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Archive for May, 2013

On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (Video)

Why do you write?

How do you start writing professionally?

How do you bring the integrity of Christ to everything you do?

For acclaimed novelist Bret Lott, writing as a Christian necessitates bravery—bravery to look the world square in the eye with the unflinching eye of Christ, refusing to fit into the popular mold or forego quality for the sake of acceptance.

We invite you to watch this short and compelling video as Bret answers common questions about writing, shares about his life as writer, and talks briefly about his forthcoming book, Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (June, 2013).

Learn more about the book.

 

 

11 Criteria for Judging the Arts

Echoes of Eden Slide

Adapted from Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature and the Arts by Jerram Barrs

Often in magazine articles, on the radio and television, and in the pulpit we find preachers and commentators condemning all sorts of literature, music, visual art, theater, and films. “No Christian should watch this movie . . . listen to this music . . . read this book.” Certainly we should acknowledge that it is appropriate for us to test everything, to hold fast to that which is good, and to abstain from every form of evil, for Scripture commands us to do this. (In the context in 1 Thess 5:20–22, these words of Paul are written about the discernment of prophecy, bu we may quite appropriately apply them to the way we think about the arts as well.)

So, then, discernment is necessary. The question is, how are we to set about the task of testing everything and holding fast to that which is good?

The following are the beginnings of a suggested list of appropriate criteria.

  1. The Presence of a Gift

    Is giftedness from God evident in the work of a particular composer or performer of music, poet or novelist, painter, sculptor, or filmmaker? We should ask this question about the presence of giftedness for all artists, whether Christian or not.

  2. Development of the God-Granted Gift

    We should look for the dedicated development of the artists gift through humble learning from others, through practice, and through faithful application—in other words, through hard work as the artist lives as a good steward of the gift God has given.

  3. Service of Others in Addition to Self-Expression

    Is the artist using his or her gifts for others as well as for his or her own fulfillment? If either the creation of art or its performance is purely self-centered, even a great artist will not reach full potential, for God has made us to be other-centered. This will be true both for believing and for non-believing artists.

  4. Respect for the Traditions of One’s Discipline

    Is there a humble submission to the rules of one’s discipline, respect for its traditions, and a readiness to find freedom of expression within these forms and within the forms of God’s created order? As in every other area of human activity, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and are supported by those who stand alongside us.

  5. The Presence of Truth

    Is this work of art true? In other words, is this work of art in accord with reality? Even when a person refuses to bow before the Lord, he or she must live in the Lord’s world, and so, such a person’s art will have to be in touch with reality at some level, no matter what he or she may claim to believe. In this way, all genuinely great art will appeal universally because of this element of truthfulness to the world as God made it and to the world of our human existence.

  6. Is There Moral Goodness?

    We need to bring any work of art before the bar of moral criteria. I am not suggesting that we can readily judge and dismiss works because they have nudity, violence, explicit sex, blasphemy, or cursing. Our judgments must learn to be wiser than those simple tests. Basically, we must be prepared to ask questions about the moral intention of the artist. Is the purpose of a work to deprave or corrupt? If a work contains immoral behavior or evil, what is the context? It should be evident to us that the Bible contains many accounts of wicked behavior, sometimes very graphically portrayed. Works of art must not necessarily be condemned because they contain such sin and violence; rather, context and intention always have to be considered.

  7. Continuity of Form and Content

    We must ask questions about appropriate continuity between the form and the content of a given work of art. Is the form the artist has chosen one that works with or against the message of the piece the artist is creating?

  8. Technical Excellence

    In art as in any other area of human endeavor, we need to look for technical excellence. For the Christian especially, good work faithfully done is honoring to God. We look for work that is well done, and we find pleasure whenever we come across what is genuinely excellent.

  9. Integrity of the Artist

    How well does the work of art reflect the integrity of the artist? Is the work true to who the artist is? Or is it merely fashionable or commercial, or even false to the artist’s own convictions and understanding? Is there integrity in the heart as one does his or her work?

  10. Integrity of the Work

    Is there integrity in the work itself? For example, we all know that there is a difference between genuine sentiment and sentimentality. This is true in painting, in writing, in music, and in all other artistic disciplines. Does the artist seek to manipulate our emotional response by cheap tricks, or does the artist seek to generate genuine emotional response by the power of the work?

  11. Simply Entertainment!

    Lastly, we should be aware that simple entertainment is fine in almost all the art forms, for God has indeed created us to enjoy his gifts and to enjoy one another’s gifts. Human art, just like God’s art, need not always have a “higher” purpose than enjoyment—ours and God’s. Very often we will watch a movie, listen to music, read a book, or hang a painting simply because we like to do so. What matters here is the purpose or kind of art in question. Does this piece of art succeed, for me, at what it sets out to do?

For a more in-depth look at these criteria and other reflections on Christianity and the arts, learn more, preview an excerpt, or buy now.

 

 

May 30, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Culture,Life & Doctrine,The Arts,The Christian Life | Author: Ted Cockle @ 8:36 am | (4) Comments »

Weekly Ebook Deals: Looking To Jesus

Jesus has been given the name above all names, the highest seat of honor, the right to reign and rule. He is the most important person we could ever know.

In honor of this week’s featured new release, Name above All Names, we’ve discounted several digital resources on the life and work of Christ.

