10 Things I Wish I’d Done My Freshman Year of College

According to the Wall Street Journal:

  • Ohio State has seen a 43% jump in the past five years in the number of students being treated at the university’s counseling center.
  • At the University of Central Florida in Orlando, the increase has been about 12% each year over the past decade. A
  • t the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, demand for counseling-center services has increased by 36% in the last seven years.
  • Nationwide, 17% of college students were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety problems during the past year, and 13.9% were diagnosed with or treated for depression. That is up from 11.6% for anxiety and 10.7% for depression in the spring 2011 survey.
  • Counseling centers say they are also seeing more serious illnesses, including an uptick in the number of students coming to college with long psychiatric histories.

This surge in anxiety prompted Gracy Olmstead to write an article 10 Things I Wish I’d Done My Freshman Year of CollegeShe spends too little time on causes–mentioning only parental pressure, rising tuition costs, and the impact of social media–but she has a number of good common sense suggestions to cope better with the stress of college that can be applied to all areas of life. Click through to read the details, but here’s a quick summary:

1. Don’t Denigrate the Importance of Sleep
2. Eat Healthy and Exercise
3. Use Social Media Cautiously
4. Try to Find a Job
5. Focus on Friendships, Not Relationships
6. Take Friday Nights Off
7. Party Wisely
8. Learn How to Bribe Yourself
9. Do Not Join A Study Group
10. Find a Quiet Space Where You Can Recharge

I’d delete #7 and replace it with “Take a weekly Sabbath.” I’d also add a couple including, “Nourish your soul by daily devotions and weekly worship in a local church.” But apart from that, Gracy’s provided a good listicle that could give you a mid-semester boost or course correction.

Check out


Having Transgender Parents Will Hurt Kids Like It Hurt Me
“The children of transgender people will have to struggle with the knowledge that their mother is also their father, or vice versa. It hurts them. I know, because I was that child, too.”

7 Tips on How to Survive Your Ordination Exam | Canon Fodder
“Although seminary is a challenging experience in and of itself, something more formidable (at least in terms of stress) awaits most students.  The dreaded ordination exam.”

Race in America: Four Critical Reminders As We Move Towards Healing | The Exchange
“How do Christians respond to the heightened attention and attendant vexation about the crisis of race in America today? Allow me to offer at least four ideas on how we might begin.”

A Transatlantic Elegy For An American Hillbilly | 20schemes
One of the most powerful pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time.

Birth control linked to depression, new study says | CNN.com
“We have known for decades that women’s sex hormones estrogen and progesterone have an influence on many women’s mood. Therefore, it is not very surprising that also external artificial hormones acting in the same way and on the same centers as the natural hormones might also influence women’s mood or even be responsible for depression development.”

And here are a few articles on various aspects of burnout — personal, pastoral, and congregational.

3 Major Downsides of a Busy Church Calendar | Eric Geiger
“Many church leaders have wisely encouraged people to slow down, not to sign up for every sport, and not to commit to every extracurricular activity. Ironically, and painfully so, is that many churches don’t follow their own counsel. So while many church leaders have bemoaned the busyness in their communities, they have failed to bemoan the busyness in their churches. Here are three major consequences of a busy church:”

Give Him a Break | TGC
“I don’t think pastoral ministry is harder than any other job. On most days, I feel like I have a better job than almost anyone else in my congregation. I love being a pastor. But it is hard work. And a unique work that doesn’t allow for weekends off or even two consecutive days off. Pastoral ministry requires a lot of head work and a lot of heart work. Both need times of renewal and rejuvenation.”

Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor } ThomRainer.com
“Autopsies are not a pleasant topic. I get that. But I would be negligent if I did not share with you about the numbers of pastors who are dead in ministry. You need to know. You need to grasp this reality. You need to pray for them. You need to walk alongside them.”

3 Easy Ways to Burn Out Your Team | Eric Geiger
“A burned out team blesses and benefits those they are designed to serve less and less because those who are burned out live with muted passion and numb affections.”

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

The Religions Next Door: What we need to know about Hudaism,Hinduism,Buddhism and Islam and what reporters are missing by Marvin Olasky $0.99.

Suffering Well by Paul Grimmond (FREE).

New Book

Pursuing Health in an Anxious Age by Dr. Bob Cutillo. This is an excellent book that explores the Christian’s  relationship to health and healthcare while submitting to providence, aging, etc.


How to reach across the racial divide

The Disciple-Making Parent

Although I’ve read quite many parenting books in my life, I still try to read at least one a year in order to challenge myself and to keep growing in this vital area. Although it’s becoming harder to pick up anything new, sometimes I come across a book that surprises me with its fresh and stimulating content. That was my experience this past weekend as I started reading The Disciple-Making Parent by Chap Bettis. As, I said, I wasn’t expecting much, but quickly grabbed my Macbook and started jotting down some of the most memorable quotes. I thought I’d finish the book in a couple of days, but I’ve only read 20% of it and found much to think about and do. Below are some of the most thought-provoking quotes from the first 50 pages, which I hope will not only encourage and challenge you in your own parenting but also move you to buy the book. I’ll share more of my thoughts about this book in coming days.

