Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Daily Links 4-22-14

Scouring the internet daily for the most fascinating and useful links. In today's edition: Free online college courses, how to prevent bacon shrinkage, photos of vintage book stores, and more.

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If you are in college or about to go into college you may want to bookmark this page from Open Culture: 1001 Free Online Courses.

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Looking for a job? Here's a list of the 50 best employers to work for in America.

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Answering life's important questions: how to prevent bacon shrinkage.

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10 ways to get the most out of your HDTV.

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A collection of vintage photographs of bookstores. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

Either/Or Bookstore, Hermosa Beach, California
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These days everyone is talking about e-readers are revolutionizing the publishing industry. But before the e-reader it was the paperback that changed the way Americans read.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Daily Links 4-21-14

Here's a fresh set of links to start off your week. In today's edition: dispelling the myths surrounding The War of the Worlds, things to remember when leaving your church, viable alternatives to 4-year college, and more.

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For years the story has been told that Orson Welles 1938 broadcast of The War of the Worlds caused mass hysteria throughout the country. That's not entirely true. But it's still a fascinating story. Ironically it was the media (specifically newspapers) that hyped the mass hysteria story in the days following the broadcast.

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Further proof that there is an app for everything: A new app called Doughbot will locate the closest doughnut shop to wherever you happen to be. (Hat tip: Food Riot)

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At some point over the course of your lifetime you will likely leave your church. Here's a helpful list of six things you should remember when leaving. Please note that I don't necessarily endorse leaving a church but having done it a couple of times I know from experience it's not easy.

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If you are a Gmail user like me no doubt you have been bombarded by ads. The good news is that there is an easy way to get rid of them.

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Is college for everyone? The better question is whether a four year college is the best option for you. Here is a compilation of ten alternatives to a four year college.

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It pays to go the extra mile: 11 of the best customer service stories you are likely to ever read.



Sunday, April 20, 2014

Book Review: What Works - Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America


Political books are a dime a dozen. They mostly follow a familiar pattern. If written by a liberal then everything a conservative stands for is bad. If a conservative is writing the book then they use the book as an opportunity to rail against liberals. Too often politicians are focused on scoring political points and preserving power rather than finding solutions to problems.

What sets syndicated columnist Cal Thomas' latest book What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America is that it provides exactly what the title promises: common sense solutions that seek to solve America's problems rather than score points for a particular political party or viewpoint.

What's missing from our political discourse is an agreement among our leaders to work together to seek solutions that work and that can be supported by a broad public consensus. Ironically, many of the solutions to our most pressing problems are things that in the past we have tried and used successfully. A brief look back at our nation's history (which Thomas helpfully provides) shows that some of the solutions have already been created. We only need the courage to actually try them again.

The other most compelling message of the book is that our solutions do not necessarily need to come from Washington, D. C. In fact, many solutions can be found in the vibrant laboratories of state government. By embracing innovation at the local level we can find a way to solve our most pressing problems.

Regardless of your political point of view you are likely to find much to agree with in What Works. I highly encourage you to read it and see that the solutions that we seek to our everyday problems are right in front of us - if we only have the courage to break out of our tired political ruts and look for ways to improve the common good.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekend Playlist: If I Could Build My Whole World Around You

This week's song spotlights one of the outstanding duos of Motown's heyday: Marvin Gaye and Tammie Terrell. During the couple of years during the late Sixties they recorded together they had numerous hits and performed live together on tour. If I Could Build My Whole World Around You would mark the third top 10 record for the duo and is (at least in my opinion) their best record. Unfortunately the partnership would not last very long as Terrell collapsed in Gaye's arms during a performance at Hampden Sydney College in October of 1967. Less that three years later she was dead at age 24 having succumbed to a brain tumor. Still, they made some wonderful music together and this has to be one of the finest examples of this outstanding pairing.


Daily Links 4-18-14

A roundup of links for your weekend reading pleasure. In this edition: Would Paul have used video, the coffee shop as your office, it's okay to fail, things healthy couples don't do, and more.

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Aaron Armstrong poses an interesting question:

If Paul were ministering today, would he use video? 
This is an important question, and it’s not one that is as clear cut as you might think. Many who have embraced video venue gatherings point to Paul as their example. Because he was all about becoming all things to all people in the hopes of winning some to the gospel, he would surely use any (non-sinful) means at his disposal to extend the reach of the gospel.
That’s generally how I’ve seen the argument go, anyway. (I realize I’m probably oversimplifying a bit.) 
The question of whether or not Paul would use video is an important one, but I wonder if it might also be the wrong one.
Would Paul use video to share the gospel? Probably, sure. But, more importantly, what would he use it for?

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Mr. Met was once threatened by the Secret Service. No, really. Just goes to show the lengths they would go to protect the President.

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Fun facts about one of the best baseball movies of all time, A League of Their Own.

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If you do a lot of work at the coffee shop, you should read this.

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Forget the bucket list. How to make moments that matter.

