Check out

Don’t give up on the evening service
Kevin DeYoung makes the case.

All’s well that ends well
Logos Bible Software reported a disturbing violent assault on their property last week. The good news is that after considerable local publicity, the vandal phoned Logos, confessed, offered to pay for the damage, and is meeting the Executive Vice-President for lunch this week!

Open Plan Offices Killing Creativity
“Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption.” More positively, here are ten steps for boosting creativity.

Write this down: Note-taking Strategies for Academic Success
For the students who still believe in taking notes.

Five ways blogging has made me a better writer
I don’t know if blogging has made me a better writer, but I know it’s taught me what better writing is.  And it’s in exactly the areas highlighted by Marc Cortez. (HT: Koinonia)

And here’s Kim Shay with a nice short piece on how transparency is the beginning of good writing.

How to memorize Scripture
How does reading Philippians out loud 50 times sound to you?

Post-prayer Satanic Whispers

“…and forgive my sins. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Within seconds the wicked whispers start.

“Too short.”

“Too shallow.”

“Too distracted…again.”

“Missed out her, and him, and them…”

“Yawn. Nothing new to say?”

“You call that a prayer?”

“Not enough faith…not enough passion…not enough anything.”

“You don’t actually believe that made a difference, do you?”

“You’ll probably not even think about prayer for the rest of the day”

And on, and on, and on it goes.

Relentless, cruel, malicious Satanic whispers that begin the second I end my morning prayer with, “Amen.”

Anyone else get that? It’s so discouraging, isn’t it. I mean, why pray if all you get at the end of it is an even heavier feeling of guilt and failure? Prayer should be a delight not a dread.

I’d really welcome your own input on this, but here’s how I try to fight back, silence the whispers, and turn prayer into a soul-refreshing delight again.

  1. God has forgiven me all my sins – even my sinful prayers.
  2. Jesus is perfecting my prayers and presenting them absolutely flawless to my Heavenly Father.
  3. My salvation does not depend on my prayers but on Jesus’ prayers.
  4. My Heavenly Father listens even to the raven’s ugly grating squawks (Ps. 147:9) and gives it food; how much more will he hear and answer the ugly grating squawks of one of His children?
  5. God delights in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy (Ps 147:9).
  6. God knows I’m a limited creature who cannot possibly pray for everyone everyday.
  7. Surely the Devil would simply leave me alone if my prayers were really so pathetic and useless.
  8. Just because my children don’t (can’t) tell me everything about their lives doesn’t make me love them less, nor does it reflect a lack of love on their part.
  9. But maybe best of all, “You, Satan, are going to be crushed under my feet shortly” (Rom. 16:2o).

Anyone got any more armor or weapons to fight this battle with? Any effective rebuttals or even prebuttals?

Check out

Theological Training
John Brand, Principal of the Faith Mission College in Edinburgh, reflects on the identity crisis in theological education.

“Jay Adams is deep and compassionate”
My very uncontroversial friend, Bob Kellemen, has a rather controversial post today. Check it out and let me/him know what you think.

The Demise of Guys
TED talk on male arousal addiction by Psychologist Philip Zimbardo. “Zimbardo cites excessive internet use, video gaming, and online porn as causes of this new addiction. By age 21, boys spend 10,000 hours gaming, two-thirds of that time in isolation. The average young man watches 50 porn clips per week.”

The Quiet Joys of the Introvert
Introverts of the world, rejoice!

Financial crisis or empathy crisis?
Arianna Huffington says that the world isn’t suffering from a financial crisis, or a eurozone crisis, or a confidence crisis as much as from a crisis of empathy. Her prescription? “Slow down, unplug, and get a lot more sleep. You’ll better understand and really connect with the people around you — and that, more than stimulus of the monetary or intellectual sort — is the key to making the world a better place.”

Filming Forests with a drone
Is it possible to watch something like this without coveting?

