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Finding Joy In Clouds
“My newfound Scriptural view of clouds gave me words to describe and understand a profoundly moving moment from my past when God himself came to me in the clouds. It was weeks after the unexpected death of our baby, Paul.”

4 Ways To Minister To Older Saints
John Pond: “If you desire a revival of gospel-centered ministry, then you’ll need to learn from and engage the the older generation. Consider these four ways to minister to older saints.”

Where to Find Real Simplicity
Scott Redd looks at the growing fascination with “the simple life” and points us to the real source of that simplicity.

It’s Just A LIttle While
Worth reading through just to experience the power of the last line. I won’t spoil it for you.

Warren Buffett Has Given $1.2 Billion To Abortion Groups
“If you give $1,000 to a ballot initiative to defend traditional marriage, that’s controversial. If you give $1.25 billion to promote abortion, journalists, who are wildly pro-abortion, don’t dare see any controversy.”

L’Damian Washington Film
I know virtually nothing about American Football, but I was deeply touched by this story of one man triumphing over adversity for the sake of his brothers.


How Many Children Should I Have?

I know, I know, I’m going where many have perished.

But.

I want to highlight two simple biblical principles that I think could help Christians have more confidence that they are pleasing God in this vital area of life. And of course, this is all under the sovereignty of God who alone can give life.

Principle 1: Multiply
God commanded us to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28).

Principle 2: Manage
God commanded us to subdue the earth and have dominion over everything in it (Gen. 1:28).

We have to hold both of these commands together and work out how to obey both of them to the maximum.

Multiply Only
Some Christians only seem to hear the first command – “multiply” – and just multiply and multiply until there is nothing left to multiply.

However, they sometimes ignore the second command which is to wisely manage what you have multiplied. Sometimes the result is mothers that are physically, mentally, and emotionally shattered; children that are neglected and disorderly; and fathers that stay away from home, then stray from the home.

There’s plenty multiplying going on but very little managing, ordering, having dominion. One command is obeyed at the expense of another. The quiver is full but the arrows are heading in all the wrong directions.

Manage Only
A far more common problem is that some Christians only hear the second command, and are so focused on maintaining order and control that they minimize the multiplying to ensure their own comfort and prosperity. Again, they obey one command at the expense of another.

Putting both principles together, the balanced and biblical way of looking at it is multiply to the maximum of what you can manage with God’s help.

This will look different according to parents’ physical, emotional, intellectual, social and financial resources.

We therefore shouldn’t judge people who choose a different path to us. They may have been blessed with the resources and strength to multiply and manage a far greater number than we ever will. I must say I’ve seen a number of beautiful large families who have both principles working really well.

But neither should we judge people who don’t seem to have multiplied much. There may be many good reasons for this which we are not privy to. They answer to God not us.

Having settled that, the only question that remains are the small matters of how to minimize or maximize the multiplying…

UPDATE: I’ve closed the comments now because while the earlier comments were useful contributions, we’ve started veering into unprofitable territory in content and tone. Thanks especially to R.C. Jr. for his thought-provoking, challenging, and constructive comments and engagement. Much to think and pray about.


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Students Don’t Waste Your Summer
Encouragement and challenges for graduates.

A Simple Habit To Set The Tone For Your Day
“Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”

Common Problems In Modern Preaching
10 problems in non-Reformed preaching and 10 problems in Reformed preaching. Hits the target.

When You Fail To Distinguish Second And Third Use Of The Law
RTS President Michael Kruger responds to Tullian Tchividjian.

Books At A Glance
Brief interview about Jesus on Every Page. Also Have a look at the innovative Books At A Glance service and pricing.

Awakening: New Zealand Timelapse
Reminded me that the new heavens and the new earth are going to be like Scotland.

AWAKENING | NEW ZEALAND 4K from Martin Heck | Timestorm Films on Vimeo.


10 Ingredients Of A Happy Home

One of the greatest blessings we can give our children is the cultivation of a happy home. I say “cultivation” because it doesn’t happen automatically; it requires conscious, determined, deliberate effort. From my own experience and from observing others, here are ten ways to cultivate a happy home.

1. Joyous worship
As God is the ultimate source of all true happiness, we need to be in constant contact with him. Communing with him in private and family worship brings His joy into our lives and families. We have to make time for worshiping together as families – not as a “must do” but as a “get to do.”

Fathers especially have a responsibility to organize their schedules and homes so that they regularly gather their families in God’s presence and enthusiastically drink from His refreshing rivers of joyful grace in Christ.

2. Generous praise
Psychologists and sociologists have found that for every negative or critical comment we make to someone, we have to make three positive comments just to get back to even. That means if we want to grow and deepen our relationships we have to speak four or five times more positive comments to someone for every negative.

And let’s be lavish in our praise of people outside our home too. Instead of rejoicing in others’ falls and failures, let’s rejoice in their successes. When someone criticizes someone, let’s find something to praise about them too.

3. Family Meals
In our hectic world, it’s almost impossible to get family members to just sit down for five minutes and talk. There are always more important and urgent things to do. Family meal times fix that. Even with conflicting schedules, shift work, etc., we have to try as hard as possible to maximize the number of times in a week that the whole family (or as many as possible) are “forced” to sit down and talk together. You’ll be surprised at how enjoyable it is.

4. Habitual Gratitude
When I notice that our family conversation has been turning a bit negative over a period of time, I usually initiate the “three blessings” practice for a few days or weeks. We go round the table and ask each family member to list three things they’re grateful for. That practice seems to kickstart a more general gratitude in life as well, enhancing relationships and deepening joy.