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Now this is what I call a cool tablet keyboard.

Hat tip: Book Riot

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8 things that healthy couples don't do. #3 is the toughest for me.

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10 productivity tips to make your life easier.

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The best thing about shopping at Ikea is that their furniture is cheap and can be repurposed for numerous other uses. The fact that there is a whole website devoted to Ikea Hacks should be a clue. Here are 20 of the best Ikea furniture hacks.

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Instead of a to-do list how about a done list? Harnessing the power of progress.

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Contrary to popular belief it's okay to fail.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Thing of Beauty

Home runs may make for great highlight reels but for a true baseball fan there are few things more fun to see than a triple play. The New York Yankees pulled off the feat tonight in their game  at Tampa Bay.


A couple of interesting things about this play. The Yankees pitcher, CC Sabathia, has been the pitcher on the mound for the last three Yankee triple plays. In addition, Scott Sizemore, who was playing first base was making his major league debut at that position. Talk about a baptism of fire.
Hat tip: Hardball Talk

Daily Links 4-17-14

In today's edition: Reader's Digest Christianity, revisiting the great Dungeons and Dragons scare, confessions of a Christian film critic, the aggregation of marginal gains, and more.

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Exposing the flaws of Reader's Digest Christianity. Unfortunately this is what too many sermons have started to sound like.

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How do I talk to my teenage daughter? This is a struggle that every father of girls faces.

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The 4 Stages of Writing and 3 Common Mistakes We Make. I can relate to every bit of this article (particularly the mistakes).

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Recalling the great 1980s panic about Dungeons and Dragons. I recently shocked my kids when I confessed to them I had played the game (more than a few times) when I was younger. Somehow I managed to survive. (Hat tip: Challies)

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12 Places in Pixar movies that exist in real life. Some of these are less obvious than others.

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This is an interesting read: Confessions of a Christian Film Reviewer:

If it’s a challenge to write about Christian films as a Christian, it can be just as problematic to review nonreligious films, especially the bad ones: The humility and loving kindness I try so hard to cultivate in my daily life doesn’t hew to the snark and downright cruelty that can be the occupational hazard of the reviewer’s job. Where I’ve become much more unforgiving, however, is in depictions of violence. As a student of film history, I know that violence is a long-standing, even essential element of cinematic grammar and audience catharsis; as a Christian, I find it increasingly difficult to accept portrayals of brutality that are glib, meaningless, played for laughs or cynically nihilistic. As Underhill wrote, “We cannot begin the day by a real act of communion with the Author of peace and Lover of concord, and then go on to read a bloodthirsty newspaper at breakfast.” If a bellicose tabloid is enough to give peace-lovers a case of indigestion, they should try watching a Quentin Tarantino film on an empty stomach.

Hat tip: Breakpoint

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How to keep your marriage strong. These are great tips. #5 is the one I find the hardest.

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This is very interesting: the aggregation of marginal gains. Having the patience to make small changes will result in bigger changes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Becoming a More Effective Reader

Last year, I set an ambitious goal for myself to read more books. I set a numerical target and started the year with great intentions of meeting it. But I got bogged down in my fifth book (which in retrospect I probably should have abandoned rather than continue plodding through it) and ultimately had to give up on my goals. Simply setting a numerical target for myself didn't work.

I still love to read. It's dangerous for me to walk into a book store or even a Goodwill store (where I am finding more and more of my books these days). I have figured out though that I need a better plan than simply setting a numerical target. Rather than concerning myself with numbers I needed to be more purposeful in what I was reading and how I was reading. In order to do this, I have decided to adopt a more specific plan in how I am going to read.

First, I need to be more deliberate in my reading. Witht the Internet and a smartphone at my fingertips I realized that it is way too easy to waste time. And it's time that could be better spent reading books. This means also being willing to even schedule time each day to devote to one of my reading projects.

Second, I need to be more focused in my reading. I typically don't try to read multiple books at the same time but have come to the conclusion there is a case to be made for it. My reading needs to be focused on three areas:


  1. Spiritual enrichment - As a Christian, I need to be reading Scripture every day. In addition, I plan to select books that will draw me into the Bible and help me understand it better.
  2. Business - I am a manager for my employer. In order to be more effective in my job, I need to be learning how to do it better. I also need to select books that will allow me to draw insights that I can share with my team to help them be more successful.
  3. Pleasure - not all reading has to be "assigned" reading. There should still be room for reading books that are fun and interesting to me. 
Third, I need to write in my books. This is something I typically haven't done. But nearly every article I have read on effective reading and comprehension calls for both highlighting and making notes in the book. It's a way to pick out those things that are most important. By making notes I am taking the opportunity to write in things that I have thought about what I have read - particularly when it is my first time through a book. It's also important to note that in order to do this I have to have a physical copy of the book. Although I enjoy e-books (and they certainly have their advantages) the big disadvantage is that you can't write in them. The experience of reading is not the same as it is turning the pages of a physical book.

