Morning Mashup 08/17


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith | Alister McGrath | $2.99


On Guard for Students: A Thinker’s Guide to the Christian Faith | William Lane Craig | $1.99


Church History 101: The Highlights of Twenty Centuries | Sinclair Ferguson, Joel Beeke, and Michael Haykin | $3.99



Patience Isn’t Passive | Barnabas Piper

But my understanding of “waiting” has been sorely lacking. The description above is hollow. Waiting is an experience full of careful thought and action, at least if one is doing it well. If your waiting experience is one of sitting by until something happens then you’re doing it wrong.

How Does a Pastor Deal With Awkward Silence With Visiting Folks? | Brian Croft

This is a question that came to me by a young and introverted pastor who is struggling to know how to make conversation with elderly folks when he goes to visit them.  I wish more and more young pastors knew their weaknesses and desired to grow like this young brother.  Because I think this is a growing struggle among young pastors especially, here was my response to this brother for your consideration…

What Do You Do If the Sunday Sermon Was Bad? | Scott Slayton

The Sunday sermon is important because we understand that this is how God has ordained for his word to be taught to his people. So when the Sunday sermon falls flat and is unhelpful, what should we do?

A Playboy for President | Ross Douthat

But in the year of Donald Trump, the religious conservatives who fought many of those transformations find themselves reduced to a hapless rump. The best have retreated to rebuild; the worst have abased themselves before a sybaritic, irreligious presidential nominee.

Golden Moments in Rio | Boston Globe

More than halfway through the Summer Olympic games in Rio, over 150 gold medals have been awarded. Here are some of the winners whose performances during competition earned them the top spot on the podium.

Your First Breath After Death | Marshall Segal

Think about your first breath after death. That moment has everything to do with this one (and every moment between now and then) — that first newborn inhale in heaven. Why will that gasp of air be any better than your last breath before death?



Mysterious Wonder: Herman Bavinck on the Incarnation

Nothing elicits mysterious wonder like the incarnation of Christ. Christians celebrate Christmas because God became flesh. And nothing will blow your mind like thinking about how the eternal takes the form of the temporal; how the creator takes the form of the creature; how the divine becomes human. Only the incarnation explains these tensions. And while it is tremendously good news, it is also gloriously mysterious. But incomprehensibility does not equate impossibility.

The God-man, Jesus Christ, is the only hope for fallen sinners to have a relationship with a flawless God. But how are we to comprehend one man possessing two natures? And though having two natures, how are we to understand that he always acted as one person. For it was Jesus who died on the cross, not strictly his human nature.

Because of the mystery surrounding the incarnation, it is a satisfying practice to meditate on this theological truth. I always find it helpful to learn from theologians of the past. How have men who have thought deeper than me understood the incarnation? Dutch theologian, Herman Bavinck offers thoughts on the mystery and wonder of the incarnation.

I rejoice in the mysterious wonder of the incarnation of Christ. A god who I can perfectly understand with my own faculties is not a god worthy of my worship. But while the God of the Bible has clearly revealed himself to a certain extent, there is true mystery in him, no more so than in the incarnation. 

Have your meditations on the coming of Christ this Advent season led you into incomprehensible delight? I pray Bavinck’s thoughts fan a flame of desire for the mystery of the coming of the God-man this Christmas season.

It is completely incomprehensible to us how God can reveal himself and to some extent make himself known in created beings: eternity in time, immensity in space, infinity in the finite, immutability in change, being in becoming, the all, as it were, in that which is nothing. This mystery cannot be comprehended; it can only be gratefully acknowledged. But mystery and self-contradiction are not synonymous.

— Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 2:49

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

John Calvin’s Missionary Zeal

John Calvin
A brief caveat before we begin: If when you hear or read the name John Calvin you roll your eyes or your blood starts to boil, this post may or may not be for you.

John Calvin is one of the giants in the history of the church. He is one of the greatest Christian thinkers and theologians to ever live, and has influenced much of what we call evangelicalism today as well as modern-day government. Calvin was also an astute interpreter of Scripture amassing a thorough commentary set on each book of the Bible that each serious theology student and pastor should own. History knows him as “The Theologian.” And his greatest work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, is one of the most significant literary works of the 1500s. Truly, it is one of the greatest religious works of all time.

Calvin is one of my theological heroes and has shaped much of my understanding about who God is and how he operates in the world. In some places within evangelicalism it is taboo to follow Calvin. Some churches would even go so far as to discourage the reading of Calvin. This is not to mention the crazed anti-Calvin zealots who would all but crucify anyone who mentions his name. You know, those churches who’s first question in an interview is always, “What do you think about Calvinism?”

Calvin is associated with the soteriological doctrine bearing his name, and this is usually all most people know about him. Believe it or not, the man John Calvin was much more than a proponent of the biblical doctrine of unconditional election. He was a devoted, passionate, and self-sacrificing pastor. I love to read biographies of Calvin because his devotion as a pastor and the sacrificial love he had for his flock inspires me.

One of the greatest misconceptions about Calvinism and Calvin in particular is that neither the doctrine nor the man care about missions because it is logically inconsistent with the soteriological doctrine of unconditional election and limited atonement. In other words, many people believe Calvin was not evangelistic because he believes God is in total control of salvation.

John Calvin was born on July 10, 1509. In honor of Calvin’s birthday, I want to share some evidence that shatters these anti-Calvinistic claims. Say what you like about Calvin. It is fair to disagree with his soteriology. There are many things about which I disagree with Calvin. He was by no means perfect, and taking part in sending Servetus to burn at the stake is, to say the least, a stain on his legacy. But one thing you cannot do is doubt his heart for those without Christ. Calvin wasn’t after a legacy. He was after the glory of God being magnified throughout the world.

In 1553, Calvin wrote a letter to five young Frenchmen who were about to be martyred for taking the gospel into France. This is a beautiful expression of love for God, his gospel, and his missionaries. John Calvin loved God and people with dramatic passion. This letter clearly communicates his missionary zeal and pastoral heart:

We who are here shall do our duty in praying that He would glorify Himself more and more by your constancy, and that He may, by the comfort of His Spirit, sweeten and endear all that is bitter to the flesh, and so absorb your spirits in Himself, that in contemplating that heavenly crown, you may be ready without regret to leave all that belongs to this world.

Now, at this present hour, necessity itself exhorts you more than ever to turn your whole mind heavenward. As yet, we know not what will be the event. But, since it appears as though God would use your blood to seal His truth, there is nothing better for you than to prepare yourselves for that end, beseeching Him so to subdue you to His good pleasure, that nothing may hinder you from following whithersoever He shall call…Since it pleases Him to employ you to the death in maintaining His quarrel, He will strengthen your hands in the fight and will not suffer a single drop of your blood to be shed in vain.

Your humble brother, John Calvin

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.