5. Funny Stories
I’m always on the look out for funny stories and good jokes to share. They may be stories from my own life and work, or stories I’ve heard from others; and I’m always on the lookout for humorous incidents on the Internet.

Or it may be a bit of gentle teasing of my wife or kids, laughing with them at something silly they (or I) said or did that day. All of this is so much better than majoring on the latest disasters and horror stories from all round the world.

6. Quirky videos
As I read blogs and websites, I often come across short funny videos that I bookmark, and every few days I’ll sit down with some of my kids and we’ll have a good laugh reviewing these. Another great source of short, informative, amusing and family-friendly videos is Wimp.com. Many’s an hour on a Saturday morning after our Waffles and syrup we spend lounging on the sofa with the iPad enjoying the weird and wonderful people and pets in our world.

7. Less doing
I thought British kids were over-scheduled, but American kids have even more packed into their days and lives. It’s all good things like sports, clubs, youth fellowships, etc., but they hardly ever get time to do nothing. Same with parents – we’re all so strung and stressed out and just making ourselves miserable with all that we are trying to accomplish. Sometimes I’ve stopped my kids doing really exciting things because they just needed to stop, sit still, rest, and even just sleep. No, the decision didn’t exactly produce instant happiness – but a surprising happiness was the long-term result.

8. Willing service
Most kids seem to think that they will be happiest when everyone is serving them. Many parents have fallen into this trap too, virtually becoming their kids’ slaves. Although it’s counter-intuitive and counter-cultural, we can greatly increase our children’s happiness by helping them find joy in serving others – that begins at home, but should also extend to school, church, and the community. They will gradually experience the strangest yet most wonderful happiness in such selfless service.

9. Joint projects
Try to find projects that the family can do together – yard work, or painting and furnishing a room. The last couple of weeks our family banded together to help me build a deck in our yard. It’s fun to work together, and even better to look at the finished product together with a sense of mutual delight and satisfaction – “We did it!”

10. Unbreakable relationships
Kids thrive on a sense of security and stability. I’ve noticed that some kids get quite troubled and worried whenever they hear of another divorce or relationship breakdown. I can almost read their minds, “If that happened to them, could it ever happen to us?”

We need to communicate to our kids that our marriages are unbreakable, that they can count on us to stick with one another through thick and thin, that we love one another forever, and are totally committed to one another. Same goes for our relationships with them – we show them that even when we are angry with them and have to discipline them, we will never cast them off or out – physically or emotionally.

What would you add to the list? What have you found that helped build a happy home?


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Ask RC: Why do you sometimes wear a kilt?
I never have and I never will. I don’t have the legs for it.

Should A Pastor Use An iPad or a Printed Bible to Minister To People?
Good question. Great answer.

Battered Pastors
Todd Pruitt with the fourth installment of an important series.

Thinking About Q Nashville
Insightful cultural commentary from Hunter Baker.

20 Time Management Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties.
And thirties, and forties…

The Rwandan Genocide: Reunited Through Polaroids


Some Cheap Weekend Reading For Kindles

I like to scour Amazon on Fridays for some cheap weekend reading, usually picking up a great book or two for a few bucks that I can read through in a few of hours.

As I spend my week reading Christian books for my teaching and preaching, I’m usually on the lookout for something a bit different, often a biography about someone I’d like to know more about, perhaps a popular history book, or maybe something on leadership/time management/study techniques. If I buy a duffer, well, it was only a couple of bucks. Some of last week’s books are still on offer.

First up this week, a couple of books for the “Mom” in your life. I bought the first one for Shona and The Kindness of Strangers for myself.

Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose ($0.99) by Candace Cameron Bure.

“Come along and dig into Candace’s story from her start in commercials, the balance-necessitating years on Full House, to adding on the roles of wife and mom while also returning to Hollywood. Insightful, funny, and poignant, Candace’s story will help you balance it all.”

The Good Wife’s Guide: Embracing Your Role as a Help Meet ($2.99) by Darlene Schacht.

“In The Good Wife’s Guide New York Times best-selling author Darlene Schacht encourages women to joyfully serve their families. In doing so she offers reasons for achieving a well-managed home backed by scripture and gleaned from experience. As well she provides readers with detailed cleaning and organizing schedules for practical application.”

College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students ($5.99 reduced from $15.60) by Jeffrey Selingo.

“Incisive, urgent, and controversial, College (Un)bound is a must-read for prospective students, parents, and anyone concerned with the future of American higher education.”

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America ($0.99) by Mike McIntyre.

“”Could you survive a cross-country trip relying only on the kindness of strangers? Well, Mike McIntyre did. He put our country to the test, and what he found out sure surprised me.”–Oprah Winfrey

The 100 Thing Challenge ($1.99) by Dave Bruno.

“In The 100 Thing Challenge Dave Bruno relates how he remade his life and regained his soul by getting rid of almost everything. But The 100 Thing Challenge is more than just the story of how one man started a movement to unhook himself from consumerism by winnowing his life’s possessions down to 100 things in one year. It’s also an inspiring, invigorating guide to how we all can begin to live simpler, more meaningful lives.”

Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation ($1.99) by James McQuivey

“You always knew digital was going to change things, but you didn’t realize how close to home it would hit. In every industry, digital competitors are taking advantage of new platforms, tools, and relationships to undercut competitors, get closer to customers, and disrupt the usual ways of doing business. The only way to compete is to evolve. James McQuivey of Forrester Research has been teaching people how to do this for over a decade. He’s gone into the biggest companies, even in traditional industries like insurance and consumer packaged goods, and changed the way they think about innovation. Now he’s sharing his approach with you.”