Check out

Pastors are hurting
LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors and found widespread discouragement and loneliness. Thom Rainer analyzes why.

When ministry becomes a mistress
“Idolatry creep sneaks up on you because you can easily and quickly justify it by saying that everything you do is for the Lord, believing your motives are pure.”

Women in the body
The church, that is. Kim Shay found that mean girls are in the church as well as the school yard.

How do be a writer: 201 compelling tips
Didn’t know it was that simple.

Working from home makes you more productive
13% more to be precise. Good to know when I’m doing a lot more work at home during my sabbatical.

Who will online education help?
Education is changing, for sure, but who will benefit from the change?


Tweets of the Day


Truthful + Beautiful = Faithful

If I wanted you to visit Scotland, I might send you to Scotland’s entry on Wikipedia, where you would find a few thousand words on Scotland’s history, geography, economy, monuments, landmarks, etc.: lots of facts, lots of information, lots of arguments and reasons for why you should cross the pond and visit the old country.

Or I could send you to Flickr or YouTube and encourage you to search for Scottish pictures and videos.

Scotland

Which do you think would be more successful?

The Wikipedia entry might make you say something like, “Well, that’s very interesting! Sounds like a great place. I think I’d like to go there someday.”

But the Flickr pictures and YouTube videos would evoke, “Wow, that’s beautiful. How do I get there and when can I go?”

Beauty is a more powerful persuader than data.

That’s Beautiful!
When the grocery store wants you to buy a new chocolate cake, what do they do? Do they set up a booth with a Powerpoint of the Nutrition Facts? Do they have books explaining the benefits of this low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, high-protein, high-fiber chocolate cake?

Of course not, they set up tasting booths in aisles where the rich chocolate fragrance draws the nose, the light moist sponge draws the eyes, and the offered sample draws a drooling tongue. You taste and exclaim. “That’s beautiful! Where do I buy?”

Beauty attracts. Beauty draws. Beauty persuades. Beauty compels. Beauty convinces.

Yet, the church, especially the reformed branch of it, is not very good at beauty.

We do logical but not beautiful. We’re good at arguing, but not at attracting.  We’re good at systematizing but not at stunning. We’re good at organizing but not at awing. We’re good at clarity but not at beauty.

He’s Beautiful
Now, of course, we need logic, we need argument, we need system, we need organizing, and we need to be clear. But these are only servants to beauty, a means to an end – that of bringing people to the feet of Jesus exclaiming, “Wow! He’s beautiful!”

Facts, argument, logic, persuasion may bring you to nod your head in agreement.

Beauty produces, “Draw me, I will run after you!”

Truthful + Beautiful
When I’ve preached justification or sanctification, doctrine or devotion, Old Testament or New Testament, I ask not only, “Was it truthful?” but also, “Was Jesus beautiful?”

I don’t want my hearers just to say, “Well that was reasonable, logical, tightly argued, clear, etc.” I want them to say, “Jesus is so, so beautiful.”

Same goes for parenting. Amidst the noise, smoke, and dust of raising children, am I communicating the breathtaking, inimitable, irresistible, beauty of Christ?

Also for witnessing. I can proof text, win arguments, and beat down atheists, Arminians, Muslims and Mormons all day. But did I once try to show them the beauty of Jesus?

Beautiful inspiration
This post was partly inspired by Brian Zahnd’s Beauty will save the world: Rediscovering the allure and mystery of Christianity. Like Trevin Wax, I have some reservations about this book, especially the lack of clarity in a couple of places about the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. But the fundamental core message of the book is one that many of us in Calvinist churches (old and new) need to hear.

For too long we’ve limited the demand of faithfulness to “telling the truth.” To this we must also add “showing His beauty.”

Truthful + beautiful = faithful.


Check out

Ayn Rand, antichrist
Joel Miller: “But libertarians and conservatives — particularly those who confess Christian faith — should be wary of adopting Ayn Rand as their own lest they find themselves in the position of the man in Aesop’s story who took the snake to his bosom.”

Faith and High Office: Do the Religious Beliefs of American Presidents matter?
Aaron Blumer gives three reasons why it matters and two reasons why it doesn’t.

Social Media Changes Everything
Ron Edmondson talks about how social media considerations impacted his recent transition from one church to another, and calls for church hiring procedures to be changed to compensate for the speed that information travels these days.

What the Puritans can teach us about counseling
Another great resource list from Justin Taylor.

The Clown in the Pulpit
Challenging questions from Jeremy Walker: “What do you, preacher, strive after in the pulpit? Do you seek the titter or guffaw of the congregation? Do you simply want to bask in the warmth of people who find you amusing, who applaud your comic genius? Do you model yourself on the clowns and jesters of our age? Do you exhibit your own wit or do you exalt your Saviour?”

Typical Objections to the 10 Commandments
And that’s only the Christian objections.


Tweets of the Day


Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.