Check out (11/22)

Bible Study
Sentence diagrams on Logos 4
Morris Proctor breaks down the tricky yet helpful science of sentence diagramming.

Family
How my wife helped me man-up and lead family devotions
Title says it all really.

Counseling
The Enetrepreneur’s guide to good night’s sleep
Can’t think why these six tips are limited to entrepreneurs. The more I have pastored and counseled people, the more convinced I’ve become about the non-negotiable necessity of a good night’s sleep for preventing and curing spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical problems.

Preaching
Preaching texts you do not understand 
On Sunday Carl Truman  preached on 1 Timothy 2:15, the verse concerning salvation through childbirth. Here he offers advice on how to avoid being skewered by a random 6-year-old after the service. And here’s a Christian woman’s difficult experience of that difficult text.

Series on Job
My pastor is preaching a marvelous series on Job. Have a listen to last Sunday morning’s sermon to whet your appetite and then go back to the beginning and enjoy the whole series.

Politics
Chris Matthews gets a bitter taste of his own medicine. Sweet!


Turn haters into friends. Ask them for a favor!

We all have haters. Christians have more than most. And faithful pastors maybe have more than anyone.

So how do you handle them?

Well, you can hate them back; but that’s not much help to you or them.

You can ignore them; but I don’t know too many who have succeeded at this.

You can try to make them like you; but that’s often an exercise in humiliating man-pleasing that usually only makes them more man-hating.

Or you can ask them for a favor! This counterintuitive approach is sometimes known as The Benjamin Franklin Effect, because Franklin perfected the art of turning his enemies into friends by asking them for help.

The Benjamin Franklin Effect
For example, Franklin turned one of his haters into a good friend by simply requesting to borrow a rare book.  After this man had lambasted Franklin in a campaign speech, Franklin set out to turn his hater into a fan; but he wanted to do it without “paying any servile respect to him.” Relying on his own reputation as a book lover, Franklin sent a letter to the hater asking if he could borrow a book from his library, one which was a “very scarce and curious book.” The rival, flattered, sent it right away. Franklin sent it back a week later with a thank you note. Mission accomplished.

The next time the legislature met, the man approached Franklin and spoke to him in person for the first time. Franklin said the hater “ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.” Franklin explains:

This is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned, which says, ‘He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.’ And it shows how much more profitable it is prudently to remove, than to resent, return, and continue inimical [hostile] proceedings.

Or to put it simply: You grow to like people for whom you do nice things, and hate people you harm.

Psychologists and Jay Adams agree!
How does this work? Well, the psychologists explain it thus:

Despite the way things may seem—our actions determine our opinions about people and not the other way around. It is well known in psychology the cart of behavior often gets before the horse of attitude. Your actions tend to chisel away at the raw marble of your persona, carving into being the self you experience day-to-day…The things you do often create the things you believe.

But it isn’t just the deistical Franklin or secular psychologists who have identified this principle. In The Christian Counselor’s Manual, Jay Adams highlights Ichabod Spencer’s (also known as “The Bunyan of Brooklyn”) observation that “feelings flow from behavior.” This is why, says Adams, that Christian counselors do not focus on feelings because “they know that when they focus on attitudes and actions that the proper feelings will follow” (Prov. 15:30; 17:22).

In Competent to Counsel, after expounding God’s counsel to Cain in Genesis 4:3-7 (If you do right, will your face not be lifted up?), Adams concludes: “Voluntary behavioral alterations will lead to involuntary emotional changes. It is important to understand, therefore, that feelings flow from actions.”

While I fear that Adams sometimes goes too far in applying this insight to all emotional suffering, I certainly believe that in many situations we can not only change our hater’s feelings by asking him/her to do something good for us, but that we can also improve our own feelings towards them by doing something good for them, perhaps praying for them.

For example, recently I’ve been very burdened in prayer for someone who did me and my family much wrong some years ago. To be honest, I never ever expected to be praying for him because whenever his name was mentioned in the past, imprecations came to mind more easily than blessings. However, through various providences in his life and mine, I now find myself praying for him several times a day. And, although I can hardly believe it at times, love is beginning to grow.


Check out (11/21)

Ministry
Evernote for Pastors
Need help to get that study organized on a Monday morning? Ron Edmondson with a short but helpful e-book ($1.99) on how Pastors can use Evernote. Michael Hyatt is probably even more fanatical about Evernote than I am. Here’s an index to his helpful posts.

Work
The 50 things every creative should know
I liked # 1,2, 6, 13, 17, 32, 34, 44, 46 & 48.

Starbucks and Vocation
Yes, as Matt Perman highlights, we can glorify God by making good coffee. I wish every Grand Rapids Starbucks employee would read this.

Counseling
Faith or Genetic Testing?
Paul Tautges shares his family’s ethical and spiritual struggles as they seek the Lord’s will for their 7 year-old-daughter. Includes a helpful paragraph on common grace.

