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Blogs

Watch an Entirely Free, Seminary-Level Course on the Reformation
Justin Taylor links to the syllabi, reading list, and videos of Carl Truman’s course on Reformation history.

8 Ways to Read (a Lot) More Books This Year
“Here’s my advice for fitting more reading into your own life, based on the behaviors that I changed:”

  1. Centralize reading in your home.
  2. Make a public commitment.
  3. Find a few trusted, curated lists.
  4. Change your mindset about quitting.
  5. Take a “news fast” and channel your reading dollars.
  6. Triple your churn rate.
  7. Read physical books.
  8. Reapply the 10,000 steps rule.

New Research Debunks The ‘Ball And Chain’ Myth
Contrary to the common view among men that marriage is an “expensive encumbrance on their freedom and their sex lives,” new research finds married men have more money, better sex, and a longer life than their single peers.

How Not to Help a Sufferer
Four ways we, like Job’s friends, can pour burning coals on the heads of those already sitting in ashes:

  1. Appeal too quickly to God’s sovereignty.
  2. Launch into a story of how God used your suffering.
  3. Minimize the wrongdoing that caused the suffering.
  4. Emphasize character formation while neglecting comfort and compassion.

4 Barriers to Effective Pastoral Ministry – LifeWay Pastors
And how to remove them:

  1. Busyness is a barrier to effectiveness.
  2. Interruptions are a barrier to effectiveness.
  3. Lack of a clear personal mission is a barrier to effectiveness.
  4. Lack of personal organization is a barrier to effectiveness.

3 Ways Busyness Is Destroying You And Your Relationships
While on the subject of busyness:

  1. Busyness creates an inner turmoil because our work, even our work for that which is good, cannot satisfy us.
  2. Busyness creates an irritability with and sense of moral superiority over others, including God.
  3. Busyness leads us to question God’s character.

5 Things Singles Wish Married Couples Knew

  1. God settles the solitary in a family—and it might be yours.
  2. Marriage is sanctifying, but so is singleness.
  3. Our singleness doesn’t define us. You can help us remember that.
  4. Culture lies to us a lot.
  5. Don’t expect all your single friends to get married.

Kindle Books

Union and Communion with Christ by Maurice Roberts $2.99.

Who Made God?: And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith by Ravi Zacharias $6.99.

Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World $3.99.


Americans Just Broke the Psychologists’ Stress Record

Bloomberg is reporting that a national survey of anxiety finds a statistically significant increase for the first time since it was launched in 2007. Some of the findings are:

  • Stress is caused by three primary factors—money, work, and the economy.
  • Respondents with incomes below $50,000 reported higher stress levels than those with higher incomes.
  • Although stress in American life has been decreasing over the past 10 years, but the election caused a spike among both Republicans and Democrats.
  • 57 percent said the current political climate was a very or somewhat significant source of stress.
  • 70% of blacks report election stress whereas 40% of whites do.
  • Two-thirds of respondents to the survey said they are stressed out about the nation’s future.
  • Millennials reported more stress than their parents or grandparents.
  • The more educated are more stressed than the less educated.

If you’re among the fretting, here are a couple of books I recommend:

There are also the short booklet:

If you are looking for some verses to calm your nerves, Amy Simpson and Ed Welch suggest the following passages:

  • Psalm 20:7-8
  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 27
  • Psalm 46
  • Psalm 56
  • Psalm 62:5-8
  • Psalm 118:6
  • Proverbs 29:25
  • Isaiah 7:4, 9
  • Isaiah 26:3-6
  • Isaiah 40:28-31
  • Job 38:4-7
  • Matthew 6
  • Mark 4:38-40
  • Luke 12:22-31
  • John 14:1, 27
  • Romans 8
  • Philippians 4:6-8
  • Philippians 4:18-19
  • Colossians 3:15
  • 2 Timothy 1:7
  • Hebrews 13:6
  • 1 Peter 5:7
  • Revelation 21:1-4

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Blogs

Sleep-Deprived Judges Dole Out Harsher Punishments
“Research indicates that sleep deprivation impairs ethical judgment and behavior. And the research literature indicates that sleep deprivation leads to errors in decision making that the decision makers are oblivious to.

