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How to preach from an iPad
It’s probably the future, but I’m not there yet.

Fargo woman marries herself
Just when you think we’ve run out of ways to pervert marriage: ““I was waiting for someone to come along and make me happy,” she says. “At some point, a friend said, ‘Why do you need someone to marry you to be happy? Marry yourself.’”

The 10 most misleading social media metrics in the world
This is aimed at businesses, but much of it applies to Christian blogging too.

Timeless wisdom for Seminary Graduates
23 principles for Seminary students (and pastors) from Princeton’s Archibald Alexander.

Extreme Reading
If you want to make reading boring, read every word and try to remember everything you read.

5 Reasons Why I love Preaching the Prophets
This should stimulate some “prophetic preaching”


Dear Selfaholic

Dear Selfaholic,

You have a problem. It’s yourself. To be blunt, you are addicted to yourself.

I’m afraid that you were born this way, as all of us are. However, most of us learn to hide it most of the time; or at least we come to realize that 100% self-centeredness is not the best way to achieve our goals! That’s a selfish motive, I know, but it’s kind of how society works. There is another way out of this addiction, a way that actually removes self rather than just manages it, but I’ll get to that later.

Like most addicts, you probably don’t realize you have a problem. Although you are constantly thinking about yourself, you know hardly anything about yourself. So, let me describe the symptoms of selfaholism and then give you some hope of getting free from it, especially as you are still young.

Selfaholism
Selfaholism is characterized by self-centeredness, self-righteousness, self-promotion, self-sufficiency, self-will, self-worship, self-love, self-praise, etc. However, these symptoms manifest themselves differently, depending on the age of the addict. As you are still a teenager, you are probably in one of the worst phases of selfaholism – strong, independent, and self-conscious enough to show the uglier side of selfaholism; but not wise or experienced enough to realize that it is self-destructive and self-defeating unless at least “managed” and modified.

You probably can’t understand why your parents ever say “No” to you. And why should they even consider what your brothers and sisters want? Why shouldn’t you sit scowling and slouching at the table? Doesn’t affect anyone else, does it? As for chores, why can’t you just come home, eat, and stay in your room? Why should Mom want to know what went on at school today? If only she would talk less, she might have your Hollister t-shirts ready when you need them for a change, right? And isn’t it really annoying the way Dad insists on you going to bed at the same time as him and Mom. As you “teenage-whispered” to your buddy: “I thought old people got deaf eventually. Why can’t I make milk shakes at midnight? I mean, whatever…”

But you’re miserable aren’t you. That’s the weird thing about addictions. They promise much, but deliver little. You think that by pursuing your agenda that you will find happiness, contentment, and satisfaction. But, as you are discovering, self-love causes self-hatred. Oh, I know you think your misery is caused by all the “no’s” in your life – no’s from parents, no’s from teachers, no’s from pastors, no’s from everyone. “Why does no one ever say “yes” to me?”

But the problem is simpler and shorter than you think. It is the big capital letter “I” at the center of your heart. And until that letter is broken in many pieces, your life will continue on its dismal and dreary course. You will wander from relationship to relationship, from college to college, from marriage to marriage, from job to job, from church to church, and from bright shiny thing to next bright shiny thing. And it will always be “their” fault and never yours: parents, teachers, friends, professors, wives, husbands, pastors, bosses, government, whoever, whatever…If only they would all bow down and serve you then all would be well.

Servaholics
But here’s the strangest thing of all; the happiest people in the world are servants – not those who warm the slippers of millionaires, but those who serve others in all their relationships and responsibilities. They may have a million in the bank or even just red ink, but whatever their social or financial standing, they listen well, they give away their money and time, they volunteer at church, they do more than their assigned chores, and they even do some things without pay!

I know that sounds like total misery to you, but, believe me, it’s the way to happiness. Now, of course some people are selfless for selfish reasons. They have the wisdom to see that living just for self is not very helpful socially or vocationally. (I wish you even had that insight). But there are others who not only manage and modify their selfaholism. They actually deny self and live for others. How? Well, they have the great Self-denier working in their hearts. I’m talking about Jesus Christ of course, the Servant who can turn the worst selfaholics into the best servaholics

Study Christ’s life and ask yourself how you too can serve rather than be served. But, above all, study His death. Studying his life will shrink your “I” a little; but it’s when you stand before His cross that your “I” will begin to crack and crumble, even at it’s very foundations. Paul calls us, just as he called the Philippians selfaholics of his own day, to grasp that Christ’s servaholism atones for our selfaholism (Phil. 2:3-7). And as we grasp that supreme act of Self-denial on our behalf, we will not only serve, but we will serve out of selfless motives. We will stop thinking about what we are giving up and all we’ll see is what He gave up.

