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Blogs

Confessing the Creed: I Believe
Many churches use the Apostle’s Creed in their worship but how much do they really understand its opening words?

Why Young Bankers, Lawyers, and Consultants Need Emotional Intelligence
And pastors too.

How to Ask Excellent Bible Study Discussion Questions
“Bible studies have a feature that few sermons or personal quiet times can match: interaction. Harnessing the power of interaction should be one of your highest priorities when leading a Bible study. To do so, you must master four types of Bible study discussion questions. ”

Following Trans Bathroom Policy, Target’s Sales Tank
I haven’t been back. No plans to either.

“Target’s leadership refuses to concede their controversial bathroom policy has anything to do with their poor fortunes. However, the very day Target announced its sad sales figures, it also announced it would spend $20 million to install single-use bathrooms in the rest of their 1,800 stores. This is a ton of money to fix a serious problem they created by trying to fix a problem that didn’t exist in the first place. They won’t soon recover.”

How Much Do Christian Kids Need a ‘Christian’ Education?
Thomas Kidd thinks through Christian education for his kids.

For the Bible Tells Me So: Biblical Authority Denied … Again
Al Mohler v Andy Stanley.

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Communion with the Triune God $5.99. Modern edition of a John Owen classic.

Born This Way: Making sense of science, the Bible and same-sex attraction by Steve Morrison $0.99.

One Perfect Life: The Complete Story of the Lord Jesus by John Macarthur $3.99.

Video

Nancy Guthrie’s Story of Hope in the Midst of Grief
And here’s the book that accompanies this video: What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts)


What a way to die!

On the day that John Owen died, he was informed that his last book had been sent to the printers. Its title was Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ, and it was based on the last sermons he preached to his congregation, a series of discourses on John 17v24:

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”

When his friend told him that the book was now on the printer’s presses, he responded: “I am glad, but, O brother Payne, the long looked-for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done yet, or was capable of doing in this world.” Two longstanding prayers were about to be answered: the Savior’s prayer for Owen to see His glory, and Owen’s prayer to see his Savior’s glory. The personal context for this book lends it a unique power and lustre. As the editor wrote:

It is instructive to peruse the solemn musings of his soul when weakness, weariness, and the near approaches of death, were calling him away from his earthly labors; and to mark how intently his thoughts were fixed on the glory of the Savior, whom he was soon to behold “face to face.”

As we read these beautiful meditations, surely the cry of our hearts is not only, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Num. 23:10) but also, “Show me your glory!” (Ex. 33:10)


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Blogs

Older, Restful, and Reforming
Jared Wilson reflects on 10 years of “New Calvinism.”

Seven Tips to Address Mental Health Issues in the Church
“One in five people in your church will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime. You will have few people who have not been directly or indirectly impacted by mental health issues. With so many individuals impacted, church leaders need basic knowledge to handle these issues effectively. Church leaders do not need to be experts in psychological functioning, but they do need some basic knowledge in order to offer support to individuals struggling in the church. Here are seven basic pointers that every church leader should consider when dealing with mental health issues:”

The Attraction of Idolatry
Kevin DeYoung uses the golden calf narrative to explain our fatal attraction.

Is Seminary Really Necessary?
“Is seminary really necessary? Might it be better to get straight into ministry instead of expending so much time and effort in preparing for ministry?”

10 Free Online Preaching Resources
“A roundup of some of the web’s best free preaching resources. Includes seminary lectures, podcasts, audio mp3s, and a few video series.”

Why I’m Glad We Marched and Wish We Hadn’t
An African American pastor walks us through his spiritual and pastoral struggle with the Black Lives Matter marches.

TV historian: “I was wrong about Christianity”
“Tom Holland, the TV and radio historian and author of the prize-winning Rubicon, says he had the completely wrong idea about Christianity. Holland realised that his false ideas about God had been cultivated in him by the works of Edward Gibbon and other writers of the Enlightenment. He now sees Christianity as a revolutionary idea which has changed the world, and calls it the “principal reason” behind many of our most deeply-held values.

Kindle Books

The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips $0.00! “Free” is a crime for such a great book. Here’s what I wrote before about it:

One of the best “popular” presentations of the Bible’s message and theology I’ve come across. By “popular” I mean accessible and enjoyable. Dan has not written just to pass on facts, but to stir our feelings, and prod us into vigorous response. The language is fresh, pacey, gripping, sometimes combative, and often startling.

Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God by Joe Thorn $3.99. My previous endorsement:

“Here’s gospel gold emerging from the furnace of affliction. Truth that’s been lived becomes life giving as Joe comforts others with the comfort with which he has been comforted by God. I hope and pray that these beautiful meditations will do you as much good as they did me.”

Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-in-One by Phil Ryken $4.99.


Three Tips for OT Narrative Preaching

Pastor Dale Van Dyke (Harvest OPC) preached a wonderful sermon on the cleansing of Naaman at yesterday’s PRTS chapel. Dale has preached at the chapel many times, often on Old Testament passages, and I’ve always been blessed. But yesterday was extra special. What a superb example of how to preach an expository gospel sermon from an Old Testament passage. Afterwards at the question time, I asked him to take us behind the scenes and describe the process he follows to make OT narratives come alive in such a vivid and memorable way.

First, he said that being brought up in a home without TV meant that he spent his childhood reading. He would read anything and everything and through that developed such a love of story that when he reads an OT narrative, the story just jumps off the page and starts filling his mind with tons of ideas and images.

