Valuable life lessons courtesy of Sears, Roebuck and Co.

After much urging from my family, I bought a new lawnmower last week at the local Sears store. Like I told Cut the grassmy wife, I’m very comfortable buying electronics, but buying tools and machinery leaves me more uncomfortable. I looked at several stores before we settled on the 625 series Craftsman mower.

My current mower, a Snapper, I bought 13 years ago for $75 from one of my neighbors. He used to go to estate sales and buy lawnmowers and then fix them up. So I don’t know how old this mower really is, but I got a great deal on it and it has run for years. Still, my family hates it because it is loud and is not the easiest to push around the yard. I’m the only one who mows our yard, so I don’t care. But now that the kids are old enough, we decided it was time to get a more family-friendly mower. And now the time has come.

Because I want to use my new mower the right way, I’ve been reading through the owner’s manual. You know, how to use it correctly, maintain it and generally avoid cutting off a needed toe or finger. As I’ve read it, I realize that it is sort of like a bible of lawn mowing. There are things to do and things not to do on the path to happy mowing. Here are some of them that I’ve read:

  • If you feel uneasy on a slope, do not mow it
  • Clear the area of objects such as rocks, toys, wire, bones, sticks, etc. which could be picked up and thrown by the blade. Bones? Maybe cutting the grass isn’t the problem.
  • Be sure the area is clear of other people before mowing. Stop the machine if anyone enters the area. That’s not a great incentive to get that lawn mowed: “I saw someone while I was mowing so I stopped.”
  • Never direct discharged material toward anyone. It’s a lawnmower, not a gun.
  • Never assume that children will remain where you last saw them. So true. That is, unless it’s summer, they’re teenagers and they are watching television.
  • Never run a machine inside a closed area. It’s easy. The lawnmower is for the grass, the vacuum cleaner is for the carpet. Lawnmower outside. Vacuum inside.
  • And finally: Mower blades are sharp and can cut. And you thought this machine was for BENDING the grass.

Staying married is not about staying in love

John Piper has an upcoming book on marriage that is based on a sermon series he did last year at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Based on what I’ve heard of those messages, it should be excellent. In one of his messages, Piper talks of the wonder of marriage:

Marriage is more wonderful than anyone on earth knows. And the reasons it is wonderful can only be learned from God’s special revelation and can only be cherished by the work of the Holy Spirit to enable us to behold and embrace the wonder. The reason we need the Spirit’s help is that the wonder of marriage is woven into the wonder of the gospel of the cross of Christ, and the message of the cross is foolishness to the natural man, and so the meaning of marriage is foolishness to the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14).

And because of that thinking, we are confused about what is intended by marriage. He explains in the following excerpt from that message:

Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: Online

UPDATE: The person who posted this online did so illegally. Like others who linked, I was unaware of this. My apologies. Rather, go here to see this awesome book.

What this book is about:

The Christian church has a long tradition of systematic theology, that is, studying theology and doctrine organized around fairly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. This introduction to systematic theology has several distinctive features:
– A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine and teaching
– Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum
– A contemporary approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today
– A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect
– Frequent application to life – Resources for worship with each chapter
– Bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.

Essential Piper

Desiring God is now offering what it terms the “essential Piper trilogy” of Desiring God, The Pleasures of God and Future Grace for $22.50. What are these books about? Glad you asked.


The message of Desiring God is that God is most glorified in us when we
are  most satisfied in him. In this book, Piper calls this worldview
“Christian Hedonism” and explains why pursuing maximum joy is essential
to glorifying God. He discusses the implications of this for
conversion, worship, love, Scripture, prayer, money, marriage,
missions, and suffering.


One way to see the glory of God is to meditate upon the object of his
delight. In this reissued version with a new cover design, John Piper
unfo  lds for us a vision of God through the lens of his happiness. What
most delights the happiest Being in the universe? God’s gladness in
being God. If God’s excellencies can be admired in his pleasures, and
if we tend to become like what we admire and enjoy, then focusing on
these pleasures can help us to be gradually conformed to his likeness.
In other words, we will be most satisfied in God when we know why God
is most satisfied in God. This version includes the same content as the
revised and expanded edition published in 2000.


