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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

Is parting such sweet sorrow?

“Parting is such sweet sorrow” is one of Shakespeare’s oft-quoted lines. What few realize is that it was uttered in the context of Juliet saying goodnight to Romeo “till it be tomorrow.” The sorrow of that parting was sweetened by the knowledge that it was only for a few hours.

But what about those partings from loved-ones that will be for years and years? There is nothing sweet and plenty bitter about such partings. What unmixed sorrow when a dying husband has to kiss his wife and children goodbye for the last time! What bitterness when soldiers on the way to Afghanistan have to say goodbye to their family and friends! What agony when a pastor and his beloved flock have to part, in  response to God’s providential call, and sever the bond of love built up over years! Such partings are not “sweet sorrow,” but usually bitter, bitter, bitter.

The Lord Jesus also knew the deep sorrow of parting from His beloved family and flock on this earth. Time and again, He cautioned them that He had to “go away” (John 16:7). This was not easy for them; but neither was it easy for Him.

The pain of missing them
For Jesus, there was a double sorrow in this parting. First, there was the pain of missing the disciples’ company. Over the years, He had come to love them, and even to need and to depend upon them. As a man, He enjoyed their friendship. He took pleasure in their conversation and delighted in their varied characters and personalities. He loved seeing their faces with their ever-changing expressions. When He heard their familiar voices, He could tell what mood they were in. He delighted to see any hints of spiritual growth and appreciated their unique spiritual gifts. He wanted them with Him on earth (Matt. 26:37) and He wanted them with Him in heaven (John 17:24). But now there was the pain of parting from them for a time. How He would miss them, and what pain this caused Him, even in anticipation.

This bitter thought of missing His disciples, though, was partially sweetened for Christ by the knowledge that He was going to heaven, where all His pain and sorrow would be over. He was going to be with His glorified people, where the friendships and fellowship would be perfect and permanent. This, for Christ, somewhat sweetened the sorrow of parting.

The pain of paining them
Second, there was the pain of causing His flock pain. Jesus was not selfish. He was not thoughtless about those He was to leave behind. He cared deeply for His disciples and would have done anything, apart from disobeying His Father, in order to make them happy. The thought of His disciples feeling the aching void of His absence and shedding even one tear over it affected Him deeply and troubled His sensitive soul. “Because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart” (John 16:6). As a perfectly sympathetic High Priest, He felt their painful feelings even more acutely than they did!

How He wished He could be in two places at once!

But wait … He could!

Not physically, but spiritually! Not in His body, but by His Spirit! Not a localized bodily presence, but a worldwide spiritual presence! This would be even better than being with His disciples one by one! “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

Here, Jesus promises His sorrowing disciples that by His Spirit He would come to them, fellowship with them, and comfort them. The dying husband, the departing soldier, and the called pastor may wish they could do the same. They may wish that they could leave their spirit behind to continue the relationship and so sweeten the sorrow of physical parting. They can’t.

But Christ can, and did, and does.

Dear, lonely, sorrowing Christian, Christ promises, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). Even in dread-filled anticipation of life’s partings, such plain words sugar the emotions: “I will come to you.”

Take all the bitter sorrow of this world’s partings – both present painful reality and future feared possibilities – to the Lord Jesus and seek His comforting, sweetening presence in your empty and bitter soul. Then, and only then, will this world’s partings begin to become “such sweet sorrow.”

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Visual Theology: The Attributes of God
Tim Challies with another thought-provoking infographic

Family Worship: Part 3
RC Sproul Jr concludes his three part series with singing and answers to some objections.

The Shorter Catechism’s Time is Still Here
Paul Levy gathers some resources together i this post.

The Iron Lady
Carl Truman reflects on the passing of years and his memories of being one of Maggie’s fanboys. I was one too, and even campaigned for the Conservatives (for Americans, read “Republicans”) in Glasgow’s Maryhill (kind of like a Republican campaigning in the Bronx). But that’s a story for another day.

Scottish Independence: The American Perspective
As about 95% of all Americans outside Grand Rapids seem to have come from Scotland, I thought you might be interested in this BBC article on how Americans view the move towards Scottish Independence.  And no I won’t be eating Haggis tonight. I tried it once; never again.

Pat Kiernan: On curation, Tactics, and Getting it done
Enjoyed this insight into the life and work of  a TV journalist whose job is to filter the deluge of news for his viewers.

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 9.5 oz: World’s Smallest Baby
Barry York calls us not only t0 watch this video but act upon it.

Don’t take it from me: Reasons you should not marry an unbeliever
Kathy Keller with some brave and needed words.

Why I don’t homeschool, and you shouldn’t either
It’s not what you think!

Is too much texting giving you”Text Neck”?
If so, here are some exercises.

Obama Administration: Religious Employers Must Pay for the Pill
This. Is. Astonishing. Looks like we’ll have to delete the last line of the national anthem.

Ed Stetzer reflects on Newt and the difficulty of recovering a lost reputation.

Writing Secrets of Prolific Authors
“I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might (if I were good enough) get me a Pulitzer prize. I would write merely clearly and in this way establish a warm relationship between myself and my readers, and the professional critics—Well, they can do whatever they wish.”~Isaac Asimov (500 books).

Let not the sun go down on your wrath

“Let not the sun go done on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26)

This is one of my wife’s favorite verses of Scripture.

Can’t think why.

But anyway, science has now come out in her support (and Scripture’s of course).

Under the headline Sleep preserves and enhances unpleasant emotional memories Medical xPress reports sleep researchers findings that if you go to sleep immediately after experiencing a negative emotion such as anger or fear, the feelings are not lessened by sleep but are rather preserved and even enhanced by it.

However if a period of time is allowed to pass between the unpleasant emotions and sleep, then the next day’s emotional response is significantly lessened.

Of course, the neuroscientists don’t mention repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. And (Yawn!) they do manage to squeeze in evolution somewhere. Still, it’s fascinating to see science unwittingly confirm biblical instruction.

But then again, although we know there will be a hangover, is there not something darkly delicious about furious fizzing as the sun sets….?

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5 Hats a Pastor Wears
So that’s why my head often hurts.

How to stay Christian in Seminary: Know Your Values
Wish articles like this didn’t need to be written. Pete Scribner reflects on this with Seminary doesn’t need to kill your faith. Trust me, it’s a more positive post than it sounds.

The Digital Puritan
Quite an amazing selection of Puritan books in various free and paid electronic formats.

10 Distinguishing Marks of Calvin’s Preaching
My favorite one is #4.

Bad Mood? Low energy? Simple explanation
Feel a bit blah? Time to start drinking…water

And you thought my stand-up desk was crazy! Think I could sneak this into the Seminary?