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Sorry things have been a bit slow on the blog the past few months. I’ve been working on a project that’s demanded almost all my time and energy. But I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel and hope to return to more regular blogging soon. Thanks for your patience.

How to Incorporate Biblical Archaeology into Your Preaching
“In the final analysis, archaeology is an important supplement to preaching because it helps the person in the pew to see that the Bible is grounded in history. This is no small thing today since post-modernism dominates western society, and it is clearly ahistorical. History has little meaning to a large segment of western population, and so it is important for people to see that biblical events happened in time and space. These events are not mythic, mere folk-tales, or cute little Sunday school stories. Archaeology provides an earthiness to Scripture, and it helps to anchor the texts in the realia, that is, real and everyday life. Archaeology highlights the sitz im leben (“life setting”) of the narratives of Scripture.”

The Reading Habits Of Highly Successful People
“Some of the world’s highest achievers have one thing in common: it isn’t a high IQ, nor is it an incredible lucky streak, but their appreciation for reading. Books were their most profitable investment.

Open Both of God’s Books: Wisdom in His Word, Wisdom in His World
“One of the main reasons that we believe in a liberal arts education, where you read lots and lots of stuff outside the Bible, is because the Bible tells us to. The Bible tells us there are dimensions of wisdom to be found in the assiduous, penetrating, critical, biblical observation of the world — not only in the Bible.”

Anxiety and Depression: More College Students Seeking Help
“Between 2009 and 2015, the number of students visiting counseling centers increased by about 30% on average, while enrollment grew by less than 6%, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found in a 2015 report. Students seeking help are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engaged in self-harm, the center found. In spring 2017, nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function, and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools.”

Let Sinclair Ferguson Teach You Pastoral Ministry
“Here’s one way to think of Some Pastors and Teachers: What if you could take a seminary-level course in pastoral ministry from the Rev. Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson, for one academic year, with one lecture per week for 39 weeks, each one about an hour in length, for a mere $45…Who would not sign up for that course eagerly?”

What the Word of God Says About the Word of God, Book by Book | For The Church
“What God says about his word is a deep, complex, and staggering thing. And each book of the written word testifies to the wonder of his revelation. I decided to take a look, book by book, selecting a representative passage from each to highlight many of the things God’s word says about God’s words.”

Why Your Church Needs a Mental Health Inclusion Strategy
“The church is beginning to make significant strides in supporting church members and attendees with mental illness. The logical next step is to seek to welcome and include those for whom church participation has been difficult because of a mental health condition.”

50 Good Mental Health Habits
“My goal in this post is to identify goals for each area of life that influences mental health: cognitive perspective, physical well-being, social context, spiritual vitality, general life management, emotional regulation, etc.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that no one area of life can completely account for our mental health.”

Connecting with Your Introverted Teen
“At a recent conference I was urging fathers to press in and communicate with their children. One father asked, “How do I communicate with my 16 year old who is very introverted and doesn’t seem willing to talk?” Here are a few of the things to consider.”

Kindle Books

Check out: Seminary Edition

As another semester draws to a close, Seminary faculty, staff, and students, and also churches, have a bit more time to think about how best to deliver theological education and prepare students for the ministry. Here’s a collection of articles I’ve gathered over the past year that can hopefully provoke constructive conversations about the subject. I’m not saying that I agree with all the ideas discussed; simply that the ideas are worth discussing.

15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me

15 Things Seminary Teaches Me that My Busy Pastor(ate) Can’t

How Technology Is Revolutionizing Pastoral Training

Should You Pursue a Ph.D.?

The Big Thing Seminary Did Teach Me: I’ll Never Graduate from Learning

Pastoral Training Reinvented

Pastoral Training Is Changing

Why Don’t Schools Use The Most Effective Teaching Methods?

4 Reasons Why Maybe You Shouldn’t Choose a Seminary Church

How to Read Faster

Preparing for Winter

Sage Advice: The Teacher as Pastor

People Are Going to Hell. Do I Really Need Seminary Training?