Ten Ways Pastors Can Be Bad Bosses
“So what is the difference between a good pastor boss and a bad pastor boss? We will address the good pastor bosses later. For now, I will share with you our conversations with those who served under bad pastor bosses. Here are the top ten complaints we heard:”

Seven Recommended Books on Preaching – Credo Magazine
“Recently, God gave me grace to preach my 500th sermon as the pastor of my church.  In light of this, I thought I might briefly point you to seven books on preaching I heartily recommend.  Listed in order of ascending commendation, here’s the countdown along with a brief word about each:”

Where Is God When Things Keep Getting Worse?
“I buried my precious son when he was two months old because the doctors made a mistake. Six years later, I was diagnosed with postpolio syndrome, a debilitating condition that will eventually require that I have full-time care, unable to do the simplest things for myself. And then six years after my horrifying diagnosis, my husband left our family, moved away, and later filed for divorce. Those years are still a blur to me. Just as I was coming to terms with one calamity, the next one came raging through. I wondered how I could handle yet another blow.”

Introverted Pastors
How extraversion became an American ideal.

3 Ways to Make Time for the Little Tasks You Never Make Time For
“No matter how productive we become, we’re never going to permanently rid ourselves of low-value work. By following these strategies, we can at least handle it more efficiently and leave more white space in our days for the projects that are truly meaningful.”

On My Shelf: Life and Books with Joel Beeke
You won’t find many reading diets like this.

Kindle Books

The Lion and the Lamb $1.99. Described as “an ideal resource for college students and others interested in knowing the essentials of each New Testament book.”

Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up by Ian and Larissa Murphy $1.99.

Why Believe the Bible by John Macarthur $1.99.

Video

Productivity and Leadership in the 21st Century: A Live Interview with Tim Challies and Chris Larson


8 Ways to Preach the Resurrection

As Easter Sunday rolls around each year, preachers everywhere wonder, “How can I preach a fresh sermon on the resurrection?” “How can I preach something that doesn’t sound just like last year, and the year before, and the year before….?”

This crisis is often caused by focusing too narrowly on the facts of the resurrection narratives in the Gospels. If all we do is narrate the historical facts of the resurrection, then, yes, we’re going to sound as if we’re on “loop.” However, there are a number of ways to “freshen up” our resurrection sermons so that they’re not just the “same old, same old.” In fact, I’d go further and suggest that we have a duty to ensure that such a glorious truth does not become mundane through our inability to think more imaginatively and creatively.

Read the rest of this post at PreachingSource.com where I expand on the following eight ways to preach the resurrection in a fresh and stimulating manner:

  • Preaching the Predictions
  • Preaching the Reactions
  • Preaching the Apology
  • Preaching the Physicality
  • Preaching the Future
  • Preaching the Present
  • Preaching the Experience
  • Preaching the Alternative

The Most Important Reformer You’ve Never Heard Of

This is a guest post from Simonetta Carr, author of Peter Martyr Vermigli, the latest in a series of illustrated children’s book on various important figures in church history. You can see the rest of the range here.


Vermigli-3DPeter who? Today, the name Peter Martyr Vermigli, highly esteemed during the Reformation, rings very few bells. Why then a book on his life for children? There are several reasons why I chose to write about him on this five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation. And no, it’s not because, like me, he was born in Italy but spent most of his life abroad.

Respected Reformer

1. He was one of the most respected Reformers of the time, probably equal to John Calvin and Theodore Beza. Calvin attached such a high value to Vermigli’s works and was so eager to read them that on May 22, 1558, he wrote impatiently, “Is there no one there [in Zurich] who can forcibly extricate from your hands the things you are writing?”

Continental Influence

2. Vermigli is the ideal Reformer to introduce to children on the anniversary of the Reformation, because he lived in several countries of Europe, leaving an impact on the continent as a whole. It has often been said that the pivotal religious movements of the sixteenth century are best described as Reformations rather than the Reformation. The rediscovery of the biblical sources and particularly of the gospel and the desire to return to the purity of biblical teachings were common denominators, but each country had, in some ways, a different and distinct Reformation. Vermigli participated in many of them.

