A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Piper examines sex, race and God’s sovereignty in his new book

John Piper’s latest book, A Sweet and Bitter Providence: Sex, Race and the Sovereignty of God is now available. In it, he examines the book of Ruth and how it’s themes are relevant in the 21st century. From the publisher:

The sovereignty of God, the sexual nature of humanity, and the gospel of God’s mercy for the undeserving-these massive realities never change. And since God is still sovereign, and we are male or female, and Jesus is alive and powerful, A Sweet and Bitter Providence bears a message for readers from all walks of life. But be warned, Piper tells his audience: This ancient love affair between Boaz and Ruth could be dangerous, inspiring all of us to great risks in the cause of love.

How the ESV Online Study Bible helps daily devotions

ESV Study BibleI use the ESV daily reading plan as I do my devotions. In many of the versions you get from Crossway these days, those plans are often printed right in the Bible, so it’s a great way to keep track of where you should should be for that day. Lately, as I’ve done more Bible study online, I’ve come to appreciate the tools the ESV and other groups have to aid in devotions.

As you well may know, this month the ESV is offering a free tryout of its ESV Online Study Bible. I can’t tell you how much this is a great way to study the Bible. One advantage of using the study Bible online over the print version is having the audio Bible available. I love this feature. It is good to have the capable voice of David Cochran Heath when you are going through Old Testament passages where unfamiliar names can often cause you to stumble.

Another great way the online study Bible aids devotions — and especially daily reading as you go through the Bible — is its ability to group diverse passages on one Web page. So, for instance, today I was able to take the four passages I was reading in my daily reading plan — Psalm 83; Exodus 27:20-28:43; Nehemiah 9; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 — and have them (and all the accompanying notes!) on the same page. The key to doing this is to make sure you put the semicolon between passages to separate them. This is a great way to go through them without having to flip from section to section. Plus you can also listen to each of them this way to.

God’s word is a treasure, and I am so thankful that I can have it and read it and listen to it and memorize it and share it with others. There are so many ways you can have it, especially in our culture, that there should be no excuse to not read it.

Memorize scripture with your iPod

Don’t let your iPod come between you and time in the Word of God. Rather put the Word of God in your iPod and in your heart. Psalm 119:11 says: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” And it doesn’t just get there unless you hear it, know it and live it.

As I’ve previously mentioned, you can download the audio version of the ESV either as a podcast or entirely to put on your iPod or MP3 player. But, also very helpful, B.C. McWhite shares at the weight of glory how you can put individual passages on your iPod to assist in scripture memory. I know I am always looking for ways to help me and my family “hide the word in our hearts,” so I am very glad to hear this tip.

Three questions on Newsweek’s “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage”

Greg Koukl, who does the Stand to Reason radio broadcast — also available as a podcast — gives three questions we should ask when reading Newsweek’s “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage”:

1.    What do they want you to believe?
2.    What are the reasons they offer in support of this idea they want you to believe?
3.    Are the reasons good ones?

Koukl reviews the article and goes through these questions on the podcast.

The new ESV Study Bible

The new English Standard Version Study Bible, coming in October, promises to be a great resource for those seeking to understand better the Word of God.
The new English Standard Version Study Bible, coming in October, promises to be a great resource for those seeking to understand better the Word of God.

The English Standard Version Study Bible will be released on Oct. 15. The word of God is powerful, and this version I believe will be a tremendous tool to help many understand it better. The following video details some of this version’s awesome features and also includes some endorsements.

You can learn more about the ESV Study Bible at its Web site. Among the things you can find there are explanations into what went into this particular edition and free downloads of sample books and chapters in the new ESV Study Bible. And, for those who order a print version, you can get a free online version of the ESV, which features resources not available in the print edition.

Is it offbeat that God answers prayer?

