Check out

Self-help books help depression
The BBC reports that, “Patients offered books, plus sessions guiding them in how to use them, had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered usual GP care.”

Divine Art
“When we see an amazingly beautiful piece of art in a museum, we give credit to the talented artist who created the work of art. No other piece of art comes close to the complexity and stunning beauty of nature. Each glimpse of nature’s beauty should remind us of God, the Divine Artist.” And here are some free bulletin inserts on creation.

Raising Fear-less Children
What can we do to help our children or grandchildren grow up with less fear and anxiety?

What we all need to learn from the minority experiences
Trillia Newbell interviews Thabiti about what Christians can learn from African Americans’ suffering. So helpful.

Girl Solidarity
“Dear Teenage Girl: I was once you a long time ago.  I was without God in my life, lonely, and wondering what the purpose of life was. I didn’t feel I could talk to my parents. I wanted validation, approval, love.  I wasn’t promiscuous, but I definitely knew how to get a boy’s attention, and I had my share of boyfriends…”

A week without Google
I don’t know how, but Mike Leake did it and lived to tell the tale.

10 Positive Reasons to Train Your Kids in Cell Phone Use

Apart from giving them the Gospel, the single best thing we can do for our kids’ college, career, and marriage prospects is to train them to be self-disciplined in their cell phone use. Improving their cell phone habits will:

1. Raise their grades: Study time and quality will dramatically improve if they are not being continually interrupted by text messages and Facebook updates.

2. Increase their knowledge: As cell phone use increases, book reading plunges. Thankfully, the opposite is also true.

3. Strengthen their reasoning: Teachers everywhere are alarmed at students’ increasing inability to concentrate and follow the logic of a sustained argument, with most tracing the damage to cell phone distraction and abbreviated communication.

4. Expand their worldview: Although it’s called the World Wide Web, most kids’ worldview shrinks when national and international news are deluged and drowned in a tsunami of local and parochial trivia served up via the social media fire hose.

5. Improve their health: It’s not only that late-night use of screen technology delays and disturbs sleep, but a staggering number of kids check their Facebook status throughout the night as well. Nothing is more important to long-term health than long and deep sleep.

6. Strengthen their relationships: Families who take radical steps to reduce cell phone access and use in the home testify to the huge improvement in sibling and parental relationships.

7. Enhance their communication skills: Employers are desperate for people who can speak a reasonable number of complete and coherent sentences with clarity and confidence, and who can relate to people face to face with courtesy and care. That’s not learned with our faces in a phone.

8. Clarify their vision: When kids are constantly distracted by the latest status update, text message, or Tumblr GIF, they can’t see beyond the horizon of the present to seek and find a long-term purpose for their lives (great article on that here).

9. Ground their self-image: The more time spent in the virtual world, the more unreal our self-image becomes. Our kids need to be grounded in real flesh & blood relationships in the real world if they are not to get an over-inflated sense of who they are and what they’ve accomplished.

10. Deepen their spirituality: Horizontal communication pushes out vertical communication. When kids start the day with their phone rather than their Bible in their hands, the day has already gone wrong.

If we love our children, we must take radical action now. Look at the benefits. Re-write the list in the negative and ask, “Do I want that for my kids?”

What can we do? Confiscation is very appealing, but usually a bit extreme. We can use parental controls and accountability software. We can forbid phones in bedrooms, at study desks, and at meal times. I now insist on all phones (including my own) be kept in one central place when in the house and I limit the number of times they can be checked in an evening. We’re also starting a phone fast on Sundays. And let there be consequences for misuse or overuse, yes, even confiscation at times.

But perhaps the best thing we can do is to talk to our kids about these ten positive reasons for making this wonderful technology a servant rather than a master. It might be the best career move they make. If they master their cell-phone they will stand out in their generation in so many positive ways.

Check out

Top 10 (or 11) Volumes on the Suffering and Glory of Christ
I’ve added #2, 8 & 11 to my reading list. I can vouch for Nick’s recommendation of the rest. Id also add George Smeaton’s two volumes on the atonement (here and here).

Not that I would recommend this, but…
Memorable picture and story – with a Scottish flavor. I was wondering why I enjoyed Ray Ortlund’s Isaiah commentary so much.

Why not be engulfed in Technology?
Essential reading for every parent.

Elders: The Church’s Lead Disciple-Makers
Challenging and comprehensive summary of eldership.

My Top 10 iPad Apps and how I use them
If you’re into productivity, Michael Hyatt has some tips for you.

The Tragedy of Student Loans
This is not just a tragedy, it’s crazy.

Children’s 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 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan 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

May God bless you and your children as you study the Word of life.

Administrator Appreciation Day

I am so thankful that the Lord called me to be a minister rather than an administrator.

I know I shouldn’t, but I tend to grudge every minute I have to spend compiling reports, answering email, filing paper, answering email, writing references, and answering email. Did I mention answering email?

I’d far prefer to be preparing sermons and lectures, writing blogs and books, and shepherding believers and unbelievers.

That’s why I am so, so, so grateful for those God has called to be administrators, especially those I work with at Puritan Seminary. I have huge admiration for their gifts and for their servant hearts. I’m stunned at the enthusiasm with which they go about their jobs, the quality of work they produce, and the extra miles they are always willing to run.

What a blessing for any church or institution to have men and women like this. Most of them have no idea how immensely and immeasurably valuable and vital their work is. But for every minute they spend on administration, that’s one more minute for pastors to spend on ministry (Acts 6:4). Every minute they give to paper is one more minute for pastors to give to people.

One of the greatest services you could do for your pastor is to ask him, “Is there any administration that I could take off your desk? Is there any office work that I could remove from your to-do list.” You’ve no idea how much that might help to improve his sermons and increase his counseling availability.

And if you’ve got one of those weird creatures, a minister who actually loves and seeks out administration, you’ve got to take him by the scruff of the neck and force him to hand over the paper, the files, and the paper clips. There are sermons to write and souls to be evangelized.

Administrators need ministers and ministers need administrators. As pastors already have an “Appreciation Day,” I’d be all for organizing an “Administrator’s Appreciation Day,” except of course that would involve me in administration.