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5 Reflections on my first year of Seminary
Dan Darling: “Even though I’ve been in ministry for several years, writing, pastoring, preaching, I made the decision last year to apply at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. By some miracle of divine providence, I got in and by another miracle of divine providence, I finished a year.”

Eliminate these 8 things from your daily routine
“You’ll get huge returns — in productivity, in improved relationships, and in your personal well-being — from adding these items to your not to-do list”

10 Theses about Christianity and homosexuality
J.D. Greear summarizes a recent talk on this subject.

Desecration and Titillation
Tim Challies: “Do you love pornography enough to go to hell for it?”

The Problem with Tolerance
Joel Miller: “Tolerance is a squirrelly virtue. At best it’s a schoolyard thing that only works if everyone agrees to play along. At worst, it’s a bludgeon to — ironically now — knock about people who disagree with you.”

Deadly, Dull, and Boring
This is an outstanding article on how to preach more lively and engaging sermons. What a difference this would make to so many pulpits.

4 Ways to Get From Joseph to Jesus

Some people develop phobias to things that are good and helpful. For example, a child might develop a phobia to milk, or to meat, or even to eating altogether!

Psychologists will often help these children by introducing them to small amounts of the food now and again, then gradually increasing the size and frequency of the food until the child is able to swallow and even enjoy what was previously unpalatable.

In some ways, this is what was happening in the Old Testament. God was gradually habituating His people to accept not only an unpalatable deliverance but an unpalatable deliverer.

Unpalatable Salvation
The deliverer was unpalatable because, like all sinners, Old Testament sinners wanted to deliver themselves and did not like to admit that they needed outside help.

The deliverance was also unpalatable because it was not going to be a glorious straightforward smashing of their enemies, but the deliverer would suffer pain, humiliation, and death in order to smash their sins.

Thus, from Genesis 3 onwards, we have the institution of sacrifice that pointed people away from themselves to a substitute in their place, and that also underlined in red how suffering and death were necessary for salvation.

Further, from Genesis 3 onwards, God raised up numerous deliverers of His people, but all of them experienced pain and humiliation on the way to delivering God’s people. The three greatest examples of that are Joseph, Moses, and David.

All of these were God’s way of habituating His people, of preparing them gradually to accept, embrace, and believe His plan of a coming Deliverer whose deliverance would involve humiliation and suffering before glory would eventually arise. As Leyland Ryken says in The Complete Literary Guide to the Bible:

It seems clear that a “narrative typology” lies behind the composition of these texts. The author wants to show that the events of the past are pointers to those of the future (p. 110).

That’s one way we can get from Joseph to Jesus – by seeing Joseph as part of God’s gradual habituation of the people for His ultimate deliverer.

How can we be sure?
Some might look at the Joseph story and say, “Well there are indeed many parallels between Joseph and Jesus, but how can you be sure that God meant this to be part of His preparation of His Old Testament people for Jesus?”

Well, consider this. In the New Testament, God explicitly picked out less obvious parallels in the Old Testament (like Melchizedek and Jonah) as part of His preparation of His Old Testament people for Jesus. If He is explicit about these less obvious parallels, how much more easily should we conclude the same for the more obvious and major Old Testament characters like Joseph. Clearly, Jesus and the New Testament authors saw Jonah, Melchizedek, Moses, etc., as samples of a larger body of prophetic parallels (or “types”).

The Spirit of Christ
Also, we know that the Spirit that was in Joseph was the Spirit of Christ, shaping and forming his character in such beautiful Christ-like ways. Joseph did not become such an outstandingly gifted, godly, and gracious man by natural personality or by his own efforts. There’s no more extraordinary story of human forgiveness in the whole of human history, and that could only be accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit filling him and fueling his wise and loving dealings with his murderous brothers.

So how do we get from Joseph to Jesus? Three ways:

  1. By God’s gradual habituation of His people
  2. By arguing from the lesser to the greater (if less Christ-like characters were types, how much more Joseph).
  3. By the work and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Joseph’s life conforming him to the image of Christ.

“But your headline said four ways.”

Yes, but I’ve explored the fourth way in a previous post: By asking “How did Mr. & Mrs Israelite read Ruth?”

