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Preparing Your Teens for College
Here’s a book to look out for in a couple of weeks, Alex Chediak’s follow-up to Thriving At College.

What Great Artists Need: Solitude
Pastors too! Persevere with this until later in the article.

Gifts of the Spirit in the Old Testament
This is an excellent article on an important subject.

5 Biggest Hiring Mistakes
Michael Hyatt: “Having learned the hard way, I have gotten better at hiring over time. Whenever I get ready to hire someone new, I now have a defined process. It is designed to avoid these five mistakes:”

Learning to Think Outside the Box
Creativity becomes an academic discipline. (HT: Marc Cortez)

The Discipleship Growth of Jesus
Barry York: “Recognizing the development of Christ can have a profound impact on our own approach to discipleship.  On the one hand, it means we have a Savior who can identify with us in every stage of our development.  He knows what it is like to be a child growing up into adulthood. Thus, whether we are a child, teenager, young adult, or person of maturity, we can be encouraged that Jesus understands the challenges unique to those stages of development.”

Fulness of Joy Helps Healthy Aging
A recent study found that joy keeps people healthier as they age. “Researchers found that people who enjoy life tend to maintain better physical function” and had a greater sense of wellbeing.


Where is Biblical Counseling’s Ken Ham?

Heath Lambert has a fine article here on the Ham v Nye creation debate and the way worldview determines how we all look at the same evidence.

Halfway through, he points out how in this respect the “Counseling Wars” are so similar to the “Origins Wars” and then says:

I know of no single biblical counselor who rejects the observations of secular psychiatry. Biblical counselors embrace the same facts as secular counselors, integrationists, and Christian psychologists. Biblical counselors are not distinct from these other approaches in their embrace of the facts but in their approach to and understanding of these facts.

I think this is true in principle, but I don’t see much evidence of it in practice. That’s where I’d like to see the biblical counseling movement mature and develop, and it could do so by taking a leaf out of Ken Ham’s book.

Informed Interaction
When compared with biblical counselors, Ham and his creationist colleagues seem to be much more informed about the science they are interacting with and much more capable and courageous in entering the scientists’ world, taking the scientists’ facts and findings, and re-framing them within the biblical worldview.

I don’t see so much evidence of that in biblical counseling, a field I read a lot in, teach in, and do almost daily as well. What is much more common is disinterest in, hostility towards, or even outright rejection of the whole field of psychology and pharmacology IN PRACTICE. Note these last two words. I don’t doubt the “we embrace the same facts” theory, as Heath Lambert ably articulates it. But where’s that actually being practiced and who is actually practicing it?

Criticism and Condemnation
Instead, whatever is claimed, the most frequent Christian note with respect to psychology and pharmacology seems to be criticism and condemnation.

Yes, there are exceptions to this. For example, Ed Welch’s Blame it on the Brain? though brief and now a bit dated is helpful. Bob Kellemen’s post on counseling someone with serious depression who wants to try meds, though couched in cautious terms and lacking any “good news story” about medication, is also welcome, although I would not recommend Hodges book to someone in that desperate situation.

So, yes, there are exceptions. But here’s the question: If our biblical worldview is so sure and so strong, why do we rarely see anyone entering the lecture halls, Psychology journals, science labs and research facilities, returning with current facts, figures, and findings, and presenting them from a biblical worldview, as Ham and others do so well in the area of origins. Is there nothing positive to find, learn from, and apply?

If our worldview is so sure and strong, why can’t we more frequently recognize, praise, and use findings, advances, practices, and even meds that secular scientists and psychologists have discovered and have used to help others?

Embarrassing
Some Christians might be embarrassed by Ham’s worldview and presuppositions (I’m not, by the way), but you cannot be embarrassed by his current knowledge of the field he is critiquing. I’m afraid that’s not the case in many areas of biblical counseling. If I hear the ancient concession line about the thyroid gland being repeated one more time, my eyes and veins will pop without any thyroid problem!

How about some current brain research? How about some good news stories about medications and how they helped a Christian? How about working much harder to study current secular theories and therapies and finding even the odd grain of helpful truth in them?

I’d love to see a counseling debate along the same lines as the creation debate. But for all the gifted theologians, sound exegetes, and compassionate carers that we have, I don’t know if we have anyone anywhere near as able a champion as Ken Ham on our side; someone who knows enough about our worldview opponents to stand toe-to-toe with them in an informed debate, and debate knowledgeably and respectfully with an opponent of a contrary worldview.

It’s certainly not me, but if you’re out there I’d love to meet you.


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John Piper Explains Why He Tries for Ethnic Unity
“Piper, a white man who grew up in the South, might not seem like the obvious choice to consult on race relations. But he has contributed his time, pen, wisdom, and life to the goal of racial harmony. ”

9 Lessons From Entrepreneurship from the Shark Tank
Although, given my calling, I’m unlikely ever to put any of these into practice, I still found these lessons fascinating especially when I look back at a couple of businesses I was involved in an earlier life.

The Cornerstone of Winston Churchill’s Time Management
Matt Perman: “It is fascinating that when you study the most effective individuals throughout history, you see the same theme coming back again and again in how each of them managed their time. The key was focus and concentration on a few very significant priorities, always keeping in mind what is centrally important at the moment (that is, what’s best next).”