To learn more about each book, click on the covers below to find them at Crossway.org. You’ll also find the discounted ebooks at their reduced prices on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshout, Christianbook.com, eChristian, ibooks (apple), Vyrso, or your participating independent bookstore’s site. Discounted prices available through 6/3/2013.*

Featured New Release

Name above all Names

Name above All Names

By Alistair Begg and Sinclair B. Ferguson

$19.99

Jesus is the most important person in the life of the Christian. In this stimulating book, Begg and Ferguson explore the Bible’s teaching on seven key attributes of Jesus’s life and ministry, from Genesis to Revelation.

Learn More | Preview an Excerpt

Discounted Ebooks:

The Man Christ Jesus

The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ

By Bruce A. Ware

$12.99 $5.99

Jesus faced all the challenges that we face as humans, and yet he remained faithful to his Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. Ware helps us to explore Christ’s nature and to learn, through the same Spirit, to follow in His steps.

The Promised One

The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis

By Nancy Guthrie

$12.99 $5.99

This ten-week study helps readers understand the book of Genesis through a christological, redemptive-historical lens. Book 1 in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series.

Scandalous

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus

By D. A. Carson

$12.99 $3.99

Exposition of five passages of Scripture examines the historicity and theological significance of the cross. Carson’s addition to the Re:Lit series preserves weighty theology while also exploring the irony and strangeness of the cross.

Vintage Jesus

Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to Timely Questions

By Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears

$12.99 $3.99

Some two thousand years after he walked the earth, Jesus Christ is still a hot topic. Conspiracy theories and lies about him have permeated popular culture in recent years, causing many to ask, What is the truth about Jesus? This popular-level book answers that question in a relevant, accessible way.

Discovering Jesus

Discovering Jesus: Why Four Gospels to Portray One Person?

By T. D. Alexander

$9.99 $2.99

Who is Jesus Christ in each of the four canonical Gospels? This introductory guide helps readers understand why we have four Gospels and what each teaches about the nature and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Happy reading!

*Note: Some discounts may be unavailable outside the United States due to international rights agreements.

May 28, 2013 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Ted Cockle @ 3:01 pm | 0 Comments »

Five Ways Peace with God Changes Our Lives

Adapted from Andy Farmer’s Real Peace: What We Long for and Where to Find It.

That peace is hard to find shouldn’t be a surprise. Peace is the elusive human goal. We want peace. Really, we need peace, because we’re alienated from the one source of true peace in the cosmos—our creator God. And peace has come through the intervention of God in his own self-sacrifice—a divine atonement—that resolves the enmity between us and God. What does it mean for me, and for you?

We all have a story. What I hope you see is that all of our stories ultimately lead to the question of whether we know the Prince of Peace. That is the key to every human story. Religious people, irreligious people, spiritual or secular, we all need peace with God. When we have peace with God, it changes our lives. Here are five ways how:

Peace with God . . .

  1. . . . gives us ENDURING CONFIDENCE that things are the way they are meant to be between us and God.
  2. . . . gives us an ACCESS TO GOD by the Spirit that enables us to experience true peace in every trial of life.
  3. . . . has given us a PERMANENT PLACE in his community of peace that will shape the way we do life in a strife-filled world.
  4. . . . CREATES A PASSION in our hearts for his mission of peace among people who are still at war with him.
  5. . . . provides ENDURING HOPE that the peace we experience in part now will be all we know in eternity.

 

Preview an excerpt from the book

Download a PDF of the excerpt

May 22, 2013 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Ted Cockle @ 9:04 am | (3) Comments »

Discounted Ebooks You’ll Actually Read

Last month we featured the existing Book You’ll Actually Read series alongside the release of the newest volume—On the Grace of God.

Given the helpful nature of the series, we wanted to make it available to as many people as possible in its entirety. That’s why we’re pleased to offer the complete series digitally (including Justin Holcomb’s newest volume) for $1.99 each.

To learn more about each book, click on the covers below to find them at Crossway.org. You will also find the ebooks at their reduced prices on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshout, Christianbook.com, eChristian, iTunes/iBooksVyrso, or your participating independent bookstore’s site. Discounted prices available through 5/27/2013.*

Ebooks You’ll Actually Read:

On the Grace of God


On the Grace of God by Justin S. Holcomb

$7.99 $1.99

This small book, which can be read in about an hour, shows how God’s grace is the foundational theme and primary message of all of Scripture.

On Church Leadership

On Church Leadership by Mark Driscoll

$7.99 $1.99

In this concise book, Driscoll puts forth a model of church leadership that is both biblically sound and practically effective.

On Who is God?

On Who Is God? by Mark Driscoll

$7.99 $1.99

It’s one of mankind’s oldest questions, over which countless religions and philosophies have collided: Who is God? This quick read provides clear, biblical answers to who God is and how he relates to us.

On the Old Testament

On the Old Testament by Mark Driscoll

$7.99 $1.99

This quick read gives a solid and simple introduction to the Old Testament. Driscoll answers nine common questions about the Old Testament and gives an overview of the various kinds of OT literature.

On the New Testament

On the New Testament by Mark Driscoll

$7.99 $1.99

This brief book gives a solid and simple introduction to the New Testament. Spend just one hour with this book and you’ll find answers to many common questions about the New Testament, such as, Who wrote it? and Does it contain any errors?

Happy reading!

*Note: Some discounts may be unavailable outside the United States due to international rights agreements.

May 21, 2013 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Ted Cockle @ 8:53 am | (2) Comments »