What is future grace? It is all that God promises to be for us from
this second on. Saving faith means being confident and satisfied in
this ever- arriving future grace. This is why saving faith is also
sanctifying faith. The power of sin’s promise is broken by the power of
a superior satisfaction; namely, faith in future grace. Gratitude for
past grace was never meant to empower future obedience. Tomorrow’s
crisis demands tomorrow’s grace. And faith that future grace will be
there is the victory that overcomes the world. Future Grace contains 31
chapters – one for each day of the month – including practical chapters
on how faith in future grace defeats anxiety, pride, shame, lust,
despondency and more.
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News and notes: Amazing Grace, studying church history, biblical manliness, summer warning

AMAZING GRACE AT AMAZON: has put the 2007 theatrical release of “Amazing Grace” on sale. It was a great movie and a definitely worth checking out.

WHY STUDY CHURCH HISTORY? Tim Challies, author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment and one of the most disciplined bloggers out there, has come up with seven reasons why you should study church history.

WHAT BIBLICAL MANLINESS LOOKS LIKE: Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs lays it on the line when it comes to being a man:

Biblical manliness is about authentic character. It’s not about bravado, and it’s not about boyishness. Going out into the woods with a bunch of other men, putting on war paint, making animal noises, telling scary stories around a campfire, and then working up a good cry might be good, visceral fun and all, but that has nothing to do with the biblical idea of manliness.

Read the rest here.

WORSHIPING SUMMER: John Piper offers some good counsel about how not to let the pleasures of summer turn you from worshiping God instead:

Don’t let summer make your soul shrivel. God made summer as a foretaste of heaven, not a substitute. If the mailman brings you a love letter from your fiancé, don’t fall in love with the mailman. That’s what summer is: God’s messenger with a sun-soaked, tree-green, flower-blooming, lake-glistening letter of love to show us what he is planning for us in the age to come—“things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Don’t fall in love with the video preview, and find yourself unable to love the coming reality.

Cure for the common boy?


From an ad in Salvo magazine:

Does your son act too much like a little boy?
Is he fidgety and rambunctious?
Does he have trouble listening or have a puerile sense of humor?
Is he easily distracted?
Does he have a propensity to get dirty?
Does he enjoy playing with violent toys?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it might be time to medicate your son. Even if he doesn’t have ADD or ADHD, you’ll most certainly agree that he’s annoying.

Well, now you can curb the boyish tendencies in your son and make him almost comatose in the process. E-MASQL8 Plus has been clinically proven to remove in boys all signs of unwanted boyishness. You’ll never have to deal with snips, snails, or puppy-dog tails again.

E-MASQ8 Plus: A Cure for the Common Boy

Also see, in that same issue, this article entitled “Girly Men: The Media’s Attack on Masculinity.”

HT: Between Two Worlds and Wittingshire

Do Hard Things study guide

\As if the book wasn’t good enough, Alex and Brett Harris are now providing a study guide (for free!):

If you’re like us, talking with others about what you’re reading helps you decide what you think and how to respond to what a book is saying. This chapter-by-chapter study guide is intended to help you do just that.

Use it for personal study, if you wish, but we think it works best in a group. And the best group is one where you’re surrounded by others who care about the same things you do and are ready to put truth into action.

Don’t feel you have to process every question. It’s not a test, and as often as not, there’s no one right answer. Also, don’t let our questions limit what you ask or where you go. Ask God to direct your thoughts and decisions. And ask Him for courage — lots of it. Because big ideas are weak ideas if we’re not willing to let them shape how we think and live.

So use this study guide to zero in on the ideas, choices, and actions that seem most promising and helpful to you and your friends. Then expect great things to happen in your lives as you do hard things for the glory of God!

Your Fellow Rebelutionaries,

Alex and Brett

Both my son and daughter are reading through it and I look forward to going through the study guide with them. Thanks, Alex and Brett, for a great book and resource. Keep the mission!