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Religion sidelined by militant secularization
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Overeating may double memory loss
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Email Infographic
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Why physical books are better than digital books
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20 common grammatical mistakes that almost everyone makes
Your High School English years summarized in one blog post.


Therapeutic Praise

Despite hundreds of new Christian songs, of every possible genre, being composed every year, the ancient Psalms are experiencing somewhat of a revival in various places. Why?

I believe the main reason is their therapeutic value; in a day of so many disordered emotions, worshippers are discovering how the Psalms minister so powerfully to their emotional lives.

The Psalms balance divine revelation and human emotion
Some Christian songs are emotionally stirring, but have little theological content; the heart is engaged, but not the mind. Over-reacting to this, some have composed songs that are full of theological facts, but don’t engage the worshipper’s feelings. They are more like sung sermons.

The Psalms strike an inspired balance of doxological theology and theological doxology; they combine the objective with the subjective in perfect proportions. Time and again we read, “Praise the Lord for…” followed by reasons and motivations for this praise. God is declared and described, but always to stir up our hearts and interact with Him through His self-revelation.

The Psalms express the full range of human emotions
The Psalms contain an incomparably rich mixture of extreme and varied emotions: grief and joy, doubt and confidence, loneliness and fellowship, despair and hope, fear and courage, defeat and victory, complaint and praise, etc.

Is it any wonder that Calvin called the Psalms “an Anatomy of all Parts of the Soul”? As he explained: “There is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.”

The Psalms paint a realistic portrayal of Christian emotions
The Psalms do not portray the Christian life as victory upon victory. Derek Thomas has pointed out that because a lot of contemporary worship is upbeat and positive, and therefore at odds with what Christians experience in the rest of their week, it sometimes produces a disconnect that eventually leads to cynicism and a loss of assurance.

But when we turn to the Psalms, we find bold and bald honesty. Although the strong expressions of stark reality can initially jar our refined ears, we are soon relieved to find kindred spirits who helpfully express what we often think, feel, and experience in our messy daily lives.

The Psalms open a welcome outlet for our painful emotions
Have you ever sung about assurance while being full of doubt? Have you ever sung about joy when feeling depressed? Me too. And it’s horrible isn’t it. Why can’t I sing what I really feel? With the Psalms you can! Some allow us to express doubt and even despair (e.g. Ps. 88); others help us describe our struggles with providence (e.g. Ps. 73); still others guide us in explaining our battles with depression (e.g. Ps. 42).

The Psalms open the pressure valve of our hearts and direct us in how to articulate our most painful emotions. We don’t need to bottle them up or deny them. Instead God has inspired songs to admit them and let them out. As someone said: “What a relief! I can sing what’s really on my mind and heart, and God provides me with words to rightly express these emotions. The Psalms reach in to find these emotions and then reach upwards to God with them.”

The Psalms call for the transformation of our emotions
The Psalms not only permit us to “vent” our emotions, but also call for their transformation. We are not left to wallow in our feelings, but are shown how to move from fear to courage, from sorrow to joy, from anger to peace, and from despair to hope. The painful starting point is legitimate; but it’s only a starting point. The end-point of emotional healing must be kept in view, and moved towards with the help of Psalmist’s guiding hand.

The Psalms summon us to sympathetic emotion
As a rebellious teenager, I often sat in my Psalm-singing church wondering why I was singing words that had no relevance to me whatsoever. Why sing about sorrow, when I was perfectly happy? Or, some Sundays, why sing about joy when I feel so depressed about my life?

Well of course, such is the mindset of a self-centered teenager. But when God saves us, we begin to look a little beyond ourselves and to realize that while I may not feel these things, others certainly do. The Psalms call me to weep with those who weep, and to rejoice with those who rejoice, no matter if I feel exactly the opposite. They remind me of the emotional diversity of the body of Christ and invite me to share in the sufferings and successes of others. They turn me inside out.

The Psalms supply an emotional stimulus to righteous living
I’ve been trying to emphasize the emotional engagement and stimulus of the Psalms. However, ultimately, the Psalms use the emotional energy they generate to stimulate practical obedience. Notice how many “wisdom” Psalms are interspersed throughout the Psalter, setting forth the path of obedience for the stirred up and energized worshipper. Emotional transformation must result in life transformation.

Originally published in January 2012 issue of Tabletalk.


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20,000 Tweets
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The Window Seat
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Children’s Bible Reading Plan (66)

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.

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

The first 6 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.


A Divine Invitation to Pastoral Rest

Pastor Greg Lubbers, a graduate of Puritan Reformed Seminary, preached a wonderful Chapel message for us yesterday on a theme that has become very dear to my own heart. I’d love for every over-worked Pastor to hear and obey this precious and gracious invitation.

Just the day before listening to this, my wife pointed me to a passage in Anthony Selvaggio’s excellent book, A Proverbs Driven Life. He argues that the sins of sloth and workaholism are very similar sins, both resulting from pride, self-centeredness, and idolatry.

Today, I believe Christians are actually more likely to become workaholics than they are sluggards, simply because the idolatry of workaholism is more socially respectable. In fact, it is so widely praised that many Christians don’t even consider it a sin! As a pastor, I certainly became a workaholic . . . and my idolatry won me praise! People often commended me for my ability to multi-task and get things done. I often allowed the boundaries between work and rest to be blurred. There were so many “good things” to do with my time: preach, teach, counsel, discipline, go to the soccer games and plays of the children in my congregation, teach at seminary, teach at college, speak at conferences and write books. In serving “24/7,” I was trying to build God’s house without his help by shouldering all the responsibilities for his church myself.

In the final analysis, we can stop working and rest because God is sovereign. He is in control, not us. If we are not pursuing his priorities—which include rest as well as a broad range of responsibilities—our efforts will ultimately be futile, no matter how hard we work. But as we embrace a balanced life that includes work, rest, and proper attention to all our responsibilities, he will provide all we need to accomplish his will.

It’s extremely liberating to recognize that God gives us enough time to finish everything to which he has actually called us. Here are some of those things: devotional time with God; relationships and service in your  family, church, and community; and matters of stewardship over your material goods. If any of these areas are suffering because of the amount of time you spend doing other things, take a close look. Perhaps you are becoming—or became long ago—a workaholic, an idolater who has foolishly dethroned God by believing that his ways, so plainly presented in Scripture, are inferior to your own.

Both Sins the Same
The sin of the sluggard is serious, but so is that of the workaholic. In fact, they are very similar sins. The man or woman who builds all of life around work is every bit as proud and self-centered as the sluggard. At either extreme we worship an idol called “Doing it My Way.” Perhaps the Bible spends a lot more time on sluggards and a lot less on anything we would call “workaholism” because the workaholic is really just a variety of sluggard by another name. Both are interested in avoiding responsibilities that don’t interest them. The workaholic simply avoids things by a different technique—crowding them out of his calendar. And where the sluggard is sure to suffer economic loss, the workaholic suffers losses that are often more relational than monetary, but nevertheless real, lasting, and painful.

Work, whatever form it may take, is a core activity of each of our lives, taking up most of our waking moments. What a tragedy to despise it like the sluggard, and live for those times when we are not doing it. to worship it like the workaholic, as we strive to deify ourselves in our little kingdom; a tiny god over a tiny world, as if we had created that world ourselves, or sustain it ourselves, or even understand its true workings.

A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio.


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A picture worth 66 books
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The Heart of the Reformation Bible College
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