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Am I Called?: The Summons to Pastoral Ministry by Dave Harvey ($0.99)

Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection by Ed Welch (FREE!)

Jesus, the Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to be Saved? by John Piper ($0.99)

Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue by Andreas Kostenberger ($0.99)

King Solomon: The Temptations of Money, Sex, and Power by Phil Ryken ($0.99)

The Promises of God: Discovering the One Who Keeps His Word by R. C. Sproul ($0.99)

God Who Is There, The: Finding Your Place in God’s Story by D. A. Carson ($3.99)

The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived The Holocaust by Edith Beer ($2.99)

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman ($2.99)

Read This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli ($1.99)

Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing by Bernadette Jiwa ($2.99)

Top Blogs

Multi-Ethnic Churches Lament America’s Racial Injustice – TIME

America in Black and White: Why Do So Many of Us Respond to Ferguson So Differently? | TGC

It’s Time To Listen (Ed Stetzer hosts series of responses to Ferguson)

Breaking The Silence: When Christian Leaders Speak Openly About Depression

The Children Are Always Included | Gentle Reformation

New Banner Books and Giveaway « THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT

Kindle + Evernote = ♥ | Challies Dot Com

Online Depression-Anxiety Evaluation | Brad Hambrick

Does the Bible Ever Get it Wrong? Facing Scripture’s Difficult Passages (#1): Greg Beale | Canon Fodder

What is the “gift of singleness” and how do I know if I have it? | Highlands Ministries Online

Pyromaniacs: Dear single Christian sister

Leader: Address the Elephant in the Room – Ron Edmondson

Faith Hacking: Individually Shepherding Your Children | Challies Dot Com

My Ideal Seminary Student | David L. Allen

Three Deaths Every Seminarian Must Face | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

Four Habits of a Happy Heart | Desiring God

On Human Cruelty & Selective Application – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Richard Dawkins Is A Moral Disaster

Videos

Rosemary And Nancy’s Story
Naomi’s Village is a children’s home located in Maai Mahiu, Kenya. It opened to orphaned children in Jan. 2011 with the hope to one day take in 100 orphans.

Dr. Kent Bradley’s Statement on Being Cured From Ebola

“His Heart Makes Up For Any Lack Of Limbs”
Amputee learns to walk for his wedding day.

Little League Coach Gives Touching Speech To Losing Team
Is he running for President?

David Platt’s Blank Check Gets Written
Pastor David Platt’s explanation of why he is leaving his congregation to take up his position as President of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.


New Student Tip #3: Evernote

Life was complicated when it was just paper you had to worry about. Then we oldies only had our desk and “In Tray” to get organized – though even that was a daily challenge. Thanks to the digital revolution, we now also have stuff in multiple other places – the cloud, our phones, our computers, and our email. JPGs, PDFs, DOCs, MOVs, MP3s, HTML’s and XLS’s are coming at us from all directions.

How on earth (or how in the cloud) do you keep track of it all?

If only there was one place that kept everything – digital and paper. And if only it was easily searchable. Oh, and if I could access it from anywhere, that would be amazing too. I guess we’ll have to wait until the next Steve Jobs to design that though.

Do not despair, Evernote is here.

Evernote

The Evernote process is a really simple three-step process: Capture, Organize, Search.

Capture

There are multiple ways of getting your information into Evernote using your computer, phone, tablet or email.

Write notes: Very simple note-taking within the app – ideal for lectures.

Upload: Upload files such as Word docs and pdfs – perfect for all the class handouts.

Email: You can email documents and other files to Evernote via your own Evernote email address.

Web clipper: When you come across any good blogs or websites, just click the Evernote web-clipper plugin button in your browser and it automatically saves it to Evernote.

Photo: Take photographs of receipts, letters, menus, handwritten notes, anything really, and send it to Evernote by email or use the Evernote App for even quicker results.

Organize

Everything you send to Evernote automatically goes into your Evernote Inbox. At the end of every day, or every few days, you’ll want to go in there and organize it all into notebooks. You might have one for each subject or area of your life (e.g. finances, Church, vacation, etc) and you can even have sub-notebooks within a notebook. You can also add tags for more detailed organization.

Or you can take the next step in becoming an organizational ninja by doing the organizing as you go along. For example by using @English Lit in your subject line, anything you send to Evernote by email will automatically go into your English Lit notebook. Tags can also be added to anything you upload using the hashtag #. The web clipper allows this organizing as you clip too.

Search

So you’ve got into the habit of uploading, emailing, clipping, photographing everything into Evernote. Your desk is clear and so is your mind. All your paper and data are in one place. But now you need to search for a bill, or an assignment, or a blog article. Where did I put that?

Open Evernote and start by searching in your Notebooks. Click on one to see everything you’ve ever entered there. Hmm, didn’t find it. Maybe I put it in another Notebook, but which one? What now?