Fourth, I need to take notes. This is separate from highlighting or writing in the book. Some books are best read with a notebook beside you. By writing notes as you are reading you can increase your comprehension. I find that whether reading a book or listening to a sermon I comprehend more when I am taking notes. It forces me to be a more active listener engaged with the speaker or author.

Finally, I need to take my time. One of the problems I had with setting a numeric goal was I always felt I needed to rush on to the next book and didn't have the ability to really take my time and dive deep into a book. Sometimes the best books are those we meditate upon and turnover in our minds. Those are the books that are most likely to make the biggest impact on us.

This is my plan at least for now. I don't know whether this will be more effective than any other strategy that I have adopted. Regardless of how we go about it, we need to invest more time in books. They are an endless treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

Daily Links 4-16-14

In today's edition: protecting your family from pornography, a new song from an old friend, art available for download, and more.

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With the proliferation of pornography on the internet (and elsewhere) it is best to have a plan for how to deal with it as a family. Fortunately, Tim Challies has some terrific advice on how to develop a comprehensive approach to protecting your family.

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How you can spot a leader you can trust. Some good advice. (Hat tip: Trevin Wax)

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Should I go see Noah or not? A frank discussion on how to engage popular culture.

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My friend Annie Parsons (no relation) has written a lovely new song. She's a talented gal. Take a listen below and then leave a comment for her and let her know what you think.



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Everyone knows that Chick-Fil-A has some of the best food around. But here's something you may not know about: the best items featured on their secret menu.

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The stories of 11 incredible acts of courage.

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You can now download over 35,000 images from the National Gallery of Art.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Daily Links 4-15-14

Links of interest served daily. In today's edition: seven habits from Navy SEALs, getting the most out of family dinners, Prince George's first overseas trip, a lineup of baseball books, and more.

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7 Habits from Navy SEALs. While the word habit normally would have negative connotations, as this article explains, there are habits that can be good habits to adopt.

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Ann Voskamp on why you have to keep falling in love. 

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How you can use family dinners to create a positive family culture.

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It was fun while it lasted: the rise and fall of the bullpen car.

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Speaking of baseball, here's a fascinating list of 33 non-fiction baseball titles you should consider reading. There went my to be read list. Truth is, I have read 10 of those titles. Still lots more to do though.

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Prince George made his first overseas trip to New Zealand last week with his parents William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Honest Toddler filed this hilarious report on the trip and helps us figure out what the young prince was thinking about in all those photos taken of him.

Woolf Crown/AFP - Getty Images

Monday, April 14, 2014

Daily Links 4-14-14

Here's a roundup of links to help you start the week of right. In today's edition: the difference between successful and unsuccessful people, the man who stumbled on Hell, the idolatry of modesty, and more.

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Here's an interesting list of 16 differences between successful and unsuccessful people. Lots of good advice in this post. (Hat tip: Neatorama)

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The amazing history of the Choose Your Own Adventure books.

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Increasingly, folks are having issues with food. Here's some useful advice on how to determine whether foods are making you sick.

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The headline says it all: the man who stumbled on Hell. The true story of Lieutenant John Randall, the first Allied soldier to arrive at Bergen-Belsen. (Warning: graphic and disturbing images in the article)

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15 things we have to explain about Lynyrd Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.

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The top 10 words that will help you win at Scrabble. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

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How should Christians deal with the issue of modesty? We should be careful not to make modesty into an idol:

Because promiscuity is so prevalent today, we in the Church have reacted by elevating modesty to unhealthy proportions. We jump too quickly into behavior modification and don’t realize that most of our modesty campaigns are actually borderline legalism. 
One rule in particular that “Christian” schools, universities and clubs like to enforce is the “skirt test.” It usually involves the woman getting on her knees to see if the skirt touches the ground, which if it does, it’s deemed acceptable.
My question though is what are we doing in that moment? Is the gospel being exalted, or are we heaping shame and condemnation on them? 
The fact that she is on her knees for the test couldn’t be more symbolic of submission, power, shame and guilt. The trouble, however, is that while modesty standards are set up to not make women’s bodies an object, it is in fact doing that very thing. 
Highlighting the girl’s dress in front of everyone, and telling her she should dress a certain way because she doesn’t want “to make the men stumble” is simply making her an object.
In the Body, we need to realize using men’s sin and lust issues as the reason why a woman should dress a certain way is actually making her just as much an object than if she were to dress promiscuously.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Weekend Playlist: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

When it comes to classic show tunes it's hard to beat George and Ira Gershwin. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off was originally introduced in the 1937 film Shall We Dance starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Noted for the different pronunciations of different words throughout the song, it was meant to highlight class differences between the two singers rather than just a disagreement over how to say "tomato". Like many songs in the Great American Songbook, there are numerous versions of this song. This particular version is my personal favorite as you can hear in the singing how much Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong obviously enjoyed working together on this song.


Daily Links 4-11-14

A roundup of links for your weekend reading pleasure. In today's edition: presidents and first pitches, what "essentialists" do, some neat wedding gifts, and more.

