Check out

Why we should preach Christ in every sermon
And here’s a series on the same subject on Ed Stetzer’s blog, starting with Darrell Block on Christ-centered Interpretation.

10 Ways Mental Illness is Stigmatized in the Church
A follow-up on 10 Ways Mental Illness is Stigmatized in our Culture.

Get Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” Free
Matthew Lee Anderson with a new way of selling his own book The End of our Exploring.

How long does a pastor preach?
Only 2% preach a sermon that lasts less than 20 minutes. And only 2% preach a sermon that goes over 55 minutes. The median of all the times reported was 36 minutes.

Everyday Christianity
Anthony Bradley on freeing faith “from the accidental pharisaism of Missional, Radical, Crazy and other Superlatives.”

The Reformation for a new generation
An interview with children’s author, Bill Boekestein.


Young pastor, obscurity is your friend

Lots of fascinating insight and helpful advice in this interview with Internet entrepreneur Jason Fried, President and co-founder of 37 Signals. His caution to those just starting out in business is so transferable to those just starting out in ministry:

Also, I think obscurity is your friend when you’re just starting out. People want to get rid of the obscurity so everyone knows who they are and what they’re doing, but it’s nice to have that cushion of being able to mess up without anyone knowing or caring so that you can learn without the spotlight on you. Once the spotlight is on you, there’s a lot of pressure and you don’t need that kind of pressure early on. Take it easy, have a long-term view on things, build on little successes, and learn more before you try to go out and change the world.

I’ve seen young ministers with great potential damaged, and even destroyed, by doing the opposite of this.

I’ve also seen others, some that I had major doubts about, chose small and unnoticed ministries, and they’ve slowly grown into fine preachers, wise leaders, and respected counselors.


Check out

Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s 50 Year Goals
“We were worshiping in a small Haitian church, sitting on hard wood benches. In the middle of the service, my dad leaned over to me and whispered, “Honey, what are your 50-year goals?””

Online Theological Resources
Nathan Busentiz’s Top 10. Here are some I listed in an older post.

All in the family
This is quite frightening. Why the mainstream media failed to break the Obama scandals.

Time is money
If this ever comes to the USA, it’s going to cost some pastors a fortune. A German cafe is now charging for the time customers spend there, rather than for the coffee they buy.

Learn what the Bible says about Economics
This would make a great graduation gift.

The Trinity as Old Testament Book Club
This title seems a bit irreverent, but the concept and the theology are quite profound and worshipful.


Children’s Daily 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.

Jason Henry, a missionary in Mongolia, has very kindly collated and produced 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


Wonderful Southern Baptist Resolution on Mental Health Issues

At the Southern Baptist Convention yesterday, Pastor Ronnie Floyd introduced “A resolution on mental health concerns and the heart of God” with these words:

Mr. President and Messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, I wanted to appeal to you for your overwhelming support of this motion. Jesus called us to care for the suffering, “the least of these.”

We often overlook them. At times, their lives are so disrupted and severe they require intervention. These people and their families are often isolated, stigmatized, and rejected. They are referred to as “the mentally ill.”

Our churches and communities are filled with people who need us to minister to them and their families. 58 million Americans and 450 million people globally meet criteria for a mental disorder. These are often chronic conditions that must be managed, not cured. One million of these individuals around the world die as the result of suicide annually.

In recent years and days, we have seen mass shootings and disturbing events that have left us stunned. Even some of our well-known Southern Baptist families have lost loved ones due to mental health challenges. Southern Baptist Pastor, Rick Warren tweeted recently: “Why is it…if any other organ in your body breaks you get sympathy, but if your brain breaks, you get secrecy and shame?”

The church must answer this question. We can no longer be silent about this issue and we must cease with stigmatizing those with mental health challenges. Pastors, church leaders, and all of our churches must become equipped to care for the least of these.

When that horrific EF5 tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma, our Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers were on the scene immediately. Baptist Press reported a powerful testimony of a woman who was led to Christ by one of our chaplains. She stated, “I was going to take my life today. But now I know God cares for me and people care.” When disasters occur, we do a phenomenal job as Southern Baptists in the middle of material and physical rubble.

Now it is time that we do as great of a job in our churches and our communities, demonstrating compassion in the emotional rubble that can be piled high in the people and their families who deal with mental health challenges. It is time NOW that the Southern Baptist Convention is on the FRONT LINES of the mental health challenges.

Therefore, I call upon the Southern Baptist Convention to rise up with compassion, letting America and the world know, that we will be there to walk with them, minister to them, and encourage them in the mental health challenge that plagues their lives and traps their families from the needed love and support they long for from the body of Christ.

Debate

This report says that “the resolution was debated for 15 minutes as two amendments were offered that sought to affirm the sufficiency of Scripture as the final authority on all mental health issues. Messengers defeated the amendments as discussion centered on the recognition that any mental illness, just as any other physical condition, needs medical care.” If anyone can supply me with the report of this part of the debate, I’d be very grateful.

I was so encouraged by the clear and compassionate Christian leadership in this resolution. Read down to the “resolved’s” below and hear the clarion call to Christ-like action.

