A Security Camera for Parents

I work at home. My wife and I are usually downstairs, and our two little girls sleep upstairs. And we often want to see how they’re doing when they’re upstairs:

  1. Are they asleep or awake? We wonder this (1) shortly after we put them down for naps or for bed, (2) periodically while they are supposed to be sleeping, and (3) when we anticipate them waking up.
  2. Are they OK? We may wonder this if we hear a strange noise or hear them crying or simply want to check on them for peace of mind—whether they’re playing or supposed to be sleeping.

We used to creep upstairs as silently as we could and crack open a bedroom door to check on them, but often this would wake them up.

So I researched baby monitors and security cameras to see if I could find one that meets five criteria:

  1. Wireless. We wanted to mount it in our children’s rooms, where there are no computers, modems, or routers.
  2. Streaming. We wanted to easily stream the video on a computer (Mac or PC), iPhone (or other web-enabled smartphone), iPod Touch, and iPad—whether connected to the Internet via our home WiFi or another way when away from home.
  3. Day/Night. We wanted a clear picture regardless of the lighting in the room.
  4. Audio. We wanted the option to hear as well as see what’s happening.
  5. Secure. We wanted the video to be password-protected.

Last year we decided to get a Sharx Security Camera, which meets all five criteria, and we love it. [Read more…]

If I Become Rich, Won’t Someone Else Become Poor?

This is the most readable defense of capitalism I’ve read (and it’s more relevant than ever with the recent “Occupy Wall Street”-type protests):

Jay W. Richards. Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem. New York: HarperOne, 2009.

Richards debunks eight myths, which are listed in the book’s table of contents:

  1. Can’t We Build a Just Society? Myth no. 1: The Nirvana Myth (contrasting capitalism with an unrealizable ideal rather than with its live alternatives)
  2. What Would Jesus Do? Myth no. 2: The Piety Myth (focusing on our good intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions)
  3. Doesn’t Capitalism Foster Unfair Competition? Myth no. 3: The Zero-sum Game Myth (believing that trade requires a winner and a loser)
  4. If I Become Rich, Won’t Someone Else Become Poor? Myth no. 4: The Materialist Myth (believing that intellect cannot create new wealth)
  5. Isn’t Capitalism Based on Greed? Myth no. 5: The Greed Myth (believing that the essence of capitalism is greed)
  6. Hasn’t Christianity Always Opposed Capitalism? Myth no. 6: The Usury Myth (believing that charging interest on money is always exploitive)
  7. Doesn’t Capitalism Always Lead to an Ugly Consumerist Culture? Myth no. 7: The Artsy Myth (confusing aesthetic judgments with economic arguments)
  8. Are We Going to Use Up All the Resources? Myth no. 8: The Freeze Frame Myth (believing that things always stay the same—for example, assuming population trends will continue indefinitely or treating “rich” and “poor” as static categories)
  9. Conclusion: Working All Things Together for Good
  10. Appendix: Is the “Spontaneous Order” of the Market Evidence of a Universe without Purpose?

Here are some excerpts from chapter 4:

Winston Churchill summed up the dilemma with characteristic wit: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Most of us know perfectly well that socialist solutions are worse than the disease. (p. 83)

[Read more…]

The Church’s Mission

I read this book several months ago, and I’ve enjoyed subsequent discussions about it:

Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission. Wheaton: Crossway, 2011.

Here’s how D. A. Carson recommends it:

Among the many books that have recently appeared on mission, this is the best one if you are looking for sensible definitions, clear thinking, readable writing, and the ability to handle the Bible in more than proof-texting ways. I pray that God will use it to bring many to a renewed grasp of what the gospel is and how that gospel relates, on the one hand, to biblical theology and, on the other, to what we are called to do.

Ed Stetzer’s Themelios review is critical, but I generally agree with DeYoung and Gilbert on this one.


1. TGC discussion (11:43)

2. Desiring God interview with Scott Anderson (1:44:55)

3. 9 Marks interviews with Mark Dever

4. Crossway blog interview

5. Review by John Starke

6. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, “Some Answers to Some Nagging Questions

7. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, “One More Time on Good Works and the Mission of the Church

8. Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert, “A Response to Ed Stetzer’s Review of ‘What Is the Mission of the Church?’

9. Justin Taylor, “Responding to Stetzer and Critics on the Mission of the Church

10. Kevin DeYoung, “The Mission of the Church in Living Color

11. Collin Hansen, “Mission Critical

Themelios 36.3

TGC published the latest issue of Themelios this morning.

I contributed two book reviews:

  1. Review of John Dickson, Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love, and Leadership. (I highlighted this book last month.)
  2. Review of Steven E. Runge, Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis.

Note also Rod Decker’s “An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version.” (It revises a paper I mentioned in July.) Related to Decker’s article is a recent unpublished one:

William W. Combs. “The History of the NIV Translation Controversy.” A paper presented at the Mid-America Conference on Preaching in Allen Park, MI (hosted by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary). October 20, 2011 (MP3).

When Satan Tempts Me to Despair

I love how Christian replies to Apollyon when they face off in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. After Apollyon accuses Christian of a series of sins, he basically replies, “You’re right. But I’m actually even worse than that.” That disarming statement sets up the death blow:

Apollyon accused,

  1. “You almost fainted when you first set out, when you almost choked in the Swamp of Despond.
  2. You also attempted to get rid of your burden in the wrong way, instead of patiently waiting for the Prince to take it off.
  3. You sinfully slept and lost your scroll,
  4. you were almost persuaded to go back at the sight of the lions, and
  5. when you talk of your journey and of what you have heard and seen, you inwardly desire your own glory in all you do and say.”

[Christian replied,] [Read more…]

Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers, and Educators

If you use Zotero for research and writing, this book will serve you well:

Jason Puckett. Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators. Chicago: American Library Association, 2011.

Jason Puckett is the the Communication Librarian at Georgia State University Library in Atlanta, where he teaches library classes on research and information literacy skills, bibliographic software, and library technology topics.

If you don’t want to buy a personal copy, at least request that your library (school or public) add it to their collection. It’s readable and well-organized.

Related: “Why You Should Organize Your Personal Theological Library and a Way How

Thank God for Biblical Scholars Who Write for Lay People

Ben Witherington III, Is There a Doctor in the House? An Insider’s Story and Advice on Becoming a Bible Scholar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 83–84:

[excerpt from ch. 7: “The Write Stuff: The Ability to Research and Write”]

Unfortunately, we live in a culture of “experts” where expertise is revered; sadly, people’s egos get bound up in the desire to be a “world’s leading authority in X.” The expert too often feels it is enough to do pure research. He has no need to distill things for the masses; that’s beneath his dignity and pay scale. It is enough to live in one’s head and to talk only to other equally heady folk in the same field.

Whatever the merits of this approach to research in other fields, a Christian who is a Bible teacher or scholar should never take such an approach. Never! Research by a Christian is never done just for its own sake, or even just to advance knowledge in a given field. It is done in service to the Lord and to his church. I must confess I am sometimes baffled by some Christian NT scholars who are perfectly content to just talk to small circles of like-minded experts without any sense of responsibility to share their knowledge with a broader audience—indeed with the church.

Cf. this chapter:

D. A. Carson, “The Scholar as Pastor,” in The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor: Reflections on Life and Ministry (ed. David Mathis and Owen Strachan; Wheaton: Crossway, 2011), 71–106.

It’s based on this talk from this event: