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A Christian Understanding of Work
I always enjoy Matt Perman on this topic. Here’s an interview with him.

5 lessons I’m learning in my first year as a lead pastor
I liked #5 especially.

The myth of private sin
The older I get, the more convinced I am there is no private sin.  They don’t all wind up on page two, but the surface of the pond is never undisturbed by the pebble. The ripples move well beyond ourselves, and, in many cases they radiate through generations. (via Zach Nielsen)

The joy of paying taxes
Talking of private sins!

Anxiety: Anatomy & Cure
I read this when it was just a manuscript and it’s worth a read.

Some thoughts on Santorum’s Exit
Denny Burk with some regrets.

I don’t like the direction David Frum’s gone in since he left George Bush’s speech-writing team. However, I agree with his major point in Santorum’s Good Idea: “Rick Santorum had a brilliant idea. The Republican Party has become the preferred political vehicle of America’s white working class. There should, therefore, be room in a Republican primary for a candidate who championed the interests of the non-rich; who offered an economic message that offered genuine hope for improvement to voters who have been hit hard by the 2008-2009 crisis and by the long years of middle-income stagnation before 2008. It was a powerful concept, but Santorum could not manage to execute it.” If he had, it wouldn’t just attract and help the white working class. Opportunity lost.

The dirty little secret of overnight success

Do you want to know what it is? The secret is that there is no secret. As Fastcompany recently pointed out, overnight success is extremely rare.

  • Angry Birds, the best-selling Apple App was software maker Rovio’s 52nd attempt at successful software in 8 almost-bankrupt years.
  • James Dyson failed in 5,126 prototypes before perfecting his revolutionary vacuum cleaner.
  • Before Oprah was Oprah, before Jobs was Jobs, they were labeled as misguided dreamers rather than future captains of industry.
  • WD40 lubricant got its name because the first 39 experiments failed. WD-40 literally stands for “Water Displacement–40th Attempt.

The basic difference between successful people and the rest of us is that they’ve learned to fail well. They humbly embrace their mistakes, use them as opportunities to learn, and persevere until each shot got them nearer the bullseye.

  • Apple founder Steve Jobs ascribes his present success to reevaluating his life after three setbacks: dropping out of college, being fired from the company he founded, and being diagnosed with cancer.
  • J.K. Rowling lost her marriage, parental approval and most of her money. But then, with nothing left to lose, she turned to her first love – writing. “Failure stripped away everything inessential,” she said. “It taught me things about myself I could have learned no other way.”
  • Michael Jordan said: “I have failed over and over and over again, and that is why I succeed.
  • The American chess master Bruce Pandolfini, who trains many young chess players, said: “At the beginning, you lose – a lot. The kids who are going to succeed are the ones who learn to stand it. A lot of young players find losing so devastating they never adapt, never learn to metabolize that failure and to not take it personally. But good players lose and then put the game behind them emotionally.”
  • Philip Schultz wrote a book of poems about his writing failures. Entitled, Failure, it won a Pulitzer prize!

If we have learned to fail well:

  • We will have realistic expectations of ourselves and our work.
  • We will not soar too high on success, and we will not sink too deeply upon a setback.
  • We will not resent or envy the “success” of others, nor will we get caught up in trying to imitate them.
  • We will diligently and patiently labour in our vocations, gradually developing our talents and skills for God’s glory and the good of others.
  • We will confess our failures, seek our Lord’s forgiveness, and pray for His re-directing guidance.
  • We will emerge from our failures humbler and weaker, but wiser and happier too.
  • Eventually we will see how God can transform our ugly failures into something profitable and even beautiful.

As the Apostle Peter might say: “Sometimes, failure is the best thing that can happen to us.”

Check out

Al Mohler takes on Theistic Evolution
Thanks to Denny Burk for highlighting this address.

Parents feel less able to pay for college
Kids, hide this from your parents. Parents, read this to your kids.

Drinking from the firehose: Why so many sermons?
Yes, I’ve been sermon-paintballed too!

Warning! This blog has been hijacked by a pastor’s wife
Brain Croft’s wife takes over his blog. All in a good cause, especially if you are a pastor’s wife.

Music & Memory
This is a touching story about alleviating human suffering. Though not the same cause, it reminds me a bit of David ministering to Saul via music (1 Samuel 16:23).

How to help a depressed spouse

Depression can wreck marriages. Ignoring it, minimizing it, denying it, or delaying dealing with it will only increase the chances that your marriage will be damaged or even be destroyed by it.

Recently I came across a couple of great resources on this subject. First, here’s a short CCEF podcast answering the question: How can I help my spouse through depression? Main points:

  • Understand that as deeply you love your spouse, you don’t have the ability to cure their depression.
  • God is calling you to something simpler and more important than curing it;  just being a faithful witness to God’s love in it.
  • Love your spouse in simple ways that communicate to them that they are not loved depending on whether or not they are emotionally well.
  • Love, regardless of whether you are seeing “results.”
  • Don’t communicate: “If you were just trying harder or if you were more spiritual, you wouldn’t have this struggle.”
  • Instead of thinking: “How can I end this depression?” Think: “How can I love God and serve others in this depression.”
  • Use Gospel freedom to express your groans and darkness to God, as the Psalmist did.

Second, there’s this article, How to cope with a depressed spouse, from Reader’s Digest. Yes, Reader’s Digest! Main points:

  • Be alert to small changes. Depression can come on slowly, almost imperceptibly. Most are reluctant to recognize it and identify it. It may look different in different people.
  • Don’t wait for your spouse to hit bottom.
  • Break the ice gently yet firmly. Don’t blurt out: “You’re depressed!” or announce: “You better get help!” Approach your spouse with concern and with an action plan.
  • Get a diagnosis — together.  Going to the doctor together helps to describe the problem and remember the advice.
  • Know that the odds are in your favor.  The success rate of depression treatment is as high as 90 percent.
  • Keep on learning about depression.  The more you know, the better you can cope and fight.
  • Be alert for relapses. 50% of those who suffer a bout of major depression will have a relapse.
  • Find support. Choose a trusted friend to confide in. Accept assistance when offered.
  • See depression as an intruder in your marriage. Like any other illness, depression is an outside force — an unwelcome visitor wreaking havoc with your spouse’s health, your marriage, and your home life.

That last point is the only one I would seriously question. I would encourage Christians to see depression as from the Lord, part of His wise providence. If it’s from His hand, it’s not a hostile intruder, but has wise and good purposes behind it. I’d also want to add to these lists:

  • Regularly read the Bible, pray, and sing together.
  • Keep going to your local church, and get involved in serving others to a limited extent.
  • Exercise together, preferably taking leisurely walks in Gods creation.
  • Keep conversation positive rather than negative, focusing on the good in others rather than their faults.
  • Help your spouse to establish regular & healthy eating and sleep patterns
  • Use Ed Welch’s book A Stubborn Darkness, to gently probe the possibility of any spiritual causes

Anything else you’ve found helpful?

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Jews reclaim Jesus as one of their own
Could this be the beginning of the long-awaited and eagerly desired fulfillment of Romans 11? Let’s pray so.

Make room for suffering
“Any theology that leaves little room for suffering is a suspect theology.”

Why on Sunday?
“This question can be embarrassing, can’t it? Why do you worship on Sunday? Doesn’t the Bible say that the seventh day is the time God consecrated for his people? Where does the Bible say that Christians should sanctify the first day of the week, rather than the seventh day?” O Palmer Robertson offers some answers.

How sermons work
eBook now available at Amazon