Check out

Blogs

Getting to the Secret Place
My Dad’s latest post on prayer:

God brought Jacob into truly dire straits, in order that he might bring him into the secret place, and bless him abundantly, as we shall see. The secret place is an important place for all who are RightWithGod; but getting to the secret place often requires effort and determination. In this Jacob has shown us a good example.

The One Unbreakable Rule in Business Writing
Surely this publisher’s questions are also important for pastors writing sermons:

“We developed a simple process to help people clarify their intentions and their positioning. It involves answering three basic questions: Why are you writing this? What audience do you want to reach? Why will they care?”

What Exactly Is Anxiety?
Tim Lane takes a look at anxiety and modern research.

10 Things You Should Know about Definite Atonement
After reading this, why would you not want to believe the doctrine of definite atonement?”

Reading for the Rest of Us | For The Church
Six simple tips to help you read more and better books.

Every Woman’s Call to Work
“The pertinent question for women entering the workforce or motherhood or setting up their home or any sphere of work is this: Am I faithfully obeying God as his child by meeting the genuine needs of others, or am I pursuing self-actualization, self-fulfillment, or selfish ambition apart from him?”

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.

Biography of J. R. R. Tolkein by Mark Horne $1.99.

What is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics by R. C. Sproul $3.99.

Compassion without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth by Adam Barr and Ron Citlau $2.99.

The Disciple-Making Pastor: Leading Others on the Journey of Faith $2.99

Video

God Bless the USA (A Cappella)
I doubt you’ve heard it sung like this before.


The Role of Science in Biblical Counseling

Here’s a helpful article I received from John Belden, Pastor at Pilgrim OPC, that explores one aspect of the role of science in biblical counseling.


I am so thankful for the dialog with Dr. Lambert on the sufficiency of Scripture in counseling. I pray that God will bring more light to His people as a result. It seems to me the issue boils down to how we know which problems have physical causes and which have spiritual causes. When Dr. Lambert says “autism is not, properly speaking, a counseling problem,” presumably this means it has a physical cause. But how do we know that? The Bible doesn’t tell us about autism.  It seems to me we know it’s “not, properly speaking, a counseling problem” because of general revelation. So it should be safe to say that God did not intend for the Bible to reveal autism. Nor was it designed to counsel Christians out of autism. It certainly was designed to counsel them through autism. I think everyone agrees on these points.

Physical or Spiritual?
The issue is, how do we determine if certain kinds of depression and anxiety have a physical or spiritual cause? How do we know if these are, properly speaking, counseling problems?  We all agree that if all depression is primarily caused by personal sin, then the Bible is sufficient to counsel us out of depression. The bigger questions will always be, do certain kinds of depression have a physical cause and was the Bible designed to reveal those causes without looking to science?

When I talk to people committed to Nouthetic Counseling they either haven’t thought about this or they say, “we don’t have enough conclusive scientific evidence to be sure,” or, “there’s no test that can be done to determine a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes depression.” But isn’t that admitting in some way that science must be involved in the process of determining this? Presumably, if the science was conclusive, we would say of certain kinds of depression and anxiety that they are not, properly speaking, counseling problems. That would then lead us to the conclusion that we can’t counsel Christians out of these kinds of depression. The ultimate cause must be addressed another way.  Yet Scripture is completely sufficient to counsel people through this difficult time as they work with doctors to address the ultimate cause.

Counseling Through Cancer
Let me use an obvious example to illustrate my point. Scripture is not designed to counsel Christians out of cancer. Cancer’s root cause must be addressed by surgery, chemotherapy, etc. But the Bible is sufficient to counsel Christians through cancer. The only way we know that cancer should be placed in this category, however, is that science has discovered cancer. We are, to some degree, dependent on science to determine that a problem is not spiritual at its root.