Do You Feel Tension in the Christian Life?
Jason Helopoulos presents 17 seeming contradictions that help explain the Christian life.

In Defense of the Christian Private School Bubble
Andrea Palplant calls us to give parents grace in a complex educational landscape.

You Give Them Something to Eat
Tim Brister applies the feeding of the 5,000 to pastoral ministry: “Should we not, then, follow our Master to minister in word and deed to those around us, welcoming them with the same gracious hospitality He has afforded us? Should we not embrace the challenges and messy situations, knowing that His mercy is greater than their messes? Should we not reconnect with our Master to believe that His work done His way through His people will also come with His supply? If so, then let us give them something to eat. Let us show the world around the greatness of His grace, having tasted and seen that the Lord is good!


All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting

Some fascinating and thought-provoking quotes from the New York Times Review of the bestselling (#3 on Amazon) All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting.

“Parenthood today is predicated on the unconditional exaltation of our children.”

“Every debate we have had about the role of parents can be traced back to the paring down of mothers’ and fathers’ traditional roles.”

“We’re confused about what child rearing requires, we know only what it doesn’t: teaching kids mathematics and geography and literature (schools do that); providing them with medical treatment (pediatricians); sewing them dresses and trousers (factories abroad, whose wares are then distributed by Old Navy); growing them food (factory farms, whose goods are then distributed by supermarkets); giving them vocational training (two-year colleges, classes, videos).”

“Parents no longer raise children for the family’s sake or that of the broader world. It is all for the child’s sake and the child’s alone.”

“Raising children is terribly hard work, often thankless and mind-numbing, and yet the most rapturous experience available to adults.”

“Parents are both happier and more miserable than nonparents.”

“Children provoke a couple’s most frequent arguments — more than money, more than work, more than in-laws, more than annoying personal habits, communication styles, leisure activities, commitment issues, bothersome friends, sex.”

“Despite far more women working outside the home, today’s mothers spend four hours a week more providing child care than 1965 mothers.”

“Fathers spend three times as many hours with their children now as they did then, but do better at keeping some downtime reserved for themselves; they do not judge themselves the way mothers do, and experience few of the pressures that make women feel so guilty about being away from home during the workday.”

“Homework is the new family dinner. It is the locus around which affection is played out.”

“Mothering and fathering aren’t just things we do. Being a mother or being a father is who we are.”

“Kids may complicate our lives, but they also make them simpler. Children’s needs are so overwhelming, and their dependence on us so absolute, that it’s impossible to misread our moral obligation to them.”


Worldview

Reason and Revelation: Why Christians Need Philosophy
The debate continues about how much Christians should use natural law arguments to defend traditional marriage. In this article one of the authors of What is Marriage? argues that our natural moral knowledge in some ways precedes revelation and helps us to understand it. Personally, I’m for using every tool at our disposal.

2013 Was A Terrible Year for Evolution
This Christian College professor is depressed because while most Christian colleges are now quietly teaching evolution, “Evolution did not fare well in 2013.”

The year ended with the anti-evolution bookDarwin’s Doubt as Amazon’s top seller in the “Paleontology” category. The state of Texas spent much of the year trying to keep the country’s most respected high school biology text out of its public schools. And leading anti-evolutionist and Creation Museum curator Ken Ham made his annual announcement that the “final nail” had been pounded into the coffin of poor Darwin’s beleaguered theory of evolution.

Can I admit that I enjoyed this teacher’s misery?

On the same subject, here’s Al Mohler’s take on the clash of worldviews in the Ken Ham v Bill Nye debate.

Sex Education Videos Will Be Rated Following Parental Outcry
Starting later this month, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) will decide whether school sex education videos should be rated PG. The decision follows a BBFC research report, which revealed that a growing number of parents are pulling children from sex education lessons.


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Communicating Clearly and Creatively
A conversation between two bloggers that I admire and enjoy.

What Happens to Our Brains When We Exercise and Why It Makes Us Happier
There’s a lot of good news in this encouraging article. For example:

So really, you can relax and don’t have to be on the look-out for the next killer work-out. All you have to do is get some focused 20 minutes in to get the full happiness boost every day.

Delaying Marriage and Same Sex Attraction
Here’s a brave and challenging post from Lore Ferguson on how delaying marriage and being overly-cautious can result in problems for some women. We’re such creatures of extremes aren’t we? If the Devil can’t get us by committing too early, he’ll get us by delaying too long.

Dear Donald Miller
Jonathan Leeman appeals to Donald Miller to return to the church, while Denny Burk explains why to leave the church is spiritual suicide.

Pastoral Leadership and Conflict
A few years ago, Dave Early surveyed a group of twenty-five successful, veteran pastors who were leading a variety of healthy churches.

I asked a few simple questions. One of the questions was, “Please list the three things you did not learn in seminary, but wish you had.” I was surprised that there was one response given by all of them:Learning to resolve conflict effectively.

Toxic Leaders in Our Ranks
Dorothy Greco calls us to learn from the army’s investigation into the kind of toxic leadership that led to 30 US soldiers stationed in Iraq committing or attempting suicide in 2009. According to the Army’s manual, toxic leadership includes:

A combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects.

The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest…. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers’ will, initiative, and potential, and destroys unit morale.