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Shepherds as Pastor-Theologians
Loved the last two sentences: “That’s why in our Systematic Theology department, we have pastors doing theology, living theology. Most are pastors of local congregations and thus exhibit the desired paradigm: pastor-theologians training pastor-theologians.”

Philanthropist Joe Segal: A Passion for Helping
What an inspiring and cheering story about a rags-to-riches millionaire who is now channeling his wealth into the very unglamorous field of mental health care.

The Builders of this Spanish Skyscraper Forgot the Elevator
Isn’t there a Bible verse about this somewhere. Luke 14:28 maybe?

Don’t worry, I’m not about to try this next Sunday. But I was still deeply moved and challenged by Greg Lucas’s article about how his autistic son, Jake, not only applied the pastor’s sermon on giving each other a holy kiss, but showed how indispensable each part of the body of Christ is.

Fasting in an Age of Fast Food
Thorough yet brief treatment of fasting from Danny Hyde.

From One Sentence to the Next
I watched this incredibly powerful film with my family at the weekend, then led my family in confession of sin, and in covenanting before God to never again use our phones in any way while driving.

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 year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the second year of morning and evening readings 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

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Increase Happiness

In 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Increase Happiness, Beth Belle Cooper wrote:

I would love to be happier, as I’m sure most people would, so I thought it would be interesting to find some ways to become a happier person that are actually backed up by science. Here are ten of the best ones I found.

In summary:

  1. Exercise more: 7 minutes might be enough
  2. Sleep more: You’ll be less sensitive to negative emotions
  3. Move closer to work: A short commute is worth more than a big house
  4. Spend time with friends and family: Your relationships are worth more than $100,000
  5. Go outside: Happiness is maximized at 13.9 C
  6. Help others: 100 hours a year is the magic number
  7. Practice smiling: It can alleviate pain
  8. Plan a trip: but don’t take one
  9. Meditate: rewire your brain for happiness
  10. Practice gratitude: Increase both happiness and life satisfaction

If you read the whole article, you’ll be amazed at the fascinating science behind each of these suggestions. In a way it shouldn’t surprise us because many of the ideas are Christian virtues and others are respectful of the limitations God built into our humanity. However, I’d question how lasting these happiness plans are, especially as old age takes over. And then there’s judgment and eternity. What then?

Every Christian would want to begin this list with “Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.” Of course, that happiness strategy cannot be scientifically proven (Heb. 11:1). But we have something much surer than science to support and encourage us in this. We have the unchanging and reliable Word of God to assure us of God’s joy strategy throughout our lives and throughout eternity (John 15:11).

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6 Academic Resolutions for the New Year
Marc Cortez sends us back to school with “new year” resolutions.

Candid Pastoral Thoughts on Depression and Drugs
I’m more optimistic than Dan about the effectiveness of anti-depressants, but I appreciated the careful and compassionate way he expressed his concerns here, concerns which I also share. Over here, Bob Kellemen’s been dialoguing with a blog commenter about the difference/similarities between Biblical Counseling and a more integrated approach. It’s a profitable exchange.

Families, Flourishing, and Upward Mobility
James Smith: “One of the most powerful correlates with upward mobility is stability of family structure, including the presence of two-parent families, coupled with a strong presence of religious communities.”

Fascinating story about an African who came to the USA, came to faith, came to love the Puritans, and came to create a daily devotional App.

Christians, protect each other from busyness
Surely part of loving our neighbor as ourselves.

When you are broken
I’m not poetic enough to always follow Ann Voskamp’s posts, but there are some beautiful lines about aging here: “The point is that your life is meant to be used up and every wrinkle means you are wringing out the good of the wonder of this thing called life.”

Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law

In his exposition of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, the puritan Richard Sibbes provides, in one glorious paragraph, a summary of his view of the relationship of Christ to all Scripture. He writes:

  • Christ is the scope of the whole Scriptures – from the first promise of the blessed seed, “The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head” (Gen 3:15), to the end of the book.
  • The Scriptures are nothing without Christ – law and gospel would be dead letters without Christ
  • Christ is “that Spirit” which gives life to all the Scriptures
  • Moses without Christ is but a shadow without a body, or a body without a soul.
  • Without Christ the brazen serpent, the ark, the sacrifices, and everything else are nothing because Christ is “all in all.”
  • The kings, priests, and prophets are all types of Christ
  • All the promises were made and fulfilled in Christ
  • The ceremonial law all aimed at Christ
  • The moral law drives us to Christ
  • Christ is the Spirit of all
  • The Scripture without Christ is but a mere dead thing; a shell without a kernel (p. 207).

Sibbes goes on to show how the covenant of grace under the gospel is more excellent that the administration of this same covenant in the time of the law. Notice that – Sibbes is not saying that the Old Testament was all law and the New Testament was all gospel. Rather he sees the gospel in both Testaments; but in the Old Testament, it is administered through more of a legal framework. He argues that the gospel has four excellencies in the New Testament compared with the time of the law:

1. In its scope: We all (all sound Christians) have eyes opened; all sorts of believers (Jews and Gentiles) behold His glory.

2. In its experience: We all with open face, freely, boldly, and cheerfully, look upon the glory of God in the gospel, as opposed to the bondage of ceremonies and of the law. ”In a great part they had little gospel and a great deal of law mingled with it. We have much gospel and little law. We have more freedom and liberty.”

3. In its clarity: We see Christ more clearly. We have the opportunity to see Christ in the glass of the Word and sacraments; they saw through a world of ceremonies; for them Christ was swaddled and wrapped up in a lot of types.

4. In its power: The Spirit works more strongly now; the veil has been taken away and believers are being changed from glory to glory.

I must admit it’s not always clear in what sense Sibbes is using “law” (is it the moral law? the ceremonial law? or is it the time of the law, the Old Testament?). However his basic point is clear, and he concludes by exhorting us to seriously consider the excellent time God has allowed us to live – a time in which we are able to see Christ better than our forefathers ever saw – and to respond to the Lord’s graciousness with thankfulness and obedience.

Sermon by Richard Sibbes: “Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law” from 2 Corinthians 3:17-18.  Excerpted from: Sibbes, Richard. Works of Richard Sibbes, Vol. 4:203-249.  Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2001.

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A Game Plan For Combatting Worry
You can find the previous three parts of this David Powlison series here.

Two for Twenty
Anthony Carter: “Recently someone asked me if I could share with him a couple of principles that have proved most beneficial in marriage these past twenty years.”

Sermons Are Not For Liking
TIm Challies hates the question: “Did you enjoy the sermon?” and suggests a couple of alternatives.

The $40,000 Mistake
Last weekend someone at Logos made a technical mistake that set web prices for dozens of products to zero. Customers purchased $40,000 worth of materials at zero cost. What happened next will surprise you.

Forgiven People Forgive
What a great modern illustration of Luke 7v42-27.

12 Myths About Calvinism
I’d rephrase some of this, but it could be a useful discussion starter with non-Calvinists.