Second, he said that he learned the importance of asking narratives the right questions and lots of them. These are not just “Who said what?” or “Who did what?” but “Why did this happen?” and even more importantly “Why did this not happen? and “Why did he not say this?” and so on.

Third, he said that he tried to delay theologizing until he got the full story. He explained that too many pastors move to theological questions (and practical application) too quickly and therefore end up missing key points and important details in the story. His advice was to spend far more time on getting the story right so that we don’t drain the drama from it by our anxiety to teach as much doctrine as we can.

And if you want to hear the sermon, it begins at about 6 mins in the video below.


Check out

Blogs

Crush Your Exegesis Paper: 3 Secrets Every Student Should Know
I have written seminary-level exegesis papers, and I have graded them—dozens of them. And I’m going to tell you a few secrets I don’t think your teachers will mind me telling their students.

Striking the Right Balance with the Biblical Languages
“Contemporary students and pastors in Biblical studies need to strike the balance between using Bible software and digital resources well so that: (a) they do not become so dependent upon them that they lack sufficient personal knowledge of the languages or (b) use electronic tools to isolate grammatical phenomena and words at the expense of how these are framed by their literary context.”

Let’s Get Serious about the Sacred Mystery of Sleep
“While we may not fully understand our need for it, we can’t dismiss sleep. Instead we should view it differently. It’s a faithful act in a rhythmic life, honoring to our Creator, and part of what we were put on this planet to do. Sleep matters because, done well, it’s part of a whole life devoted to the one who never sleeps.”

The State of the Church 2016
Not the full story of course, and the usual caveats about Barna, but this analysis looks at affiliation, attendance and practice to determine the overall health of Christ’s Body in America.

Five Categorical Lies about Pastors
Thom Rainer takes on five lies about pastors. And here’s a related article about pastoral workaholism, The Guilt of Pastoral Ministry.

Five Questions to Ask Before You Start Dating | Desiring God
“I just turned nineteen, and I have never been on a date. Seriously, no coffee, no dinner, no movie, no one-on-one — ever. That’s not because I don’t like boys. Or because I never want to get married. I do, on both counts. It’s because I’m waiting to date until I can marry, and I’m not ready yet.

Kindle Books

Unveiling the Kings of Israel by David Down $2.99

Preaching with Bold Assurance $2.99.

New Book

God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture — What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters by Matthew Barrett.

Video

God’s Word Alone by Matthew Barrett
Matthew’s new book is on Sola Scriptura. Also, Keith Mathison is starting a “Five Solas” series over at Ligonier. Here’s a the introduction: Top Five Books on the Five Solas.


A Quick Guide to Dave Ramsey’s Key Words

I’ve listened a lot to Dave Ramsey over the past 4-5 years and our family has benefitted tremendously from his advice as we seek to steward our resources for God’s glory and the good of others. Here are the ten words (or concepts) that I hear again and again in his broadcasts and books.

1. Study (Prov. 24:3,4)

  • No one is born a George Soros.
  • If someone gave you $2M today, you would buy a book on money management.
  • The average American family will earn $2M in working life.
  • Consult with others who have a proven record of financial stewardship (Prov. 15:22).

2. Budget (Prov. 24:3-4; Luke 14:28)

  • If you aim at nothing you’ll always hit it.
  • 3% who had written goals achieve more financially than the other 97% combined.
  • Give every dollar of income a name and every dollar of expenditure a name.

3. Save (Prov. 21:20; 22:3; Matt. 25: 14-30)

  • Short-term (emergencies)
  • Medium-term (major purchases)
  • Long-term (retirement, college tuition)

4. Give (Prov. 3:9,10; Luke 6:38; 1 Cor. 16:2)

  • Start now, even if it is a very small amount.
  • Church then chosen charity.

5. Insure (Prov. 22:3)

  • Foresee the evil and hide (“cover”) yourself.
  • Number one cause of bankruptcy is medical bills (#2 is credit cards).

6. Wait (Heb. 13:5; 2 Cor. 6:10; 1 Tim. 6:6)

  • Be content with what God has given you and learn to patiently wait until you can buy with cash.
  • 19% of bankruptcies are filed by college students (usually caused by credit card debt).
  • People spend 47% more when using credit cards than when using cash.
  • 88% of “Ninety days interest-free credit offers” are turned into high interest loans.
  • Avoid get-rich-quick schemes (Prov. 13:11).

7. Unite (Eph. 5:22-31)

  • “One flesh” means “one set of finances.”
  • “If you are not working together it’s not going to work” (Dave Ramsey).
  • “Separate checking accounts mean one of two things, either ignorance or problems” (Dave Ramsey).

8. Repay (Prov. 6:5; 22:7)

  • Repay loans as fast as you can “like a gazelle escaping a hunter.”

9. Work (Eccl. 9:10; 1 Tim. 5:8)

  • Choose a vocation in an area/interest you are passionate about and God has gifted you in, rather than something that will make you rich.

10. Audit (2 Cor. 5:10)

  • Review, review, review.
  • Seek accountability (with a husband, wife, parent, friend) before you are called to account.

Postscript
And here’s two more of my own:

1. Prioritize: Above all seek the unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8)

2. Eternity: Lay up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20)

And if you want to get more details on Ramsey’s financial fitness plan, you can start with The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.