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The history of U. S. Presidents and ceremonial first pitches. This article will certainly enlighten you on how the practice got started.

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Say it ain't so: Hasbro has announced they are changing the rules for Monopoly.

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In praise of public libraries: a new book offers a wonderful collection of photographs of the most interesting libraries around.
Globe chandelier in the children's library, Central Library, Los Angeles, 2008
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NASA recently sold artifacts from the Apollo moon program at auction.

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Regular readers of this blog know that I frequently link to articles on improving productivity at work. But one author I have recently started following is Greg McKeown. I am intrigued by his upcoming book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This article provides a nice summary of what his book is all about. Perhaps there is something to being an "essentialist".

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Kevin DeYoung reminds us that we need to pay careful attention to the issue of sexual purity. (Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong)

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Hollywood is missing out on an opportunity to tell some great stories. Six baseball biographies that would make great films.

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Five great kitchen tool wedding gifts you won't find in department stores.
Monogrammed cutting board by LetsEngraveIt


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Daily Links 4-10-14

In today's edition: Victorian Buzzfeed, memorable quotes from children's literature, chatting with George F. Will, Tom Hanks and Walt Disney, and more.

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This is really cool: 25 Stages From Courtship to Marriage. Or, Victorian Buzzfeed. (Hat tip: Acculturated)
Photo Credit: The Public Domain Review

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The myths of success that hold us back from being really successful.

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Hugh Hewitt chatted with George F. Will, author of A Nice Little Place on the North Side. I am reading the book now and it is fantastic. (Audio at the link)

Related: George Will sang during the 7th inning stretch last Sunday. The Cubs won the game. Good luck charm? Ironic considering that Will says Harry Caray is responsible for him becoming a Cubs fan.

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The odd off-season jobs of 10 Baseball Hall of Famers. There was a time before baseball players got rich just playing the game that they had to do something else in the off-season to make ends meet. Fascinating stuff.

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Hard to believe that thirty years ago Tom Hanks was an unemployed actor. But one thing helped him make it through the hard times. No surprise that it helped serve as an inspiration for one of his most memorable roles.

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Quotes from classic children's literature:


20 inspiring children’s book quotes.
Courtesy of: Quotery

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Daily Links 4-9-14

In today's edition: handling differences online, a spy's toolkit, stop misusing the Bible, a book recommendation, and more.

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How to handle differences online. Generally speaking, the internet is not a place to debate issues but there are some useful tips here to consider.

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Why Wegmans is America's best grocery store. I can say from personal experience that it is far and away the best grocery store I have ever shopped at. It's (almost) worth moving just to be closer to one. It's even better than Trader Joe's (and that's saying a lot).

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I do not think that means what you think it means: five Bible verses you need to stop misusing.

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How Jane Austen's heroines find happiness. Some very interesting thoughts on the character traits of Austen's female characters. (Hat tip: Acculturated)

When it comes to book recommendations, my go-to guy is Tim Challies. It's not because I agree with everything he says (I do often but not always) but because he is such a thougtful, thorough book reviewer. So anytime he recommends a book I take notice. Here's his latest recommendation: Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung.

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This is a neat infographic: the spy's toolkit.



Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Daily Links 4-8-13

Your daily dose of fun links. In today's edition: questions of Christian education, love and baseball, lessons in good listening, and more.

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Four questions that will help parents understand whether Christian education at either private schools or universities is successful. For anyone concerned about the education of their children these are questions you will want your child to be able to answer. (Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong

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Debunking myths about millenials and the church.

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More research about millenials and the news is not good.

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A children's bookstore designed to look like a long winding rainbow.

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Love and baseball: a pair of Red Sox fans who met on Twitter got married at Fenway Park.

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50 wonderful ideas for sprucing up your home library (Hat tip: Book Riot)
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It's difficult to be a good listener but applying these lessons will go a long way towards improving our ability to listen.

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15 grammatical errors that will make you look silly: 15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Daily Links 4-7-14

A roundup of links to help you start your week off right. In today's edition: God is not a magic 8-ball, the benefits of real community, legal blogging, and more.

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Kevin DeYoung, from his book Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will:

God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience and invites us to take risks for Him. We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know—and need to know—what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God’s will, as well-intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than wisdom. 
The better way is the biblical way. Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going. 

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Which classic movies have you seen? I would say the term classic is applied very loosely to this list. I only got 65 with the large majority of them being films that were released prior to 1980. My interests tend to skew towards older films, I guess.

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Quote of the week:



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10 reasons that community has more benefits than you think it might. Some good food for thought.

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Baseball has a lot to teach us about life. Here's yet another example: 4 Manly Lessons from the Minor Leagues.

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The Volokh Conspiracy is one of the best legal blogs on the web. Here's the fascinating story of how it has become one of the most influencial legal blogs around. (Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds)

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Weekend Playlist: Fare Thee Well

This week we go old school with a new cover of an old song. Fare Thee Well is an English ballad dating back to the 18th Century. It's been covered numerous times by a wide variety of artists. The latest cover was featured in the Coen Brothers' movie Inside Llewyn Davis and features Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford on the vocals. This is a wonderful rendition of the song. Enjoy.