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News Flash: Not Everyone with Down Syndrome is Suffering
“Whether with benign or malicious intentions, many people discriminate by looking at people with Down syndrome categorically, before recognizing them as individuals.”

A Break Through the Clouds
A bunt out Tim Bridges reflects on two massive lessons he learned during a month of medicinal beach sand.

Advice to young preachers
This is great advice, and not just to young preachers.

New Life Bible Conference
I went to this conference last year and had a great time. If you’re able to get there, you’ll get a treat of preaching and fellowship.

What to think when a ministry is discredited
So, it is possible to look back on the ministry of someone who has since been discredited and give thanks that God was at work, despite everything.

A Church addresses sexual abuse
On the weekend of May 18-19 The Summit Church (Durham, NC) addressed the subject of sexual abuse in all of their weekend services. This series is a reflection of those services, the preparation that went into them, and the aftercare that was provided.

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

Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling

On Fridays for the next several weeks, I hope to interact with the Biblical Counseling Coalition’s new book, Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling. Not sure how it will all pan out, but my plan is to take a chapter each week, summarize the main teaching points, highlight good quotes, develop some of the ideas, and offer some constructive critique here and there. Apart from a couple of weaker chapters, there won’t be too much of the latter as this is a superb book that would benefit not just pastors and counselors but anyone who wants to learn how to help others with God’s Word. Why not read along with me and add your own comments as we go? Today we’ll start with the short introductory chapter. Next Friday I’ll take a look at Chapter 1: The Glory of God – The Goal of Biblical Counseling.

Introduction: In Christ Alone by Bob Kellemen and Steve Viars

Aim of book

To promote authentic spiritual growth among God’s people in ways that are:

(1) Grace-based and gospel-centered: Not a system or a program.

(2) Relationally and theologically robust: Relationship with God through His Word.

(3) Grounded in the local church: Caring like Christ in the body of Christ

(4) Relevant to everyday life and ministry: Speaking the truth in love to meet spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

Structure of the Book

Chapters 1-14: A practical theology of biblical counseling

Chapters 15-28: A practical methodology of biblical counseling

Authors of the Book

The coalition of 40 authors produces variety, synergy, humility, and better resources.

Biblical Foundations of the Book

Ephesians 4:1-3; 4:15-16; 2 Peter 3:18


The Introduction sets up the book well by explaining its rationale and aim. As with everything Bob writes, the chapter is clear, concise, and well-structured. If I was just beginning in biblical counseling or even just wanting to speak more helpfully into people’s lives, I’d be encouraged that this is a book for me. And yet, the more experienced pastor or counselor will also be drawn in by the promise of more substantial discussions in some chapters. Those familiar with some of the critiques of biblical counseling will also recognize the promise to address some of these issues and offer more comprehensive care for sinners and sufferers. As a bonus, there are some great “soundbites.”


“We are less interested in the number of disciples and more interested in the quality of discipleship.”

“We want to grow together in learning how to promote personal change centered on the person of Christ through the personal ministry of the Word.”

“Biblical Counseling does not offer a system or a program, but rather is shares a person - the Person – Jesus Christ.”

“Counseling is not ultimately about the counselee or the counselor, but about the Divine Counselor.”

“Our team rejects the notion that the Bible is simply an encyclopedia of disconnected Bible verses. God’s Word is less like a cookbook and more like a novel.”

“God calls and equips the church to be not simply a place with biblical counseling, but a place of biblical counseling.”

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A heart for the poor – and a mind of economics
R.J. Moeller explains how so many adult Christians end up economically illiterate.

DSM-5: The New Normal?
A model of constructive, balanced, and concise Christian critique.

7 Ways to Boost Your Creativity
Creative thinking can be enhanced by external forces, and isn’t necessarily reliant on “good genes” or natural ability.

Christ-centered reading, preaching, and teaching
Matt Capps: “A Christ-centered hermeneutic teaches us that in every passage the canonical trajectory points us to Christ as the hero of our salvation and our sanctification…Christ-centered hermeneutics not only informs the mind, but also employs the truth to appeal to our emotions and challenge our will to respond appropriately and entirely to the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Counseled by the Puritans on Providence
15 pages of Puritan Theology summarized in 1500 words.

What’s the difference between a Social Worker and a dangerous dog?
Mez answers this question in a way that highlights important social issues in many poorer communities.