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The Social Network Gospel: How interconnectivity helps us better engage the Bible
Lamar Vest, president and CEO of the American Bible Society (ABS), says we’re witnessing “a revival of Bible engagement. For too long we have judged our effectiveness by the number of Bibles distributed. We are determined to no longer judge our effectiveness by tonnage but by impact.”

Work as worship
“God intended mankind to live seamless lives where our work is an ongoing act of God-honoring worship. Simply put, when performed as God originally intended, work is worship.”

An open letter to Sam Harris
Dave Macca, who is battling stage 4 lung cancer, challenges new Atheist Sam Harris’s words in a recent speech to the Global Atheist Convention: “Atheism appears to be a death cult, because we are the only people who admit that death is real.”

Why we “care” instead of “counsel” one another
“In the fall of 2011, I (Robert Cheong) made a strategic decision to replace the word “counsel” with “care” within our church culture. I didn’t send out a memo or make campaign signs. Rather, I began using the terms “care/caring” everywhere I would have used the words “counsel/counseling” in my conversations with others and in training material developed to help ministry leaders shepherd those under their care at each of our campuses.”

Brain training helps treat depression
A brain training technique which helps people control activity in a specific part of the brain could help treat depression, a study suggests.

Why smart people are stupid
Loved the cartoon here.

A new breed and a dying breed

Deepak Reju is the Pastor of Biblical Counseling at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. In A New Breed: Pastors who Love Counseling, Deepak highlights the welcome upward trend of interest in pastoral counseling in the local church, and lists some examples of churches who have hired a Pastor of Biblical Counseling.

I’ve only heard good things about Deepak’s counseling ministry and I’ve always enjoyed what he’s written on counseling. However, I wonder if his article highlights a growing and worrying division of roles into pastor-preachers on the one hand and pastor-counselors on the other?

For example, consider how Deepak describes himself as a pastor, but then draws two contrasts between himself and other pastors:

  1. “But I am also a counselor.”
  2. “Yet, I’m different than most pastors. I love counseling.”

Now, the church definitely needs men and women who are called specifically to pastoral counseling; some pastors are so overwhelmed with the number and complexity of counseling cases, that specialist pastoral counselors are needed to ease the load. But this article seems to envisage pastors who are not counselors, or at least pastors who do not love counseling. And that seems to fit what I perceive as a growing and widespread withdrawal of pastors from counseling ministry.

Serious questions
Which raises some serious questions: Can you really call yourself a pastor without constant counseling involvement in people’s messy lives? Can you really be an edifying preacher of the Word without regularly getting your hands dirty in personal ministry?  To be blunt, can you be a pastor and not love counseling? Is that not an oxymoron? Surely a love for ministering the Word to individual needs and problems is a basic qualification of a Gospel minister. If a man told me that he felt a call to pastoral ministry, but didn’t want to counsel people, I’d show him the door.

Pedigree or mongrel
Now it’s possible that I’m drawing the lines too starkly here. Perhaps pastor-preachers are also doing hours of personal counseling every week. But, from what I can gather from various churches going down this route, it doesn’t work like that. The two roles are growing further and further apart, with serious adverse effects on the tone and content of pulpit ministry – more academic, more distant, less “real,” less “human.”

It might appear logical that a person’s preaching will improve if he’s given much more time to study. However, there’s nothing like the stress and strain of daily involvement in people’s lives to put life, vitality, and gritty realism into a preacher and his sermons.

I’m afraid that pastoral ministry is being split into two pure pedigrees – the preacher breed and the counselor breed. I much preferred the old “mongrel” breed of the pastor who both preached to and counseled his flock (Acts 20:20). I hope they’re not dying out.

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Why heaven kissed earth
Mark Jones’ PhD thesis on the Christology of Thomas Goodwin.

Addicted to diversion and afraid of silence
Justin Taylor gathers some challenging quotes from Blaise Pascal, Peter Kreeft, and Douglas Groothuis to help us steward the gift of technology.

Bringing African back to life: The legacy of George W. Bush
You’re not likely to see much reporting of this in the mainstream media.

More lessons I’m learning from other preachers
Especially appreciated Aaron’s first point here.

Why boredom is good for your creativity
Which is what I keep telling my kids.

Black and gay leaders form an alliance
Dr Boyce Atkins asks if the reported alliances between civil rights groups and gay groups are legitimate. The comments are an education in themselves.

Unofficial Study Guide for “The Meaning of Marriage”

When most people say, “This is the best book you’ll ever read on XYZ,” I usually yawn. When Tim Challies says it, I’m on the way to the Amazon. When Tim Challies says it about a book on marriage, I can’t press “Buy-now-with-one-click” quick enough.

And he’s right…again. Tim & Kathy Keller’s book on marriage is the best I’ve ever read on the subject. No matter how long or how short you’ve been married, it will expand and elevate your understanding and experience of this precious relationship – and, as a bonus, it will do the same to your relationship with Christ.

There are some profound and unforgettable illustrations and quotations that will transform the way you view yourself, your marriage partner, and your God.

I don’t see the point in writing a full review, because Tim’s review really says it all. However, as I’m working through the book with a young couple preparing for marriage, I thought I could contribute to the book’s usefulness for married couples and for pre-marriage counseling by writing an “Unofficial Study Guide.”

Hopefully the publishers will eventually produce their own, but until then, here’s mine in pdf format. And if you want to customize it for your own use, here it is in Word.

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Reformed African American Network
Here’s an encouraging interview about a growing interest in  Reformed theology among African American churches.

Do familial curses still exist?
Does God still “visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me?” R C Sproul Jr. responds.

Jane Days
Kara Dedert pens a beautiful article about Jane the Home Community Educator with Grand Rapids Public Schools, who’s made such a difference to the life of their severely disabled child, Calvin.

The Moral Diet
Fascinating article from the NY Times’ David Brooks about how we try so hard to be “moral”  in our immorality.

Seven reasons to read Christian biographies
Though based upon the fantastic Christian Focus Trailblazer series for kids, this post is relevant for all Christian biographies.

St Kilda – Some History
And some beautiful photographs