How Can Husbands Protect Their Wives from Burnout

So here’s Shona’s film debut! Needless to say, she hates it and is hiding in a corner today. I think she did really well. She just needs to master that admiring fawning look while I’m talking. You can read a transcript at Crossway’s blog. I’d love it if you would buy her book and post some reviews of it to encourage others to read it. Just as long as Refresh doesn’t get more reviews than Reset, we’ll be just fine.

The Curse of Knowledge

The curse of knowledge can be overcome by stripping out jargon, consulting with others, taking the smallest steps of logic in the right order, and by helping people know where they are in the argument.

In The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, Steven Pinker suggests that overcoming the curse of knowledge may be the single most important requirement in becoming a clear writer.

So what’s the curse of knowledge?

It’s that we find it hard to remember what it feels like not to know something that we ourselves know well. And it’s even more of a problem in public speaking, as people can’t pause to re-read a page or consult a dictionary before continuing with their listening.

How can you avoid the curse? TED Head Chris Anderson’s advice in TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, is relevant to preachers too.

Strip your address of all jargon and technical terms. Some of this is unavoidable and, depending on the audience, some of it may be acceptable. But ask the question anyway so as to minimize it.

Share your draft with colleagues and practice your talk before friends who know nothing about the topic. I know preachers who do something like this every week before preaching their sermon. I don’t recommend this. However, I do think that regular sermon reviews with elders, and perhaps with people in our congregation who have no church background, can reveal whether the curse of knowledge is preventing blessing.

Make sure every sentence is connected logically to the one before it and to the one after it. The precise sequencing of sentences is vital for building understanding and maintaining connection with the audience.

A speaker has to be sure that listeners know how each sentence relates logically to the preceding one, whether the relationship is similarity, contrast, elaboration, exemplification, generalization, before-and-after, cause, effect, or violated expectation.

Anderson explains this point using the illustration of a tree. The trunk is the throughline, the main idea of the talk (the sermon proposition, if you like), that leads from the bottom to he top of the tree. The branches (similarity, contrast, illustration, etc.) are the way we rise from the bottom of the tree to the top.

We don’t jump halfway up, then come back to the bottom, before leaping three feet up the tree to near the top. No, we start at the bottom and look for the next nearest branch, then the next, then the next, and so on, until we reach the top of the tree.

Sentences should follow one another like these branches, each one leading to the next nearest one, with no huge gaps in between, no leaps of logic that leave us hanging in the air or plummeting to the ground.

In my own sermon preparation, I spend a lot of time switching sentences and paragraphs around to ensure that I’m giving people the smallest steps possible between branches.


Use the appropriate linking words to help people know where you are in your argument. You are trying to help someone detect if this is your main argument, a digression, an exception etc.

What this means is that some of the most important elements in a talk are the little phrases that give clues to the talk’s overall structure: “Although . .  .” “One recent example . .  .” “On the other hand . .  .” “Let’s build on that . .  .” “Playing devil’s advocate for a moment . .  .” “I must just tell you two stories that amplify this finding.” “As an aside . .  .” “At this point you may object that . .  .” “So, in summary . .  .”

If we go back to the tree illustration, these connecting words are the way we get on to the branches in #3 and the way we signal we are moving off one and on to another. It helps people locate where they are on the tree.

The curse of knowledge can be overcome by stripping out jargon, consulting with others, taking the smallest steps of logic in the right order, and by helping people know where they are in the argument.

More articles in the Preaching Lessons from TED Talks series.

Links for Christian Parents


Should Teens Own Smartphones?
In the light of the increasing anecdotal and scientific evidence about the damage smartphones are doing to our kids, Tony Reinke asks Youth author Jacquelle Crowe: “Is it possible for a teen to resist the powers of culture and go smartphone-free through the middle school and high school years?”

New Talking Points for the “Talk”
“The Talk” was hard enough, but it’s become even harder in the modern world. How, for example, do we respond to he topic of transgenderism? Here are “some foundational guidelines to shape your talking points for when the topic becomes relevant in your home.”

3 Challenges to Creating a Gospel Culture in Your Family
Although we all want to create a godly culure in our home, we face numerous obstacles. Michael Kelley names threee of them and how to overcome them:

1. The pressure of activities.

2. The desire to be popular.

3. The pace of the schedule.

How to Teach Kids to Understand the Bible
Three questions to help Bible-reading kids begin to trade self-centered glasses for gospel-centered glasses:

  • What does this passage teach me about God?
  • What does this passage teach me about human beings (or myself)?
  • What does this passage teach me about the need for and the coming of a Savior?

6 Tips for Reading the Bible with Your Kids
The aim of reading the Bible with our kids is to establish patterns and habits that will eventually result in them reading the Bible independently with profit and pleasure.

An Open Letter to Children’s Ministry Workers
Calling all Sunday school teachers in need of encouragement!

Recommended Book

God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story of God’s Delightfully Different Family by Trillia Newbell.

God’s very good idea is to have lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. This stunningly illustrated journey from the garden of Eden to God’s heavenly throne room shows how despite our sinfulness, everyone can be a part of God’s very good idea through the saving work of Christ.