Education
Where to get the best free education online.

Is Salman Khan the new Andrew Carnegie? 

Culture
Toast Sandwich is UK’s cheapest meal
In these tough economic times, how does a 10 cent sandwich grab you? These poor Brits!

What your luggage says about you
Are you (1) Passenger “Extreme” or (2) Passenger “Couture”?


Check out (11/19)

Theology
The Emotions of Jesus
Paul Tautges is running a series on The Emotional Life of our Lord, my favorite essay by B. B. Warfield (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Does Calvinism make God a moral monster?
Mike Horton responds to a common criticism of Calvinism (HT: Justin Taylor)

Technology
3 Proven Strategies to Keep the Internet from Killing your Productivity 

Wonder where that plane’s going?
Wonder no more. Just enter the search term “flights overhead” at WolframAlpha.com on any computer or smartphone’s browser, and you’ll find out what type of aircraft it is, where it’s coming from, where it’s going, what airline it belongs to and how high it’s flying at the moment.

Culture
Leadership’s New Direction
After conducting a survey of over 500 current business school students The Harvard Business Review concludes “that their worldviews and backgrounds differ strikingly from previous generations. With 100,000 graduating from US Business schools every year, Christian leaders should think through the challenging conclusions. They include:

  • They’re highly educated: 54% of Millennials have college degrees, compared to 36% of boomers.
  • They’re focused on sustainability: 65% of MBAs believe that the scarcity of resources will significantly impact businesses in the next few decades, compared to 29% of CEOs.
  • They seek meaning: Intellectual challenge is the most important reason for choosing a job.
  • They’re global: The average number of countries respondents intend to work within ten years of graduation is 4.6.
  • They’re looking to “connect the dots” between sectors: 84% believe it is essential to understand the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

Brain Changes in Video Gamers
It’s actually not all bad news. But just in case you really want to worry, read Are the iPod generation ruining their hearing for good? (HT: Tim Challies)

Politics
$15 Trillion and counting. Somebody please tell me that this is not really happening. “On Wednesday, the federal government’s total debt exceeded fifteen trillion dollars. That’s $48,000 in debt per citizen and over $133,000 in debt per taxpayer. Adding in all U.S. debt, including personal (mortgages, credit cards, student loans), plus government at all levels, the debt is approaching an incomprehensible $55 trillion, representing almost $661,000 per American family.”

Video
Got this via The Christian Pundit. Skip the intro and fast forward to 3.16. As Bill says: “It led me to marvel, and to worship God: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1) There is tremendous beauty, intricacy and mystery declaring God’s glory all around us, even in a groaning, fallen creation (Romans 8:22). How incredibly beautiful heavenly glory must be. How incredibly beautiful and marvelous the new creation will be!”


Children’s Bible Reading Plan (55)

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.


Check out (11/18)

Theology
The Marrow of Modern Divinity
“I’ve come to believe that one of the most significant theological controversies the modern church must acquaint itself with is the controversy surrounding the Marrow of Modern Divinity.” So says Nick Batzig and I agree. Nick points us in the right direction for lectures and books on the subject.

Ministry
Ligonier 2011 Ministry Update
Check out the always encouraging annual report from one of my favorite Christian organizations.

How to have a church prayer meeting
Kevin DeYoung’s church started a once-a-month, Sunday evening prayer meeting last year. In this blog, he shares what he’s learned.

Hospitality 101
Rebecca Vandoodewaard gave a much-appreciated address on hospitality at the PRTS Ministry Wives Institute this week, and now she’s sharing some of that also on her blog (Part 1, Part 2).

Five Crucial Sermon Questions

Just so you know what I’m worth
Adrian Reynolds gives ten ways how not to evaluate your pastor.

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament
Gary Millar gives us 8 pathways from the OT to Christ.

Culture
Fewer Teens Having Sex these Days
Well we’re usually quick to bemoan social decline, so let’s be thankful when there’s a little positive news.

1 in 5 Americans take Mental Health Drugs
But Time Magazine and the World Health Organisation isn’t sure if this is good or bad. I’ll post my own response to this next week.

Technology
Savvy for iPhone
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just round the corner, this App gets you the best price after you bought something!

How Amazon became the World’s Largest retailer [Infographic]

5 ways higher education is leveraging Mobile Tech.
“Technology in education usually means places of higher learning play a bit of catch-up, but those who start embracing mobile now with development and budget resources will be ahead of the curve for years to come. Check out what Purdue University’s done with mobile learning with their remarkable Studio Project. In particular, the project’s Hotseat app takes status updates and creates a “collaborative classroom” by allowing students to provide near real-time feedback during class. The idea is that professors can then adjust the course content and improve the overall learning experience.”

Jetpack for sale…for $100,000
This is still a bit out of my reach, but who hasn’t dreamed it? I don’t think this is an April fool.