5 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee


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In Go Set a Watchman, we return along with Jean Louise “Scout” Finch to Maycomb, Alabama. But we, like Scout, discover all is not as we left it when we last were there.

Mini-review:

Time has changed Maycomb, and Scout isn’t so sure she likes what she finds. The reader, too, will be challenged by the change and forced to wrestle with uncomfortable realities. To Kill A Mockingbird has become our culture’s parable of the evils of systemic racism and the honor, nobility, and goodness of one man’s quixotic stand against that system in the name of justice. But can we and can Scout still love the man who steps out of that parable and into our real, flawed, and broken world?

A heavy, heartbreaking, and raw read that asks us to take a look at ourselves and honestly assess what we see.

4 stars out of 5.

Here are five quotes to give you a taste of Scout’s return to Maycomb.

1. Scout wrestles with doubt

…How can they devoutly believe everything they hear in church and then say the things they do and listen to the things they hear without throwing up? I thought I was a Christian but I’m not. I’m something else and I don’t know what (167).

2. Blindness as a major theme for Scout.

Blind, that’s what I am. I never opened my eyes. I never thought to look into people’s hearts, I looked only in their faces (181).

3. Scout’s esoteric uncle on the perils of big government.

The only thing I’m afraid of about this country is that its government will someday become so monstrous that the smallest person in it will be trampled underfoot, and then it wouldn’t be worth living in (198).

4. Atticus and Jean Louise at odds.

JL: Don’t you give me any more double-talk! You’re a nice, sweet, old gentleman, and I’ll never believe a word you say to me again. I despise you and everything you stand for.
A: Well, I love you (253).

5. A man’s conscience is his watchman.

Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience (264-5).

 

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Jonathan Edwards on Scripture and Psalm 119:18


Psalm 119:18 says “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (NASB).

This is a verse that a former mentor and discipler of mine would pray every time we sat down to read the Bible together and it’s stuck with me. I still pray it often, whether I’m reading just for myself or reading with someone else. Because it’s a verse that I like and use often, I was happy when I came across Jonathan Edwards’s thoughts on the verse in his sermon “A Divine and Supernatural Light.”

Commenting on the verse, Edwards says:

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What could the Psalmist mean, when he begged of God to open his eyes? was he ever blind? might he not have resort to the law and see every word and sentence in it when he pleased? And what could he mean by those “wondrous things”? was it the wonderful stories of the creation, and deluge, and Israel’s passing through the Red Sea, and the like? were not his eyes open to read these strange things when he would?

Edwards then answers his own questions, supporting his overall argument that while anyone can open the Bible and read the words printed on the page, it is only those whose vision the Spirit illuminates that hear the voice of God and see the person of Christ in them.

Doubtless by “wondrous things” in God’s law, he had respect to those distinguishing perfections, and glory, that there was in the commands and doctrines of the Word, and those works and counsels of God that were there revealed. So the Scripture speaks of a knowledge of God’s dispensation, and covenant of mercy, and way of grace towards his people, as peculiar to the saints, and given only by God, Ps. 25:4, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” (emphasis added)

Let us be encouraged to continually entreat the Lord to open our eyes as we read the Word.

FREEsources-Free ebooks on Calvin and Scripture


John-Calvin_620Today, July 10th, is the anniversary of Calvin’s birthday in 1509. To celebrate, for 24 hours Reformation Trust and Ligonier are giving away 2 Free ebooks on John Calvin. (I’ve previously reviewed one of them here on the blog)

Also on the free ebook front, Crossway is giving away a free copy of Kevin DeYoung’s Taking God at His Word in exchange for completing a short survey. This giveaway is good until July 14th.

Hurry and get your free resources before they’re gone!

10 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Preaching” by Tim Keller


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Tim Keller’s Preaching is another home-run. While perhaps not as life-changing or spectacular as Prayer, this volume is filled with insights and wisdom from cover to cover. The chapter on “Preaching and the (Late) Modern Mind” and the bibliography of the best other books on preaching are each worth the price of the book alone! 

And you don’t need to be a preacher to read it. “This book,” says Keller in the introduction, “aims to be a resource for all those who communicate their Christian faith in any way” (p. 4).

Here are ten quotes to give you a taste of Keller’s manifesto on preaching.

1. The Holy Spirit is critical in preaching

…while the difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is mainly the responsibility of the preacher, the difference between good preaching and great preaching lies mainly in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the listener as well as the preacher (11).

2. True and effective preaching must center on Christ.

To preach the text truly and the gospel every time, to engage the culture and reach the heart, to cooperate with the Spirit’s mission in the world—we must preach Christ from all of Scripture (23).

3. To leave Christ out of a sermon is to not finish the task of preaching.

Every time you expound a Bible text, you are not finished unless you demonstrate how it shows us that we cannot save ourselves and that only Jesus can (48).

4. You cannot preach the gospel without preaching Christ.

To preach the gospel every time is to preach Christ every time, from every passage (57).

