Check out

Review of Covenant Eyes
Agree with Andy Naselli’s take on this. The one fly in the ointment is we’re still waiting for Covenant Eyes to add web filtering for Apple Macs.

Dead Ends on the Road to Rest
Daniel Montgomery: “Louder than any sermon, our lives are shouting to the world that we don’t trust God, we don’t know how to stop working, and we don’t know how to enjoy life.”

Note to Self by Joe Thorn
I think Joey Cochran enjoyed Joe’s book. You won’t spend a better $3 today.

Becoming well-spoken
How to minimize your Uh’s and Um’s.

Marked Increase in Homeschooling for African Americans
African Americans are the fastest growing group of home-schooling parents, according to the the department of Education (HT: Anthony Bradley)

What I learned from my first pastorate
I so enjoyed this honest, humble, and transparent article. Wait till you read what eventually grew this church.

Don’t live for a legacy

“So, David, what do you want your legacy to be?”

“Em, I’m not expecting to have much of one. Not leaving any debt is be about as much as I can hope for.”

“No, I don’t mean a financial legacy, I mean a spiritual legacy. What spiritual legacy do you want to leave behind?”

“Oh…eh…um… you know, I’ve never given it a thought. Should I?” I spluttered.

Having now had a couple of days to think about this surprising question, I think I’ve got a slightly more coherent response.

Ministering for the moment
First, I’m not living to leave a legacy. If I start thinking about my future name and reputation, I can easily foresee that having a detrimental effect on present decisions. There are certain things I may do or not do, say or not say, write or not write because it might harm my potential of leaving a “legacy.”

It’s hard enough making the right decisions day-to-day without having also to weigh the impact 50 years down the road. Better just think about the today and leave all the tomorrows with the Lord. In fact we’re probably more likely to leave a legacy if we don’t live for one.

Ordinary ministry
Second, I’m not that concerned if my name and ministry fades from view a few years after I die. That’s what happens to 99.9% of preachers, missionaries, writers, bloggers, etc. So why not me? I’m not exactly the next Charles Spurgeon, William Carey, C S Lewis, or Tim Challies ;)

Obviously there are some men who will leave an obvious legacy, rare men whom the Lord has raised up to recover a lost truth or emphasis (e.g. R C Sproul’s popularization of Reformed Theology), or to take an especially courageous stand against sin and for holiness. However, most of us have ordinary ministries, and our ministries will die with us.

I don’t imagine either of my two books will still be in print when I die. Someone will come along and write a better introductory book on depression, and a better beginner’s book on preaching – I’m sure they have already! My films will look dated in ten years, never mind fifty. And my blog will disappear into the ether. That’s life; it’s not a disaster; and I’m not sad about it.

Immeasurable legacy
Third, spiritual legacies are extremely hard to measure. They’re not measured by books published, size of church, or conference invitations. Spiritual legacies are largely invisible and therefore immeasurable.

Obviously I hope that my sermons, books, blog posts, etc., are impacting people for good – that sinners are being converted and saints sanctified, equipped, and prepared for heaven. However, how am I ever to know? Most of it is invisible, inaudible, and undetectable.

One thing I believe that heaven will reveal is that the vast majority of completely unknown and faithful pastors are leaving a bigger spiritual legacy behind in the hearts and lives of their flock than many who are preaching, ministering, and writing to huge audiences.

What did he leave?
But if you really push me, yes, there’s one thing I do want to leave behind – and that’s four converted children. I’d rather my children know Christ than people know who David Murray is a hundred years from now

Check out

The pastor’s example of evangelism
Steve Lawson calls pastors to evangelize in four areas, beginning with themselves.

Where are all the brothers?
Alex Chediak asks Eric Redmond why African American men are so turned off the church.

The real skill of sermon preparation
It’s not what you think, but I think he’s right.

New Code of Ethics for Pastors
Regardless of the source, what do you think about the content? Or even the idea?

Should every pastor be a counselor?
Bob Kellemen responds to my post about pastors who don’t counsel.

Battling the bitterness of parenting a disabled child
Christine Hoover: “On October 16, 2006, my oldest son was diagnosed with autism. That word — autism — spoken over my son and over my life on that day sent me into a year-long spiral of grief and confusion.”

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.

12 Differences Between Scottish and American Churches

I’m often asked, “What are the differences between Scottish and American churches.” Obviously this is a very difficult question to answer because there is such a wide diversity of churches in both countries.

However, speaking in the most general terms, let me give twelve basic differences I’ve noticed in my five years in the USA. And I’m basing this not so much on own church here in Grand Rapids but on the exposure I’ve had to many Christians, churches, ministries, and conferences across multiple States – although most of it’s been in the Reformed tradition.

1. American churches are bigger: Scottish churches maybe average between 50-80 regular attenders, many are far smaller, and most of them are declining in size. There are far more large churches in the USA, and churches on the whole are bigger

2. American churches are richer: Obviously this follows from #1. However, I’ve been stunned at the incredible generosity of wealthy Christians in the USA. I’ve especially seen this in the donations to the Seminary, but churches also greatly benefit from the large hearts and wallets of those whom the Lord has blessed with material wealth and steward that gift for His glory.

3. American churches are younger: It wasn’t until I came here that I realized how disproportionately few young people there are in most Scottish churches. Why? See #4.

4. American churches have a greater stress on Christian education: The widespread lack of Christian schools in Scotland partly explains the lack of young people in Scottish churches. American Christians make Christian schools or Christian home education a top priority in their lives.

5. American churches are more complex: There are far more meetings, activities, clubs, Bible Studies, Youth Groups, etc., in America. Scottish church life is relatively simple. Many churches simply have a midweek prayer meeting in addition to two Sunday services.

6. American preachers use more paper: There’s much more reading of sermons in American pulpits. Most Scottish preachers take some limited notes into the pulpit, but they don’t seem to depend on them so much. Consequently, Scottish sermons are less polished but maybe more personal and passionate.

7. American sermons are more lecturely: Most American sermons are teaching sermons for Christians. In Scotland, while one sermon is usually a teaching sermon for Christians, the other is usually preached specifically to the unconverted. There’s expositional teaching in these evangelistic sermons too, but it’s clear that they are preached primarily for the conversion of lost sinners.

8. American churches are more diverse: Although most American Christians wish for more ethnic and cultural diversity in their churches, there is certainly more than in most Scottish churches.

9. American pastors are more specialized: Most Scottish churches have one paid pastor. And that’s it. No more staff. That means Scottish pastors have to be generalists, doing everything. American churches have larger staffs that result in more specialization, and sometimes the strange phenomena of pastors who only preach but never visit or counsel the sheep!

10. American churches have more pastors who are “Doctors”: While Scottish Christians value education, they are quite suspicious of ministers who pursue doctorates. This is partly historical – academics ruined our Seminaries – and partly because they’ve seen the damage that ambition to be a professor can do to a person. That’s why, when I was given my D.Min. I put it in the bottom drawer and didn’t tell anyone in my congregation. I didn’t even tell my parents!

11. American churches are more optimistic: I don’t think this is so much a spiritual trait as a national characteristic. Americans in general are a more optimistic, can-do people (is this changing?), resulting in more welcoming, friendly churches.

12. American sermons have more jokes: Thankfully not true in my own church, but wearisomely true in many churches.

So, anyone want to immigrate? Which way?