What is the easiest way to memorize Scripture?

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids (RHB).

exploring-the-bible 1


An Open Letter to those Suffering with Depression

The female version of Reset (RHB) is just about to be published. It’s my wife’s first book and is called Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Overwhelming Demands (RHB). In it, Shona tells about her own battles with depression and anxiety and shares many of the lessons God has graciously taught her along the way. Here’s an open letter she wrote to those suffering with depression.

My dear friend,

I’m so sorry to hear that you are suffering with serious depression. Although you feel hopeless and helpless, I want to assure you right up front that there is hope and there is help. I’ve been there myself and I’ve felt the same despair and darkness that you feel. But God, in his great mercy, brought me out of it and I trust and pray he will also bring you into the light.

Recovery took longer than I expected or wanted and I was surprised at how many different components were involved in my healing. But have hope: if you are patient and use all the different means God has provided, you will most likely be among the 95% of people who do get better.

You’ve already taken the first and most important step: you’ve admitted you have a serious problem and you’ve begun to reach out for help. That’s huge. If you checked out the symptoms of depression on WebMD, you were no doubt helped to see how many of these symptoms you have and that you’ve already had some of them for a worryingly long time.

The next step is to share this with three people: a close family member (like your spouse, if you’re married), your pastor, and your doctor. You will need family support throughout, and the earlier you involve them the better, as they will have a lot to learn in the next few months. They may not understand initially, but encourage them to support you as you talk to your pastor and doctor.

Your pastor is key as he will help you to discern whether there are any spiritual causes behind your depression. Even if there isn’t a spiritual cause (and there often isn’t) there will be spiritual consequences and you will need your pastor’s prayers and guidance throughout. I’d caution you against announcing this as a prayer need in your church. Not everyone understands depression, and some people might say some cruel and hurtful things about you and even to you. It’s better just to share this with people you can be sure will sympathize with and pray for you.

When you visit the doctor, tell him everything—don’t hold back, don’t minimize, don’t play it down. Just explain exactly how you are feeling. You may get quite emotional opening up for the first time like this, but the doctor is very used to this and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed.

You can expect your doctor to help clarify whether you have the symptoms of depression. He should also be able to do some initial examination of possible physical causes. He may order some medical tests, and he may ask you about your family history and about your life over the past 6–18 months. He’s simply trying to figure what might be some of the contributing factors to this depression. He’s also working on possible cures which, depending on the seriousness of your condition, may include medication or some counseling.

If he does prescribe medication, be patient with it and give it a few weeks to really begin to work. Ask God to bless his provision of these medications, and that he would direct them to the right places in your body. Also, don’t think that all you need to do is pop a pill. I’ve never seen anyone cured by just taking meds. They can work very well, however, if taken as part of a holistic package of care.

Regarding counseling, your pastor should be able to give you basic advice and biblical counsel, but you may also wish to consider a Christian counselor, especially one who has some expertise in CBT (cognitive behavior therapy). That will help you to retrain your mind and thinking patterns for long-term recovery. But keep your pastor involved and informed throughout.

Read the rest of this post containing six pieces of practical advice at Crossway’s blog.

Check out


The Courage to Be Ordinary: Help for Average Christian Leaders | Desiring God
“But in serving as a pastor and working with fellow pastors for many years, I’ve found two characteristics essential to do ministry in a way that depends on God: courage to be ordinary and comfort with obscurity.”

Sex Is a Big Deal
Although Hollywood and the media are beginning to admit that sex is perhaps maybe just a little bit more consequential than eating candy, Gene Veith argues:

“But sex is still a bigger deal than much of our contemporary culture is willing to admit.  How can sexual restraint–which is now recognized as necessary for social life and the well-being of women and men–be cultivated when sex is still seen as recreational, separated from procreation, and unmoored to marriage and family?  How can we expect men shaped by pornography to treat women? Bringing back sexual restraint requires rebuilding the infrastructure of sexual morality.”

What Research Says About Being Bored at Work
“We tend to view time spent alone as time wasted or as an indication of an antisocial or melancholy personality. Instead, we should see it as a sign of emotional maturity and healthy psychological development.”

So Pastor, What’s Your Point?
Special offer on Dennis Prutow’s book about preaching. Maybe a gift for your pastor during Pastor Appreciation Month?”

Selfies at Niagara
“Given the opportunity to drink in something of the majesty of the Creator’s work, the concern of so many was to get themselves into the picture. As one friend asked, “Exactly how do they think that their face is going to make that picture better?”"

10 Social Media Commandments for Pastors
“Social media is not going away anytime soon. For a long time, many pastors and church leaders ignored social media, labeling it as a fad or a trend that would pass as quickly as it came onto the scene. This is not the case. So, what guidelines should pastors and church leaders consider as they plan their social media strategy?”

How (Other) People Change: Walking with Loved Ones Through Five Stages | Desiring God
Here are five typical stages of change, with counsel for what you can do or pray for someone at each stage.”

Welcome Everyone, Affirm No One
“The church exists not to affirm ourselves, but to adore the King who loved us and gave himself for us when there was nothing good in us to affirm. The more we affirm ourselves, the less we adore the King for his grace.”

