Pastoral Picks (5/31)

Two articles on the limitations of Technology. Timothy Dalrymple on the difficulty of Finding Spiritual Life in a Technological World.  And in Liking is for Cowards. Go for what hurts Jonathan Franzen exposes the folly of substituting relationships with technology. 

Jeff Goins on the Most Overlooked Secret to Influencing People.  My interest in this is its application to evangelism? As my friend Seth Getz puts it: “Just ask.” How many are perishing because we don’t?

Last weekend I watched this powerful example of Job 19 faith. However, this morning, I came across another side to the story, the Job 3-18 and 20-37 side, and I was even more blessed.

Jared Wilson gives us 10 Simple Things Good Pastors say.

The ever practical Brian Croft has four guidelines for pastoring women in a congregation.

Tim Challies opens up his Mac and shares some of the Applications that make his life easier.

Wish I’d read Doug Wilson’s wise article on productivity 12 months ago. Even his first point is pure gold:

The point is fruitfulness, not efficiency. You should want to be fruitful like a tree, not efficient like a machine. But this fruitfulness is a function of God’s blessing, and it is surrendered work that is blessed work. Seek that blessing, and seek it through concrete surrender. Such surrenders are not abstract. Put your Isaacs on the altar. Every interruption is a chance to surrender your work to the only one who can bless your work, particularly when the interruptions come from your kid wanting to play catch.

And my book recommendation for today is:


Conduct Gospel-centered funerals by Brian Croft and Phil Newton.

God’s been hunting me down

“God’s been hunting me down for months.”

That was my immediate and instinctive understanding of why the Lord recently sent multiple blood clots into my leg and lungs (read about it here). Three weeks and two complications later, I’m more convinced than ever that God’s been tracking me for months, with loving arrow after loving arrow, until at last He’s brought me down to the dust. Let me explain.

Up until the last year I’ve lived a more or less healthy and vigorous life. I’m 6′ 3″ and 184 lbs. Although work has pushed out regular daily exercise for a few years now, I still ski, fish, and compete at Tae Kwon Do from time to time. But over the course of the last nine months my medical file has bulged considerably (as my finances have gone the other way). Since September, I’ve had two ongoing health issues, one of which culminated in a major (and very painful) operation in November. Did that all stop me?

Not for very long.

Then came the blood clots.  Top that all off with the discovery of a genetic blood clotting problem and I’m beginning to stagger to the ground (reluctantly). So just to be sure, God sent two further medical complications over recent days (I’ll spare you the gory details), one of which will be with me as long as I’m on this earth.

This is the finger of God.


I’ve stopped.

And I know that’s the main message God has been sending me through these afflictions. STOP!

My life and ministry had been getting faster and faster and faster for years. And since coming to the USA, I’ve added a turbo gear. It’s all good stuff: delivering lectures, preaching sermons, speaking at conferences, writing books, producing DVD’s, etc. But it’s been at the expense of daily intimacy with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Good things replaced the best thing.

I’m not talking so much about neglect of private prayer, Bible reading, family worship, church attendance, etc; all these things have been steady and routine – although definitely too routine. No, my problem has been more about what has not been happening in these regular spiritual disciplines and throughout the working day.

Ministry without spirituality
Let me summarize where I believe I erred: ministry without spirituality. Perfunctory and spiritual disciplines and going from one ministry activity to another to another to another, with hardly a moment to feel dependence upon God, cry for help, and seek the Lord’s blessing before, during, or after. Cramming every waking moment with “productive” activity. And certainly not a second in the day to “be still and know that I am God.”

But now, in the enforced stillness, I hear a loving and concerned God say, “My son, give me your heart.” Not your sermons, not your lectures, not your blogs, not your books, not your meetings, etc. But your heart. YOU!

In the back of my mind I knew that my spirituality was not where it should have been, but I said to myself that I would push through jam-packed March and April and then get back into a good spiritual frame. That was my plan.

At the end of April, I finished the last in that long series of speaking engagements, and settled down into my chair the ne

I am very much alive!

It being Memorial Day here in the USA, I was going to take a day away from the blog. But I’ve just received a phone call from my wife to check if I’m still alive. She was phoned by her family in Scotland to ask if I’d died! Apparently there is an email circulating with rather exaggerated reports of my death. Not sure how I can stop others being unnecessarily distressed by this other than by posting a message on my blog, Facebook, etc., and hoping that the truth reaches my family and friends quicker than the lies.

What a crazy world!

More on preaching without notes

I’ve written before about preaching without (or with less) notes (here and here). Here’s some more advice from Jerry Weissman on how to disconnect from your notes and connect with your hearers.

One CFO showed up for his coaching session at my company with his presentation written out in full sentences. I asked him to reduce each sentence to a four-word bullet and to speak from that. He did and it flowed. Then I asked him to reduce each four-word bullet to one word and to speak from that. He did and it flowed. Then I asked him to speak without any text. He did and it flowed.

Why not try it on Sunday?

At least with one of your points.

You can blame me!

CK2:12 A conversation with Nancy Guthrie

Download here.

Author and speaker Nancy Guthrie pays us a visit on this week’s Connected Kingdom podcast. We talk about Nancy’s teaching ministry to women, and especially her Bible Study books on Christ in the Old Testament. Nancy also explains how the Lord used the loss of two infant children to move her and her husband David to host regular retreats for other bereaved parents. You can watch David and Nancy glorify God as they talk with Joni about Holding on to Hope in the midst of this suffering.

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