Check out (11/23)

Counseling
Gaining a Balanced Picture on God’s Counsel
It’s worth setting aside ten minutes to read and study Stuart Scott’s important article on the vital balance between Gospel Indicatives, Gospel Imperatives, and Gospel Worship. Stuart’s also provided some excellent graphics which would be a huge help in teaching this to a Sunday School or Bible Study class.

A Theologically Informed Approach to Sexual Abuse Counseling
Bob Kellemen’s ETS paper is a 30-45 minute read, but it might save you many hours of fruitless counseling in the future.

Preaching
Here’s a podcast I did with Kevin Thomson about How Sermons Work.

Four Interpretive Guidelines for Understanding Jesus’ Parables
How come people like R C Sproul can make it all so simple?

Technology
Contact lenses that display your emails!
Well, so far, they can only display one pixel, but it’s a start.

Politics
Searching for the perfect candidate
Cal Thomas’s analysis sounds similar to some pastoral search committees criteria!
“The best candidate would clearly be a composite of the eight still standing: Mitt Romney’s business sense and debating skills; Newt Gingrich’s experience in Washington and knowledge of how to tear down the enormous bureaucracy and make government function the way the founders intended; Herman Cain’s political passion and the added bonus of being a conservative African-American; Ron Paul’s fealty to the Constitution and his call for America to rethink its military role in the world; Jon Huntsman’s knowledge of China, which will remain important for decades; Rick Santorum’s and Michele Bachmann’s strong moral voices (along with her singular feminine voice) in an age of societal flux; and Rick Perry’s Southwestern values and evangelical faith.”

Education
Five ways to make more time to read
Maybe once I’ve had time to read this, I’ll be able to read Lit! Tony Reinke’s new book on reading.

Or maybe it’s just a new desk I need…


Footprints everywhere

Did you know?

  • This year’s drought cost Texas $5.2 billion in lost agricultural production
  • The future of the Texas economy depends on water availability
  • Global demand for clean water will outstrip supply by an average of 40% by 2030
  • Just as oil played a major role in 20th century wars, many believe many 21st century conflicts will be over water
  • The most water-aware companies will aso be the most resilient and stable
  • Companies like Coca-Cola and Nestle now publish “water footprints” per product line
  • You have a water footprint


Yes, you do. In fact, you can calculate the size of your water footprint here (simpler version here). It’s pretty big and deep!

For example, if you drank apple juice for breakfast, that one glass cost 190 litres of water. It you had toast, you can add another 40 liters. Put cheese on it and you’re sinking in another 50 liters. And if your head is still above the water, don’t reach for the coffee because that will drown you in a further 140 liters of water (check out the stats here.)

So you can now add your water footprint to your carbon footprint and your ecological footprint.

Footprints everywhere. Didn’t know I had so many legs.

Anyone anywhere worried about their sin footprint? Is there a website for that? Is there an online calculator for that?


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!”