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What if the culture war never happened
“The proper exercise of political power should be neither a matter of obsession nor a matter of disinterest for the followers of Jesus Christ. The dead are not raised by politics. But the living are protected by it. Some things are worth the struggle; some things are worth the cost.”

Why stay-at-home Moms are more depressed than working Moms
What’s the one factor that makes being a stay-at-home mom the most difficult: “The sheer challenge of parenting all day, every day. The constant sacrifice of body and soul to another being. The unrelenting subjugation of your desires to another’s needs. The fact that sometimes you can’t even go to the bathroom when you want to.”

An Educated Choice
Alex Chediak reviews a guide for parents of college-bound children

5 Reasons I Love Church-based Counseling
Definitely the ideal.

Americans have no idea how few gay people there are
Although less than 3% of the population is gay, over a third of all Americans believe the figure is at least 25%. That’s what I call the most successful propaganda campaign in history.

The Hunt for the Good Sermon
Never thought I’d see this in the Wall Street Journal.


Where are the Presbyterian Celebrity Pastors?

I’ve had enough painful experience of the weaknesses and abuses of Presbyterian Church government to know that it’s no panacea for the church’s ills – way too often it’s been the cause of them.

However, we seem to have been largely spared the celebrity pastor problem. Tim Keller is maybe the closest we’ve got. However, though fame has come to him, I don’t believe he’s gone looking for it (surely the defining characteristic of any celebrity). Others, like Sinclair Ferguson and Ligon Duncan have significant name recognition, but again who could ever argue that either of these two Christian gentlemen fit into the celebrity pastor mold? I mean they wear ties and blazers! Though popular and much-loved, they don’t have a whole entrepreneurial-industrial-business model built around them.

Plurality and Parity
Maybe, for all of Presbyterianism’s faults, there’s something in the system that limits this kind of phenomenon. It’s built of course on the whole idea of the plurality and parity of elders. No pastor operates as a lone ranger but is one of at least three elders; and no pastor is given more power or votes than his fellow elders.

On top of that is the plurality and parity of churches. No church is allowed to stand alone but is accountable to other local churches. And that’s not just true of the small churches, but of the big ones too. And all equally so. In Scottish Presbyterianism, the regular Presbytery meetings and the annual General Assembly are attended by an equal number of pastors (teaching elders) and elders (ruling elders), and all have the same rights – one vote each, ten minutes speaking time per issue/report, etc. It doesn’t matter if you represent the biggest or the smallest church – you are treated equally. It’s not the most ego-friendly of environments (except for the clerks!).

Even just the regular mixing with fellow pastors and elders from all sorts of different churches, wrestling through problems together, building consensus, praying together, debating Scripture, encouraging and admonishing one another, when working well, it all tends to puncture selfishness and self-importance.

Equal Pay
Then, at least in some Presbyterian churches, there’s the “Equal Dividend Platform,” an old name for the idea that every pastor is paid the same, no matter how big or small their church. Admittedly, some of the larger churches pay their pastors more by way of expenses, but it usually makes a difference of only about a few thousand dollars. And by the way, the salary of a pastor in my Scottish church is about 65% of national average earnings, which, with a parsonage/manse, gave a total salary value of about 85% of national average earnings (making the grand sum of @$27,000 pa). Try building a brand with that!

In my denomination, even when pastors were asked to take on extra responsibilities, like committee clerkships or lectureships, they were not given any “bonus.” The argument was, “Everyone’s working flat out already; so why should lecturers or clerks get paid more than those doing evangelism, etc?”

Weaknesses and Strengths
As I said, I’m well aware of Presbyterianism’s shortcomings. Like all forms of Church government, it’s only as good as those who run it. Structures and systems are no substitute for the Spirit, but I do think that Presbyterianism has some helpful hindrances to ego-driven ministries.


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Twitter Dynamos, Offering Words of God’s Love
When Twitter HQ set out to find the most influential people on Twitter, they didn’t expect to find it was Evangelical Christian leaders.

What does Scripture teach about the future role of Israel? 
I love the brevity, clarity, simplicity and verity of RC’s answer here.

Sugar can make you dumb
“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think.”

Christianity Unplugged
In the twenty-first century, being alone and withdrawing mean much more than being the only person in the room. They mean being unplugged.

A visit to St Kilda
Calum Angus Mitchell, one of my friends from my previous congregation, visited the now uninhabited island of St Kilda and brought back some beautiful pictures and moving words. Exiled Scots of the world, bring your Kleenex!

Professors need to come down from their Ivory Towers
Some good points for Seminaries here too.


Children’s Bible Reading Plan (81)

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, 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.

And here’s an explanation of the plan