Best HeadHeartHand Resources

Jesus on Every Page Podcast

The Jesus On Every Page Podcast will build on the content of the book and will be your one-stop-shop for the best in Old Testament resources. We’ll review books, highlight great sermons, link to blog posts, interview guests, and answer your questions. And, like the book, it’s all pitched at a popular and practical level.

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Children’s Daily Bible Reading Plan

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf. And this is the second year in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books with Genesis and Matthew now complete (explanatory note).

Old Testament

New Testament

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s this week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf. And this is the second year in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books with Genesis and Matthew now complete (explanatory note).

Old Testament

New Testament

Seasonal Affective Disorder Epidemic

Wow, this winter just goes on and on!

I’ve actually really enjoyed the winters since coming to Michigan, even looked forward to them. Yes, it’s much colder and snowier than Scotland, but I’ll take cold temps, lots of snow, and sunny days over the Scottish diet of rain, wind, low cloud, and 5-6 hours of daylight (more like greylight) for two months of the year.

People here complain about the “gloomy” Michigan winters, but, believe me, it’s like Hawaii compared to the dark, damp, and dreary winters in the Scottish Highlands. At least you can do something in Michigan winters. I’ve tried cross-country skiing and snowboarding before finally settling on downhill skiing. Even just walking through snow-blanketed forests is such a beautiful, even spiritual, experience.

But then came the “Winter of 2014,” as we will call it when we talk to our grandchildren. So many days have been too cold to spend any time outside; it’s been scary cold at times.

And now even Texas, Georgia, and the Carolinas have been paralyzed by ice and snow, with many lives lost, properties damaged, and businesses struggling.

An additional complication has been an epidemic of SAD (Season Affective Disorder), “a type of depression that is said to be caused by the combination of cold temperatures, precipitation, and shorter days.”

Dr. Norman Rosenthal, the clinical psychiatrist who first described the condition, defines it on his website as “a type of depression that occurs regularly, every autumn and winter, when the days get short and dark, though it may occur at other times as well.” I saw a ton of this in Scotland, among young and old, as did my wife, who’s a family practitioner.

In this report, Rosenthal says that he has “seen a lot of seasonal affective disorder this season.”

There has been a tremendous amount of it around, even in people who think they’ve got it under control…The main factor is darkness. Firstly, there has been a lot of cloud cover. Then, even when it’s been fairly bright outside, it’s still so frigidly cold, so unpleasant, that people minimize their time outdoors. So instead, they are indoors a lot of the time, where there’s a lower light level.

He warns:

Seasonal affective disorder is something you have to look out for. It doesn’t announce itself with a sign bearing its name. It creeps in slowly with drops in energy or weight increases. The symptoms accumulate, and before you know it, you have it.

It’s fair to say that there are some who deny the existence of SAD, but most experts agree that “the deprivation of sunlight, a common side effect of winter weather, can have detrimental effects on the human body and mind. A lack of sunlight – which is said to both deny people a source of vitamin D and inhibit the development of mood-influencing neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine and serotonin – has negative effects.”

Although it’s always worth asking if there is any deeper underlying cause of SAD, there are a few simple things that may help alleviate symptoms:

  • Get outdoors as much as possible.
  • If indoors, spend time in rooms with large windows and lots of sunlight or use artificial daylight lamps.
  • Exercise regularly and eat well.
  • Don’t set too high expectations of yourself.
  • Meet up with friends.

Here’s a short video a friend and I made on the subject a few years ago. We both just about died of hypothermia in the process.

Check out

5 Sure-Fire Ways to Motivate Your Son to Use Pornography
He’s not saying that if your son uses pornography it’s all your fault.

These Precious Days
Tim Challies helps us think through one of life’s recurring dilemmas: “Three days spent in Indiana, is three days spent apart from my wife and my children. It is three days away from the people I love; I will never get those days back. I have been given perhaps 7,000 or 8,000 days with my children before they move out to begin life on their own, and in going away, I permanently traded away three of those precious days.”

12 Reasons for Using Sermon Illustrations
“Few things are more difficult for a preacher than finding the right illustration, using it in the right way, and telling it at the right time. However, few things will yield greater fruit.”

Three Reasons to Keep Reading the Old Testament
Aaron Armstrong beats my drum: “The Old Testament causes much consternation among North American evangelicals. Although historically, Christians have embraced the Old Testament as being absolutely essential to the Christian life—I believe the first person to do this was Jesus—somewhere along the way, we got scared of it.”

Following Up On Forgiveness
I’d throughly recommend Ken Sande’s Peacemaker on this subject but here’s a good blog post from Kevin DeYoung: “Many Christians, influenced by Lewis Smedes and a lot of pop psychology, have a therapeutic understanding of forgiveness. They think of forgiveness as a unilateral, internal effort to get our emotions under control. But if we start with a biblical notion of God’s forgiveness, we see that such a view falls short.”

Youth Rights: A Trojan Horse for the Left’s Sexual Agenda
And if you really want to know where this is heading try what’s happening in Scotland for size. “Plans to assign every child in Scotland a state guardian could lead to good parents being penalised, an academic has warned ahead of a final vote on the issue in Holyrood later this month.

Kentucky All State Choir Sings National Anthem in 18 Story Hotel
Every night during the yearly All State Choir conference in Louisville, Kentucky, choir participants would come out of their rooms to sing the National Anthem. The 18-story Hyatt hotel gets filled with music from the lobby to the top floor.