(sensing a theme, here?)

5. Culture shapes us more than we would care to admit.

It is a mistake to think that faithful believers in our time are not profoundly shaped by the narratives of modernity. We certainly are, and so when you unveil these narratives and interact with them in the ordinary course of preaching the Word, you help them see where they themselves may be more influenced by their society than by the Scripture, and you give them important ways of communicating their faith to others (118).

6. We find our true selves in Christ.

The process of sanctification, of growth into the likeness of Christ, is also, then, the process of becoming the true self God created us to be (139).

7. The gospel is “the right side of history.”

Such will always be the case. The philosophies of the world will come and go, rise and fall, but the wisdom we preach—The Word of God—will still be here (156).

8. Preaching must reach and capture the heart.

What the heart most wants the mind finds reasonable, the emotions find valuable, and the will finds doable. It is all-important, then, that preaching move the heart to stop trusting and loving other things more than God….People, therefore, change not by merely changing their thinking but by changing what they love most (159-emphasis added).

9. Preaching can do so much more than just convey information.

A sermon that just informs the mind can give people things to do after they go home, but a sermon that moves the heart from loving career or acclaim or one’s own independence to loving God and his Son changes listeners on the spot (165).

10. End every sermon pointing the listeners to worship Christ

Resist ending your sermon with “live like this,” and rather end with some form of “You can’t live like this. Oh, but there’s one who did! And through faith with him you can begin to live like this too.” The change in the room will be palpable as the sermon moves from primarily being about them to being about Jesus. They will have shifted from learning to worship (179).

Martin Luther’s Oscar-winning Hymn: “Let It Go”


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I bet Luther and Olaf would get along splendidly.

Martin Luther stood before the Holy Roman Emperor. He had been asked the day before whether he recanted of his teachings that he had expressed in his published works. Trembling at the prospect of opposing not just the entire church but the empire as well, Luther asked for a day to consider his reply.

The following day he again appeared before the Imperial Diet at Worms. He was eventually asked the same question: Did he recant or not?

Summoning his courage, Luther is reported to have replied[1]:

Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me.

In a footnote in his newest book Preaching, Tim Keller contrasts this statement to the popular (and infectiously catchy…) song from Disney’s Frozen.

It is both interesting and ironic to compare the sung speech of the character Elsa in Frozen with that of Martin Luther before the Holy Roman Emperor. Both say, “Here I stand.” But Luther meant he was free from fear and from other authorities because he was bound by the Word of God and its norms. Elsa speaks for the contemporary culture by saying she can be free only if there are no boundaries at all.
(p. 283, emphasis mine)

Here then we find two completely different ideas of freedom—two opposing worldviews—represented by the same exact three words: Here I stand.

I have two thoughts to briefly share. The first is the importance of clarifying vocabulary in any discussion of importance with those who do not share your views. Do those we are communicating with really understand what we are saying? And is the same true when it’s our turn to listen?

The second thought is really just a few questions about the nature and meaning of freedom. What does freedom look like for you and I? Is our freedom found in and centered around Christ or is it found in and centered around ourselves? Where do we stand? These are crucial questions and deserve our time and attention, especially as we celebrate our nation’s beginnings this coming weekend.

Here we stand. God help us indeed!


[1] Though I am no expert in what Luther actually said, Justo Gonzalez includes this version of Luther’s response in The Story of Christianity Volume II: “My conscience is a prisoner of God’s Word. I cannot and will not recant, for to disobey one’s conscience is neither just nor safe. God help me. Amen” (p. 35).

Christian, Are You Celebrating SCOTUS’ Marriage Decision? A Few Careful Appeals For Your Consideration


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Last week I reblogged a post collecting several responses to the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage. If you missed it, I recommend starting there (and even if you already read it, it’s been updated since I first linked to it, so you can still check it out!). Now that a bit more time has passed, the discussion has also moved on a bit to discussing the various reactions to the decision.

Today I came across two articles specifically addressed to Christians who are celebrating the decision. Both posts are somewhat of an insider conversation. If you don’t identify as a Bible-believing Christian who is connected to the universal church in some meaningful way, you aren’t the target audience. By all means, still read if you would like. Just know this going into the read.

I share these articles because I think this is too important a topic to stay silent on and that it is critical to examine not just what we believe but how we arrived at those beliefs.

1. “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags” Kevin DeYoung provides a lengthy list of questions exploring the implications and underpinnings inherent in supporting the Court’s decisions. These are presented as serious questions to ask and engage with and are thought-provoking.

2. “4 Appeals to Christians Embracing Gay Marriage” Gavin Ortlund presents a smaller list but goes into more detail than DeYoung. An excellent call for careful reflection on the issues.


These articles and my post are meant to generate discussion, not offend or hurt. I hope and pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart would be pleasing in God’s sight (Psalm 19:14) and that no unwholesome word proceed from my mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).