Daily Links 4-4-14

Here are a few links for your weekend reading: when Scripture is the controversy, stolen art, escape from Auschwitz, a normal celebrity couple, and more.

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When Scripture is the Controversy. Yes, the battles that are to come don't have so much to do with particular issues but how we deal with Scripture:

If we learned anything from last week, maybe it’s that the real controversy among evangelicals in the coming days will be about the Bible, not homosexuality. 
Beneath the surface of the recent scuffle is the more vital issue of how disciples of Jesus posture themselves toward God’s word. It’s not simply about our grasp of what Scripture is, or our conviction of Scripture’s inerrancy, or even where we land with different interpretations. It’s fundamentally about how we approach the words of God, even before we get to the interpretation part. It’s about how we look when we’re looking at Scripture. 

Hat tip: Challies

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Trevin Wax says that World Vusion's embrace of same sex marriage and immediate reversal is a sign of bigger divisions to come in evangelical circles.

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Whovians rejoice. You can now own a Tardis backpack.


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Hidden treasures: an Italian factory worker discovered that the paintings that had been hanging on his kitchen wall were in fact stolen masterpieces worth millions.

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Fun facts: 21 things you might not have known about Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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The true story of four men who managed to escape from one of the most hellish places on earth: Auschwitz.

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A collection of wonderful illustrations from the original manuscript of The Little Prince.

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Kudos to New York Mets second baseman  Daniel Murphy who wanted to take some extra time off to be with his wife and newborn son. He's unfairly caught a lot of flack for just wanting to be a good dad.

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A normal, healthy celebrity couple? Is that even possible? It certainly is.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Daily Links 4-3-14

Your daily dose of fun links from around the web. In today's edition: Pixar hidden goodies, baseball's new instant replay system, a class act, and more,

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The interconnectedness of everything: 30 Easter Eggs you will find in Pixar movies. Only goes to show what geniuses those folks are. (Hat tip: Wardrobe Door)

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Kids say the darnedest things especially in bookstores. Prepare to be heartwarmed. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

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Baseball's instant replay system was supposed help umpires get calls right. Except when it doesn't. My prediction is there are going to be a lot more stories about an overturned call being a deciding factor in a lot of games this season. That is not what Bud Selig wanted.

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When Platt wasn't enough. I really like this insight on why a church needs a flesh and blood pastor:

These days, Christians can slip into treating preaching like a consumer commodity and preachers like buffet selections. With the internet, a believer can choose a different style and a different preacher for every mood and preference. 
However, my church realized they needed a pastor. A flesh and blood pastor is crucial for the local church because preaching is an act of spiritual warfare. A pastor is a shepherd who fights in the trenches next to his sheep, defending them from the wolves. You can’t simply phone that in! Only an in-person preacher can bear the burdens of the congregation, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. That’s what we see clearly in Scripture. Preaching and teaching are normative functions of the shepherding pastor (1 Tim 3:2b, 5:17, 2 Tim 4:2, Titus 2:1).
That is to say,pastors care for the flock by preaching and teaching, rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). Can a preacher disconnected from a local church—in fact, completely oblivious of it’s existence—defend that flock from false teaching? Can he fend off the wolves? Can he shepherd the flock, exercise oversight, or rule well? 
A church ought to receive preaching from a man who knows the church’s struggles, their strengths, their needs, their victories—in short, knows them. True biblical preaching not only rightly interprets the Word, but it also lands and applies uniquely and specifically in the people who are sitting under that Word.
Hat tip: Challies

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Follow the truth:

Given what is taking place in the world today, do we have any indications that to follow Christ will become more and more comfortable? The Bible Belt, long the cultural bastion of “biblical values,” has long been heading toward the spiritual ruins of post-Christendom. Cultural Christianity is wasting away. And the outside world is becoming more and more hostile to the things of faith. Even some professing Christians are becoming hostile to those who will not move according to the shifting winds of the culture. And if God is doing anything in ordaining these cultural shifts to come to pass, it may be this: We are finding out who the real Christians are. (Even today, some are announcing in anger and embarrassment that they will never again call themselves evangelical, to which we must respond with all sincerity and soberness, “Thank you.”)

Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong

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Class act: Ed Sheeran grants a dying teenage girl's request by serenading her during her last minutes of life.

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Searching for a mentor? Look no further than your bookshelf.