Kindle Books

If you scroll down the Lightkeepers page, you’ll find some $2.99 Kindle deals on children’s books.

Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation by Ed Stetzer $2.99.

One Race One Blood by Charles Ware and Ken Ham $2.99.

What the Church can Learn from Weinsteingate

It’s very tempting for Christians to take the moral high ground as the evils of Hollywood’s god, Harvey Weinstein, are brutally exposed and rightly denounced.

Even film-makers, actors, and actresses who have made millions of dollars portraying women as men’s sex-objects are now bravely lining up with the masses to denounce someone who…em, well…treated women as men’s sex-objects.

But before we charge up the hill to the high ground and start our moral lectures, perhaps we need to pause and learn some moral lessons ourselves. As church history makes clear, especially recent church history, many churches have their own Harvey Weinsteins (though not on the same scale, unless you include the Catholic church), and we haven’t covered ourselves in glory in dealing with them.

1. The most powerful Christian leaders need the most accountability. 

Unfortunately, the more powerful and successful a man becomes, usually the less accountable he becomes. He answers to no one but himself and those around him (e.g. elders, deacons, boards of directors) are often afraid to challenge him. As a result, behavior that we would not tolerate in our children is ignored, the man’s sense of impregnability increases, and he eventually views himself as untouchable.

2. A person’s gifts and usefulness should never be used to cover or balance out evil.

Just as, “But he makes great films,” and, “But he makes us lots of money,” were used for decades to excuse Weinstein’s abuse, so “But he preaches great sermons” and “But he brings in lots of people/money/publicity” can also excuse a Christian leader’s abuses. Great gifts and great success must never be used to justify inactivity in the face of great evil.

3. Evil leaders need enablers to succeed in their evil.

Everyone around Weinstein knew what was going on, and many of them, including female employees, not only turned a blind eye, but even facilitated his wickedness. It’s virtually impossible for a man to engage in multiple abuses without people around him allowing it and even enabling it. Those are are complicit in evil like this share the guilt and must share the consequences of the penalty too.  It’s not enough to say, “Well he’s gone, now let’s get the show on he road again.” No! Who else knew and did nothing? Who enabled him? Who defended him? Who attacked his accusers?

4. Multiple rumors must be investigated.

Leaders in any walk of life, including the church, are vulnerable to false accusations. That’s why the Apostle Paul said that accusations against an elder need two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19). However, when the number of witnesses begins to multiply beyond that, serious investigation must take place. As with Weinstein, too often people have heard multiple accusations and had their suspicions for years, but they never acted on them. They never followed up. They never investigated further. And the result was that multiple others needlessly suffered.

And remember, those who have the courage to come forward are usually the tip of an iceberg. From what I’ve seen, for every victim who comes out publicly, you can probably count a few more that will continue to suffer in secret, and another few more that he’s grooming for the future.

5. Victims must be cared for.

When a high profile figure falls, you’ll often get people who can only feel sorry for the fallen man. Expensive schemes are put in place for his “treatment,” his counseling, and his rehab. Prayers are offered for him, sermons about forgiveness,  grace, and not judging are preached. Perhaps financial settlements are reached to ease his family through loss of income and so on. But hardly a thought or a cent is sent the victims’ ways. This is completely upside-down, inside-out, and back-to-front. They are the victims and he is the victimizer. They are the church’s priority, not him.

6. Men need women to understand sexual assault.

Men often find it difficult to understand the deep and long damage done to victims of sexual assault. What to a man seems minor and insignificant can be huge to a woman. Already I’ve seen some opinionators downplaying some of the Weinstein assaults: “He just kissed her or hugged her…He just exposed himself…he just asked for a massage…he didn’t rape her…” and so on. I’ve heard even Christian men saying things like that concerning other cases.

In these kinds of situations, male leaders in the church need the help of women if they are to begin to understand how even the slightest sexual advance without consent can cause such deep and long pains. Surely we can devise ways of retaining the biblical mandate for male officebearers while incorporating female wisdom in such critical areas?

7. One strike and you’re out.

The ink was barely dry on the first Weinsteingate headline when the fallen man was telling the cameras, “I’m going to rehab…I’m asking for a second chance.” He’s hardly hit the ground and he’s already thinking about how to make a comeback! That might make for a good story in Hollywood but it must never happen in the church. Go flip burgers, anything, but don’t even think about shepherding God’s lambs again. Yes, there can be personal forgiveness, but if you lay a finger on a woman who is not your wife, there is no way back into church leadership. If more Christian leaders knew on this front that it’s one strike and you’re out, there would be far fewer walking to the plate.

Saint Harvey

Here’s where the church must really differ from Hollywood, and that’s in the Gospel grace we still offer to monsters like Weinstein. Yes, even Harvey, if he repents of his sin and puts his faith in Christ alone for salvation, can go to heaven and live forever as a saint of God. Does that offend you? Then the Gospel offends you. Our reaction to such a possibility is an accurate gauge of how much we really understand the Gospel, and especially our own need of it.