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Forget about your legacy, just do the right thing
I love the way Joel Miller combines ancient and modern insights.

One definition of Christian Psychology
“[It is] psychology which is done to further the kingdom of God, carried out by citizens of that kingdom whose character and convictions reflect their citizenship in that kingdom…”

The Importance of Multi-Cultural Congregations
Inspiring video of PCA founding father Kennedy Smartt’s vision of building a multi-cultural congregation. To me, this is THE single most important area of church reformation.

I can’t see the wood for the trees
Shona highlights three great commentaries (to which I put my hearty “Amen”) and appeals to authors to follow their “beautiful simplicity, directness, and Christ-centeredness.”

Three pitfalls for young evangelical leaders

Alex Crain interviews John Macarthur about his new book [Video] Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You (Nelson, 2012).

Survey: What are the 10 biggest counseling issues today?

I’d like to take a survey of the most common counseling issues pastors are facing in their daily lives. Would you write in the comments the problems you are most frequently encountering and then I’ll try to set up a Top 10 survey with the answers. One of the reasons behind the question is my concern to ensure that seminaries are preparing men adequately for the problems they will come across most.

The basic question is: If you had your seminary training all over again, what issues would you like to have the greatest focus? It could be more modern problems like anorexia, abuse, etc.;  the more “regular” issues like bereavement, pain, depression, fear, etc.; or the deeper, longer challenges like unbelief, doubt, discontent, temptation, chastisement, etc.

If you’re not a pastor, why not answer it along these lines: If you had the opportunity to have your future pastor trained to counsel in certain subjects, what would you choose?

Thanks so much for your contributions and interaction.

Reformed Theology and Ragged Schools

For as long as the Gospel’s been preached, it’s always been accompanied by a concern for the education of the poor. It’s heartening to see Christians take a renewed interest in this kind of Gospel-powered social action once again. Just yesterday the Gospel Coalition published an article by J D Grear on Why our church adopted a school.  I don’t know if there is Christian motivation behind this young teacher’s school for black boys, but it’s a great example of what Christians could also be doing to transform the futures, and even the eternities, of the most needy in our society.

Ragged Schools
My friend Andrew Murray (not a relation, though I wouldn’t mind he if was), has been practically involved in social work and Christian social action for many years in some of the toughest communities in Scotland. He’s just started Ragged Theology, a blog dedicated to the inspirational life of Thomas Guthrie, the “Apostle” of the ragged school movement in the 1800′s. You can read Andrew’s brief bio of Guthrie here. He writes:

While Dr Guthrie was one of the finest preachers of the Free Church in the 19th Century, his greatest legacy was surely as a social reformer.  This is summed up on his statue in Edinburgh which declares ‘a friend of the poor and the oppressed’.  Even in his first rural parish in Angus Guthrie was a great friend of the poor.  He established a savings bank and library; ‘The success of the bank and the library I attribute very much to this, that I myself managed them.  They were of great service by bringing me into familiar and frequent and kindly contact with my people’ (Autobiography and Memoir, 1896, p 113).  Guthrie believed that the minister should live and work amongst the people.  Writing while still in Arbirlot he said to a Mr Dunlop; ‘I have discovered from my own experience that the further the people are removed from the manse, the less influence has the minister over them: and if a man won’t live among the scum of the Cowgate [central Edinburgh] I would at once say to him ‘You can’t be my minister’ (Autobiography and Memoir, 1896, p 309).

Empty prisons
I think you’ll be moved by Andrew’s account of how Guthrie inspired a society-transforming, prison-emptying movement of “ragged schools.” He concludes:

Guthrie was an outstanding preacher, a faithful pastor, a winsome evangelist and one of Scotland’s finest social reformers. Guthrie’s legacy lives on in the provision that there is both in terms of welfare and education for rich and poor alike…He died in the early hours of Monday 24th February 1873 with his faithful Highland nurse and his family at his bedside.  It is said that with the exception of Dr Thomas Chalmers and Sir James Simpson, Edinburgh had not seen a funeral like it in a generation.  It was reported that 230 children from the original ragged school attended his funeral and sang a hymn at the grave. One little girl was overheard saying ‘He was all the father I ever knew.’