Let’s apply this to a slightly less obvious example. I doubt anyone would disagree that lack of sleep can cause all kinds of mental problems like depression, anxiety, even suicidal thoughts. Sleep directly effects the brain. And there are many physical problems that can cause sleep deprivation. For instance, take a person who has severe sleep apnea that eventually leads to sleep deprivation and then to severe depression. Is the Bible sufficient to counsel that person out of depression if it is ultimately caused by sleep apnea? Sixty years ago we might have said yes because we didn’t know about sleep apnea. Once it was discovered, however, we would all agree (I hope) that the best counseling in the world would not make the depression go away until the person was treated for the apnea and got some sleep.

None of this suggests that the Bible is not sufficient to counsel people through this kind of depression. And it is sufficient to counsel people out of the sins that often accompany these experiences (unbelief, self pity, bitterness, anger). But if we are going to get to the root of the depression, we must address the sleep deprivation. There are many more examples like this one.

Again, I don’t think anyone would disagree at this point.  The disagreement seems to be over what science has not revealed conclusively.  But even if we grant that there is no test that can determine a chemical imbalance in the brain (I’m not sure this is the case), we have a great deal of conclusive scientific evidence that the brain is extremely complex and there is much we still do not know. We also know that the brain is subject to physical problems just like any other organ in the body and that these physical problems can have a huge impact on our mental state. Isn’t it probable that there are still plenty of brain problems that we don’t know about? Isn’t it also probable that some of the experiences of depression and anxiety could be caused by these problems? If we understand the pervasive effects of the Fall, would we not expect this?

High Stakes
I know those who are eager to guard the sufficiency of Scripture believe the stakes are high. But the stakes are very high the other way as well. If we treat problems that are ultimately physical (like autism) as though they are ultimately spiritual, we can really hurt God’s people. And we are more dependent on science to reveal this than many care to admit.

I understand that conservative Christians are afraid this will open the door to excusing all kinds of sins. I know I was.  It was my own depression and anxiety that pushed me to consider that this issue might be a little more complex than I realized.  It was scary because I thought I was abandoning the sufficiency of Scripture. But I wasn’t. I was merely coming closer to what what God designed Scripture to do and not to do. And I was coming closer to understanding the real world I live in.

Article by John Belden, Pastor of Pilgrim OPC


Check out

Blogs

All That Terror Teaches: Have We Learned Anything?
Al Mohler’s reflection on 9/11.

What To Do (and What Not To Do) When Your Pastor Resigns
As someone said, when a pastor leaves a church, some are glad, some are sad, and some are mad!

They Unchurched the Church
A non-Christian visits a mega-church with a mini-gospel.

Technology Will Never Satisfy
Nathan Bingham on the latest Apple product launch:

As a geek and an Apple fan, I confess the air is always electric on days like today. But sadly, many view these live events not as product announcements, but as occasions of revelation—a day when Apple offers a new salve to sooth the itch of life. The truth is, technology will never satisfy. No matter how promising and brilliant, technology is not the savior and will disappoint.

Jonathan Edwards and the Bible’s Historical Reliability
The battle for the Bible was raging even in Jonathan Edwards’ day.

Nisbet on Motivations for Holiness
Need more motivations to holiness? Here are 12!

Seven Ways Pastors Can Deal with the Monday Blues

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 Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne $0.99.

The Archer and the Arrow: Preaching the Words of God by Colin Marshall $1.99.

Video

Here’s another great video from Darryl Bradford. It’s a recap of the recent PRTS conference.


I Approve This Message

I’d usually link to an article like this in my daily “Check out” links, but this one is so important that I’ve made a separate post out of it to maximize readership. A month or so ago, Christian catoonists and satirist Adam Ford wrote an excellent article on Tim Challies’ website, Some Things You Should Know About Christians who Struggle with Anxiety.

Last week, he wrote a follow up post, Some Things That Have Helped me in my Struggle with Anxiety. I can’t recommend this post highly enough. It’s the best Christian treatment of anxiety disorders that I’ve ever read. So honest, so moving, so sane and sensible, so balanced, and so, so helpful. Here’s how he opens it:

Recently I wrote “Some Things You Should Know About Christians Who Struggle With Anxiety” over at Tim Challies’ wonderful blog. Among the many responses it got was a frequent call for a follow-up article in which I could talk about some things that I’ve found helpful in my battle with anxiety and depression. Well, good news. Seven years of dealing with these disorders—coupled with an incorrigible tendency to analyze and overthink everything—have yielded a number of them. So then, here are a few. I hope they will be helpful to you as well.

