Check out

14 Books to Kick Off 2014
Great way to begin the new year.

Bible Land Blogs
Thanks to Charles Savelle at Bible X for this great tip off. Lots to explore here for anyone interested in the geography of the Bible.

When Nothing Created Everything
Want to start an argument a conversation with your evolutionary friends?

Biblical Manhood and Pursuing Platform
Seeking it for self or using it for the Lord.

Duck Dynasty: Where Will It End?
Key paragraph in Marvin Olasky’s article: “Where does it end? Can’t we make distinctions anymore between someone who wants to beat up homosexuals and someone who (1) affirms what the Bible says, (2) recognizes that gays are also made after God’s image, and (3) notes that all of us, without exception, are sinners? Must we all applaud propaganda? Can’t we oppose bullying attempts from both sides?”

This Year’s Biggest Discoveries in Science
Read through biblical lens, especially #5 which reads more like fiction than fact.

Weird? Bizarre? Coincidence? Or God?

Imagine you found an old biography and started reading it only to discover incredible parallels, similarities, and overlaps with your own life. The person you’re reading about about seems to have gone through almost identical experiences to yourself and even thought the same thoughts, felt the same feelings, spoke the same words, and sang the same songs! You’d almost conclude that the book was written for you, even about you.

Uncanny! Weird! Bizarre! Coincidence!

Or God.

In the case of Jesus, it was God.

Not coincidence, but Providence.

The book is the Old Testament, especially 1 and 2 Samuel; the songs are found in the book of Psalms; and the subject of the biography is King David.

God deliberately designed David’s life, words, and songs in such a way that they helped the Lord Jesus to come, live, suffer, and die for sinners. When Jesus read these stories and sang these songs, He found incredible parallels, similarities, and overlaps with his own life. They were written for Him. They were written about Him. Which is why we find Him quoting the Psalms so often.

From the beginning of his life: 

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God’” (Ps. 40:6-8 quoted in Hebrews 10:5-7).

To the end of his life:

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Ps. 31:5 quoted in Luke 23:46).

What a book. What a Savior. What a God!

Check out

Learning to be a Grateful Critic
Nick Batzig: “Caring about what happens in the wider church is something that we see played out on the pages of the New Testament; but, the way that people tend to line up on either side of these questions to either uncritically defend or hyper-critically condemn well-known pastors/theologians has become a matter of grave concern to me.”

9 Reasons to Pray
Jason Helopoulos asks “Why pray when God already knows our desires?” Then provides 9 answers.

Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors
Each job has its own unique stressors. Here are seven that afflict most afflict pastors.

Dear Kids: What You Need to Know About Duck Dynasty, Justine Sacco, and Christmas
Ann Voskamp leads us via current controversies about imperfect words to the feet of the perfect Word made flesh.

Top 10 Tricks for Building the Perfect Budget
You might need this after the past few weeks.

Mary’s Model for Mothers
Luma Simms: “For a mom living in an age where definitions of motherhood have become plastic, my radar is up for solid models of godly motherhood. We must not overlook one such model — Mary.”

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Sorry for late posting . we’ve been without power for the last day or so and we’re still in the dark. Good day to have shares in Denny’s.

Here’s 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.

The second year of morning and evening readings in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

The daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books.

Old Testament

New Testament

Apologies to Email Subscribers

A number of you who subscribe to this blog by email contacted me to ask why you had not received the blog posts for the past week.

When I looked into the email service I use, I discovered that the daily email digest had been paused since last Friday.

I’m very sorry about that, everything should be up and running again now.

Rebuilding Lost Trust In Pastors

“Americans’ rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%, the first time this rating has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977. Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions on this measure, hitting a high rating of 67% in 1985.” (Source: Honesty and Ethics Rating)

Although pastors remain in the top third of the league table of trust, the decline is significant enough for us to ask what’s happening and what can be done to put it right. We’ll look at causes first and then at some cures.

Pastoral Causes

Immorality: The report itself notes that: “The Catholic priest abuse stories from the early 2000s helped lead to a sharp drop in Americans’ ratings of clergy, a decline from which the profession has yet to fully recover.” However, Catholics don’t have a monopoly in immorality. Evangelicals are doing sadly well in that department too.

Greed: Some megachurch pastors’ salaries and lifestyles have drawn just criticism.

Distance: Some pastors do little more than teach and preach. Others become like CEOs, spending their days administering paper and staff. In both cases, there’s a loss of contact with the sheep as the pastor increasingly delegates home and hospital visiting, counseling, weddings, funerals, etc.

Brevity: The average length of a pastorate is four years, which makes it virtually impossible for people to get to know the pastor well, never mind begin to trust him.

Cultural Causes

Cynicism: Society has become more cynical and less trusting in general. It’s no surprise that the church suffers along with other institutions.

Media: Given the media’s non-stop all-out attack on the church via outright opposition, mocking sniggers, and caricatured Christians, in some ways it’s a miracle that anyone trusts a pastor these days.

Attendance: With less people going to church, people have less face-to-face contact with pastors. Again, hard to trust people you don’t know.

Rebuilding Trust

Why is this so important? Why can’t we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Who cares? They didn’t trust Christ and we shouldn’t expect anything different.” That’s an understandable reaction; in some ways, the level of trust that pastors have enjoyed has been a cultural anomaly resulting from the United States’ unusually strong Christian heritage.

However, we can’t just nonchalantly throw trust overboard as if it doesn’t matter. It does matter, because God has bound up the messenger with the message. If the messenger isn’t trusted, neither will his message be trusted.

So how do we rebuild trust in the messenger and the message?

Patience: We need to realize that grand gestures are not going to work. It’s going to be a long, slow, incremental process of multiple actions by multiple pastors in multiple locations.

Stay: Pastors have to commit to staying longer in their posts. Most people take three years or so before they really begin to trust a pastor and open up to him. Constancy and consistency create credibility.

Mix: Get out of the pulpit, get out of the office, and get among the sheep. Yes, it’s much messier than study and administration, but how else can pastors truly say, “I know my sheep and am known of mine” (John 10:14). Notice who’s at the top of the table – nurses!

Holiness: A holy life is a trustworthy life. People are looking at two areas in particular: money and women. To be blunt.

Local: A small minority of pastors may be called to a wider ministry, but way too many evidently desire a wider ministry, and often pursue it to the detriment of their local churches. Unless people see that the shepherd prioritizes them, and usually makes them his exclusive concern, they will not trust him.

Bridges: Build bridges with the unchurched. Get involved in non-church activities so non-church people can see you are “normal,” that you have two eyes, one nose, skin, feelings, etc. That you are surprisingly just like them.

Ultimately Gallup opinion polls are less important than God’s opinion of us. We certainly don’t want to become man-pleasers either; people can smell that a mile off too. Our first question must always be “Does God trust us?” more than “Do the public trust us?” However, without sacrificing our integrity, we must also have a concern to build trustworthiness. If we do that, trust will follow.

What do you think the causes of this declining trust are and how can pastors climb the table again?