Amongst Guthrie’s last words he was overheard to say ‘a brand plucked from the burning!’  His legacy was that through his vision and love for his Saviour, the Ragged School movement was established which in turn plucked thousands of little brands from a life of poverty and crime, and brought them to know the ultimate friend of sinners.

From history to vision
But Andrew’s not just a historian, he’s also a visionary. He’s trying to live out Guthrie’s vision in his own day and place.  Guthrie on early intervention is a wonderful speech he gave to a group of Aberdeen businessmen last week on how they could help translate Guthrie’s model and principles into today’s culture and society.

You can read more about Andrew’s “Wilberforce-type” work at Bethany Christian Trust here or view the video below:

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Is Microsoft on the verge of a sudden collapse
Or is it just a long gradual decline?

How do you define preaching
You’ll want to read how Thabiti unpacks this sentence: “Resolving to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified when it comes to preaching includes five things: ethos, pathos, logos, demos, and telos.”

Disciple making and sentence diagramming
Here’s a pdf compilation of a great series by Timmy Brister. Even if you don’t go to the lengths Timmy does, you will learn a lot about how to interpret Scripture.

How can we pursue racial reconciliation
I’m learning so much from this vision and mission expanding series.

The NCAA continues to pimp students and the rest of us
Forgive my ignorance, but I’m absolutely stunned by this (Update: not by some of the intemperate language but by the exploitation).

Gospel Church for Scotland’s Poorest
No better short video for summarizing Scotland’s glorious past, dire present, and its only hope for the future.

20 Schemes Vision from Greg A. Cash on Vimeo.

What Lance Armstrong teaches us about the unevangelized heathen?

Two great errors plague our world. First, there is the idea that if we have the Bible, we are safe. That was the Jewish error in New Testament times, the notion that being blessed with the possession of God’s Word would be enough. It’s still with us today and so is Paul’s warning that more light actually brings more responsibility. God may favor some with more light than others, but He doesn’t show favoritism in judgment (Rom. 2:1-11).

Second, there’s the misconception that if people don’t have the Bible, they are safe. God wouldn’t judge anyone who never heard the Gospel, would He? Paul’s answer? “God will never judge people for what they never knew and could not do, but He will judge them for what they did know and didn’t do” (Rom. 2:12).

On the judgment day, God will ask the unevangelized heathen three simple questions:

  1. What did you know? (v.12)
  2. What did you do? (v. 13-14)
  3. What did your conscience say? (v. 15-16)

Unbelievers will be judged by the light that was available to them rather than by what was unavailable. They will not be condemned for sinning against a revelation they never had. They will only be judged by what they knew and didn’t do: “As many as have sinned without law, will also perish without law” (Rom. 2:12).

Notice the hope: God will not judge those who never had the written law as if they did have it. Notice the despair: Though they don’t have the written law, they all still sin against the moral law written in their hearts and will perish for that. In theory, it’s possible for someone to never have heard the Gospel or read the Bible and be saved – if they can live up to the light God has given within them. In reality, no one has ever done even that.

I was once a great fan of Lance Armstrong, the now disgraced seven-time winner of the Tour de France. I admired the way he battled through cancer to win  these titles, one after another after another. As he reflected on the time when it looked as if he was going to die from his disease, he said:

Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn’t a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hope I would be judged on whether or not I had lived a true life, not on whether I believed in a certain book, or whether I’d been baptized. (It’s not about the bike, 113).

You see, we all have our own standards, our own law, our own morals. And, like Lance, none of us live up even to these rules. None of us! As our own consciences painfully testify (v. 15-16).

BUT! There’s good news for Lance – and for all of us.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-24).

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Parenting when you’re continually crushed
Greg Lucas blasted Kara Dedert’s parenting blues away!

Strengths and weaknesses of working on an iPad
I enjoyed reading about how Aaron Armstrong coped when he smashed his laptop.

The power of deep rest
Tim Keller: “Resting, or practicing Sabbath, is also a way to help us get perspective on our work and put it in its proper place. Often we can’t see our work properly until we get some distance from it and reimmerse ourselves in other activities. Then we see that there is more to life than work. With that perspective and rested bodies and minds, we return to do more and better work.”

The war on men
More and more men are deciding not to get married. Why? Most answer, “Because women aren’t women anymore!”

What does it mean to be Reformed?
I liked Jemar Tisby’s big-picture answer.

How Alistair Begg prepares to preach