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Columns from Tabletalk Magazine, October 2018
The October issue of Tabletalk addresses the issue of perfectionism, control, and the sovereignty of God.

10 Things You Should Know about Discipling People with Special Needs
God has called us to make disciples of all people no matter their intellectual capabilities.

How can pastors face battles with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide?
“Do we have evidence in Scripture that men of God suffered through seasons of depression, and even anxiety? Do grief and sorrow have a valid, spiritual place in the life of pastors? What happens when pastors try to suppress pain and depressive impulses in their lives? Is it wrong for pastors to grieve before their people? What spiritual and physical practices might help during times of depression and anxiety? Listen as Brian and Jim discuss these and other questions in this episode.”

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper?
Nick explores the meaning of an important New Testament word.

Kindle Books

Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love by Katherine and Jay Wolf $1.99.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life by Os Guinnesa $1.99.

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung $1.99.

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Don’t Just Redecorate Your Life–Redesign It!
“The healthier, more mature, and more values-driven your “inner room” grows, the more you will provide a welcoming and inspiring space for others.”

Paul Tripp’s Story of Hope in the Midst of Suffering
Watch the moving video that accompanies this article.

Burnout Is Coming. Here’s How to Prevent It.
“Compassion burnout is a reality of ministry life as finite and fallen creatures. But by slowing down, stocking the pond, and leading from within, we can find ongoing renewal for a compassion-filled life.”

Be the Teen God’s Calling You to Be
“The teen years have been hijacked. They’ve been hijacked by pleasure–fashion, sex, music, movies. They’ve been hijacked by pressure–from school, peers, and society. And they’ve been hijacked by distraction–games, smartphones, and social media. None of these things give teens the purpose or identity they were made for. None of these things give teens ultimate happiness and satisfaction. None of these things answer the big and serious questions teens have: Who am I? Why am I here? How can I make a difference in this world?”

Six Ordinary Lessons for Mental-Health Issues
“The church we attended was relatively small (maybe one hundred attenders), on the youngish side (a number of recently married people), and with no mental-health professionals that I knew of. It seemed ordinary. And yet the help this church gave its psychiatric patients had stood out to the staff. As I have reflected on that church and others like it, I’ve identified six principles that guided their care for those with complicated troubles — troubles that would be identified as psychiatric. These include depression, bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, anorexia, and other disorders that are commonly treated with medication. I am assuming that the person is already under the care of a psychiatrist.”

Be Tender-Hearted and Thick-Skinned: How Humility Protects Pastors from Pastoral Burnout
“heep have been known to bite their shepherd. How should pastors respond in the face of unjust criticism? In a nutshell: don’t be thin-skinned, do bSe thick-skinned, and be sure to be tender-hearted.”

Sleep 101: Harvard Freshmen Required To Take Sleep Course Before School Begins
“For the first time, Harvard is requiring that all incoming first-year students complete an online course about sleep health before coming to campus. Research finds that college students tend to sleep too little and too erratically — habits that can affect everything from mental health to athletic and academic performance.”

Keeping Technology in Its Proper Place: An Interview with Andy Crouch
“With new research linking smartphone use to teen loneliness, depression, and even suicide, more experts raising concerns over laptops in the classroom, and the ever-present threat of exposure to harder core pornographic material online, there are legitimate reasons for all of us to be concerned about the effects of technology on children’s well-being and the health of family life.”

A 10-Point Social Media Strategy
“Ligon Duncan—Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, as well as the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at RTS—recently shared his social media strategy. ”

The Sins Forbidden by the Ninth Commandment in a Social Media World
“I will share in bullet points each phrase of the explanation provided in the Westminster Larger Catechism, then, beneath each one, suggest questions that may foster meditation and application”

New Book

6 Ways the Old Testament Speaks Today: An Interactive Guide by Alec Motyer

Kindle Books

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton $2.99.

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung $3.99.

Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering by Kelly M. Kapic $4.99.

Expedition 31: A Sad Wedding and a Dirty Temple

Here’s the video for Expedition 31 in Exploring the Bible. If you want to bookmark a page where all the videos are posted, 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.

The Body’s Role in Worry

Summary of Chapter Three in The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller. Will is a  pastor working in London and Rob is a Christian psychiatrist. Both are recovering worriers.

1. One of the way to stop a worry cycle is to control bodily symptoms.

2. Generalized anxiety order is characterized by:

  • Excessive (out of proportion) worry that a person finds difficult to control.
  • Lack of confinement to a particular problem, but more a tendency to worry.
  • Accompanied by three or more of these symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscular tension, and sleep disturbance
  • Significant distress, meaning that the worrier can no longer perform as before.

