Allan’s Junk Removal

My son, Allan, is about to enter his senior year at High School. He’s been desperately trying to find summer work for the past few months in order to get gas money and hopefully save up for college. However, the recession hit Michigan hard and the effects are still being felt with limited job opportunities and lots of applicants for the few that are made public.

He did get a few weeks of part-time work mulching for Superior Groundcover in the late spring and enjoyed the physicality of that work after many weeks and months at the school desk. However that had a very limited season, and since then he’s been knocking on lots of doors looking for work without success. He almost got a job with a car dealership, until they realized that he was still only 17 and their insurance wouldn’t cover him driving cars on their lot.

Anyway, last week, out of the blue, he announces that he’s starting a Junk Removal Business, sets up a Facebook page, prints 100 flyers, and off he goes to push them into mailboxes. And waited.

And then, to his huge delight, the phone rang. Someone wanted to get rid of an old shed that had been destroyed by the spring flood here in Grand Rapids. He went straight to the property, quoted, and got his first business deal! A morning’s work, two trips to the local landfill, and $100 in the bank!! With another three jobs this week, the young entrepreneur is up and running. His American dream begins at the very bottom, but he loves the hard work and is really excited about being his own boss (that started when he was about 3 months old!).

So, if you live within 40-50 miles of Grand Rapids, and you’ve got some old junk lying in your attic, your garage, or your yard, why not give the budding tycoon a call. He charges $50 for a trailer load (4×8 trailer), he’ll gather all your stuff for you, and he’ll leave you with a nice clean yard, garage, etc.  You can read more about his work here and also get his cell number. Or visit his Facebook page.

PS. The truck and trailer in the picture are, shall we say, an “artist’s impression.” The reality is slightly different.

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We are losing our consciousness of the Bible
Joel Miller addresses elementary errors in biblical knowledge at the New York Times: “The basic facts of the Bible, the font from which so much of our culture flows, are increasingly unknown. We capped the well and find ourselves parched.”

How much time do pastors spend preparing sermons?
“70% of pastors’ sermon preparation time is the narrow range of 10 to 18 hours per sermon…The median time for sermon preparation in this study is 13 hours”

How much of a pastor’s vacation time should he use?
Brain Croft says “All of it” and gives three reasons.

Why are you doing this?
James Faris gives five reasons for organizing a ministry of teaching English as a second language (ESL).

7 Possible Solutions to the Troubled Souls of Pastors
Scott also lists six indicators of a troubled soul.

Exodus International
I haven’t followed terribly closely the controversy about the ministry of Exodus International to homosexuals, but this article by Jeremy Lelek certainly shed some light on it for me.

Do you really need antidepressants?

Researchers at Emory University have discovered a brain scan that can predict whether medication or Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the best for each person’s depression. At present the treatment plan is often based on the doctor’s or patient’s preference, but only 35-40% of people see any improvement with their first choice of treatment. It’s basically been trial and error.

But Dr. Helen Mayberg and her team of researchers used PET scans to measure brain glucose metabolism in the interior insula region of the brain, and found that scan patterns prior to treatment can provide important clues as to which treatment will be best. Patients with low activity in the anterior insula showed remission with CBT, but poor response to medication, while patients with high activity in the insula did well with medication and poorly with CBT.

Until now brain-imaging has been primarily a research tool, but the National Institute of Mental Health director Dr. Thomas Insel believes that “these results demonstrate how it may be on the cusp of aiding in clinical decision-making.”

Speaking personally, I’ve never seen a medication-only approach work in the long-term. I have seen medication work well in treating moderate to severe depression, but only when combined with counseling and lifestyle changes (e.g. diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation, Christian fellowship, etc.). However, this research might help explain why antidepressants just don’t seem to work at all for a large number of people.

If the success or otherwise of anti-depressants can be predicted, then that should build confidence in some cases and avoid weeks of frustrating and futile experimentation in others.

Full Story: Biomarker Could Point the Way Past Trial-and-error Inefficiencies

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France Mayor faces jail for gay wedding refusal
But that would never happen here, would it?

Interview with Dr. Philip Ryken
In which he answers the question: “What are some ways you would counsel pastors to be more scholarly and scholars to be more pastoral?”

Yes, church we still need seminaries
But we need different seminaries, says Lane Severson. Among his suggestions? “What if even those called to be pastors were required by their seminary to hold a “real world” job, as part of their ministry education?”

Couples who meet online have better marriages
What can you say?

Factchecker: Does College cause young people to lose their faith?
Maybe parents of college bound kids would be encouraged by this.

The shocking truth about student debt

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 year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Jason Henry, a missionary in Mongolia, has very kindly collated and produced the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

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

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

The Counselor’s Role in the Holy Spirit’s Counseling

Review of Chapter 3: The Ministry of the Holy Spirit by Justin Holcomb and Mike Wilkerson in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling.

This is an outstanding chapter that could produce a paradigm shift in our counseling, or perhaps return us to where we started out but have drifted from through self-reliance or method-reliance. The most memorable quote of the chapter is:

Rather than asking about the role of the Holy Spirit in counseling, we should be asking about the counselor’s role in the Holy Spirit’s counseling!

Did that give you whiplash?

There are also two excellent sections on (1) praying throughout the counseling session and (2) how the counselor’s skill and method works together with dependence upon the Holy Spirit.

The basic point of the chapter is that while we want to offer quick practical help to suffering people, and we also want to go on to help change some of the messes in people’s lives; if we want to see people themselves changed, we need more than Scripture and skill. We need the Holy Spirit.

I think the best thing I can do to give you a flavor of the chapter is to list some of the quotables.


“Counseling that lacks this dependence on the Holy Spirit ceases to be Christian.”

“If the Holy Spirit is the primary counselor, then biblical counseling is not merely a dialogue between a counselor and a counselee. Rather it is a trialogue in which a counselor participates in the Spirit’s work already underway in the counselee.”

“The Spirit is actively engaged in counseling, working directly on the counselor and the counselee, and through each to help the other.”

“The goal of biblical counseling is to promote communication between the Spirit and the counselee.”

“It is the Spirit alone who opens the eyes of our hearts to the revelation of God, and it is He who accomplishes something in us by this revelation.”

“To be counseled biblically is to receive God’s Word more and more deeply as the Spirit drives it deeper into the heart.”

“The Spirit illuminates the Word for believers so that they might understand it spiritually, leading to a knowledge of God and to Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith.”

“The Spirit works to drive the seed that is God’s Word deep into the heart where it will take root and produce life.”

“The Spirit gives us impetus to pray as well as the words and spirit of prayer.”

Previous Posts in this Series

Introduction to Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling
John Piper on Biblical Counseling
Charity and Clarity in Counseling