Dead easy. Go to the Evernote search box and enter a word or phrase that you think is in the document or file. It will then quickly search everything in your Evernote and list the matches. This for me is the most powerful feature of Evernote. Its search machine is unparalleled in speed and accuracy. It will even search for words on handwritten notes, photos of brochures and menus, etc. You can search via your desktop your phone App, or via the Internet if you are separated from all your devices.

Other Features

There are many other features and benefits of Evernote that you’ll discover as you go along.  For example, you can share your notebooks or notes with others too.  And here’s Tim Challies’ great tip on how to get your Kindle notes and highlights into Evernote.

And like my previous two New Student Tips, Dropbox and Wunderlist, Evernote is also free and the free version should be enough for most students. However, I pay the small price of $5 per month for a premium account which allows me to access my Notebooks offline, improves searchability, increases my monthly upload limit and adds an extra layer of security if I need it. Sign up for Evernote here.

Other Resources

New Student Tip #1: Dropbox

New Student Tip #2: Wunderlist

Thriving at College by Alex Chediak (for students)

Preparing Your Teens For College by Alex Chediak (for parents of students)

Top 10 Books for Students


The Unity And Diversity of the Church

Last week at the Puritan Reformed Seminary annual conference, I spoke on the unity and diversity of the church. You can hear the audio and view the video here.

This message was prepared pre-Ferguson, but I hope that it helps the church to further think through our longer-term response to these issues. The section on diversity begins at 17 minutes. I’ve also found Ed Stetzer’s It’s Time To Listen series extremely helpful this past week.

The rest of the conference messages can be found here

I especially commend Pastor Conrad Mbewe’s addresses here and here.


Depression, Electromagnetic Pulses, and a Weird Helmet: One Christian’s TMS Experience

I was contacted by a Christian friend who has a lifetime of personal experience with depression. After years of counsel and medical intervention, one doctor suggested Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) as a treatment option. This person graciously agreed to share their story so that other Christians struggling with depression or wrestling with treatment options may be encouraged. Here’s their story:

I have struggled through several episodes of major depression in my thirty-three years of life, but this one was beyond bad. It started in a manner that was not atypical from earlier episodes, with one major exception: I was already taking an anti-depressant medication and had been doing so for several years.

It was initially my assumption that, because I was already treating depression physically, it might be a mental or spiritual struggle. A trusted friend encouraged me to talk to a Christian counselor, and drove me to a few dreaded appointments where I hoped and prayed that the Lord would reveal fresh insight and draw me into joy as I celebrated Jesus’s love for me. But none of that happened. While the counselor reinforced that my pain was real, it didn’t go away despite my pleas to God.

From Bad to Worse
Several draining weeks later I returned to my physician, who is also a believer, and he explained that the benefits of some anti-depressants tend to dwindle after a few years. He therefore suggested that we try a new medication. I had been in emotional anguish for about three months at this point, but was hopeful that the new medication would do the trick. But instead, things worsened. And worsened. And then, when they couldn’t possibly worsen any more, they worsened. For the first time, I was truly suicidal. I wanted to die, and death seemed like the best solution since I still trusted in the strength of God’s plan of salvation for sinners like me. I could no longer read or even pray. I did still manage to go to work, but curled up in a ball sobbing my eyes out for the rest of the day.

My physician referred me to a psychiatrist, and that deflated me even more. In my mind, a psych referral confirmed that I was a crazy person. I stayed in survival mode for a couple of months, but suddenly reached a breaking point. The intensity of my anguish seemed to multiply exponentially, and for the first time my work was truly hampered by my inability to stop crying. I sobbed on the phone with my psychiatrist one night, and informed her that I could no longer take the pain and was willing to try one of the next means of treatment for stubborn depression: ECT or TMS.

“Shock Therapy” or TMS?
ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy, has been used to treat depression for decades. There is a stigma attached to “shock therapy,” but when used by caring doctors, it has been proven to be very effective. However, there are a number of side effects to ECT, including a loss of short-term memory. Since I felt like my good memory was one of about two things going for me in life, I wasn’t excited about this option.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) was approved by the FDA in 2008 as a promising, non-invasive treatment for people suffering from major depression. It uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate a part of the brain that is less active in people who have depression, and it has very limited side effects compared to ECT.

After visiting the TMS center at a local hospital and receiving insurance approval, the same thoughtful friend who drove me to the counselor a year earlier now drove me to my initial TMS treatment as a show of support. I sat in a chair with a helmet strapped to my head that looks like one of those hair dryers in a salon that old ladies sit under while reading magazines. I was able to watch TV during the treatments, which involved around a twenty-second electromagnetic pulse followed by around a thirty-second rest period. The pulse was uncomfortable, but bearable since I obviously survived. Some people compared it to an angry woodpecker on your head…I compared mine to an angry woodpecker operating a jackhammer.

I went to TMS treatments for five days per week (you can miss an odd day or two) for a total of thirty-six treatments. The doctor said that most people start to experience improvement after about fifteen days of treatment. It was while driving home from treatment #17 when I had a subtle realization that I no longer wished to curl up in a corner and die, and this was huge!

