I Am Second is a ministry seeking to help people see that true life is only lived when we realize that Christ is first. They have numerous testimonial videos on their website – of people who have come from an array of backgrounds, or faced a variety of different trials. All have found true life only by joyfully placing Christ above themselves. These videos are excellently put together (though, of course, content-wise some are better than others). 

Nate Larkin became addicted to pornography (and more) as a pastor. After years, his wife found out, and left him… 

His testimony is powerful. Watch it here.     

Praise God for His grace to save us, change us, and use us! 



A little while ago, I wrote a blog post highlighting Tony Reinke’s excellent reading tips (read it here). I have taken his advice in selecting books I will try tackle this year – both his advice about choosing books, and his insight into how much reading one can do if they purposefully “capture” reading time. I also look forward to using his tips on reading critically, “with pen in hand.”

I will most likely end up altering this list somewhat (and quite significantly if I go back to school soon), but at this point in the game, I think these are the books I will aim to read this year. I’ve read a number of them before, but some books are well worth reading again! 

Here’s my list…

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Sovereign Grace Ministries is headed up by CJ Mahaney. Their books are excellent, and are especially well known for being gospel-saturated. We’ve used a number of them in our ministry here. Their music, headed up by Bob Kauflin, is the same – absolutely drenched with truth, with a special focus on our Savior and His sacrifice. Their on-line store is having a big sale in February (click here for details), so be sure to check out these great, cross-centered resources:

Books ($7 each for the month of February): Click here

Books in the “Pursuit of Godliness” series ($4 each for the month of February): Click here

Music CDs ($6 each for the month of February): Click here   

Store homepage: Click here


HT: Tim Challies 

Open Arms Ukraine – January 2009

Graduation Dresses

For a kid in high school, prom is usually a highlight. For the children at the Pravda orphanage their graduation is their time to shine. The girls wear prom dresses, the boys in shirts and ties, and for that day, they are the stars. This year, economic crisis in Ukraine has escalated the prices of dresses even more than usual as orphanage support from the government has decreased. We have decided to see how we can help make this day special for the children at Pravda and are looking for your support. If you have a used prom dress, jewelry or dress shoes that you would like to donate, please contact us through e-mail (openarmsministry@gmail.com) or by phone [(510)435-3625)]. Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated as they can help us buy dresses here in Ukraine for these beautiful young ladies. Together we can share God’s love in this way and help make this graduation a day they never forget.

Aids Talks/Abortion

Ukraine ranks #1 in all of Europe, which includes 43 countries, for the prevalence of AIDs among adults. According to the UNAIDS report in late 2008, Ukraine and Russia are stated as the region with “the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world with prevalence doubling since 2001″ (avert.org as quoted from UNAIDS statistics). With this reality, we have seen an increasing need for awareness among the children we work with as many turn to sex at a very young age. On January 16th, we held a two part lecture series for the oldest classes at the Pravda orphanage and we are set to do the same for the next classes in the coming weeks.

We have also received permission from the Sambir Juvenile Colony to hold the same lecture series for the young men there who are preparing for life outside those walls. Every day decisions are made, but we hope that with education some of those decisions may be altered for the better.

Alongside the AIDs lecture at Pravda, we will be holding an abortion program January 24th with a young pregnant woman from a local Sumy church as the speaker. She will work with the oldest classes and share with them about the realities of pregnancy and what takes place with an abortion. Our goal is to inform these children of the truth behind the terminology used while shedding light on God’s truth in these subject areas.


Ever year we are faced with a new class of graduates from the Pravda orphanage and therefore our relationships there are of the utmost importance. If trust is not built with the children before they are placed in the trade school system, it is hard, if ever, to build trust to bring them to help. With this reality we have been building a team of Ukrainian volunteers from the local church who will be traveling with us monthly to the Pravda orphanage. They will focus their time on creating programs and building relationships with the 2 oldest classes that will hopefully lead to continued relationships beyond the children’s time there. Our goal and vision is to see long-lasting relationships developed that will lead not only to tangible help and support when the children are released from the orphanage, but also to a personal understanding of salvation in their lives.

OpenArmsMinistry@gmail.com * PO Box 277, San Lorenzo, CA 94580-0277 * (510) 435 – 3625

The Shepherd’s Conference is an annual conference for pastors and elders, hosted by John MacArthur and Grace Community Church. All audio from previous Shepherds’ Conference sessions and seminars are now free to download! This is a wealth of resources! Click here.


HT: Tim Challies

Actually this list, complied by ChurchRelevance.com, is titled “Top 60 Church Blogs” (I tweaked the title because many of these blogs are not run by churches, and “top” can mean “best”, which is certainly not the case with some of these blogs!). These 60 blogs are the most popular “Christian” blogs on the web, and the diversity on the list is quite striking (from Desiring God/John Piper to Brian McLaren, and everything in between!). I was pretty surprized to find out that the two blogs I visit (and link to) most often are in positions 1 and 2. Since there are several blogs on the list I know are very solid and edifying, I’ll look through the ones I don’t know and see if I strike gold. You can see the full list here.

~ Donovan

John Piper writes about God’s providence in “the miracle on the Hudson” and “the miracle in the White House”. This is powerful! And beautiful. Please take the time to read it. Click here.


HT: Justin Taylor

Holy Hip-Hop

January 22, 2009

For a post on some of the God-honoring hip-hop Thabiti is talking about, click here.

HT: Desiring God Blog

Best Audio of 2008

January 20, 2009

The Faith by Hearing blog, a blog that links to an incredible array of worthwhile Christian sermons and other audio, has compiled their picks of the best audio they linked to in 2008. Click here to read it and access the audio. 

HT: Justin Taylor

Excellent tips on reading

January 16, 2009

Reading has helped me immensely! And I believe it will help all of us immensely, especially if done with a commitment to disciplined discernment, and with goals and fitting strategy in mind…

I recently read an excellent, very practical three part series on reading more, and reading more efficiently, by Tony Reinke (HT: Justin Taylor). I’ve listed his 3 tips below, with a few highlights and thoughts of my own. To read Tony’s full post on each tip, click on the blue tip titles: 

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