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Blogs

7 Steps for Enduring a Lifetime of Ministry
“In ministry we’re often at head of the line for suffering and joy, as we share in the ups and downs of our congregation. We must be especially prepared, then, to suffer well, so that we might run the race marked out for us in joy (Heb. 12:1). Toward that end, here are seven steps to endure for a lifetime in ministry, finding inspiration in Scripture and in examples from church history featured in the new book 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Courageous Endurance in Pastoral Ministry.”

Making Space for Rest: A Q&A with Jeff Vanderstelt
This looks like a worthwhile Bible Study for stressed and burned out Christians who want to live more Christ-like lives.

“Pastor and author Jeff Vanderstelt cares about Sabbath rest. As the pastor of a church, the executive director and founder of Saturate, and an author, he’s certainly busy, but he’s also learned to make space for what matters most. That’s the crux of his latest Bible study, released earlier this year. Called Making Space, this study delves into the book of Proverbs and the life of Jesus to help Christians center their lives on God’s priorities. Among these priorities is the principle of rest.”

The 50% Lie | The Cripplegate
Ever heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce. Here’s a blog that debunks that lie:

“Researchers have shown that a mindset of futility toward marriage has an adverse effect on persevering in marriage or desiring to marry. The 50% lie has done more damage than we might suspect, but it can only be remedied with the truth.”

5 Ways to Misuse a Commentary
A list of the top five ways to misuse a commentary (and suggestions for how to use them better).

Gender Dysphoria and the Gospel
H
ere’s a resource that may help Christians understand and minister to people with gender dysphoria.

“If you are interacting with someone who is experiencing the distress of not feeling “at home” with their biological gender or if you have that experience yourself, it can be a very confusing and frightening time. An acquaintance of mine recently let me know about his struggles with transgenderism and the ways that Jesus has met and delivered him. He has done the great service of recording many of his own struggles and lessons at Jesus and the Transgender. The blog isn’t intended to be a full-scale training resource but genuine encouragement from someone who loves Jesus and those suffering from gender dysphoria as well. It includes frank but appropriate discussion of his own past, as well as the ongoing struggles Jesus is helping him meet. You can read about the mission of the blog, as well as the wise limitations the author uses, here. I commend the resource to you. We as a church need to learn how to love and care for those wading through this struggle. We need to become places where hope and healing can happen in the context of gospel friendships”

 Books

Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God’s Grand Story. This book is strongly recommended by Rosaria Butterfield. The negative reviews are the result of a concerted campaign by those opposed to its biblical message.

What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life $0.99.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself $1.59.

Lifting up Our Hearts: 150 Selected Prayers from John Calvin $4.99.

Complete in Him: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Gospel $2.99.


The Number One Spiritual Issue in the World is….

…..FEAR! Or, more specifically, anxiety.

According to the YouVersion Bible App the most shared, bookmarked, and highlighted verse of 2018 was Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

There were a few national variations. For example, the most popular verse in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, and Mexico was Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage;  do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

In Egypt, India, and Iraq the most popular verse was 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Do you see the common thread? Fear, anxiety, worry.

This confirms all the stats I’ve been reading and stories I’ve been hearing over the past year. Anxiety is soaring to epidemic rates, especially among teens. It’s the number one issue that middle and high school teachers raise with me when I talk with them. What a need and what an opportunity for the Gospel of Peace!


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Blogs

Books of the Year 2018
Tony Reinke’s list. And here is Russell Moore’s.

Zealous Preaching
“In the Westminster Larger Catechism, six qualities are given in answer to Question 159, “How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?” One of the qualities stated is that preaching is to be done “zealously.” What is zealous preaching and how can it be cultivated? Here are five encouragements.”

Themelios 43.3
The new December 2018 issue of Themelios has 203 pages of editorials, articles, and book reviews. It is freely available in three formats: (1) PDF, (2) web version, and (3) Logos Bible Software.

Columns from Tabletalk Magazine, December 2018
The December issue of Tabletalk covers several of the most important Old Testament texts concerning the promised Messiah and covers several key messianic prophecies and explain how they point to Christ. Free to read.

2018 Christmas Gift Guide
Crossway’s gift guide for Moms, Dads, Kids, and many other categories.

Fight the New Drug
After a University paid a porn performer to speak to students, these twins sparked conversations on campus about porn’s harms.

Books

The Ten Commandments: What They Mean, Why They Matter, and Why We Should Obey Them by Kevin DeYoung.

The Curious Christian: How Discovering Wonder Enriches Every Part of Life $2.99.