Darkness Lifted
The improvements thankfully continued, and the darkness of that long season has finally lifted. While the long-term benefits of TMS treatments are somewhat unknown since this is such a new procedure, I’m still thankful to the Lord for allowing these medical advances in tackling depression and am just so grateful for the relief that it has provided. And I pray that those electromagnetic pulses would help give other depression sufferers a new pulse in life as well.


New Student Tip #2: Wunderlist

Most students can get through High School without a To-Do list. Maybe they write a few things down on their hand or enter a couple of reminders on their phone when exam times come round. But they generally get by with just keeping things in their head.

If you try that at college you’ll soon go off your head or lose your head. Assignments, projects, exams, meetings, lectures, seminars and sports schedules come thick and fast and soon you are either missing important appointments and deadlines or else you are just scraping by, but your stress levels are soaring. You’re in that constant frazzled state of “Did I remember everything?” “Have I forgotten something?”

So you start writing things down on a card, a notebook, your phone or your computer.

But then the challenges multiply further. How do you set reminders? How do you prioritize? How do you separate long-term projects from short-term actions? How do you gather multiple To-Do’s under one project? How do I distinguish college To-Do’s from home To-Do’s? How do I make sure I’ve got my list with me when and where I want it? How do I share To-Do lists with my family, friends, or colleagues?

Well, I’ve tried just about every To-Do system under the sun. Some, like OmniFocus are so complicated that you almost need to go to college to learn it. Others are so simple they end up being too simple; they just don’t have the capacity or the flexibility you need as life grows more complicated.

My personal favorite, which I’ve been using for about six months now, is Wunderlist.

Wunderlist

I find that it’s complex enough to handle every project I’m involved in and simple enough to handle basic things like shopping lists. And before I get to the benefits, the great news is that like DropboxWunderlist also is free! So what do you get?

  • Easy-to-use interface across all platforms.
  • Use on Desktop, Tablet, or Smartphone.
  • Change list on one device and it automatically syncs in real time to all the others too.
  • Set due dates with visual and audible reminders.
  • Create different To-Do lists for different areas of your life (home, college, church, finances, etc).
  • Set priorities so that urgent tasks are gathered from each list in one place.
  • Select “Today” for all tasks due today.
  • Add notes to tasks.
  • Share lists and collaborate with friends, family, and colleagues.

Visit Wunderlist here or watch the video here. Also visit my Top 10 Books for Students here.

Other Resources

New Student Tip #1: Dropbox

Thriving at College by Alex Chediak (for students)

Preparing Your Teens For College by Alex Chediak (for parents of students)

Top 10 Books for Students


New Student Tip #1: Dropbox

My eldest son started college yesterday. As part of his preparation for this step, I gave him Thriving at College a while back and he’s enjoyed and benefited from reading it.

But now that he’s actually started, I see the need for some really down-to-earth, step-by-step practical advice. So I thought I’d run a brief series of posts that contain the kind of tips I wish someone had given me when I started further education.

dropbox

The first tip I’d give new students is to install Dropbox on their computers. Why? Because it’s a free service that automatically stores and backs up your files and pictures in the cloud, making it easy to access them anywhere on any device, share them with anyone, and recover them if accidentally deleted from your computer.

That means you’ll never be frustrated that you left files on your computer miles away back at home or in college. You won’t have to email huge files, photos, and videos anymore – simply share files and folders via Dropbox. And you’ll never have that sick feeling in your stomach that your final thesis or project is irrecoverably lost on your crashed hard drive. So what does Dropbox offer in detail?

  • 2 GB Storage: Dropbox offers free cloud storage up to 2 GB, which should be more than enough for most students.
  • Desktop or Online: Dropbox can either be installed on your computer or accessed via your browser.
  • Backup: Documents saved to your Dropbox are automatically saved in the cloud providing you with backup should you lose your files or computer.
  • Syncing: Dropbox syncs your files with any other computer or mobile device running Dropbox.
  • Cross-platform: Dropbox gives you access to all your files via your computer, phone, tablet, or any other computer with internet access.
  • History: Dropbox maintains a one month history of your work so that you can revert to previous versions of documents.
  • Mobile photos: Dropbox allows you to automatically upload photos and videos to the cloud from your phone or iPad.
  • Photo-sharing: Dropbox offers Carousel, a neat photo-sharing service for mobile devices that enables easy sharing of single photos or galleries with anyone you choose
  • File/Folder Sharing: Dropbox allows you to share files and folders with others via email using simple privacy and share settings.
  • Simple: Dropbox is easy to install and manage.
  • Free: Did I mention, Dropbox is free!

Storage, syncing, sharing, security, and simplicity. What more do you need? It’s saved my life a few times!

Visit Dropbox to sign up today or take the tour to find out more.

Other Resources

New Student Tip #2: Wunderlist

Thriving at College by Alex Chediak (for students)

Preparing Your Teens For College by Alex Chediak (for parents of students)

Top 10 Books for Students