfect 10
(Video length: 3:14)


And here is a neat performance from Olga Korbut in the 1972 Olympics.
(Video length: 0:40)

Quick Takes – 8/16/2008

Andrée Seu explains why more miracles are never the answer. “The solution to stubborn unbelief is not miracles. There are never enough miracles; there is always another request. Another objection. … I have often asked God for miracles to prove his love. But nowadays I ask for spiritual eyes to see what He has already made clear.”

Chris Rice eulogizes the Cartoon song which he retired from concerts in 2004. “I want to do excellent work. I want my work, my REAL work, to reach a wide range of people. This song purposely has no excellence — it was intended as a joke. I never meant for it to be popular, or to be taken seriously. I have heard all sides of the reasoning for and against the Cartoon song — literally thousands of times — and it is a song not worthy of this much attention.” (HT: FilmChat)

Rick Moran remembers why the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb. “How could we have done it? Much of the world to this day asks the question, ‘Wasn’t there another, less cruel way to end the war?’ The decision to drop the bomb will always be controversial because the answer to that question is yes, there were other ways we could have ended the war with Japan. Some would almost certainly have cost more lives than were lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Josh Etter quotes A.W. Tozer on the problem of tinkering with your soul. “While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very thing he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him.” (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God)

Mark Shead recommends taking a memory nap to increase productivity. (You may want to check with your boss first.) “Studies suggest that your memories are solidified while you sleep. Your brain does a lot of work during your rest–almost like it is busy filing and making sense of everything you’ve discovered while you were awake. When you’ve learned a new concept or information that you want to retain, consider taking a nap or reviewing it right before going to bed. This will give your brain the best chance to assimilate the new information.”

Skye Jethani from Leadership Journal warns pastors against the danger of rooting our identity in ministry rather than in Christ. “Something’s wrong. We pastors are the stewards, the spokespeople, the advocates of a message of hope, life, and peace. And yet so few of us seem to be experiencing these qualities in our own lives. Something’s wrong. In a world saturated with fear, insecurity, and stress, we are to show a different way. And yet those at the center of the church are burning out and leaving ministry at a rate of 1,500 per month. If that’s what’s occurring at the heart of the church, why would anyone on the fringe want to move in closer?”

Nancy Beach is still marveling over the Olympics Opening Ceremony. “Anyone who has produced any event at any scale had to marvel at what the Chinese director and his cast of 15,000 pulled off. I’m still scratching my head that those rectangular tubes, so perfectly choreographed to music, culminating in the lovely wave of pink lotus flowers, were actually activated by humans! HOW DID THEY DO THAT????? … The next time any of us has to orchestrate 10 people or 100 people or even 300 people to craft an experience, we should learn something from the Chinese about aiming high, about the power of beauty, about the pay-off for excellence and how inspiring it is to the human heart.”