Check out

9 Struggles Of Being A Pastor’s Wife
From Brian and Cara Croft’s new book, The Pastor’s Family.

Predators in the Pew
10 ways to protect against child abuse in your church. In a similar vein here’s  a survey of The Belief Systems that Support Spiritual Abuse.

Bryan Chapell on Christ-centered Preaching
“The most basic and common way to see redemptive truth(s) in any text is by asking two questions that are fair to ask of any text: 1) What does this text reflect about the nature of God who provides redemption? and/or, 2) What does this text reflect about the nature of humanity that requires redemption?”

Has God Called You?
Al Mohler on discerning the call to preach.

Cliff Notes On Spiritual Mentoring
By a man who has devoted much of his life to mentoring men.

Discussing Racism
A checklist before you start “a conversation” on race.

What is a preacher? 10 wrong answers

There are so many false ideas out about what a preacher is meant to be. Some common misconceptions are:

  • An entertainer: someone who is there to make me feel happy.
  • A curator: someone who is there to manage the museum and make sure nothing ever changes.
  • A lecturer: someone who is there to teach, to transmit religious facts and information, but not to change my life.
  • A pundit: someone who offers Christian commentary on important current events.
  • A socializer: someone who is friendly and socially skillful, who won’t embarrass us at weddings and funerals.
  • A social worker: someone who fixes all my family problems.
  • A ritualist: someone who we use for baptisms, communions, etc., and as long as he gets the form and routine right at these events we’ll tolerate him in between times.
  • A manager: a sort of ecclesiastical CEO who is adept at managing people and paper.
  • An angel: someone who gets everything right, who never makes a mistake, who prays and preaches perfectly on every occasion without ever offending us.
  • A psychologist: a cheap therapist to help with my emotions.

Of course, there are elements of truth in some of these ideas. The preacher must teach, he must at times offer spiritual commentary on our culture, he must get involved in people’s problems, etc. But these are not the primary functions and these are not the categories and terms the Bible uses to describe a preacher. We’ll look at some of these biblical terms in the next few days.

Check out

My Jericho Moment
What happened when Timmy Brister’s neighbor’s house burned down?

Why Christians Should Be Speaking Up About The Surveillance State
If there’s one thing that’s stunned me about the USA in the past few years it’s the incredible passivity of the citizenry in the face of ever increasing government intrusion into their lives.

Become A Better Writer With These Important Reading Skills
Even if you’re not a writer, this post will help you to become a better reader.

The Single Greatest Command of Deuteronomy
What a great insight from Dane Ortlund. I’ve taught a course on Deuteronomy and never noticed this before!

Typology as Prophecy
Fred Zaspel continues his helpful study of Old Testament typology.

Ten Testimony Tips
Good advice.

Children’s Daily Bible Reading Plan

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 here’s the second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

And here’s 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. Further explanation of that here.

Old Testament

New Testament

Counseling and the Grand Narrative of the Bible

A Summary and Review of Chapter 5: The Grand Narrative of the Bible by John Henderson in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling.

This chapter was written to highlight the weaknesses of the “one-problem-one-verse-one solution” approach to ministry, and to demonstrate how the central narrative of Scripture should “influence, shape, and instruct the ministry of counseling.”

What better way to do this than through a narrative? asks John Henderson, before proceeding to narrate a short illustrative story of ten pages or so.

It’s an interesting approach, and, to be honest, one that I didn’t immediately take to. I’m not really a “story” guy and find a lot of fiction a boring waste of time. Give me bullet points any day!

However, when I slowed down and read the chapter a second and a third time, I began to discover some real gems of ideas and illustrations, especially about half way through when one of the characters, Mr Kindren, tries to help Maggie’s troubled marriage by simply quoting a few verses and calling her to submit to God regardless of her happiness.

At this point, Reggie steps in to critique Mr Kindren’s simplistic approach to problems and to Scripture. He says:

Those are wondrous verses and all, but they may not make a lot of sense if she doesn’t get the Story behind the verses…The story of the Bible shows how fiercely the Lord works for people’s true happiness. Purity, submission, and happiness, from God’s point of view, can’t be separated.

Then follow two excellent illustrations to show how important it is to counsel within the context of the grand narrative of the Bible.

Sweep them into the river
“I’m guessing you’re trying to get her downriver to a good place. I just can’t figure out how you’ll help her along by standing at the banks, drawing out buckets of water, and throwing them on her feet. They’re good buckets of water and all, but they have no current by themselves. Just like the rest of us, Maggie needs to be swept into the river” (80).

Hear the whole orchestra
“The Word acts like a mass symphony of instruments working in harmony and building to something grand more than a phone book of musical soloists up for hire. All the stories and poems and letters and oracles and wisdom verses of God’s Word, like individual instruments in a great orchestra, serve the whole story. You served Mrs. Maggie a beautiful but single note from a single instrument in the orchestra. No doubt there are solos and duos all around, and each of these comfort and convict us in their way and time, but they aren’t strumming and blowing on their own. In His time, I think the Lord wants us to hear and appreciate the way they harmonize” (81).

The rest of the chapter tells how Reggie went on to demonstrate how:

  • Everyone has a story they use to explain the world and their world.
  • God’s story is found in the Bible where we read of God’s careful work in creating, loving, judging, and saving a world that He made good and beautiful, but plunged into evil and ugly.
  • God’s story interprets, confronts, reshapes, and even redeems or condemns all other stories.
  • God is not only the author of His story, He’s the center of it (not us).

See, I knew I’d get bullet points in there somewhere.

All in all, a helpful and thought-provoking chapter that calls counselors to know the Bible’s big story, listen to the counselee’s “small” story, and learn how to connect these two stories in a life-transforming way.

And if there’s one word that comes across loud and clear, it’s “patience.” This is much more complex and challenging than the oft-caricatured “take-two-verses and call me in the morning” idea. But it’s also much more likely to lead to long-term fruit.

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How Children Succeed
Alex Chediak interviews Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed.

Rethinking Stuart Anglicanism
This is one for us Puritan geeks.

Facebook, Twitter, and Blogging Improve Writing
Teachers have come to view social media as a positive avenue for creative expression. “Most teachers told us they wouldn’t consider texting or tweeting as formal writing, in the strict sense, but it means students are writing more and they see that as a plus.”

Why So Many Leadership Programs Fail
Peter Bregman: “What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical. It’s not about knowing what to say or do. It’s about whether you’re willing to experience the discomfort, risk, and uncertainty of saying or doing it. In other words, the critical challenge of leadership is, mostly, the challenge of emotional courage.” (HT: Zac Nielsen)

10 Ways to Resist The Devil
Tim Challies summarizes Thomas Brooks’ ten strategies for resisting the devil.

Mike Wittmer: “Here’s the takeaway for me and for you:  your level of success is not a reliable way to gauge the quality of your work. You may be laboring in relative obscurity, but you may still receive the most enthusiastic “Well done!” from our Lord.”