Strategies for minimizing plagiarism (essay)

Teaching Students the Importance of Professionalism

6 Reasons to Take Seminary Chapel Seriously

A Professor’s Prayer from Matthew 23

“The Life of the Professor” — My Talking Points for our New Faculty Workshop

How To Survive Graduate School

Syllabus Strategies for a Successful Semester – Seminary Survival Guide

Seminaries across the country are shutting down

Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy

Why Go to Seminary? Here’s Ten Reasons

Jealous for His Time: The Wife of a Seminarian

This Year’s Reminder That the Lecture is Not Dead 

The Lecture Lives. I Would Know — I’m a Professor

U Can’t Talk to Ur Professor Like This

The Future of Ministry, according to a Seminary President

Students learn more effectively from print textbooks than screens, study says

10 Things Teachers DID NOT Have to Deal With 10 Years Ago

More Or Less Technology In The Classroom? We’re Asking The Wrong Question

How the Reformation Changed Education Forever

10 Tips for Creating Effective Instructional Videos

Failure and Disappointment in Scripture

f we organized a conference on “Failure and Disappointment,” do you think anyone would come? If you wrote a book on that subject, do you think anyone would buy it? Failure and disappointment are not popular topics. They don’t sell tickets or books. They don’t generate clicks, as Internet marketers assure us. We don’t want to think about our own failures and disappointments, never mind hear about those of others. We live in a “success culture” that idolizes victory and fulfillment. But it’s all so unreal.

When we turn to the Bible, we’re given a deep dose of reality. Failure and disappointment are on just about every page. Whether we like it or not, that’s much truer to life than the success narratives that we aspire to and are trying to write for ourselves. By all means, aim high, but recognize that no one escapes failure and disappointment. So, we might as well plan on it and prepare for it with a view to profiting from it.

“Profiting from failure and disappointment? Are you serious?” Yes, like many of God’s people, I’ve found seasons of failure and disappointment to be some of the most spiritually productive times of my life.

Before we turn to the Bible to help us plan on, prepare for, and profit from failure and disappointment, we first need some definitions. Failure is a lack of success in doing something. It’s coming short of a performance standard that we have set for ourselves or that others have set for us. It may be something that we are accountable for and blamed for (e.g., we fail an exam because we did not study enough), or someone else may be to blame (e.g., our marriage may fail because our wife or husband committed adultery). And sometimes we can have a sense of failure when we have not actually failed (e.g., we lose our job because of a merger or reorganization). Disappointment is the sense of sadness and frustration that results from failure, either from our own failure, the failure of others, or both. So, with these definitions in hand, what does the Bible teach us about failure and disappointment?

Read the rest of this article at the Tabletalk website. You can also find many other articles from this month’s issue of Tabletalk.

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Why is silence good and necessary for a pastor’s soul?
“I’ve spent most of my adult life hating silence—and didn’t know it. It was a major blind spot. I always dismissed my desire to be with people and avoid being alone as being an extrovert and loving people. I excused my talkative nature to my heightened relational instincts. These qualities also seemed to help my interactions with people as a pastor, so I thought nothing more of it. It wasn’t until I began my own counseling journey out of a personal crisis where I was confronted with this long-held deception in my life.”

Principles and Guidelines for Separation
“Those who effect separation are themselves sinners. So the questions of when, why, and how to separate are of cardinal importance. The New Testament gives us principles; it does not provide us with a single, simple sentence that relieves us of the task of thinking through and wisely applying the Scriptures to each unique situation. ”

Thinking Wrongly About Leadership
“When we think wrongly about leadership in the church, the church suffers. Sometimes we make the wrong people leaders. Other times we distort the relationship between the church and her leaders. What follows below is an attempt to kindly point out three of the most common errors I’ve seen in reformed churches when thinking about the leadership of elders in Jesus’ church.”

One Thing I Hope to Learn From John Piper In Preaching
“Now you may not agree with all of Piper’s points. But you cannot say that he isn’t getting his points from the Scriptures (at least in the way he is reading them). And this has a tremendous impact on those who sit under his preaching. He isn’t just telling people what to think. He is training them how to think.”