Is it just coincidence that the great Philippian epistle of service is also the great epistle of joy? (Phil. 3:1; 4:1, 4). I earnestly pray that you too will come to know the joy of servaholism (1 Cor. 16:15).

From a recovering selfaholic.

A version of this article appeared in Tabletalk. Sign up here for a three month free trial or 12 issues for $23.


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Why I hate handwritten sermon notes
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20 Things Pastors Hear in Counseling
Timothy Reymond: “The following are 20 statements you’ll probably hear at least once or twice (or more) in your ministry.  I’d encourage you to think through how you’d respond, and more importantly, what specific passages of Scripture you might connect to each situation.”

The Best Social Media Tip I Can Give You
When Nathan Bingham says this, I listen.

Ditch College for All
The debate continues.  Bit extreme but maybe that’s necessary to drag society to a more balanced position.

Dear Peter Thiel: Let’s fix college the right way
On the same subject, but more balanced, constructive, and innovative: “We can make the old-style college degree obsolete. We can do to traditional education what PayPal did to banks and do to college networks what Facebook did to friendships. Just as it happened to information, we can make education abundant and available to all. Isn’t that better than debating who should go to college?”

Scholarship as a way of life
James Smith calls us all to lifelong learning, whatever our calling: “To say that scholarship is a way of life is to emphasize that it is characterized by certain habits–of reflection, exploration, creativity, and collaboration.”


He just “stole” my book

How would you feel if you’d been working on a book for six months or so, researching, reading, writing some chapters, structuring others, gathering quotes, planning interviews, when you discover that someone else has beaten you to it! Happened to me last week.

There I was grazing through my blog subscriptions on Google Reader when I came as usual to The Blazing Center blog. There’s my book! Even my title!! Talk about blazing mad.

Who is this? Stephen Altrogge. How did he get inside my laptop? Has he been bugging my phone? All my work sucked away for an eBook! An eBook!! Not even a real book!!!

Launch date, May 29. Well, still time to sabotage this. But how? After a weekend of plotting came up with nothing, I was reduced to nervous hovering over the “Buy now with one click” button early yesterday.

Only 45 pages? How did he manage to compress all my work into 45 pages? He’s obviously butchered it to pieces.

But as I started to read, my temperature started falling and my blood pressure eased. Hmm, he didn’t copy too much after all. Actually he’s taken quite a different tack to me. It’s a brief gospel-centered romp through the biblical call to be creative. And it’s pretty good. In fact, don’t tell him, but it’s very good – good teaching, good application, great writing. And I love it most of all because it means I can get my work back out of the trash can. That’s surely worth an Amazon review.

My top ten takeaways from the book:

  1. Our Creator has equipped every single person with creative gifts and called us to be creative in the little corner of the creation He’s given to us.
  2. By being creative we show the world what God is like
  3. Creativity is not confined to artists but extends even to accountants [Not sure creative accountancy is a terribly good thing]
  4. As a Creator who loves creativity, God loves to see his creatures creating
  5. Fear (of failing, of not finishing, of looking stupid) is the great creativity killer
  6. Assurance of our acceptance in Christ makes us more creative, because His approval is enough.
  7. Don’t wait until you have a totally original idea or totally perfect idea
  8. Creativity is a muscle that gets stronger with use
  9. Creative work requires faithfulness, diligence, and persistence.
  10. Create for the glory of God and the good of others and you’ll be personally rewarded too.

You can read more about the book here.


Check out

Create: Stop making excuses and start making stuff
New ebook on creativity from Stephen Altrogge. A short, lively, challenging, practical, and Gospel-centered call to discover and exercise our God-given creative gifts in our little corner of the creation, for the glory of our Creator and the good of our fellow-creatures. Buy on Amazon for $2.99 here.

How you can help Gospel eBooks
“We hope you’ve been enjoying all the free & discount e-books that we’ve been sharing daily. We enjoy doing this as a service to you. If you’ve been blessed by what we do we have a few non-monetary ways you can help us out. Social Media, search engines, blogging and websites are very important to us as the primary ways people find out about Gospel e-Books. Can you please take a few minutes to help us increase our footprint in these areas?”

“Oh, how I love your law!” Does that sound like a modern Christian?
R C Sproul: “We need to seek the law of God—to pant after it—to delight in it. Anything less is an offense against the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

Fearfully and wonderfully made, Woefully and Tragically fallen
Thoughtful and thought-provoking article on the impact of physiology and sociology on human personality.

How Al Mohler uses Social Media
“Leader, if you don’t engage social media in a responsible & credible way, for anyone under 29, you don’t exist.”

William Still sermons online