It has become apparent to me that many people, especially young Christians seeking maturity, desire for someone to come alongside them and mentor them. I myself have profited immensely from sitting underneath the godly influence of men of faith. I believe it is a noble and holy thing to seek out men and women of faith that may speak truth into your life. You can pursue these people through getting involved in community and service. As you meet seasoned saints, you can ask them to carve out time to meet with you. However, in a church context where we have significantly more young people desiring a “mentor” than we have people who have walked through a long life of faith in God, we must be aware that there will not always be men and women of this stature at our disposal. 
We hope that a mentor will share their life with us, speak truth, lead us to pray and worship, share with us a greater knowledge of Scripture and offer insight into living a godly life. I believe that a great book can do some of these things. Your shelves can be overflowing with mentors.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Daily Links 4-2-14

In today's edition: churches remade to become bookstores, things good dads say, notes to write to change your life, and more.

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What happens when a church building is abandoned? In some cases, they are converted to libraries and bookstores with magnificent results. (Hat tip: Book Riot)

Selexyz Dominicanen by Merkx + Girod in Maastricht, the Netherlands



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A brief and fascinating history of one of the most popular game shows of all time: Jeopardy!

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Some excellent advice to fathers in this article entitled 7 Things a Good Dad Says.

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More unexpected ways to work smarter, not harder. Some good advice here and things that I will have to think about.

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This is interesting: scholars are studying Shakespeare's works to determine what his beliefs are about God.

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The idea of writing notes seems a little old-fashioned, but here are five notes to write that could change your life.

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Can you summarize the American Revolution in a tweet? A group of historians gave it a try.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Daily Links 4-1-14

In today's edition: advice for parents, remembering Opening Day, life lessons from Monopoly, valuing church membership, and more.

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The hardest thing about becoming a parent is the wealth of often conflicting advice you receive before (and even after) you become a parent. But this is a good summary of things that many parents would agree that they wish they knew before becoming a parent.

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A collection of Ansel Adams photographs that were discovered in the National Archives.

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Is college for everyone? In part 2 of their series at Art of Manliness, the guys sort through the pros and cons of attending a four year college. 

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Yesterday marked Opening Day in Major League Baseball for many teams. Mental Floss has a nice look back at the opening of four iconic ballparks. Below, Wrigley Field (formerly Weeghman Park) in April 1914.



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Speaking of baseball, this season marks the adoption of instant replay for disputed calls. As this study shows, the umps should be glad that teams can't use replay to argue ball and strike calls.

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This is an interesting post: 12 ways life is like a game of Monopoly. Who knew that a game could be so educational?

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With the release of Noah and Son of God it's a good time to weigh good versus bad faith-based films:

Christian parents would not let their high school children see the movie of Crime and Punishment if it were simply described to them or flashed in front of them during the previews before another film. But those same Christians do let (and encourage) their kids to read it as a novel because of the universal recognition of Dostoevsky’s masterful storytelling and the unmistakably Biblical anchor his stories were moored to. People love Dostoevsky – who never shied away from confronting humanity as it is – because what he produced was great art.
I’m not suggesting that people of faith who care about what their kids’ minds are filled with should run willy-nilly into every crowded theater to see whatever is fashionable at the time. Hardly! 
But what I am suggesting is that while we work to inspire and equip new generations of artists who share our values to boldly venture into the pop-culture fray, we must not miss opportunities to introduce our worldview into the cultural conversation.
When Christians are perceived to be hiding from the tough questions and human struggles we’re all faced with, they are dismissed and ignored (along with their message of hope). Art has the power to transcend and speak to the soul. But it must be able to meet people on their level before pointing them upward.
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Is church membership required?

This month we will be inducting new members into the most honored body the world has ever known: the church of Jesus Christ. The initiation fee for this club is so high that no human could have ever paid it; God himself had to pick up the tab. The benefits of the club never expire. The fellowship of the club is unmatched; you receive intimate access to the Lord himself (John 17:23). 
With such benefits, you'd think church membership would be held in infinitely high esteem. But for many reasons, Christians seem to think less of it than ever before. If you're one who looks upon church membership lightly, then I invite you to reconsider. 
When we hear the word membership, we immediately think of a club. A member pays dues, comes to meetings, and fulfills the obligations of a club member. When you move, or no longer have time for the club, you simply withdraw your membership and move on.
The Bible says membership is much more intimate. "For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body" (Eph. 5:29-30). 
To be a church member means we are a member of Christ's body—just like your finger is a member of your body. His blood runs through us. His Spirit animates us. His will moves us. He feels our pain, cleanses us when we get dirty, nurses our wounds, and cherishes us with pride.
Leaving the church is not simply leaving a club. When you walk away, you dismember yourself from the body. Jesus and the rest of the body sorely miss you, and bleed after your departure. You cut yourself off from your only source of life and nourishment. Like an amputated hand, you will slowly bleed out, wither, and die.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Opening Day

It may not be recognized as an official national holiday, but baseball fans everywhere are rejoicing as today is Opening Day. Hope springs eternal because on this one day of the year, anything is possible. The season ahead is full of promise and our team hasn't had a chance yet to disappoint us repeatedly. Our hearts haven;t been broken yet. Summer lies ahead and so the possibilities are endless as to what the future holds. All is right with the world because baseball is back.

