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Apprenticeships need more respect
Some amazing statistics and profound lessons.

They can try to disrupt her funeral but they cannot dishonor her legacy
I was a passionate Thatcherite in my late teens and early twenties, so much so that I campaigned with one of Winston Churchill’s grandsons as he ran for a completely unwinnable seat in one of the most dangerous parts of Glasgow. Michael Milton’s article on Margaret Thatcher and the Boston bombings brought back a lot of memories. Barbara Challies reflects on Amanda Thatcher’s powerful scripture reading at the funeral. Anne was in the Houses of Parliament when the death was announced.

Are biblical counselors sin maximizers?
My friend Bob Kellemen interacts with an article I wrote that attempted to bring differing views/emphases in counseling a bit closer together. You can read my original article here.

Dear Son…
A Father writes to a son about how to pray out loud in front of other people.

When you need help finding an Old Testament Commentary
Remember Tim Challies’ commentaries series as well.

Top 10 ways to ruin your child’s imagination

Optimism and Faith in a POW Camp

Who has the worst chance of surviving a prisoner of war camp?

An optimist!

According to General Stockdale, who was held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War and tortured 22 times before finally making it home, it was mainly optimists who did not make it out alive.

He explains: “They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

In contrast to false optimism, Stockdale attributes his survival to realistic faith: “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.” He concluded: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end–which you can never afford to lose–with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich tells this story on the Fastcompany website as an object lesson in how to build a business, summing it all up with what he called: The Stockdale Paradox – Faith trumps optimism.

Widrich applies the Stockdale Paradox by arguing that businesses should abandon the mirage of silver bullets, the false hope that “just one more thing, tweak, etc., is going to turn everything around.” Instead, they should work hard, keep faith in their product, and persevere to see gradual growth and success.

But we can apply this principle to our spiritual lives and ministries too. Many Christians and churches seem to entertain unending optimism in “the next big thing” to make the “big breakthrough” in their lives and churches. The consequences are increasing numbers of disillusioned Christians and churches, some of whom are dying from broken hearts.

If we want to avoid this, let’s abandon all optimism that the next big thing, ministry, personality, sermon, technique, film, strategy, etc., will fix us or the church. Such “silver bullets” distract us from reality and have a habit of blowing up in our faces.

Instead let’s confront the brutal reality of our lives, our families, our churches, and our society. But, at the same time, let’s also keep steady faith in the Word of God, especially its sure promises of personal perseverance and the ultimate triumph of faith and of the Church of Christ.

Optimism is not faith. But faith is optimistic.

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7 Reflections on an adoption that wasn’t meant to be
Deeply moving post from Justin Taylor. See and admire the gold of God’s work shining brightly in this dear brother’s life.

The Boston Bombers were outside their house
Interview with Stephen and Emily McAlpin, a Christian couple whose home was caught in the crossfire of 200 rounds last Thursday night.

Keeping our eyes on Christ
Robert Rothwell turns to Hebrews 12 to help him in the fight against distraction.

Discussing & Dealing with Pornography
Four helpful takeaways from Anthony Carter’s discipling of a generation who have been harmed by exposure to porn.

A brief lesson in letter-writing
How do you get people to pick up the phone to enquire is they are eligible for a refund? “Say what you mean; be brief; ask for action; follow up if you hear nothing.” Something for preachers here too?

What can we do to reduce the risk of suicide?
Sound advice from Adrian Warnock. And Hope for the suicidal mind from Paul Tautges.

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.

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

May God bless you and your children as you study the Word of life.

A Modern Parable of the Talents [Video]

(Email and RSS readers may have to click here to watch video)

I love what Rick DeVos is doing at Start Garden in Grand Rapids. Basically Rick has put together a $15 million dollar fund that invests $5,000 in two business ideas every week. One is chosen by Start Garden and the other is the one with the most endorsements from the general public.

Each $5,000 idea has about two months to do something constructive with the investment. Then they return to give an update at a public event, where a decision is made about whether to invest a further $20,000 in the business. If that goes well, then further investments of up to $100,000 are possible! And all this comes with advice and guidance from experienced business leaders.

A friend of mine has managed to get to the second stage with his G-RAPS idea. This would never have made it to market without Rik’s investment and encouragement. Wouldn’t it be great to see more wealthy business leaders not just multiplying their own “talents,” but helping others to do the same (Matthew 25:14-30).

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How Mollie Hemingway introduced the nation to Kermit Gosnell
Trevin Wax traces the amazing impact of one Christian journalist in calling national interest to a story most mainstream media outlets were trying to ignore.

Mental illness and the church
There may be a few phrases that could be tweaked in this article, but it’s good to see such an influential website dealing so carefully with this issue.

Belief in angry God associated with poor mental health
With the usual qualifier of “this does not explain every case of mental illness.” (HT: Joel Miller)

Cultivate Gospel Conversations by Listening
A much neglected area of Christian discipleship.

Babies and Bathtubs (2)
My wife, Shona, continues her humorous series on being pregnant in America. Today she look at some of the “trendy questions” she’s been asked.

Why pastors quit
Jason tries to slow the quit rate with some biblical encouragements.