Born in Florence, Italy, in 1499, he entered the Order of the Canons Regular of St. Augustine and was ordained a priest. Having achieved an extensive education in philosophy and theology, he participated in the highly heterogenous Italian Reformation, which was driven mostly by a desire to reform the morality of the church but also drew many theological themes from Reformers like Luther, Bucer, and Calvin.

Forced to leave Italy, Vermigli lived, wrote, and taught in Switzerland, Germany, and England, leaving an enormous impact on each of these countries. He also influenced many other Reformers, including the Polish John Lasko, who became one of the most distinguished Protestant Reformers in his country. Around the end of his life, Vermigli also had some influence on Catherine de’ Medici, the de facto ruler of France, by participating at the Colloquy of Poissy and conferring with her privately in their common mother tongue.

By reading Peter Martyr Vermigli, children will learn the different challenges the Protestant Reformation faced in various European countries and will see how God allowed His truth to thrive in spite of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Creeds and Confessions

3. Vermigli lived at a time when the Reformation was maturing and consolidating into creeds and confessions. In England, his lectures and personal advice strongly influenced the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer and Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. He also influenced a generation of scholars who went on to work on other important documents of the Protestant church, such as the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dordt.

Inner Struggle

4. Vermigli’s life helps us see the inner struggle of a Roman Catholic priest faced with the choice of accepting what he had come to believe as undeniable biblical truths or conforming to widespread interpretations and impositions. Opting to obey the voice of his conscience cost him his position, his church, and his country. What motivated him to make such a drastic decision?

One of my favorite quotes about our cultural distance from the Reformation comes from Eric Ives’s Lady Jane Grey—A Tudor Mystery: “In the West, growing secularization ensures that relatively few people even understand the issues which meant so much to [Jane].” Hopefully, Peter Martyr Vermigli will help children become more acquainted with some of these issues and equip them to grasp the motivations behind the Reformers’ choices.

For example, one of the main issues at that time concerned the Lord’s Supper and the Roman Catholic Mass, something many people, in our age of ecumenical cooperation, brush off as unimportant and even divisive. During the Reformation, the Mass was considered an idolatrous and blasphemous act, one that Vermigli and many others could not in good conscience perform or even attend, and the book Peter Martyr Vermigli explains why.

Another important issue for Vermigli was the spiritual poverty of most sermons and the lack of religious education. Often, the first stemmed from the latter, as uneducated preachers could not feed God’s spiritual sheep. Teaching God’s Word was the passion of Vermigli’s life from his early youth to the day he died, setting an example for generations to come.

On this five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it is my hope that Peter Martyr Vermigli will bring children closer to some of the protagonists of that crucial historical time and give them a better understanding of the convictions, motivations, and passions that should still move all those who today choose to call themselves Protestant and Reformed.


Check out

Blogs

Productivity tips from experts and busy people
Some well-known tips and some surprises.

Productivity and Leadership in the 21st Century: A Live Interview with Tim Challies and Chris Larson on Wednesday at 2:30pm
“Tim Challies, pastor, blogger, and author of Do More Better, and Chris Larson, president and chief executive officer of Ligonier Ministries will discuss a Christian understanding of productivity and leadership to help us better serve and glorify God in our vocations.”

4 Theories of How a Leader Becomes Controlling
They are faith (lack of), failure, fanfarem and fear.

Break Bad Habits with a Simple Checklist
Some neat do-able advice in this piece:

No matter how sophisticated your strategies to rid yourself of bad habits and create good ones, you’re less likely to succeed if you don’t track and review your progress frequently. Noting your improvements each day encourages you to keep going. And by identifying where you’re falling short, you’ll notice patterns and make adjustments, so you won’t feel stuck in habits that feel unnatural or aren’t producing real change.

I Had Postpartum Psychosis. ‘Praying More’ Didn’t Make It Go Away
Lord, hasten the day, when such articles will never be necessary again.

Kindle Books

Real Scientists, Real Faith: 17 leading scientists reveal the harmony between their science and their faith $1.49.

Taking God Seriously: Vital Things We Need to Know by J I Packer $2.99.

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman $2.99.

New Book

No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God by Aimee Byrd.