The Final Resolution

WHEREAS, God made all things perfectly good in design for His glory and the good of humanity (Genesis 1–2); and

WHEREAS, Adam and Eve rebelled against Him, choosing their own way and the way of the Evil One, and consequently ushered sin and disorder into our world and the whole human race (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12–21; 8:22); and

WHEREAS, As a consequence of this Fall, humanity is subjected to many kinds of mental health problems including autism spectrum disorders; intellectual disability; mental health conditions like schizophrenia, clinical depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, and eating disorders; and diseases of the aged such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; and

WHEREAS, God did not abandon fallen humanity but loved the world (John 3:16–17) and launched a plan of redemption—a restoration that is incomplete in this age but will be perfected in heaven (1 Peter 1:3–9); and

WHEREAS, Those with mental health concerns, like all people, are crowned with honor and dignity, being made in the image and likeness of God (Psalm 8:4–6; James 3:9); and

WHEREAS, Those with mental health concerns are disproportionately represented among the homeless and in our correctional systems, indicating a tragic neglect of these persons who are made in God’s image; and

WHEREAS, Those who are struggling with mental health concerns often feel isolated, stigmatized, and rejected, sometimes resorting to self-destructive behaviors, including suicide; and

WHEREAS, Suicide is a tragedy, leaving heartache, pain, and unanswered questions in its wake; and

WHEREAS, Recent events in our nation and among God’s people have underscored the tragedy of mental health concerns and their devastating toll within our families, our churches, and our culture; and

WHEREAS, Jesus Christ spent time with and healed some of the most marginalized members of the culture of His day; and

WHEREAS, God has appointed His people to be the main representatives of His heart and values to the world; and

WHEREAS, God has called us to share the Gospel of Christ with all people, including those suffering various mental health concerns; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, on June 11–12, 2013, affirm that those with mental health concerns are of immeasurable value to God; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the mission Jesus described as His own in Luke 4:18-19 should also be the mission of His church, namely to proclaim liberty to those who are oppressed by means of godly biblical counsel; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commit to affirm, support, and share God’s love and redemption with those with mental health concerns; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we oppose all stigmatization and prejudice against those who are suffering from mental health concerns; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we support the wise use of medical intervention for mental health concerns when appropriate; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we support research and treatment of mental health concerns when undertaken in a manner consistent with a biblical worldview; and be it further

RESOLVED, That families who have lost a member to suicide deserve great care, concern, and compassion from Christians and their churches, including the assurance that those in Christ cannot be separated from the eternal love of God that is in Christ Jesus; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call on all Southern Baptists and our churches to look for and create opportunities to love and minister to, and develop methods and resources to care for, those who struggle with mental health concerns and their families.


Charity and Clarity in Counseling

Review of Chapter 2: The Power of the Redeemer by Ernie Baker and Jonathan Holmes in Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling.

The core of this chapter is a beautiful exposition of Isaiah 61:1-2 in which Christ is presented as an incredible person, with a definite pattern to His ministry, and a purpose for coming. Thus, if we are to be Christ-centered in our counseling, we must demonstrate and incarnate His person, purpose, and pattern.

The authors use Christ’s counseling of the Samaritan woman in John 4 as a pattern for our own.

  • Intentional: Christ’s conversations have a purpose. Every question probes for an answer.
  • Interactive: Jesus asks questions, engages, listens, and offers wise counsel.
  • Illustrative: Jesus uses everyday objects, such as water, to open the floodgates of Old Testament imagery.
  • Insightful: Jesus helps the woman see her heart needs are more important than her bodily needs.

Jesus’ unmistakeable goal was not primarily to advise her how to improve her living arrangements but to restore her to what she was truly designed for – to be a true worshiper of God.

Charity and Clarity

The “Three P’s” are memorable foundational principles and the “Four I’s” are unforgettable foundational practices for every counseling situation. This chapter brought me to love my powerful Redeemer more, and to pray for help to communicate more of His redeeming love in my counseling.

But I was left with an unanswered question at the end of the chapter: “Is Biblical Counseling an alternative to cognitive behavior therapy and medication, or can these all work together?”

The chapter opened by describing the failure of cognitive behavior therapy and medication in Kelli’s life, and goes on to narrate the contrasting success of biblical counseling in her situation.

Implied conclusion? We should use biblical counseling and not cognitive behavior therapy or medication.

That seems to be confirmed by the way that the authors ask at the end of the chapter: “What had been missing in her sessions of cognitive behavior therapy? Why was she left unsatisfied and empty?”

Or is that question suggesting that cognitive behavior therapy and medication are OK as long as Christ-centered Biblical Counseling is used as well, or primarily? It’s not clear.

Then Kelli is quoted as saying: “While the techniques practiced in therapy had great potential to be helpful, they lacked the substance that was able to make the program effective. Only Jesus through the power of His Word was able to break down my walls…”

There Kelli could be read as saying that her previous program was good but lacking, and only when Biblical Counseling was added to the mix did she experience healing.

This kind of vague ambiguity is common, unhelpful, and potentially damaging. If CBT and medication are always wrong in these situation, then let this be clearly stated. But, if they may be viewed as part of a holistic package of care, with Biblical Counseling as the organizing priority (which is my own view), then let’s say that clearly too.

I don’t know what’s so difficult about that.

Quotables

The gospel is not just a message to believe; it is a person to follow.

We are sent on a mission to “make disciples,’ not just to proclaim a message.

Biblical counseling is broken people helping other broken people find healing through the power of the gospel and in the power of the Spirit as they apply the living principles of Scripture to life.

God not only wants to bring us to Himself, He desires to make us into the image of His Son.

[Therapy seeks] to help people become an improved version of themselves.

Previous Posts in this Series

Introduction to Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling
John Piper on Biblical Counseling