Free Christian Audiobook about Jonathan Edwards
“In this Trailblazers series biography, Jonathan Edwards was just an ordinary American boy, but the country he lived in wasn’t the America of today. Rather he was part of a new world full of adventure and opportunity. This filled Jonathan’s mind with questions and he grappled for the answers, even when it wasn’t easy. His genius and ability only strengthened his faith and love for Jesus. ”

The Beginning of How to Get Unstuck
“None of us enjoys being stuck. And it sometimes puts crucial, important things at risk. There are things we want to do, things we need to do, and things that make a difference in the world that won’t get done if we stay stuck. The good news is that it is possible to get unstuck and overcome the obstacles to doing great work and getting the right things done. David prayed for deliverance and got unstuck. Paul never became passive, in spite of his many obstacles. Mark Twain finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer after taking a year off to replenish. And Einstein got the help he needed with the math to bring the theory of relativity all the way through to completion. (Yes, Einstein needed help with math! — of a very advanced sort, of course.)”

Are You Addicted To Your Phone? (Take a Quiz to Find Out)
“take the test and prayerfully reflect on the results, then perhaps simply ask yourself this: Are you okay with this? Is this what you want from your relationship with your phone? Or maybe this: Is your smartphone helping you live the life you want to live, or is it in some ways hindering it?”

Two very personal reasons Tucker Carlson hates abortion

The Day Leukaemia Changed My Life
Adrian Warnock needs our prayers.

Kindle Books

Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons That Connect with Our Culture by Zack Eswine $2.99.

Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way  by J. I. Packer $3.99.

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Leaders, Talk About Power to Protect the Vulnerable
This is such an important article.

Go to Sleep…God Is Awake
“No one really knows why, but sleep is critical to the proper functioning of our bodies and minds. Studies show that sleep deficits slow our thinking, compromise memory, make learning difficult, impair our reaction time, cause irritability, increase anger, decrease capacity for stress, and make us less likely to engage in good habits such as eating well and exercising. Sleeplessness also increases the risk of depression and anxiety. In one study conducted by the University of North Texas, people with insomnia were almost 10 times more likely to suffer from clinical depression and more than 17 times more likely to be affected by “clinically significant” anxiety.”

Failure to Launch Syndrome and Young Men: The Educational Dilemma
“Over the past decade, 30% of male college students have dropped out during their freshman year.”

Make It Easy for Your Kids to Love God: Proverbs for a Happy Home
“Your children need something more than to be fortified against sin. They need to be inspired toward God. Tell them, with all the confidence that Proverbs 8 warrants, of his joyous wisdom across the whole of life. Prove to them, by the very ethos of your home, that the Lord is good. Let them see that faith in you, and the glory of the Lord will be hard for them to resist.”

On Mission at McDonald’s
“Never let your desire to be on mission be connected to a desire to appear cool. Coolness kills mission. It turns our attention to ourselves and how we are perceived rather than to God and the people he wants us to reach.”

10 Crucial Archaeological Discoveries Related to the Bible

Jesus, Take the Control Wheel: Southwest Pilot Saw Flying as Ministry
Great story.

They Call It Narcissism
“Secular literature is most helpful when its descriptions of difficult-to-understand behaviors are coupled with years of experience and when its practical suggestions come close to the wisdom and love we find in Scripture. With the behaviors that are called narcissistic, we know that the Spirit can change us and teach us more about how to love wisely, and we invite all comers to give their ideas on ways to love.”

Kindle Books

Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ by J. Todd Billings $1.99.

The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Timothy Keller $1.99.

Unshaken: Real Faith in Our Faithful God by Crawford W. Loritts $3.99.

Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life by Jared C. Wilson $2.99.

Expedition 17: Songs about the Coming King

Here’s the video to show your kids at the end of Expedition 17 of Exploring the BibleIf you want to bookmark a page where all the videos will eventually appear, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. If you’re in Canada use Reformed Book Services. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.