Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Blurb

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology, is out for the Kindle, and was available for free on Monday. Here's my brief take on it, including why it's worth getting.

Imagine that someone went to every Reformed conference in the past year and gave this assignment: "Write about what you think is one of the most significant and overlooked contributions of John Calvin. You have 30 minutes."

Yeah, it's like that. The paper copy was put out last year by Ligonier, during the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth. The list of contributors to the book is who's who of Reformed pastors and academics.

So far I've just had time to skim the Iain Murray introduction and read the chapter by Phil Johnson on Calvin as a writer, but it has already prompted me to take advantage of the sale at Olive Tree on Calvin's commentaries ($20.99 for electronic vs. $120 for the paper version @ CBD), and I've been out on the Banner of Truth website looking at their Calvin offerings (Phil's suggestion is The Letters of John Calvin.

If all you know about Calvin is the stereotype of rigid theologian, you owe it to yourself to get this book and find out a bit more about the man who, probably more than any other, has influenced Protestant thought and theology.

Friday, October 15, 2010

When “Our Side” Misses the Point

Here's a One News Now article telling pastors they don't have to worry about losing their tax exemption for speaking out on politics because as a church they are they are constitutionally exempt.

I think this really misses the point, though. The pastor's pulpit should be used to preach the Word, and so political discussion should be in this context. On the other hand, even if the IRS is allowed to punish a church, shouldn't the church fear God and not men?

There's a related poll, which is what prompted this post in the first place.

What would most likely result if more pastors fearlessly spoke of political candidates and issues from the pulpit?
1) More Christians would vote
2) More Christians would run for office
3) America would truly become a Christian nation

I'm gonna say "none of the above." What I hope that pastor is doing is fearlessly proclaiming the Word of God, bringing it to bear on all aspects of life (yes, including politics), and that if God is glorified, that is the correct result. Even if more Christians don't vote or run for office, and even if America never becomes a "Christian nation."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekly Family Question

Our church has discussion questions which are published each week in conjunction with the sermon. We also get questions for the family. I'm gonna try to throw out one each week which will hopefully be helpful in your family worship.

Spend some time coming up with 4-5 groups of choices you will ask your family to make. Find pictures of each item to display. These should be groups of 3 (possibly 2) items that include one item that is not desirable (i.e. a horse, a beautiful dog, and a very mangy cat; a fancy new car, a big new pick-up truck, and a wagon without wheels; a gallon of ice cream, a picnic spread, and a pile of rotten lettuce). Tell everyone they need to make a choice in each group of the item they would like most. When they finish, ask which ones they chose, and ask why no one chose the "yucky" items. Then Read Deut. 7:6-8 and Eph. 1:3-6 and teach your family about God's calling of His people and that He called no one because of what they looked like, or because they were so good, but so that His calling would be to the praise of the glory of His grace.

Friday, October 08, 2010

An Alternative to Writemonkey

One thing I forgot to mention about NaNoWriMo this year is that I might try one alternative to WritemonkeyScrivener.

Scrivener has been available on Mac for about for 5 years now, I think. Based on the original website, it seems to have a bunch of nice writing features.

They are just now coming out with a Windows version, which is done by a different programmer. Although the public version won't be available until early 2011, a beta version will be made available for NaNo sometime in February.

They are still field testing, hoping to get some bug reports, so it may not be a good choice for everyone. But I've read lots of good things about the program, and the final version will be available for purchase during NaNoWriMo at half price.

That makes it something I've at least gotta try.


Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Preparing for NanoWriMo 2010

It's October, so it's time to start thinking about NaNoWriMo.

I managed to complete the task in 2008, using primarily old DOS wordprocessors. In 2009, I wasn't able to participate.

Now comes 2010. The new web badges are out. Time to dust off my copy of No Plot, No Problem (and I've gotten a copy to give to a friend). And now I'm setting about trying to figure out what I'm going to write with.

This year, I wanted to use software that could integrate a bit better with newer computers. But I wanted to keep some of the useful things from the last time. Some of those things were a word count, full screen to work with, a program that makes backups, but also not be tied to any proprietary format.

I've found that and more in WriteMonkey. It has quite a few features. Some of my favorites are the multiple backups, the ability to customize colors and fonts, save profiles, and a text repository, which allows you save all your cuttings.

It also saves in plain text. I used plain text when I wrote last time. Using Markdown allows the usefulness of text to be extended, but it remains completely portable.

With all that said, I think this NaNoWritemonkey will be my 2010 badge.