Christian Living

Toward Arguing Better, Part 1

Fundamentalism—and conservative Christianity in general—needs more people who argue well. It does not need more people who quarrel well!

Scripture opposes quarreling, along with the behaviors the KJV renders as “strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings” and “tumults” (2 Cor. 12:20). But arguing is something else. Scripture calls us to argue and to do it well. Every Christian is obligated to develop and exercise the skill of thinking and communicating clearly with the goal of persuasion.

With that as a working definition of argue, let’s consider a few basics for arguing better.

Argue for the right reasons.

Why do people argue? Unflattering reasons come quickly to mind. As sinners, we often argue to gain the esteem of others, to defeat someone we don’t like, or to try to win an imagined (or real) competition for loyal supporters. Sometimes people argue because they have a contrarian disposition and enjoy the challenge and repartee. (For these, the question is not “Why argue?” but “Why not argue?”)

But for Christians, the proper goal of argument is to establish the truth or rightness of ideas or actions.

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Book Review - Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad

Image of Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad
by Paul David Tripp
Shepherd Press 2009
Paperback 250

It is often said that you cannot judge a book by its cover. The cover for Broken-Down House is one of the best looking covers I have ever seen. The creative team at Tobias’ Outerwear for Books has once again designed an eye-catcher. To have the inside of this book worthy of the outside, author Paul David Tripp had his work cut out for him.

654 reads

Book Review - Trust, Hope, Pray: Encouragement for the Task of Waiting

Image of Trust, Hope, Pray
by Luke Priebe, Trisha Priebe
Sonfire Media LLC 2011
Paperback 396

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit to being a friend of Trisha Priebe; well, in so far as those relationships from college go. But we are Facebook friends, and I’ve been anticipating this book, Trust, Hope, Pray, since I first read her status update nearly two years ago about sleeping with a book contract under her pillow.

Co-authored with her husband Luke, Trust, Hope, Pray first took shape in their personal journals while they were waiting for an international adoption to be finalized. As they sought spiritual guidance for their long, often frustrating journey, they realized that not much Christian literature is devoted to the task of waiting on God. Trisha, who works in publishing, and Luke, who is finishing his M.Div. from Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (and who together admittedly have a “book budget bigger than their grocery bill”), felt God leading them to contribute to the conversation through their own experience.

Trust, hope, pray, wait

The book is comprised of 365 page-length entries that explore what it is to trust, hope, pray, and wait. Each entry begins with a verse on one of those themes and includes the Priebe’s reflections and experiences, as well as quotes from notable Christian authors and hymn writers. In this sense, the book is designed as devotional literature and is not intended to be read in one continuous flow.

I began Trust, Hope, Pray nearly a year after my own family had been in a holding pattern of sorts and immediately recognized the wisdom of structuring the book in this way. When you are enduring a difficult season of waiting, your spirit very easily becomes worn out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. In such seasons, the last thing you are able to read is an extensive theological analysis of waiting. In these times, what you need most are daily, quiet, simple reminders of what you already know: God is in control, He loves you, and you must continue to trust Him.

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Tell Me What You Did

The following is taken from Hannah’s blog, Sometimes A Light. Reprinted with permission.

My father is not a violent or angry man; he is excruciatingly patient and self-possessed. Unlike many fathers, he never roared, strutted or flaunted his authority. He didn’t yell or belittle me. When I failed, he didn’t condemn.

It was terrifying.

In fact, my most uncomfortable childhood memories are of sitting across from him after he had caught me doing something I shouldn’t have. Silent, he would simply look at me. My conscience, on the other hand, would be screaming, Just punish me–-get it over with! But I dared not say anything either. One thing I had learned through these encounters was to keep my mouth shut. Talking only got me into trouble.

He would break the silence after several minutes by simply saying, “Tell me what you did.”

This was my cue. Predictably, I began with “I didn’t do anything.” Then I’d confidently rehearse my version of events and, more often than not, conclude with an out-right lie. He’d listen, sit silently for another few minutes and then simply repeat, “Tell me what you did.”

So for a second time, I’d tell my story, perhaps revise a few facts and add a detail of truth, hoping to convince him. But he was too smart for that. He’d listen and again merely say, “Tell me what you did.” Usually, by this point I’d begin to get frustrated. Was he deaf? I just told him twice what happened. What more can I say? This is getting us nowhere. But I had no choice, so I’d repeat my hopeless excuse for a third time.

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Cell Phones, Selfishness and Strangers

phonedriver

I resisted as long as I could. I fairly despise myself for giving in. It is excruciating to even express the words, but with contrite heart I herewith confess that I recently bought a cellular telephone.

Something about the whole “you have to get one; everyone has one” argument never sat well with me. The idea that you invite a communications company to extort an unconscionable amount of money from your family every single month for the rest of your earthly lives is nauseating. And to think I have actually joined forces with all those distracted drivers who have nearly killed me countless times since all this insanity began is almost more than I can bear.

I was once a proud man stemming the tide of mass capitulation to the siren call of the cell phone. But here I sit, a shadow of the man I once was, wallowing in normalcy, a glassy-eyed conformist who has dutifully turned course to join the masses in their mesmerized march to the beat of this now standard mode of communication. Please just beam me up, Scottie, and put me out of my misery.

Younger generations will never share my angst in this matter. My children made this quite clear the moment they discovered their parents had purchased a cell phone. They broke into spontaneous dance on the living room floor, holding hands and singing in triumphant chorus: “We got a cell phone, we got a cell phone!” I wanted to puke.

The next morning they were up at dawn’s early light (a Saturday, no less!) programming the phone, discovering games, investigating options and doing whatever else they know how to do with the crazy thing despite having never done anything with it before. I must admit to benefiting from their intuitive capacities with all things digital, notwithstanding the son who miraculously converted my phone from English to Spanish with no clue how to reverse direction. When my Spanish vocabulary proved insufficient to remedy the situation I almost killed the kid. What I actually did was worse: he was forever banned from changing any settings without first obtaining my express written permission.

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Four Things I Learned from Dad

First appeared at SharperIron on July 24, 2009. Larry Blumer, the “Dad” in this essay, went to be the Lord August 17, 2011.

An old adage says that when you’re sixteen your dad doesn’t know anything, when you’re twenty-six he’s occasionally sensible and when you’re thirty-six he’s one of the wisest people you know. I can testify that there is some truth in that observation. Though I still rarely seek my dad’s advice, it’s because—at age forty-three—I have come to realize how much of his advice I’ve already absorbed from growing up around him.

Our Savior bought us with His own blood in order to redeem us and remake us His image. That transformation is central to His great gospel purpose. In my life, He used my dad to accomplish some important parts of that purpose.

Four values

I don’t think my dad sat down and planned “I need to teach these four values to my kids.” He did it mostly by just being there and speaking his mind (sometimes quite passionately!) in the context of a life that made what he meant unmistakably clear.

1. Dependability

Bob Jones Sr. was fond of saying “The greatest ability is dependability.” But that concept was familiar to me long before I read it in high school. I remember hearing as a kid, “If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere, you be there,” and other variations on that theme (See Prov. 25:19). Dad wasn’t trying to preach, but his words drove a biblical principle deep into my young mind.

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