When Friends Disagree

Bob Kellemen, Charles Hodges, Heath Lambert and I have been having a somewhat lop-sided debate/discussion/disagreement (whatever you want to call it) about counseling over the past couple of weeks. Chris Bogosh has also weighed in with constructive and incisive comments and posts.

Although we may fail to communicate this at times, we are actually friends, and when friends disagree, it’s always worthwhile remembering the things we agree on, what we share in common.

First of all, we share the same core of Christian doctrine. I’m pretty sure we can all subscribe to the BCC doctrinal statement.

Second, we all regard one another as Christian brothers. More than that, I hold these men (and many more men and women they represent) in the highest possible regard. I use Bob and Heath’s resources, alongside multiple CCEF books, etc., in my counseling classes.

Third, we all share the same motivation – the desire to honor the Lord by helping suffering people with all the legitimate resources that God has placed at our disposal.

Fourth, although we differ in some important areas, we probably agree on at least 95% of counseling presuppositions and practice. If you were to compare the advice we would give to most counselees, while Bob, Heath, and Charles would no doubt be much more skillful and insightful than I, the general contours of our advice would overlap about 95% of the time. I’m pretty sure we use the Bible equally in our counseling.

So what explains our differences? I hope these answers might shed some light not only on our recent discussion but also help other Christians think differently about other debates they are involved in and those they are debating with.

(Slightly) Different Worldviews
First, we probably have slightly different worldviews. We are all trying to look at the same world through the same spectacles of the Word of God. However, we do seem to differ slightly in how we view certain areas of the world.

One of the challenges of the Christian life is to know how to balance the terrible impact of sin upon the world versus the wonderful impact of common grace. That balance or emphasis will determine how optimistic or pessimistic we are about learning from the world.

I think it would be fair to say that Bob, Heath, and Charles probably view some parts of the world (like psychology, pharmacology) through a more negative lens than I do. They approach these worlds with more caution and skepticism than I do. They may be right to do so, and I have to say I used to be much more skeptical myself (my Seminary dissertation defended Jay Adams to the hilt). However, for good or ill, I see more common grace in these areas than I used to. There’s danger at both extremes, and none of us are at either extreme, but we are at slightly different points in the reject all/embrace all spectrum, with hopefully all of us moving closer to the perfect balancing point.

Different Experiences
As I interact with my biblical counseling friends I’m often struck by how much personal experience plays into our approach to counseling.

For example, if I’ve seen people run to pills way too quick, if I’ve witnessed friends and family suffering from the side-effects of some meds, if I’ve seen people messed up by weird psychology and worldly therapy, if I’ve seen nouthetic counseling save a life/family/congregation, etc., then I’m going to approach counseling with a certain bias.

On the other hand, if I’ve seen people helped by meds, if I’ve seen Christians’ lives transformed by CBT, if I’ve worked in tandem with gifted and godly Christian psychologists, if I’m in a context where pride or ignorance are preventing many suffering Christians from even considering meds (to their own and their family’s detriment), etc., then that too will lend a bias to my counseling.

Now, I’ve painted two extremes there, but I think part of the difference between my friends and I has to do with our different experiences. It looks as if Bob, Heath, and Charles’ experience has been more of the former and mine more of the latter. Although we try to be as objective as possible, we can’t deny that past experience influences present practice.

Different Purposes
Bob and Heath have massively important roles in leading the Biblical Counseling Movement. They are not just writing as individuals but as leaders seeking to unite, guide, and equip thousands of men and women across the world. They are extremely gifted motivators and organizers with a huge responsibility to build understanding, cooperation, development, etc. That stewardship should and does influence their stances and words. I totally respect and admire that.

I’m more of a loose canon (or a pesky mozzie?)! I’m not that into labels or movements. I don’t have an official role or leadership position in any national organization, and I don’t seek that either – it’s not my gifting or calling. But I hope there’s a role for me too. I hope I can be a Biblical Counselor without being part of the Biblical Counseling Movement. I hope I can provoke reflection and reformation – maybe highlight areas from time to time that need more thought and action.

I do see myself as an advocate for Christians suffering with serious depression and other mental disorders, especially those who have suffered from a lack of sympathy and holistic care from other Christians.

I’m not saying that my friends are not; I’m pretty sure they see themselves also as advocates for depressed Christians, especially for those who have suffered at the hands of some over-prescribing doctors and some damaging psychology. But I believe one of my purposes in life is defending and caring for depressed Christians who have suffered from careless or ignorant words and actions from within the church.

Different Sins
It’s very difficult for us to engage in any controversy or debate without sinning. Sometimes pride, territorialism, ego, and competitiveness (we’re all Type A males I think!), produce exaggeration, misrepresentation, anger, defensiveness, excuses, false accusation, and so on. I’m as susceptible to that as the next guy. The result is that sometimes we magnify differences that are really quite small and we are sometimes reluctant to concede, “OK, I was wrong there.”

So why not just do this in private? Well, we have private discussions also. But public communication is good too, even if it’s sometimes tainted with sin, because hopefully it helps others too as they observe, read, weigh, and come to their own decisions about these matters.

We have to be careful it doesn’t get out of hand of course, but the church often benefits from disagreements. When conducted in the right spirit it can lead us all further into the truth, especially in this complicated area of the relationship between the body, the mind, and the soul, and what are the appropriate roles for biblical counseling, medicine, and psychology in each case.

Probably Bob, Heath, Charles, and Chris have other explanations for why we differ. But that’s my analysis, offered in a conciliatory and constructive spirit.