Counseling yourself

Summary: One of the best ways to learn how to counsel others is to learn how to counsel yourself by knowing your Bible, heart, body, past, social character, personality type, and learning style.

There are many ways to learn how to counsel: books, lectures, watching/learning from other counselors, and of course the actual practice of counseling others. All of these are vital components of a counseling education. But the best counselors of others are those who have learned how to counsel themselves first of all. I agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said that the secret to the Christian life was to “learn how to preach to yourself.”

The best counselors understand themselves, their personalities, their hearts, their strengths, their weaknesses, their limitations, their vulnerabilities, etc., and they have learned how to address these needs with God’s Word and God’s Works from God’s World.

So, what does self-counseling involve?

1. Knowing our Bible
The Bible must have priority and primacy in all that we do. It is the only infallible guide and teacher in the world. If we start with ourselves, we are starting with error. But of course it is our error-filled and error-prone minds that process the Bible. That’s why we so much need prayer and the Holy Spirit in all our Bible study (1 Cor. 2:10, 11).

2. Knowing our heart
I know of no better example of self-counseling than Joe Thorn’s excellent book, Note to Self: The discipline of preaching to yourself. Please read and re-read that little book of “heart-surgery” to understand the kind of spiritual dialogue that you should be having with yourself continually. And that in turn will be a huge help to you in ministering God’s Word to others.

3. Knowing our body
But there’s more to self-counseling than preaching God’s Word to yourself. We are not just spiritual beings; we are also physical and social beings. And sometimes our needs are more physical and social than spiritual. The best self-counselors understand their bodily and social needs as well as their spiritual needs, and they also understand the mysterious interaction of these realms of need. Our physicality affects our spirituality. As our weight, our health, our fitness, and our sleep all impact how we think and feel, we must get to know our bodies.

4. Knowing our past
Have a good think about all the factors in your past that have gone into shaping who you are. Your parents, your education, your values, and your experiences all impact who you have become, how you speak, how you think, how you feel, how you act. This is not some Freudian rubbish; it’s basic common sense. And again, the more we can grasp the impact of the past on our present and our future, the better placed we will be to understand, sympathize with, and help others as they move from past and present problems into the future.

5. Knowing our social character
Perhaps using Adam McHugh’s Introverts in the Church, get to know the difference between extroverts and introverts, place yourself on the extro/intro scale and it will help you to understand others much better too.

6. Knowing our personality type
Knowing what kind of personality we have will also be a huge help in self-counseling. Questions to consider are: Do you like active or passive roles? Are you task-oriented or people-oriented? How do you respond to challenges and problems? What roles do you take on in a group? What are the strengths of your personality? What are your weaknesses? Are you a one-way or two-way communicator? One of the ways to find out about ourselves is to ask others or to consider the criticisms we’ve received from others over the years. Understanding the wide range of different personalities that exist and the way that personality impacts every area of life will be a huge help to you in counseling.

7. Knowing our learning style
Some learn by watching and listening, others by feeling and experiences, others by thinking, and still others by doing. If we are data learners, lots of practical work will be wasted on us. But if we learn mainly by doing, then lots of book work will be pointless. If we can grasp our own learning style, we will better identify the learning style of others, and help them to learn from us.

Conclusion: One of the best ways to learn how to counsel others is to learn how to counsel yourself by knowing your Bible, heart, body, past, social character, personality type, and learning style.

Check out

The State of the Pulpit
Strong? Weak? Indifferent?

Although many will answer “No” to Mike’s questions, there are enough “Yes’s” around to justify the questions.

Real women don’t text back
How women fuel the Man-boy problem

Meet the marriage-killer
No, it’s not adultery. It’s nagging. And it’s definitely NOT a problem in my home (HT Challies)

What the debates say about America
Is there anything Kevin DeYoung is bad at?

Should Steve Jobs have been a nicer CEO?
You can’t help but ask this question as you read his bio.

Embracing Adversity