Why does this game have such a grip on us? This clip sums it up much better than I ever could. It's one of the best written monologues in the history of film. As a bonus, it makes the case that baseball is not just another sport. It is inextricably link to the fabric of America.


Rejoice, America. Baseball is back.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekend Playlist: King of Anything

I don't normally link to pop songs but this one is so catchy and has such a great underlying message that it was worthy of linkage here. The song is by singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles and is primarily written from the point of view of a woman who has been in a relationship with a guy who is a control freak. In breaking off the relationship, she poses the question "who died and made you king of anything?" It's an interest point that she makes: too often we try too hard to live our lives pleasing others particularly people that will never be pleased with anything that we do. It can be a stifling way to live. The song is a good reality check for us to ask ourselves if we are really living the way we should or are we allowing others to rule over us in a way that they shouldn't be allowed.


Daily Links 3-28-14

Returning just in time to provide you with some interesting reading for your weekend: where is the next James Madison, choice rather than more spending will fix education, an anniversary surprise, and more.

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Where is the next James Madison? An article well worth reading and thinking about from Erich Bridges.

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Making the case for school choice:

The alternatives to traditional public schools differ in many ways, but they all discard the idea of government dictating where students go to school, how money is spent and what's being taught. 
Instead, students and their parents pick the schools. Money goes with the student. Schools survive and prosper by doing a better job of educating. If they don't deliver, the students will find another school, taking the money with them. 
Students will be better served in private schools run like businesses. There's no reason to shy away from what this means: operating for profit, replacing principals with CEOs, paying good teachers more, firing bad teachers, giving schools freedom to innovate in instruction methods and curriculum, letting new schools enter the market, allowing bad schools to fail, encouraging successful schools to take over unsuccessful ones, getting rid of unions that protect bad teachers and stifle change. 
 Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, who also wrote a terrific book on this subject.

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Not that there is any doubt in my mind but here's 4 reasons why real books are better than e-books. (via Aaron Armstrong)

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Anyone who is a fan of Sherlock Holmes knows all about his arch enemy Professor James Moriarty. But was he a real person?

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Give the Tampa Bay Rays credit: they know how to help a couple celebrate an anniversary.

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And while we're on the subject of baseball, this book is at the top of my reading list:
Here's an early review of the book. Thanks to the author for the tip.

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Want to become a better writer? Try copying the work of others.

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Some very odd and specific rules from libraries.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Daily Links 3-25-14

In today's edition: what's so special about John Calvin, the biblical meaning of success, a look at The Auschwitz Escape, what we're teaching our kids when we don't know they are watching, and more.

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What's So Special About John Calvin? An interesting look at the famed theologian.

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This might be the best selfie ever. Charles Dickens' great great great grandchildren pose with a statute of their famous ancestor.


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Speaking of Dickens, here's a collection of nine great pieces of Dickens swag.

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Things we are teaching our kids when we don't know they are watching. It's a humbling post.

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This is fun: Seattle's mystery Coke machine.

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One of my favorite novelists is Joel Rosenberg. He has a new historical fiction book entitled The Auschwitz Escape that has just been published. In this article, he provides some insight into what inspired him to write the book. It looks fascinating.

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These are the most ridiculously overdue library books you're likely to ever hear about.

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How the Bible defines success. When you look at this closely you realize what a tremendous lie we have all been told about what success means.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Daily Links 3-24-14

Good morning. Here are some links to help start off the week. In today's edition: features of the New Calvinism, marketing the moon, things we should get rid of to help our kids, and more.

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John Piper recently spoke at Westminster Seminary and spoke on the features of New Calvinism. Tim Challies has a nice summary of his address. 

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If you are looking for a way to waste time on the Internet, here's the best way I know how.

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On the other hand, here are three ways to get more out of every hour. 

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Marketing the Moon: The Selling the Apollo Lunar Program appears to be a fascinating look at public relations in the era of the Space Race.
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The perfect thing for a book lover: literary greeting cards.

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George Washington didn't lose his temper often but there was one time when it was reported he swore "like an angel from heaven."

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9 things we should get rid of to help our kids. Some very sound advice in this article.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekend Playlist: Raincoat

This week's song is another find courtesy of Pandora. Raincoat is one of Kelly Sweet's signature songs. It's easy going, jazzy beat conveys a feeling of hope in spite of hurt. Listen closely to the words and you'll hear the voice of a woman who has been hurt in a relationship but won't let her life be defined by that hurt. In fact, she's ready to start fresh by discarding the things that characterized that prior relationship. That's the real beauty of this song.


Daily Links 3-21-14

Happy Friday! Here are a few links to help start the weekend off right. In today's edition: stop binge watching and start binge reading, an apology from Mark Driscoll, how to get more done, fewer friends are better, and more.

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Change your reading habits by binge reading. This actually makes some sense. I've been trying to be more aggressive about reading more books. The key is not feeling guilty for giving up on a book that is not working for you.

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Baseball season is almost upon us which means ballpark concessions. The Arizona Diamondbacks have unveiled a $25 corndog. Judge for yourself whether you would pay that much for this snack.