3. The mind is very powerful and literally controls the body. But controlling the body can also help the mind. The two primary ways of using the body to control the mind are controlling breathing and maintaining sleep hygiene

4. Controlling breathing. Most people who worry chronically tend to breathe 20-30 times a minute whereas the norm is 10-15 breaths a minute. This adversely affects our blood chemistry and brain activity. This can be changed by practicing slowing down breathing twice a day.

5. Maintaining sleep hygiene. This is comprised of a number of elements but the most important is a regular bed-time and rise-time.

6. Three common worry cycles.

  • What-if Worry: Thinking about all the possible things that could happen next. The more you think, the more worries arise, and the worse it gets. Because we are pro-actively scanning for every possible type of problem, we see lots more problems than the average person sees.
  • The Worry Pendulum: Swinging from “Panic” to “Trying not to worry” with no time spent in the middle, the place of uncertainty (which is the place we must try to spend more time in so that we can tolerate uncertainty)
  • Worry about worry: Will I spiral out of control if I stop monitoring my worry? However, this monitoring becomes extremely difficult and stressful itself.

 7. Worriers will do almost anything to avoid getting into worrying situations. 

The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller.

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Verses to Memorize for the Hospital
“Those of us struggling in the hospital need assurance of God’s goodness and steadfast love more than ever. But a hospital stay, or any ordeal with debilitating illness, doesn’t permit elaborate exegesis. We need verses to which we can cling when the waves of pain seize us and hope shrinks away. We need the power of God’s word to uplift our souls, in doses our disease-crippled minds can retain.”

Exploring Emotions
“All emotions must ultimately be brought under the authority of God’s Word; our fallen state makes them a fallible guide for life. But cultivating and identifying our emotions is an essential first step in sanctifying them.”

Natural Revelation Podcast
Excellent discussion on the place of natural theology in the Christian life and in apologetics with unbelievers.

The Duties Required by the Ninth Commandment in a Social Media World
“With the rise of modern communications technologies, and especially social media, I am convinced we need to diligently apply ourselves to a fresh consideration of all this commandment requires of us.”

Kindle Books

NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture $2.99. Even if you don’t like the NIV, you’ll grt a ton of useful background info.

The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper  $2.39.

New Book

Even Better than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything about Your Story by Nancy Guthrie.


I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130)

Two Types of Worry

Summary of Chapter Two in The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller. Will is a  pastor working in London and Rob is a Christian psychiatrist. Both are recovering worriers.

1. Bigger worries usually lie behind smaller worries. “Behind many apparently superficial worries lurk far more catastrophic threats and fears. Worriers very rarely get beyond the immediate worries to what lies behind them.”

 2. The most common areas that people worry about are relationships, finances, work, and health.

3. A major part of recovery from problem worry is resisting the urge to run away from fear. ”Worriers need to stay with the threats they perceive long enough to realize they don’t actually pose a risk…Tackling avoidance is essential in overcoming worry problems.” (34).

4. Worrying increases the significance of threats, strengthens them, and increases their frequency.

5. God works and we work. Although God can instantly cure people of worry, in the vast majority of cases that we see, God works alongside our efforts and intentions.

6. There are two main types of worry. Working out the difference between useful (solvable) worry and problem (floating) worry is the key to success. Solvable worry  has an underlying problem that responds to problem solving, whereas floating worry needs to be tackled in another way because there is no problem to solve.

7. Solvable worry.

“Solvable worry is typically about problems that are currently happening and have a solution that is required now or at some point in the near future. It is often a clearly understandable problem, one that we would all be anxious about. Solvable worry has concrete characteristics and is authentic in that the mind is seeking out a resolution to a problem that provokes appropriate anxiety. The litmus test for solvable worry is that, when shared with friends, they all begin offering sensible suggestions as to how the situation can be overcome.” (38-9)

“Solvable, normal worry is a useful catalyst for real action in response to a clear and present threat, and if we can channel it, it will make a difference.” (41)

8. Floating worry.

“Floating worry is not amenable to problem solving, because it is about problems that do not have answers, and when it comes to sharing them with friends, we generally shy away because we fear that they will think we are worrying about nothing. Floating worry is often oriented around problems that are less urgent and might or might not happen at some point in the future. The level of anxiety is usually less acute, and grumbles along in the background.” (40)

Here ”the worry issue lingers on, but there is absolutely no resolution. No action is taken other than worry.” (41)

The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop by Will Van der Hart and Rob Waller.