\"Strange News?\"In a completely unsurprising story from the Associated Press, two New Zealand men were in a plane that was about to go down due to a lack of fuel. What they did next was what many people, Christian or not, would have done: They prayed. And, not only did God hear their prayers, he caused them to land their plane next to a billboard that said “Jesus is Lord — The Bible.” Here is part of the story:

Grant Stubbs and Owen Wilson, both from the town of Blenheim on the country’s South Island, were flying up the sloping valley of Pelorus Sound when the engine spluttered, coughed and died.


“My friend and I are both Christians so our immediate reaction in a life-threatening situation was to ask for God’s help,” Stubbs told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Now, I say this is unsurprising because I know that God can — and does — answer prayer. I think God has a sense of humor in that he caused their plane to land near the sign so it could be “more newsworthy” (to the Associated Press, that is). After all, is it that remarkable that God answers prayers, often dramatically, every day? It shouldn’t be. After all, he says just as much in “The Bible.” Sidenote: I am irritated at these billboards that make broad statements and then attribute them to “The Bible” or “God,” meaning you cannot refute them. You can make many true-sounding statements that are not necessarily biblical this way e.g. — “You can’t beat your kids. — God”

So, this story about God answering a prayer in an amazing fashion now catches the eye of the Associated Press and ends up on its Web site under “AP Top Strange News.” This is the kind of world we live in, sadly. And, perhaps even sadder, I believe there are many Christians who think it strange that God actively works in our lives each minute so that they live their lives as if God is only there as some kind of cosmic 911 operator. Although I can’t be totally sure, the statement above by one of the men has that kind of ring to it.

Here’s the thing: Did the men think to pray to God before the trip or maybe before they realized their plane was in danger? I have a good friend who works as a missionary pilot. He flies in places that many people would say are extremely dangerous and is a great praying man. He e-mails updates before his trips and then sends out updates afterwards about how God answered those prayers. Most are uneventful, but there are several where you see how God answers prayers in a way different than was prayed, but it turned out that it was the best  way possible. And my friend acknowledges that in his updates.

These kind of stories (the one about the men in New Zealand) make big splashes and will get many people excited about Christianity and God. But the truth is that God is working day in and day out doing things that may seem mundane but are just as mighty. Jesus, who we worship as Lord, upholds the universe by his mighty hand:


Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Hebrews 1:1-4




Hollister, the Bible and teenagers

I’ve been reading through Alex and Brett Harris’ book “Do Hard Things” and I can’t overstate how much I like it and strongly recommend it. As a parent of a teenager, I am constantly doing battle with our culture’s low expectations for them so it is encouraging to see two young men who are giving a great message that we all need to hear.

\"Join The Rebelution\"

One of the things Alex and Brett talk about is that the whole idea of a special class of people called “teenagers” is a 20th century idea that has strongly taken root. In their research for the book, they discovered that even the word “teenager” did not exist publicly until 1941 and that, in an effort to protect children from cruel labor laws at the turn of the 20th century and instill universal education, we created a period where children are not yet adult but no longer children. We created the low expectations. In “America in So Many Words,” it is described this way:

Thus the years ending in -teen became something new and distinctive … The teenager remade our world. The concept is … subversive: why should any teenager enjoying freedom submit to the authority of adults? With the discovery of this new age, ours has been the century of the teenager ever since.

What does the Bible say about teenagers? Absolutely nothing. But it is not silent about youth and expectations. Instead, in I Corinthians 13:11 it says: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” Furthermore, in I Timothy 4:12 it says: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” And finally, in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world!”

What does our culture say? There is a joke that if Hollister (or American Eagle) said breathing was uncool, 92 percent of all teens would be dead. So, maybe it’s time for all of us to start thinking more highly and expecting more from these people we call teenagers. I leave you with the wisdom from I Corinthians 14:20:

Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

John Piper says “Don’t Waste Your Pulpit”

First of all, I am not a pastor. I will say this: I am glad that my pastor values the word of God and does take time every Sunday to explain it to us. In the clip below, John Piper exhorts pastors to preach God’s word and not their own thoughts. It is a tragic thing when churches become places of topical discussion when we know that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing though the word of Christ.

HT: Provocations and Pantings