The Joy of Fearing God $1.99

Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together $2.39.

A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada $3.99.

Video

Since the Bible is sufficient for all of life, should we rule out psychology in counseling? Michael Horton answers:


“Why I Left the Catholic Church”

Damon Linker has a deeply moving piece at The Week on Why I Left the Catholic Church. His reason?

“My reason was that the latest revelations in the church’s interminable sex abuse scandal had revealed ‘a repulsive institution — or at least one permeated by repulsive human beings who reward one another for repulsive acts, all the while deigning to lecture the world about its sin.’”

He predicts that many will make the same move in the coming months and years.

It appears to be the church’s ecclesiology which Linker takes most issue with. As he puts it:

“The Catholic Church does make extraordinarily high claims for itself — not that its priests and bishops and cardinals and popes are angels but that the church as an institution is, of all the churches that follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, the one most fully and rightly ordered through time.”

This, he says, is patently an absurd claim in the light of both ancient history and recent events.

“If you believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected, that he is the Son of God and the second person of the trinitarian Godhead, that his teaching tells us how the creator of the universe wants us to live, then by all means be a Christian. But to believe that this particular church, of all the Christian churches in the world, is the one most fully and rightly ordered through time, over and above all of the others? You can’t possibly be serious.

To react with anger and incredulity to this suggestion isn’t to display unrealistically high hopes or expectations about the church. It’s to respond reasonably to a claim that the church makes about itself — a claim that is flatly implausible on its face.

And that, my former fellow Catholic communicants, is why I have left the church — and why I fully expect quite a lot of the rest of you to be joining me in my unregretted exodus very soon.”

His problem is not primarily the priests’ crimes of child abuse but the church’s response of covering it up and even promoting those who did the abusing and covering up. He highlights the bafflement of Catholics everywhere as to how and why church leaders could have done this, but explains it in the money quote of the piece:

“The behavior is only mysterious if you assume that anyone in their place would respond the way you and I would: with revulsion. But it isn’t mysterious at all if you assume what should be obvious by now to everyone: They just didn’t think it was such a big deal.

That’s the big deal in this article. That’s the crux of the matter. They just didn’t think it was such a big deal. That’s where the Protestant church must stand out as different. Otherwise, Protestants will start leaving their churches in droves too.


Can We Stop Suicides?

That’s the question a New York Times opinion piece asked last week.

  • The suicide rate has been rising in the United States since the beginning of the century, and is now the 10th leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The trend most likely has social causes — lack of access to mental health care, economic stress, loneliness and despair, the opioid epidemic, and the unique difficulties facing small-town America.
  • While long-term solutions are needed to address these serious problems, the field of psychiatry desperately needs new treatment options for patients.
  • And yet no new classes of drugs have been developed to treat depression (and by extension suicidality) in about 30 years, since the advent of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac.
  • These can often take weeks to work, as does talking therapy.

The good news is that scientists think that they may have found one — an old anesthetic called ketamine that, at low doses, can halt suicidal thoughts within hours (see my recent article about Dr Carlos Zarate who is pioneering Ketamine research). It works on a different bodily system to the usual SSRI’s.

The article goes on to highlight some ketamine success stories and clinical opportunities as well as some of the problematic side-effects. However, it seems to have some unique ability to reverse acute suicidal ideation and may therefore be used to save lives in these critical hours and minutes, which is cause for much thanksgiving to God. With the Lord’s blessing, perhaps this might be an opening to far more effective anti-depressants. Let’s keep praying for the Lord’s blessing and guidance on Dr Zarate and other medical researchers laboring away for the good of suffering humanity


Check out

Blogs

Rethinking the Rat Race
Five reasons you may be overworking.

Overcoming Depression-Anxiety
A series of nine videos from Brad Hambrick.

Friends are for the Darkness
Stephen Altrogge: “If there were a definitive “cure” for clinical depression, I would plunder my bank account to get my hands on it. But after more than twenty years of personally wrestling with the demonic duo of depression and anxiety, I know that no such cure exists.”

Third Millennium Ministries: Seminary Outside the Box
“This summer, Third Mill finished creating enough courses that a pastor anywhere in the world could earn a master’s degree in Bible and theology. From a solid Reformed perspective. For free.”

When we Have to Parent our Parents
Hope and help for caregivers.

Books


Jesus on Every Page $3.49.

The First Days of Jesus $3.99.

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles H. Spurgeon $1.99.

Videos

Is the Old Testament Still Relevant for Christians?