If you read both posts, you will be so much better equipped to minister to Christians who suffer from anxiety and from other mental health issues. What else can I say about this post but “I’m David Murray, and I approve this message!”


Check out

Blogs

The Gospel Call
If you’re anywhere near Redeemer University in Ontario, you might want to get along there on Friday to hear Dr. Derek Thomas speak on “The Gospel Call.”

The Christian Response to Gender Dysphoria
Andrew Walker threads the needle.

Six Reasons Why Adultery Is Very Serious
Just in case you had any doubts.

Majority of Americans are still reading print books
“A growing share of Americans are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats”

Stop the Revolution. Join the Plodders.
“What we need are fewer revolutionaries and a few more plodding visionaries. That’s my dream for the church—a multitude of faithful, risktaking plodders.”

How Elite Entrepreneurs and Executives Stay Focused and Productive
“Constant interruptions and distractions are the No. 1 obstacle we face in staying productive and accomplishing our most important projects.”

7 Signs It’s Time to Leave
Seven indicators that it may be time for a pastor to time to move on from his congregation.

New Book

No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi.

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.

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust $0.99.  This looks like a fascinating read.

The Puritans: Daily Readings $2.99.

Handbooks for Christian Students $2.99 each. A great  worldview series for Christian students

Video

Why are there so many Celebrity Pastors?


Check out

Blogs

6 Ways to Prepare Sermons Like Charles Spurgeon
“Spurgeon’s sermons had broad appeal. He spoke in the language of the working-class and packed his sermons with colorful imagery, sharp wit, and illustrations taken from ordinary life.”

One Bible, Two Testaments
Danny Hyde: “For many of us who have discovered the Reformed expression of the Christian faith after years in other traditions, “covenant theology” was one of the most eye-opening facets of it. It was more than just another part of theology, though. It was like getting a new pair of glasses. The old way we saw the Bible with Israel in the Old Testament and the Church in the New Testament was like an old, worn out pair of glasses with scratches and lots of scuff marks. This new pair allowed us to see clearly that our one Bible has two complementary testaments.”

What Does the Bible Say About Transgenderism?
Kevin DeYoung: “The Bible teaches that God made us male or female, and no matter our own feelings or confusion, we should act in accordance with the biological reality of God’s good design. Transgenderism falls short of the glory of God and is not the way to walk in obedience to Christ. There are three big Scriptural building blocks that lead one inexorably to this conclusion. ”

How to Diagnose and Treat Pastoral Authoritarianism
“The difference between exercising pastoral authority as a spiritual leader in a local church and the iron hand of authoritarianism is not a thin line but a wide gulf. ”

The Gift of Sleep: Capturing the Biblical Vision of Rest
“Caffeine. Late-night TV. Smartphones. Sugar. After-hours work e-mails. What do they have in common? With stunning success, we use these things – and more besides – to regularly rob ourselves of a good night’s sleep. But the problem is deeper than entertainment, technology, or any chemical stimulant.”

Generosity: An Old Testament Perspective
“Everything you have is God’s. Everything you have is on loan from God.” This is Dr. Scott Jones basic assessment of the Old Testament teaching on generosity.

New Book

Christ All in All

Christ All in All: What Christ is Made to Believers by Philip Henry. Here’s my commendation of the book:

“An outstandingly beautiful and edifying sample of Christ-centered Puritan piety. The table of contents alone is sufficient to kindle flickering love for Christ into a flame. Here is a full Christ to meet your every spiritual need.”

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.

God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas About Love, Intimacy, and Marriage by Danny Akin $0.99.

Why Won’t They Listen? The Power of Creation Evangelism by Ken Ham $2.99.

Presbyterian and Reformed Churches: A Global History by James McGoldrick $2.99.

Video

What is the biggest mistake churches make when caring for children with special needs