The Great Commission is a call for followers of Jesus Christ to reach out to our world, to our towns, and to our neighborhoods. But, in the Great Commission there is also a call to make disciples in our own families. (6)

Our job is not to raise good kids who pursue the American dream with a little Christianity (and eternal “fire insurance”) sprinkled in for good measure. (6)

The truth of the gospel is transferred through relationships. Disciples are not mass-produced. They are crafted with individual attention. (6)

What better discipleship unit than the family? What better model, teacher, and shepherd over a little one than a parent? God’s desire for your family is to be a Trinity-displaying, God-glorifying, disciple-making unit. (6)

The word Christian only occurs three times in the New Testament, while the word disciple occurs 269 times…Disciple implies a lifelong commitment to seek after, learn from, and stay close to our rabbi, Jesus. (7)

58% of young adults who attended church every week when they were teens did not attend church at all by the time they were 29….Up to 50% of young people did not stick with their faith once they were in college. (9)

I know numerous earnest followers of Jesus Christ in their fifties and sixties whose children are not walking with the Lord. They carry this ache in their hearts like a heavy ball and chain. Charles Spurgeon comments on this burden when he states, “No cross is so heavy as a living cross.” (10)

God’s most effective Shepherd – YOU! (13)

Though the family is not the exclusive means of discipleship it is meant to be the primary one. (15)

The most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their children. (15)

Your family is a tiny discipleship unit. (15)

No one can take the place of Mom or Dad building spiritual truth into the lives of their children. (16)

While we may give lip service to discipling our children, the reality comes when we start prioritizing activities [e.g. soccer, hockey, music lessons, etc.]. (17)

The first battleground of family discipleship is not my child’s heart; it is my heart. (17)

Each parent must decide whether he is more concerned that his child is accepted into Heaven or “Harvard.” We all have “Harvards,” — those worldly successes we desire for our children. (17)

The best thing you can do for your child’s soul is to become actively involved in a gospel-preaching, gospel-living church community. (21)

Shepherding of our children changes with their maturity level. Physically, they move from total dependence to total independence. Similarly, the goal in discipleship is to move from command to persuasion, from discipline to discernment, from external controls to internal controls, from parent control to Spirit control. (29)

Most common reasons why prodigals left the church: the role of hypocrisy in the home and church, a lack of proactive explanations of the reason for the Christian faith, and a legalistic rather than clear understanding of the gospel and Christian living. (31)

There is no way to be a perfect parent, but there are a thousand ways to be a good one. (33)

The number one reason why young people walk away from the faith is they see their parents and say, “Why would I want to turn out like this? (40)

God has given us sinful children to shine a floodlight on ways we need to grow. (43)

Discipleship is not a project, it’s a transfer of life. That transfer happens in the context of loving affection. (50)

Martin Luther: “Marriage is a better school for character than any monastery; for it’s here that your corners are rubbed off.” (51)

Child training is a misnomer. It’s really parent training. Children are sent by God to make us more like Jesus. (51)

My children’s greatest need is not a parent who pretends to be perfect. Much more important is a parent who sense his need for the Savior to cleanse and the Spirit to empower. (53)

The Disciple-Making Parent by Chap Bettis.

Check out


Like It or Not, You Are Always Leading by Example
A challenge from the Harvard Business Review

How to Proclaim the Gospel from the Old Testament | Carson, Chappel, Keller, Piper
An old one but worth returning to.

10 Effects of Living with Addiction | Brad Hambrick
Ten patterns that emerge or become more pronounced when we live in a relational context marked by addiction. While each of these is understandable, none of them led to sustainably healthy relationships.

The Problem Of Lazy Men | The American Conservative
A smaller percentage of American males in the prime working years (ages 25 to 54) are working than were working near the end of the Great Depression in 1940, when the unemployment rate was above 14 percent.

Is Religious Liberty “Hanging By a Thread”? | BruceAshford.net
An almost invisible one.

Anxiety at Work
Painfully but helpfully honest. Also practical and hope-giving.

The Holiness of God and Chosen By God: Stream These Classic Series for Free
If you haven’t yet seen them, no excuses now.

Using the news to explore our difficulties with apologies | Musings of a Christian Psychologist
Help with discerning the difference between true and false apologies.

Here are a few articles about IVP’s recent decision that hits employees should hold to biblical views on marriage

Evangelical Campus Ministry (InterVarsityUSA) Decides Employees Should Hold Evangelical Beliefs on Marr | Ed Stetzer

Intervarsity and the Revisionist Hope For a Place at the Table | TGC

InterVarsity responds to pro-LGBT outcry – Sexuality | WORLD

Kindle Books

The Cross in the Experience of our Lord by R A Finlayson $0.99. This is a truly wonderful book on Christ’s person and work.

Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary by J. D. Greear $0.99.

War in the Wasteland by Douglas Bond $4.99. My sons devoured Douglas Bond books growing up.

Confronted by Grace: Meditations of a Theologian by John Webster $2.99.


Why is God’s Sexual Ethic Good for the World

A Few Tips for Raising Boys

I’ve had a few conversations with fathers recently about the challenge of raising teenage boys. Similar to my own past experience, these Christian Dads have been struggling to get their boys to study, to do homework, to respect their mother, and do a few chores around the house. They are easily distracted, often moody, and totally obsessed with digital media. I usually try to share some of the hard-won lessons from my own parenting, most of them learned through many painful failures. These include:

1. The vast majority of teenage boys were not made to sit at desks for hours and hours at a time. It doesn’t matter if it’s homeschool, Christian school, or public school, it’s completely unnatural to confine the primal force of male teenage energy within a few feet of desk space for five, six, seven and more hours a day. Their testosterone-fueled bodies are yelling “Let me out of this cage!” We shouldn’t therefore be surprised at their frustrations. I sometimes think most classrooms and pedagogy were invented by boy-hating women with studious girls in mind!

2. It’s normal to have these parenting struggles. Very few teenage boys transition smoothly from childhood to adulthood. I know of one boy who never gave his parents a moment of trouble in his teens. But he sure made up for it in his twenties! Dads need to know that the same battle is being fought in just about every other Christian home. It would help if we were all a bit more transparent about this, and pastors could help a lot by admitting their own parenting struggles.

3. Dads need to try and get time with their teenage boys. My relationships with my teenage sons always went better when I spent time with them in the evenings, and especially on Saturdays. Ideally we would try to do something physical outside, whether it was working in the yard, going fishing, swimming, playing soccer, cycling, skiing or something like that. Time with them plus physical activity greatly improved our relationships. These were also opportunities to chat with them in a casual, informal, non-threatening way about spiritual and moral issues.

4. Be patient. This is perhaps the greatest challenge to us today. We expect instant results from our teaching and our discipline, but usually the fruit takes many years to even show a little green shoot. In the meantime, impatience, anger, and bad temper can destroy relationships and communication. We might modify their behavior for a time, but we lose their hearts. My “boys” are now young men whom I love and deeply respect. Looking back, I see that I worried way too much because of my impatience.

5. Try to find things to praise. Sometimes it can be really difficult, especially when there is so much to criticize and discipline for. However, our discipline is never going to work if we never identify areas where they are doing well and encourage them for that. The ideal is probably at least two or three praises for every criticism we dish out.

6. Paid work outside the home. This goes back to #1 and all the pent-up energy in the male teenage body. We found that getting our boys out to work a couple of hours a day or a few times a week did them (and us) a world of good. They got out of the house, they did work that tired them out, they felt responsible and “grown-up,” they earned money, they got correction from bosses and co-workers, and we got some quiet time! It doesn’t matter how menial the work is — just get them doing something physical.

7. Clear rules. The two areas that we focused our rules on were technology time and bed time because these were the areas that we found most influential in their lives. When these areas got out of control, so did our boys. The more time they spent on phones, videos, computers, etc., the more nutty they became. The more sleep they got, the happier they were. We had clear rules for how long they were allowed to use any digital media each day and clear rules on bedtimes, with different times for weekdays and weekends. We didn’t just set rules, we followed up with discipline if they were breached.

As anyone who knows us will tell you that we are by no means the perfect parents. I could write a much longer blog on my parenting fails. But, looking back, these were the things I wish someone had told me before getting on this rollercoaster.

Thankfully, next up for me are two young teenage daughters. Somebody tell me it’s going to be easier.

Check out


No One Else Is Coming
Tim Challies visits my home town and comes back with encouraging news of a fledgling Gospel work in one of its toughest schemes.

What Christians Should Do This Election Season — Give Space, Show Grace
“I have too many friends and family members and fellow church members on all sides of Election 2016 to let their choice in the voting booth affect my affection for them. So, I’m trying to do two things, and I hope you’ll join me.”

Every Click Counts: What You Should Know About the Internet | Desiring God
“You should assume that every time you click, someone knows exactly what you clicked on — and that information informs whether the builders of that site will deliver more of the content you accessed. Every click matters.”

My Mother Aborted My Siblings, And That Hurts Me Deeply
“It may be one thing to support the right to choose in theory, but when that abstract choice is actually your own brother or sister, and you were never part of making that choice, abortion can often be perverted from a right to be championed, to a destructive and tragic force in your own family.”

Kindle Books

Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America’s Leaders by “Sully” $1.99.

Survive or Thrive: 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs by Jimmy Dodd $2.99. Unfortunately I cannot fully endorse this book as the author accepts women ministers. However, leaving these bones aside, there’s a lot of good meat in this book.

Each for the Other: Marriage as It’s Meant to Be by Bryan and Kathy Chapell $1.99.


David Garner Interviews Dr. David Wells