The Diamondbaskc are selling this 18 inch corndog wrapped in bacon and cheese with a side of fries for $25.

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Mark Driscoll penned an open letter of apology to his congregation and addressed among other things the recent controversy regarding the promotion of one of his books. This is worth taking the time to read.

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8 films that you may not have known started out as stage productions.

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8 ways to get more things done. These are all very good tips.

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TheMafra National Palace in Portugal is one of the most beautiful libraries in the world (as you can see from the picture below). But is also one of the most unusual: it's guarded by bats.

Photo by Will Pryce (via Book Riot)
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Making the case for fewer friends. In today's social media soaked age, this especially makes a lot of sense.

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C. S. Lewis is one of the most oft-quoted theologians of all time. But he's also commonly misquoted. Here are 7 quotes attributed to him that he didn't say.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Daily Links 3-20-14

In today's edition: achieving work/life balance, how to get better sleep, the idolatry of busyness, marriage and the comedian, and more.

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Achieving the balance between work and life is not about balance at all. Instead, it's about recapturing the natural rhythms of life.

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Praise for the traditional art of shaving. I changed to this "old" style of shaving a few months ago and haven't looked back. I believe it's the best way to get a great shave.

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6 tips for getting better sleep.Some great tips in this article.

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Fun facts to share: 15 interesting things about candy.

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The idolatry of busyness. The problem is that we get caught up in what we do rather than who we are.

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Sure, Play-Doh is fun for kids. But it was originally invented as a wallpaper cleaner. 

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Marriage and the comedian. How marriage has transformed Jerry Seinfeld. The main point of this article is that marriage makes you wiser. I can testify to that.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Recommended Reading: George Washington's Secret Six



I am a huge history buff and particularly interested in the Revolutionary War. The more I read about that period of history the more I come to appreciate the sacrifices that were made so that we could enjoy freedom as Americans today. One of the turning points in the war occurred not on the battlefield but behind enemy lines as a brave group of civilians known as the Culper Ring spied on British forces occupying New York enabling General George Washington to strategically plan his moves and outwit his enemies.

In the new book George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution authors Brian Kilmeade (of Fox and Friends) and Don Yaeger pour through all the available records to shed some light on who these six ordinary Americans were who would risk so much for the cause of freedom.

The narrative is fast paced and actually reads more like a novel than a history book. Through their meticulous research they uncover a biographical sketch of five of the six ring members. The lone female of the group remains to this day unidentified the only information available being the number she was assigned by the ring's leader to identify who she was.

With amazing detail, Kilmeade and Yaeger not only uncover the ring's techniques for uncovering information but also demonstrate how the ring's efforts led to several major American victories. In fact, were it not for the Culpers ability to spread misinformation in New York in 1781 American forces might not have been able to catch the British off guard at Yorktown and seal the final victory of the war.

It was not until the end of the book that I discovered that much of what the Culper ring accomplished was so groundbreaking in the field of espionage that the Central Intelligence Agency actually teaches its new recruits about the ring during their initial training.

Anyone who has an interest in the Revolutionary War or even history in general would be well served to read this book. This is a fascinating look at one of the earliest successful spy rings. It is a story that will keep you riveted all throughout the book. I highly recommend it.


Daily Links 3-19-14

In today's edition: once confused now complementarian, amazing arial photos from World War I, how to help a grieving friend, and more.

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Once confused, now complementarian. An interesting insight on the difference in roles between men and women.

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My general rule of thumb when it comes to books is that if Tim Challies recommends a book it's worth consideration. Here's his recommendation for What's Best Next. 

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A collection of aerial photographs from World War I are going up for auction. The images are stunning.
Aerial photo of German positions in the Somme - via Daily Mail
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The story of 5 fascinating vice presidents you've likely never heard of before.

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How to help a grieving friend. Advice from 1954 that stands the test of time.

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10 Pop stars that you probably didn't know were pastor's kids. I think I only knew that about one of the people on this list.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Daily Links 3-18-14

In today's edition: evangelism is like baseball, how to get rid of a telemarketer, what you really need in marriage, and more.

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This is interesting: how evangelism is like baseball. It's a good analogy and one that I think we would do well to keep in mind. I will say that when I was being trained in evangelism I was basically told that anything less than a decision by the other person for Christ was failure. That's a huge mistake to think that way. At least this article helps correct some of that erroneous thinking.

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One minor league team decided to wear uniforms that look like ugly Christmas Sweaters. Not exactly sure what they were thinking.

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Advice on how to get rid of a telemarketer from a telemarketer.

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The story of Wendell Smith, the sportswriter who paved the way for Jackie Robinson's major league debut. Nice quote from my friend Brian Carroll who has written a book on this subject.

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Mark Altrogge shares what you really need in marriage.

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The story of the first person to play on the All-Star team of both the National and American Leagues. It's not who you are likely to think of.

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This is a fun list: 50 things that will turn 50 in 2014.